Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly are two of the most important factors in addiction recovery. Whether you are recovering from alcohol addiction or substance addiction, striving for fitness can help you focus on your recovery goals, stay away from potential triggers, and, most importantly, achieve a holistic level of health.
However, diet and exercise alone are often not enough for a successful recovery, so if you need professional treatment, look for a facility specializing in sober living for women first before taking things into your own hands. Afterward, you will mostly be responsible for your continuing recovery from then on, which you can make easier by paying more attention to your fitness.
That said, here are several strategies on how you can improve your diet and fitness while recovering from addiction:
Talk to a professional
If you are like most of the general population, you most likely have no idea where to start when it comes to eating healthier or working out. In this case, it is highly advisable to consult with a licensed nutritionist and personal trainer to help you grasp the basics. A nutritionist can help you formulate a diet that will work best for your lifestyle and recovery goals. At the same time, a personal trainer can create a workout plan that is apt for your current fitness level (especially if you don’t exercise regularly).
Both for eating healthier and exercising more, it is important to start gradually. Immediately going to a lower-calorie diet or engaging in heavy physical activity can do more harm than good to your body—and worse, it can demotivate you once you feel the negative effects of going from zero to a hundred in an instant. So, start at the level that you can realistically handle (e.g., light exercise and a mild weight loss/gain plan), then slowly work your way up from there.
Find a partner
Just like having a support person to accompany you during triggering social events, having a partner to get healthy can provide the type of emotional support you need. Ask a friend or a fellow person in recovery to go to the gym with you, go on hikes, or eat healthy brunches. Aside from the benefit of improving your physical health, doing so with a partner can provide the health socialization that is imperative for addiction recovery.
Furthermore, having a partner to reach your health goals can be more motivating than doing it alone, especially if you have trouble summoning your willpower to exercise or cook up something healthy.
Don’t give up your “unhealthy” favorites completely
Many people have the misconception that you have to give up your favorite “unhealthy” foods to be fit. However, this type of restriction is also why some people return to their unhealthy eating habits. You don’t have to give up unhealthy food completely to enjoy a healthier lifestyle—the key is moderation.
So, yes, that powdered donut is probably not good for you, but eating one every once in a while won’t do a huge number for your health. As long as you keep your intake of unhealthy, highly processed foods moderate, you can still achieve your health goals without giving up what you like.
Drinking plenty of water is one of the most important pillars of health and fitness. This is especially true for people in recovery, as water helps flush out toxins from the body and repair organs that were damaged by substance abuse. Water also helps stave off post-acute withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings for alcohol.
Pro tip: always keep a reusable water bottle nearby and fill it up every chance you get. This way, you have a visual reminder to take a sip whatever you may be doing or wherever you may be.
People in addiction recovery can also be susceptible to caffeine addiction. Caffeine is a stimulant, and the effect can mimic the feeling of consuming something you were previously addicted to. That said, try to avoid caffeine as much as possible. This includes coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks. Again, moderation is key. But avoiding caffeine altogether is a better option for some people.
Recovering from addiction is not just about getting rid of the dependency on substances—having better overall physical and mental health is also a big part of it. With that in mind, applying these strategies to your lifestyle can not only help you achieve sobriety but also put you on a path to better overall health.