Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sober at the Gym

Still sober, at 14 months.

Judging from the blogs I've read, it's about at this point that a lot of ex-drunks decide to take on some giant challenge, usually physical in nature, like running a marathon or entering a triathalon, and I guess I'm falling in line. I want to be a bodybuilder.

So, okay, maybe that's a little bit out of left field, but I've always been "into" muscle. My parents got me a weight set to use in high school, and I've had a gym membership my whole adult life, though whether or not I used the membership depended on whether or not I was hungover. Last year, one of the reasons why I wanted to quit drinking was that I've always wanted to be in better shape, but I knew that drinking was keeping me from doing that. At the time I quit drinking I also made a commitment to go to the gym as consistently as possible, and, with a few ups and downs, I've managed to do that.

Right now, I'm 30lbs lighter than I was this time last year, and I've lost about 8 inches off my hips and 7 inches off my waist...I'm not shaped like a barrel anymore, and I feel like I've barely been trying. I've also started learning about the bodybuilding lifestyle, and the more I learn the more I realise: I want in.

For me, a huge part of getting and staying sober is setting up positive routines. A lot of these are physical, so excercising regularly, eating well, getting enough sleep (and these are the key factors in bodybuilding). I've seen that when my routine is disrupted, my mood goes downhill, and thoughts about self-destructive behaviours like drinking creep back in. What has always pulled me back, each time that I've felt myself slide, has been getting back to the gym. In all honesty, the gym might as well be my AA, my "higher power", because when I go it's an hour or so completely free of worry or angst, and just getting the blood pumping improves my mood pretty much for the whole day.

The trick to sobriety and to bodybuilding is the same: consistency. To be sober, I have to be sober every day. To build muscle, I have to eat well, sleep right, and excercise regularly. With both, you can't rely on history or hopes for the future to succeed, the only thing you can do is make the right choices in the moment, and let the past and the future take care of themselves.

So, I've hired a personal trainer (hired him in September, actually...and he's great), I'm reading what I can, and I'm setting goals, and maybe, in 3-4 years, I might actually find myself on a stage in some amateur competition.

This year, the second year of my sobriety, is going to be a big one: I'll be in school full time, I'll be working towards this new goal, I feel like year two is the year to dream and act big, and to take on giant challenges that I could never have dreamed of when I was drinking. Any of us who've been sober know that your world opens up when you look past the bottle, and now is the time to find out just how huge my world is now. Where are my limits? I don't know, but I'm excited to find out.


  1. Marc, I'm so proud of you! It's great to see how good you're doing!

  2. So glad to hear you're doing so well! Can relate to that peace that comes from regular exercise and focusing on positive routines. I don't attend meetings much anymore, so feel like running/working out is the perfect way to get out of my head and feel better physically and emotionally. Congratulations on how far you've come...I like your description of your world opening up.

  3. This comment feels both overdue and out of the blue, but I was just thinking about you and hope you are doing well and having a great new year. Kristen