Pulling Yourself From The Grasp of Nicotine Addiction

tom pic 2I smoked for twenty-four years and never thought I would be able to quit.  Like most people, I started smoking when I was drinking alcohol.  In my case, I started in college.  I loved the head rush of smoking one or two cigarettes.  I always said to myself that I would never buy a pack.  It’s amazing how powerful addiction truly is, I was buying packs before I ever realized I was buying packs and by the time reason could catch up with impulse, I was hooked.   The addiction continued for twenty-four years.

When I was trying to quit something that I found incredibly helpful was attending Nicotine Anonymous (“NA”) meetings.     Before attending NA meetings I ordered the “big book” and other literature published by the organization.  The literature was incredibly powerful to read.  I had never really read anything before that touched me so profoundly as some of the stories I read in NA literature.  I had no idea that others had struggled so deeply with their addiction to nicotine.  Drugs and alcohol yes, but nicotine no.   Finally, I found other people who were as serious as I was to quit smoking and to put it in their past.

After reading the material, I attended meetings in New York City.   I was blown away by the  deep sharing at these meetings and the intensity with which others were battling their addiction.   Some were successful and had quit long-term, others were back and forth between smoking and quitting, and others were simply unable to quit.   A gentleman who I befriended attended with his oxygen tank given he had advanced COPD.   Irrespective, he was unable to quit.  It was that powerful an addiction for him.  It is completely surreal to sit next to someone whose clothes smell like smoke, goes everywhere with his oxygen tank, gets completely winded with even the most minimal physical activity and is STILL unable to quit smoking.  The good news is he started doing very light cardio under the careful watch of medical professionals and the last time I saw him he had many months free of smoking.

It was seeing others succeed and hearing their stories that lead me to the conclusion that my enemy could be defeated.    It laid an optimistic foundation for me to build upon, to eradicate the scourge of cigarettes from my life.

I highly recommend Nicotine Anonymous literature and attending meetings as part of an overall battle plan to quit.  The good thing about Nicotine Anonymous is that they have telephone and online meetings for folks who are too sick to attend in person and/or for places where in-person meetings are not available.

For more information, visit their website at:  www.nicotine-anonymous.org

By the way, after smoking for twenty-four years, I had my last cigarette on September 26, 2013.

 

We would love your feedback on this and other blog posts.  Email us or shoot us a short video at blog@spiritualadrenaline.me.

Why Endorphins Are Essential in Being Healthy and Happy

 

shutterstock_273963020The body has the capacity to produce a large number of hormones that dramatically alter our mood, and form the underlying foundation of our brain function.   There are hundreds of different hormones, so in Spiritual Adrenaline, we focus on those that are critical to people in recovery and explain why they are so important.

Endorphins

Endorphins are chemicals produced naturally in the brain that trigger the sensation of pleasure. The brain regulates both the production and release of endorphins. The use of alcohol and drugs stimulates the production, and then overproduction, of endorphins. Over time, the body loses its ability to naturally produce endorphins, as alcohol and drugs overstimulate production in the brain. The brain simply cannot keep up, and production of endorphins slows as the body loses its ability to produce them.

In recovery, with the passage of time, endorphin levels in most people will stabilize..  Spiritual Adrenaline can help with this, as through proper nutrition and an exercise regimen, brain chemistry can be restored naturally. Folks need to speak to their doctor about the specifics of their situation and overall health.

How to Stimulate Endorphin Production

Exercise regularly: Endorphins are released from the pituitary gland during strenuous exercise because exercise is a form of “healthy stress” upon the body. The endorphins then have the ability to bind to opiate receptors throughout the body, helping to minimize the pain that is incurred as the exercise becomes longer in duration and intensity.  Many serious athletes experience a “runner’s high,”which is a state of euphoria that, for some, is similar to a drug or alcohol high, which can continue long after the exercising is completed.

Eat Spicy Foods:  These foods help stimulate the production of endorphins. Research studies have determined that when the “spicy” part of the food comes into contact with the taste buds on your tongue, a “good pain” signal is sent to the brain, which stimulates endorphin production. This may explain why eating spicy food seems to be so “addictive” to some people.  Look for foods rich in capsaicin. These foods include hot peppers, tobacco peppers and ginger.

Eat Foods Rich in Tyrosine:  During the biochemical process, which permits the body to create endorphins, tyrosine is needed.   Without tyrosine, the body’s ability to create dopamine is severely compromised.  Foods rich in tyrosine include meat and dairy products.

Sex and Laughter Studies confirm that sex and laughter also stimulate endorphins in the brain.  This makes sense, given that these two behaviors stimulate the pleasure center in the brain.

 

Recommended reading:  Depression Free Naturally, Dr. Joan Mathews Larson, Random House, 2001; Good Calories, Bad Calories, Gary Taubes, First Anchor Books, 2007; Nutritional Supplements, Joe Cannon, MS, Infinity Publishing, 2008; Eating Right to Live Sober, Katherine Ketcham and Dr. L Ann Mueller, Signet Books, 1986.

 

We look forward to your feedback on this and other blog posts or questions. Shoot us an email or video at: blog@spiritualadrenaline.me.

 

The Ultimate Way To Rid Yourself of “Stinking Thinking”

shutterstock_289956929An incredibly important part of realizing a spiritual awakening is the journey towards that point while dealing with what is often referred to as “stinking thinking.”  This refers to those thoughts and impulses that pop into our heads without forewarning or often any trigger that compel us to return to our bad old behaviors.   Scientists say that average folk have approximately 40,000 thoughts pop into their heads daily.   When I was using and in early recovery, I think the same three or four thoughts popped into my head 40,000 times a day: “Drink”; “Do a Line”; “Act Out Sexually”; or in early recovery, “Eat at the Problem.”    Being bombarded 40,000 times a day with these unhealthy and unhelpful thoughts was a huge problem.

These thoughts or impulses had control for a very long time.  By the time I realized the thought or impulse popped into my head, I was already off to the races to make it happen.  There are numerous ways I have successfully dealt with this in recovery, among them, the use of mantras.

Mantras are an incredibly useful tool and have been utilized for thousands of years.  The yoga sutras written 4,000 years ago recommend using mantras and state: “To repeat it with reflection on its meaning is an aid.”

AA has a number of mantras: “One Day at a Time”; “Progress Not Perfection”; and, “Feelings are Not Facts” among them.  When stinking thinking sets in, I encourage you to use these powerful tools.

You can also come up with your own.  When I get stinking thinking, I often repeat the first names of each member of my family.  This helps me think about how much love I have for them and they have for me, the importance of maintaining my relationship with them and the beautiful life we all have together.  That is too valuable for me to risk for the instantaneous but fleeting gratification from acting out.

Another mantra I use quite a bit is reflecting on my body.   I used to feel awful all the time.  My lungs hurt, I could feel my liver and kidneys and I had constant chest pain.   When stinking thinking hits, I often breath deep and reflect on how healthy my body looks and feels.  I go through each organ: lungs; heart; kidneys; liver, etc., and thank God that I did not damage them permanently.  By staying in gratitude and reflecting on the import of my own body and health, the stinking thinking leave me quite quickly.

The key is to force the mind back to the positive and to gratitude.  An alcoholic or addict that stays in gratitude will not use.  

 

We look forward to your feedback on this and other blog posts or questions. If you have used exercise and/or nutrition as a tool in your recovery or know someone who has, shoot us an email or video at: blog@spiritualadrenaline.me.

 

How Increasing Endorphin Levels Will Super-Charge Your Energy

Tom discusses with Dr Michael Bedecs the role of endorphins and its contributing factors to overall wellness. Dr. Bedecs focus is on the root causes of metabolic imbalances. Many people who use drugs, do so to increase their endorphin levels.

The question becomes – how do people in recovery increase their endorphin levels safely and naturally? Dr. Bedecs explains why individuals who have hormone deficiencies need to understand and manage this area to drive positive energy into their lives.

How Inspiration Can Deliver Life Changing Results

Spiritual Adrenaline is about creating a community of like-minded people who integrate exercise and nutrition into their recovery.    We will be highlighting people that are inspirations in this regard and motivate us to continue pursuing a holistic approach to the twelve steps and recovery.

In April 2015, I read a great article in the Montreal Gazette entitled Shaping Up: Exercise and Love Saves Montrealer From Alcohol Addiction, by June Thompson.   The article told the story of Nathan Friedman.  I contacted Nathan after I read the article and told him how inspired I was by his story.  We became Facebook friends and remain in touch.

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Friedman is a nurse at a children’s hospital in Montreal.  His work often involves surgery on critically injured children who arrive at the emergency room, often near death. Mr. Friedman’s work is traumatic and over time, he developed a drinking problem.  To deal with job related stress, he relied on “his usual tumbler of Southern Comfort” as a coping mechanism when he returned home from the hospital.

One night while drinking his tumbler, he decided to swing his eleven-year-old daughter around and injured her finger.   She told him that she thought he drank too much.  Mr. Friedman said: “I always enjoyed a drink or two, but didn’t realize it had got so out of hand.  I mean, I never missed a day or work or was sick because of it.  I was a good father and husband, but clearly the time had come to change my habits.”

Mr. Friedman decided to stop drinking, but recognized that he needed another mechanism to deal with his job related stress.   He said:  “I knew I had to do something to help me manage my stress and that would be good for me, so I did something I hadn’t done in over two decades – I started to exercise.”

After three months, Mr. Friedman noticed a difference.   He began to feel better and move quicker, he felt “stronger and healthier, and he even managed to lose a few inches from his waistline.”  He said: “I began to sleep better too.  I had been suffering from bouts of insomnia, and the exercise helped.”

When asked to describe how he feels after exercise, he said: “It’s an amazing feeling…Dare I say it’s as good as, if not better, than the booze ever was.   There are still times that I do think about alcohol and wonder if I could go to the gym the next day if I emptied a bottle of Southern Comfort into my troubled soul the night before.  Then, I look at my family and think about all we have been through and how far we have come.  Instead, I get to bed early and wake up at 5 a.m. to try to keep what I have:  a family, a wife, a job, a house, a child, and the ability to improve a 44 year-old-body, one pound and one stride at a time.”

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Fast forward to the April 2016.  In a recent message to me, Nathan was very specific about the benefits of exercise for him.   He shared:

“ Pushing myself at the gym is liberating, helps me cope with stress and has had tremendous health benefits for me. The numbers don’t lie.  My blood pressure went from 145/90 to 125/78, no more heart-burn, weight loss of 25 pounds, tremendous gains in strength and stamina. Drinking had maybe one benefit: a very temporary escape. The negatives were plenty: 1) being reckless 2) being unhealthy with a 42 inch waistline 3) high blood pressure 4) bad blood tests due to a liver that was working too hard 5) a feeling of constant guilt 6) low self-esteem 7) indigestion 8) a constant feeling of being bloated 9) out of breath with any amount of exertion 10) a poor example for my daughter 11) the feeling of not being in control. Through vigorous exercise, I eliminated those negatives and turned my life around. I survived a job-loss, I rebuilt my marriage, I have a good relationship with my daughter, I truly believe that I can do a lot! Heck, if I can dead-lift 315 pounds or get my pulse to 170 comfortably or just feel good about myself by pushing my body, it almost feels like there’s nothing I can’t do. That’s why I continue to go to the gym at least 4 times a week. It’s been 16 months now, so much has happened, but I got through it all. I truly believe that exercise saved my life.”

Amen.

The full article is available online at www.montrealgazette.com/health/diet-fitness/shaping-up-exercise-and-love-saves-montrealer-from-alcohol-addiction.

If you, or anyone you know, incorporate nutrition and exercise into their recovery and inspire  others, we would like to hear from you.

We look forward to your feedback on this and other blog posts or questions.  You can reach us at: blog@spiritualadrenaline.me.

How Fitness Enhances Recovery with IFBB Pro William Gregory

In this video Tom talks with IFBB Pro William Gregory about the benefits of fitness for those in recovery. William explains, that the same addictive behaviors used to do damage to your body and ultimately your life, can be used and re-directed into positive behaviors such as weightlifting or other physical activities which will significantly contribute to your overall health and lifestyle.