How & Why I Went 300 Days Without Alcohol

Jun 24, 2023

Thought of the day:

“With every act of self-care your authentic self gets stronger, and the critical, fearful mind gets weaker. Every act of self-care is a powerful declaration: I am on my side, I am on my side, each day I am more and more on my own side.”

 S. Berry


In this week's Dose, I share HOW & WHY I went 300+ days without drinking alcohol.
Look, I've had a ton of fun drinking and some amazing memories.
Lolapalooza, 2 years in Chicago, Cubs games, weddings, Christmas dinners...
Of course it wasn't 100% bad. If it was, no one would do it.
But it also cost me my health, motivation, mood, & ultimately held me back from the life I wanted to live.
And I've learned it was a short-term bandaid with long-term consequences.
I used it to be more social, dance at weddings (I needed A LOT for this), talk to women, have fun at concerts...
But then I started to ask why.
Why did I ALWAYS lean on alcohol in those situations?
Why did it feel like I couldn't do those things without it?
Why did it feel impossible to attend a baseball game without having pre-game beers at a bar and then grab 2 tall cans before I went to my seat?
My mind would say "We don't need it, we just WANT it. And because we want it, it's OKAY!"
The mind is slippery like that.
I remember going to a Blackhawks game with a buddy who got us incredible seats 10 rows up from the glass.
Normally, I would've had 4-5 beers, but I had an early flight the next day so I didn't drink.
At first, it felt SO WEIRD to not be buzzed at a sporting event.
But a few minutes into the game, something odd happened.
I was so locked in on the action and found myself more aware of the game and how each team was playing.
In that moment, I realized just how much I missed out on by always being buzzed at games. 
But it wasn't enough to get me to stop, I still had concerns...
What would I do without it? For holidays, birthdays, bachelor parties?
My mind only had the capacity to picture myself surrounded by people drinking and trying my hardest to AVOID it all the time.
Sounds exhausting and impossible.
I realized I struggled to think of future scenarios where it'd be easy to not drink.
Because that hadn't been my life for the past 17 years.
Everything was centered around alcohol.
Little did I know there was a whole world of normal, bright, high-performing people who don't drink.
And not only are they fine, they all say their life is better without it.
But I told myself I was different - that it couldn't be that way for me.
I thought I'd never be able to have confidence, fun, or ever really relax.
What I didn't realize, was the reason I craved it on weekends was because I never went long enough without it to learn how good I COULD feel.
Or long enough to learn those cravings (or hooks, as I call them) go away completely.
Like a fish that gets hooked by a fisherman and gets yanked when the line gets taught.
Or a dog on a leash tied to a fence only allowed to roam so far in the yard until getting pulled back in.
I'd make it 6 days before the hooks dug in.
Then a happy hour beer or spicy margarita sounded GOOD.
If you would have told me that I had hooks in 5 years ago, I would have said:
"No way, I don't need it. I just want it. It's fun."
A beer used to sound GREAT.
But now it makes my mouth water in disgust - I never thought that would happen.
It reminded me that the first time I drank at 16, I gutted through it because it tasted gross.
The buzz was what I was chasing... so I learned to slam them down.
The truth is, it took me 2+ years of cutting back before I said "Enough!"

I'd cut back to once a month and drink half as much.
But when I did drink, I'd still have a HUGE 2-3 day dip in motivation and an increase in anxiety.
I was drinking less & less, but still felt shitty each time.
It was like my body finally had a chance to experience what it felt like to feel GREAT.
Then when I put the toxin back in, my body had a stronger response to reject it.
Still, I envisioned myself drinking on occasion at Christmas, birthdays, weddings...
But even there, drinking began to sound less and less enjoyable.
Last August, I was in San Jose for my friend's birthday.
And while I didn't drink during his party, I had a beer with him a few days later, in his backyard, in the sun, just us two.
Just one beer with my best friend to celebrate his birthday.
I woke up the next morning feeling terrible.
I was incredibly down on myself and questioning everything I had worked for to build PER the past 2 years.
I was unmotivated, hyper-critical, and I had thoughts about how much easier it'd be if I just wasn't living anymore.
It seemed like a good option in that moment.
Ultimately, it was the wake-up call I needed.
Though I was hard on myself that morning, I was also able to give myself some tough-love:
"You say you have all of these dreams, this vision to create a men's wellness MOVEMENT, to travel the world with your best friends, to be as healthy as possible, get a black belt in jiu-jitsu, to raise a family, to wake up at 5am, tp get AFTER it each and every day...
AND to be a man on a mission who's driven by a purpose greater than himself.
So tell me, where the fuck does alcohol fit into all of this??
If you feel you need it to relax, why don't you find healthy ways to relax?
Or better yet, learn how to create a life that you don't need to escape from.
If you feel you need it to be social, why don't you build confidence through hard work and developing better skills?
If you need it to have fun, why don't you DO THE WORK and get to the root issue instead of taking the easy way out?"
In that moment, I realized all of the "reasons" I'd tell myself I wanted to drink were baseless.
They were ploys by my lower self to seek comfort over growth. 
I wanted to live a life full of energy, creativity, fun, activity, travel, and most importantly, one where I FELT MY BEST.
I wanted to create a different outcome than what I had.
And this was still one massive anchor holding me back... even with the tiny amount I had been drinking.
The further away I get from it, the more perspective I gain on alcohol's influence in our culture.
It's marketed to us to think it's totally normal.
It's the only drug where you're the weirdo if you don't do it.
But just because something is normal, doesn't mean it's natural.
And this quote DEEPLY resonated with me, "If drinking causes ANY problems in your life, you have a drinking problem."
I've learned it's near impossible to cut back if you don't have a reason that's stronger than getting buzzed.
As it goes for any major life change, you have to be clear on what you want MOST to not give in to what you want NOW.
I HAD to get clear on what I was GAINING by cutting it out, not what I was losing.
There's a reason 100% of people who stop drinking say their life is better without it.
Think about that and let that sink it for a moment...
Of course it was challenging, but challenges aren't a bad thing.
And I've always had a drive to put my health FIRST no matter what.
Above peer pressure, above judgment from friends, above trolls online.
Here are a few things I say when people offer me a drink or ask why I'm not drinking:
  • I'm not really drinking right now
  • I have to get up superrrr early tomorrow
  • I have a big day tomorrow (hint: life is short, every day is a big day)
  • Not really liking how it makes me feel at the moment
  • No thanks
  • Nah, I'm good. Thank you though!
And I found when I say it with conviction & the spirit of...
"Listen motherfucker, I know my body & what it needs, and this ain't it!"
People respect and even admire it.
Because deep down, I believe people don't want to get drunk.
What they want, is to FEEL a certain way.
To have more fun, connect with others, love life, spend time with loved ones, feel accepted, etc
And alcohol is not a pre-requisite for ANY of that.
They just haven't yet realized they have the ability to have all of that right now, as they are.
I don't care if people drink.
I care about the people who do, but don't really want to.
And they feel scared to stop due to peer pressure or are unsure HOW to do it or WHO they'd be without it.
I care about those that have big dreams but continue to treat their ONE body like a dumpster.
So let's look at ways to take action.
7 Actionable Ways To Cut Back:

1. Take an audit of your social environment.

Wondering how you'll be able to turn down a beer when you meet friends at a bar/restaurant?
Opt for a different activity or abstain from going.
Your environment has a HUGE influence on you. You have to be mindful of that.
The easiest way not to drink at first?
Remove yourself from those situations. Simple.
And frankly, if your friends don't support you 100%, it's time to level up who you surround yourself with.
I don't mean to say this flippantly like it's easy. It's extremely hard.
But so is doing something you don't want to that makes you feel like crap.
Hard is OK. We're meant to do hard things.
You have the power to choose your hard.

2. Mind your physical space and remember to apply FRICTION.

I've talked about this before, but if you want to stop any 'bad' habit, increase friction.
You can think of friction like speed bumps.
The more speed bumps, the longer it takes to get to where you're going.
Some ideas...
Remove all alcohol from your house.
Put your bottles in the garage, in a locked box, on the top shelf.
This obviously won't stop you from drinking, but the goal is to add enough friction so you have MORE time & opportunity to course-correct.
This works.

3. Take it seriously.

I can't emphasize this enough. YOU matter.
Your health matters. Your family COUNTS on you. You are a ROLE MODEL to others.
If you really want to do this, make it your fucking mission. Do it for something greater than you.
Be an adult, own your decisions, and take your well-being seriously.
You are fucking worth it.

4. Have ONE thing that is more important to you than drinking.

Kids? Wife? Health? Chasing a dream? Your business?
All great starting points.
Only you will know what will work best for you.

5. Drink nabbies (my term for non-alcoholic beverages).

Some of them are great, some are terrible. Make it a fun hobby to find the BEST ones (mind the sugar).
There's something about just having a drink in your hand that makes you feel part of the crew.
My personal favorite is the Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher - a hop-flavored sparkling water.
Would love to get sponsored by a beer company to get free water.
A boy can dream...

6. Tell your friends ahead of time.

"Hey dude, just wana let you know I'm really focused on cutting back on drinking for health reasons so I won't be drinking tonight. Just want to let you know ahead of time. I'd appreciate it if you could support me with that!"
That expression of vulnerability will do 1 of 2 things...
It will deepen your relationship and give your friend an amazing chance to be there for you.
OR they won't and it will show you that you need to cut back on the amount of time you hang out with them as you pursue what's best for yourself long-term.

7. Surround yourself with health-conscious, driven people.

This will have one of THE biggest influences on your life.
You'll naturally start to get curious about OTHER activities and ways to spend your time when alcohol isn't the focal point.
This will simply lead you to try new things and meet new people.
And as it turns out, many of these people will also not be super pumped about drinking.
I was shocked to learn just how many regular, normal people DON'T drink. I thought I was the only one, but it was only because I was surrounded by drinkers.
Now, drinkers are the exception.
Remember, none of this matters unless you actually want to change.
I can't help you with that part.
Here's my last tip and the ultimate secret to lasting change...
The real way I changed everything?
I changed my relationship with myself.
I realized I used alcohol as an escape and distraction from how I viewed myself deep down.
Masked with the ideas that I wanted it to have more fun, to dance, to be social, etc.
It was all a lie.
My mind had just created that story and convinced me it was the truth.
It took a lot of work to realize this, but once I built a foundation of deep self-worth & confidence, I began living as the REAL me more consistently.
And the real me doesn't need alcohol to escape, decompress, have fun, or "feel better".
That stuff only existed when I viewed my life through the lens of inadequacy & fear.
So I'll wrap with a few questions to answer for yourself:
What are the top 5 most important things in YOUR LIFE?
What're you willing to do to feel your best?
To believe?
To give up?
What trade-offs are you willing to make?
What are you NOT willing to do?
WRITE THEM DOWN. Don't just think about them.
Writing them makes them real.
Hope this helped.
Tim 🖤
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