In my early 20s, I regularly drank and booze was a part of my life. I never imagined I would drinking alcohol.
Drinking was a form of bonding, it enabled me to meet new people and have fun.
It didn’t interfere with my training and I always managed to make the gym after a heavy night. Hangovers were short-lived. I felt pretty invincible despite drinking a lot.
When I reached my mid 20s I began to notice changes; I was no longer able to ride the waves of youth.
My warp speed metabolism had slowed down. A few extra beers at the weekend now meant extra pounds on my stomach.
Hangovers became stronger and lasted for days.
I tried to combat excessive drinking and weight gain by switching to spirits. But I knew deep down alcohol was taking me in the wrong direction.
In one night of drinking I undid a week of careful dieting and training. I was like a dog chasing its own tail.
On closer examination I found my relationship with alcohol was an unequal one. It took away without giving in return.
I asked myself why I drank and didn’t have a good answer. Aside from the fact it was the norm.
The truth was, I was a sheep.
Eventually at 26 I reached a tipping point. The lows from alcohol were now more frequent than the highs. I could no longer justify spending an entire weekend in vegetative state, unable to move or do anything productive.
Binge drinking had lost its gloss.
I began to reduce my alcohol intake and changed to water when I felt myself approaching my limit.
It was a great idea in theory, but in practice it was very different.
Drinking this way requires discipline and diligence. Alcohol dulls the senses and alters your perception, and there’s a fine line between buzzed and drunk.
On the occasion I went beyond a few drinks I saw them as one-offs. But these one-offs became more frequent and before I knew it, I regressed into old habits.
I was trapped in a vicious circle; go out, drink, feel like shit, rinse and repeat.
Moderation clearly didn’t work for me, so I decided to quit drinking alcohol entirely.
For anyone trying to quit alcohol, one of the biggest obstacles is peer pressure.
It’s ironic – people get anxious when they discover you’re not drinking. They offer you drinks and to try and tempt you into drinking.
If that doesn’t work, they try to get you by calling you a ‘health freak’. Or they tell you you’re boring for not drinking.
However, later you realise these are last ditch attempts by people who feel insecure about their own decision to drink.
Although I had made the decision to quit drinking alcohol, I wasn’t completely rid of it.
I would go several weeks without drinking then I would get drunk on a night out. And I began to wonder if I made the right choice – perhaps I was being too drastic?
I felt like an outsider at social events because I wasn’t drinking – I wanted to fit in and be liked.
So I made excuses why I wasn’t drinking – I was ‘taking a break’ or I was hungover, I wasn’t strong in my convictions and was easily swayed by peoples opinions. This led to self-doubt and it’s the reason why I was so inconsistent.
When I became clear about quitting alcohol I began to see results:
I wanted to look better, feel better and be as healthy as possible.
I stopped attending events where the main focus was drinking and I didn’t socialise with heavy drinkers. And I learned drinking was mostly about acceptance from others.
I became leaner and ate better because I no longer ate booze-induced fast food.
My progress in the gym was excellent. I no longer took time off from hangovers or made half-hearted attempts after a night out.
I slept better because my sleep was not interrupted by alcohol. Instead of wasting away in bed I had more energy to spend on projects and hobbies
Nonetheless I still wanted to meet people and socialise – so I took up dancing. This way I could go out and enjoy myself, but be around people who didn’t see alcohol as the main event.
As a bonus, I saved a ton of money – I didn’t realise how much I spent drinking until I quit alcohol.
Quitting alcohol in a drinking culture is not easy, it is so ingrained that people can’t imagine life without it.
However, it’s important to be clear about why you want to give up alcohol. Because this will see you through the inevitable tough times.
You need to avoid negative influences when you quit drinking alcohol. You don’t need people to bring you down or constantly question your decision to quit drinking.
The majority of my friends respected my decision. This gave me the courage to see it through.
Originally I was worried about everyone’s opinion. But honestly people are too busy thinking about themselves to worry about you.
Find an inspirational figure to motivate you, maybe you know a successful individual who doesn’t drink. Their example will be a source of energy for you. There are plenty of individuals who are very successful and tee total.
Moreover, alcohol and drugs are oftend treated as distinct entities. In reality they’re two sides of the same coin.
Most know someone whose life has been devastated by alcohol. Yet society gives it a free pass despite its destructive potential.
The truth is it brings death and disease to those who abuse it.
The benefits of quitting alcohol go way beyond physical health. While many use alcohol to relax, I felt calmer and more relaxed without it.
There are benefits of drinking alcohol in moderation – but this requires diligence. If you enjoy drinking then carry on, but if you really want to take your health to the next level, then ditch the booze.