First, a little backstory and what works for me.
So, if you’ve been following me on social media a while you probably noticed something new. You’ve probably noticed all my super annoying fitness posts. Sorry, not sorry. I’ve never been super athletic. When I joined the Army I had never done a push up, or a sit up. I had run a mile before…once. After some good ole’ Army training, Uncle Sam had me doing 50 something (real) push ups in 2 minutes, 80 something (real) sit ups in 2 minutes, and I was running 2 miles in 13:27. I was in the best shape of my life.
Flash forward a few years, (17 of them) and I was probably in the worst shape of my life. When I say shape, I mean health. Don’t get me wrong, my body didn’t look like my ideal shape, but worse yet, it felt terrible. I’ve come to realize that I took my health for granted my entire life. I’ve spent the last 3 years just miserable, and while I have had a barrage of health issues, I contribute a good portion of my struggle to poor nutrition. For more on my health issues, check out Men-o-what??? Preparing for Menopause: My Endometriosis Journey.
I’ve tried low carb…it’s a temporary fix and a miserable one at that. I’ve tried juice fasts (home-made juice), but again, a temporary fix. I’ve tried fasting. Again, a temporary fix. While I’m still serving, I’m in the Reserves and the Army is no longer in charge of my workouts. It’s up to me to stay in shape on my own and still meet the Army standards of fitness. Oh shit, I’m officially adulting.
I started Beach Body and Shakeology a little over 40 days ago. The results have been remarkable. I had a endo flare up and instead of it lasting me for up to a week, I was back on my feet in 48 hours. My hairdresser has noticed a lot of new hair growth, and my nail tech complimented my healthy nails.
I was a little skeptic, not gonna lie. I was afraid of 2 things.
- I was afraid it was another pyramid scheme that targets the vulnerable, and it would be a fad.
- I was afraid I would fizzle out after the first week, and quit.
Fortunately, my coach quickly calmed my fears. She’s helped me learn to love myself again. If you need help with self-love, check out Fall In Love With Your Body…For Good!. I don’t want to get too deep into the program, this is not some shameless plug, but more of an “it worked for me” testimony. Here’s the deal. I needed accountability, and I got an accountability group and coach that I report to. I report my meals, water intake, and exercise every.single.day. I don’t have to go to the gym (I workout at home) and I don’t have excuses any more. Win/Win.
Enough about that though, I’ll get to the key points of this article.
According to Solutions Recovery, “For a person who is in recovery from drug abuse, the desire to feel good may be secondary to a more pressing one: the need to maintain abstinence.” This is why many people (such as myself) don’t learn about fitness/nutrition until much later in recovery.
Why then, does recovery and fitness/nutrition tend to go hand in hand?
- Physical health is a good portion of what contributes to mental health, and behavioral health. If you feel shitty physically, you naturally feel shitty mentally. For specific mental health benefits, see this article on Shape. It goes back to the whole garbage in, garbage out philosophy. It’s a natural occurrence that when we are sober enough to prioritize our mental health, our physical health follows suit.
- Those who struggle with substance use disorders are typically seeking endorphins, fitness/nutrition provide endorphins to the brain. Stopping the use of the substance is often not enough to satisfy the brain chemistry. Proper workouts and a healthy diet will assist the brain to release endorphins naturally, and to release them in larger amounts. Chasing the high is fine…as long as the high is health related and not consuming to the point of addiction.
- Exercising in recovery re-trains the brains responses. According to Solutions Recovery “Exercise provides numerous benefits during the recovery process, including its ability to trigger the brain’s reward system in a healthy way, whereas drugs do so in an unhealthy way.”
- I believe that commitment to fitness and nutrition helps to prevent relapse. When you have a healthy commitment, such as fitness and nutrition, you are less likely to have idle time. Too much idle time leads to relapse.
- Fitness and nutrition connects you to others. If there’s anything we learned in recovery, it’s that we can accomplish nothing alone. It takes a team to remain sober (i.e. sponsor, sponsee, accountability partners) and it takes a team to remain healthy (i.e. coach, individual, accountability partner). Your support circle and encouragers grow when you have fitness and nutrition goals. Expanding your circle is certainly a good practice for anyone in recovery.
So, there you have it. My 5 reasons why I think recovery and fitness/nutrition go hand in hand. I love seeing all the recovery stories that turn into fitness/nutrition inspirations as well. It’s important not only for the individual in recovery to incorporate fitness and nutrition because others are watching. I am blown away with inspiration by people I see on a constant basis that are killing it in the fitness/nutrition area.
We all need a little motivation and inspiration, why not incorporate that 12th step and become that inspiration?
I’d love you to follow my journey on Instagram, I’ll be glad to follow yours right back. Until then…stay sober my friends!