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.

Hell’s Kitchen District Leader Win: Living Proof Promises Come True

This past Tuesday (September 12, 2017), I was elected the male District Leader for Hell’s Kitchen and parts of Chelsea in midtown Manhattan. My running mate, Marisa Redanty, was elected the female District Leader. The male and female District Leaders act as direct liaisons between constituents and their elected officials and often organize and advocate on local issues along with other elected officials. I was worried that with my history of substance abuse, I would not be able to garner support or otherwise be an unattractive candidate. That turned out to be untrue and all local elected officials ultimately endorsed me. The campaign then began in earnest. Since April of this year, we had been working towards this goal. It was a tumultuous summer as the campaign was hard fought. However, the Twelve Steps and the Spiritual Adrenaline lifestyle helped me get through the chaos of the campaign successfully, but more importantly, with my sobriety intact. I want to share some with you some of the lessons I learned along the way.

Sober community: A number of individuals involved with my campaign came from my home group and other meetings I attend on a regular basis. It meant a lot to me that so many people I had gotten to know “in the rooms” over the last 6½ years came out to support my campaign. Not only did they support my campaign, but they supported me in a healthy and mature way. I noticed that people who take the program seriously have a great serenity, even when confronted by the chaos of a hard fought political campaign. When things got nuts, I was able to have intelligent discussions with these individuals about what course of conduct they recommended. I took their advice, as it was almost always drama free and prudent in light of the circumstances.

I went to the same meetings that I have gone to for years. It was important to stay connected to my support base and the aspects of the program that worked for me all these years. At night, I made sure to do a tenth step inventory and write about how the stressors of the campaign and the aspects of the political world that I found challenging. By doing my tenth step every night, I was able to really focus on challenging issues and come up with “sober” ways to handle them.

The process: It’s been about seven years since I was so actively involved in politics. Back in the old days, I tended to surround myself with folks who drank quite a bit and who also smoked. Back then, I smoked as well. It’s interesting to me how these habits impact our friends and the places were we spend time. Back then most of my campaign days would end at a bar or at home with some beer and maybe a bottle. Usually, I was not alone but lingering into the night with others who were also attracted to ending the day with substances.

This time around, it was completely different. I was successful in sticking to my lifestyle, the same one that I advocate here, and it paid off in ways I hadn’t thought possible. I began my day by reading Just for Today and Daily Reflections and made sure to stick to my early morning workout routine. While working out, I was able to meditate and think through important issues without my judgment being skewed by alcohol and/or drugs. I didn’t wake up hang over or otherwise exhausted and made it a priority to get enough sleep. I shut my cell phone off at 9 p.m. every night and didn’t turn it back on until after my morning workout. This let me sleep in peace without the constant texts, emails and calls coming in until late at night.

I made sure to eat healthy to avoid spiking my blood sugar with simple carbs. I brought healthy snacks on the campaign trail to avoid eating fast food and other junk. I watched my caffeine intake to avoid getting myself hyper and over-stimulated. Lastly, I had no nicotine to add to the stress of the campaign and exhaust me by the end of the day. I took things one day at a time and avoided the traps by my opponent. He often caused chaos, hoping either I or others on my campaign would over-react and take the bait: We didn’t.

I got to enjoy the process, which for me was a wholly new experience.

Remembering everything: Because I was not abusing substances, I remember everything and my recollection is clear-as-day. When I was drinking or doing drugs, I never thought my judgment was impaired, but it was. Even a small amount of alcohol can skew my thought process and take me out of the present. That small amount is never enough and I would be off to the races. Often times not remembering much or have very clouded recollections. Thankfully, I can tell you everything that happened from day one accurately given the complete absence of any substances to alter my judgment and/or recollection. It’s awesome to get through such a high-stress endeavor with relatively no drama, no guilt and no apologies to people for blowing a gasket or otherwise over-reacting.

Speaking to the Recovery Community

Accompanying this text blog post is a short video from my remarks after learning we had won the election. I thought it was important for me to include a brief mention to people out there struggling in active addiction or recovery. Check out our campaign’s page.

I want people to know that although they may presently find themselves down, things get better if they work the Twelve Steps and engage in a program of self-care, such as we recommend at Spiritual Adrenaline.

I am living, breathing proof that if you take recovery seriously, you can come back stronger than you ever thought possible. You just have to believe in yourself and never give up!

If you doubt the Twelve Steps or recovery can turn things around for you, stop doubting and get to work. It’s a program of action, not theory. You have the opportunity to succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

Healthy Fats (Omega 3 and 6) for Addiction Recovery

Healthy fats can play an important role in your recovery by replacing sugar as an energy source. There are many more benefits to including these fats in your diet. I am joined by holistic cooking expert Melanie Albert of EXPnutrition to talk about how these fats can improve your life. FMI visit Melanie’s website at EXPnutrition.com and check out her book “A New View of Healthy Eating.”

NPC Natural Eastern USA Championship – Spiritual Adrenaline

Living the tools of Spiritual Adrenaline has enable me to apply the twelve steps to my diet, exercise regime and my professional life as a busy civil rights attorney in NYC.   Back in 2014, I started competing in physique competitions as a way to increase my level of discipline and cope with stress.  I competed in my first all natural competition in Pittsburgh last week.  Here’s some video and photos from the competition.  Whether your goal is to be able to walk around the block, develop six pack abs or just look and feel better, Spiritual Adrenaline can help you get there.

Recovery Vitamins – Vitamin E

 It’s important to know each of the vitamins and their role in our body.  Moreover, it is critical to know where to get these vitamins in the way nature intended: Through our food.  Supplements work but are manufactured and not as potent as the real deal.   Moreover, there is no better way to get your nutrients than real food than either grew in the earth or walked on it (apologies to our vegetarians).

 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is critical for cellular health and membranes given its function as an anti-oxidant that neutralizes free radicals as part of the process of converting food to into energy.   Anti-oxidant’s also help reduce inflammation in the body.   Inflammation is a major cause or interrelated with numerous health conditions prevalent in the recovery community such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Deficiencies manifest in lose of hemoglobin in red blood cells and muscle damage.

Vitamin E can be obtained through diet by eating the following foods:  olive oil, green leafy vegetables (swiss chard, kale, collards), avocado, almonds, broccoli and kiwi.

For people in recovery Vitamin E is even more important as it is an anti-oxidant.   Given years of abuse and putting toxins into our body’s, it is critical that we have a balanced diet which includes nature’s cancer fighting anti-oxidants.     

Recommended reading: Food for Recovery, Dr. Joseph Beasley and Susan Knightly, Crown Trade Publishing, 1993, Nutritional Supplements, Joe Canon, MS, Infinity Publishing, 2008, The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism, Dr. Abram Hoffer and Dr. Andrew W. Saul, Basic Health Publications, 2008.

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

 

Addiction: A Matter of Heart

Addiction:  A Matter of Heart

Like so many, I was saddened by the devastating news over the holidays about the deaths of George Michael and Carrie Fisher.  Both were superstars in their respective fields and both had publicly acknowledged facing the challenge of overcoming addiction.  Both will be missed and their bright stars dimmed way too soon.  I sincerely hope they both rest in peace.

 

When I learned both had died as a result of heart-related problems, it really hit home.   Their deaths should get the attention of everybody in the recovery community.  It’s a wake-up call regarding the damage done to the body in active addiction and the import of self-care in recovery, to enable our body to repair this damage.

Irrespective of a person’s drug of choice, each substance damages the heart in one manner or another.  For sake of brevity, I am omitting the research studies that confirm the link between heart disease and substance abuse.  If anyone cares to see the studies, email me and I am happy to send scores of them.  I recommend folks check out the American Heart Association’s website for more information.

This is an important issue that everyone with a history of addiction needs to be aware of.

 

My Own 5x Increased Risk of Heart Disease

Almost five years ago, and six months after being released from rehab, I had comprehensive blood testing done by Dr. Michael Bedecs, a cutting-edge Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.   Dr. Bedecs sat with me and went over my results, which were not good at all.  Among the truths my blood work told, was that I had a five times increased risk of heart disease.  When I heard that news, I was stunned.  There was other bad news, but to hear I had a five times increased risk of heart disease got me to finally get serious about nutritional lifestyle change.

At that time, I was in “recovery” but smoking a pack-and-a-half a day, drinking coffee from morning until early evening, eating some type of fast food almost daily and my diet included lots of fried foods.   I feel so blessed to have met Dr. Bedecs and to have learned about my compromised health, most notably damage to my heart and my increased risk for heart disease.  Devastating news but not all bad.  Dr. Bedecs told me that with some relatively simple lifestyle changes, almost all of the issues reflected in my blood work could be turned around.   This message was what it took to get me to take my health seriously and prompt me to make self-care my number one priority.

 

From 5x Increased Risk of Heart Disease to “22 Year-Old Ethiopian Marathon Runner”

My recent blood work proves, beyond a doubt, that lifestyle change and self-care can turn around internal damage to our body including,  the most important muscle we have, our heart.  My recent blood work is, according to Dr. Bedecs, equivalent to a “22-year-old Ethiopian Marathon Runner.”   If I could turn it around, quit smoking, change my diet and integrate exercise into my life, anyone can.  I wrote a blog post about all this in February 2016.

Everything you need to design your own self-care program can be found here at Spiritual Adrenaline.  Seize the day and start turning your health around right now!

We must not ignore the message that addiction is a matter of heart.