On March 10, 2010, I went for a 'hangover breakfast' at the International House of Pancakes (IHOP), after a fun night at the South by Southwest festival.
Everything made me feel nauseous. The big, bright, bold colors on the IHOP menus. The sights and smells of greasy, unhealthy food.
I felt rock bottom so made the instant decision to go 30 days alcohol-free: a personal bet to test my self-discipline.
The first two weeks were hard. When I went out with friends and ordered water, they gave me a hard time. “You’re un-Australian!” they’d say.
But I survived those two weeks. I felt better, slept better and had more mental clarity.
After 30 days, I’d lost an incredible 13lbs (5.9kg) of fat around my stomach. Just from stopping drinking.
I had more money in the bank. My skin looked considerably better, and I enjoyed getting out of bed for early morning exercise.
“Bugger it. I feel great," I said to myself. "Just keep going and see how far you can go.” Little did I know just how far I would go.
After 60 days, I craved a cold beer. Or a red wine. Or a Bombay Sapphire gin and tonic with a dash of lime.
When it was hot outside, I started dreaming, “I could smash a cold beer right now!” But I breathed deeply, downed some water, and the feeling passed.
After three months, I felt terrific. I’d dropped a few more pounds of fat and started to put on lean muscle in the gym. People complimented me on how good I looked.
Despite not drinking, I still managed to have wildly entertaining nights out – even with my drunken friends slurring their words around me.
I could be the life of the party, and no one would notice that I wasn't drinking.
I could still burn the midnight oil until 5 am but didn't want to: nothing good happened after1 am, anyway.
When I told women I wasn’t drinking, far from them thinking I was an alcoholic in recovery, they were impressed with my self-discipline. Conversations became more meaningful.
“Beautiful,” I thought. “I can stop drinking and still be fun, entertaining and attractive to women.”
Guys were always suspicious of my story, thinking that I was an alcoholic in recovery.
They called me a “Pussy!” Or said, “Just have one!” Or “An Aussie that doesn’t drink?!?! F$%k off!”