I Quit Drinking and Lost 100 Pounds in the Process. This is My Story
Picture it: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2011. I had finished serving another shift at my placement with AmeriCorps, and was attending a happy hour with coworkers. I knew something was amiss when my coworkers ordered a beer or two, and a burger. That was strange to me. Happy hour meant ordering as many discounted cocktails I could in the few short hours they were available. That’s what I was used to, being a recent college graduate, and having friends who drank much the same as I did. That memory has always stayed with me, highlighting just how much I drank compared to those around me.
I was a late bloomer when it came to alcohol, starting a few months before my 21st. My tolerance was low, and I didn’t really care for it. That soon changed as I realized it allowed me to be what felt like a better version of myself. I truly felt that “liquid courage” people feel when they’ve had a few. Growing up gay, and having my peers and grown adults police my behavior to the point where I shut expression down really stunted how I interacted with people. But after drinking a few cocktails? It was like I could let the gay out. I loved it. It’s no wonder I drank so much. I just wanted to express myself because I otherwise didn’t feel I could if I was sober.
And I drank. A. Lot.
I won’t say I don’t have a drinking problem, but I will say addiction isn’t it. I just really love to drink.
I was the type of friend to pregame the pregame.
Having a bad Saturday and want to drink it away? I’ll show up to your place already drunk.
Want to take a spontaneous road trip? You’d have to drive because I was gonna be pouring a to go cup for myself.
Day drink? Why not morning, noon, and night? Because I was a marathon drinker, I could go all day.
Living in Pittsburgh, this wasn’t taking a noticeable toll on my body. I was in my early to mid-twenties, my metabolism was faster, and I was walking everywhere. The constant drinking wasn’t touching me. In fact, I lost weight living there.
Things started changing when I moved back to Michigan for grad school, though, in 2012. Since I wasn’t walking as much, and I’m fairly certain my alcohol consumption went up (as did my food delivery ordering) the weight I lost started coming back, plus some. Additionally, I had lost the ability to sleep through the night. If I drank, it would take longer to fall back to sleep than if I had not drank at all. Weird, but true.
Fast forward to 2016. I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Still drinking, still suffering when I try to sleep, and I weigh about 255 lbs. This is after trying and failing to diet, to curb my drinking, and after hiring a personal trainer. The first of many trainers.
July 2016, I remember going to bed and feeling the weirdest sensation in my left arm. I thought I was having a heart attack, to be honest. It only happened when I felt myself drifting off to sleep. I still don’t know what it was, but the sensation only occurred after drinking three or more days in a row. To anyone with sense, you would stop drinking. But not me, too used to feeling free while drinking. So instead of drinking Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, then feeling the sensation Monday night, I drank Friday and Saturday. I would have my sober Sunday, then drink Monday night. It worked.
By 2019, I had found myself in shock at candid photos of myself. I couldn’t believe who I was seeing. I hadn’t realized all the weight I had gained. In three years, I had gone from 255 to… 300 pounds. Mind you, in 2018, I had hired another personal trainer. I don’t blame her at all. My issue there was getting in a good workout, then treating myself to fast food. My diet never changed. So of course, my weight never went down, though I had gotten stronger.
Things began to change in September 2019 after a very drunken vacation to Denver, Colorado. Waking up with a hangover, I found myself on the social media app, Reddit. The algorithm somehow knew to suggest the “Stop Drinking” subreddit, and I found myself scrolling through. Most of the stories didn’t click with me, but I found a few that were eye opening. Particularly one story about a woman wrestling with drinking with moderation. Long story short, she couldn’t do it. She would either just drink the rest of her life or be completely sober.
I knew I had to be the same way. I can never just have my one drink. Unless the one is an entire bottle of wine. Like I said before, I won’t call to addiction, but a problem with impulse control. Before I started writing my story here, I drank a whole bottle of non-alcoholic wine. Simply because it was in front of me. If the bottle was a bottle of water, the same outcome. If I see something I want, I do it with excess. It’s something I need to work on.
But I digress.
After reading more stories on Reddit, I decided to do 30 days with no alcohol. I had done it successfully before, so couldn’t hurt to try again.
The effects were immediate. I had more pep in my step, I wasn’t as winded, the dark circles under my eyes were fading, and I lost 10 pounds. All in a month. Clearly, not drinking all those calories and then ordering a late night fourth meal was beneficial. My body did not want to be 300 pounds.
After 30 days of no alcohol, I just kept going with it. And figured, why not try a diet? I know opinions are split, but I did Keto. No need to argue your counterpoints with me, the diet helped. It’s over and done. Though I wouldn’t recommend jumping in as hard as I did but again, impulse control. I just dove headfirst to the extreme.
No carbs, eating at a calorie deficit, and intermittent fasting. That’s it. Well, with the occasional treadmill walk on an incline, about 500 calories each time.
Fast forward to today, and I’ve lost over 100 pounds, and I’ve been sober for about one year and six months. I do short walks daily (<10 miles) and long walks (>10 miles) at least once a week. I do strength training at the gym and at home. It’s truly amazing what I can now that alcohol doesn’t have a hold on me anymore. Before, I would finish work, come home and have a drink. I’d just be on the couch because lazy and drunk. But now? I’m exercising, cooking, and learning a new language. Three hobbies I never would have considered before the pandemic, during, or even after!