When I came into the rooms of the various 12 step fellowships that I chose to attend, I wasn’t exactly the picture of health for those first several months, and not just because I had beaten my body up badly while in my active addiction prior.
I lived off of the “Four C’s”:
Carbohydrates (as in sugar, sugar, sugar!)
I never smoked unless I had gone to treatment.
I justified this by saying “Hey, if I just gave up substances 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. then having something for me right now is OK.”
So that’s what I would do – go into treatment a non-smoker and by the time I left I would be up to a pack a day.
Weirdly, cigarettes have always been the ONE thing that I can quit at the drop of the hat – hell, I can’t even quit caffeine like I can quit cigarettes.
But that’s not the point I want to make.
The point is, I used my “alcoholism” to justify my poor health habits.
Now….let me be clear – this is not intended to beat anyone up or guilt you if you are currently in the same boat.
I did what I did to stay sober in the beginning, and if those cigarettes and gallons of ice cream helped, then so be it.
In fact, in my professional life I typically DON’T work with any newcomers when it comes to their exercise or nutrition habits until they’ve reached 30 days of continuous sobriety.
Just do what you have to do to not pick up a drink or drug in between your meetings…or church, or outpatient classes, or whatever the hell it is you are doing to stay sober.
But after a certain period of time of being in sobriety and working on your Recovery, the excuse of “I’m an alcoholic and that’s just what alcoholics do” can no longer fly.
Yes, as individuals with obsessive and addictive personalities, there are most likely going to be some character defects that we are going to have to process and work on.
But by the same token, sometimes claiming that something is just a “character defect” can turn into a too often used excuse to justify less than ideal behavior.
We have survived and overcome so much that sometimes trivial things like our health gets swept under the rug.
So….the question becomes – “WHY did you get sober?”
For me, the initial answer is - so I wouldn’t f----g die.
My second answer is, every day had been a chore…that every day I was too afraid to kill myself yet too scared to live and that’s not much of a life at all.
Then there are some more answers.
Eventually my answer then turns to me getting sober in order to improve and repair my health.
And that’s where the dilemma always faced me square in the face: I got sober to become healthy, yet I was poisoning myself with cigarettes and over-eating sugars and processed junk without exercising.
My excuse of, “Well, I’m an alcoholic so it’s just what we do.” could no longer trump this dilemma.
After having built a solid foundation for my Recovery first and foremost, I then turned my attention to work on what and how I ate, quit smoking, and start exercising daily once again.
As I’ve stated before, because our addiction(s) affects us mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and PHYSICALLY….our Recovery process needs to incorporate all four areas as well.
My physical health is extremely important and vital for me to be able to better enjoy my Recovery.
If I am not healthy, odds are I am going to be down on myself, down on my life, and therefore unable to be as grateful as I should be for this wonderful gift called sobriety.
The second we lose our gratitude for our present life we enter a slippery slope that could eventually lead to relapse.
I need to stay grateful day in and day out.
Making my health a priority can help ensure I remain grateful (by no means is it a guarantee, but any little bit helps!).
Now, I just outlined what I needed to do to restore my physical health.
Similar to Recovery, just because that was my answer for getting healthy doesn’t mean it has to be your answer.
Whatever you define as restoring your health, that’s what you should focus on achieving.
Don’t let old excuses get in your way, just do the damn thing!
The last thing I want to touch on is the fact that we do have obsessive and addictive personalities.
We can turn something like getting fit and restoring our physical health into our newest addiction to replace the drinking and the drugging of our past.
What should empower us can end up controlling us.
THAT is the biggest danger I believe those of us in Recovery face when making fitness and health a part of our Recovery process.
This is when it helps to have open communication with someone you trust, to be able to perform “temperature checks” with yourself to make sure you are not using your outsides to define your insides, and to be able to recognize yourself replacing old addictions with new ones…no matter how positive they may appear on the surface.
Insanity can take many forms, it doesn’t always have to be from an outright negative source.
The best way I’ve found to combat this is by using the mindset that you are making the necessary changes to get healthy as a living amends to yourself.
YES, YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY – MAKE THIS A LIVING AMENDS TO YOURSELF!
I, for one, had a hard time learning to love myself, let alone forgive myself for all the crap I drug myself through over the years.
I felt nothing but shame and hatred for my past actions and lifestyle, so why the hell should I deserve to do anything nice for myself?
Through a lot of step work and meetings I learned that was simply the voice of my alcoholism talking to me, trying to keep me sick.
I no longer have to live that way today.
YOU no longer have to live that way today.
Quit using the, “I’m an alcoholic, it’s just what we do” excuse when it comes to getting healthy.
Quit beating yourself up mercilessly for your past and don’t continue to punish yourself because you’re not “good enough.”
Quit playing the victim and take charge of your health and your life.
YOU ARE WORTH IT!
You’ve come too far to not go farther.
You can do it ONE DAY AT A TIME!
ONE SET AT A TIME!
ONE REP AT A TIME!