- Name: Julian Kirkman-Page
- Job: Sales Director for City of London based IT company and author of ‘I Don’t Drink!’
- Height: 6′ (182.9 cm)
- Age: 58
- Location: Selsey, West Sussex
- Highest weight: 210 lbs (95.2 kg)
- Lowest weight: 177 lbs (80 kg)
We’re thrilled to speak to Julian who we found through the excellent www.joinclubsoda.co.uk because he’s made the change that a lot of us think of: he’s given up drinking. As a result he’s seen his health improve massively. So tell us a bit about your background to start off with, have you had problems with your weight for a long time?
I have never dieted as such and I have always stayed pretty fit, swimming two to three times per week and walking a lot. It was a bit of a surprise therefore when the doctor diagnosed me with Type 2 diabetes in 2011 and told me to lose some weight. At the time I also had high blood pressure and high cholesterol and was on daily tablets for both.
My diet at the time was based around lots of sausages and lots of cheese, washed down with two bottles of wine and three litres of cider per day. Not the best of diets you might say and I did make an effort by cutting down on some of the cheese but nothing else. I thought if I increased my exercise routine that would lose the weight for me. Unfortunately I was also suffering from regular bouts of really crippling gout and that halted my exercising full stop. As you can well imagine I was a complete mess.
So you had the classic “warning from the doc” talk, but how did you make the decision to stop the booze?
We moved house away from a town where we never really met anyone, to live by the sea. Every day I would go down to the seafront and watch the locals push their boats out to go fishing and I decided to join the angling club and buy a rowing boat. It didn’t take long however for me to realise I was at least twenty years younger than most of the other club members. The problem was that they were far fitter and more able than me, and that by comparison I was the one who felt old and decrepit. Sometimes my gout was so bad I was unable to help old men launch their boats and had to ask my wife to help instead. It was embarrassing.
That Christmas I got thoroughly drunk and the gout came on worse than ever. I thought about the wreck I had become, I thought about my brother having died of drink at age 56 (I was 55 at the time), and I decided then and there never to drink again. I planned how I was going to do it and that was that. I have never had a drop since!
Everything came to a head that Christmas. It was realising I was going to die well in advance of my new friends and miss out on so much that made me want to do something drastic. You have to know that most of my other friends are work related, who also work in the City and that life expectancy amongst that drinking and stress-orientated crowd is not that high.
Were there any unexpected elements to stopping drinking?
Before I quit alcohol I was addicted to sausages. I would barbecue almost every night and eat six or seven sausages with baked potatoes and baked beans or salad. I would also add about a quarter pound of cheese on top and wash the whole lot down with loads of booze.
To quit alcohol I had to give up the barbecuing as I knew it would be too hard being outside in all weathers cooking away and not being able to have a drink. I decided therefore to join my wife in being a pescetarian – someone who only eats fish and vegetables. Luckily her cooking is fantastic, and so despite my previous view that vegetarian food was rabbit fodder, the menu she serves up is delicious.
Was it tough to stop?
Quitting alcohol was surprisingly easy, and I believe this is purely because I decided it was forever. I had tried cutting down before, but all that did was leave me craving for the time I could go back to my usual routine. Giving up forever gives you a very different mindset.
As far as eating I found I started craving sweet foods such as cakes and puddings, things I had never eaten before. Obviously my body was trying to make up for all the sugar it wasn’t getting in the booze. I had never considered alcohol to be fattening and full of calories, I don’t think people really do. Buy I now know I was drinking the equivalent of eight burgers every day, and that on top of my actual food!
What impact has it had on your health?
Well, I no longer have Type 2 diabetes! I no longer take tablets for high blood pressure or high cholesterol. I have never been so fit and healthy as far as I can remember. I go kayaking 2-3 times per week weather permitting. I go to karate once a week. I swim five times per week. I cycle and walk everywhere and we hardly ever use our car. I feel and look years younger and look so much better. I like myself so much more as well.
How did your wife handle the change in you?
My wife was supportive. I think she was scared of breaking the spell, however she didn’t dare say too much in the early days. It is only now I realise what hell she went through having to live with an alcoholic, something I would never have considered calling myself at the time.
What surprised you about losing weight?
It was strange how quickly the weight fell away, despite all the sweet things I was eating. It literally took two months for me to reach the weight I am now.
What would you say to other guys who were possibly thinking of giving up alcohol, whether for the weight side of things or for the health angles?
What I should have said to myself is that you have spent your life drinking, and consequently made the last twenty years more difficult because of illness caused by drinking and being overweight. Knock it on the head now, live a far fuller, longer and more enjoyable life; save a huge amount of money into the bargain and finally create the person you have always wanted to be. If I had any advice for guys who wanted to stop I’d say go and check out I Don’t Drink and read the book.
You’re Prime Minister for the day, what one law do you bring in?
I would charge people for hospital care where drink or self-inflicted obesity were the cause of the illness or injury.