Smoothie cleanses, veggie juice fasts, green coffee bean extract, essential oils, OH MY! If you watch TV or spend any time at all on Facebook or other social media, you are bombarded day in and day out with enticing and alluring quick fix products and methods that tout that they will overhaul everything that ails you in two weeks or less! No other changes needed! Easy Peasy! Today I want to let you in on a little secret – there is no quick fix or magic pill out there…
As recovering addicts and alcoholics, I think we’re drawn to the idea of the magic pill or quick fix. I don’t know about you but when I was drinking and using drugs, I always searched for the one thing that would fix all my problems lickety split. For me, I sought out that magic pill I just knew existed and went from doctor to doctor seeking any medication that would make me better so I could drink like other people. I tried every antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication I could get a doctor to prescribe for me – trying to find a solution for everything that hurt inside. Of course, it never worked because there is no fast solution to getting sober. I found and maintained my sobriety through the 12-steps, which is neither fast nor easy, but it worked!
Many years down the road, in sobriety, there came a time when I had gained a bit of weight and sought out drastic remedies to lose it. I tried everything from Weight Watchers to extreme liquid fasts to over-exercising. Nothing worked and I always ended up gaining even more weight than I lost. This set up a pattern of binge eating and yo-yo dieting that lasted quite a few years and nearly ruined my health.
The moral of this story – THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL!
I can tell you from personal experience and experimentation, the only way to optimal health and improved body composition is to make lasting changes to your diet and lifestyle. These changes don’t even need to be drastic – like following a strict Paleo Diet (1) – and they can be incremental changes, in other words, baby steps.
If you are like me and didn’t get sober to be sick, tired, overweight or unhappy, you probably need to make just a few simple changes. Now mind you, I said simple, I didn’t say easy.
Eliminate grains and sweeteners
By excluding these two food groups, you take out most of the processed foods on the market today. Start slow – take out artificial sweeteners one week, added sugars the next and grains the week after that.
Eat a real food diet
If you’ve tackled the step above, you are well on your way. Real food diet means primarily eating quality meat, a rainbow array of vegetables, healthy fats, some starch, seasonal fruit, nuts and seeds, and a mindfully small amount of sugar. This means you must get into the kitchen and cook! This is where I usually get resistance in the form of whiney voices – “It’s too hard!” or “I don’t have enough time!” The simplest way to go about doing this is to batch cook on weekends. A good friend of mine has a program called 20 Dishes where you can prep and cook a week’s worth of dinners in 60 minutes or less. I think everyone can find one hour every week! I also wrote an article called Easy Peasy Meal Planning that walks you through the steps I use to plan all our meals for the week.
I know, I know, I sound like a broken record when it comes to this topic! But I can’t stress enough how life changing this can be. I cover all the benefits of walking in my Add Walking to Your Sobriety Toolbox article. If you’re strapped for time, just start with as little as 5 minutes a day and work your way up from there. Take the stairs, park farther away, take a break at work and walk around the building. All those things we’ve been told over the years really work!
Sleep 7-9 hours per night
You will find articles and studies on lack of sleep or chronic sleep deficiency all over the news and internet as of late. We have an entire podcast dedicated to sleep in our Evolved Recovery Show Episode 2 – Sleep. I also highly recommend the documentary Sleepless in America, which details the life-threatening consequences associated with our nationwide sleep deficiency. The bottom line – chronic sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure (2) – and you can’t achieve ideal health and longevity without a good night’s rest. One other thing sleep affects…relapse! Yep, studies show that lack of sleep is a universal risk factor for relapse and addiction (3). Use baby steps for this as well – this week go to bed just a half hour earlier, once you’ve achieved that for a week or so, keep moving your bedtime back until you’re in the 7-9 hour range. You will be surprised at how awesome you feel after a well-rested night!
Like I said…simple steps that might not be easy. My first rule – do not stress about these changes. Stress can negate any of the benefits of changes you might make. No kidding! Take it one day at a time and one change at a time. If you don’t do it perfectly, that’s okay! I love the quote loosely translated from Voltaire – “Perfect is the enemy of good.” A few steps back is all right as long as you maintain forward progression and be good to yourself. Little by little, these small changes, done one at a time, will become habit and you will be amazed before you are halfway through the list!
Luckily for you, our upcoming online course will address methods to make all of these changes using baby steps! Sign-up for our newsletter and you’ll be the first to know when the course releases and receive a valuable coupon. Just for signing up, we’ll send you 2 free guided recovery meditations!
What changes have you made to you diet and lifestyle? What tools did you use to help make long lasting changes? Were you amazed at how great you felt?