One Year No Beer with Andy Ramage

Andy Ramage is the cofounder of the One Year No Beer alcohol-free lifestyle revolution. He is a master practitioner of NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), a mindful-based awareness coach, and is currently studying masters in positive psychology and coaching psychology.

Andy used to be a heavy drinker. As a broker, it was part of his job to entertain clients. But after years of drinking he noticed he was gaining weight, performing poorly, and was too tired to enjoy his family. He decided to take a break from alcohol, and to his surprise, discovered that it was the most incredible thing he had ever done in his life.

Now Andy wants to counteract our alcohol-drenched culture by promoting an alcohol-free lifestyle and giving people the tools they need to combat the enormous social pressure to drink.

Listen to his story about the superpowers that come with an alcohol-free lifestyle!

CLEAN DATE: September 2014

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Listen to Andy’s story now!

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Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the Podcast now!

Andy’s Routine

Andy’s routine looks a lot different than 3 ½ years ago when he was drinking. He wakes up at 5am now and comes downstairs, has a cup of tea, and then meditates. Afterward, he goes outside for a 5K run. Getting outside and exercising is his way to kick off the day. When he comes back, he showers, eats breakfast, and spends some time with his kids. If he has any time left, he works on reading or on One Year No Beer stuff before he going to the brokerage to face the chaos of the day.

The First Time

Andy was about twelve when he had his first drink. He was extremely shy with girls and uncomfortable meeting new people. Like many, Andy used alcohol to be part of the crowd and overcome his social anxiety.

Alcohol gave me a quick fix into extroversion.

Lots of people start with alcohol this way, and never stop, but Andy says that as we become adults, there are other ways to deal with that social shyness. The problem is that people never think to give up alcohol and try alternative solutions. Years later, the solution of drinking becomes the problem.

He drank regularly from then on until at age 16, he left school to become pro football player. Alcohol wasn’t an everyday habit, but on the weekends, it was always there. Alcohol and team sports go very much hand in hand and the emotional crutch was still being used.

Andy’s Story

By the time Andy reached his early twenties, he suffered a knee injury that forced him into early retirement. At that point, he was let lose. He had no restrictions for training. He could drink on the weekdays and he slipped right into party scene, and admits he had a great time.

I don’t look back on those years and regret them.

In his late twenties, he found brokering and was given a magic corporate card. Drinking was the way to meet clients and be successful. And Andy did become a success, but he still felt like he was performing at a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. He started to feel terrible. Hangovers lasted for days. Although on the outside he was extremely successful, he had plateaued, and sensed he wasn’t where he should be in his mind. He was overweight and unhealthy.

He wanted to understand what was going on in his brain and started to experiment with mindfulness, but he couldn’t get it to stick because he was anxious from drinking the night before. He couldn’t exercise well because he was hungover lethargic from long, boozy lunches. Finally, he reevaluated his drinking habits.

It dawned on me, and scared the hell out of me at the same time, that it might be the alcohol.

 He started to question everything. Part of him credited alcohol with the lifestyle he created and his business success, but Andy says these were myths that are built up in our minds. He to take a break and see what happens.

In my mind, the alcohol couldn’t jump out of the glass and into my mouth, but all of us have wrestled with this. It’s so bloody difficult.

When told people he was going to stop drinking for a month, they laughed. After he made a week without drinking, they thought it was hilarious and expected him to slip any minute. A few weeks into it, he really wanted to give up and wondered if he had more of a problem than he thought he had. He didn’t realize how much social pressure exists around drinking. With clients who were coming out to be entertained, it was not acceptable in his workplace.

Alcohol is the only drug in the world if you tell people you’re not going to partake, they slaughter you for it.

This is when he began studying mindfulness and NPL. He had been programed for so long to drink, to switch it off was very hard. He looked into the psychology of it and changed his behavioral patterns instead of trying to wing it.

Once he made it to three weeks, everything changed. He woke up on Saturday morning. His wife was in love with him. His kids were in top form. His vitality was back and so was the brightness in his mind. He hadn’t enjoyed a Saturday morning like it in 20 years. Normally, he had to use the weekend to recover from the drinking carnage.

Three weeks became four. One month became two, and he just kept going. He wasn’t hungover anymore, so he wasn’t flaking out on his personal training sessions. He changed his diet and went from 35% body fat to below 10%. People could see the difference in him, and this gave him the motivation that he was onto something.

Senior people at work told him it would destroy his business. His best friend put him into the “boring corner.” But his business actually increased. He was motivated. He could have more meetings and take more calls. His relationships at home improved drastically, which was ultimately what he did it for. He was fitter, faster, leaner. Alcohol was the key all along.

It’s not about giving something up, it’s about gaining this massive advantage in all areas in your life.

One Year No Beer

For his fortieth birthday, he went to Dublin to speak. It was the perfect excuse to drink. Everyone was plastered and having fun. At one moment, he raised a glass of red wine and took a big swig. There was a dramatic pause, and then he thought, “I’ve got absolutely no interest in this. Why would I threaten my new lifestyle? It’s my superpower.”

Life is too short for hangovers.

After quitting alcohol for some time, Andy bumped into his ex-coworker Ruari Fairbairns, who was inspired to quit drinking after seeing Andy’s transformation. Ruari soon experienced the same boost to his life. The two of them knew they were onto something, so they collaborated on sharing their experience with others. They knew there must have been other successful, motivated, people who questioned alcohol, but did not know how to do it. They wrote an ebook and threw up a website and that was the birth of One Year No Beer.

Now tens of thousands of people from all over the world register for One Year No Beer’s 30 day, 90 day, and 365 day challenges. They offer programs, videos, courses, and Facebook groups. They also have a new book coming out, 28-Day Alcohol Free Challenge published by Pan Macmillan. They make it fun and focus on not what you’ll have to give up, but what you’ll have to gain.

Our dream is to help more people.

What kept Andy from quitting alcohol?

It was the social pressure and conventional wisdom, which is everywhere screaming at me that you need to have alcohol to have fun, to be cool, to be sexy … and it’s complete rubbish.

Aha Moment

I didn’t feel particularly powerless, i was on that slippery slope and I just knew I had to do something about it. My aha moment was Saturday morning waking up feeling tired, lethargic, and grumpy and old, and unhealthy again with two young children in the house. Life’s too short to be feeling like this and I’m going to do something about it.

Recommended Books

Kick the Drink Easily by Jason Vale … his approach is very much like mine. You’re going to get a massive advantage doing this.

Best suggestion

Rather than suggestions, it’s wisdom. Mark Twain said somewhere along the lines,

“If you find yourself on the side of the majority, it might be time to pause and reflect and go the other way.”

One suggestion?

Shift the mindset from giving something up, to gaining. Unlock your full potential, your best self.

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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.