Simple steps you can take to start feeling better today while making fitness a part of your Recovery process
By O. R. Marv
“I put down the bottle, but now I’ve picked up the fork.”
If you’ve been in Recovery long enough, odds are you have heard that phrase once or twice before.
Maybe it was even you who said it.
Either way I have good news for you…just like when you decided to quit drinking or using, doing something to change how you feel starts with just one day at a time.
Well, if you were like me in the very beginning of getting sober, it was one brutal hellacious minute by one brutal hellacious minute, but you get the point.
Instead of thinking about the massive amount of work it’s going to require to make fitness an integral part of your lifestyle and Recovery, adopt the 24 hour window mind frame.
For 24 hours you do your best to make these simple changes – that’s it.
Don’t worry about the next day, or the next week, or the next month…just focus on making these simple changes for a single day.
So…where do you start?
Here is a quick list of things you can start doing TODAY…again, just get a tiny snowball rolling down the hill by making a few changes and before long it’ll turn into an avalanche of motivation and commitment to fitness!
1) YOU KNOW YOU’RE OVERWEIGHT, “DON’T DO EXERCISE”, and DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START…..WHAT YOU DO IS YOU START MOVING!!!!!
Weight training is hands down THE BEST way to change your body; whether you are drastically under-weight or the more common scenario, overweight.
However getting any sort of extra movement in is a realistic starting point for many people who fall in the latter group.
Simply walking 20-45 minutes per day is going to be a drastic change.
Anytime we can get you to burn some extra calories you are not used to burning, good things will happen.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
- Start walking – set your alarm a mere 20 minutes early and go for a walk first thing in the morning before breakfast (it will help wake you up as well as give you some built in quiet time for meditation and prayer to start your day).
- Walk during your lunch break at work. Obviously this is weather permitting, but doing so will get you outside in sunlight to stimulate you naturally and keep blood flowing to prevent the “after lunch crash.” Most people just sit around for 30-60 minutes hunched over their phone looking over social media and waste a golden opportunity to get some exercise in.
WHAT’S EVEN BETTER
- Start walking with weights in your hands. Don’t have weights? Get creative – go buy two 94 cent cinder blocks (be sure to wear gloves) or fill up some old backpacks with rocks or bags of sand you can get at a local hardware store.
- If holding on to weights doesn’t sound appealing to you or is too uncomfortable with the strain it puts on your neck, upper back, and forearms – make a weighted backpack and walk around while wearing that. It doesn’t have to be extremely heavy in the beginning – 10 lbs. or so is a good starting point for most people.
- If possible start doing lunges, pushups, squats, wall sits - basically whatever you can do with your bodyweight from comfort of your own home (i.e. during commercials of your favorite TV show). Adding a resistance element will greatly increase the caloric burn, although your level of mobility will impact what exercises you can do. The main thing is make the effort to perform these bodyweight exercises.
2) YOUR JOINTS ACHE, YOU KNOW YOU’VE LOST FLEXIBILITY & MOBILITY, YOUR POSTURE SUCKS, AND YOU STRUGGLE TO DO NORMAL DAILY TASKS WITHOUT PARTS OF YOUR BODY FEELING “TIGHT”
The majority of people sit down all day at work, sit in their cars as they commute, sit at home and watch TV, and HOPEFULLY sit in meetings close to daily.
All this sitting creates a variety of problems that in turn limit our mobility, flexibility, and ultimately our posture and ability to perform basic movement patterns (i.e. when’s the last time you got down into a deep squat position?).
Luckily steps can be taken to start correcting these imbalances which will greatly improve your quality of life by eliminating unnecessary aches and pains.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
- Stretch while watching TV or if you are a multi-tasker while reading a book. Be sure to hold each stretch for 45 seconds each while breathing deeply and mindfully. Bare minimum take the time to stretch your hamstrings and hip flexors as these tighten up and even physically shorten from being seated all day.
- Be mindful of your posture while walking (if your thumbs are facing each other this means you have poor posture with your shoulders slouched forward vs if your thumbs are facing forward while walking your posture automatically improves).
WHAT’S EVEN BETTER
- Squat for at least 5 minutes per day (build up to this) to help with knee, hip, and ankle mobility. Literally all you need to do is drop down into a deep squat position (or whatever you are capable of depth-wise)…if you can only do so 30 seconds at a time then do that 10 times per day.
- For a posture boosting exercise try this: When you are sitting in a chair extend your arms downwards to your sides, palms over the edge of your seat, and press downwards on the chair seat to push your butt up slightly (you are simply “unweighting” your butt from your seat) for a count of 10 seconds. Repeat throughout the day multiple times and build up the small muscles responsible for keeping your posture tall while sitting and walking.
3) YOU KNOW YOU EAT LIKE CRAP & DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START…OR AS PART OF FELLOWSHIPPING YOU REGULARLY GO OUT TO EAT AT RESTAURANTS & DINERS
Food often times replaces our D.O.C.(s) when we first come into the rooms.
When I am asked by a newcomer about what they should do about this I quickly tell them to not pay it a second thought and only focus on staying clean and sober – that is their life and death struggle, NOT what they are eating at the moment.
Look…I was a major alcoholic…the “I get shaky” by 3 pm kind so when I stopped drinking my body craved MASSIVE amounts of sugar (like a gallon of ice cream and 10 cookies every day sugar levels).
The problem arises when that type of eating becomes the new norm after progressing out of the initial stages of Recovery.
What’s worse is when this compulsive over-eating becomes the way we stuff our newly-discovered feelings – we have to be mindful of this new compensating behavior.
While some people do better with a massive overhaul with their eating habits all at once…most people do better with small progressive changes that build on one another over time.
These recommendations are for the latter group.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
- Quit eating sugary, crappy, pre-packaged food period (how revelatory I know). By reducing the amount of processed foods you eat you will eliminate a lot of excessive sodium from your diet responsible for a variety of health problems as well as fake man-made sugars your body doesn’t know how to break down. Start by eliminating the sugary snacks that you may be mindlessly munching on between meals. Eventually you will have to learn to prepare your own meals – but for now lose the snacking and reduce your trips to traditional fast food joints.
- Along with losing the crap start increasing your protein intake whenever possible. The combination of lowering your processed food intake while increasing your protein intake will result in reduced hunger pains and cravings. Why? You are not riding a wave of insulin all day long, having to continuously eat junk every few hours to combat plummeting blood sugar levels. Not only that, protein makes you feel fuller longer than any other type of macronutrient (i.e. carbs, protein, fat).
- When you are out in a restaurant and diner look for the low calorie options (almost every chain has them these days), avoid the sugary drinks and sodas, while skipping the pre-dinner bread trap and limit your trips to the desert menu.
- Well besides actually monitoring the amount of calories you eat, pair you food options in these combinations: Eat protein with your carbs and limit fat or eat protein with your fat and limit carbs. The combination of excess saturated fat AND carbs along with protein in one sitting is where a lot of people get themselves in trouble because our bodies struggle to process a lot of saturated fat and carbs together. So…if you want that fat, juicy ribeye steak wrapped in bacon eat it alongside a salad and veggies, NOT alongside two extra servings of mashed potatoes. But if you want those mashed potatoes eat them with a nice lean chicken breast and NOT that ribeye.
4) YOU POUND ENERGY DRINKS, BIG GULP SODAS, AND HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF COFFEE WITH YOUR SUGAR AND CREAM WHILE RARELY DRINKING WATER…AND WONDER WHY YOU ARE ALWAYS HUNGRY AND TIRED
Most people are CHRONICALLY dehydrated and don’t even know it.
This causes a whole slew of problems including feeling fatigued, irritable, poor skin, “brain fog”, and thinking you are hungry when your body merely needs some water.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
- Start drinking more water. Invest $14-20 in a BPA free 1 liter bottle and drink at least 3 liters of PURE water per day. Now…if you rarely drink water I wouldn’t recommend drinking 3 liters from the very beginning or you’ll be using the restroom every 20 minutes, but 3 liters is the end goal for most people (the more you begin to exercise and sweat, the more you may need in the future). You’ll be surprised by just how much better you feel!
- For one eliminate those damn poison energy drinks! There is absolutely no reason to drink those chemical concoctions. Replace them with black coffee and teas and then really focus on losing the 5 tablespoons of sugar in each cup (see above).
- If you HAVE to drink diet sodas then drink 2 or 3 per week, NOT 2 or 3 per day (and no BIG GULPS!). I know that this may be a huge adjustment so start to ween down till you hit that target number.
Like I’ve said before, if it’s important to you, you will always find a way.
If it’s not important to you, you will always find excuses.
These are easy, applicable changes you can start making TODAY!!!!
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it also had just one day where its construction began.
Begin building your Rome today.
Begin making fitness a part of your Recovery process today.
Remember, it’s all about progress not perfection – making fitness a new priority in your life is going to be a process with both up’s and down’s while you implement these changes in your daily life.
Make these changes out of self-love, not self-hate.
These can be a way to start the amends process with yourself, of ensuring a higher quality of life in your sobriety.
Remember – 24 hours is all we need to worry about.
One day at a time.
One meal at a time.
One snack at a time.
One rep at a time.