Gratitude in recovery – and the holidays

Gratitude in Recovery – and the Holidays

Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, at Spiritual Adrenaline we like to focus on gratitude. By staying in gratitude, you are more likely to focus on the positive people, places and things in your life and avoid stinking thinking, resentments and relapse. Over the next few weeks, you will be introduced to people from all over the country to share with you why they are so grateful this holiday season. I thought I would kick it off by sharing just one of the reasons I am grateful.

Tom and his family feeling gratitude about the holidays.

Mom and Osteo-Arthritis

My Mom is 87 years-old and in good health with one major exception. She has osteo-arthritis and her knees in particular are causing her great pain. I speak to my Mom most mornings and over the Spring and Summer, our morning call was very difficult because she would tell me about how painful things were at night. Some nights her pain made it very difficult for her to sleep. Having gone through my Mom’s cancer diagnosis and treatment with her (she is thankfully cancer free), I know first-hand how difficult it can be to watch someone you love suffer. My Mom is too old for knee replacement surgery and traditional osteo-arthritis treatments have not worked for her. Given there no medical options recommended by her doctors, we had very little hope that anything would alleviate her suffering.

Committed to Finding Hope

This summer, I decided to spend 15 to 20 minutes a day researching alternative treatments for people with osteo-arthritis. I created a Google Alert and once a day I would receive all kinds of information on alternative treatments including stem cell therapy and lots of pharmaceutical drugs currently being tested. I was very skeptical of most but eventually, some options came along that seemed promising. My Mom, sister and I reviewed the information together and decided to give Regenexx “blood plasma enrichment” a try. The process is not covered by insurance and is considered “experimental”. However, test results confirm that approximately 60% of those who undergo the treatment have a reduction in pain and some increase in range of motion. It’s a three-month process with one injection of your own enriched blood plasma every month. My Mom has had her first treatment. We return for the second treatment in December. She has much less pain and can sleep better at night. She’s more mobile and told me during the Thanksgiving Holiday that she is excited to “get back to the gym.” Who knows what will happen in the long-run. What matters is that she has some relief from the constant “stinging” pain, we have a reasonable belief that this will continue to improve. My Mom has found hope that her quality of life can improve. What also matters very much to me is even if the treatment does not work, I tried.

Sober Priorities

Anyone who has the courage to admit they have a substance abuse issue understands while in active addiction, the only priority is getting more of whatever it is you are using. I understand this very well. However, in sobriety my priorities changed radically and I am in a position to be present for those I love. I can guarantee had I continued to drink and do drugs, my priority today would not be on my life and my Mom’s needs, but on my drug of choice. Addiction is a full-time job and all consuming thing. By focusing on sober priorities, you practice a living amends to yourself and those you love. It’s a gift of the twelve-step program that you can give to yourself and those you love. It’s a gift that I am most grateful for this holiday season.

Why Are You Most Grateful During the Holidays

If you are in early recovery, it’s important to stay in gratitude during the holiday season. Try a putting a gratitude list together to reflect on all the blessings you have experienced so far in your recovery. Focus on how different things are for you this holiday season compared to the past when you were using.

I would love to know what you are most grateful this holiday season! Feel free to post on our blog at spiritualadrenaline.com or on our Facebook page. I hope to hear you and wish you and yours a sober, happy and healthy holiday season.

Integrate CrossFit into Alcohol and Addiction Recovery: Sober Sundays

Meet Tim Mustion of Temperance Training in Boca Raton. Along with his sponsor, Anthony Fazio and Rob Thomas, owner of CrossFit Hype, Tim is helping to integrate CrossFit into the recovery of former alcoholics and addicts in South Florida. I hope you enjoy this look at some cutting-edge work in the holistic recovery movement …

Cherokee Pride: Kallup and Rez Recovery Riders Taking On Addiction in a Native American Community

For Hundreds of Years, We’ve Been Oppressed by Something or Someone! Now We Are Doing it to Ourselves

picture of Rez Riders

Kallup Mc Coy is a thirty-one-year old who lives on the “Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Reservation” in North Carolina. Kallup has a history of alcoholism and addiction in his family. Over thirteen years and after multiple arrests, his years of active addiction came to an end as he hit rock bottom. After what he describes as the proverbial “come to Jesus moment,” he turned things around. On November 28, 2017, Kallup will celebrate eight months clean and sober.

What makes Kallups’ experience unique is that he and a group of his friends, also in recovery, have declared war not only on their addiction but also the epidemic of addiction sweeping the Cherokee community and elsewhere in “Indian Country.” Kallup, Jack Smith and other members of the recovery community started the “Rez” Recovery Riders. Rez stands for reservation. The group is dedicated to raising awareness of the addiction epidemic among Native Americans and integrating nutrition and exercise into their recovery. Kallup and the Rez Riders are hoping to inspire other alcoholics and addicts on the reservation to join them and not only get sober, but also healthy.

picture of Rez Riders

He told us “for hundreds of years, we’ve been oppressed by something or someone. And, now, we’re doing it to ourselves. We’ve got to break the cycle. There’s a lot of people now that are sober and doing good. This includes a lot of people that I used with. It warms my heart and gives me a lot of hope that we can come out of this. We have got to change. We’re not giving our kids a chance by doing the things that we are doing. We are not giving them much of a future.”

I’ve Got To Stay Strong For My People

Kallup and Jack integrated weight training and working out into their own recovery. It helped them focus on staying sober. Kallup admits that over the last thirteen years he “never really tried to quit” using drugs. He credits his recent stint in jail with getting him to be serious about his sobriety. He told us that he “had the proverbial ‘come to Jesus’ moment.” He added, “If it were up to my will, I would have killed myself a long time ago. But six overdoses and I’m still here.”

The addiction statistics among Native Americans are bleak. According to recent statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control, one in every ten deaths in the community is alcohol related. According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the number of Native Americans with addiction problems is almost double the general population and the suicide rate is 2.5 times higher than the national average.

Replace Bad Addictions With Good Ones

The Rez Riders are challenging others to join them in replacing bad addictions with good ones, i.e., replacing drug use with eating right and exercise. Jack Smith told us: “One of those addictions leads to basically a devastation throughout all aspects of your life and probably premature death. The other addiction leads to improved cardiovascular health, better self-esteem, better self-efficacy.” But Rez Riders, Kallup and Jack are doing more than advocating, they are leading by example.

Kallup told us “if you can say no unhealthy foods and get active, it makes it easier to say no to alcohol and drugs and the couch-potato-addict lifestyle. It’s about discipline.”

From Addict to Ironman

To inspire others, Kallup recently entered a triathalon in Wilmington, North Carolina, on October 21, 2017. Competitors swam 1.2 miles, biked 56 miles and ran 13.1 miles. Kallup trained hard for the triathalon for seven weeks. He finished 74th out of 102 people that competed in his age group. Kallup enjoyed every minute of the training and competition. Kallup believes his experience could benefit others with their sobriety. He told us: “Recovery is an endurance race….If I can finish these type of races, I am furthering the gap between the man I was in active addiction and the man I am in recovery. By competing and challenging myself, I learned what I am truly capable of overcoming. Others can benefit in the same way.”

picture of Kallup

I asked Kallup if he ever thought he was pushing himself too hard for someone who was less that a year sober. He told us: “Faith is my strongest foundation. As long as I pray and put God first, I know he will take care of me. Given I survived six overdoes, I believe God kept me here to help other people.”

From Ironman to Native-American Addiction Advocates

The Rez Riders are looking into ways that they can help others on their North Carolina reservation. Kallup told us they are starting to put together a plan to open one or more sober houses. He hopes to create a not-for-profit with a governing board to continue to build on the momentum he and the Rez Riders have generated so far. In the future, he hopes to work with other Native Americans to combat the “self-imposed oppression of his people by alcohol and drugs.”

picture of Rez riders

To further that goal, the Rez Riders are working to convene a conference of Native American tribes from around the United States on his North Carolina reservation to discuss a battle plan for confronting addiction. They also hope to organize a triathalon this coming Spring and host it on their North Carolina reservation. Jolene Matthews, a well-known celebrity health and fitness model is working with the Rez Riders to organize the triathalon. Kallup told us that the goal of the event would be to raise awareness in the Native American community about the devastating impact of addiction as well as to raise money to support recovery-related organization.

But that’s just the beginning. Like most alcoholics and addicts, when Kallup does something, he does it big!

Addiction is the new Trail of Tears in the Native American Community

He’s starting to plan a run from Georgia to Oklahoma along the infamous ““Trail of Tears.” The trail was the route of a forced march and relocation of Native Americans by General Winfield Scott in 1839. Conditions were so brutal that one-forth of the Cherokee population died during the one-thousand-mile march. Kallup analogizes addiction as the modern-day “Trail of Tears” in Indian Country. He hopes his run can bring attention to the present day suffering of far too many who live in Indian Country all across the United States and Canada.

Great work by Kallup, Jack and the Rez Riders in improving their own lives and inspiring others. We here at Spiritual Adrenaline are all very excited to see you grow in the future and will support you in any way possible.

If you are interested in contacting Kallup and the rest of The Rez Riders, Posted in Recovery Exercise, Recovery SpiritualityTagged , , , , 1 Comment

Using Crossfit for alcohol and addiction recovery: Sheena Archuleta

Meet Sheena Archuletta, a co-founder and CEO of Addict2Athlete, based in Pueblo, Colorado. Sheena describes the life-saving work Addict2Athlete does and explains how it helps alcoholics and addicts integrate Crossfit and a healthy lifestyle into their recovery. I hope you enjoy. FMI Addict2Athlete.

Addiction Recovery: Mike H’s story of sobriety

I have been sober for more than thirty years. I am pleased and honored to share my journey with you.

picture of Mike H.

Growing Up Around Addiction …

My family has a history of addiction and many of my loved one’s have died as a result. As a child, I remember my Mother clinging to her father while he lay in his casket. She was showering him with kisses and tears and she had to be pulled away so the casket could be closed. My grandfather was a wonderful man but an alcoholic. My family tried to get him to stop, but he never was able to conquer this addiction and died far to young from the life-long damage. I remember hearing my Mom tell how they knew he was hiding bottles every where and they had to search the house daily. I can still remember the familiar smell of stale beer that permeated his skin like cologne.

Sowing The Seeds of Addiction …

As much pain as I saw this disease cause my Mom, it didn’t stop me from having my first drink of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill Wine when I was in the seventh grade. I abandoned wine altogether after having gotten into a friends Grandfather’s homemade wine. That left me so sick and with a hangover that even today the smell of wine rushes me back to the memory of that night and next day. I switched to beer which tasted horrible at the time, but I would force down the three that would give me the buzz I needed. It took more for my friends to get drunk. I was considered a light weight. By the end of my high school years I could handle a six or twelve pack and hangovers were few and far between. Once I started drinking, I couldn’t stop at three or four even if I was drunk and feeling good. I never saw my parents drunk although they would have a glass of wine each evening together after dinner.

From Student Athlete to Full Blown Alcoholic …

In high school I was on the soccer, gymnastics and tennis team so athletics played an important role in my personal development and social life. As drinking became a regular activity on the weekends I was able to stay away from the invitations to smoke pot and do other drugs because I didn’t think it would help with my performance and I had this innate feeling it would corrupt my body. I not really sure how I rationalized the drinking, but I did. I started a gymnastic school in my backyard the summer after my freshman year at college. Although I was a good athlete, I was never the superstar, so I decided to coach. I opened the first home in the country for gymnasts to live and train away from home called GYMNEST. I started to produce state, regional and nationally ranked gymnasts. I became the youngest member of the United States Junior Olympic coaching staff and spent many weeks throughout the year at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Those were my glory days, but did not come without lots of stress and pressure. This escalated my drinking problem. Sometimes, it was the only way I could sleep. I also used the stress and pressure to justify immoral behavior and other vices. I would then fall back on my drinking as a defense to my inappropriate behavior. When confronted about it, I would always say “I was drunk!”. Many things transpired in my life that were not positive due to alcohol. Finally, with alcoholism causing problems in many of my relationships coupled with the memory of the pain alcohol caused my mother, I decided to quit cold turkey. I told myself “I am never touching a drink again!” Although this doesn’t work for most, it did for me and I have been sober for more than thirty years.

Embracing Recovery and Outside Issues …

I was always into working out and staying in shape, but once I made this commitment to never drink again, I used personal training as a ground to strengthen not just my body, but my spirit and will. AA meetings didn’t work for me because at that time smoking was allowed and I just couldn’t exist in a smoke filled room longer than five minutes. I did use the twelve steps in a natural way, as I simultaneously returned to my faith. I trained myself to be sober like I would train one of my athletes to become their best. There are the obvious physiological benefits from exercise and eating healthy, but I was and still am gaining strength in areas that help me win my daily battle against addiction.

Train To Be Sober …

Here is a synopsis of what worked for me and that might benefit you!

Set Goals …

The first is having GOALS. An athlete thinks and dreams about winning and sets goals to make it a reality. Some people start working out to lose weight, others to gain muscle or to run a race with a better time. Those of us in recovery need goals as well: That goal is to be sober for today! If you just have a desire to be sober the rest of your life it can almost seem overwhelming and impossible, but to be sober for one hour, three, six, or a day is within reach and you know it can be done.

Marathon runners do not start training by running a full marathon. Rather, by running shorter distances and then as time goes on, developing more endurance. Over time, they can run longer and stronger. When I am strength training, I set a goal at the moment as to the number of reps I want to do and try to push myself to that number. On good days, I try to do some extra’s. The more I do this, the stronger I get. Each and every day I remained sober, the more confidence and strength I acquired. So when we have gained more muscle or lost weight and accomplished our goals, we are more confident to win other battles in our lives. Dream of a life of recovery, free from the pain that addiction causes and set that goal of being sober step-by-step until you stand on top of that victory.

Learn the Art of Discipline …

The second is the art of DISCIPLINE to maintain a workout schedule. Once you make the commitment to workout, go to a meeting, spend time in prayer and meditation, meet with a friend etc., you have to do so with the attitude that “Come Hell or high water, I am doing it”. This basically means you are determined to do it despite what difficulties you might encounter. For over thirty years that I have been sober I have not missed my weekly workouts. If I was to busy during the day and I had to run or workout at midnight, I did and still do. With 24-hour fitness centers we can never have an excuse!

When I went on vacation I always found the nearest church and gym. I had my spiritual and physical workout done before any of my family woke to start their day. My determination to stay in shape matched and complimented my desire to remain sober. They have been like friends that strengthen each other! I don’t believe as much in self-discipline as our need for a power greater than ourselves to fulfill our commitments and his will for our lives. We need the grace of God to fight our human nature that makes excuses and takes short cuts to developing the discipline we need to win each day!

Sober People Have Persevered …

The third is PERSEVERANCE. This is a virtue I learned through my participation in sports and working out. It is also crucial to winning the battle against addiction. There are days when I feel like I am not making any progress. I couldn’t do as many reps as I did in my last workout, I didn’t feel like I was gaining any muscle or for others that they stopped losing weight or they ran slower than their last race. We sometimes eat what we shouldn’t have or skipped a workout all together. So do we just give up and say I just can’t do this? Sometimes it just hurts and my body is screaming to stop. But when I persevere through these moments, it is what really makes me strong.

Some may have a relapse and fall into total despair believing they just can’t go on. I encourage you to go the distance. I used to have a sign in my gym that read: “To fail is to stop trying!” I have always admired when I see someone with a disability cross the finish line at a race when they knew they would not have a chance of winning. Victory for them was just showing up, enjoying the experience and finishing. We are all handicapped in some way and we should learn it’s the journey, not the destination that matters.

Sober People Have Persevered …

The third is PERSEVERANCE. This is a virtue I learned through my participation in sports and working out. It is also crucial to winning the battle against addiction. There are days when I feel like I am not making any progress. I couldn’t do as many reps as I did in my last workout, I didn’t feel like I was gaining any muscle or for others that they stopped losing weight or they ran slower than their last race. We sometimes eat what we shouldn’t have or skipped a workout all together. So do we just give up and say I just can’t do this? Sometimes it just hurts and my body is screaming to stop. But when I persevere through these moments, it is what really makes me strong.

Some may have a relapse and fall into total despair believing they just can’t go on. I encourage you to go the distance. I used to have a sign in my gym that read: “To fail is to stop trying!” I have always admired when I see someone with a disability cross the finish line at a race when they knew they would not have a chance of winning. Victory for them was just showing up, enjoying the experience and finishing. We are all handicapped in some way and we should learn it’s the journey, not the destination that matters.

Crossing the Finish Line of Life Sober …

My sport and fitness training has taught me to never give up and to persevere no matter what. I go through life and my sobriety with the attitude that no matter how many times I might fall down I will never stop trying. If I get knocked down I will get back up and if I have to crawl across the finish line of life sober, I will have won!

Michael H. is the Author of Go For God’s Gold – Developing Your Spiritual Strength through Sports. He is also the Founder and Executive Director of Ministro Ministries and Fit Conscience. Fit Conscience is a gym where people of faith and addiction recovery can come to workout and celebrate their sobriety.

Recovery Exercise: Relapse to Running

Christy P. and others at the finish lineRunning a marathon was never something I particularly wanted to do, and was NOT something I envisioned doing when I got sober. Marathon runners are impressive and inspiring. They train, with dedication, are committed to their goal, have tenacity and strength of spirit and fierce determination. When I got sober, I wanted all of those things, but did not believe for one second that I had them.

The disease of addiction didn’t impact my life until well into adulthood. I started drinking in an unhealthy way when I was 35 years old. Prior to that, I had a pretty great life. I had built a successful career as a nonprofit development professional, I was married with two beautiful children. I had a lovely home and was fairly healthy. Things came pretty easily and were generally good.

And I’d had pretty normal experiences with drugs and alcohol up to that point—shenanigans in high school, experimentation in college—nothing crazy, nothing alarming. Nothing to indicate what was to come.

Divorce, Drinking and My Bottom …

When I was 35 everything changed. My marriage ended. I immediately entered into a long-term relationship with an alcoholic and addict, though I didn’t recognize that at the time. He had a couple drinks after work every day, drank at all social events, drank before all social events, drank after all social events…. He drank a lot. So I did too. It just became what we did, and it happened so naturally that I didn’t ever think too much about whether or not it was normal or healthy.

Over the course of the next six years—from 2009-2015—I went from drinking fewer than a dozen drinks in any given year to drinking every day, then drinking during the day, then drinking all day and all night, day in and day out. My life completely deteriorated. I lost my job in the fall of 2014, and the relationship with the alcoholic ended the following spring. I had no income, no relationship, and a house I could in no way afford on my own. I had lost everything—including my self-confidence and sense of self-worth.

Miserable, Alone, Wanting to Die …

I spent a year in and out of treatment, racking up fewer than a couple weeks of sobriety at any given time. I went through detox three times within four months, went to group therapy, tried 12-step programs, started working with the best addiction psychiatrist in the area. But I just couldn’t stay sober. I was miserable and alone and I wanted to die. Because I wanted to die, I drank. I drank to make the days disappear and to escape the reality of my life. I hit bottom and bounced up and down there a couple times before I finally got sober in January of 2017.

Sober Energy I Did Not Know What to Do With
I checked myself into a rehab facility in North Carolina for six long weeks. Once sober, I had all this energy that I didn’t quite know what to do with. I started walking a fast mile before and after every meal and spent my one free hour every day on the elliptical machine in the center’s basement gym. I did 10,000 meter endurance rows when we went as a group to an off-site gym twice each week.

When I got home I was terrified. I had no job and this huge hole in my resume that I had no earthly idea how I would explain to potential employers. I was still single and splitting custody with my kids’ father so I had all this time alone. I was facing this monumental task of rebuilding my entire life and I had no idea where to start or what to actually do and I felt incapable of doing anything…. So I started running.

I was so slow, and I ran a painfully boring street route, but I made myself do it every single day. Then a friend introduced me to trail running and I got hooked. I started running five miles in the woods three days each week, slowly building up my endurance for the elevation gains. These became my favorite hours of the week.

ROCovery Fitness and Finding Hope …ROCovery runners

I’d been stalking this amazing nonprofit on Facebook called ROCovery Fitness. It’s a sober active community using fitness and wellness to promote recovery from addiction, and they were just about to open a new community outreach center in an old firehouse that had been gifted to the organization. I decided I’d look into volunteering… I had nonprofit experience which could be useful, but I was willing to do anything. I just wanted to be around other people in recovery, and I needed to be active.

I reached out to Yana Khashper, ROCovery’s co-founder and asked about volunteering. She checked out my resume and saw my experience and asked if I’d be interested in joining the board: “Absolutely” I said. I met with Yana and Sean Smith, the other co-founder, once or twice before my first board meeting, and knew right away that what they were doing was special and I wanted to be involved. It was just the two of them on staff, along with a small army of volunteers supporting their efforts. Within a week of joining the board I approached Yana about volunteering in a more official capacity—I wanted to volunteer like it was my job. They agreed, so I just started showing up every day.

The Rochester Marathon …

A couple of months in, there was talk in the office about a group from ROCovery that was going to run the marathon. Yana and Sean had signed up a young guy named Michael as a surprise to him. He’d never been a runner and he was very early in recovery, but he was motivated. He was showing up at ROCovery every day, working hard. This was a kid who had literally died TWICE from overdose. And they believed he could do it, so they signed him up. And he was excited—you could see how much it meant to him that they believed in him. It was inspiring.

So I signed up too. I was running every day and had been for a few months. I looked into crash training programs for running marathons and figured I’d give it a shot, knowing full-well and reminding myself often that I could always switch to the half marathon if I wanted to. Secretly I intended all along to switch to the half marathon, but that didn’t happen.

I’d been coaching a “Couch to 5K” running group to prepare people for a 5K for ROCovery, which was a week after the marathon, and Michael had come to a few runs. We’d agreed to stick together for the first half, which was all I intended to do, and agreed to go slow and walk as needed. I knew he could do the full marathon, and I knew he would. He had done a couple long training runs with a group from ROCovery, but at that point I still hadn’t run more than 8 miles in my life, so I was not at all sure that I could do it.

The Beast Unleashed!Christy P. approaching the finish line at the Rochester Marathon

The day before the race Michael told me he’d been bragging out his “running partner” with his friends. He referred to me as a “beast,” and I suddenly realized that he thought I could actually run the whole thing. Maybe even a little easily. I was stunned, and knew right then that I had to do it. I believed that Michael could do it, so why didn’t I believe that much in myself?

So I did it. Michael and I stuck together, along with Yana from ROCovery, for the first 13 miles, then we each kept to our own pace and got separated. There were six of us total running from ROCovery, and Michael was the last to finish. The whole ROCovery team crossed the finish line with him. Just thinking about it now makes me cry. He has said since that it was the best day of his life.

I could so easily see Michael’s strength of spirit, even when I couldn’t see my own. I needed to believe in myself, but I also needed to believe in other people, and I needed others to believe in me. THAT is the power of community in recovery, and it’s at the heart of everything at ROCovery Fitness.

Sharing The Gift With Others …

I now work as director of development at ROCovery and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. I’m nine months sober and going strong. For the first time in almost a decade, I believe in myself again, and in the power of the human spirit. I am living proof that recovery is possible, and I am one of thousands who realized that possibility through ROCovery Fitness.

Provide Your Body with Nutrients and Water it Needs in Recovery

When I train to compete in physique competitions, I cut back on carbs and dehydrate for the two days before the competition. In this video, I share how this impacts my physical and mental condition in ways that are not positive and why it’s important to provide your body with the nutrients and water it needs in recovery.

Celebrating 4 Years Smoke Free on Mount Rainer

I recently attempted to summit Mount Rainier in Washington State. I didn’t make it to the 14,500 summit but I did climb to 11,200. I plan to get some experience this winter climbing on ice and will give Rainier another go in 2018. Totally beautiful mountain. Hope you enjoy …

The top video is the edited version, the bottom video is the full version.

CrossFit for addiction recovery

Tim Mustion climbing a ropeTim Mustion of Boca Raton, Florida and the CrossFit gym, CrossFit HYPE shares with us his recovery/exercise experiences. After years of mixing drugs and alcohol with CrossFit, I got sober in September 2015 and worked the Twelve Steps. I soon found out that getting involved in the community, being held accountable, and helping others both inside the CrossFit gym and in AA meetings has strengthened my recovery ten-fold and has allowed me to do things I never thought possible. CrossFit and recovery go hand in hand, healing the mind, body, and spirit.