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I have been a party animal since my late teens. My life well into my thirties was full of weekend binges and any excuse for midweek beers. Weekends wasted and weekdays spent recovering. It was a constant vicious cycle. On Saturday nights, I would regularly down eight cans of cider before even leaving the house. Then I’d follow that up with another ten pints in the pub. On numerous occasions, I tried to cut down or quit alcohol altogether but I found it very difficult to moderate. So here’s my story about how I quit alcohol. I hope it helps someone else.
In 2009, I managed to stop for the full year—I read Allen Carr’s “Easyway to Control Alcohol. ” But at the end of that year, on New Year’s Eve, I made a conscious decision to start drinking again (moderately of course). I attended a family wedding a few days later and I was straight back to square one. Each year after that, I would abuse my body month in, month out, then read the book again in January. I would normally manage about 3 months of abstinence before giving in and returning to my old ways.
I was killing myself
This way of life started taking a real toll on my health. I started putting on weight in my teens and I was obese for all my adult life. By the time I hit my mid-30s, I weighed around 20 stone and my health was deteriorating fast. I had a number of scans and tests for various health issues. I was in the hospital, getting an ultrasound on my liver and that’s when I finally realized this was insane. Something had to change.
I was pre-diabetic, I had a fatty liver, my blood work was all over the place, I was suffering from shakes and sweats, I was having hip problems, and my weight had broken the 21 stone mark. I made the decision to see out the rest of the year and start afresh on New Year’s Day 2017. (Editors note: 1 stone = 14 pounds or 6.35029kg. So the author weighed 294 pounds)
Giving up booze in January
Staying alcohol-free on New Year’s Day didn’t happen because I was so sick from the New Year’s Eve celebrations that I ended up going on a 12-hour bender on New Year’s Day. I finally started on 2nd January. I read the Allen Carr book again and joined an online community I’d heard about called One Year No Beer. The idea was to publicly sign up to a 365-day challenge of going booze-free.
I’m not sure being Irish is a good enough excuse for the way I drank, but our whole lives are surrounded by alcohol. It’s just such a big part of our culture. Weddings, birthdays and other celebrations are all fueled by booze. In the early days, I found OYNB a great excuse for turning down drinks. “I’ve signed up for OYNB – it’s a challenge. I’m going to see how long I can do it”.
The One Year No Beer community
I am so grateful to One Year No Beer for helping me turn my life around. There are daily emails with the latest lifehacks helping to keep you on track, and weekly podcasts from psychologists and thought leaders. There’s also a private Facebook group for discussion and support. I found it really useful meeting others online who were in the same boat as me. The OYNB Facebook community is amazing. They’re never judgmental, and whenever I was finding things tough, it was somewhere I could go for advice and support.
I learned that there’s nothing to “give up” and everything to gain when deciding to change your relationship with booze. I managed to shed ten stone (140 pounds) in two years, simply because, once I removed what was holding me back, I was able to exercise more. At first, I began walking, then I started cycling and swimming. Now I struggle to sit down; I’m training 6 or 7 days every week. I cycle to work every day and I’ve set up a gym in the garden.
When I look back, I was a completely different person. I used to love breakfast rolls and I’d eat all the wrong foods because I was hungover and just wanted comfort food. I’d have a full Irish breakfast with toast, another bread roll for lunch and a large dinner with loads of crisps and rubbish during the day. Now I’ve completely changed. I haven’t had crisps or sweets since March 2017 and I went vegetarian last year. I never used to do any activity or play sport. Now I’m now a qualified fitness instructor, studying to be a personal trainer.
I have gone from being the party organizer to constantly trying to get the family involved in activities. We go sea swimming most weekends and spend our time in the outdoors, showing our kids that there are alternatives to drinking and that they’re much more fun. The younger generation nowadays seems much more health-conscious and are not as interested in drinking. Hopefully, with the great work OYNB are doing this will continue to be the trend.
About the Author:
Darren is a member of the OYNB community and is now a qualified fitness instructor after having lost almost ten stone by transforming his relationship with alcohol through the 365-Day Alcohol-Free Challenge. If you would like to find out more, please visit www.oneyearnobeer.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.