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You have to give it away to keep it.

November 2013

I’ve been struggling for years about whether or not I should publish the true meaning of my blog – what I really wanted to convey in my posts.

The root of my consternation was mainly in delivery.  The only way I could think to put it together, the message ended up “sounding” preachy.  I’m no preacher.  Okay, maybe I am from time to time, please forgive me the transgression.  Well, on the occasion of my 21st anniversary sober month-long celebration, I’ve finally put everything together that conveys the intent properly.

This post was inspired by a cool talk with my daughter just last night as we were walking into the grocery store to pick up a few things. On the way in I said hello to a Salvation Army guy ringing the bell.  Afterwards, on the way out, I dropped a third of the cash I had in my wallet into the kettle and explained to my daughter why…

You have to give it away to keep it.

This is a mantra of the recovering from addiction community and I try to apply it to every aspect of my life right down to something as simple as dropping a few bucks in the kettle.  The theory is simple:  I can’t make it alone in recovery, I need some help.  When I came in from the cold I needed a lot of it.  Some people gave me rides to meetings, others offered their expertise in crafting a new sober life and still others offered to talk me through the rough spots – whether on the phone or in person.  I was treated to a lot of dinners to talk through my troubles from people whom I thought had better things to do.  The thought, that those folks had better things to do, was a rookie mistake.  You see, the further I get from my last drink, unless I remain engaged in my recovery, the closer I get to my next drink.  In simple terms, working with newly recovering drunks helps me to remember exactly where I came from – specifically to see others struggle with getting sober.  Otherwise I would fall into the trap of A) forgetting how bad it really was or B) convincing myself that it wasn’t all that bad – which is followed by the idiotic notion that maybe I wasn’t a drunk after all.

That second conclusion is very easy to come to at any age but when you quit drinking at the ripe old age of 22, staying engaged without working with others seems, at least to me, impossible.  This is the heart of giving it away to keep it.  I share my experience with the hope it will benefit others while the new person shares theirs, seemingly selfishly, to get better.  What they don’t know, and can’t until much later in the game, is that their experience benefits me just as much – it shows me, often very vividly, exactly how tough it is to get sober and how sick I was back then.

We recovering masses lead a very blessed life.  Not only are we given a second chance (even a third, fourth, fifth, sixth…you get the idea), we get to recover from hell on earth, a life so void of happiness and hope that some of us actually choose to end it rather than try to dig out.  For that I am eternally grateful.

So, this blog is all about passing on what was freely given to me.  My posts about alcoholism, and recovery from it, are for those who can use it – either practically or to understand someone they know who might be afflicted.  Many of the principles I’ve come to live by, however, can benefit anyone because the real trick to recovery isn’t putting a cork in the jug, that’s the easy part.  The tough part is learning to become a productive member of society.

For the fitness aspect, flatly put, recovery as I know it wouldn’t be near as enjoyable without it (healthy mind, healthy body and all), I’m good at it, like to write about it and I hope that my experience can benefit someone else – same principle, bigger target.  If you look at my specialty pages tied to this blog, my Noob’s Guide, the Bike Fit and Maintenance Page, and the Maladies Series, almost every one of those posts has a personal experience tied in there – whether it be “how I got this right” or “how I screwed this up, learned from it and fixed it”.

That leaves one final question to answer…  Why?  Why go to the trouble – there’s no fame, no notoriety, hell less than ten people out of the more than 600 who follow my blog actually know my full name!  Folks, it’s very simple.  Whether you had anything to do with it or not, the People of the State of Michigan gave me a second chance.  I’m paying it back one day at a time, one check for taxes at a time, one post at a time.  That’s how I roll.


  1. vardotrichic says:

    It is inspiring and amazing that you are sharing your struggles and triumphs as you become a better and healthier person with us. Thank you Jim!!

  2. tischcaylor says:

    Your recovery posts really work for me because they dovetail so much with my “recovery” from unhealthy eating. I can’t pretend I’m “cured” from that, either. I’m sure I’ll be working at it the rest of my days, and sharing/helping others helps me, as well. Belated congrats on your 21st anniversary!

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks, but it’s not belated yet… Six days to go, I celebrate the whole month. 😉

      I love how little the actual addiction really matters – it’s all about clearing up the space between the ears. Thank you for the kind words.

  3. isaac976 says:

    Awesome post, totally like how you say you have to give it away to keep it. that would be one of the many I will teach my kids in the future (if I ever get kids).

  4. Chatter says:

    bgddyjim, regardless your full name you have inspired so much as I started my own personal adventure. Love the open and honest way you deal with things and your take on things from your own unique personal struggles. Thanks for just being you.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks man. You’re too kind.

      • Chatter says:

        Telling it like it is. If there has been one person on the internet that has always told it like it is its bgddyjim.You have given me great support and motivation as I have undergone my personal journey of a different variety and have always been straight up. Thanks

  5. masitim says:

    Great post. I enjoy and appreciate all you share, cycling and personal. Being able to pay forward what we are given regardless of how we got there is rewarding. Thanks and congrats.

  6. […] so long as I continue to put as much into it as I take out — a concept I was reminded of in this excellent post by Fit Recovery, a recovering alcoholic turned incredible cyclist — I’m going to keep this […]

  7. dogtorbill says:

    I don’t know you first or last name, but my 25 year old daughter hit (I pray to God) bottom yesterday, and I’m reaching out for help. She admits she F’d up lots of important things in her life, has a huge problem, and can’t fix it herself. Which is, (I think) a good start. Says she’s going to go to NA, or AA if she cant find one. I need to know how much, and what kind of support a father can give. Is it possible to go overboard, and this smothering cause a pushback? Also perhaps you have other resources??? Thanks, Bill

    • bgddyjim says:


      This can get to be a VERY extensive response. I am in the middle of a lot of work right now but I will get back to you shortly.

      For right now, it is my experience that tough love works best (it did for me). Temper your emotions a little – and with two daughters, I know how tough this will be. You’re daughter may experience struggles from time to time and she’ll need an understanding but firm father.

      I would recommend you search online for a Big Book of AA and read “To Wives” and “The Family Afterwards”. You’ll have to juggle the language around so it suits your relationship with your daughter but the principles are sound and it will answer the questions you posed above.

      I have no other references – this is all I’ve used and known to make it.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Check your email if you don’t regularly.

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