Turning 41 years old came with some wake up calls to the condition of my health. I have never lived a healthy lifestyle. Even as a soldier in the U.S Army, I constantly met the bare minimum in physical fitness testing. This was also where I began drinking. Not scoring a 40 oz or splitting a 12 pack of beer between three of my buddies in the neighborhood playground like I did every other weekend as a high school kid, but honest to goodness, hard guzzling, blackout inducing binge drinking. consequently, I was a discipline case that the army soon got rid of. It wasn’t until I got back to civilian life in 1996 that my weight started to pile on. Slowly but surely I transformed from army fit to the out of shape slug I am today, barely recognizable from the 140 lb high school senior that graduated in 1992.
While annoyed with the weight, the trade off of a lifestyle change wasn’t enough to motivate me. Alcohol had become a passion by this point. From high calorie craft beer, to the cheap quick convenience of rot gut liquor, my days off were planned around heavy drinking. Pretty shameful when I think about it with a sober mind. Aside from the damaging effects on my health, I have slept away mornings, missed days of work and in general missed out on many of life’s simple pleasures like days at the beach, hikes in the mountains and games with the kids.
In early January of 2016 I was diagnosed with stage 3 liver fibrosis. One step away from full blown cihrossis. Now, perhaps I could live life my way and never develop cihrossis, maybe 1 more month of the heavy drinking would seal my fate. Perhaps my fate is already sealed. I don’t know and I hesitantly decided I didn’t want to find out. It was clear I had to make 2 changes in life:
1. Lose weight
2. Stop drinking.
The first step was easy. Immediately after getting the news I began being more concious of my calorie intake. Not necessarily full blown dieting. I still eat what I want (which really wasn’t that bad anyway) I am just more concious of how much and in regards to junk, how often. I also began exercising. nothing too taxing, but simple things go a long way for someone my size. I no longer use my breaks at work to surf the net and eat doritos. I found that a 10 minute walk equals half a mile and 100 calories burned. 2 to 3 times during the day, along with a nice stroll with my previously deprived dogs in the evening easily burns 500 calories a day. That creates a pretty decent deficit without killing myself in a gym. As I write this, three weeks after buckling down, I am 12 lbs and two belt loops lighter.
Now, the second part to the solution was the hard one. Truth is, for the last 20 years I’ve never considered life without drinking. It made me who I was. I started trying to come up with compromises: “beer is 95% water and I’m only going to drink 6” or “drinking once a week should be able to process easy”. I found myself googling things like “how much can I drink with stage 3 firbrosis” and even trying to research the success rate of reversing fibrosis not because I was concerned about my health, but I wanted to know when I could go back to drinking.
Then, the epiphany came. It came by way of Allan Carr. That name meant nothing to me until a couple weeks ago. It came by unusual circumstance. A collegue had posted on facebook that he was 15 years tobacco free. amidst the congratulation comments he mentioned he was able to quit using the “Allan Carr method” . Now I quit smoking 5 years ago, but for some reason I was curious enough to look up this Allan Carr guy. The reviews were astonishing. Like, if this many people have had this much success just by reading his book, how come he isn’t a household name. Then I found out he had a book to quit drinking. WHOA! just read a book, then turn to a non drinker? Well, it was 8.99 for a kindle version, Which, I figured was cheaper than a 6 pack of my favorite craft beer. I don’t know how, but it worked. I can’t explain it any other way than hocus pocus, but as soon as I started reading alcohol consumption became a silly notion to me. At that moment, i considered myself a “non-drinker.” Remember, I DID NOT want to quit drinking, but knew there was no other way. I thought this was going to be the biggest challenge but it wasn’t. it was really that simple. Would Allan Carr’s method work for everyone? I have no idea. Would I have quit successfully without reading? Maybe, but I was more concerned trying to calculate how much effect a single beer or a single night binge would have on my condition and what I could get away with more than finding away to stop the drinking. Will I ever go back to drinking? I obviously don’t know what the future holds, I do make my own decisions and I can honestly say it isn’t even an after thought. I am a non-drinker and I have no desire to return to that lifestyle even if the doctor called me tomorrow and said a mistake was made and I actually have the healthiest liver he’s ever seen. For whatever reason, within the first couple pages of the book, my mental state was altered.
So, Why a blog?
So why am i writing this? Well for purely selfish reasons. The diagnosis was a wake up call. I could’ve brushed it off, but there was an overwhelming reaction from friends and family that really made me think “hey, this is my life.” As I started contemplating the seriousness of the diagnosis and the lifestyle changes I need to make, my brain became flooded with thoughts. As the booze cleared my system, so did my mental state. There are the typical outlets where I could post this stuff, like Facebook, but I prefer to keep personal stuff personal. Facebook is a place to share stupid political memes, funny videos and to brag on children’s accomplishments. So with this blog, I intend to keep a journal of my thoughts and experiences through out. Plus, it keeps my brain busy and focused on doing the right thing for my health.