The Twelve Steps of Nutrition and Exercise Recovery

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been in recovery for a while, and you’ve learned to apply the 12 Steps to other areas of your life so that you can fully recover from those struggles as well. I’ve spent the last 60+ days on a new journey, one that involves Nutrition and Exercise Recovery.

If you’re interested in knowing my specific program, email me and I’ll be glad to walk you through it, at this point I can even coach (think Sponsor) you through it. I’m happy to help you remain accountable if that’s what you’re looking for too (think accountability partner). For more on how fitness and recovery go hand in hand, check out Recovery and Fitness: 5 Reasons They Go Hand in Hand. Without further ado, here are how I apply the 12 steps to Nutrition and Exercise Recovery.


  1. We admitted we were powerless over nutrition and exercise – that our health had become unmanageable.

This step takes us out of denial about current eating patterns and exercise routines (or lack thereof). This often occurs after “bottoming out.” Maybe the Doctor gave you bad news, maybe you looked in the mirror and hated what you saw, maybe you just can’t keep up with the kids anymore. At any rate, this is when you say, nothing I have done or am doing is working, and I’m in trouble. I need to change, and I can’t do it on my own.

  1. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Many people don’t include the God factor with fitness and nutrition, but think about it. He was part of your creation.

If you have Christian belief system, God wants to be part of your fitness journey!

Psalm 139:13-16 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

James 2:26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Your body is not your own.

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own

With God’s help, you can do abundantly above and beyond what you can imagine.

Philippians 3:21 Who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

  1. Made a decision to turn our nutrition and our activities over to the care of God as we understood Him.

This step means surrendering. It’s a conscious decision and action step.


  1. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our diet and exercise patterns and habits.

This is where my real change began. When I applied the recovery inventory process to the process of inventorying my unhealthy eating and exercise patterns, the cycle became clear. I ate when I was emotionally vulnerable (a constant for anyone in recovery). I ate when I was feeling things I didn’t want to feel. I ate to avoid feelings. I ate poorly out of habit, when unhealthy patterns crept in my life. I was lazy because at times sleep and inactivity felt better than feeling my feelings. I was also extreme when I did attempt to eat healthy and exercise and this was often rooted in shame, or co-dependence.

  1. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrong nutrition and exercise routines.

This is what happened when I signed up to have a coach. When I invited someone in to guide me through the “right” way to eat and work out, my poor lifelong habits were revealed.

  1. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

I’m not talking about having God remove the bad eating habits and exercise routines here. That’s where we have to do the work. What I’m referring to here, is once the inventory is done, what you’re left with is the “why” of your poor decisions. These are what he needs to remove. How about shame, insecurity, self-condemnation, self-hate, escapism, and avoidance. These are frequently associated with unhealthy diet and exercise patterns.

  1. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

The key word here is humbly. Humble is having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance. It’s not about you! It’s about his plan for your life.

  1. Made a list of how we had harmed our body and self-image, and became willing to make amends to ourselves.

This is often revealed in Step 4. Now we have to deem ourselves worthy of redemption.


  1. Made direct amends to ourselves and others our health had impacted such wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Apologize to your body! For more on this, check out Fall In Love With Your Body…For Good!. Apologize to God for mistreating his miracle! Did your poor diet and exercise cost those you love anything? Did they spend time worrying about you, were they disappointed in your lack of self-care? Did you “let yourself go”? If so, apologize – without expectation!

  1. Continued to take personal inventory of our nutrition and exercise routines and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Accountability is key for lasting fitness and exercise. I found a program that requires me to post my meals, workout, and water intake daily. I also have to do weekly progress photos! Sounds ridiculous and invasive, right? If you’ve completed the 12 steps to live a sober life, that accountability is so much more invasive than diet and exercise logs, right? The key here, is that IT WORKS!

  1. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Prayer is the communication chain between you and God. How will we know if we are on the right path if we don’t communicate with him, right?

  1. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice healthy nutrition and exercise in all our affairs.

If you’ve been through recovery before this is nothing new to you. We are called to pay it forward, right? We are called to share the good news about recovery. I’ve seen messes turned to messages and tragedy turned to triumph. Think about how many people you know who have sobered up and turned their fitness and exercise platform into one that inspires and encourages others to do the same? Those who have committed their lives over to fuel it with proper nutrition and exercise have a certain glow about them right? There’s something to be said for that “your vibe attracts your tribe” saying.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my run through of how the 12 Steps of Nutrition and Exercise Recovery. As always, feel free to contact me with any comments of concerns.

And remember, stay sober my friends! It looks good on you.



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