Walks with Sean S.: Sober Active New York City….

Sean S. loves walking all around New York City for both his physical and mental health. Last year, Sean took the Spiritual Adrenaline Challenge and lost 22.7 pounds! Most of the weight was lost walking!!!! Now Sean is going to help others looking to feel better, get out in a non-judgmental activity and learn to be present and enjoy the true beauty of New York City. For more information on “Walks with Sean….”, visit the Sober Active New York City Facebook page. For more information on Spiritual Adrenaline, visit www.spiritualadrenaline.

Our Relationship with Superman: In Memory of David Clark, a founder of the Sober Active Movement…

By: Rob Archuletta & Scott Strode

I’d love to tell you David Clark and I were good friends, but we weren’t.  Like many others, I stood in awe of David from the sidelines.  I watched his videos and read his Facebook posts. I first met David in 2012 when my wife Sheena was running an Ultra Marathon to benefit victims of the Aurora Colorado shooting.  David not only ran the race but won it.  Afterwards, he took the time to speak with Sheena and the rest of the Addict2Athlete team.   David shared his story with us.  The members of our team shared their stories of addiction and recovery as well.  From that point on, it became clear that we were all cut from the same cloth.  When David was attempting to break the world record for the longest treadmill run, we made Addict2Athlete t-shirts with his photo on them.

The shirt had a silhouette of David running with a Superman cape flowing behind him.  He indeed was an example of holistic recovery and unwavering dedication.  As years went on, David and I had many conversations about Veganism and Buddhism.  David was a wealth of knowledge but was always careful to say: “That’s just my opinion.”  Regardless, his words touched my soul.  I would frequently transition between being a vegan and following a paleo diet.  Every time I called him for plant-based diet pointers he would say: “Well, well, the prodigal son returns.”  Of course with a laugh and he never stopped helping.

I am a four-time Ironman, but after my fourth Ironman, I started to struggle with anxiety.  I dropped out of several races including a half and full ironman.  After a year of rest, I signed up for my fifth Ironman to honor a few friends who had passed on.  Finishing the race meant the world to me.  The night before, I was stuck with terrible anxiety and spent most of the night crying and scared.  I was going to drop out.   But just then, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a post from David.  I was filled with envy of his fearlessness.  I reached out to him in the middle of the night asking him about anxiety.  He responded in typical calming David fashion, and told me: “I do have anxiety.  I enjoy all of it.  I try not to win internal arguments; be in the moment you’ll be fine.” I took his advice and finished the race.         

David has spoken at several Addict2Athlete events, and when I tried to help him sell books his goal was always to get books to the people who needed them rather than those who could afford them.  A hand-full of us started the active recovery movement.  Like the others, I have a vast amount of people who look to me for guidance, or at least experience strength and hope.  I am incredibly grateful to have had David to lean on. In retrospect, I now see that it seems like David was holding all of us up.  In one of the last conversations I had with David we discussed Buddhism, leadership, and recovery.  The last message David sent to me regarding recovery and leadership was: “The path is authentic communication with self through meditation and action.”  David, although I didn’t get to see you often, I already miss you.  Your teachings will live on through everyone you touched.  You truly were Superman!    

Rob Archuleta 
Co-Founder of Addict2Athlete

Rob’s words tell the story about the type of person David Clark was. I’m sure if you asked other endurance athletes and folks in recovery, you would hear a similar story of a time where David took a moment out of his life to be there to help lift others.  He always expressed the desire to do more, to help more, to carry the message of hope to even more people. 

Now we have a chance to do more for him in his memory. Please give what you can to support Davids’ family in this heartbreaking time. If David was the one here asking to help support another person in the recovery/endurance/athlete community, I’m sure he would be running 150 miles across the Mojave Desert trying to raise $20,000.00.   He would do anything to help support the family of someone he barely knew because he felt in his heart it was the right thing to do. Please, give what you can to help his family through this difficult time. 

The sober active movement certainly has lost one of our heroes.  I will miss your smile, laughter and big hugs.   But most of all, your beautiful spirit and eternal optimism.  Rest peacefully David Clark.  We will feel your energy in the moments of the marathon of life and recovery, where we all need to find the courage and strength to endure. “We Are Superman!” 

Scott Strode

National Executive Director & Founder

The Phoenix

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To donate to the family of Superman a/k/a David Clark, click here:: https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-david-clark?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link-tip&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

Exercise, Nutrition & Self-Care as Coping Mechanisms During Crisis….

            Life has certainly gotten more complicated for all of us over the last few weeks as the full impact of the Corona Virus becomes clear.  For those in addiction recovery, short or long-term, the impact has resonated in ways that rock the spiritual foundation for many addicts and alcoholics.  Well-accepted pillars of addiction recovery, including reducing isolation, getting to twelve step meetings and engaging in fellowship with others, are no longer recommended for a simple reason:  they are no longer safe.   For most of our country and the world, getting out and actively engaging in twelve step meetings or fellowship would likely result in violating shelter-in-place orders.   The sudden need to not only accept what you cannot change but embrace it right now at risk of death, presents an unprecedented challenge. 

Liquor Stores and Marijuana Dispensaries are Essential Businesses

At the same time, while most businesses are closed, in New York State and many others, liquor stores remain open as they have been designated as “essential”.  Patrons can call in orders to bars and have their favorite cocktails delivered.  In Colorado and other states where marijuana is legal, non-medicinal marijuana dispensaries also remain open and have been declared “essential.”  According to the market research firm Nielsen for the week ending March 22, 2020, hard liquor sales were up 75%, wine sales up 66% and beer up 42%.   Online liquor sales were also up 243%.  Sales are up at marijuana dispensaries and in the pornography industry.  In a country where so many cope with crisis by numbing themselves with addictive substances or behaviors, those seeking to maintain their sobriety seem even more isolated and alone.  A.A., N.A. and other major recovery communities have moved meetings and other types of support online.   There are twelve step meetings offered via zoom and other platforms almost 24/7.  However, online meetings and other traditional recovery modalities do not necessarily support the physical health.  That’s where using this time of shelter-in-place to develop a self-care lifestyle can benefit you in the short and long-term.  

Cranford, NJ, USA March 28, 2020 A sign in a park in Cranford, New Jersey reminds walkers and bikers on the trail to keep their social distance

Self-Care, Your Sobriety and the Pandemic

Studies show that those who integrate a self-care lifestyle, including exercise and nutrition, into their recovery, have much higher rates of success.  Exercise can prompt the brain to regenerate dopamine receptors, reduce cravings for alcohol and drug, prompt the body to produce “feel good” hormones like endorphins[i].   The reason, exercise stimulatea the dopaminergic reward pathway and contribute to a reduction in levels of stress, anxiety and depression, all of which are prevalent in people who identify as being in recovery[ii].  In fact, some researchers have identified a correlation between exercise-related activity and the ability to cope with stress and anxiety in order to stay sober[iii].  The positive outcomes increase exponentially for those who also integrate healthy eating[iv].   It turns out your Mother was right all along: “you are what you eat” and “move a muscle, change a thought”.   Advice for those in recovery regarding exercise routines and healthy nutrition, specific to the addiction recovery, is not so easy to come by.   Here are some recommendations, all evidence-based, that folks in recovery can try during the shelter-in-place.  Time at home over the next couple of weeks or months can be used for one of two purposes.   To reinforce negative behaviors that will drag you back to addiction or develop positive new habits that affirm the desire to maintain your sobriety, even in these most challenging circumstances.    

Exercise Recommendations:

            Although shelter-in-place and social distancing have changed how and when you can exercise, some good old-fashioned ways have resurfaced.  Walking, probably the most under-appreciated form of workout, is becoming very popular.   Put on your mask and gloves and walk around the block, to the store or go to a park.   You can even invite someone to join you:  I call that “green fellowship.”  Even five minutes a day or regular waking has been shown to improve self-esteem and mood!  Studies show outdoor workouts increase the benefits you receive compared to indoor workouts[v].  Almost every day I take a walk or a bike ride through a park or along a river or lake.   Just like I never feel worse after attending a twelve step meeting, I’ve always feel better when I get home from my morning workout!   If you can develop the habit of walking in the morning, it will help put you in a positive mind-set all day long.   Take advantage  of green spaces, fresh air and lack of crowds during the shelter-in-place and you might just get “addicted” to this positive habit[vi].

Nutritional Recommendations:

            Bill W., one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, created a list of the “go to’ foods for alcoholics which undercut their sobriety.  He referred to these foods as “The sister foods” to alcohol.  They are French fries, potatoes, white rice, pasta, soda and refined sugar.  The reason you want to avoid these foods is they are all calorie rich, but nutrient deficient, just like alcohol.   They prompt your body to overproduce dopamine and other feel good hormones in an unsustainable way.  This creates fluctuations in blood sugar and mood, just like alcohol and other substances did in active addiction.   Here’s my recommendations for healthier alternatives:  instead of french fries, sweet potato fries; instead of potatoes, yams or sweet potatoes, instead of white rice, whole grain or brown rice; instead of a starchy pasta, try a vegetable-based pasta, instead of refined sugar, honey; instead of soda with refined sugar, tonic or seltzer with fresh fruit to add flavor These are simple dietary changes that can lead to profound changes in your body, mind and spirit during shelter-at-home and beyond.   

Spiritual Recommendations:

            In our society, which requires almost everyone to multi-task and juggle many responsibilities simultaneously, shelter-at-home is a chance to breathe.  If you can frame this opportunity to be home with family or just yourself as a positive one, you can appreciate the opportunity to reflect on your life and sobriety.  In the context of nutrition, exercise and your recovery, the chance to reflect and journal is an opportunity that may not come again once things return to “normal.”   It’s an opportunity to make conscious contact with your body, by integrating the Twelve Steps into what you eat and how much you exercise.   Journaling will be even more impactful if you have applied the specific nutrition and exercise recommendations referenced earlier in this article.  

Conduct a Fourth or Tenth Step inventory on how what you eat and the amount you exercise impact your health and sobriety.   Here are some suggested questions:  How does what I eat make me feel?   Do I tend to eat emotionally and why?   Do I tend to eat late at night, if so, why?  Do I eat many of the sister foods to alcohol?  If so, how can I modify what I am eating?  Do I eat to numb emotions or avoid dealing with them?  Do I eat at my problems?  If so, how can I better handle these emotions or problems?  

Now apply the Tenth Step to exercise or the lack of exercise in your life.   Does my lack of movement impact how I feel?   How has my lack of exercise impacted my health?  How has lack of exercise impacted my sobriety?    How can I better integrate exercise into my daily life?    If you have gone out for walks as I recommended, try these questions:  How do I feel after I go for a walk, better or worse?   What did I enjoy most about going to the park today?   What type of exercise can I commit to when I go back to work?  Where can I work in exercise in my daily routine (use stairs rather than elevator)?  

Conclusion:

            Don’t make the mistake so many Americans are making by choosing to numb yourself with alcohol, drugs, food, sex or other addictive behaviors during the next couple of weeks or months.  Use shelter-at-home and social distancing as valuable “me” time to reflect on your relationship with food, exercise and your spiritual life.   Keep an open mind and try these simple recommendations that can transform not only your sobriety but allow you to make conscious contact with your body, improve your physical health help foster a more positive outlook on life.     For lots of ideas that can benefit you during these difficult days, visit www.spiritualadrenaline.com.  

About the author:

Tom Shanahan is a civil rights attorney who lives in New York.  He is also a personal trainer and certified in sports nutrition.   He is the Author of Spiritual Adrenaline: Strengthen & Nourish Your Recovery, published by Central Recovery Press.  Spiritual Adrenaline teaches people in recovery how to integrate exercise and nutrition into their twelve step practice.  


[i] C.L. Robertson, et al., “Effect of Exercise Training on Striatal Dopamine D2/D3 Receptors in Methamphetamine Users during Behavioral Treatment,” Neuropsychopharamacology 41 (2016): 1629-36.

[ii] A.H. Taylor, et al., “Acute effect of exercise on alcohol urges and attentional bias towards alcohol related images in high alcohol consumers,” Mental Health and Physical Activity, 6, no. 3 (2013), 220-26. 

[iii] S. Strode, et al., “impact of aerobic exercise training on cognitive functions and effect, associated to the COMT polymorphism in young adults,” Nuerobiology of Learning and Memory 94, no. 3, (2010): 364-72, cited by K. Blum, S. Teitelbaum, M. Oscar, Molecular Neurobiology of Addiction Recovery: The 12 Steps Program and Fellowship (New York Springer Publications, 2013): 26.

[iv] J.L. Medina, et al., “Exercise-related activities are associated with positive outcome in contingency management treatments for substance abuse disorders,” Addictive Behaviors 33 (2008): 1072-75.       

[v] J.O. Barron and J. Pretty, “What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health? A Multi-Study Analysis,” Environmental Science and Technology, 44 (2010);: 3947-55.

[vi] J. Thompson Coon, “Does Participating in Physical Activity in Outdoor Natural Environments Have a Greater Effect on Physical and Mental Wellbeing than Physical Activity Indoors? A Systematic Review,” Environmental Science and Technology, 45 (2011): 1761-72.

Adam Kindred & Ignite Recovery: Wisconsin, the Sober Active Movement and Perseverance In Difficult Times….

IGNITE Recovery is an not-for-profit organization that has brought the sober active movement to Wisconsin.  Adam Kindred currently serves as President of the Board of Directors of IGNITE and as its Interim Executive Director.   In 2018, along with a group of recovery stakeholders he founded IGNITE Recovery.  Adam is also a Director of Prevention Programming for Elevate, Inc., where he works to empower youth to be future leaders and remain drug-free. He obtained a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, with an emphasis in Community and Behavioral Health Promotion.  

I had the opportunity to interview Adam earlier this week to discuss how and why IGNITE was formed, what the organization is all about, what they are doing amidst the COVID-19 outbreak and how you can stay fit and sober during this challenging time.  

Check out IGNITE’s website at www.ignite-recovery.org or its Facebook page: @IGNITE Recovery.

For more information on Spiritual Adrenaline, visit www.spiritualadrenaline.com.

You can check out an article about IGNITE on the Spiritual Adrenaline blog by clicking on this link: https://www.spiritualadrenaline.com/ignite-recovery-wisconsin-the-sober-active-movement/

#aa #na #hope #sober #soberlife #hope #spiritualadrenaline #centralrecoverypress #centralrecoverypress 

Todd Smith: Persevering Over Addiction and the Corona Virus…

Todd Smith is 34 years old and will have eight years in recovery on April 1!!!!  He has a B.S. in Psychology from of Colorado State University Pueblo.  He is a Certified Addiction Counselor and works with a program called “LEAD”, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion. The program aims to use Harm Reduction to help low-level drug offenders develop healthier lifestyles, social habits and decrease their rate of recidivism.  He’s also a coach for Addict2Athlete, based in Pueblo, Colorado, for four years.  Finally, he’s a coach at Stay Invincible CrossFit.

In my interview, Todd and I discuss some tools he has used to succeed in staying sober. He’ll share those tools with you along with advice on how to get through the Corona Virus pandemic.  Todd shares his contact information with all of you during the interview.  I’ll release the interview tomorrow at 9 a.m. EST. on the main Spiritual Adrenaline Facebook page.    

For more information on Spiritual Adrenaline, visit www.spiritualadrenaline.com.

#aa #na #hope #sober #soberlife #hope #spiritualadrenaline #centralrecoverypress #centralrecoverypress 

Abby Bernard: The Twelve Steps of Sober Leisure and Tools to Survive the Corona Virus…

Abagail Bernard is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Therapist, and author of 12 Steps to Sober Leisure.   As a recreation therapist, Abagail helps people in early recovery rediscover the rewards of sober leisure!

I interviewed Abby about her recommendations for staying strong, healthy and sober through the Corona virus pandemic.  The interview will be released on the main Facebook page for Spiritual Adrenaline and on our blog at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

For the past 30 years she’s been working in the field of addiction recovery at Conifer Park, a treatment facility located in upstate New York.  Back in 2012, Abagail developed a leisure education group and workbook entitled “12 Steps to Sober Leisure”.  The response from patients was overwhelmingly positive!  After much encouragement from patients and coworkers, she published it in 2018 and put it on Amazon.  Since then copies have been sold to treatment professionals and people in recovery throughout the United States, with copies sold in Canada and the UK as well!  In 2019, she had her work translated into Spanish.  t’s a simple, effective and meaningful workbook that addresses a crucial part of recovery-healthy leisure.  Written in person centered language it’s suitable for everyone!  

You can contact Abby as follows:
Facebook: @12stepstosoberleisure

Instagram: abagailbernard2018

Doc Gooden: My Experience, Strength and Hope.

Interview 1 of 4: Doc Gooden is a New York sports legend.  He Is the youngest Cy Young Award Winner of all time, a first-round draft pick of the New York Mets and hone of the heroes of the 1986 World Series “Miracle Mets”.  He has been very upfront about his demons.  Since 1987 he has been in and out of recovery, just like many of us.  He recently read my book Spiritual Adrenaline and sat down with me to discuss his life as a sports legend and person who is constantly challenged by addiction.    For more information on the Spiritual Adrenaline lifestyle, visit www.spiritualadrenaline.com.   Also check out Doc’s website, www.goodenbrand.com.

This Alcoholic Spends January 1st at the Gym

Two years ago, I realized I had a drinking problem. I was spinning my 10 year-old daughter around while she was on my shoulders, with one arm holding her legs and the other holding my holiday favorite – a nice glass of Southern Comfort. Thanks to her dear old Dad’s lack of balance, she ended up banging her hand on the wall. Her reaction as she giggled was: “Daddy, you drink too much”.

My reasons for drinking were probably not uncommon; it was an escape from reality; it was an escape from boredom; and it made a general feeling of disappointment briefly go away. Still, it was clear two years ago – just before New Year’s Day – I had to make a change.

In order to stop drinking permanently and keep a new year’s resolution, I needed an outlet that could fulfill the three needs that drew me toward alcohol and oddly enough, that outlet turned out to be exercise.

After a few trips to the gym, I realized that if I performed exercises that I liked, I was not bored. If I pushed my body to its limits, I could escape reality and, best of all, I found it difficult to feel a sense of disappointment after my blood pressure went from “high” to “normal” and I lost 6 inches on my waist with just a few months of replacing drinking with exercising.

The repetitive routine of drinking also seemed very similar to the repetitive routine of exercise.   In order to feel high from booze, I generally had to drink more and more just like when I try to lift a little more weight or run a little faster each time I exercise. My brain seems happy now and at 46 years of age, my body is in the best shape of its life.

Despite not drinking for the last two years and continuing to exercise four times a week, like many of you out there who have a drinking problem, I find the holidays are an especially difficult time. At this time of year, just about everywhere you look, there’s booze. The SAQs (facilities run by the government in Canada) are packed and open late for business, the grocery stores have cases of beer lined up as soon as you enter them, there are endless ads on television showing sexy people lubricated with alcohol and just about any party you attend at this time of year is filled with copious amounts of liquor.

Alcohol, if not promoted at this time of year, is certainly a more than socially acceptable way to get high and perhaps that needs to change.

Even if the time comes when booze ads are outlawed just as cigarette ads are, and we open our eyes and realize that nothing good ever came from drinking, I will continue to wake up early on January 1st each year and find a gym that’s open so I can feel good about myself instead of being hung-over.

I hope you start your New Year in a healthy and sober way.  Happy New Year to All.

We profiled Nathan Friedland of Montreal, Quebec, as a Spiritual Adrenaline Inspiration back in April 2016.