Perhaps one of the most powerful tools we possess in our life is mobility and the opportunity to participate in physical activity. The benefits of working out and exercising are almost unlimited.
For me personally, exercise has been instrumental in my recovery from alcohol and drug abuse.
Quite frankly, it saved my life.
I spent a large portion of my life struggling with substance addiction. It all started when I decided to sneak a sample of some alcohol at a family gathering. I was nine years old at the time, and hoping to experience what all of the adults were feeling. That day was the first time I ever got drunk, and marked the beginning of my struggles with addiction.
I continued abusing alcohol throughout my teenage years. My alcohol tolerance only increased as time went on, and I started experimenting with other drugs like marijuana. Eventually I moved on to harder drugs.
Although I played basketball since I was a child, in the midst of my addiction health and fitness simply were not a priority. My body began feeling the impact of the all of the alcohol binges and periods of drug abuse. This substance abuse was having a huge impact on how I felt every day, and when I was 19, I stopped playing basketball competitively and started to use Meth heavily. I was relying on meth just to get through the day, and my physical and mental health were certainly paying the price.
It wasn’t until I ended up in jail for drug related charges at the age of 22 that I realized things had to change.
The time I spent alone in my cell provided me with the opportunity for intense personal reflection. I realized that I was choosing a life of addiction, sickness, and pain. I decided right then and there to begin my journey towards sobriety.
During this time, I learned the importance of physical activity and exercise. I replaced my unhealthy habits with healthy ones and haven’t looked back ever since. I am now nine years sober and in the best shape of my life. I honestly couldn’t have stayed sober this long without exercise and physical activity. Below, I’ve compiled a list of 5 of my favorite health tips to get you in the best shape of your life.
1. Limit Alcohol Consumption (Or Stop Drinking Completely)
Removing alcohol from my life was absolutely crucial for my recovery. My addiction started with alcohol. I knew my recovery would need to start with addressing my issues with alcohol as well.
I went through an alcohol detoxification that helped me immensely. I hadn’t realized how much alcohol consumption was affecting my health. It always seemed like a casual and social habit, something that society generally accepts as ok.
If you are trying to get healthier and into the best shape of your life, you can immediately improve your health by keeping your alcohol consumption to a minimum. Alcohol is essentially empty calories, horrible for your liver, and can lead to bad nutritional choices. I distinctly remember times when I was out drinking with friends and ended up devouring hamburgers, hot dogs, or pizzas, at some point during the night (usually at about 3 or 4 in the morning).
Additionally, after a night of binge drinking, you are normally not a productive person in the morning. If you are serious about your fitness goals, limit the alcohol consumption to wake up feeling refreshed, invigorated, and ready to hit the gym.
2. Cut Back on Processed Foods
Processed foods will wreak havoc on the body. These are foods that are altered either chemically, genetically, or mechanically. They are not natural and don’t really provide you with the essential nutrients your body needs. By cutting back on processed foods, you are reducing the amount of unhealthy chemicals you are putting in your body.
Instead, I like to focus on eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, which I use to fuel my body for my intense workouts. These foods help me keep my fat content down while also providing long lasting energy throughout the day.
3. Drink More Water
Water, the essence of life. I’m sure you’ve heard the statistic stating that the human body is roughly 60% water. Most people don’t drink enough water. When you are living an active lifestyle, water is essential to making sure your body is firing on all cylinders.
I always begin my day by drinking at least eight ounces of water to ensure my body is starting off in a hydrated state. Everywhere I go, I bring my water bottle to make sure hydration is readily accessible. I’ve noticed that ever since I started drinking tons of water, I’ve lost a little weight, my skin has gotten clearer, and I am a little bit less hungry throughout the day.
4. Pay Attention to Your Calorie Intake
This health tip was very hard for me to adapt at first, because back when I first got sober and started focusing on my health, there weren’t a bunch of fancy apps and smartphones to log your calorie intake. Now, keeping track of my macronutrients and calories I eat on a daily basis is a breeze, thanks to smartphones and advances in technology.
It’s pretty easy to determine how many calories you need to eat on a daily basis based on your gender, height, weight, etc. After you’ve figured that out, either eat in a calorie surplus or a calorie deficit to gain or lose weight. This is one way where you can really take your fitness goals to the next level. Getting that six pack requires dedication as well as cognizance about the calories you are eating.
5. Move Your Body!
This, along with keeping track of what you eat, is probably the most important health tip for getting into the best shape of your life. We live in a sedentary society, where the vast majority of people spend most of their waking hours sitting and not moving. Exercise is a simple concept – just find a way to move your body every single day and you will see incredible results.
It only takes a few minutes a day. For example, a few friends and I started a 100 day challenge a few months ago. We challenged ourselves to do 100 pushups every day for 100 days. Today we are on day 294. Yes, that’s right 294 days of 100 pushups every day (we keep each other accountable by sharing a video of our last set). After our initial 100 days we decided to keep going, It was hard at first. I mean, I could only do 10 or 15 pushups in a row. Now I can pump out 30 to 50 at once pretty easily.
Pushups, dips, lifting weights, playing basketball, and yoga are all personal favorites. It’s a shift in mindset that gets you to where you want to be with your fitness goals. Instead of dreading the gym, program your mind to enjoy the sweat and hard work. Rather than taking the elevator, take the stairs. Find new ways to move your body every day!
Exercise has been so incredibly helpful for me throughout my recovery and during my nine years of sobriety. It’s something that I wake up looking forward to every single day. By finding ways to move my body every day, I have changed my life and stayed on the right path.
Getting into the best shape of your life is not going to be easy. All of the responsibility is on you. By taking small steps towards a healthier lifestyle every single day, I know you can do it! I hope my story of recovery can inspire you to make some healthy changes in your own life that will benefit you for many years to come.
Is there anything you think I’ve missed above? What’s the hardest part of changing your mindset to live a healthier life? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your feedback!
Author Bio: Hi, my name is Andy! I was born in Bogota, Colombia but raised in Los Angeles, California. After battling drug and alcohol abuse for many years, I found my path of sobriety through entrepreneurship and fitness.