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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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