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On this very day a decade ago, I woke up next to a stranger with a splitting headache and the hangover from hades. How can I be so sure? Because that’s how I started almost every morning back then.Have you ever heard the Sublime song, “What Happened?” Well, that was the sound track of my life. As a refresher, let’s sing a few lines:
“I know I did somethingLord what could it beWoke up in the morningAnd all my friends hate me……what happened?”
But what actually happened next was a pleasant surprise to everyone. I finally got sober.I’d be lying if I said that fitness drove my urge to get help. Really, I just wanted to feel human again. But fitness was a huge part of my recovery. In fact, to this day, I credit fitness for keeping me away from drugs and alcohol.If you’re thinking about recovery, I want to encourage you to get involved with fitness. I’m going to outline 5 reasons why fitness and clean eating helped my recovery. Maybe it can help you with yours too.
I had a purpose
When I was drinking, my only purpose was to get through one hangover, so I could start on the next. I really had no life purpose. The only think I ever worked towards was finishing a 6-pack.Fitness and clean eating gave me new goals, and they unfolded right before my eyes. From the day I started running, I wanted to be faster and stronger. And just like that, I had my first goal.I began eating clean as a way to keep lean and help my body run faster. But I noticed something. The cleaner I ate, the better I felt. So, I picked up my second goal. I was going to cut refined sugars and processed foods from my diet.When I woke up every morning, my mind immediately shifted towards my goals. I thought about what I’d do in that day to achieve them. And then I did it.
I felt more level headed
In my days of drinking, I was a bit of a hot head. Not only did I have major road rage, but I was known for lashing out at friends too. This all changed when my lifestyle changed. I attribute it to the endorphin boost I got from exercise and the nutrients I got from clean eating.My body was finally back to working as it should, and I was reaping the benefits.
I gained healthy friendships
Fitness gave me an outlet to meet like-minded people. I joined hiking groups, running groups and made new friends at the rock climbing gym. This was the first time in ages that I had friendships that didn’t revolve around alcohol.
My self-esteem improved
As you’d imagine, my self-esteem improved when I started taking care of my body. My appearance changed, and it wasn’t just the muscles I gained. I lost the ruddiness in my complexion and the bags under my eyes. I looked great and that made me feel great.With a regained purpose and more toned body, I felt like a new person. The stronger I got, the less I thought about alcohol. After a while, I realized that I barely ever thought about drinking.
Fitness was a stress reliever
Before recovery, alcohol was my only stress reliever. That’s probably why I became an alcoholic in the first place. But when I finally got sober and started working out, exercise became my release.Instead of hitting the bottle when I felt particularly stressed, I’d hit the gym. Afterwards, I’d feel a lot better and I was able to make better decisions.Exercise is a natural stress reliever, so when you get healthy, the stress seems to melt away.Fitness and clean eating were instrumental in my recovery, and I’m confident that they can help you too. If you’re struggling with substance abuse, find detoxification centers in your area that can help you overcome the physical withdrawal symptoms. Then, find group support or counseling along with a fitness program to help you stay sober from here on out.
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