Giving up your vices and guilty pleasures can lead to a happier and healthier life that’s full of purpose. Even though you might not see the changes day-to-day when you give up drinking alcohol, they’re very apparent to others. One of the things that can keep you motivated is documenting the changes and looking at the photos side by side.
Well, one man has made the phrase ‘one day at a time’ fit both his fight with alcoholism and documenting his journey through sobriety. These last three years, Kenny D. has taken snaps of how he looked when he quit alcohol at key stages in his journey of sobriety. The changes within the first month are already huge and he is almost unrecognizable in the final pictures.
“I took a picture of myself the day I got my first sobriety coin, 24 hours sober. I felt so ill and I looked so bad, I wanted to remember it so I wouldn’t forget. The day I got my 30-day coin, I thought my look had changed drastically so I took another selfie,” Kenny told Bored Panda, talking about the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) sobriety coins given to alcoholics who stay sober for a certain amount of time.
Scroll down for Bored Panda’s full and exclusive in-depth interview with Kenny who got back his life, regained his health, and discovered new depths in his character by giving up drinking. For more powerful Bored Panda posts about sobriety and how much people change when they give up alcohol or drugs, check out these articles here, here, here, and here.
Kenny went sober three years ago. When he took his first photo, he was feeling awful
“I liked showing my family and friends the side-by-side of 24 hours and 30 days to show the change,” said 37-year-old Kenny, who works as a railroad engineer in the American Pacific Northwest. “Of course, they were skeptical because I had spent the last several years terrorizing my family and friends while I was drunk. So I kept them to myself mostly for the first year, but I always took a selfie every time I got a coin. On my one-year anniversary, I took my picture and posted a side by side on Reddit and called it the Progression of Sobriety. I thought it would just be something uplifting for people to see, I had no idea I would get the kind of response that I did. The post was flooded with comments from people asking me about alcoholism and how I stopped drinking. Asking how they can stop or how to help their own friends or family stop. And a ton of good positive kudos and congrats for my transformation. So after the first year, I felt like I’d make it a bit of a tradition to post my progress on my Sobriety birthday on November 2. I also keep with the tradition of taking it in my bathroom just for continuity. Year two was last year and this year was year three.”
Barely a month later, he was looking and feeling much better
Kenny revealed how much of a problem drinking became for him, as well as how it brought him to the edge. “I started drinking in college. But it didn’t become a real problem until about 10 years ago. I began drinking often and always to excess. I discovered at one point that I could not control the amount I drank once I had taken the first drink. I could not drink without getting drunk. So I decided to quit. I would last a few days, a few weeks, a few months, one time for a year. Always with relapses in between. By 2016, I had gotten to the point that I would get drunk every day. I drank 12–24 drinks a day and I was blacking out 3–4 times a week. I knew I had a problem but I didn’t know what to do. I used to stand in the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror and wish I wasn’t a drunk. I would wonder how I got this way. Sometimes I was just indifferent to whether I lived or died. I just wanted it to be over and I didn’t care how,” he explained the pit of despair he was in just several years ago.
Kenny kept up being sober with the help of the 12 step program, loved ones, and AA members
“The last time I drank, I had a week of vacation and I had bought myself a case of beer and was going to ration it for the week. 3–4 beers a night,” Kenny went into detail about how he finally got sober. “The first night after I put my son to bed, I opened my first beer. That was at 8 p.m. By 11 p.m., I had drunk 19 beers. Something inside me said, ‘Kenny, your life is no longer manageable.’”
He also fixed his diet and started exercising
“A friend of mine had gotten sober a year before and I did the only thing I could think to do. I reached out for help. I texted her and told her I had a problem and I needed help. The next morning, she picked me up and drove me to my first 12-step meeting and I’ve been sober ever since.”
Kenny took a photo every time he got a new AA sobriety chip
Kenny was also very open about the greatest challenges that he faced after he got sober three years ago. “My greatest challenge was the working of the 12 steps. 12 step recovery is a complete overhaul of your life. It is a fact-finding and fact-facing process. It caused me to face how I felt about other people and to clean up the mess I had made in my life while I was drinking. All I wanted to do was to stop drinking and to get my life back. I had no idea that I would get a whole new life that was full of more joy, happiness, and freedom than I could have possibly imagined.”
The man was completely open about how much drinking alcohol affected him
He continued: “The biggest difference between myself now and three years ago is that today I live my life by a set of spiritual principles. From morning to night, I run all of my decisions through a sort of spiritual filter. I do my best to not be resentful or spiteful or angry, though I am human and I have a tendency to forget sometimes. I’m not a saint. If I have a problem that I can’t tackle with stuff in my normal spiritual toolkit, I get on the phone to my sponsor or another alcoholic-in-recovery.”
Previously, Kenny couldn’t control himself when it came to alcohol
“There is always somebody around to help, I just have to reach out. The most difficult part about living with such success in sobriety for me is avoiding what they call ‘resting on your laurels.’ Getting complacent and going back to my old way of doing things. I get over it by going to lots of meetings as often as I can, working with other alcoholics, and practicing the spiritual principles in all of my affairs.”
Kenny used to drink 12-24 drinks each night…
“In my personal life, I’ve become an avid reader, I love to learn new things and read nonfiction and biographies. I’ve recently begun painting and that has opened up a whole new part of my brain that I didn’t know existed,” Kenny said about his newfound passions.
…and he used to lose consciousness three or four nights each week while drinking
“And as you can see from the pictures, I’ve lost 75 pounds (34 kilograms) since I got sober. I eat much cleaner and I exercise now. My favorite form of exercise is DDP Yoga. Awesome program and it completely changed my whole perspective on exercise and healthy living. Three years into sobriety, every day is an awesome day and I can’t wait to experience the next awesome thing or meet the next awesome person whom I can learn something from.”