How I Went From The Brink of Heart Disease To A 22 Year Old Ethiopian Marathon Runner

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 11.06.22 AMVery few people come into recovery in good health. For me and many others, the reality is our health has suffered due to the consequences of long-term poor lifestyle choices, including alcohol and drug use. Rarely does someone in the throws of addiction ensure they are getting proper nutrition. My entire focus back in the day was feeding the addiction. I know that many others share this experience.

The Past

About five years ago, when I got out of rehab, I had issues with my lungs from smoking, constant chest pains, my gums were bleeding from years of putting cocaine on them and I would begin wheezing after walking even a short distance. I had my blood tested by Dr. Michael Bedecs about a month after getting out of rehab. Dr. Bedecs is a D.O. (A Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) and specializes in hormone replacement therapy and anti-aging medicine. When I asked him why I should have my blood tested, he told me: “Blood doesn’t lie”. He indicated that my blood work would tell him everything he needed to know about my health on the inside.

My blood test results got my attention. My blood sugar was elevated and I was in a high risk category for developing Type 2 diabetes. I had substantial inflammation throughout my body, confirmed by a higher than normal white blood cell count and a five times increased risk of heart disease based upon genetic markers in my blood.

I went into rehab at 140 pounds and weighted 177 when I got out of rehab 28 days later. I had a “muffin top” and was eating candy, bread, French fries, and ice cream like it was going out of style. I also started smoking one-and-a-half to two packs of cigarettes a day, and drinking coffee from the time I woke up until a few hours before going to bed. I smoked more cigarettes and drank more coffee in recovery than I did when I was using.

The point is, if I had continued with that lifestyle, I believe that today, I would be overweight, and my blood tests would reflect internal consequences of my lifestyle choices. Those consequences might include Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and other health concerns that could have resulted from my early “recovery lifestyle.” Thankfully, my lifestyle changed, and that is reflected both in my outward appearance and my most recent blood work.

Type 2 Diabetes

It’s hard to not talk about sugar here at Spiritual Adrenaline, and for good reason. The number of diabetics and hyperglycemic folks in recovery for substance abuse far exceeds the general population. According to some studies, the number is as high as 93%. In December 2015, the Centers for Disease Control released alarming new data. According to the CDC, Type 2 diabetes is the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure among adults. More alarmingly, Type 2 diabetes, a totally avoidable and/or treatable disease, is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Some folks have a genetic predisposition towards Type 2 diabetes, but most acquire the disease due to their lifestyle.

I have read scores of scientific studies that look at the major causes and best ways to avoid Type 2 diabetes, irrespective of genetic predisposition. In almost every study, the four factors leading to Type 2 diabetes are all lifestyle based: being overweight; a lack of exercise; poor nutrition; and smoking. The “cure” is obvious, and everything we focus on here at Spiritual Adrenaline addresses these four factors.

The Present

I have continued to have my blood tested by Dr. Bedecs about every six months for the last five
years. After every test, we go over my blood work and develop a roadmap for what I need to do to keep my body performing optimally. Dr. Bedecs described my most recent blood work as the equivalent of that of a “22 year-old Ethiopian Marathon Runner.” I feel like a “22 year-old Ethiopian Marathon Runner” and now agree with Dr. Bedecs that blood doesn’t lie. By testing my blood and working with a qualified medical practitioner, I gained insight into the damage I had caused my body and was able to implement a plan for change.

I turned my life and health around, and you can as well. With the exception of a two day cold when I finally quit smoking, I haven’t been sick for even one day in five years.

Spiritual Adrenaline provided me with the tools to retake control of my life, health and recovery. It can do the same for you. The body has an amazing ability to heal itself if we just stay out of its way. If I can turn the negative consequences of my using lifestyle around, so can you. You just have to want to change and be open-minded on how to get there.

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Today I am excited to speak to Nikki Myers, founder of Y12SR-The Yoga of 12-Step Recovery, about how yoga can help newcomers in recovery. Y12SR integrates the cognitive work of the Twelve Steps with somatic healing of yoga. In other words, the mental and physical aspects of recovery. Nikki is open regarding what led her to found Y12SR and her own journey in recovery. Nikki is an inspiration to me and tens of thousands of others across the country and world.

I hope you enjoy my conversation with Nikki. Have a great day!