Remember John? Last October John started a challenge – to stop drinking for 12 months in order to accomplish some of the things he wants to acheive for the next year. This is the second of a series of blogs where John shares his experience. He is at the four-month mark now.
I have this phrase which I say to my eight year old and six year old daughters at least once a week. It’s ‘you vs. you’. Okay, I admit it, I do get a blank glance back in my direction after I’ve said it, but for me, it has to be said. And it’s a phrase I want my children to take with them throughout life.
I’m a huge believer that for the majority of our actions, we’re just competing against ourselves. We’re trying to improve, learn from our mistakes and progress on our own journey.
I also believe that every day, the choices we make, have a real impact on our chances to make a difference, to our lives and to the lives of other people.
Do I get out of bed at 5.15am to get to a 6am CrossFit class or do I hit snooze? Do I snack on social media for an hour, or do I switch off my device and spend time with the children? Do I eat that cake or go for the apple instead and do I drink that last beer or just stick to the two or three and head for home? All questions I grapple with, or have grappled with, on a weekly basis.
Without wanting to sound like one of those lifestyle gurus that regularly fill the top ten best sellers at WH Smith, but for every action we take, there is an effect. And in the majority of cases, it’s in our hands as to whether that’s a positive or negative effect.
And that’s where I pick up my alcohol free year journey. I’ve just hit the four month milestone. That’s more than 16 weeks without even a sniff of the stuff. And while I’m not alcohol dependent, this is a major milestone.
I’d class myself as the average 45 year old bloke when it comes to enjoying a tipple. I’d frequent the pub a few times of month and sink a couple of pints while catching up with my mates. I’d also open the occasional bottle of real ale while sat in front of the TV. So based on that, kicking the booze would be a doddle, right? Erm, wrong!
It’s tough. But I’m proud that I survived the lead up to Christmas and the actual festivities themselves without caving in. And I can now look back on an alcohol free New Year’s Eve with pride, instead of the sheer torment it was at the time. But I did it, I made a decision to quit booze for a year in October and I stuck to it. I dug in and got stoic, despite the going being tough at times.
Giving up booze for a year requires a real mental toughness, as I’m finding out. But the physical benefits of being off the ale for four months are starting to show.
I recently completed a National Trust 7k night run around the Peak District. Normally such a challenge would have seen me, a veteran runner, finish towards the back of the pack. Not this time. I ended up finishing 94th out of 350 runners. Physically, my energy levels have improved and as my Fitbit tells me, I regularly get more than seven hours undisturbed sleep a night now.
I’m not even half way yet, and I know I have some tough times ahead – awards evenings, holidays and birthdays. But this is ‘me vs. me’ and I’m determined to finish what I set out to do on October 19th last year. For now, pass me the Green Tea…