We first started working together a year ago and we are still working together. We started on the JTT transformation programme and now the Upgraded Life programme.
A trip down memory lane back in November 2021 you filled in an application form
Here is one of the comments you wrote, I asked you to describe your current relationship with alcohol … You replied “I drink wine daily in secret”
Can you tell me a bit about that and how you were feeling then?
I had been drinking for a long time before I realised I had an issue with how much I was drinking. I was drinking 8 to 10 bottles a week and during covid it got worse. I started drinking earlier in the day and on my own because I was a bit ashamed. This is why I reached out for help.
You felt quite stuck, you had tried on your own and only managed to get a few days
I felt hopeless alone, thought I was the only person doing this, why can’t I be normal
We had a conversation and started working together and one of the things I remember from day one you were all in, it felt like to me that you were going to show up and do the work.
After I spoke to you and you told me all about it, I was so ready to change and I wanted to give up alcohol and I knew moderation wasn’t the answer for me, I wanted to do this I for me, my husband and my children.
The course modules were so helpful and I just did the work I needed to do to get through it.
When you first started and after the first few weeks, did you feel confident that it was going to work?
NO not at all; for quite a while I didn’t. For the first month I was doing all the exercises, reading everything, plus ‘Googling’ and I just thought this is not going to work but I knew I had to give it the 3 months.
When we look back at the 3 months, how did you find getting on a call with other people in the group?
It was very daunting, I don’t consider myself a confident person, I am shy, but I just knew I had to give it my all and be honest. It was the best thing to do but very daunting at the beginning.
Did you feel a connection with other people?
Definitely yes, I look forward to the calls, I knew I could speak without judgement because we were all in the same boat and I really liked everyone’s honesty. The calls were the highlight of my week.
When we were working together, and you did the 30 day challenge and you had an all inclusive holiday booked, did you think to yourself I have got this, I am fine or did you think it was going to be hard going on holiday?
I did consider that I had an All Inc. holiday booked when I started the course and wondered if it was the right time to do the course, but just decided to do it. When is the right time? Just go for it. I knew I wouldn’t drink because I was so far into the programme and feeling the benefits of not drinking but I didn’t know if it was going to be easier or hard. I was the only one not drinking and I did stick to it, and I really enjoyed the holiday. There weren’t many alcohol free options but I managed to get some AF beer and prosecco so I didn’t feel like I was missing out.
Peer pressure, how did you navigate that with your friends?
We were all dotted around the coast, most of my friends knew I was on a break from alcohol, some asked if it was hard, but it wasn’t an issue.
You said you enjoyed the holiday more … one of the things we talked about before you went away, we talked about the benefits of being AF, you can enjoy your days better, appreciate where you are etc… Yes we were going for walks, sunbathing, hired a car and visited the island things that we wouldn’t have normally done.
Do you feel like you have made good connections with other people?
Definitely it is hard not to; you are all there for the same reasons, especially the ones that started with me, you have so much in common with them and you realise that they know exactly where you are coming from.
You gave me a lovely testimonial but it wasn’t just from you, it was also from your husband and sons. What difference has it made to you and your family when you got control over alcohol?
Before we would have an argument and it would escalate and I would be angry and upset and they didnt feel like they could talk to me. For them to see me becoming a mumthat is there for them, no matter what, has massively changed our lives. My youngest son didn’t want to see me drink and it was the best thing I could have done for my family. It’s a massive change to all of us, I am thankful but I know they are as well.
When you look back at how you were before you started the programme, in the reasons why you drink, do you feel you have the tools now to handle a stressful day?
Yes, I definitely use the phrase play it forward, I sit back, breathe, meditate. A drink is not going to make it better.
When you finished the 3 months programme you decided to join the Upgraded life and you have been in there since February. What were you looking for when you joined that programme?
I felt comfortable being AF but I didn’t want to be left feeling vulnerable without the support. I opted to join the Upgraded Life group, because I still wanted to change other areas of my
life, I wanted to change my health and fitness. I probably could have done that on my own but with the support of the group continuing I know it would make me feel stronger and if I did ever have a wobble I knew I had that to fall back on and use and here I still am.
In the upgraded life, we look at a couple of areas that people want to focus on and what they want to get after now they are AF. The Brag book, we use this in the 3 month programme, but it is a tool we use to build our self esteem. So like most people you found that quite difficult to do?
Yes it was awkward to do because things you need to put in the brag book you wouldn’t think about putting it in the book but you just think that’s a daily thing you do. At the beginning I didn’t give it enough time, at the beginning it was the bane of my life, but now I do it daily, anything that makes me feel good, it definitely helps and I realise that now.
How do you find the Upgraded Life calls?
It is like catching up with your friends, it’s like having a coffee morning, it’s not talking about drinking, it’s about day to day life, with kids, job etc .. I still look forward to every week. It’s like a security blanket. It feels to me that you are all in. I know how much it has changed my life, if i hadn’t used it to my best ability, the modules and the calls, I wouldn’t have the knowledge.
Your self esteem when we first caught up a year ago, did you feel a lot of guilt around your drinking?
Yes, that is one thing I have struggled with for a long time, only recently I am now putting that to bed, it was something that happened to me, it creeps up on you, you don’t realise it. It has taken a long time, I felt like I had let my children down, I didn’t know how to get out of it at the time, but the guilt is subsiding now. We have removed the guilt.
Do you feel better about yourself now?
I feel more confident, I have found my sense of humour, I remember what I say, people say I am a changed person, and I feel like I have changed for the better.
I ask people to take a selfie at the beginning and one 3 months later, and you say people say you look 10 years younger, does that make you feel better?
I feel really proud that I have achieved this, I am not hiding anymore.
The friends you made in the group, I know you have caught up with some of them and we all went out for lunch. What was it like to see people face to face after sharing all this stuff online?
It was so nice, I was really nervous, like a first date or first job interview, but as soon as I walked in, we hugged and just chatted like friends foreverand felt 100% comfortable with them, there is a bond you have built up.
Going forwards in the Upgraded Life group, tell me about the things you are continuing to work on
Health and fitness and now we have a dog and I feel energised in the mornings, and also I keep learning about the damage that alcohol does to you, I listen to podcasts; there is so much you can learn, and as it affected me so much, that since I have stopped drinking I am so passionate about it and I would like to start coaching I don’t want it to stop!
When you think back to a year ago and talk to someone you were in the position you were in a year ago, what advice would you give to someone considering this?
Keep an open mind. At the beginning I didn’t think it would work, but if you put the work in with the modules there is no reason that this wont work you just need to believe in the process.
How many days af are you now?
Congratulations! What rewards have you had along the way?
My 100 day my husband bought me a designer handbag. At the end of the 3 month course I was in Barbados and I had a full body massage. It is such a part of my life and I know I should celebrate. I would never have thought I would be here so I need to think about how I can celebrate my 1 year AF anniversary.
It has been a joy watching your progress, you deserve every bit of your success, I want to say a massive thank you and for sharing your journey.
Thank you, it is the best thing I have ever done.