The Blueprint for Recovery* (BFR) – Move, Eat and Think Well:
The approach I use is like all else in healthy, recovery circles: Keep It Simple. My suggestions stem from evidence based research, ancestral health principles, my experience over three plus decades and well, common sense. The overarching idea is to up-grade your entire system slowly, but surely and become the best version of you–because you deserve it and because it’s time.
The big idea with a Recovery Coach is to stay in touch, to check-in on a regular basis, but my approach adds taking a look at lifestyle skills and healthy practices that are known to keep people productive and well and those that help break the addiction relapse phenomenon. Long-term recovery = long-term wellness practices, just one day at a time.
My mantra at Recovery Health Care through the BFR is: Move, eat and think well all of the time, for some period of time, one day at a time; for a life time.
I think of the BFR like the blueprint of a three-legged stool. The stool becomes unstable without all three legs working together for robust support. Missing “legs” of stability and good health are a familiar scenario in active addiction and the run-up to addiction relapse. Much like a carpenter without a blueprint, recovering individuals are often left to their own devices, which becomes a design for relapse.
Addiction diminishes an individual’s ability to produce “feel good” brain chemicals–even long after the addictive behavior has stopped. It takes months and often years for mind, body and spirit equanimity to return or to be realized for the first time. As a result, recovering individuals are more vulnerable to stress and the high incidence of relapse that stress brings. Getting started and continuing to “up-regulate” your body’s own self-regulating and self-healing systems is a great way to move the recovery process along, because it works!
Two major stressors for recovering individuals that jeopardize the sturdiness of our metaphorical stool are a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits–further compromising an already weakened brain chemical system.
What the recovering individual needs is to stay sober and comfortable long enough to lay the groundwork to effect brain chemistry changes. Brain science confirms that 90 days of repetitive practice at moving, eating and thinking well creates the foundation of sound habits required for lasting sobriety for a lifetime. Studies also confirm that coaching helps this one day at a time process–remarkably.
The first leg of stability and good health is moving well.
Movement through exercise enhances and supports the production of essential brain chemicals for a recovering person. A movement practice revitalizes the body’s self-regulating and self-healing capabilities to prevent relapse and support recovery by fostering neuroplasticity, or the rewiring of recovery friendly brain circuitry.
If the core of the body is not moving well–symmetrically and functionally–the rest of the body is not moving well and this causes chronic stress and a trigger for relapse.
A movement practice helps the recovering individual in the following ways:
- Decreases stress
- Renews normal spinal motion for improved brain/physiological function
- Decreases joint and muscle pain associated with substance addiction
- Optimizes core body motion while we anchor exercise in personal practice
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Improves sleep
- Decreases need for pain and psychiatric medications
- Increases sense of well being
- Works synergistically with psychological and nutritional practices
As part of the approach at RHC, we’ll design an easy-does-it, but DO IT! movement practice–together–that you’ll actually love to do, because if you don’t–you won’t. And just 4 easy guidelines when choosing any number of ways to do them:
- Move frequently at a slow pace, E.G., walking!
- Lift something heavy a couple of days per week, E.G., using your own body weight via pushups, situps, squats, planks or easy does it dumbbells or kettlebells.
- Every 7 to 10 days “rev” it up with sprints, E.G., running/treadmill, swimming, stationary bike, jumping rope, etc.
- Enjoy a day of rest!
All of the above done at each individual’s pace, health status and fitness level. Remember…easy does it.
The second leg of stability and good health is eating well.
Addiction diminishes an individual’s ability to produce “feel good” brain chemicals–even long after the addictive behavior has stopped. It takes months and often years for mind, body and spirit equanimity to return or to be realized for the first time. As a result, recovering individuals are more vulnerable to stress and the high incidence of relapse that stress brings. Poor nutrition is a key, highly contributing stress factor in the relapse phenomenon.
As part of the solution, practice members at Recovery Health Care are encouraged to slowly, but surely move away from the Standard American Diet, which is known to be the root cause of many lifestyle related disorders and diseases including addiction.
Below is a simple and general “thumbnail sketch” of evidence based nutritional guidelines for people in addiction recovery. Each of us is a little different and hence, the need for a Recovery Coach. The overarching approach is to minimize inflammation and insulin producing foods and maximize nutrient dense, energy efficient and immune system strengthening foods. Suggestions are given to strive toward, “clean sourced”, organic or–pesticide, hormone, antibiotic free foods–and it looks like this:
- Grains: minimize to none, difficult at first, but HUGE payoffs – got chronic symptoms? lose ‘em
- Sugar: minimize to none, sugar is 4 times more addictive than cocaine and awful for our bodies
- Processed foods: minimize to none – just try to avoid poison…
- No kiddin’ for the above three and easy-does-it because: You Can Do It
- Meat: grass fed, not grain fed
- Foul: chicken, turkey, duck, hen
- Eggs: yes, please
- Fish: wild, not farm raised
- Vegetables: in abundance, preferably raw and not fried
- Legumes: minimize – difficult to digest and by-products not so hot
- Dairy: maybe – well sourced and grass fed if tolerable
- Fruit: seasonal, local and fruit has a high sugar content, so easy-does-it
- Oils: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil – lose the rest
- Nuts: macadamia, almonds – sparingly (expensive and nutrient rich)
- Tubers: sweet potatoes and yams
- Coffee: maybe and look into Bullet Proof Coffee…do some experimenting if you’re a coffee drinker with no intention of quitting
- Water: pure and plentiful - and filtered if tap water
Because of deficiencies in our soil and toxicity in our environment, all RHC clients are given suggestions to take the following supplements along with nutrient dense, whole foods:
- Multivitamin/mineral/antioxidant – to address soil deficiencies/toxicities
- Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acid (fish oil) –to improve brain function and diminish inflammation in the body
- Probiotics – to improve digestion/metabolism
- Vitamin D – to address inadequate, healthy sunlight exposure
- A Whole Food Supplement – to replace high glycemic index snack foods
Making these changes over time can result in the following improvements:
- Decreases stress
- Decreases cravings
- Decreases inflammation
- Boosts immune response
- Decreases anxiety and depression
- Improved sleep and bowel movement patterns
- Improves and works synergistically with psychological and physical practices
Any other specific recommendation for nutriceutical supplementation is based upon individual assessment and specific needs. Generally speaking, most nutrients should and can be obtained in the clean sourced, whole, nutrient dense foods we are consuming.
The third leg of stability and good health is thinking well.
Thinking well requires engagement in regular cognitive/emotional intelligence practice for the recovering individual.
My coaching clients are encouraged to work concurrently with a mental health professional through a psychological process to improve thinking and feeling (emotions) skills in the form of individual or group therapy, mindfulness and meditation practices and/or mutual support meetings, E.G., Smart Recovery, 12 Step, etc.
Just as our mind bodies are human ecosystems of constant intrapersonal communication, I prefer establishing interprofessional communication with associated healthcare practitioners in an integrated, team approach–necessary for successful long-term addiction management.
*As an important sidenote, your sleeping patterns and habits are as important as anything mentioned above. Quality sleep is imperative for the recovery process and all of good health. Addiction recovery is about brain health and sleeping is when your brain heals and “reorganizes” itself on a daily basis. Taking a look at your patterns and the actual “ergonomics” of your sleeping habits will be an important part of these mind-body assessments. No one area of the Blueprint for Recovery can compensate for another and that is why the sum total is greater than its parts.
A Transformational Process:
Addiction is a paradoxical disease that can be a curse in active addiction personally, for the family and society, but when treated properly, can become a gift to the recovering individual’s life, family and world.
Ultimately, addiction is an opportunity to pause and focus on how one looks at life in order to make changes for the better. It opens up a whole, new menu of options. Many recovering people affirm that their life’s vision and purpose became clear only when they fully committed to the lifestyle changes required to get and stay sober. The Blueprint for Recovery outlined above provides a path to these lifestyle changes missing in most other programs.
Recovering people are a huge, but largely untapped asset, a creative resource for our culture’s collective, bright future. Living a sober, healthy lifestyle to honor your true nature is what has brought you to look into this most important work and I am honored to help you along this path. Change requires time and beginning is genius. Hiring a Recovery Coach reinforces what you want; more joy, productivity and peace of mind. I can help.