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Recovery from Addiction and Fitness;  You don’t need the Latter to have the Former, but…. It certainly doesn’t Hurt!

Unfortunately I can only speak from experience here, so this post will be lacking.  Kinda.

I sobered up in ’92 and I spent the first nine months focusing only on my recovery.  No girls, no games, nothing but Steps, meetings and fixing what was wrong with me.

Summer of ’93 I was sober, twenty-three, and working at a machine shop and living in an apartment a few miles away – and directly across the street from one of the best parks in Southeastern Michigan.  One of the guys I worked with, a normal world non-drinker, got me into rollerblading.  I still have those skates.  I skated three or four days a week and I was hooked (though I didn’t know why at the time).  A weekday skate was 8 to 16 miles and a weekender was 16 to 32 miles.

Then came a period of fitness stagnation.  Along with it, a period of program stagnation.  The important factor here is I’m able to look at this with hindsight.  Sadly, when we recovering drunks are sitting in self-pity, lethargy, ignorance, you name it, whatever we happen to be sitting in, it’s hard to see how messed up we are until the stench becomes so blindingly obvious, we can’t help but smell the stink on us.  It took more than a few years to figure out what was going on…

Then came running, and with it, salvation and understanding.  I’d been to the doctor with chest pains (keep in mind, I was only 32 years old at this point) and he suggested that the problem was an overly stressful job and no exercise – excess adrenaline.  At the same time I’d gotten on a scale and realized over a period of a few years I’d gone from 150 pounds to 195 (!).  I had no clue that I’d gotten so big…

Running fixed some of the trouble.  Running with sober friends fixed the rest.  I’ve been involved in a sober running club or riding with sober friends for fifteen years now and it’s made all the difference in the world.  

One doesn’t need a fitness program to maintain and enjoy sobriety.  A fitness program simply enhances the recovery process for any of a dozen of the well documented reasons;  Companionship, mental stability, emotional stability, happiness, a sense of accomplishment, weight loss (or maintenance), stress reduction….

Look, given enough time I could pull out a lot of silly cliches.  The point is, I managed to find two sports that I loved (rollerblading and cycling) and one I could “like”, at least till the weight came off (running).  In the process I learned an invaluable lesson:  When everything else is messed up and confounding, having something to relieve the pressure for an hour or two can A) be just enough to put things back in perspective, B) be a positive reminder that I can do anything I put my mind to, and C) that even as messed up as things may appear, this too shall pass.

On yer left.

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