In one word, yes!
So there is a ton of science and research to support this claim, but I'm not going to bore you with statistics. Simply put, exercise tells your brain to release endorphins. Endorphins stimulate your reward system causing the release of dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical in your brain that makes you feel happy or experience euphoria.
Guess what alcohol and drugs do... that's right!
The same thing!
In essence, you could trade a heroin high for a runner's high and skip all the risky behaviors that lead to jail, institutions, and death.
If it's that simple why isn't everyone doing it?
Because of course things can never be as simple as they sound.
Drugs damage your brain in such a way that it is difficult to make wise choices. It's difficult to even consider a life without your drug of choice, let alone choose a healthy lifestyle. Every time you use and abuse drugs or alcohol you are changing your brain's chemistry. You are rewiring the way your brain responds to those substances and hindering its ability to produce endorphins naturally.
The greater the amount of drugs and the longer the period of time you use - the more difficult it is for your brain to undo the damage. Not impossible, but yes, more challenging.
If you've spent years training your brain to only release endorphins when under the influence, then it is going to take some time for your brain to heal and learn to produce endorphins from activities that sober brains find enjoyable, like exercise.
The Good News
God created our brains and bodies to be resilient!
It's totally possible for your brain to recover and absolutely worth the effort.
So many times in addiction we are seeking instant gratification and not willing to put in the work to achieve something worthwhile.
Don't be "that person." Be the person that goes the extra mile. That does the hard things. That achieves sobriety and chooses life!
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are the creator of heaven and Earth. You know me better than I know myself.
I know what I need to do, but I don't always know how to do it. Help me.
Send people into my life that will guide and support me in my recovery.
Help me reach out to support systems and seek out positive influences.
Help me replace harmful addictions with healthy habits. May I reflect on the lengths I went to for a high and use that to motivate me to work even harder for my sobriety.
Help me to be grateful for my life, my health, and all that you have blessed me with.
When I start to feel sorry for myself or blame others for my circumstances - remind me to take responsibility for the choices I have made and to forgive those that have hurt me.
I pray that as I start this new health journey that you would walk with me every step of the way. When I want to give up, convict me. When excuses flood my mind, push them out. When pain or injury come my way - heal and encourage me.
I find my strength in you alone. Through you I can do all things. Not just easy things. Not just average things. ALL things. Great things!
I know that I won't feel motivated every day, but instead of motivation I pray for determination. I
I pray that you spark a fire in my soul to seek after only that which is in line with your will for my life!
Mold me. Change me. Make me more like you.
In Jesus Name,
Where To Start
Did you know there's an upside to having an addictive personality?
People that have struggled with harmful addictions can absolutely thrive with healthy habits!
Cultivate your addiction! Stop wasting it on things that are literally killing you and start using your power for good!
Let's assume that you have already surrendered your addiction to God.
If you haven't start here.
You have some clean time under your belt, but you're maybe still having using thoughts, too much free time on your hands, not enough free time, whatever the case... you need a good organized health regimen.
While exercise is a great sober activity, if it's not super appealing to you or you have low energy then start with meal planning.
In a society of convenience, we do not give enough credence to the food we are using to fuel our bodies. It absolutely blows my mind when I look at the menu at the inpatient rehab where I work as a Substance Abuse Counselor.
We pack people full of carbs and sugar and then prescribe pills for anxiety and depression. How much of our mental health could be improved through nutrition? That's a tangent for another day. Today let's just go over a simple meal plan.
There is so much information out there, but this plan from healthbeet is a good starting point and a free printable is included!
1200 calories a day is recommended for someone that is really trying to lose weight. You should always consult with your doctor. This is just an idea of some healthy food to incorporate. You could totally customize it to fit your goals.
Here are some foods that aid in mood improvement.
Alix Tompkinson, a registered nutritionalist therapist breaks it down for us.
How many of us will take a pill or multiple pills every day in an attempt to help improve our mental health, but are unwilling to change our eating habits? There is nothing wrong with taking medication if you need it, but if you haven't tried diet and exercise first then you just don't know if you could be avoiding possible side effects from medications or living a life free from the pharmaceutical industry.
Now that we're fueling our body properly...
Let's talk exercise
How can exercise help you get and stay sober?
By putting all of the effort you put into getting high into getting healthy - you will succeed.
How often did you think about drugs or alcohol? Think about your health at least that much!
Here's a simple routine from tone and tighten to get you started.
Whatever meal plan and exercise routine you settle on, just don't give up!
Don't wait for motivation and don't skip it on the days that you're unmotivated.
It's not about being motivated. It's about being dedicated!
Come back and let us know how it's going!
Until Next Time,
Your Praying Friend
Let's be friends!!
Substance Abuse Counselor