Everyone has moments when they wished they didn’t drink, usually on a Saturday morning when they realise the previous nights excesses are going to take an entire weekend to get over.
Dry January has become incredibly popular as a result of people’s aspiration to cut back on the boozing, but if your alcohol-free ambitions stretch beyond a month, the extended challenges – 90 and 365 days – on offer at OneYearNoBeer might appeal (they also offer a 30-day challenge).
Coach met up with its creators – city brokers Andy Ramage and Ruari Fairbairns – to learn about the benefits of a teetotal lifestyle.
Why did you set up OneYearNoBeer?
Andy: About three years ago I decided to stop drinking. I was drinking too much, simple as that. The hangovers were long and my weekends were being destroyed. I found it bloody difficult [to give up], I’d get two or three weeks and then I’d get tripped up. When I finally managed to do it, I got to three months and carried on and on.
I managed to inspire Ruari [to do the same]. We realised that life got so much better. Our relationships got better with our family. The weekends weren’t laboured. We had all that vitality, playing with kids or pursuing sports and hobbies. Our energy came back, business went up, expenses went down.
Ruari: I actually thought I was going to lose my edge and my customers. There’s this perception of, “How can I survive without drinking in this world? No-one will like me. Who am I supposed to be?” It’s all bullshit, and that’s why we want people to take the challenge and prove that.
Andy: What people really need is that excuse to get going. This is where the idea for the challenge came from. Everyone loves a challenge, from Tough Mudders to triathlons. Every middle-aged bloke is doing it.
We want an excuse that people can give in the pub. Alcohol’s the only drug in the world that when you tell a group of people you’ve given it up, they’ll berate you for it, so having that community and support is important.
Do the benefits extend beyond avoiding hangovers?
Andy: You’ll be a better dad. You’ll be better at your job, more productive. You’ll lose weight. You’ll feel that vibrancy. I went and got fit, I started eating really well, started meditating, but stopping drinking was the one thing that had a bigger impact than everything else combined.
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Do you recommend trying longer than 30 days?
Ruari: In a 30-day period you can avoid friends, and that’s what most people who try dry January do. So they don’t encounter that peer pressure, they don’t learn anything. In 90 days, you’re probably going to do a wedding, a stag do, go on holiday, go out with friends. You’re going to learn to do it without drinking.
Andy: In 30 days you still experience the benefits, but we always say the magic happens at around 60/90 days, when you go “wow”.
Being a bit longer, you have to go into your social routines, change and adapt, and have a look at the other side of the coin. That’s all we’re saying, have a look at it, and make your decision at the end. If you want to go back to drinking that’s fine, we’re not telling anyone to stop completely, but we want them to get to the end of the 90 days, and then make the decision – my life was better with alcohol, or actually it’s much better without it.
What tips do you have for staying sober?
Ruari: Book a fitness challenge, because that adds to your excuse in the pub. Say you’re taking 90 days off the booze to do a marathon, a 5k, an ultra-marathon. Whatever your fitness level is.
Andy: You really have to plan. Winging it simply doesn’t work. Plan your drinks, have a backup drink. Another thing is that if you slip up, so what? It’s not the end of the world. Dust yourself off and learn from your mistakes.
Ruari: It’s about preparing. Knowing what you’re going to drink on Friday night. If you’re standing there with a Becks Blue [alcohol-free lager] in your hand, nobody will know, so the pressure is reduced.
Andy: Take out the ringleader – the larger than life friend that can destroy you. Tell them about your challenge so when you do meet them in the pub, you’re not trying to explain yourself when you order a non-alcoholic drink and he slaughters you in front of everyone. If you’ve got him onside, your life becomes a bit easier.
If you’re ready to try an alcohol-free existence yourself, head to oneyearnobeer.com
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.