By Hannah Phillips
A former 22 stone party animal who downed 20 PINTS of cider on each night out has shed nearly 10 stone in two years – just by giving up booze.
Darren Scanlon, 40, would regularly binge drink eight cans of cider before even leaving the house at weekends – leaving him suffering from liver pain, hip problems and a bent back and tipping the scales at a colossal 22 stone.
The married dad-of-three, from Celbridge in County Kildare, Ireland, first began to pile on the pounds aged 18 after the birth of first child, Ashlee, and by the time he’d reached his late 30s was a size triple XXL.
But the IT company buyer decided enough was enough in January 2017 and ditched drinking completely – and was stunned when the pounds dropped off him.
Now, weighing 12 stone 12lbs and with a 32 inch waist, Darren is in training to become a fitness instructor and puts down going teetotal as the secret to his slinky new physique.
The newly reformed fitness fanatic said: “I was an absolute party animal at the weekend, hell for leather until Sunday night.
“My sessions were generally 15-20 pints of cider then I’d hit the spirits, and God knows how many of them. I’d tip them back. I’d have one, then I was gone.
“It’s amazing how easier it is to lose weight once you take the alcohol out of it.
“I was wasting the weekend drinking; you’re not jumping up to go to the gym on Monday morning when you’ve been drinking all weekend.
“When I look back, I was a completely different person.
“I used to love breakfast rolls and I’d eat all the wrong foods because I was dying and hungover and just wanted comfort food.
“I’d have a full Irish breakfast with toast, another bread roll for lunch and a large dinner and loads of crisps and rubbish during the day.
“Now I’ve completely changed, I haven’t had crisps or sweets since March 2017 and I went vegetarian last year.
“I never used to do any activity or play sport. I live a totally different lifestyle. I’m more present now for family and friends. I used to feel awful most of the week, now I feel better and look better.”
By cutting out alcohol and swapping hangover comfort food for healthy vegetarian cooking, Darren managed to drop the 10 stone in less than two and a half years.
He now cycles to work, has set up a gym in his garden and spends the weekends hiking and swimming in the Irish Sea with wife Anne, 47, a childminder, and children Ashlee, 23, Robert, 18, and Sophie, 15.
Darren first began drinking around 14 years old, but said his boozing escalated in his late teens – although he never saw himself as an alcoholic.
He decided to put an end to his partying in January 2017 after deciding it was ‘time to grow up’ and joined the One Year No Beer movement to challenge himself to go cold turkey.
Darren said: “Once you become an adult, and living in Ireland, it’s mad, it’s parties and how drinking is so socially acceptable.”
“But I was bent forward because of my stomach, issues with my hips and was in constant pain with my liver.
“I was killing myself. I remember getting an ultrasound, laying in the fetal position and they’ve got their gloves on with the gel and I’m thinking ‘what are you doing’?
“I didn’t have an illness, I was doing it to myself.
“I had it in my head that I would stop New Year Day 2017 but I woke up still drunk from the night before so there was no chance I was doing it that day.
“I drank all day and started on the 2nd. That was the last time I touched a drop.
“It was hard at the start, it was the pressure from people, even family members were like ‘what, you’re not drinking?’
“It took a while to win people over. You’re not the same person, I used to be off my head but I reached the point where I had to grow up.
“One Year No Beer is a great community, some people really need it because they are struggling and it is very supportive.”
Darren now aims to be a fully qualified personal trainer by September to help others achieve their fitness goals and has set up a gym in his garden.
Darren said: “My wife isn’t a big drinker.
“She would say ‘I loved you before, it didn’t matter about your size’ but she definitely loves the change.
“There was a massive void at the weekends, when you take drinking out. Now I wake up fresh on a Saturday morning and I can show the kids there is something else you can do.
“More and more people are asking how I did it, so I thought I’d do it right. I can show people that if I can do it then anyone can.