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Home » Cycling » Recovery and my key to happiness: Fitness. 22 Years Sober, 8,036 days…

Recovery and my key to happiness: Fitness. 22 Years Sober, 8,036 days…

November 2014

Today I celebrate 22 years without a drop. 8,036 days. 192,864 hours. 11,571,840 minutes. 694,310,400 seconds.

This has been a truly excellent year for me though it’s had its stress and has been anything but easy… I don’t think it’s supposed to be though. In fact, easy and stress-free were never promised when I sobered up. Growing is never easy or pain-free and this has been a huge year of growth. Taking risks, locking horns with challenges, working toward being a better husband and father, the career(s) and trying to pass on my experience, strength and hope to other drunks that it may help them to recover too… Point is, when I was young (and arguably stupid) I thought “making it” would mean a carefree life of fun and happiness – a perpetual vacation in other words.

I haven’t gotten the balance down perfectly yet because I’ve gone too far the other way and spend a good deal of what little vacation I do take working, but I’m getting there.

In the end, the important thing is that I am free from mood or mind altering drugs and that gives me the chance to seek out my happiness. Without sobriety, I’ve proven time and time again, I’m pretty much useless.

I was promised that if I just stayed sober, kept coming back and kept my life clean, my life would become so good I would get to a point where I thought it was so fantastic I would think it couldn’t get any better. I’ve been there dozens of times. Each time I’ve kept on the path, continued to come back, continued to live the clean and sober life… And each and every time I thought I was at the top of my mountain, that it couldn’t possibly get better, it has.

For that, I am grateful. Life sober is good.

One of the greatest factors contributing to my overall happiness and enjoyment of sober life has been maintaining a decent level of fitness (in the first couple of years, then in the last three, I could rewrite that, “exceptional level of fitness”).  Fitness has helped me navigate through almost every stage of my recovery, in fact I’ve been into some form of physical activity all but five years of the twenty-two I’ve been sober.  I can say with certainty, those five years were the hardest.  Hindsight is what it is but looking back those five stick out like a sore thumb.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say fitness is more important to the recovering than for normal folk but I can explain why it is so important to me.  First, and starting with the simple, alcohol was my escape.  Fitness, or training, was the positive answer to the destructive nature of pouring my life down the drain for a drink (or several, as the case was).  For an hour a day, or even three or four on weekend days, I didn’t have to fret about what I had left to do to get my life back in order.  I didn’t have to worry about making amends for being a loser.  All I had to do was get my but outside and move it…  There has always been one major difference between drowning my troubles and working out at them though:  I wasn’t willing to piss away what was good in my life to overdo it.  Fitness was my anti-alcohol.  Fitness didn’t get in the way of going to work, it made work bearable.  Fitness didn’t have me throwing away everything that was good in my life, it added to its greatness.  Unlike alcohol, fitness made my life better.

With that, you can be assured, I’ll keep coming back.


  1. Congratulations on 22 years!!!

  2. Well done man. Love your honesty as usual!

  3. says:

    This sat is the last runner get together, hope you can make it Did Bill Williams call you to let you guys know his Mom passed?

  4. Sue Slaght says:

    Congrats to you! Inspire onward.

  5. So... says:


  6. bigtosh90 says:

    Congratulations on 22 years, well done keep moving forward

  7. Chatter says:

    Congratulations. That’s Ann amazing accomplishment. You gave been a major inspiration to me in my struggles.

  8. cyardin says:

    Huge congratulations and here is to another 22 more clean fit and fighting years.

  9. Congrats on the 22 years! Judith’s post brought me here and glad I got to read this. I am 3 1/2 yrs myself and have been running now for 14 months. I agree so much about what you said regarding the fitness and how it jives with our recovery. I mentioned on Judith’s blog about how I believe strongly in the mind-body-spirit connection – 3 tiered problem countered with a 3-tiered solution. For me, running (and cycling – do a lot of that too), is that physical part in many ways. It keeps me balanced in some ways and allows me an almost moving meditation at times.

    And speaking of balance, glad you mentioned it in your post – nice to know that even after all that time, balance can still be an issue! I struggled mightily with that early on, and if I am not careful, it rears up again. Balance!! What a concept for an alcoholic whose whole life was wrapped up in when the next drink would be.

    Thank you for this – and congrats again – amazing!


    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks Paul! Brother, when they say it’s a daily reprieve, they’re not kidding. As we grow, we see new challenges and have to learn to deal with them. Doing so, if I’m not careful, can lead back to any of a number of bad habits.

      I’m grateful you found my blog and will be following yours. I’m looking forward to reading about your journey. Congratulations on your years, you’re a miracle.

  10. Sheree says:

    Well done!

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