When I began my road to addiction recovery, I quickly discovered that sobriety and healthy living go hand in hand.
I spent nearly two thirds of my life powerless in the grasps of alcohol and drug addiction. Health and fitness just weren’t a priority. However, I knew that had to change in order to get and stay sober.
It was in the midst of a family party in my house when I noticed an unmanned cup of alcohol sitting on a table. Out of curiosity and the want to feel more grown up, I grabbed the cup when no one was looking. That was the first time that I got drunk. A few years down the road, one whole bottle couldn’t get me drunk, let alone a cup. My body became more and more tolerant to the effects of alcohol so I started mixing in other substances. I started with marijuana and extended into a number of other, far more dangerous drugs.
As an addict, before recovery, I was incredibly out of shape. As a teenager, walking up a single flight of stairs would have me feeling exhausted. I was irritable, had no discernible sleep patterns, and my life was generally in a dark place. One of the most awful side effects of addiction is how irrationally selfish you act. I was constantly hurting people around me while convinced that nothing was my own doing. I was blinded by my brain’s constant cycle of cravings and rewards. Even though there were times I felt like I needed to work on my health, those thoughts were instantly buried by an ever present desperation to get drunk and high again.
Finally, I was imprisoned for drug related charges at the age of 22. From that moment, my perspective began to change. I had an abundance of alone time which allowed me to face the truth. I am an addict, and I had to turn my life around.
While on my journey to recovery, I learned how crucial it is to get fit. However, simply taking on healthy habits does not do the trick. You need to get rid of or manage the bad habits first.
In this piece, I share with you the top 5 things that I learned to avoid in order to lead a fit, healthy, sober lifestyle.
Eradicating alcohol (and drugs) from my life became my number one priority. If you are an addict on the path to recovery, there is no cutting corners. It is imperative that you completely abstain from alcohol.
After drinking religiously during the majority of my life, this part was especially terrifying for me. With the help of certified professionals, I underwent an alcohol detox that helped me manage withdrawal symptoms while removing the toxins brought on by alcoholism from my body. I hadn’t even understood the extent of the damage I had brought upon myself both physically and mentally.
If you are not an alcoholic, it is still important to limit the quantity and how frequently you drink.
In today’s culture it is almost fashionable to go binge drinking any chance you get. However, it is important to acknowledge the negative effects that alcohol can have on our lives and our bodies. Not only is it addictive, but the large amounts of sugar found in alcohol can lead to liver and kidney problems, heart disease, and more.
Unhealthy Processed Foods
Some things you’ll definitely want to ditch, or at the very least limit, are certain kinds of processed foods.
What are processed foods? Generally speaking, processed foods are any food that has been altered either chemically or mechanically. This basically includes anything that comes pre-packaged and/or has multiple items on the ingredient list.
However, there are both healthy and unhealthy processed foods.
Healthy processed foods are most often the least ‘processed’. They have short ingredient lists with a maximum of one or two ingredients that you can’t pronounce. They also have little to no added sugar, sodium or fats. The healthiest processed foods don’t have flavour, texture, or colour enhancing chemicals.
Not Enough Water
If you’ve been looking into healthy living, you’ve probably seen this one more times than you can count, and for good reason. Our bodies are made up of about 60% water and our brains are nearly 70% water. Safe to say, water is vital to our well being.
Making sure to drink enough water everyday can help make you more energetic, improve your skin, control calorie intake, flush out toxins, boost your immune system and so much more.
Calories: Too Many/Too Few
By now you’ve heard that it’s not healthy to consume too many calories, but it’s also important not to under eat as well.
Overeating leads to weight gain and fatigue among many other negative effects. However, starving yourself in order to lose weight is not the answer. If your body does not receive a certain amount of calories each day, you can suffer from mood swings, irritability, less than optimal bodily functions, fatigue, and so on.
If your goal is weight loss, you need to create a calorie deficit. This means that you either consume less than you normally do, or burn more than you normally would. This must be done while still eating enough to maintain a healthy metabolism.
Lack of Exercise
Exercise is absolutely essential if you want to live a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise aids weight loss, blood circulation, betters mood, strengthens muscles, bones and improves your self-esteem.
You can join a gym if it works for you, but do know that a gym membership is not necessary to be able to work out. There are hundreds of videos, tutorials and guides you can find online to help you create an at home workout routine. Jogging, running, yoga, aerobics and martial arts are also great ways to get your blood pumping and the sweat going.
Apart from designated workout sessions, you can also stay active by making simple lifestyle changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and walking or riding a bicycle instead of driving.
Though the journey to a healthy lifestyle can be difficult, making the decision to make changes is the first step. It will take focus and determination, but it is not impossible.
One of my favourite parts about leading a fit lifestyle is that it motivates me to embody healthy living in every aspect of my life. Through making healthy choices for myself, I also found myself making healthier choices for the planet. I rarely eat junk food, or other unhealthy processed foods. Most of my diet consists of fruits and vegetables, and I try my very best to only get what I need which means that I produce less food waste. I also walk or bike to my destinations almost everyday which allows me to travel without releasing toxic emissions. Who knew that being healthy could be so beneficial for the environment?
Is there anything else you’d like to add to our list? Feel free to share in the comments below!