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How do health and fitness impact your recovery? Last week we invited two health and fitness gurus who co-specialize in addiction to answer that question, as part of our monthly Facebook Live series:
- Phil Scuderi is a chiropractic physician based in Palm Beach County, who specializes in treating pain through chiropractic care and other holistic methods, such as massage, pilates and acupuncture.
- Chad Davis is a certified personal trainer in Bristol, Tennessee, who has extensive experience working with clients in the “belt buckle of the opiate belt of the country” (as he put it).
The wide-ranging discussion, which aired Friday, March 30, at 3:30pm, covered the ABC’s of a healthy lifestyle for people in early recovery and their loved ones, but also touched on other issues. Among them: supplements and which ones are good to take in early sobriety, and the health risks of steroids for people with an addiction history. Catch the highlights of last Friday’s discussion below. Or, tune in for the unabridged conversation.
Biggest Health Issues in Early Recovery – and How to Tackle Them
Our very own Micah Robbins, who facilitated the panel, kicked off the conversation by asking Scuderi and Davis to share the biggest health issues they see among people in early recovery. The resounding consensus was poor diet and the need to exercise—both of which can be intimidating to address when you’re not accustomed to thinking about either during active addiction.
Scuderi and Davis acknowledged as much but went on to make the case that anybody can make small, incremental changes towards better nutritional health and physical fitness.
Scuderi said that when a client in early recovery seeks his help, his approach is “to emphasize some of the basics. Clean up your diet. Get you moving. Get off the couch and into a room where there’s a trainer, some weights and exercise equipment. Start off really slow.”
By “slow,” that means starting wherever you are and building from there. It may also mean changing your vocabulary. Davis elaborated: “The biggest thing I do right off the bat with anyone in recovery is get away from the word ‘fitness.’ I replace it with ‘activity.’ Going outside. Walking around your house a few times … Getting some light. Anything to get some motion going. When you’re zoned out or passed out … the last thing you’re doing is anything nutritionally wise.”
The word, ‘nutrition,’ is another term that Davis prefers to avoid with clients in early recovery. Instead, he talks about “eating something with substance in it. Positive anything is the initial goal with anybody I talk to.”
Davis explained that sometimes “positive anything” may mean introducing a daily meal routine, which for many people in active addiction is a foreign concept. Often drugs or alcohol have so displaced healthy habits that “99 percent of people I talk with in early recovery don’t eat breakfast,” according to Davis. “If they eat, it’s only one meal a day.”
Davis therefore encourages clients to get into the regular routine of eating a daily breakfast—even if it means starting with soda and candy bar for this most important meal of the day. Once you have the routine in place, he said, it’s easier to make the change to more nutritional breakfast choices.
The mantra that Scuderi uses with clients is “You are what you eat.” If getting there takes baby steps, that’s okay.
Handling Chronic Pain Without Opiates – Natural, Low-Cost Remedies
Chronic pain is often the initial impetus to see a doctor for pain meds, but many of these meds may be the highly addictive opiates that are driving today’s overdose epidemic. That fact should make alternative pain management strategies a first response, Scuderi said. Using the example of back pain, which he said affects 80 percent of Americans at some point in their life, he emphasized the importance of a strong core: “If your core is strong, you’re going to have less back pain.”
To get there, he suggested practicing an exercise known as “the plank,” which is “like a push-up” except that the idea is to hold yourself in an elevated push-up position—Scuderi recommended starting at a 10-second hold—while keeping a straight back. “You can do this every day and it’s extremely effective.”
Scuderi and Davis were quick to offer other suggestions for building a stronger core and reducing chronic pain:
- Healthy sleep habits
- Good posture and conscious awareness of posture
- A mindful practice of tightening the abs in the midst of your ordinary daily activities, be they driving, shopping, etc.
- Increasing basic activity and mobility by walking more
In addition to these strategies, massage, pilates and acupuncture are other helpful holistic answers to chronic pain, according to Scuderi.
Supplements, Steroids and Other Hot Health Topics in Early Recovery
What supplements should you take during early recovery? And how safe are steroids? These and other questions generated some helpful responses from our two featured experts. Hear their insights. Or, check out these related articles in our Learning Center:
- Alternative Methods for Managing Pain Without Opiates
- Top 8 Foods to Reverse Brain Damage From Drugs and Alcohol
- Isolation Is the Biggest Threat to Health and Wellness in Recovery-Learn How to Combat It With a Healthy Lifestyle
Check out our other past live events at our Facebook page – Beach House Center of Recovery.