Ruari Fairbairns on the benefits of giving up alcohol

Co-author of The 28 Day Alcohol-Free Challenge, Ruari Fairbairns, shares his experience of giving up alcohol.

Interest in the sober-curious movement is growing, with Dry January and Sober October gaining more participants every year and sober morning raves and alcohol-free spirits becoming increasingly popular. Ruari Fairbains is the co-founder of and the co-author of The 28 Day Alcohol-Free Challenge. Here, he shares his story of giving up drinking and the benefits it brought.

In 2015, Professor Kevin Moore of the Royal Free Hospital, London, co-authored one of the largest ever studies into the effects of a four-week break from alcohol. The participants were average drinkers who were taking part in the Dry January campaign and the results were staggering. By the end of four weeks, participants had each lost on average 40% of their liver fat and 3kg in weight and had also reduced cholesterol and lower glucose levels. Moore was so impressed with the findings that he suggested that if there were a pill that produced similar results, everyone would want it.

The 28 Day alcohol-free Challenge is that pill.

As a 33-year-old successful oil broker, I was never too far away from a quick “liquid” bite or a catch-up pint.  It’s all too easy to point at the industry, but actually it’s rife across most industries. Booze still lubricates the deals.

I’m originally from the Isle of Mull, on the west coast of Scotland, and like many places in the UK, we learn pretty early on that alcohol is central to all celebrations, commiserations, and congratulations.  It wasn’t until I moved down to London to become a broker 11 years ago that I started to realize the more I took people out drinking, the more successful I became.

Let’s set the record straight from the off: this is not a rock-bottom story. Curbing my alcohol intake was a life choice and one of the best things I ever did for myself.  I was never the ‘home alone’ drinker, I was just the party boy – first in, last out. 

In the weeks running up to taking a break from alcohol, I was seeing a counsellor because I felt miserable every day, I was feeling stuck in my job, doing something I didn't love. I was overweight, unhealthy, I had IBS and suffered daily.  I wasn't sleeping well and I was stressed out to the max. My family relationships were suffering.

I was treating all of these symptoms independently. I was looking for solutions to each of these problems. I was lethargically falling through life.

So I decided to give up alcohol for 90 days. About halfway through I started to feel INCREDIBLE. I felt happy, I felt like the alcohol-tinted glasses had been removed from my life. I wanted to work out properly, I wanted to eat right, I wanted to take on new habits. I felt amazing. My personal relationships improved.

As my 90 days came to a close I met up with an old friend, Andy Ramage, also an oil broker. He had just done six months alcohol-free. He looked AMAZING.  I was blown away, so I decided to carry on. I stayed alcohol-free for two years and now I just drink on special occasions.  I like to say I drink as much as I want whenever I want – which is hardly ever – because I just don't want to. I've had the mindset shift.

Over the first year I went from 28% body fat to 10.6%, I ran my first half marathon in 1:34:30, I started a podcast, set up with co-founder Andy, project managed the renovation of a 200-year-old barn and my wife and I welcomed another child to our family.  There is NO WAY I could have done all that whilst still drinking.

Andy and I spent two years deep-diving into the science behind habit change, bringing some of the best minds in behavioural science in the country together to create a program that would help people have this mindset shift as quickly as possible. And that's exactly what we do in The 28 Day Alcohol-Free Challenge.  We walk you through step by step, day by day, introducing new healthy habits that mean when you get to the end of the programme, you will be in total control.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to live life. Better.