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Celebrating one year alcohol-free

JT quote 2

This month I am celebrating nearly one year of being alcohol-free.

In July 2022, I made the decision to stop drinking alcohol (I still don't know why) and I'm thrilled to announce I'm almost one year alcohol-free - appropriately enough, during Alcohol Awareness Week!

I say I don't know why but pretty much it had been bubbling away. I'd be going to the pub with my mates at the weekends and spending, you know, chunks of time there - you'd see people you'd like to have a drink and a chat with, and you'd end up having another, and then maybe another.

I guess I saw a trend where the time I was spending with my friends, I felt that we were using drink as an anchor.

It more came about as almost goal setting. I didn't necessarily like the way I felt after drinking. It might be great fun, but could I have spent the time elsewhere? I was doing quite a lot of exercise at the time and had set myself some fitness goals, and I was like, do I have to drink here? I can still enjoy myself; can I still socialise sober?

So the decision didn't really begin as a 'Right, I'm not drinking again', it more kind of evolved. I didn't have that perception of it as being a life-changing decision.

I was focused on my exercise goals and taking inspiration from podcasts I was listening to, David Goggins (former Navy SEAL and endurance athlete) and a former footballer who talked about mental wellbeing. It was more a case of exploring what benefits I could have, might have, without drinking, and realising the lifestyle in general could be better.

'It wasn't a great cycle to be in'

I was 17 when I was first given a drink, and it became a weekend thing for me. I suppose over the years the concern (if that's the right word) was that I'd be drinking for the weekend. That was my lifestyle. It would set me back - I'd feel sluggish on a Monday and Tuesday, found I was looking forward to having a drink and socialising come Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

It wasn't a great cycle but I didn't recognise that at the time - and I think a lot of people don't. I had a good look at my habits, I wasn't getting out of hand, but a couple of beers would easily turn into more.

There's this video I saw about how eventually alcohol could come to be viewed similarly to smoking in the future. It's crazy to see how a simple video can make us contemplate the possibility of a societal shift, where alcohol could be frowned upon across the board.

This idea resonated with me, especially considering the unique challenges we face in Scotland, where I'm from, and how 'the bevvy' is part and parcel to celebrating.

When I did say I was not drinking, I did get negative reactions sometimes, if I'm honest. But I felt drinking was not giving me any benefit - I cut back, then I thought why not stop altogether. If there is a negative reaction from someone, maybe it says more about them than you.

I'd be lying if I said it had been without its challenges. But despite that, I have found it worth pursuing a life that I feel aligns better with my overall wellbeing as well as my fitness goals.  I feel like it's something I'm doing for me.

I'm not sure if I can see a scenario where I might have a drink in future. I don't feel any pressure to drink any more, I'm just kind of indifferent to it. I'm going to a stag do and wedding soon and you might think there'd be temptation to drink but I just feel, why would I do that now?

People ask is it for good, and I don't know - "for good" is a long time! But it's something I am doing just now; I don't miss drinking and I feel strongly about the benefits to my wellbeing.

'Life has transformed in incredible ways'

I went from drinking quite a lot to drinking sporadically to sobriety, so I've experienced all three. I have to say since embracing sobriety, my life has transformed in incredible ways. Not only have I experienced increased clarity, improved relationships, and more energy, but it has also had a profound impact on my fitness levels.

I've noticed significant improvements in my athletic performance; more stamina during workouts, quicker recovery times, and a stronger and more resilient body. It's amazing how a simple change can unlock so many positive outcomes.

We're expecting a baby later this year and I think that brings a different perspective. You take a step back and wonder, what's in my life that is potentially of no benefit to my family, wellbeing, overall goals and aspirations.

If anyone is thinking about making a change in their relationship with alcohol, I encourage you to explore the possibilities.

Cheers to personal growth, positive transformations, and reaching new fitness heights!

(You can see that video of how booze may be viewed in a few years' time here...) 

John Tierney MRICS works in the local government sector in Scotland. He became an ambassador for LionHeart after taking multiple attempts to pass his APC, explaining: "I was really suffering after the fourth attempt, and I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to pass. That's when I contacted LionHeart, who patiently listened to my situation and referred me to their counselling service."

John has since spoken about the effect counselling had and how he considered it to be a turning point in his life and career (see below)

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