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Home » Cycling » What’s Worse: Being a Drunk/Drug Addict or a Fitness (Read that “Cycling”) Addict?  This Won’t Be as Simple as You Thought it Would.

What’s Worse: Being a Drunk/Drug Addict or a Fitness (Read that “Cycling”) Addict?  This Won’t Be as Simple as You Thought it Would.


Chris Collins, over at NZ Multisports, reblogged a post that caught my eye:  “Positive” Addiction?

I was all set to come out guns a blazin’.  Let’s face it, I’m obviously in the perfect position to comment on this subject, if anyone is!  Recovering drunk and a part of my recovery is maintaining my fitness.

It’s not even close!  Gimme my Lycra, my $200 aero, yet exceptionally well ventilated, helmet, my $5,000 bike…  Give me an hour a day to punch out some miles (several on weekend days) and life’s good, right?

I’ll take that over being the loser I was as a drunken a young man, any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  Put simply, The People of the State of Michigan had a serious problem with me drinking alcohol.  They don’t however, mind that I ride a bike.  A lot.

In fact, I published comments on both posts that ended like this (this is quoted from the original post’s comment):  “HOWEVER, and this is the difference, I can maintain an excellent life balance on a bike. I cannot sucking on a beer bottle. Make sense?”

And therein lies the rub.  It’s the fly in the ointment, the wrench in the cogs:  My recovery from alcoholism affects everything else in my life.  It influences my cycling “habit” because finding a healthy balance in life with everything except alcohol, is a core tenet.

Now, I want to make clear one point, lest I end up with a bunch of people making comments about the notion that alcohol should be included in that “balance”, that I should somehow learn how to consume alcohol responsibly.  Folks, I tried everything I could to come up with a way to manage alcohol responsibly before I quit entirely.  Everything.  I do not possess the ability to consume alcohol, in any amount, successfully, and won’t.  At least not for this 24-hour period (as was the case for the previous 8,239).  That said, if you must, try to score your points below.  Just know going in, my Kung Fu is strong.

Getting back to the point, when I put alcohol (or any mood or mind-altering substance for that matter) into my system, an uncontrollable obsession kicks in.  It just is what it is – call it a disease, call it a genetic brain fart, call it “choice”, I really don’t care.  The point is, I become obsessed with the escape that alcohol provides.  A little is too much and more is better, so too much is just about right.  Now, last statistics I saw said about 10% of the population, overall, is susceptible to alcoholism (studies have shown that certain ethnicities are more susceptible than others depending on the length of time natural selection has had time to weed the worst among us out).  Once a program of recovery is instituted and adhered to, we learn to change.  Everything.  With that change comes a desire to seek balance in life.  Not too happy, not too sad, not too up or down, you get the picture.  We learn to be acutely aware of this balance being interrupted – and we change our lives as necessary to restore it.  Too much up gets to be almost as uncomfortable as too much down, and both of those require evaluation followed by action to restore things to their natural equilibrium.

In other simpler terms, and this is coming from my wife, my first two years of cycling were a little touchy, close to going overboard.  I’ve since moderated, even if my mileage has increased a little bit, it’s not all time spent alone anymore.  My wife is involved with much of my time on the bike so one way or another, we’re spending a lot more time together having fun…  I can’t compare the two, my alcoholism and my cycling habit, because I’m cycling is filtered through my recovery experience.  It would be like trying to compare apples and oranges as they say.

Interesting topic for idle chatter though.

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12 Comments

  1. It has been my personal experience, that there isn’t an “addiction”, but an addictive personality. I have known many people who have quit smoking, other drugs, or alcohol and all of them have replaced one addiction with another.

    Alcohol gets caffeine as the substitute drug. Smoking gets food as the substitute or now, “vapors” which will probably be more harmful than smoking!

    “I can’t look at the two, my alcoholism and my cycling habit, as the same because I’m not out of control with cycling like I was drinking. It would be like trying to compare apples and oranges as they say.”

    Are you sure about that? 🙂

    “Gimme my Lycra, my $200 aero, yet exceptionally well ventilated, helmet, my $5,000 bike… Give me an hour a day to punch out some miles (several on weekend days) and life’s good, right?”

    And, as I recall, your arsenal includes even more than what is listed. 🙂

    Some might say your “addiction” is cycling…….some might say…. 🙂

    Enjoy!

    • bgddyjim says:

      Some might say, but they would be wrong and I’m okay with that. That’s the funny thing about others looking in and trying to find something to pick at… It’s easy enough, for certain, but anyone who really knows me would say that I’m an enthusiast, for sure (there’s no denying that), but an addict? Ah, no..

      My arsenal aside (which really isn’t all that impressive – except for the race bike and maybe the mountain bike), the proof lies in the marriage. Keep in mind, I’m married to a woman who has been dealing with my recovery since we met. She knows me almost as well as I know myself. My wife and kids still come first and they are protective of my cycling time as well, as it gives me the opportunity to set my head straight, rather than escape from the chatter (that’s a very big difference right there). Should my cycling reach concern, I’d hear about it, even if I was too dense to see it first.

      Caffeine isn’t the substitute for alcohol either. It’s sugar. Think it through. Sure, we dig our coffee, but the sugar provides the rush. It tweaks the dopamine receptors just enough. And if everyone you know has replaced their addiction with something else, everyone you know is doing it wrong. Most of the people I know, with decent long term sobriety, have not… Unless you call “Good, Clean Living” a substitute drug. In that case, guilty as charged.

      • I hope you know I was half joking about your “addiction”. 🙂

        And, I didn’t mean that everyone I know replaced their addiction with another substance. The examples I gave were just generalizations.

        We can take my younger brother who quit smoking. He started to gain weight, so, started to work out. He is currently 6′ 4″ 250 pounds and is a clone of Brock Lesner! Is it a healthy life style? I don’t know, but he is happy.

        The wife also quit smoking. It was a prerequisite to our getting married. 🙂 She started running. Healthy, maybe…except for the injuries.

        You already know about my injuries, but I never quit drinking, never started smoking, and never got “hooked” on drugs. I did them but was able to walk away.

        And that is why I say that some have a predisposition to becoming addicted to either a substance or some other activity.

        Also, the way the health organizations change their minds, virtually daily, it is almost impossible to keep up with what is supposed to be healthy these days!

      • bgddyjim says:

        No worries brother. As for the health organizations, the fact that they have no clue is not surprising. What does surprise me is that people still put credence in their “new” reports. It gets old, man.

        Like global warming and global cooling. They have a hard time predicting rain more than two days out. It’s just silliness.

        Now, for addiction, I obviously take that one very seriously. If I came off snippy, it wasn’t intended that way, I should have taken a little more care with my reply. My apologies brother.

  2. Yes, you can be addicted to excercise. But if it stops you from being addicted to damaging substances…what’s wrong with it. And you don’t seem to be damaging your body with it. I find this very interesting because there is this German guy, a professional triathlete and a good one at 45 years old. He was a drug addictof the worst kind. His name is Andreas Niedrig. His life was down the drain with his drug habits. And then he got the chance to train for a triathlon and he realized that he was good at this. He also realized that his drug habit came from feeling worthless and triathlon made him feel like he mattered. As far as I remember from his book, the first year in triathlon was a bit dodgy, overdoing the training and falling back into bad habits but eventually the sport made him so much better that he never looked back at taking drugs and that he never overdid the training to a point where he would damage himself because that would take away the good thing in his life. So I guess physical training is a good exchange for a bad addiction even if you find yourself a bit OCD about it.
    You won’t go overboard because it’s something that makes you tick along and take care of your family. Just keep on cycling if it is good for the soul.

  3. adarling575 says:

    I think people can get addicted to it, to the point where they can’t enjoy a nice day out with their family because they can’t get the cycle/run in… Or added to that the nutrition element so that they can’t have a glass of champagne to celebrate something (completely aside from having been an alcoholic, I would never say an alcoholic needs to start being able to have the occasional drink!!) or a slice of cake at their kid’s birthday. BUT addictions are not equal…. I’d rather be addicted to smoking than to heroin. I’d rather be addicted to sugar than to smoking. I’d rather be addicted to exercise than any of them! My only thing close to addiction is hummus. I don’t need it every day so I am not truly addicted but once I open a pot I cannot stop eating until it is finished 😀

  4. I think an addictive personality can translate to all facets of life, not just drugs/alcohol. But at least exercise is mostly good for you, as long as you learn moderation with it.

  5. Well this was another great post. I tend to be the type of person that does things to extremes – whether it was drinking or exercise. I’m working on moderating those aspects of my personality through meditation, affirmations and other mindfulness activities.

    I tend to organize my life so it has as little an impact as possible. I wake up at 3:30 am and am usually at the gym by 4:15. I ride my bike 30km each way to and from work most days so it really is only an extra hour away from home versus driving. The health and financial benefits make that an easy trade-off to accept.

    I do go for long rides on some weekends but when I do I leave around 6 am so I can get 100km in and still be home at a perfectly reasonable time.

    How am I going to get exceptional without putting in exceptional effort? Why do I want to work towards excellence? Because I’ve seen the alternative and I will strive for excellence every time for the rest of my life, in all areas of my life.

    Next Friday I will be doing a 220 km round trip to my former wife’s grave site. I plan to grab some lunch have have a one-person picnic with some quiet reflection. I’m thinking of it as kind of a pilgrimage and by biking there and back I feel like I will be showing her that I’m doing just fine. I expect it to be very emotional. I’ll make sure to blog about it.

    Thanks for the great read buddy.

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