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Holistic Approach to Alcoholism

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“Having only drank for one year of my life, I hardly consider myself an alcoholic. But I know how important it is for me to see it as any other drug so I am welcomed to AA as NA/CA just the same. I wanted to understand holistic approaches to alcoholism just as I understand the addiction. Turns out their not really much different. This blog can help not only a drunky but a junky too.” -Love, Robyn

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Alcohol addiction is a multifaceted brain disorder which is one of the reasons it is so difficult to treat and why a holistic approach to alcoholism is the prescription needed for craving-free and long-term sobriety

The roots of alcoholism lie in an imbalance or depletion of neurotransmitters in the brain that is caused by the alcohol itself, nutritional deficiencies, low blood sugar, allergy, poor diet, hypothyroidism, toxins in the environment, childhood abuse,chronic stress or many of the other things that disrupt neurotransmitters.

However, these biochemical roots affect every aspect of an individual’s life. It alters personality, cognitive functioning and spiritual connections. It impacts the physical, emotional, social, cognitive and spiritual levels deeply.

We’ll call these other issues, secondary contributors to alcoholism. Although they are not the core root, if they are not addressed they have the power to sabotage recovery.

The physical, emotional and spiritual elements are deeply intertwined. The biochemical/physical impacts the spiritual and the psychological and the spiritual affects the biochemical and psychological and vice versa.

When an individual addresses the true biochemical roots of their addiction with a holistic approach to alcoholism, physical healing begins and biochemical repair is essential to success in long-term sobriety. Deep spiritual and emotional healing can’t be complete without it. However, if one only addresses the biochemical and neglects the spiritual and emotional then they are still at risk of relapse or relapse.

The damage that is done on the physical level has a great impact on the psychological and the spiritual. When your brain and body systems aren’t functioning properly, it has a profound impact on emotional and spiritual health which is often exhibited in a variety of negative psychological symptoms.

Incorporating a holistic approach to alcoholism into your recovery plan helps the individual to heal on all these levels and therefore increases the success rates of long-term sobriety quite drastically.

Unique Aspects of a Holistic Approach to Alcoholism

Alcoholism is unique from other diseases in that it often destroys marriages or relationships or alienates family and friends. Family members and friends must often distance themselves from the alcoholic in order to save their own sanity and in some cases protect themselves emotionally and/or physically. When this occurs, the alcoholic is left in a position without much support. For those who stick around, there is usually a great deal of damage done to the relationship and healing is required.

Another unique component to alcoholism, is that after one engages in the alcoholic lifestyle for an extended period of time, it then becomes a learned behavior to some degree. They learn to respond to stress, pain, sadness, anger etc. by taking a drink or a drug. It becomes a habitual response without thought. These types of behaviors must be unlearned and replaced with healthier behaviors. Habits and routines must be broken. A new lifestyle needs to be embraced.

Alcoholism recovery is also unique in that there is likely to be a great deal of shame, guilt and remorse for actions and behaviors that the alcoholic engaged in while intoxicated, which must be dealt with in a healthy manner to keep them from interfering in sobriety.

Depending on factors such as each individuals background and how long one has been living with alcoholism, there can be a variety of other secondary factors that need to be taken into consideration and addressed, such as relationship issues, childhood sexual or physical abuse, impact on marriage, parenting issues and interpersonal skills. Many people who’ve lived with alcoholism for a long time may be lacking in a variety of social skills that are necessary to get through life. These factors will not apply to everyone, but for those who it does, this is where traditional counseling is called for.

And yet another exclusive aspect of alcoholism is that sometimes the individual goes through a grieving period when they begin recovery. Giving up alcohol is like losing a very good friend or a loved one. Emotional support is a crucial for those who have this experience.

With all these different factors weighing in the alcoholism recovery equation, to address only one aspect will not lead to successful long-term sobriety. All issues must be addressed simultaneously or they become possible triggers for relapse and undermine recovery.

A holistic approach to alcoholism may include the following:

1. Biochemical repairs that addresses the physical as well as the psychological:

  • Identify neurotransmitter imbalances and metabolic disorders
  • Nutritional support during detox and later
  • Changes in diet and nutrition
  • Recognizing environmental factors
  • Addressing nutritional deficiencies
  • Individualized diet plans
  • Dietary and nutritional counseling
  • Exercise

2. Counseling, groups or seminars for social and emotional issues:

  • Childhood physical, emotional or sexual abuse and neglect
  • Dealing with loss and grief of alcoholism
  • Coping skills
  • Parenting skills
  • Lifestyle adjustment
  • Communication skills
  • Assertiveness training
  • What to do with loneliness, boredom, too much time on your hands
  • Repair relationships

3. Discovering spiritual connections:

  • Developing a relationship with yourself
  • Connecting more deeply with yourself
  • Healing relationships
  • Engaging in spiritually fulfilling activities
  • Forgiveness of self
  • Activities that make you feel whole, complete and connected
  • Deep and meaningful activities
  • Mindfulness based meditation
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Communing with nature

Another very important component in the holistic approach to alcoholism is that treatment is individualized and personalized according to each persons needs and issues.

One person may have many secondary issues while another individual may have none or only one. Treatment approaches will vary to some degree in the biochemical aspect as well as the emotional and spiritual aspects.

Someone who has been drinking for 20 years may have a lot more complex biochemical and social issues than someone who become an alcoholic two years ago after their husband died.

An individual who lived with childhood sexual, emotional or physical abuse or neglect may have more challenges to face than someone who had a loving childhood. Their alcoholism recovery plan would likely include a lot more focus on the counseling aspect.

One person may need a great deal of counseling and training in areas such as communication and assertiveness while others may be quite competent in these areas. Some people may adjust easier to a new lifestyle while another may struggle a great deal. All these details need to be taken into account and adjusted for specifically for the individual.

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Character Defect Meditation

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“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

When thinking about step six, even if your not there yet, it can be troubling. Who wants to name all of their character defects? Its not nice to point out other peoples flaws and its certainly not fun pointing out your own. Thats why I went looking for another way we can handle working through this step. Something that will give us courage but most importantly: serenity. Below you will find some adjectives that you might use to describe any number of your faults. I suggest picking a few of the most dominant traits to start with. Then there is a step-by-step guided meditation practice. Give it a look over and try it out loud first. Then, when your ready , you can really dig deep and spend some time with yourself and your thoughts. Relax and observe yourself. There is no fear, there is no tension. It’s just you and complete, utter, honesty.” -Best of luck, Robyn

List of Possible Character Defects:

  • anger, hatred
  • anxiety – Not as a clinical diagnosis, but as a general way of viewing things with an eye toward what is wrong, what might be wrong, what has been wrong or what is going to be wrong. Excessive worry, especially about things I cannot change.
  • arrogance – Offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.
  • closed mindedness – Contempt prior to investigation. Disregarding things and ideas just because they are new and unknown. Being unwilling to try things or follow suggestions. Failing to remain teachable.  Having a mind firmly unreceptive to new ideas or arguments.
  • dependency, over dependency, co dependency – Relying on others to provide for us what we ought to provide for ourselves. Feeling we must be in a relationship, or must hold on to others who want to move on. Letting others control us to an extreme due to our fear of being alone, abandoned, or independent.
  • depression, pessimism – Not as a clinical condition, but as a way to generally see the dark side of things.
  • dishonesty – Sins of omission and commission. Telling lies, hiding things, telling half truths or pretending something is so that isn’t. Withholding important information. Adding untrue details to stories and situations.  Stealing, cheating, taking things that aren’t ours and that we aren’t entitled to.
  • controlling attitude toward people, places and things – Trying to control others by manipulation, bribery, punishment, withholding things or tricking them into acting as we wish, even when we believe it is in their best interest to do so. Failing to be equal partners with others and to consider their knowledge and opinions.
  • fear
  • gluttony, greed – Wanting and taking too much: food, sex, time, money, comfort, leisure, material possessions, attention, security.  Acquiring things (material things, relationships, attention) at the expense of others.
  • gossiping – Speaking or writing about others in a negative manner, especially to get them in trouble or to feel superior to them and bond with someone else against the target of the gossip.  When I find myself talking about someone, I must pause and check out why I am mentioning their name.
  • humility, a lack of humility – Feeling better than and worse than others, and being self centered.
  • impatience – Being frustrated by waiting, wanting often to be some time in the future, wanting something to change or improve rather than accepting it as it is.
  • intolerance – Not accepting people or things for who or what they are.
  • inventory taking, being judgmental – Noticing and listing, out loud or to ourselves, the faults of others.
  • jealousy and envy – Wanting what others have, feeling we don’t have enough or deserve more, wishing we had what others do instead of them. This applies to material possessions like houses, cars, money and such. It also applies to nonmaterial things like relationships, a nice family, children, parents, friends and partners, and fulfilling work relationships. We can envy others their looks and physical appearance, their talents and physical abilities or attributes such as thinness, tallness, sports ability or musical talent.
  • laziness, procrastination, sloth – Not doing as much as is reasonable for us to do. Putting things off repeatedly. Not carrying our own load as much as we are able. Letting others provide things for us that we ought to get for ourselves.
  • perfectionism – Expecting or demanding too much from ourselves or others. Treating things that aren’t perfect as not good enough. Not recognizing a good try or progress.
  • prejudice – Pre-judging people based on a group they belong to. Negative feelings about someone based on their religion, race, nationality, age, disability, sexual orientation, accent, politics, economic status, physical characteristics like height, weight, hair style, clothing style, physical fitness.
  • rationalization, minimizing and justifying, self-justification – Saying and/or believing I had good motives for bad behavior.  Saying that I did bad things for good reasons, or that what I did really wasn’t that bad.
  • resentment – The feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.
  • rigidity and fear of change
  • self centeredness, selfishness – Spending excessive time thinking about myself. Considering myself first in situations. Not having enough regard for others or thinking about how circumstances hurt or help others. Thinking about what I can get out of situations and people, what’s in it for me? Spending too much time considering my appearance, acquiring things for myself, pampering myself, indulging myself.
  • self pity

From a blog by Lydia at Don’t Drink and Don’t Die

Meditation

Step Six Meditation:Uncover and detach from our defects

1. Relaxation, Centering and Aligning with our Higher Power

  • Let’s begin our meditation as before by getting comfortable and listening to our breath. Feel the clean light-filled air on the inhale filling your lungs and body with goodness and love. Exhale deeply and visualize all sickness and negativity leaving your lungs and body with the breath.
  • I relax and I let go. Repeat this phrase in rhythm with your breathing and feel the tension release from your body, your emotions and your mind.
  • I let go and I let God ( or use the word – Love).  Continue your path towards relaxation by using this mantra as you breath. Concentrate on the words and imagine all of the day-to-day stuff that you can let go of and turn over to your Higher Power. Begin focusing on your heart center. Imagine a white light glowing in your chest that is warm and full of love. Remember that this heart center is your connection to Higher Power and to the Universe and all of the good is available to you.
  • “I offer myself to my Higher Power.” Become aware of how this surrender affirmation feels and what images you can use to support this affirmation.

2. Dis-identification exercise

  • “I have a body, but I am not my body.  My body may find it self in different conditions of health or sickness; it may be rested or tired, but that has nothing to do with my SpiritSelf, my real ‘I.’ My body is my precious instrument of experience and of action in the outer world, but it is only an instrument. I treat it well; I seek to keep it in good physical condition, but it is not myself. I have a bodybut I am not my body.
  • I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.  These emotions are countless, contradictory, changing, and yet I know that I always remain I, my SpiritSelf, in times of hope or despair, in joy or in pain, in a state of irritation or of calm. Since I can observe, understand, and judge my emotions, and then increasingly dominate, direct, and utilize them, it is evident that they are not myself. I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.
  • “I have desires, but I am not my desires, aroused by drives, physical and emotional, and by outer influences. Desires too are changeable and contradictory, with alterations of attractions and repulsions. I have desires but they are not myself.
  • “I have a mind, but I am not my mind. It is more or less developed and active; it is undisciplined but teachable; it is an organ of knowledge in regard to the outer world as well as the inner; but it is not my SpiritSelf. Ihave a mind, but I am not my mind.

3. Let’s begin our work with one of our defects. I suggest that you select 1 defect to reflect on in each meditation. You may need to work for a number of meditations on one specific defect to help detach from it. Hold in your mind the defect that you wish to share with your Higher Power in the Sunlight of the Spirit.

  • have (this defect), but I am not (this defect.)  Visualize this defect as separate and detached from you. Repeat this affirmation adding any visualizations or emotions that will help to support this for you.
  • Next let’s work to replace this defective quality with a higher, positive spiritual quality.   You may substitute any word for the spiritual quality or virtue that expresses the opposite of the defect into this affirmation.
    • “I am the “(insert spiritual quality)” of my Higher Power in action.”  Repeat it over and over with in rhythm with your breathing in your meditation. You may wish to add a visualization to accompany the affirmation that reinforces and imprints the energy of the quality within you.  In this way we begin to weed out the defects within our Spiritual Garden and replace them with the fruits and flowers of our virtues.

4. I am a Spiritual Being. Imagine being free of all that is weighing you down emotionally, mentally and physically. I am one with my Higher Power, connected in my heart center, I now rest in this conscious contact and oneness with my Higher Power.

5. End your meditation slowly. Open your eyes and look around the room. Sit quietly for several minutes.

Please do not get discouraged and give up. This is practice. You will think that you are not being very productive, that you are distracted and not doing it right. Persist through this. Be consistent. You will discover the fruits of your meditation over time. The first goal achieved will be emotional balance, , emotional sobriety, a calm within the storm of our thoughts and emotions. Stick with it.

From 11th Step Mediation, The Sixth Step

5 Steps to Begin Your Yoga Regime!

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“I have spoken to a lot of people about what keeps them going in their recovery and what keeps them stable (if they struggle with anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar and/or schizophrenia). Many of them mention exercise and yoga but fail to mention any regular practice. Always noting how they may not have time, aren’t flexible enough or just have a hard time getting in that state of mind. But these are just excuses! The fact is that anyone can do yoga and it doesn’t have to even be an hour long practice. We should try our best to take time to zone in on your presence, inside and out. Bringing such awareness is a form of meditation and one of the most popular ways to cope with disease and addiction. However, addict or not, this kind of centering can start a day on the right foot with a positive outlook on life or end the day in bliss and serenity. Take a look at these 5 tips that will get you started with your regular practice. It’s worth a trial run and I think you may be able to see what so many others have discovered about themselves through this method of holistic healing.” -Love and light, Robyn

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1. Remember that there’s no such thing as being “good at yoga.”

Being “good” at yoga postures (asana) is something that doesn’t exist. Remember, yoga is a practice that helps us to deeply explore ourselves while learning to quiet the mind. Allow yourself to grow with your asana, with your practice, and just let go! There’s enough pressure everywhere to be good, to be perfect, to get it right — let yoga bring out the wild reckless abandon of your heart! Close your eyes, and flow.

2. Don’t think; just practice.

This gem, whispered into my ear by Sri Dharma Mittra while I was avoiding crow, has transformed my life. I have found that talking about going to yoga usually keeps me from actually going to yoga. Turn on autopilot, get yourself there, and let the rest come. Showing up is the hardest part!

3. Know that no one is judging you.

If, as you first enter a studio, you feel the vibe doesn’t suit you, kindly and gracefully leave (before class begins). Yoga is energetics, and it’s your right to feel comfortable and welcome in the space you’ve chosen for your practice. You’ll be able to tell as soon as you walk in if it’s the place for you.

If you’ve found the perfect space but still find yourself worrying during down dog that everyone is judging you, remember that others are also practicing and are unable to look at you, let alone judge you. Breathe into the collective consciousness and let your mat to be a personal and private oasis.

4. Be kind to your body and yourself!

Ease in! The way we treat our bodies during yoga is a manifestation of how we feel about ourselves. Don’t be unkind to your hamstring because it’s tighter than you’d like. Instead, grant your muscle compassion and breath, and it will open. There are times I don’t practice for a week, and when I begin again I’m not as strong or flexible. That’s OK! I allow myself to be exactly where I am, and before I know it, my strength and flexibility return. Only the internal dialogue of chastisement can keep you from enhancing your practice — nothing else! Simply start and be kind to yourself.

5. Practice non-judgment, presence and patience.

Choose to go into your practice with an open mind and an open heart. The first class I went to was pure torture and I wanted to leave, but I stayed out of respect for the teacher and other students. I’ll never forget leaving that first practice, thinking, “I’m NEVER coming back.” But then I found myself on the city streets, feeling something vital had taken place and that already I was different. I haven’t looked back since.

Don’t judge the practice, don’t decide it’s not working or that nothing is happening, Welcome yoga in and let the poses take you somewhere magnificent, just as they’ve done for thousands of people for thousands of years. You have every right to a holy yoga practice! You deserve to communicate deeply with your body, to strengthen inside and out, and to change all that does not serve you.

Steps from MindBodyGreen.com

How To Break Any Bad Habit

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“I just read and fell in love with this article from Mind Body Green and had to post it for you all! Enjoy!” -Love, Robyn

Learning to understand the self is a lot like stirring water in a glass. If we don’t stir, sentiments stay at the bottom of the glass and our water stays polluted.

Take a simple goal: Eat better.
For me, eating always starts with a craving. It’s rarely because I’m hungry. Usually I eat out of boredom. Or, on a deeper level, maybe loneliness.
First, the feeling. Then filling that feeling with food.
I imagine what I’m craving. Pizza. I see it. Feel it. I taste the crust and the cheese, and I know exactly where I’d go to get it. I see myself driving there and sitting in the booth eating it. (I am an extremely visual person. In this case, it’s not to my advantage.)
Then I become obsessed with this image. Inner conflict begins. Desire vs discipline, Want vs need. I start to reason with myself.  I work out hard. I deserve this. It’s not a big deal. What’s a slice? I need to get out of the house anyway.
Reasoning turns into deals. Okay, one slice but I’ll get a salad.
It’s on. The fantasy becomes a reality. I’m now actually sitting at the pizza place. And of course, I always break the deal I made with myself. Three slices and no salad. I eat until I’m stuffed. The Addict, The Liar, the Pseudo Self wins again.
On the way home, I feel guilty about myself and the pizza is never as good as I imagined it.
If I take this process and apply it to other areas of my life, is it the same? Dating? Relationships? If so, are the consequences and feelings the same?
Study patterns in your thoughts and behavior around fitness and nutrition. Chances are, they’re the same patterns you apply to other areas of your life. Maybe you maneuver in extremes: Win or lose. If so, do you apply that to work, love, etc.?  Do you use food or exercise to reward and punish yourself? If so, do you use work and relationships to reward or punish yourself?
Filtering your cloudy water means breaking patterns you believe are unhealthy. The more you are able to break unhealthy patterns, the cleaner your water will be.
Now, if you’re able to get stronger at rewiring your thoughts and behavior with food cravings and exercise habits, including all the fears you hit while working out, can you apply those new muscles to breaking patterns in other areas of your life?
I believe you can.
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Here’s how.
1. Know what’s triggering your behavior.
Usually it’s from a feeling.
For me, it was boredom and loneliness.
Pizza was a way of coping or numbing that feeling.
Being aware is the first step.
2. Force yourself to change that behavior.  
There will be an internal fight and it will be difficult. But this is where the road can fork. Give yourself other options. I could go on a walk. See a movie. Write. Any behavior that’s different, even if it’s only slightly more healthy. The goal is just to break it. You may not succeed in the beginning. It takes lots of practice. But eventually, if you keep at it, you’ll get stronger.
Next time I have a feeling that triggers me, I’ll walk around the block and maybe reward myself with fruit, juice, or even a protein bar instead of stuffing my face at a pizza joint.
Now, in relationships, something will trigger the same feeling. You may get into a fight and feel unheard, angry, lonely, etc. Think about your bad habit (your “pizza”) in relationships…  Is it to shut down or explode? Well, you can apply the process above to change that behavior, too .
3. Identify the feeling that triggers your behavior. 
What’s the feeling? Feeling hurt, unheard, lonely?
4. Focus on addressing that feeling. 
 
Maybe you talk to a friend. Go for a walk. Stay and talk it out. Journal. Call your brother. Exercise? Whatever. Just make sure it’s more healthy. Know that you can do this because you did it with the eating and it will work the same.  Remember the results you got from breaking the bad eating behavior and trust that process.
If you’re afraid to do something in the box or at the gym, but you overcome that fear and by doing so, see results, that revelation – that you can overcome a fear and see results can now be applied to confronting your boyfriend, boss, or parents.  You may believe one has nothing to do with the other.  On the surface, true.  But fear is fear.  And no matter what door you go in or how you tackle it, the more you conquer it, the more you will be able to conquer it in other areas of your life.
Once you prove to yourself that you can do something you were afraid of, that PROOF – belief – will spill into other areas of thinking.
Imagine fear as the black and white image in a coloring book. The more you color, the more the fear disappears. It doesn’t matter where you start or how you do it, all that matters is that you keep coloring. And the more you color, the more that page will come to life.
So it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about eating better or facing workouts you never thought you could do. Keep stirring to get that water cloudy so that you can then break patterns – filter that water clean in all areas of your life.

Running in and Racing for Recovery

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9 Reasons Recovering Addicts Turn to Running for Their New High

 

Running Down a Natural High Proves to Keep Addicts and Alcoholics Steps Ahead of Their Addiction

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Every one has a story of triumph, but for some of these runners, this story is a battle over addiction. They run the marathon with demons nipping at their heels.

Why are there so many in recovery from addiction who turn to running as their new high? What does running offer them? Here is a list of nine reasons that running is particularly helpful to an alcoholic or addict looking to experience the rewards of a sober life.

1. You only get what you give. Distance running by its nature lends itself to the addictive personality, if there is such a thing, of rewarding those who blast past barriers. It not only rewards but demands the obsessive brain, the kind who go to a $5 “all you can drink” keg party and ask for $10 worth. It’s the metaphorical potato chip that, once it’s on your taste buds, lights up something deeper within you that craves for more.

Yes, addicts can be cowards, immature, fragile, obnoxious, and so on (it’s an ‘in’ group thing, so I can get away with saying that) but lazy is one thing they are not. Maybe lazy when it comes to responsibilities, sure, but not lazy when it comes to getting what they want. There is nothing more industrious, more creative, or more persistent than an addict trying to get high. Waking up with unexplained bumps and bruises, not a penny to your name, barely able to see through blood shot eyes, vomit ready to project out of you at any moment, and afraid to make eye contact with another human being. Yet still, an addict is pulled by powerful forces to will themselves out of bed, get out the door, scrounge up some money in some creative (albeit often times illegal) ways, and travel as long as it takes to get what they want.

You think a bit of muscle pain or discomfort is going to stop us from hitting the road and taking a run? No way.

2. Spirituality. Running can provide the needed spiritual awakening to help an addict stay sober. Running just seems to make all of your atoms spin a bit faster, unearths previously hidden parts of yourself, and allows a connection with something deeper. Yes, this is partly due to the physical explosions of endorphins and cannabinoids, but the result is an overall sense of well-being and feeling of peace with your place in the universe.

Compare this spiritual awaking with the spiritual despair of the last stages of addiction. As the consequences of addiction escalate, a loss of meaning to live is often the result. That is why spirituality is crucial to recovery.

They say religion is for those who don’t want to go to hell, but spirituality is for those who have been to hell and don’t want to go back. Running and facing the challenge of pushing yourself to physical extremes provides a sense of harrowing hell and then ascending. It’s the biblical notion of a descent, and then ascending to, yes, feeling like you are sitting on the right hand of God at the finish. During some euphoric moments of a run, I feel fully connected to the universe, doubts of a higher power are erased, and I understand my place in the universe at these moments. And it’s pretty darn beautiful.

By the way, if you subscribe to or read the 12 steps of AA, spirituality is the whole reason you work the first 11. The steps say not a word about staying sober, they only speak to having a spiritual awakening. Once you experience the thrill of such an awakening, the despair of using would taste too bitter to go back to.

3. A solitary pursuit in a communal environment. Solitary and communal — running is both of these. It offers alone time and an inner exploration unlike none other. Paraphrasing Joseph Conrad from the Heart of Darkness: “I run as I dream – alone.” Yet the communal nature of a group run, and even more so, starting a marathon with 40,000 other runners, and then seeing them near the end, at mile 23, is a feeling of primitive yet transcendent connection. We are all psychically connected in those moments, and the primal nature of the event has stripped down the artificial barriers between us. The feeling of being one with others around me during these moments is not unlike using psychedelics.

4. Keeping an edge. When you are using, sober life seems so boring and like a curse. Of course, once you get sober, you realize there is not enough time in the day to do all the things you want to do. But, you still need an edge, and despite the stereotypical geeky cross country runner in high school, runners have an edge since their brain and heart go to some unique places, and discomfort becomes a whole new comfort zone. Drunken wasted exploits are replaced by stories of amazing workouts. A strung out addict is a sad, silly cliché, where as the ultra-marathoning tattooed-up runner doing 80 miles a week with self-made body armor of muscle is truly one who lives on the edge.

5. Emotions and expressing them. Most addicts are emotionally stunted. We can’t express fear or joy or insecurity or talk about things. But running, even though it isn’t verbal, has always been an expression of feelings for me. There is nothing that vents rage and anger like a good set of intervals. Nothing. And nothing that provides a sense of joy as a nice 10-mile trail run. Running brings me to an emotional catharsis such that I cry at the end of every marathon. It both expresses emotions and polishes them up. Witness the end of any marathon, and you’ll see the spectrum of emotions squeezed out of every human who makes it across the finish.

6. Health. Our bodies are pretty ravaged and have been punished by too much and not enough, so running is one way to start being good to them.

7. Ego-maniacs with an inferiority complex. Yes, we’ve done some rotten things, sacrificed our ethics and made choices that are shameful, so in order to live with ourselves, we tend to have inflated our ego and lied to ourselves about who we really are in order get by. The worse we became, the more lies we had to feed ourselves about who we really were, and this usually means artificially building ourselves up. But deep in our heart we feel less than, inferior, scared of others since we’ve always felt they had some secret gene that made them know how to live in ways we never learned. Inside the haughty ego is a core of shame and worthlessness.

Running balances this out. It checks your ego since there is always, always somebody faster – and you will always be humbled by a run. Yet you feel incredibly triumphant inside, and never inferior because you have conquered, you are a warrior now, you run like a beast and have found new strength and new hope.

8. You’re good enough, You’re strong enough, and God dang it, God loves you. This seems so Stuart Smalley, but running makes us face ourselves, prove ourselves, and every time we win one of those little battles—either to get out the door and put in a few miles, to hit a certain mileage split, or to qualify for the Boston Marathon—it affirms our existence. We’ve stared into our selves, listen to the voices of doubts and self-fears, but heeded naught yet instead responded to something higher.

9. The persistent need to get high. The bottom line is this: A recovering addict still needs to get high, The difference is that one form of getting high is cheap, is killing you, will hurt your loved ones, and is not going to work anymore; the other will bring you to a higher place of your higher self. Yes, I still want to chase the dragon down, sometimes catch it, ride aboard and soar above my existence for a while, but I would also like to return from the ride in a better spot. Drugs and alcohol never did this, but the highs through running often provide what the addict was truly looking for in the first place: physical strength, emotional expression, spiritual well-being, and a deeper connection with oneself and others. Recovering addicts are just on a different side of the “getting high” Yin-Yang.

Check out how you can get started running today and set a goal to race. Racing for Recovery offers a range of help in this area including but not limited to counseling and training. They even have speakers that work all around the US to help promote conscious recovery from addiction through exercise and holistic health. Check out more information below! – Love, Robyn

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Racing for Recovery™ is a federally approved 501 c 3 non-profit organization.

Founded by Todd Crandell in 2001, Racing for Recovery works to save lives and improve the quality of life for addicts and their friends and family by promoting a lifestyle of health, fitness and sobriety.

Our mission is achieved by offering individuals and their families the opportunity to participate in one-on-one or group counseling services provided by Professional Counselor (PC) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC III), Todd Crandell; free support group meetings that are open to anyone effected by addiction; Team Racing for Recovery, an online community support system; as well as in real-time social media conversations on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

Our annual events include a 5K/10 Run/Walk and a USAT sanctioned Half Triathlon. These signatureevents bring together struggling and recovering addicts, family, friends, volunteers, everyday athletes, sponsors, donors, supporters and the entire community to enjoy the outdoors, get fresh air, exercise and see that, “With Sobriety, Anything is Possible.”

Addiction and the Eating Disorders

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Although comprehensive theories of addiction recognize the etiological importance of environmental and cognitive factors, it has been widely accepted for many years that addiction is also a brain disease and that individuals differ in their susceptibility to this condition (Leshner, 1997; Wise and Bozarth, 1987). Explanations of the eating disorders have tended to eschew biological models in favor of those that focus on psychosocial and family influences-the most prominent models arising from psychoanalytic, feminist and cultural theory. It is not surprising, therefore, that although clear parallels exist between the abuse of substances and disturbances in eating, there has been a reluctance to accept that the two may share a common etiology. It is also probable that their similarities were obscured by dramatic differences in the social profile of the stereotypic drug addict and the patient with an eating disorder-the former typically associated with male criminality and social deviance and the latter with female submissiveness and social conformity.

In the past decade, however, there has been a growing paradigmatic shift in eating disorder research, with a movement away from explanations that rely solely on psychosocial factors, to a belief that disturbances in the function of brain neurotransmitter pathways are also highly relevant (Kaye, 1999). One outcome of this change in orientation has been an emerging and increasing interest in the links between eating disorders and substance abuse disorders.

Clinical and Biological Traits

It is generally agreed that the commencement of addictive behaviors can take two motivational routes: either the seeking of positive sensations or the self-medicating of painful affective states. While current research documents a substantial lifetime comorbidity between the eating disorders and other forms of addiction, there is less agreement on the reasons for this link (Holderness et al., 1994; Wiederman and Pryor, 1996). Some researchers have suggested that a common set of personality traits predispose an individual to a range of behaviors that have the potential to become excessive (Koob and Le Moal, 1997; Leshner, 1997). Support for this idea comes from evidence that anxiety and depression are frequent premorbid characteristics both of addicts (Grant and Harford, 1995; Kessler et al., 1997) and of patients with eating disorders (Deep et al., 1995; Vitousek and Manke, 1994). Our own research has also found that among eating-disordered patients, irrespective of diagnostic category, scores on a measure of addictive personality characteristics were comparable to those reported for drug addicts and alcoholics (Davis and Claridge, 1998). Complementary to this viewpoint, an addiction to one behavior reinforces a certain style of coping pattern that leaves the individual vulnerable to developing another type of addiction (Holderness et al., 1994).

Others have suggested that the eating disorders are, themselves, a form of drug addiction since their characteristics satisfy all the clinical and biological criteria for conventional addictions such as smoking, alcoholism and cocaine abuse (Davis and Claridge, 1998; Davis et al., 1999; Marrazzi and Luby, 1986). Foremost among these is the progressively compulsive nature of the behavior, even in the face of adverse consequences to health and safety (Heyman, 1996; Robinson and Berridge, 1993). Moreover, with continual exposure, individuals typically require more of the behavior to produce the same reinforcing effect (Berridge and Robinson, 1995). They also tend to experience an obsessively increasing craving for the behavior that can persist even after a long period of abstinence. Presumably that accounts, at least in part, for the fact that addicts have a strong tendency to resume the addictive behavior after treatment and for the chronic relapsing nature of addiction (Robinson and Berridge, 1993). These characteristics find direct parallels in the core eating-disorder behaviors such as dieting, over-exercising and binge eating, all of which tend to become increasingly excessive over time. Patients also report a strong compulsion to continue these behaviors despite serious medical complications, which is reflected in their prolonged morbidity and the high rate of relapse (Herzog et al., 1999; Strober et al., 1999).

At the biological level, similarities are also evident. We know, for instance, that strenuous exercise and starvation activate the dopaminergic (DA) reward pathway of the brain (Bergh and Sodersten, 1996; Casper, 1998). The resulting biological events underlie the auto-addiction opioid theory, which proposes that a chronic eating disorder is an addiction to the body’s production of endogenous opioids and therefore is identical to the physiology and psychology of substance abuse in general (Huebner, 1993; Marrazzi and Luby, 1986). In other words, starving, bingeing and exercise all serve as drug delivery devices since they increase circulating levels of -endorphins that are chemically identical to exogenous opiates, and these endorphins are as potentially addictive because of their ability to stimulate DA in the brain’s mesolimbic reward centers.

Via a different route, self-starving may have other biologically rewarding properties, albeit as a negative reinforcer. For example, in certain individuals, food restriction is reported to reduce anxiety. It has been suggested this might occur because of reduced serotonin activity in those with overactivity in this neurotransmitter system (Kaye, 1999).

– See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/addiction-and-eating-disorders#sthash.UckhnDog.dpuf

Yoga for the 12 Steps

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That right! Through the practice of yoga, many people have been able to strengthen not only physically but spiritually and mentally in their recovery. There are a lot of great programs out there for recovering addicts that want to integrate practice with working the steps found in AA/NA/CA. Yoganonymous and Yoga for 12 Step Recovery are both great resources to find specific teachers and classes that use the 12 steps as a guide through yogic exercise. You can look for meetings on there websites and learn more through their intensive programs too!

Diet in Recovery

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“According to Medline Plus, an addicts diet prior to recovery not only effects ones overall health but can lead to many diseases and disorders of the body and mind.”

The impact of different drugs on nutrition is described below.

OPIATES

Opiates (including codeine, oxycontin, heroin, and morphine) affect the gastrointestinal system. Constipation is a very common symptom of abuse. Symptoms that are common during withdrawal include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

These symptoms may lead to a lack of enough nutrients and an imbalance of electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, and chloride).

Eating balanced meals may make these symptoms less severe (however, eating can be difficult due to nausea). A high-fiber diet with plenty of complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains, vegetables, peas, and beans) is recommended.

ALCOHOL

Alcoholism is one of the major causes of nutritional deficiency in the United States. The most common deficiencies are of pyridoxine (vitamin B6), thiamine, and folic acid. A lack of these nutrients causes anemia and nervous system (neurologic) problems. Korsakoff’s syndrome (“wet brain”) occurs when heavy alcohol use causes a lack of enough thiamine.

Alcohol intoxication also damages two major organs involved in metabolism and nutrition: the liver and the pancreas. The liver removes toxins from harmful substances. The pancreas regulates blood sugar and the absorption of fat. Damage to these two organs results in an imbalance of fluids, calories, protein, and electrolytes.

Other complications include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Permanent liver damage (or cirrhosis)
  • Seizures
  • Severe malnutrition
  • Shortened life expectancy

Laboratory tests for protein, iron, and electrolytes may be needed to determine if there is liver disease in addition to the alcohol problem. Women who drink heavily are at high risk of osteoporosisand need to take calcium supplements.

STIMULANTS

Stimulant use (such as crack, cocaine, and methamphetamine) reduces appetite, and leads to weight loss and poor nutrition. Abusers of these drugs may stay up for days at a time. They may be dehydrated and have electrolyte imbalances during these episodes. Returning to a normal diet can be hard if a person has lost a lot of weight.

Memory problems, which may be permanent, are a complication of long-term stimulant use.

MARIJUANA

Marijuana can increase appetite. Some long-term users may be overweight and need to cut back on fat, sugar, and total calories.

Nutrition and psychological aspects of substance abuse

When people feel better, they are less likely to start using alcohol and drugs again. Because balanced nutrition helps improve mood and health, it is important to encourage a healthy diet in people recovering from alcohol and other drug problems.

However, people who have just given up an important source of pleasure may not be ready to make other drastic lifestyle changes. It is more important that people avoid returning to substance abuse than that they stick to a strict diet.

“We can take back our health and our life by following some simple guidelines…”

  • Stick to regular mealtimes
  • Eat a low-fat diet
  • Get more protein, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements may be helpful during recovery (this may include B-complex, zinc, and vitamins A and C)

People with substance abuse are more likely to relapse when they have poor eating habits. This is why regular meals are so important. People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol often forget what it’s like to be hungry and instead think of this feeling as a drug craving. They should be encouraged to consider that they may be hungry when cravings become strong.

During recovery from substance abuse, dehydration is common. It is important to get enough fluids during and in between meals. Appetite usually returns during recovery. People in recovery are often more likely to overeat, particularly if they were taking stimulants. Eat healthy meals and snacks and avoid high-calorie foods with low nutrition (such as sweets), if possible.

The following tips can help improve the odds of a lasting and healthy recovery:

  • Eat nutritious meals and snacks.
  • Get physical activity and enough rest.
  • Reduce caffeine and stop smoking, if possible.
  • Seek help from counselors or support groups on a regular basis.
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements.

Motivation is Key

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Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t require a gym membership or any special equipment. Exercise can be defined my your own standards, not anyone else’s. Something as simple as walking can be integrated into your everyday routine as a starting point that can later lead to inspiring you to train for a 5k. Ultimately, when it comes to exercise and your health, you really only need one thing: motivation.

Your motivation can come from a million of different things. It is important to keep reminding yourself of what those are so you never give yourself a chance to give up. And like your recovery from addiction, you’ll find yourself facing the case the F-its when it comes to your routine. Don’t let yourself get away with detouring you from your track. Because just like staying away from drugs is important to your recovery, getting yourself in shape can be just as important.

Here is a list of some motivations that may apply to you:

  • Lose weight
  • Gain strength
  • Build confidence
  • Set and achieve goals
  • Find structure and routine
  • Be a good example to others
  • Improve heart health
  • Lower risk of cancer
  • Strengthen immune system
  • Alleviate symtoms of depression
  • Increase nerve connections for a healthier brain
  • Restore regular sleeping patterns

Exercise is important to your recovery because it happens to be one of the best coping mechanisms out there. Before you know it you are relieved from stress, gaining confidence and building structure back into your life. Exercise helps ground you and bring you into the present. It forces you to focus on your movement, your breath and how you feel. Becoming aware of your body, you become one step closer to raising awareness of your mind and spirit. Something that is essential to a holistic recovery.

As you get into a routine you begin to feel a sense of accomplishment as the pounds shed, muscle grows and conditions or illnesses improve. It may be hard at first but the same rules of AA/NA/CA apply here; “Easy does it, but do it!”