"this little tingly thing that started to feel like happiness" - Michael Brown - One Year No Beer
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My story is one that just goes to show that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I have created a very full and exciting life with my career that allows me to travel the world, make hundreds of new friends per year and of course party like a rock star. However, I came to realise, and am even more sure now, that I was unhappy. Let’s go back to the beginning.

How it all started

I have always been a performer and the centre of attention, however I do have a shy side. When I was younger I would light up with charisma when performing, but in social settings I was quiet and always watching from the sidelines. This contradiction made me yearn to be the most popular, the most noticed, the most loved. It was when I was about 12 or 13 years old that I first got drunk. I was funny and everything was easy. Older kids welcomed me into their circle and I was hooked. I became a party kid. This went on through high school and really amped up in college to unbelievable measure. I seriously can’t believe I got through those years alive or at the least not in prison.

When I ventured off into the real world I began my profession as an actor and singer. By nature you are surrounded by new and beautiful people all of the time. There is always an excuse for a party, and it was my goal to be the best at it. Whether it was binge drinking cheap beer and vodka out of plastic bottles in my early twenties or having a “night in” with a partner and realising I was a case of beer in. I was known for how much I could put away. Then getting into my late twenties and even into my thirties I prided myself on how I had grown up. Really all that happened was I traded in the cheap beer and vodka for good beer and expensive bottles. But even at the fanciest of dinner parties the wine glass would be refilled five or six times and then on to the after party. This was every day. I was a not a weekend drinker. It was part of every meal, every gathering, every night.

Finding OYNB

The last couple of years is when I’ve really started to think about the consequences of my actions. I have always been “skinny fat” where I look alright but definitely not toned. I was so self conscious that I would hardly take my shirt off at the beach, felt uncomfortable with my partner and would quit a diet because what was the point? I started to notice that I was spitting blood in the mornings from being so dehydrated, which as a singer is terrifying. I didn’t follow through with anything, relationships and work related projects alike. I was literally coasting through life in a hungover cloud until the next beer. This last holiday season I was particularly ill from a binge the night before that I said I had enough. I stumbled across One Year No Beer and decided that as a gift to myself I would start on Christmas day. I signed up for the 90 day challenge, knowing full well in my mind that I would last until New Years Eve and I was throwing my money away. Then some amazing things truly started happening.

Challenging myself

The morning after signing up, I was alone in a hotel and I saw my first daily email sent to me by Ruari and the team. I should set up a goal for myself for the end of the 90 days. Ok. I signed up for a half marathon for when I would be in England. Then I told some of my coworkers when I saw them. Their reaction was that of shock and encouragement. So that was a quick jolt of inspiration from the beginning and I got through my first week no problem. Then my job finished and I went home to visit my family for a little while. I told them and my best friends about my new ambition and they all were supportive but I think also maybe rolling their eyes inside a little because I did have a reputation after all. But sure enough a day would come and go without a drink and I felt some incredible changes. The obvious, no hangover. More than that, I really started sleeping. I now fall asleep so much faster and actually sleep through the night. Before I maybe had 5 or 6 hours and now I get 7 or 8!

The change

Then weight started falling off of me. I have always been active but now I was getting some real results. There was this little tingly thing that started to feel like happiness. Before I knew it BAM I hit 30 days. I did the obligatory before and after photo and my jaw hit the floor. Then of course having my love for attention, I posted it to all platforms, and attention I got! The next day I was on a plane to England to meet 11 new people that I’ll spend the next 8 months with. I told them about my endeavour right away, and to them I’m just the guy that doesn’t drink alcohol. Busy with work and the gym I quickly got to my 60 days and the BAM a new realisation. I don’t really think about alcohol anymore. I don’t use it as a reward system. I don’t think about it as a goal for the end of the day. It just simply is gone. Now being on day 80 I have upgraded to the full 365 and beyond. I feel happy, light, full of love, grateful and ambitious. I have been training for the half marathon I signed up to at the beginning of my challenge which is just around the corner. I feel confident as I have been getting close to the distance when I have been training. I’m very much looking forward to crossing the finish line once and for all!

Reflecting on my journey

Of course, if this were easy then everyone would do it. There were and are difficult days. I have been stripping away a persona that I had built for almost 20 years. I am still shy, and don’t exactly know who I am in social settings yet without my old friend Mr. Booze. But I know I can figure that out. There are times when I have FOMO (fear of missing out) when my friends order a really nice cocktail or a glass of champagne. There are personal problems, days when I’ve been sick, stressed at work or just a bad day. These will always happen. But I know that with OYNB I can get through them. The daily emails and videos are a great way, to at least once a day know you are doing something amazing for yourself. The online group is the most game changing part of this for me. I have never seen a place where people are so authentically honest, giving, welcoming, trusting, scared and helpful. I am used to being in front of an audience, but this is a different form or cheering. We cheer for each other for every win, no matter how small. We cheer for each other just as much, if not harder, in the difficult times. I could not have gotten this far without OYNB and all of the people involved.

I look forward to seeing this through. The last 80 days has woken me up and the future is bursting with potential.
Thank you so much.

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