My head was in exactly the right place, and I had the support network of the OYNB Tribe which became far more important to my success than I realised.
Before finding OYNB, I didn’t consider myself to be a ‘drinker’. Like many of my friends and colleagues, I was a two large glasses of wine or more a night girl. It would start when I was cooking dinner and by 10pm I was usually asleep in front of the TV as the credits rolled and I had missed ‘who did it’ again.
Life before OYNB
I had always meant to cut down, but as I was functioning well in life and still exercising, I didn’t really see it as a problem. However, if I ever dared to type in my weekly consumption into the DrinkAware calculator, I always felt ashamed as it announced that I was drinking too much and was considered to be in the danger zone! How could I be? I functioned fine in my daily life? What an over-reaction. I was more horrified to see that I was consuming around 700 extra calories a day in wine and the snacks I’d eat while drinking.
My last ‘real session’ consisted of me going to a disco for grown-ups, drinking way too much before I left the house and continuing to drink in the restaurant. This led to me climbing up on the stage to perform a Legs & Co. routine with my friends, before causing the sound system to crash with my clattering moves. By the time I was ready to go home at midnight, I announced I felt “fine” before being hit with the night air where my legs buckled and I hit the deck, so to speak. The whole neighbourhood heard me return home as my husband reluctantly took charge of me on the doorstep, rejecting my advances and lecturing me on my conduct.
Time for a challenge
But it was lockdown that made the real difference, the need to change. Back in March, lockdown was actually fun to start with. All this extra time off work to chill out and catch up on tasks. Ohhh, lovely and sunny outside? Let’s relax on the decking and have a glass of wine as the sun goes down. After 4-weeks of that, I recognised I was on a bottle of wine a night. Not great. But my weight had ballooned, and I was a stone heavier. Every outfit seemed to accentuate my expanding and protruding wine belly. That was the realisation for me. I needed to lose weight, and the easiest way was to cut out those 700 calories a night. Simple, right?
Starting my alcohol-free journey
The first time I quit during lockdown was successful. I was following the steps in the 28-Day Alcohol-Free Challenge book and I went without alcohol for nearly six weeks and thought “Yey! I’ve got this!”. I only intended to cut down and learn to moderate. Then summer arrived and my husband returned home from working abroad for 4-months and it started up again. Within a couple of weeks, I was back to my old habits. To some extent I blamed him and saw him as a major trigger, because he drank every night.
The book had taught me about following the psychological approach to cutting down, and that had struck more of a chord with me than constantly being told that “Alcohol is bad for you.” So, I went back to the book, determined to start again and looked up the OYNB challenge. I enrolled, because at this stage I had absolutely nothing to lose. I knew by now my mindset was shifting and wine didn’t actually make me happy, it just helped me escape. I had tried many times to cut down over the years, but something had just clicked inside me. I’d had a taster of what life was like without alcohol. Having this relapse was a good thing, it made me more determined and opened my eyes.
Finding the OYNB Community
The next time round was easier. My head was in exactly the right place, and I had the support network of the OYNB Tribe which became far more important to my success than I realised. The support certainly wasn’t at home. My husband didn’t like drinking alone and found my challenge ‘boring’ and ‘unnecessary’. That just made me all the more determined because I now had the knowledge and understanding to pinpoint him as one of my main triggers.
The alcohol-free benefits
After the first two weeks, the good stuff started to happen. I felt better in myself physically and was more productive. Suddenly I could sleep ALL through the night, which was amazing. After 4-weeks I was binging on sugary food, not so great, but part of the detox process. By 7-weeks I was losing weight and able to run faster. People at work were commenting on how well I looked, that I’d lost weight… even though it was only a stone of wine belly. I was feeling ‘high’ on life and you can’t buy that!
Unfortunately, around Day 70 I got hit with a wave of fatigue. I was so tired, and exhausted by 4pm, sleeping for hours and was just absent minded. That’s when I read on the OYNB Facebook Group I was experiencing PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome). Stage 2 withdrawal. The group suggested taking vitamin B12 supplements, which I did (after some further research!) and I picked up within 2-days.
That was a really important stage for me. So many give up alcohol for a month and think that’s OK. But the withdrawal process from years of habit drinking takes a lot longer to properly detox and made me even more determined to see this whole thing through properly and make it permanent.
What helped me to succeed?
The book was the first step to success for me. I needed someone to tell me the facts in a way that would motivate me. But the most valuable thing to me was definitely the support group on Facebook. It’s hard to go through such a massive challenge alone and having positive support behind you, sharing heartache and success was great. I could help people and they could help me too. Best of all, these people were JUST like me.
An entrepreneur and former senior oil broker, Ruari gave up drinking after excessive consumption almost cost him his marriage, and worse, his life. Going alcohol-free improved his relationships, career and energy levels, leading to him founding OYNB to provide a support network for others.