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Diet, Fitness and Recovering Alcoholics

How Being Conscious in Between Meals Can Help Addicts Recover

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This emergence transcript is excerpted from an email in which I discussed, with an alcoholic of 35 years, how diet and fitness affect recovery.

Friday, 26 December, 2003

Dear Steven,

I am looking for any information regarding supplementation and diet for the recovering alcoholic. I drank for about 35 years and have been sober for the last 4 1/2 years. I regret my past and lament the loss of functioning in all areas. I don't know what damage I did exactly, but anything I can do now to increase brain power and slow the aging process I'll gladly pursue.

If you have info or links to info, please let me know.



C****** H******

Dear C******,

I'm so sorry for my very slow reply. Actually, my dad has been quite ill and so, I've been very distracted. Also, to be honest, your question has been rolling around in me since the day I received your email, and other than the normal good stuff I've been working on for the past nine years, I'm not sure there is anything recovering folks can do that would be any different than anyone else as far as reclaiming brain functioning, etc.

What I can say is this. I've been recovering now more that twenty years, and over this time, my ability to be conscious keep improving. Slowly, most times, of course. But noticeably. In fact, sometimes I wonder if the body knows we can't endure change too quickly and so, paces our recoveries for us.

As for your questions, though, what you might try is this.

Try to simply work on noticing the times when you are and are not picturing, both what you are eating and your surroundings as you eat. Doing this one thing has helped me reclaim a lot of my health including my thinking abilities.

Another thing you can try is, you can work toward reclaiming your ability to taste what you eat, the ability we all had as babies and pretty much lost by age four. You can do this simply by remembering there are only four main tastes you need to learn to again recognize consciously.

Over and above these two things, there is a whole new area I've recently been exploring. I've been working on how the speed of our transitions between daily life events affects the outcomes of our efforts, the effort vs. the benefits.

Not surprisingly, this work directly builds on my work in and around addictions, in that all addictions involve substances or behaviors which, in and of themselves, cause us to first abruptly transition into a heightened state and then abruptly transition into a state of shock.

This sequence of two abrupt transitions is something I've known about for years. In fact, I've known that this sequence of two abrupt transitions is the heart and soul of all human injury, including what causes us to get addicted.

What I've just begun to learn, though, is that the opposite life experiences, slow transitions into a heightened state of consciousness, are the heart and soul of human health. No surprise this is especially true for those of us who once lived for long periods in a state of shock, including those of us in recovery from an addition.

What exactly do I mean by slow transitions?

Actually, I'm in the midst of trying to write an article describing this process, but to describe it briefly, I've generalized all human activity into three categories: rest, eating, and movement.

Rest can be anything from sleep to just sitting and reading.

Eating is everything you do just before, during, and right after eating.

And movement is anything which exerts more energy and burns more calories than either rest of eating.

Eating burns calories?

Yes, I've been told it does. And that literally everything we do burns calories.

As for the transition thing though, when people transition abruptly from rest to exercise or from eating to rest, the body seems to have a tough time adjusting. Because it does, it turns out that the benefit the body sees is greatly diminished, even if the activity is normally very beneficial.

Conversely, when you slowly and consciously go from state of rest to a state of movement, as in doing a very slow warm-up before doing a treadmill program, which in and of itself transitions slowing upward then down again, the health benefits greatly increase.

Add to this that if you then transition slowly into preparing then eating a meal, the body adjusts consciously and with grace to the food you eat.

To wit, between August and November, I did an eleven week training involving conscious transitions between rest, eating, and movement.

I did this training to prepare for a three day mountain climb with five other recovering men. (Amazing how crazy recovering people can be even after years of recovery.)

Based on before and after blood tests and doctor's physicals, my health during this period improved far beyond what I could normally account for, this despite having done this kind of thing (the training and conscious eating) many, many times.

What was different?

Only the attention to the transitions.

How did it turn out?

In the last five weeks of this training, I lost more than twenty pounds. Yet, no one around me, neither my clients nor my friends and family, became the least bit alarmed. Why?

Because for the only time I've ever witnessed, either in myself or in anyone else, I lost a significant amount of weight and yet did not go into shock while losing this weight. Translation. I greatly benefited far beyond what could be accounted for from simply losing this weight.

Was it hard work? Of course. However, now, almost eight weeks post training and climb, my body is maintaining this healthy state with what I see as remarkably little effort. It's almost as if my body has returned to a state of health I was in some twenty years ago, this based on both blood tests and medical exams, and on my personal experiences.

As for applying these ideas to your recovery, C******, you know already that recovery is a slow process. However, it is also one you can count on to reward you, given you put your heart and soul into it wholly and willingly. Even so, if I am right about this transition thing, reclaiming one's health may be easier than anyone has yet imagined.

in the coming weeks, then, I hope to be posting a more comprehensive article on my site about how transitions affect peoples' efforts to reclaim their health. I believe by adding this to what I've already discovered about how peoples' weight varies in ranges, etc., that I'll be on the verge of being able to offer people a sane, healthy path on which to reclaim their health, including recovering folk like you and I.

Finally, C******, although it might sound a bit ludicrous to say this to you after all the time that has passed between your email and my reply, please do write back if you have any thoughts or questions.

God bless you in your recovery,