Over 100 days later, I’m still motivated and loving learning about myself.

I’d been seeing OYNB adverts on and off for about a year or so. I didn’t want to face that alcohol was the main reason why I wasn’t doing the things I wanted to do, and why I wasn’t feeling the way I wanted to feel. I also didn’t want to admit it because I enjoyed drinking and being sociable, and the thought of not having that was scary (and, I felt, unrealistic). My family are big drinkers, and it’s always been the norm to drink alcohol, but recently I felt it was all becoming too much. I wasn’t drinking every day, but I was drinking three to four times each week, and it had become a habit. I knew I was less productive, I didn’t exercise, and I was tired and irritable the day after drinking. I just wanted to feel better about myself. It was also obvious that my eldest son wasn’t impressed with the amount I was drinking. He challenged me about it, which made my younger son then start asking awkward questions about alcohol. All this led me to signing up to OYNB for the 28-day challenge, starting on New Year’s Day 2022. I had done month-long challenges before, so I thought I would sign up, do the 28-days, feel better, and reset my drinking habits. 

I knew that by doing this, other things would fall into place

I was really excited to start because I just wanted to look and feel better, and I was sick of feeling rough and tired the day after having booze. Of course, I began with a hangover, so that was an easy day. My goal, which is still written on my challenge page, was ‘to feel better both physically and mentally, be more productive, remember things, need less medication, and lose weight’. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to achieve other than stop drinking alcohol so much, but I knew that by doing this, other things in my life would fall into place. I’d waste less time sleeping on the sofa due to being tired, I’d have fewer arguments due to being irritable, I’d be nicer (because I am a not-so-nice person with alcohol on board), I could exercise more instead of putting it off due to a hangover… in all honesty, the list goes on. 

Giving myself the opportunity to improve

I was surprised (in a good way!) by the Facebook group, how open and honest people were, and how supportive everyone was to each other. It only took a few days to feel comfortable enough to post, and I always made a point of positively commenting on at least one person’s post every day. Having this group also really helped in the early days of negotiating poor sleep and night sweats, and just getting used to not falling back on alcohol. It was great to get advice from people who’d been there already, as well as being able to compare and discuss how you’re feeling with others who are doing the same thing. 

The second surprise to me was the impact of the daily videos. I really didn’t expect to find them so inspiring, useful, and just down to earth. Without a doubt, it’s these three-minute nuggets in the morning that motivate me. They’ve been instrumental in changing how I think and feel about alcohol, and it happened very quickly. The videos helped me consider the challenge not as denying myself alcohol, but instead giving myself the opportunity to improve, and I think this is fundamental to being successful. As a result, I very quickly upgraded my challenge to 90 days, and at about the 60-day point I went for it and signed up to the 365-day challenge. I never would have thought it, but here I am—over 100 days later, I’m still motivated and loving learning about myself. 

I’ve been in complete control and I have no regrets

The main difficulty at this point is working out what I want my end point to be, and rationalising decisions I make along the way. The biggest one is whether I’ll allow the odd, planned alcoholic drink. This is highly personal and depends on your feelings and goals. Of course, others have their own opinion (and that’s great!), but I’m happy as long as I can justify my decisions and remain on track. To that end, in my 101 days on the challenge so far, I’ve had a drink on five occasions. I haven’t gotten drunk; I’ve been in complete control and I have no regrets. Consecutive nights of drinking and letting things get out of control would require a reset. That’s my rule—everyone’s allowed to have their own. 

I’m appreciating the world around me

Many things have changed for me since starting the challenge. I’m calmer, have greater clarity of thought, remember all of my conversations, need fewer weekend daytime naps, make more rational decisions, sleep much better, and can problem-solve much more quickly and logically. My creativity has vastly improved, and I’m much more productive at work. In the evenings I’m not as tired as I used to be, so I’m reading more and doing things like solving crosswords and listening to podcasts. I’ve started to enjoy gardening and have been making improvements in the yard—that was a chore I hated before! I’ve started going to the theatre and am appreciating the arts again. I’m now in a regular exercise routine, have signed up for a 10k run, and plan to do a half marathon before the end of the year. All because I have more time and don’t put things off due to having a hangover.  

I’m enjoying life, appreciating the world around me and the people in it more than I’ve ever done. The best thing, however, is having your children and husband tell you how proud they are of you, when they can see and benefit from the positive changes.

What I enjoy most is feeling refreshed and happy

I don’t feel like I’m denying myself anything. Before, if there was a social event and I couldn’t drink while others were (perhaps because I was driving), I’d feel annoyed, like I was missing out and denying myself fun. I now genuinely feel the opposite. I enjoy not drinking and remaining clear-headed. I love being present in the moment and then being able to fully recall events. But what I enjoy most is feeling refreshed and happy. Wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, my default setting now is not to drink. That said, if I was perhaps at a special occasion at a Michelin-starred restaurant and I wanted to have an alcoholic drink, that would be okay for me. As long as I’m in control, I’m happy with that. But as I said, it would be the exception and not the rule. 

There’s so much more to be gained for me by not drinking alcohol. I’ve already recommended OYNB to friends, one of whom has joined. I’m hoping that friends and colleagues will notice the new-and-improved me, and that they’ll be curious. Regardless, I’ll keep showing up and I have no doubt this will rub off on others!

 

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