Exercise and Diet as Aids to Recovery

Recovering from an addiction, whether to alcohol, drugs, or something else, will be one of the most difficult things you ever do. In fact, it may be the most difficult because it isn’t just a one time thing – it’s ongoing. There are all kinds of tools available to help you succeed. You can receive beneficial counseling, join a support group, work with a sponsor, and surround yourself with positive friends and family. Even with all of these things working in your favor, recovery is a challenge. You can use all the help you can get and there are a couple more weapons you can add to your arsenal: diet and exercise.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Being malnourished, undernourished, or out of shape will only make things more difficult. If your addiction involved substance abuse, you likely created damage to your body. Alcohol and drugs have devastating effects on the human body. They mess up the ability to digest foods, they cause damage to vital organs, and they skew the nervous system. The good news is that our bodies are incredibly resilient. Now that you have taken the first step in admitting you are powerless over your addiction, it is a great time to repair this damage and recover at the same time.

Many recovering addicts swear by exercise for minimizing cravings, and research has shown that proper nutrition can have the same effect. Both exercise and diet affect your brain and, therefore your mood. Exercise stimulates the production of certain chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. When you look good, you feel good and when you feel good, you look good. It is a cyclical process.

Positive Habits to Replace the Negative

By this stage in your recovery you know that recovering from an addiction requires more than simply replacing your negative habit with positive ones. When you make exercise a part of your daily routine and make plans to eat well-balanced, healthful meals, you are slowly but surely turning destructive habits into good ones. At the same time, the added benefit, of course, is that you are allowing the damage done to your body to heal.

Besides building up positive behaviors to replace the negative ones, exercising and practicing good nutrition are beneficial for filling up your time. You know how hard it is to face a day with nothing or only a few things to do. Your mind wanders, which can lead your thoughts back to your addiction. The more you can keep your days busy and meaningful, the easier it is to recover. Exercise will give you something to do and will keep boredom at bay. This is especially true if you find a type of exercise that you really enjoy.

New People, Places and Things

It will be very easy for you to get distracted from your new positive habits. Cravings, depression, and other feelings will try to sabotage all of your good work. Create a weekly plan for exercising and eating. It is easier to stick with a plan, when it is written down and you can refer to it day after day. Involve others in your plans. The more people are aware of your schedule, the less likely you will be to cheat, take short cuts or not meet your goals. When your friends are there to exercise with you, it is easier to stick with it. Make the exercise fun. Participate in activities that you enjoy and you will continue to stay active. Ask around and see if there are clubs you can join that are devoted to hiking or biking or swimming or myriad others. Surrounding yourself with exercise-minded people is a great way to avoid the people, places and things that will try and pull you back.

Even though recovery from addiction is extremely difficult, you can do it with the right tools and plans. Use diet and exercise as just another one of those tools to give yourself the best possible chance of success. In no time your body will be as strong as it used to be, which will give you the self confidence to do just about anything.