“It is amazing to think all this can be achieved by making one simple lifestyle change”
Life was good while I was drinking. All aspects of my life were going well so had no reason not to enjoy myself. At any opportunity I could, I would go drinking. I was always available for anyone who wanted to go grab a drink – my rubber arm could always be twisted. I was at every event and used any excuse to jump on the band wagon and have a few drinks.
I would have considered myself a social drinker but I was making a real effort to find times where I was able to drink. Concerts, race meetings, sporting events, holidays, family events, weddings, birthdays, work functions… My drinking defined me in a way and everyone would just presume I would be the one they could rely on to go drinking with.
Needing a change
The turning point for me was when I noticed was beginning to drink out of boredom. Alongside that, I was turning 40 and I just felt I needed a break. I wasn’t enjoying the drinks like I used do. Very few people my age were going out so the novelty and enjoyment of going out meeting people on a night out was also getting boring… It was clear from my physical appearance I was a drinking too much. I just felt I wanted to make a change and a colleague at work mentioned OYNB so I bought the 28-day challenge book one evening after work.
I had followed a few friends journey through the challenge over the years, so I knew it was going to be hard for someone of my nature to take it on. The first 6-8 weeks were an absolute nightmare. My sleep pattern, mood and every aspect of who I was as a person was tested. Anytime I went out socially I felt I had to explain to everyone I was taking a break which was annoying. People didn’t really get it. But I knew it was important to challenge myself to find out what social occasions could be like without alcohol. As I wasn’t drinking, I would be able to drive to social events, which in turn would give me an easy excuse for why I wasn’t drinking.
One of the biggest tests during my challenge came early on, a holiday to Mexico. I can safely say it was probably my best holiday I have ever had.
The benefits for me from taking a break from alcohol include….
- Sleep quality: By far the biggest impact I have felt this year is on my sleep quality. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. I have never slept as well in my life and my concentration span, energy levels and ability to function on a daily basis has greatly increased as a result.
- Clarity of mind: Everything becomes easier when you are not hungover, making any decisions, daily tasks, working, exercising, driving, travelling abroad and socialising on nights out.
- Appearance and body shape: I have lost 3 stone in weight. I have gone from wearing clothes that were extra large to a medium. The skin on my face has cleared up and double chin has disappeared.
- Mood/productivity levels: My mood has improved hugely. My productivity at work has also increased and achieving my daily and weekly targets at work is easier.
- Relationships with friends and family: I still have all my close friends, I just meet them during the day instead, or for a few hours on a Saturday night. And I don’t think I have fought with my parents or a family member all year.
- Confidence: Since I stopped drinking I have developed a new type confidence that lasts all day every day.
- Money: My bank account has been rewarding me for not abusing it as much this year!
- Time: I finally got my weekends back… I am up early at weekends supporting my nephew at his rugby training and on hand to drive my car and help out at home if needed.
- Realisation: Life can be just as enjoyable living alcohol-free.
It is amazing to think all this can be achieved by making one simple lifestyle change. Having completed the challenge, the last thing I wanted to do was plough a feast of pints into me to celebrate the year milestone. I am just happy to be mentally stronger and physically fitter in these uncertain times for everyone around me.
The testimonials and videos posted on the OYNB social media platforms were a huge help for me. You literally see and read about people going through a complete transformation of who they once were. It definitely would inspire you to make the most of your journey and encourage you to keep going after the year is complete.