It’s now been over 1000 days since I drank anything alcoholic.
To give some perspective of how things used to be, for 8 or 9 years I was hooked on wine. Red, white or both. 2–3 bottles minimum per night, many times more.
I was always sloshed by 8pm, ending the night crashed out on the sofa, hungover every morning and spending most afternoons constantly checking the time to see if it was ‘acceptable’ to open a bottle.
Every morning I’d drag myself out of bed and call myself all the names under the sun for being so stupid, vow not to do it again, and repeat the whole process later that day. My self esteem was rock bottom and self loathing sky high.
I thought ‘this is it. This is what life looks like for me now’ and making any changes seemed impossible.
But thanks to an Instagram friend who had been sober for 2 weeks and shared a photo encapsulating the shear joy he was feeling, everything did change.
I wanted to live with joy and adventure in my heart and I decided to investigate further. On looking at his profile I saw he recommended the book ‘The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober’. That day I bought and downloaded the book and started to read. I finished it by 1pm and I was hooked. I joined a Facebook sober group that afternoon and committed to change my life. Day one had begun.
Making The Change
I believe ‘joy’ has been the underlying secret to my sobriety.
Before that day my brain linked sobriety to pain. The pain of giving something up I ‘enjoyed’, of not being able to have fun, of going without and missing out. It was all bad, bad, bad and frankly too difficult.
From this day on I saw a new perspective. One of Joy in sobriety and I can honestly say that’s how I feel now. I started by really focusing my mind on all of the benefits of a new joyous life, one underpinned by sobriety. I sat down and thought deeply, pen and paper in hand and designed a new life for myself. I visualised myself doing things I was too drunk or hungover to do. I focussed on improving my health and started doing new things like morning tennis and swimming lessons that were scheduled at a time I’d previously have been sleeping off a hangover.
I filled my head with positivity, devouring books on the benefits of a sober life and took the time to fully notice and appreciate any happiness in my new life. I practiced gratitude by writing down 3 things that occurred that day for which I was truly thankful every night ensuring I went to sleep feeling happy. I purchased a blood pressure monitor (I was on medication), fitness scales that measure body composition as well as weight (I had fatty liver) and downloaded new health apps to my Apple Watch allowing me to record and see the changes sobriety was making to my health.
First thing every morning (after coffee) I’d post in my sober Facebook group, simply stating that another day of sobriety has passed. This worked for me as it held me accountable. The thought of not being able to post that I’d completed another day of sobriety was something that kept me going when temptation was strong.
By doing all of this the joyous life I designed in my head was starting to become a reality.
After about 2 weeks I started to notice the changes.
My sleep improved massively and all of a sudden I had an unrecognisable feeling of daytime energy. I started giving more and getting more from each day and feeling good as a result.
I could see from my Apple Watch why this was happening - I was sleeping deeper, getting the proper rest I needed and benefitting massively from it the following day.
Through drinking I had hypertension and my doctor had prescribed me daily tablets to keep me in check. Within a month of stopping my blood pressure had fallen to normal levels but a few weeks after that it dropped to ‘optimum’, averaging around 110 over 75.
I stopped taking the tablets and they remain gathering dust at the back of my medicine cabinet today.
My fatty liver disappeared within 6 months. It actually may have been earlier but this was the soonest I was able to get an ultrasound scan. My weight and body fat also dropped. Whilst drinking I weighed an average of 86KG, which meant I was on the verge of obesity based on my BMI and my body fat was a dangerously high 28%.
After 4 months my weight dropped to 73KG and body fat dropped too 11%. Yes, I exercised, but no more than I did whilst drinking. Without the alcohol the exercise was doing more than partly offsetting the abuse I was giving my body and without that abuse it’s effects became more evident.
My new found energy meant I was doing more too and by doing more I increased the energy I was using and the calories I was burning. But this was all fun stuff, a natural consequence of living life more fully.
I was signed off by my doctor who had been monitoring me for over a year, such was her concern. Now she marvelled at how I had been able to change everything around and the physical results it had brought.
But the physical benefits are only part of the story, my mental health improved massively too.
My self esteem returned. I was happier in myself and therefore in my interactions with others. I became a better dad, husband and friend. Put simply I was learning to enjoy life, appreciate it fully and reflect this in how I was with others. That’s not to say life was or is a bed of roses. Shit happens whether you drink or not, but in sobriety I found I could deal with the shit much better.
I have experienced everything from bad days at the office to bereavement, but my ability to process the shit and deal with it was much stronger than it would have been had I have wallowed in a pity party drowned it in alcohol.
The Long Term
More than a thousand days in I can’t quite believe how much life has changed and certainly not how the feelings I now feel and the activities I now do are just part of everyday life for me. They all seemed impossible not that long ago.
I often talk with people who doubt the benefits of stopping drinking. I wish I could bottle everything I now feel up and let them experience it for themselves as I’m pretty certain they would do everything they can to feel that way. But I can’t. I can only tell people of my own experiences in the hope that it provides some motivation to try it out themselves.
I also believe that what we see on the outside is just a reflection of how we feel on the inside. And, for me feeling what I now feel inside is by far the most important benefit.
It could be yours too.
Jason is a Certified Personal Trainer, Life Coach, NLP Practitioner, Black Belt & Nutritional Adviser. find out more at https://www.new-u-coaching.com
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