Exercise and Sobriety

Something that I have noticed during my time in sobriety is that when some people get clean and sober they replace their drug or alcohol addiction with the gym. It becomes their only focus and they don’t really get involved in the program. Their goal is to look and feel better, and as wonderful as a notion as this is, it is usually not enough to keep them sober. What I have found in exercise is the ability to achieve a type of meditative state where I am completely present and able to be “in the moment“.

I do not say this to belittle the gym or exercise, in fact, I find it to be a very important part of sobriety, but simply that often times when we put the cart before the horse we lose the very thing that we are going after. Like any other activity or behavior in sobriety, it is important to find balance.

Sobriety in a sense is about balance, and it is about finding soundness of mind, body, and spirit. If you focus too much on the mind and spirit, the body suffers, and this goes for any combination of the three. But when all three are aligned, life in sobriety can be a wonderful thing and you can experience an overall feeling of wellbeing that you may have never felt before in the past.

For myself personally, I have found that being active and taking care of myself has been an integral part of my recovery. What I discovered about myself is that I have an excess amount of mental energy. I am not sure if this is because I have ADHD or just because I am an alcoholic but my mind seems like it is forever going and it is almost impossible to stop. This excess of mental energy is usually not depleted through work or other avenues, but when I work out I find that the chatter in my mind quiets down and I experience a level of calm that I don’t experience any other way.

Creating a routine that produces an overall active lifestyle is the easiest approach.

This I have found to be particularly true when I am doing yoga. The act of doing yoga not only makes me feel healthier but when I am done I usually find that I have achieved a meditative state that is difficult for me to experience by simply sitting still and breathing. Through the movements and stretches and the need to be “in the moment” I am able to forget about everything else that is going on in my life and just be present. I don’t think there has ever been a time when I went a yoga class and didn’t feel better than when I went in.

I have also found that working out helps to reduce my stress levels. I find that if I am particularly stressed out one day and then I work out, things don’t seem so heavy. It is almost as if working out is the great equalizer and it brings everything into perspective. It allows me the mental space necessary to let go of my problems and by doing so I am then able to properly address them.

The longer that I stay sober the more and more I realize that the battle I am fighting is against my own mind. It is constantly creating new ways to keep me upset and day in and day out, it hatches schemes to one day get me drunk again. In order to offset, this I have found that I cannot spend too much time up in my own head and that I have to get out of myself. Exercising is a great tool to have in order to do this.

Similar to yoga when I am working out I am not really thinking about anything besides what I am doing and it is almost meditative. Also working out releases endorphins, which prompt an overall sense of comfort and happiness that aid in my ability to stay present in the moment and not worry so much about the future.

Besides this working out also makes me feel good about myself. I find that when I don’t work out for a while my attitude about myself changes. I think about how I could be doing more and how I am not doing enough for myself. When I am working out on a regular basis I rarely feel this way and I am proud that I am doing something to improve myself and my health.

After being sober for a little bit I no longer have such a death wish and as such, I would like to be able to live for as long as I can. Working out and taking care of my body is a way that I can go about accomplishing this. For myself, I don’t want to be sober and have a good spiritual connection but then have avoidable health problems down the road because I didn’t take care of myself. It is all-encompassing for me and like I said early, sobriety for me is about achieving a balance of the mind, body, and spirit.

So if you are newly sober or have been sober for a while and you haven’t tried exercising, try to create a routine for yourself and you will be amazed at the benefits that you receive. Be careful, though, because if you are anything like me you will set unrealistic and unattainable goals for yourself and in doing so you might jeopardize your chances of being successful with working out.

Start out slow and don’t expect to know everything there is to know right away. Even if you just start out by walking around the neighborhood after work, that is a great way to start. Once you get comfortable with your routine, build on it and continue to push and grow. Exercising is about improving you so try not to compare what you are doing with others, as this is a sure way to harshly judge yourself. I know that I have fallen into this pitfall before in the past and it did nothing but discourage me. So go out there and try it, you won’t regret it!

Rose Lockinger
Stodzy Internet Marketing.

Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

17 thoughts on “Exercise and Sobriety

  1. I found fitness and learned how to fix my melon at the same time. Your post is right on but it’s the fixing the melon part that is most important. Without fixing that first, it’s too easy to fall into fitness because it makes us feel good. We overdo anything that makes us feel better.

    The key for me was the Higher Power. To start, when the hamster wheel got to spinning, I’d repeat the third step prayer until it stopped. Then, if time allowed (eg. Not half past midnight) I would take action to correct the root cause. Eventually, with practice, I slowed down, then stopped, the hamster wheel.

    It’s a little longer of a story than that but the description gets the gist.

    Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are the epitome of healthy living and exercise. Every time I see you avatar it makes me feel lazy. Well, to be fair, I do use our elliptical machine every night. It is very relaxing. Like always your comments are nuanced and compelling. At the end of the day “fixing the melon” does need to be the main goal.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am not part of any program, but I’m 3 days from 9 months of sobriety. And I did turn to spirituality and I started to rock climb (3 days/week). I have to exercise in moderation because I’m so old, lol, but I agree. Alcoholism is alcoholism, but addiction is addiction and can easily be replaced by something else – even something “healthy”. Therapy really helps me and I say a prayer at night that is mostly about giving thanks. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have found the majority of people in Recovery find something else to replace alcohol with and don’t even realize they are doing it. When I first started my journey into sobriety I drank soda. I didn’t realize until someone said something that I was drinking soda like I would’ve drank beer. I cracked open one right after the other. The sugar in it helped also. I’ve seen others do it with coffee, cigarettes, sweets (I still love all sweet stuff), and yes the gym. I know one person who tells his wife “I’m going to the gym!”. When I said how great it was he went to the gym everyday she told me that he sits in the sauna for as long as he can, then he jumps in the pool, he follows that with the Jacuzzi. He repeats this for hours. So he isn’t really working out. I have to say she didn’t sound too happy about any of this. He’s also more excited about seeing his “buddies” at meetings than the actual meetings. They are mostly people that came to the bar he owns or were in the music industry with him. He has a bag of M & Ms in his shirt pocket at all times. That one I can relate to. It’s difficult to occupy your mind when it isn’t just alcohol you’re dealing with it’s the reason why you were drinking in the first place.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have to agree with you. I had a really bad Frozen Yogurt problem. I know it sounds silly, but I would eat it instead of meals. I stock-piled it so I always would have a “stash”. I had to give it up, when I got married. It was just too difficult to keep up. Yikes. Now that I think about it, I did the same thing with pretzels for a time. Thanks for your comments.


  5. Just tossing in my 2 cents… As a former drinker and current trail runner (a community filled with former addicts), I’ve thought about this a lot. I think the very fact that addicts have addictive personalities will often lead them to overdo new passions. I know addicts who suddenly ‘found’ God. Or found the gym. or found running, etc.

    Me? I have a propensity to create a label for myself and then live that label: a runner, a writer, a curmudgeon. I overdo everything I do.

    I also realize that there’s an “idle hands” mindset at work. If I fill my life with running, I don’t have time to drink.Since I quit drinking I go to bed early and get up early and abuse coffee and write. Yes, this is simply a replacement, but I feel healthier for it.

    I’m excited to have been drawn to your site. Lots of commonalities here. See you on the Net.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. What a cleaver and subtle observation. I remember getting burned in early sobriety when I labeled myself as a successful professional woman. It worked just fine until the company I worked for got sold and I lost my job. Then I was the hole in the donut. The key to everything is balance. The only problem is that it’s easier said than done. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoyed your honest post. I agree that exercising helps you become centered and for me its a venting method. I’m a constant thinker as well but when I’m working out that seems to disappear. Fitness/health lifestyle has turned my life around where I focus on what I can control and what is important to my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I know someone here that currently seems to be replacing his addictions with exercise, and he is always frustrated and annoyed in the program. This is my first attempt at inpatient treatment, so it’s an eye opener to see how some of these guys are/are not coping. By the way, I really liked when you said “The longer that I stay sober the more and more I realize that the battle I am fighting is against my own mind.” Right on point.


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