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EP 113: Naked Life Story: Andrew

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How did your ‘relationship with alcohol’ actually develop? Or how about your ‘relationship with food’? Did you choose this relationship? Or was it influenced by others? On today’s episode, Annie meets with Andrew Shanahan, the founder of Man Vs Fat - a weight loss organization designed specifically to support men trying to lose weight. Andrew shares how, over time, he developed an unhealthy dependence on both food and alcohol and his journey back to health and freedom from both.

Episode Links:
manvfat.com - Andrew Shanahan www.manvfat.com
The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober: Discovering a happy, healthy, wealthy alcohol-free life by Catherine Gray https://amzn.to/2pL9diR
Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr https://amzn.to/2Mb31hc
The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace https://thisnakedmind.com/purchase-the-alcohol-experiment-book/
This Naked Mind by Annie Grace https://thisnakedmind.com/purchase-naked-mind-control-alcohol-book/

My story is relatively normal, I would say, for a British, UK background. We all start, or certainly in the area where I'm from, we start drinking relatively early. So I was probably about 13 when I first started drinking. It was really just a case of our school had a culture of drinking at weekends. The era that I grew up in was not a particularly enlightened era, I don't think. In the late '80s, early '90s when I became a teenager where there were a lot of publications at the time that were very, very pro heavy drinking and pro binge drinking.

That's why it feels when everyone is doing something that there are very few detractors. You don't really see a different way to things because everyone has that sort of experience. When you turned 18, you were bought a pint glass and half of it was filled up with spirits from the top shelves and half of it was filled up with lager. You downed that and that was ... You can see it as a rite of initiation now, but that was very much everyone had that. That was just the thing. That was what you did. It seems absurd, as I say, to look back and think that that was the way that we approached drinking, but I think for me, the important thing about those early years was that it set in my mind that the pattern, there was no moderation,
so people often talk about drinking and say, "Can't you just enjoy a nice glass of red wine or something?" That was never really something that I learned how to do or something that I was introduced to. It was always the drinking I was introduced to was getting smashed.

Man v Food
At university my naivete around food and drink and things really came into play. I just drank as much as I'd have drunk on the weekend, but probably three or four times a week and so my weight ballooned massively. I didn't know how to cook, I'm embarrassed to say, literally nothing. I could probably make pasta in a pan and then empty a tin of tuna on the top of it. That's what I would consider cooking. Most of the time, it was just takeout food and then lots and lots of lager on top of that. It was really I look back on that period of my life and I'm ashamed about how I wasted that opportunity to learn at university, really.

I think a lot of people through my 20s and early 30s I could physically just about sustain the drinking that I was doing, but as I progressed into my 30s, I just found that hangovers were less a 24 hour headache and something that you take some paracetamol and you're fine. They were more like full-blown mental health emergencies every time I was drinking where I just found that my levels of anxiety were crazy high and I was just feeling very displaced as a person. It was deeply unpleasant. I suppose having young children, as well.

Learn more about what the book says - start reading This Naked Mind for free today. https://learn.thisnakedmind.com/optin12510880

I run an organization called Man v Fat. You can have a look at it, manvfat.com. What we do is that we support men around the world who want to lose weight. The reason that it exists is because I went through a journey with my weight. I was writing for a lot of publications about food and food and drink, so I wrote for the Guardian, a big UK newspaper, about food. I reviewed restaurants for them. I won an award for being a restaurant writer and things like that and so I spent a lot of my time either working building up this business and I was working ridiculous 13, 14 hour days and getting home and just needing to speed relax, really. I was drinking four beers and then eating a pack of crisps and just because I wasn't really moving a lot during the day and I was stressed, essentially.

Keep Listening
Tune in to the complete podcast for more on Man v Food and the culture of drinking and weight loss.

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