What should I stop doing every morning?

This guy stopped drinking - and that's how it changed his life

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A year ago, Cheyne Kobzoff's life was shitty. But really. Despite a loving wife, two children and a great job as a cook, the longtime drinker woke up every morning with a pounding skull and creeping self-hatred. But in addition to the emotional damage, Kobzoff's binge had made his stomach swell to the size of Santa Claus. The beard did little to help his overall appearance.

On March 23, 2016, the 33-year-old decided to go through cold withdrawal. He started jogging shortly after, hoping the exercise would help with his anxiety. At one point he ran routes he never thought possible and subsequently lost several sizes of clothes. A year later, Cheyne is 24 kilograms leaner.

He recently posted the above before and after photo on Reddit with the comment that a year without alcohol made him "a thousand times happier". His mail went through the roof. We asked him how he managed to get rid of alcohol and why his friends might hate the "healthy" Kobzoff.

VICE: Congratulations on getting rid of your belly, but why the beard?
Cheyne Kobzoff: I was pretty sad when I cut it off. I had it for a year and a half, but it was just too much work. Also, I really wanted to know what my face looked like after losing so much weight.

Did you have a particular low point that made you stop drinking?
Not really - it just built up over time. Alcoholism is relatively common in my family. I started drinking when I was 15. Every weekend turned into every day.

Did you see yourself as an alcoholic?
I guess so, but I didn't want to admit it to myself. Now I admit it to myself, but it still feels weird to say it out loud. I just know I can't drink anymore. I'm too scared of falling into this vicious circle again.

I just didn't like who I had become. I didn't like what it did to my body. I tried to quit two years ago. That was the day after a wedding. I had drunk everything there in sight and just vomited for the next 24 hours. Back then I only set myself a target of 30 days, after which I drank even more. At some point I got twelve beers a night and then another glass or two of wine when my wife came home. I felt absolutely shitty on my way to work every morning.

So I gave myself an arbitrary stop date, March 23rd. That was three days after my son's birthday. And that was it. I just stopped drinking.

On Reddit, you wrote that you initially replaced drinking with just eating whatever you want.
I stuffed myself with tons of sweets, that's for sure. My body missed all the sugar. I indulged in bags of chewy candy, jelly beans and all that sour stuff. I also drank a lot of lemonade, which was a great calorie substitute for the beer. That went on for about a month.

Until you started running, right?
I had started drinking to control my anxiety. After I stopped, however, that inner turmoil didn't really go away. One day I mowed the lawn and was completely absorbed by this unrest. I felt this urgent need to just run, but I didn't. When I got that feeling back the next night, I put my shoes on, ran out the door and a mile around the block and back. I had no idea what I was doing there, but it felt good. When I got home I could hardly breathe.

Did your wife think you were dying?
She laughed. Especially because I didn't know that you had to cool down after running. Until then, I had never done any sport in my life. She told me to go for 15 minutes. That helped. Still, I thought I'd throw up any minute.

Some people refer to their first dry weeks and months as the "pink cloud" phase. Have you also felt unexpected outbursts of intense euphoria?
And how. I was just standing in line at the supermarket and suddenly this feeling of happiness overwhelmed me. I felt so happy that I almost cried. I had never felt anything like this before.

From your initial 1.5 kilometers in 13 minutes, you finally got 5 kilometers in 25 minutes and also started with weights. What was your greatest fitness achievement?
I could never do sit-ups, but then I started deadlifting, squats, and bench presses. Soon I had a six pack. So I tried the sit-ups one more time and then ripped 60 off without any problems. It's pretty cool when you can do as many as you want.

You are sure to get on your friends' minds with your healthy lifestyle.
I don't care. Because I'm super happy. But I definitely annoy 90 percent of the people I speak to. I'm just so happy about all the things I've learned. I really haven't had any other topics of conversation other than fitness and no alcohol in the last year.

Have you tried to convert others?
I don't care what others are doing. My wife drinks wine and I've never told her not to drink because I don't drink. That would be uncool.

Is it still fun hanging out with you?
I hope so. [laughs]

Maybe I should ask your friends.
I recently took a trip to Lake Tahoe with a couple of my best friends. I was a little worried because everyone was drinking. But then I spent the whole time telling them about my senior year and it was OK. I think I'm better today because I don't shoot myself like that anymore.

What's your worst crash memory?
The night before my wedding, I had totally overdone it. On the wedding day, I woke up with a bowl next to me that had some blood in it. Apparently I tried to knock over a concrete trash can, my fingers had slipped and my head hit the floor. It's embarrassing to look at the wedding pictures and see my puffy red face.

Do you miss the alcohol
Above all, I miss the taste of delicious craft beer. We have loads of great breweries around here. And I miss the glass of red wine with a good steak. This is really beating me up.

Still, a small price to pay for not feeling crappy in the morning.
Oh, it's pretty awesome. I can stay up late, get up early and still feel good. My children get up at 6:30 a.m. and if I want they can get up with them without wanting to throw up.

You also wrote that you no longer smell like a "sweet and sour bar mat". How do you smell now
Like a sober person? [laughs] As soon as I stopped drinking, I immediately smelled if someone had even had a beer. I just thought, "Oh God, did I smell that?" I guess I just smell like my laundry detergent now.

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