A CORKMAN has revealed how he transformed his life after quitting alcohol and cigarettes, and running on a daily basis, and now he has shed three and a half stone in just six months.
The Rosscarbery native’s journey into his intense fitness programme started when he turned 30 in 2018. “I knew exercise would play a key role in my transformation so that was the first thing I really incorporated,” he says.
“When I finally managed to quit cigarettes in April, 2019, I took up running as a way to deal with the cravings and really concentrate on my breath. I knew the transformation was beginning at that point and in September, 2019, I completed my first marathon.”
He has received great support throughout his fitness odyssey, which he admits has proved a challenging journey. Shane, who has previously suffered from bad bouts of depression, is delighted mental health problems amongst men are talked about more frequently nowadays.
“It’s been incredibly difficult and it has been very lonely. I never took the time to address what was going on in my head.
“I didn’t know the first thing about mental health growing up and, being an Irish man in particular, you couldn’t ever talk about your feelings or emotions.
“My girlfriend, Sinead, has been my biggest supporter and has pulled me through some very tough periods. Similarly my family, especially my mother has always been there. My friends have also been great. I’ve received a lot of support.
“However, people can’t help you unless you ask for help. You need to be honest with people. There is still a long way to go in educating people about mental health and addictions.”
Giving up alcohol on a permanent basis represented a tough challenge for the West Cork man.
“Alcohol was very tough to give up. I gave it up for ten weeks last year, but hit it harder than ever for the last three months of 2019. I was drinking heavy on a near daily basis.
“It has been a huge contributor why my mental health has repeatedly suffered. The first month was hard, but it has been easier ever since. I feel great without it. I have no hangovers and my mood is good. I exercise and sleep well. I can make better dietary decisions too.
“The depression and crippling anxiety after a night of drinking is what used really get to me.”
Shane is pleased to see more people in Ireland now pursuing healthier lifestyles. He is keen for children to receive more education in regards to their health in school.
“I still think we can do so much more to help kids make better informative decisions about their health. Health needs to be a compulsory subject in school. We need to inform kids on the dangers of alcohol, cigarettes and mental health problems as well as education on the foods we put into our bodies.
“What we put into our bodies has the biggest effect on our moods. Improving my diet has not only given me energy physically, but also mentally. There is always light after the dark.”
A measure of Shane’s new-found mental strength has been his reaction to two significant events which occurred in his personal life in recent months. His world was rocked when his beloved father Sean suddenly passed away. Two weeks later, he was made redundant. Shane’s new regime has helped him cope with these huge setbacks.
“Losing my father is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. We lost him suddenly. He was just an unbelievable man. He was only 67. He was my best friend.
“I was ten weeks off drink when it happened. When dad passed away, my mother asked me to promise her I wouldn’t drink and I didn’t. If she had not asked me to make that promise, I know I would have gone completely off the rails. It scares me to think where I would be right now.
“Alongside my girlfriend and sister, I’ve some very strong women in my life that need me to stay strong.
“I was made redundant from work two weeks later and my immediate reaction was anger. But after processing it, I’m so grateful that happened. I never liked what I was doing, so it has given me the chance to chase my passions. I wouldn’t be moving home if that didn’t happen.”
The fitness enthusiast has specific goals for the coming months and hopes to pass on his knowledge to the next generation. “My short-term aim is to complete a marathon in less than four hours and to finish my PT course.
“My long-term goals will be to launch a sports brand apparel with mental health a key feature of that brand.
“I also want to create a programme where I go into schools and give talks. I’ve been addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, suffered with my mental health, made poor financial decisions and basically done everything I’m not supposed to do. I want to pass on my experiences and help kids to make the right choices.”