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Using the Recovery Toolbox to Build a Fitness Routine

Since I am in “follow-up” mode this week, I figure I’d follow-up last Wednesday’s post.

I committed, to myself and to a fellow blogger, to start (re-start?  for the gazillionth time?) my fitness routine.  I have languished, and that is putting it mildly, for the past year, and it’s time to get back on the horse again (in this case, the horse is an elliptical machine).

Committing to somebody other than myself, so far, has been a brilliant maneuver:  I have exercised, in some form or another, for 10 days straight.  May not seem like much, but for me it feels like 10 days sober did… a miracle.  I genuinely cannot remember a time that I have exercised 10 days in a row.

And I have seen progress, too, in this short time.  First day:  14 minutes, and I thought I might pass out.  Today:  28 minutes, and I could have gone longer, but I am trying to do the “slow and steady” approach, so no more than one-minute increases each day until I hit 30 minutes, and I will re-assess this weekend.

So here’s my story for today:  I have been fortunate to grab the same machine each day since I started back to the gym.  This helps me because I can use the final numbers as a relatively accurate chart of my progress.  This morning, I was not so lucky.  An older woman was puttering around “my machine” for so long that I decided that I would just use another.

Which meant that, by the end of my time, my miles travelled, and calories burned, were way less than any of the other days.

Now, my logical mind certainly knows that each machine is different, and that the numbers are relative anyway.  But my competitive, instant-gratification senses were fairly disappointed:  how could I go for the longest time yet, and come up with such poor results?

Pre-recovery me would have sulked about this all day, would have held a deep resentment to the puttering old lady, and would have berated myself for such a poor performance, which in all probability would have led to giving up.

Post-recovery me knows that I committed to exercising every day, no matter what, and I went above and beyond my commitment to myself (20 minutes is the minimum).  Further, post-recovery me knows that using a different machine uses different muscles, which in all likelihood was better for me all around.

So, take that, old way of thinking!

Today’s Miracle:

Refraining from shooting the old lady dirty looks definitely constitutes a miracle.  Oh, second miracle… had a conversation at the bus stop about Garanimals, which I had to explain.  We compared ages, and are within a year of each other (which makes me all the more confused as to how Garanimals does not come instantly to mind). There was surprise at my year of birth, the thought was that I was of a younger generation.  Tell me that is not an excellent way to start the day!

A Series of Bottoms, Chapter 1

It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. –Aristotle Onassis

I have been back and forth about the following series of posts I am about to write (so obviously you know which way I decided).  On the one hand, I believe describing the events that led me into recovery is helpful for me personally, so I will always remember from whence I came.  Plus, as any recovery program will attest, sharing my experience, strength and hope will benefit the people around me as well (at least I hope it will).

On the other hand, and I cannot stress this part strongly enough, I have two different kinds of readers of this blog:  the community I have come to know and love, and the readers who have known and have loved me my whole life.  It is to this second group I am making the following statement:  the next several posts will be rough reading for you.  I am going to write candidly here about what is was like before I came into recovery.  If you want to read on, please do so at your own risk.

I am going to start my series of bottoms when I first attempted recovery.  By the end of this week, if you have read all of my posts, it will be as if you have come to an AA meeting where I was the guest speaker.   I took the first step of my journey to recovery in the winter of 2011.  I believe it was sometime in February when my husband sat me down and said he knew there was something wrong with me, but he couldn’t quite figure out what it was.  I believe at the time I blamed it on winter blues, mixed in with some sadness because it was around the anniversary of my Father’s death (of course, he had been dead for 19 years, but hey, I can still be sad, right?).  The reality was that I was abusing prescription pills, basically, anything I could get my hands on.  It had started with back problems, and a referral to a pain management specialist a few years before, but by this point had escalated… basically, if you told me it was addictive, I wanted to take it.  At this point I had a vague sense that what I was doing was none too smart, but my rationalization was if it was legitimately prescribed for me, then how bad could it really be?

This particular bottom (and there will be more) culminated in April of 2011, when my husband got a more definitive grasp (though still not complete) of the nature of my problem; namely, prescription drugs.  He insisted I get help, and so I sought out treatment in an outpatient rehab near my house.  I actually completed that treatment, at least according to their paperwork, although I’m not sure how they could have, in good faith, let me “graduate.”  Because I was nowhere near accepting my disease in any way, shape or form.

Here’s what I was able to accomplish during that 6-week period.  Going into that treatment program, I was regularly abusing 3 different types of prescription drugs, in addition to drinking on a regular basis.  So my thought process at that point was:  okay, there is clearly a problem, and the problem is doing way too many different things.  Why not control it by eliminating what is not necessary or fun?  Alcohol, oddly enough, was the first to go, particularly because it caused me the most problems (if I had one glass of wine, the entire world knew it).  Next in line were what I would consider “extraneous” prescription drugs… the drugs I took because I was told they were “relaxing,” when in fact they did absolutely nothing for me.  That left what I have come to realize was my drug of choice, prescription pain pills.  At this time I had a regular, legitimate prescription waiting for me each and every month, and the idea of giving that up was as foreign to me as the idea of giving up water… simply not an option.  So I gave up everything else, but the one drug, and thought, alright, then, I am cured.  I will just narrow it down to one vice, how bad could it get?

We can all see where this is going, too bad I didn’t… Stay tuned for the next bottom…

Today’s Miracle:

There are two:  having the courage to write this down, and that someone has read far enough to get to this section!

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