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Improve Sobriety Through What You EatImprove Your Sobriety Through What You Eat

Let’s face it, those of us who struggled with addiction did not take great care of ourselves while actively involved with our disease. We drank our calories, we skipped meals, we ate crappy food, and we beat up our bodies with chemicals. It takes a toll, physically AND soulfully.

When we come into recovery we aren’t given much guidance to care for our physical selves beyond eat three squares a day, get regular sleep, and keep your body clean.

The 99.9% of us who experienced cravings are encouraged to eat candy or sweets and go to more meetings.

You don’t hear much about how Eating can Improve our Recovery… or how it can Prevent Relapses, or how What We Eat impacts our Soul.

We get into sobriety and love it up with sugar and caffeine, often with added nicotine, to boot. Most of us (at least I did) think – well, I gave up alcohol so I am healthy. I also took up running to kick it up a notch, but that was it. I continued to eat whatever I wanted and the running gave me the perfect excuse to do so!

The truth is we beat up our bodies during active addiction, compromise our immune systems, and expose ourselves to all kinds of risky situations. Our adrenals take a huge hit – both in active addiction and during recovery.

Weakened adrenals make us vulnerable – in mind and body.

In sobriety, when we get sick, we, being responsible, sober people, head off to the doctor where we get diagnoses, scripts, and sent on our way. Dutifully we follow doctors orders. And often, we still feel crappy. What is with that?

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CompassionImproving Wellness And Nutrition Through Compassion

When I was growing up, I did tend to be a caring person…not always perfect or great behavior, but I had a soft spot for kids who were picked on. I wanted to help others and as I got older that impulse grew into a career. The only problem was I developed into an alcoholic along the way.

Alcoholism robs you of your soul. It steals your mind and heart. Before you know it you are filled with selfishness and self centeredness beyond your worst dreams.

We shut down our feelings, we narrow our life space trying to get our next fix or hide from people. In my case I also worked extremely hard to “look normal” on the outside. That meant finishing school, going to college (frequently in a blackout), and working.

I drank to numb, I drank to hide, I drank to act “as if….”

In sobriety we learn to stretch ourselves, repair damage done (relationships, finances) and to start giving back. This is humility. We ask forgiveness, we take responsibility and we work to become productive members of society.

For so long I thought about humility as gratitude for sobriety, humbled that I did nothing to “deserve” it.  Other times it was humility as keeping right-sized – no better or worse than the next person, an important quality to keep my alcoholic ego in check.  Both notions are very important and neither is the complete explanation.

Recently the word Compassion started popping up in my life. Compassion – according to Merriam-Webster  is a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

It both delights and surprises me when I am challenged to grow more after 32 years in recovery.

I learned about empathy while becoming a social worker and I may have thought empathy covered compassion…but I’ve been pondering the last few months…

Compassion seems to get me more out of my little-minded head than humility or even empathy can. Compassion calls me to take action, to be kind and caring. Humility is more quiet and subdued. Empathy is when I feel where you are coming from. 

But compassion is bigger.  It takes humility and empathy a step farther…at least for me.

I’m not sure why I haven’t focused on compassion until this late in life and now, maybe because I don’t go to synagogue anymore, maybe I wasn’t ready to hear it, or maybe it’s just not talked about much. Regardless, it’s got my attention these days.

I relate to it through the lens of sobriety, as well as through the lens of health & wellness. [click to continue…]

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Gratitude background 8x10From B to Z – Supplements You Can Count On

When I learned about these two supplements I thought: Dang, I wish I’d known about them sooner! No matter, I know now and want to share that info with you so you can get started sooner than I did!

I started this whole health journey after being diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases. I was told by the doctors that my body was attacking itself and that they really did not know why. But they had a pill for the Hashimoto’s and cream for the Lichen Sclerosus…and that was about it.

Oh, for the migraines – another pill. For the chronic allergies – shots or OTC drugs and stay away from carpet. For the sleep issues I just took Tylenol PM.  For stress I just was a crazy person!

When I finally took stock of all that, I realized I was headed down a path I had no interest in… life-long meds, drugstore meds, discomfort, and no answers. I was only in my 40s and not willing to say “this is what happens in your 40s, you just start breaking down”.

No. Thank. You.

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Heavy foggy road in La Esperanza forest, Tenerife, Canary Islands

Fog and Faith

Catching up on some blog reading the other day I turned to Sober Identity, Lisa Neuman’s site. Her latest post is about managing raw feelings in sobriety.

Having ridden a few emotional roller coasters myself lately, I could relate. (actually I think I’m still on one…).

We work hard to get sober because we ran our lives into the ground and were desperate to make a change. It was easy to put ourselves first at that time for a few reasons: 1) most of us alienated our loved ones and had nowhere else to go and 2) we had to or die.

So, we got sober and life got better. And it got busier, more full….which is a good thing. In sobriety, people come back into our lives, we manage to have jobs, families, and all the rest. It’s all good.

Except when it gets hard. And life always has hard times.

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Hand on belly isolated on white

If the liver ain’t happy, then you ain’t happy!

Struggling with weight that just won’t shift no matter what you do? Dealing with High Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar Problems or Acid reflux? These and other chronic health issues have one thing in common: The Liver…these are some of the ways your liver shows you it ain’t happy.

Shortly after I got sober I went to the Dr. For a check up. I shared that I was in early recovery, so he did some extra tests to assess my liver functioning. Good News – my liver was fine. At 24 my body had managed to handle all the toxic chemicals I was throwing at it and apparently was no worse for the wear…at least as far as my liver was concerned!

The body is an amazing thing! It’s always working to protect and support us, even when we’re on the edge of abusing it; in it’s instinct to survive, it’s trying to protect us.

I hadn’t thought about my liver in, well, like forever…. but then it came up recently, when I set about learning more about overall body functions. I knew the basics, like you can get cirrhosis of the liver from drinking too much, but never appreciated how complex and essential a healthy functioning liver is.

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Portrait of a happy African American senior female holding ski poles

Adrenal Health and Relapse Prevention

Everyone has stress and our bodies have common responses courtesy of our adrenal glands. First we flood with adrenaline to help prepare us for fight or flight, that basic, primitive response that helps us stay alive.

Then we release cortisol to slow down digestion, immune response and other body functions not needed for immediate survival.

The adrenal glands put “all hands on deck” so we can manage the stressful event.

But what happens when our adrenal glands are forced into overdrive, as when we are under long term, chronic stress…? And what’s this got to do with recovery from addiction?

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