“I can’t wait to see where life takes me on this beautiful journey without an end.”
Before coming across OYNB I was a daily drinker. Although in the evening it often could have been considered excessive, it rarely interfered with my work. I would reward myself after a hard day's work with beer and wine, and on the weekends the sessions started early.
As time went on, I found more and more reasons to justify why a few drinks at 9am on a Saturday was completely acceptable. When our youngest was born I started to question how I was living. I would pass OYNB while scrolling through Facebook, but it was always a fleeting thought.
Reaching the turning point
After a hard night of drinking with neighbours here in the South Eastern US on Fourth of July I knew something had to change. I went to work in the heat completely wrecked and felt as if I were dying. I started to think about the fact that I will be the first example of what actions are acceptable to my children. That if I want them to find a good partner one day, I have to be a better spouse and more present as a father. Often when we are depressed our feelings of selflessness are only portrayed as selfishness. The complacency needed to come to an end.
Starting my OYNB Alcohol-Free Challenge
Starting the challenge, I didn’t have many expectations. I assumed I would give it a go, and then return to alcohol with a better ability to moderate. My wife doubted that I would make it 90-days before giving up. That alone was enough motivation to press on.
The first few months were pretty awful. I would go from feeling overly optimistic to terribly anxious. Awful dreams brought on by suppressed emotions that had accumulated over my then 30 years of life. I wasn’t sure if it would get better, but I continued anyway.
Eventually everything started to become more manageable. The magic began to happen for me when I arrived at the stage of the challenge that asked me to set myself a physical challenge. In my early 20’s I was an avid cyclist and was training for RAAM (Race Across America). I had a very short stint with a club where I showed promise, but only lasted a few months due to my lack of discipline. I then dabbled in trail running in the mountains of Virginia where I’m from. But I celebrated far more than I achieved, and eventually all of that was in the rear-view mirror.
So, for my physical challenge I chose to train for a full course IRONMAN. I started swimming at a pool with no proper training. To my surprise I was recruited by the coach for the local swim/triathlon team and I am now training daily with some rather lofty goals. I haven’t had the opportunity to complete the full distance course as of yet but have finished multiple Half IRONMAN distances in training.
The alcohol-free benefits
By far the biggest thing I’ve learnt through this experience is who I truly am. I wouldn’t say I feel like a new person, as much as I feel like the person I always knew I could be. For a long time I felt trapped under my insecurities. I was jealous of others achievements and felt the need to prove myself in everything I did.
Now I just put in my daily work, set expectations to the side, and approach every opportunity as a privilege. I have lost a massive amount of weight, by my standards at least. I went from 106.8 kilos (235 pounds) to 82.7 kilos (182 pounds). I have been an on and off vegan for the past 16 years and six months ago returned to a plant-based diet. I feel better than I ever have.
My skin looks so much more youthful than when I was drinking, and people no longer think I’m years older than I really am. I am more productive than I ever thought I could be, and no longer feel so limited in life. There is a lot more time in the day than I once believed.
My heart rate has lowered drastically, and my resting heart rate is anywhere from 35 to 45 bpm – a by-product of working in the heat and endurance training, yet something I didn’t think possible. I’m now splitting my time between running my business and training upwards of 20 hours a week. Every day I’m living a life I always wanted and never knew I could have. None of it would be possible without OYNB and living AF.
My experience of the challenge
Working through the daily sprints every morning before starting my day, gave me the tools I needed in the first few months when every day was difficult. I found Ruari and Andy’s stories relatable and wanted to have my own piece of the happiness they have found.
Then seeing all of the success stories and incredible transformations on the group page made me a believer in the process. That’s what really keeps you with it on the days you’re not sure if it’s worth it to keep on. In the palm of your hand you have this incredible community that genuinely wants to see you succeed. You have reasons not to quit, reminders not to go back, and people all over the world enriching the daily lives of those around them by revealing their true selves.
It has been an amazing experience and I will see out the rest of my day’s alcohol-free. I can’t wait to see where life takes me on this beautiful journey without an end.