Search & Replace S03E06: Sean Robinson

Dry January, an annual movement where people give up drinking alcohol for the whole month of January, helped Sean Robinson kickstart a healthier lifestyle. Sean explains that he was not in a good place mentally and physically due to his weight and lack of energy, and Dry January was the first step to living a healthier life. Next, he started to journal and listen to different podcasts and books that helped him change his mindset and approach to life. Eventually, Sean turned his journal into a book, sharing his transformation and hoping to inspire others to take control of their lives and make positive changes. Discover the steps Sean took to transform his life on Search and Replace. 

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode. 

[00:00:11] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if hopping onto a viral trend changed how you feel about yourself? I’m Joe Taylor Jr. This is Search and Replace.

As legend has it, or at least the Wikipedia page, Dry January started about 15 years ago when a guy in New York State started telling his friends about how much weight he lost and how much money he saved by giving up drinking alcohol for a whole month after the start of the new year. A charity group in the United Kingdom adopted the phrase Dry January for their own wellness campaign about 10 years ago.

And Dry January’s made the rounds on the social media platform dejour every year ever since. So like many people do, Sean Robinson thought he’d give dry January a try. 

[00:01:06] Sean Robinson: When I started 2021, it was a New Year’s resolution. I thought, I’m gonna just stop drinking. I’m gonna take a break, I’m gonna start there cuz that’ll make me healthier. I’ll be able to, you know, not do other things. I’ll just, I’ll have to go through Dry January. 

So it was not from a place of- I didn’t feel it was from a place of addiction, but it was, this is kind of the first step to living healthier, to doing things better. 

That first step by deciding to not drink. And then to be through certain environments, it was like giving myself permission to change in other ways too. 

[00:01:42] Joe Taylor Jr.: Sean didn’t hop on the Dry January bandwagon as a lark. He’d been seriously considering making some big changes to his lifestyle. 

[00:01:50] Sean Robinson: I kind of realized a few things. I was just, my weight had always been up and down, but I was in a point where I was 320 pounds.

I was not where I wanted to be, which affected me mentally. I was not in a very good place because I was overeating. I had lack of energy. I have small kids. They wanted to do things. They were excited to exist, and I was just miserable. I couldn’t be happy with anybody around me. 

I felt like, you know, victim mindset a lot. It was just like, why can’t these things be good for me? I just needed something to change. I was looking for it from everyone else but myself. 

[00:02:28] Joe Taylor Jr.: Sean’s size and the role he played in his community made it even more challenging to ask for the kind of support he was looking for. 

[00:02:36] Sean Robinson: I’ve worked construction and on the volunteer fire department for about 20 years this year, and I didn’t feel like I could ask for help. I had to figure it out on my own. It was kind of a toxic, masculine mentality that I had to maintain this lifestyle and fix it all on my own. 

When I started to realize I needed to make a change, it was that I had to do it on my own so I wasn’t gonna ask for help. Like there was a lot of figure this out on your own. But how do you figure it out on your own when you’re not, you know, reading and listening to help and asking questions, like it was doomed for me before I even started, really. 

So, I started to journal. It was a place I kind of was just beating myself up. I was tossing ideas around, how come I can’t figure this out? What do, like, what am I gonna do? And then I started to listen to some podcasts and started to listen and branch out to some books and some different things, which I wasn’t talking to friends about because I didn’t feel anyone around me was doing the same thing.

[00:03:33] Joe Taylor Jr.: So Sean kept journaling, validating that journey with his own notes to himself while backing that up with advice and techniques from the recordings and books that he discovered along the way. 

[00:03:44] Sean Robinson: And then as it went on, I just became more okay with what I was doing, that I didn’t need that recognition from other people.

I was in a comfortable space that I was fine with opening up about listening to different podcasts or reading different books, or just being different than the people around me. And having the tools to handle the conversation that might come from people that didn’t understand. 

One of my friends asked me, he said, how’s it going? And I just said, oh man, I could write a book. It’s just a statement. Right? But then just the way I said that to him, I kind of dawned on me like, I have been writing this thing. And while it was for me in a way for me to check myself and keep track of my rules and keep track of things. I thought I could share this and it will help somebody. 

I was searching for this resource to have a perspective for what I could do. You know, that construction worker, not talking about feelings feels like they have to maintain this lifestyle, and then like just starts to open up about trying things and opening up and asking questions.

[00:04:47] Joe Taylor Jr.: Sean’s journal turned into a book that he’s now sharing with the world. And while he’s documented a transformation in a way that can inspire others, he acknowledges that his journey’s not complete. 

[00:04:58] Sean Robinson: There’s definitely been challenges, but learning about habits and compounding it’s translated well, and I’m feeling so much better. I’m more positive. I find myself, instead of being like cynical and upset, I’m cheering for other people. Like I want people around me to succeed. I’m in a very different state of mind than I was before and when this all started. 

I think the most surprising part is that I thought I was who I was gonna be. I was sure I was coasting on the path that I was supposed to be on, and I was doing what I had to do. The fact that I’ve been able to change my mentality and change the things that are important and work on parts that I thought were just set in stone is probably the thing I’m surprised of the most.

[00:05:38] Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s Sean Robinson, Canadian Construction worker, volunteer firefighter, and first time author. His book’s titled “Going Dry: My Path to Overcoming Habitual Drinking” and we’ve got a link to it in our show notes and on our website at

Not only do construction workers feel stress from deadlines, demands and irregular schedules, many construction workers also suffer from chronic pain. Studies suggest that nearly two thirds of construction workers struggle with some kind of mental health issue. And yet, as Sean described, only a third of those workers ever ask for help, often because they’re afraid of damaging their career. 

Other resources for you on our show notes include some thoughts on stacking new habits into your lifestyle. You don’t need to wait for another Dry January to come around to make a big change, but you may need the reinforcement of what expert Sabina Nawaz calls a ridiculously small habit. All that and more on our website

Search and Replace was produced by Nicole Hubbard with support from Christine Benson, Connie Evans, Amelia Lohmann, April Smith, and Executive Producer Lori Taylor. Our theme music was composed by Alex ReFire. I’m Joe Taylor, Jr.

[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. 

Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns and Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. 

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Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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