I went an ENTIRE YEAR without booze
And I didn’t even lose any weight
When Kat Lewis decided to take a year off the booze for charity, she could never have imagined the struggle that would follow.
The 20-year-old Law fresher dedicated herself to a zero-proof period of 12 months to raise money for a cause close to her heart.
Putting anyone who’s ever done Dry January or “gone on a bit of a detox” to shame, Chester-born Kat endured alcohol-free champagne and pink lemonade for an entire year –– and has just been able to enjoy her first drop of booze this week.
Would you be prepared to give up the sauce for a year like her?
Dedicated Kat was moved by her friends and their experiences with mental health –– so she decided to make a difference.
She told The Tab: “I thought giving up drink would be a good way to make a big thing of mental health and talk about it at every gathering I went to.
“I’m shy so it was hard to be confident in social situations because I didn’t have the extra confidence alcohol gives you.
“Some said to me, ‘Oh I could easily do a year without drinking’ or my favourite thing was, ‘Oh you must be absolutely crazy.'”
She explains she couldn’t turn down the opportunity to talk about a social taboo like mental illness in young people, with the backing of charity MIND.
Kat says she was amazed at just how common mental illness was, and how little people speak about it.
“Everyone you speak to says their brother, sister or dog has been hit by depression. I wanted to work with a charity which was unrepresented in the media.
“However hard a year without alcohol is, it’s nothing compared with living through depression, or whatever else, all your life.
“And every time I saw someone who was my friend on Facebook saying something about mental health it was like they supported me at least in spirit, just talking about it.
Kat says the moment she stopped boozing, she started saving money.
“I ended up making £464.50 just from not drinking –– a lot more than my aim which was a pound a day, for a year.
“I’m so happy with it. I had started getting kind of down at one point because I thought I wouldn’t make my target.
“It would have been so embarrassing if I had done this big thing and not even reach £365.
“It seemed quite attention seeking –– so I hoped people care. For many it wasn’t a big thing if we only met once a year or so, but it was hard for me to forget.
“I had a flurry of sponsorship at the end, and I was so happy about every donation I got. I was addicted to my JustGiving page.”
On top of talking about mental illness and raising funds for charity, Kat wasn’t best pleased with an added side effect.
“I’ve never had bad skin –– the worst I’ve ever had was once when I had three spots at one time –– so I didn’t see much difference when I stopped drinking.
“But I did put on a lot of weight. It was probably because when I was drunk I wouldn’t eat, so I would miss breakfast or dinner if I had a night out.
“I must have put on about two stone, because I went from skipping meals to three meals a day.
“It was a bit disappointing because I was hoping I would lose weight, and I’ve never been that comfortable with the way I looked. So I got into exercising way more.”
Kat explained the main problem with her year was finding every social gathering to be dominated by booze –– so temptation was everywhere.
“At the start people said ‘bless you, but you won’t do that’ or ‘we won’t tell anyone’. But that just wasn’t the point, especially with everyone I know.
“People surprised me because they were supportive of me, but I was always surprised at how unsupportive strangers were.
“People always tried to get me drunk and then at a party someone was like, ‘just have a drink for me’ and I had to back away.
“I actually found it better when they were getting drunk around me because they were making it normal and lowering their inhibitions, which meant I could also be a bit more weird.”
Unfortunately, disaster struck on the last day of her booze-free year as her long-awaited Ocado delivery of champagne arrived with a smashed bottle.
“At 9.30pm the driver arrived but one of the bottles had smashed in transit so I had to share just one bottle with three people, including me.
“I even ran to Tesco’s before it shut to grab another bottle of booze.
‘When I started drinking again I was quite surprised at how little it really changed me.
“We had a great night dancing around the flat and I told my flatmates I was the Queen of Everything, but that happens fairly often sober too.”
Now heading back for her second year of Law, Kat is gearing up to return to Durham’s famous nightlife.
“I’ll enjoy going out more now because I know how to deal with drunk people.”
Donate to Kat’s fundraising efforts here.