The improvements to my working life have also been notable and noted, my boss said the other day “wow this booze free version of you is on fire”, insert smirking face.

I have always been labelled a bit of a “Party Animal” from my teens, but in reality, I was using alcohol to sooth the anxiety of meeting new people and flirting with boys, drinking at school to try and fit in and generally to get over my crippling shyness. From then on, not a weekend would go by without the obligatory Friday and Saturday “Night Out”. I was always the one to get drunk quickest and be the messiest in the room by the end of the night, I genuinely couldn’t understand what was going on and how everyone drank so much slower than me. I tried and tried to go at the same pace as my friends, but as soon as that drink was in my hand it was like magic… poof gone.

During my twenties

Most weekends were spent at the local then on to Town for a bit of dancing and a kebab on the way home. In those days I would wake-up, laugh at the antics from the night before and push through the hangovers that my spritely body would rid itself of within an hour or two “Hey no Sweat!”.   

By the time I moved to London in my late twenties, the city drinking culture started to fill my week nights as well, drinks out were fair game on any day other than Mondays, and I seemed to have plans most nights of the week. I’d go out intending to have one glass of wine but end up having four (Whoops). My poor fiancé called these nights Black Holes, he would be trying to contact me, probably to see when I’d be home for the dinner we planned to have together, but my phone was in my bag, in some pub, whilst I’m off pinching ciggies from some stranger outside, talking absolute crap that I won’t remember in the morning.

By my early thirties

My body started to complain about the multiple late nights, dehydration, and booze I was pouring in it. My waistline slowly expanded, my face aged 10 years in the space of 5, soon my outfit of choice was jeans and baggy T’s and I hated looking at myself in the mirror!

The hangxiety and shame I felt every time I woke, which, most days was around 4am, was mounting, with holes in my memory I had no idea if I’d been a complete plonker the night before, or said something offensive or slipped out a work secret. And despite having all I want for, a home, a wonderfully loving partner a secure job in the city, I felt like I was failing at life. I really didn’t respect or like the person I had become and I knew there had to be a better way to live than this. 

Discovering OYNB

About a year prior to signing up and as if by telepathic in-site an ad for OYNB popped up on my Facebook feed and starting the cogs turning. “Look at these folks getting fit and looking great, bet they don’t feel like a sack of potatoes all the time”. One disastrous hungover Sunday in July 2020 following a dramatic increase in my wine consumption over lockdown, enough was enough, I dived in, signed up and haven't looked back since.

From seeing posts from OYNB members with big numbers behind them, I got immediately excited about the possibilities of what I could achieve. There were people running marathons, doing 20,000 steps a day, looking fantastic, people who seemed to have found some inner peace. I wanted that, the fitness, the separation from alcohol and all the physical and mental baggage that comes with it, I wanted to love myself again and I was tired of being tired all the time. 

Starting my own alcohol-free journey

At first, I wanted these things immediately, WORLD GIMME NOW. But of course, things don’t work like that. The journey so far has been slow, baby steps, but at the pace, I think, at which my subconscious is willing to move. It has taken time to unlearn things I thought were hard wired into my brain, like “you have no will power” or “if you can’t do it perfectly then why bother”. These have now been replaced with things I’m learning about my sober self, things like “I can do it, or at least give it a good old go” or “practice not perfection babes, that’s how we get there”.

I also hadn’t realised what alcohol had done to my emotions, I was happy, have a drink, I was stressed, can’t deal with this, have a drink, never really letting my body deal with them as it should or get to the root cause of any issue. When I quit, it took a while for me to get used to figuring out what they were, what they were trying to tell me and how to use them as constructively as possible.

The alcohol-free benefits

Caroline after her challenge337 days in and the external changes have been notable, I’ve lost weight, gained muscle (abs baby yeah baby), my hair is fuller, my nails no longer break and my skin has a far healthier glow. I have the energy to work out every day and stick to the eating plan (well, still a little cake on weekends), but mentally, I now have the clarity to know how to achieve my goals.

I’m no longer the saboteur to my own life, and it’s so much easier not to be, not drinking has given me back A LOT of time. I’ve managed to pass two professional exams, I’ve taken up meditation, yoga, Scuba Diving, read a crap ton of books and rediscovered my love of music and dancing round the living room like a loonatic.   

The improvements to my working life have also been notable and noted, my boss said the other day “wow this booze free version of you is on fire”, insert smirking face. I no longer have imposter syndrome in my job, with less anxiety, has come better decision making and results which then feeds back in to a more confident me, WIN.

The OYNB support

The advice and practices from the daily videos have been the biggest help for me, I think trying to do this without the assistance of a group or specialists in the know would have been impossible for me. With the little daily tit bits on how to tell/not tell people in the early days, how to deal with the booze pushers and reminders to be kind to myself, how to look inwards etc. none of the real lasting changes would have happened.

The Facebook group has also been invaluable, picking up tips from like-minded folks in the same boat, finding out that the things you were so ashamed of in yourself happen to so many others and that everyone is there to support one another, not judge. Also practical things like quit literature recommendations, which alcohol-free wine tastes like paint stripper and which super market have the cheapest AF “Gin”.

What's next?

My intention when I initially joined the 90-day challenge was to have a break from the booze, see how I felt, maybe get fit and see if I could jump back in to moderation following a three-month break. As the days went by and the amazingness of what life was starting to feel like without booze grew, I knew I was going to upgrade to 365. I read all I could on quitting, all the medical stuff on what alcohol was doing to me long term and I made a decision that this was a change for life. There is still beer pressure in my life from the “friends” who’ve lost their drinking companion but nothing could make draw me back to being that overweight hungover person who’s always a bit disappointed with life.

I would 100% recommend OYNB to a friend, its support is so worth it, it's been the only reason these changes have happened in the first place or stuck. 


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