The Essential Nutrients That Fuel Your Recovery

Some foods are extremely high in calories and have zero nutritional value. Alcohol is calorie rich and nutrient deficient.   Comfort foods have tons of calories but often no nutrients.   In this blog post, we compare fudge to a banana to demonstrate why it’s important in recovery to focus not only on calories, but the nutrients present in the foods you are putting into your body.

 

Why Staying Fit is Crucial To Your Mental Health

tom picIn “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”, Dr. John Ratey, studied the benefits of exercise on the body, mind and soul.   Dr. Ratey’s conclusion is that exercise not only helps us develop physically, but also mentally and spirituality.  Dr. Ratey found that physical training ignites the “spark of our spirit” as it:

“Is one of the best treatments for psychiatric problems such as anxiety, depression and ADHD.”

“Conditions our brains to learn, to concentrate and to remember.”

“Makes a person more resilient to stress.”

“Gives inner strength to reclaim ourselves from the effects of addiction.”

“Pulls us more into the moment, enriching the time that we have, and can extend our lives by as much as 4.5 years.”

“Provides a side door to reality. It is not a directly spiritual practice like mediation and prayer, however, it provides similar benefits.   We do the work and trust the outcome to our recovery time, our nutrition and the support that we get from our community.”

“Links the mind, the emotions and the body. When combined with honest reflection, exercise can build emotional awareness and resilience.  Trauma (both physical and emotional) is stored simultaneously in our memories as well as our body tissues.   Exercise is part of gently working through these physically stored emotions.   In this way, exercise can help rewrite our story.”

My Experience

When I read Spark I was thrilled as Dr. Ratey confirmed, through years of studies, what I knew I was experiencing at the gym: the positive effects on my body, mind and spirit. I could see the development and positive aesthetic changes to my appearance.  Those changes were undisputable. I also recognized that the way I was thinking was radically changing along with my physical body.   Since I have no training in psychology or mental health, I could not prove that these changes were real, nor could I articulate very easily what I was experiencing and why.

Spark lays it out in an amazingly clear and succinct way.   Spark explained the relationship between physical and mental well-being, the creation of hormones that change our way of thinking, and how we perceive the world around us.

I have personally experienced each and every conclusion outlined in Spark.   It’s not speculation; it’s science.  As Dr. Ratey concludes, addiction has physical and mental components.  By incorporating exercise into your overall recovery plan, you can ignite the spark of your spirit.

Move a muscle, change a thought and connect spiritually with yourself and others.

 

We would love your feedback on this issue.  Email us or shoot us a video at: blog@spiritualadrenaline.com.

The Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup For Those in Recovery

davsshFructose is a simple carb (or sugar) that is naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables.  Glucose is a naturally occurring sugar and breaks down in the body from food sources such as carbohydrates.   High-fructose corn syrup is a manufactured form of fructose, made from converting cornstarch from glucose into fructose.  The conversion process makes the taste much sweeter.

Whether we are eating glucose or fructose matters!  Nature never intended for humans to be ingesting fructose in the amounts we currently do.  The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 10% of the annual caloric intake in the average American diet is fructose.

In a June 2015 study conducted by the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, researchers found a direct link between the increased amount of fructose in the average American diet, and rising rates of obesity and diabetes.  The study fed two groups of mice of an equal weight, appropriate amounts of calories from sugar for their weight and species.  However, one group got their sugar calories from fructose, while the other group got their sugar calories from glucose.   The study found that the fructose fed mice had significantly increased body weight, liver mass, and fat mass in comparison to the glucose-fed mice.

Why Does This Matter to People in Recovery?

At Spiritual Adrenaline, we focus on sugar given the high numbers of people in recovery with Type 2 diabetes and hyperglycemia.   Given the impact of poor nutrition and the impact of substance abuse on our internal organs, it is critical to get our sugar from naturally occurring sources, in the amounts nature intended, rather than the manufactured version.

Liver function in people with a history of alcoholism, alcohol abuse or other substance abuse, is often compromised.    In people with a damaged liver it may be very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to break down high-fructose corn syrup and other man-made processed sweeteners.   The Beckman also confirmed that high-fructose corn syrup can accumulate in the liver and increase liver mass. This is why we suggest sticking to the real deal. 

 My advice is to check the ingredients of processed foods you eat and avoid those containing high-fructose corn syrup.   Foods that are common and contain large amounts of high-fructose corn syrup include ketchup, candy and soda.

There are plenty of all natural sweeteners on the market and you can avoid high-fructose corn syrup by eating higher quality products that contain less filler. An easy example is chocolate with a cocoa content in excess of 70%.   That way you are actually eating chocolate, and not high-fructose corn syrup.  You can eat sweets and other foods you enjoy, I am not telling you to give up what you like.  You just need to check the package, and ensure that you are really eating the food, and not getting cheap filler.

I recommend you try honey, xylitol, Stevia, Coconut Sugar and Maple Syrup, as alternative sweeter, check your packaging and try to eat higher cocoa content chocolate and other sweets.   

This knowledge will take you a long way toward helping to restore balance in your diet and to your overall health.  Stay tuned for future blog posts on alternative sources for healthy sugars and spices that will help reduce blood sugar if eaten over an extended period of time.

We would love your feedback on this blog post.  If you have modified your diet, what results did you see? What kind of sweeteners do you use?  If you think this is bunk, why is that exactly?

 

Email us or send a video at: blog@spiritualadrenaline.me.

 

 

 

 

Are You Smoking Cigarettes or Are They Smoking You?

Today I speak with native New Yorker David Skeist, a North American representative for Allen Carr‘s Easyway To Stop Smoking, a book which has sold over 13 million copies worldwide.

Allen and Tom discuss how invasive smoking is for those who are addicted to it. It dominates every aspect of your life, explains David, who goes on to describe how smoking ends up smoking us and not vice versa.

Why It’s Essential You ‘Un-Pollute’ Your Body, Mind & Spirit Every Day

meditationOne of the recurring themes of Spiritual Adrenaline is to get the day started early and right with a self-care program.  Is this intended to torture people? No.  But then why not sleep in and take it easy?

Waking up early is a healthy way to start the day and prioritize our body, mind and spirit, over the never-ending demands of daily life.    Ancient Buddhist teachings also speak to the importance of morning meditation and self-care.   The period immediately before sunrise is known as the Brahmamuhurta or Brahmic time.  But what does that mean and why is that time important….

The Brahmic Time

The Brahmic time is the time before sunrise and occurs between 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. The ancients recognized that this period has sacred energies for the worship of the Brahman inside you. Brahman refers to the God-imminent in every being, or as we would define it today, our soul. Muhurtam is a unit of measurement for time in the Indian calendar.  A Muhurtam equals about 48 minutes and the total Brahmic time lasts 96 minutes.

Brahmic Time and Meditation

Meditation involves total mental focus inward on a coherent flow of energy.  It is very difficult to meditate around others and in crowded and/or busy places as our energy and focus is disturbed by external forces.  These things do not affect us during Brahma Muhurtham.  At that time, most people are in deep sleep.  As such, their energy will not disturb our meditation and focus.   After sunrise, people begin to awake and as so much mental energy is emitted, and according to the ancients, the atmosphere becomes “polluted with thought” and makes meditation much more difficult.

My Experience

 I used to hate waking up early irrespective of whether I was using or not.  Of course, when I was hung over, I wanted to sleep in all day.   I loved sleeping in until about 11 a.m. on weekends and would wake as late as possible on workdays.  I would rush through my morning routine and was usually running late or just on time.   I started almost every day in the most stressful way possible.   I rarely ate breakfast and when I did it was usually a donut and coffee from a street vendor on my hurried rush to work.

People who woke up really early scared me, they really did.

When I moved up to Maine to help my brother with his health issues after he was paralyzed skiing, I started to get up really early.    There were a couple of reasons for this.  First, once he was awake and we were going about the day, I had very little time for myself given his medical condition and needs.  So early morning was the only time until late at night that I could focus on myself.  Second, I lived in Portland Maine and could get in my car and be at the beach in five minutes.  I loved it and enjoyed doing my recovery reading at the beach in the early morning.    By being there at this time, I was witness to the beautiful sunrise and it made me euphoric.  The sunrises in Maine are spectacular and just filled me with optimism and exuberance for the day ahead.  I started going to the gym in the mornings and met a lot of cool people, many of whom were in recovery. We would go to the gym and then the 7 a.m. meeting in downtown Portland known as the “Attitude Adjustment” meeting.

I started to feel amazing and began to enjoy getting up early and my routine.

Fast forward to the present.

I feel so good after my morning routine, which varies but often includes waking up to relaxing music, recovery reading, journaling, the gym and on two to three mornings a week, yoga.   It sets the standard for the rest of my day and puts me in a healthy, happy and grateful mindset.

Brahmamuhurta enhances my ability to force the mind back into the positive and I stay in  gratitude.  My morning self care program energizes me and keeps my health and recovery a priority.  For that I am grateful.  

 Remember, 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 Rob Archuleta Went From Addict To Ironman

swimIn-Zone Fitness is a gym in Pueblo, Colorado, that has become a hub for a diverse group of former opiate addicts.  Some come voluntarily, others have been ordered by the Court to go to In-Zone and work out. I love it:  Being court ordered to work out as part of a recovery plan.  Rob Archuleta, a former crystal meth addict and founder of Addict2Athlete, stated:, “Intense exercise works.”.  Rob admits to non-stop days of crystal meth drug binges that went along with his party lifestyle.  In June 2015, after some years in recovery, Rob competed in an Ironman contest in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. This is his fourth Ironman competition since entering recovery.

Given Rob’s success with utilizing exercise in his overall recovery plan, he founded the organization Addict2Athlete.  You can visit their website at www.addict2athlete.org.   Addict2Athlete uses the twelve steps, a two-month curriculum of addressing criminogenic behaviors, coping skills and exercise to treat addiction.

When asked why this works, Rob states: “You’re in a fight for your life with addiction and you want to use anything you can to kick it. As addicts, we did anything we could to get high.  So we need to do anything we can to stay sober.   We’re sparking dopamine levels when we’re high.   As addicts we want that instant gratification.   With exercise we’re teaching people to use that dopamine in a constructive way; to work toward a goal in the gym and outside of it, to see that we can use that primitive urge as energy to create a healthy life.”

My Experience

What Rob and Addict2Athlete are doing is music to my ears.   Everything about Rob’s program makes sense to me and is consistent with the principles of Spiritual Adrenaline.  By working the body, the collateral positive effect is improvement of the mind and spirit.  Rob completely gets the linkage between a physical and mental recovery and the importance of creating positive hormones to enhance our chances of success and a long-term recovery.

Exercise is actually a relapse prevention tool, and, in fact, is among the most potent of relapse prevention tools.

Rob also advocates setting a goal, which I totally agree with.  Early on in my recovery, my goal was to trim down and get rid of the “muffin top” that I developed in rehab.   It then morphed into wanting to achieve six-pack abs, and now has grown into competing in physique contests around the country against other people my age.

As I progressed, my goals changed and progressed along with me.  I learned discipline in my nutrition, in time management, and in my spiritual program to make my increasingly challenging goals become a reality.

To avoid self-sabotage, I always made sure my goals were realistic and achievable as long as I put in the work.  However, my goals were challenging.   Each and every time I set a new goal I give it my all and totally commit to achieving it. I enhance my self-esteem and confidence regardless of whether or not I actually achieve my goal.

I encourage you to follow the example of Rob and Addict2Athlete and utilize the tools of Spiritual Adrenaline.

We would love your feedback on this issue.  Email us or shoot us a video to: blog@spiritualadrenaline.com.