My Perspective on the Fitness-Sobriety Connection

Though it isn’t something I talk about all the time, many of you know that I have been sober for a good long time.  Seventeen years as of today, May 8th. I can’t say it’s all been pretty, nor can I say I’ve always been gracious, but I do have a great deal of respect for my limits and boundaries as a sober person. I don’t go to bars for any reason (birthday gatherings, music, high school reunions, etc), I travel with kombucha, strong black coffee (a girl’s gotta have ONE vice, right?) and/or water wherever I go, and I’ve gotten extremely good at refusing a drink in a way that’s respectful but doesn’t leave any room for negotiation. But beyond preparing myself for how and where I move about in the world, it’s really the mental piece that’s the most important.

On a day-to-day basis, the things that keep me happy and sober are my deep commitment to physical and mental health, both of which have a strong foothold in the fitness and friendships I’m privileged to cultivate here in the gym. For me, being at the gym is more than just getting my sweat on – it keeps me grounded and helps foster my daily commitment to myself in my healthiest form. How?

1.     Physical honesty leads to emotional honesty. Have I cried in the gym when I have been physically unable to accomplish what I’ve wanted/expected of myself? Absolutely. Have I had to take stock of what is realistic for my body to do? Yup. Have I been humbled by my limitations? More times than I’d probably care to admit. Each and every time I’ve had to take stock of the fact that limits are okay, asking for a different way to do something is okay, that asking for advice, guidance, and additional tools is okay. I can’t always do it all alone. 

2.     Being strong and feeling good in my body lead me to feel confident – and confidence armors me against choices that come from a place of self-doubt or low self-esteem. Why would I want to do something to set myself back when I have goals that need daily attention… and also I’m a badass? :)

3.     The sense of camaraderie I feel here, whether I’m coaching or participating in a class can’t be undersold. This is place where we lift each other up, cheer each other on, and often complain in unison/struggle to get through together. There’s true beauty in that, and probably more than anything else, this is the piece that means the most to me at the end of the day.

4.     Being here gives me daily opportunities to be proud of what I can accomplish, whether it’s through coaching someone to reaching his/her/their own PR or getting one myself. I’m proud of what I do here. It feels good, and it makes me thankful everyday that I’m able to be fully present and open to the experience.

5.     Depression/stress management. Whether you’re in recovery or not, the benefits of exercise for depression and/or stress are real. You already know this, and hopefully you’re using the exercise strategy to make your life better, too.

What’s the upshot of all of this? This place and the people in it (that’s you!) are the backbone of the things that hold me up, keep me accountable, and allow me to do work I love while caring for myself in the most fundamental ways possible. Thank you.

Obviously, to say that fitness and this place are the only things keeping my sobriety afloat would be a dishonest. There are other huge rocks in the foundation of my recovery: My daily commitment to being the best mother I can be, my relationship with an amazing man who somehow manages to lift me up while standing by my side, my steadfast family and friend circles (who feel like family without shared blood), my commitment to place… and I’d be remiss not to single out my two business partners at Movement Evolved who are as close to sisters as I’ll ever have.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I know what’s helps keep me on track and what’s helped me through hard times, but everyone is on his/her/their own journey. I will say that I have a heightened baseline of happiness when I feel good in my body and in my own skin. This alone doesn’t catapult me over every obstacle, but it does give me a level of confidence that I rely on. Every damn day.  Thank you for being part of this community and for holding me close as we support one another through our workouts and our lives. Cheers to seventeen years and counting.