My motto for Sober Fitness is EAT LIFT PRAY. So I have decided that each column will be a rotation of those 3 concepts. One week “Eat” followed by coming weeks of “Lift” and “Pray”.
Today is a day to EAT!
If there is one thing I want you to take-away from today’s column it is this… When we eat the right food at the right time, the body will not crave the wrong foods at the wrong time. It is kinda that simple. When we don’t eat the right foods at the right time, we crave the wrong foods at the wrong times or no food at all. I think this disorder in eating habits is the most problematic sort of eating disorder that plagues most everyone trying to lose or maintain weight.
Fitness is a numbers game. Let’s look at some numbers.
Ninety percent of the people who workout at a gym think that their fitness goals happen solely at the gym when it actually happens mostly in the kitchen. So what is the right balance? Getting fit is roughly 80% nutrition / 20% gym. I bet you thought it was the first number didn’t you! As I say it – if it’s not in the kitchen, it’s in a bottle because it isn’t sustainable. And if it is in a bottle it is because it’s marketed as a fast fix. And fast won’t last.
Imagine a Ferrari. Now, if you owned a Ferrari wouldn’t you want the car to last and wouldn’t you pamper it with the right amount of oil, gas, tire pressure, and the right kind of tires keep it moving without need for maintenance or repair? When these things are not maintained, the Ferrari stops moving, a tire blows out, the transmission freezes or the engine explodes into flames!
Now if the car was running out of gas, the moment before it stops running – that is the moment of someone that re-enters sobriety. Their body composition frankly is a fragile, horrible, combustible mess rooted in absolute fear. Addicts in early recovery have distressing and erratic levels of hormones, adrenaline, cortisol, toxins and seratonin already coursing through their blood streams. Their engine has blown its transmission in their run of drugs, long before they get sober.
For the addict in recovery, dietary maintenance must be vigilantly addressed in the early days of sobriety. I won’t win friends in the recovery community for saying this – but rehabs and sober living facilities sadly are NOT using opportunities to nourish the addict consistently. Meals at most rehabs are cafeteria-style, allowing the addict free reign to choose what he or she wants to eat. If you have worked in recovery or been through rehab, you know the newcomer gravitates to the sugar for breakfast. The Frosted Flakes or Fruit Loops and not the eggs, oatmeal, turkey and sprouted toast. This sugar-loaded breakfast will lead him to nodding out in groups when this blood sugar level crashes. And that magnifies his already damaged body constitution. Add fuel to the fire by feeding him sugar inconsistently through the day. I believe these poor food choices and inconsistency in nutrition can lead an addict to the edge of relapse.
So the biggest component of this equation is the body’s metabolism. Ironic that the definition of metabolism is… the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life. Maintenance. So that’s basically the transmission to the car. When you don’t eat consistently throughout the day you throw off the process of the body secreting enzymes to digest food properly. The signals cause your metabolism to go haywire, as it doesn’t know how to shift gears without order. So when you space your meals out too far the body signals shift out of order and the metabolism shifts into doomsday mood. “Danger, Danger Will Robinson!”
So when the metabolism panics, what do you think it does? It raids the grocery stores like the world is gonna end. It hoards all the calories and shoves them in to the fat cells for storage to have energy for that time when we do not eat consistently. The body goes into a catabolic state. It is a state where it burns protein and muscle fiber before it burns the fat in fat cells. Now, can you see how when the processes within your living organism occur without order you do not yield the result you want?
The digestive enzymes our body secretes are based on the consistency of eating. The speed addict comes in with a metabolism spinning out of control due to food deprivation. When we drink, snort speed or smoke heroin the metabolism speeds up. When we come off, it’s like the Ferrari hit a wall and your metabolism is the crash test dummy. It grinds to a halt like that. It is gonna take an addict roughly three to eight weeks or even longer to get his metabolism back in working order.
Now I am no doctor. But, you are looking to me for a solution here aren’t you? I say discuss this approach with your physician as you would with any complex health issues. I suggest you take inventory of the food you eat. Track your eating habits. How consistent is your spacing of meals? How can you arrange your schedule to fit your eating, not eating to fit your schedule?
A great app and website you can use to track your diet and macros is myfitnesspal.com. And as hard as it is – prepare your own foods. Lastly educate yourself. There is an amazing book on nutrition “Nutrition for Dummies.” It is $4.95 on Amazon.
I know, I know, wow what an order, right?! This is a general overview. As the weeks go on we will dive in deeper to practical approaches to eating with take away recipes and methods. But, for now – you know the take away. Eat the right foods at the right times. You think you can’t go through it. But you can. You can go through it. You can do it!
Next week I will discuss the beginning of lifting! I can’t wait.