Updated: Mar 21
What do opioid dependency and exercise have in common?
That seems like a strange question to ask. Why would we want to see what they have in common? Well, the reason is because some people would give up everything for opiates while others will give up everything for their sport. If we can examine how they are similar, then maybe we can find a healthy delivery of exercise that doesn’t simply create another addiction.
I’m Mark A. Turnipseed and I’m an opioid addict in recovery. I’m also a health coach, personal trainer, and triathlete. I went from the needle to full blown health and wellness nut crossing Ironman finish lines and training others to do the same within a few years. Here’s the thing though, I don’t necessarily suggest everyone follow this same path because i nearly slipped into another addiction.
Here’s what happened. After a relapse I decided to start training for an Ironman. I know, it was a crazy thing to do. I didn’t put any thought into it, I just committed to it and started training. Looking back, I suppose I needed an outlet, a place to channel my addictive personality. But, in the moment, I didn’t realize this was happening.
Months down the road I found my self consumed by triathlon. Everything revolved around it. It had become the central focus of my day. Much like drugs and highs, If I wasn’t training, I was nervous about when the next time would come that I would be able to train. I found myself skipping responsibilities at work and pretty soon I was getting angry at people I loved when they got in the way of my training.
I caught myself between a rock and a hard place. Either I stop training, or I apply a program to my training, much like the one I had done with my addiction. I decided that the story, from relapse to recovery, could serve to help others. I figured my sharing would begin a process much like one in a 12-step recovery program. I did this through my blog, “Trials To Triathlon” and after it gained popularity I began turning it into a book.
I then decided that I could use my training to help others by raising money for those in need. I started a little charity and began helping others. Pretty soon after this, things began to change. I had found a new relaxation when it came to my training and I found a new purpose for it. Similar to early recovery when sobriety is fear based everything seems loose and wavering then as it becomes purpose driven the load seems to lift and the things that used to seem like insurmountable challenges seem simple as pie.
My training then became an instrument to help others and also to strengthen recovery. In this way, it transformed from an addiction to a vehicle and now that’s what I long to do for others in recovery. If they can reach this point in fitness then it translates over into recovery. As fitness gets easier and more manageable, so does recovery and vice versa.
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