By Guest Writer: Scott Waldrop
Nutrition and recovery go hand in hand for me. I simply wasn’t practicing self-love for decades. Alcohol, drugs, and greasy food were all part of my nihilism. We can add an (un)healthy dose of pessimism in there as well for good measure, but I’m not sure if that’s the proverbial chick or egg.
Plain and simply put; I was approaching 40 knowing I was on the fast track to a major decline. Imminent disaster. I simply had a very instinctual sense that I was about to slip over the edge. Something ‘bad’ was going to happen and it was going to snowball quick. I realized I’d arrived where I never thought I’d be. I was about to hit the level of others I compared myself to when gauging my drinking. I was no longer able to say ‘at least I’m not them’ yet. I was there and I knew it. I too was an alcoholic. “Awesome” I sarcastically think, “what now?” I knew I had to start somewhere, and I thank God for that ‘telescope’ into the future. I really don’t feel like it came from my own mind. My gut tells me it came from a true yearning for peace and wellness – answered prayers. My guardian angels? I think so, but it doesn’t really matter. I opened my arms to the sky saying, “God, whoever or whatever you are, make me good again… Let me know peace as I did in innocence… Let me serve you… I want to be a good man.” When we beseech the divine, the cosmos, God – in earnest, I mean hardcore ‘here I am, come and get me’ – earnestly, weird things happen in response if we’re really listening, looking, and believing that we’ll be guided.
So, I instinctively knew to stop drinking and start running. Okay great! This was actually working. I wanted it bad, and despite not seeking external help (which I personally don’t advise and no longer do), I managed to start notching off days, months, and ultimately – years of sobriety. But there was plenty to improve on still. As I cleaned house I realized how multilayered my mess was. I was sober and running marathons but I hit a plateau. I was still plagued by negative thoughts and despite my best efforts. not getting better at running. I was simultaneously looking for a spiritual path as well as sharpened fitness. At the time I thought these were two different missions.
Well, one thing at a time right? I decided to ‘bite off’ the nutrition issue first. Googling, ‘runner nutrition’, a book caught my eye: Rich Roll’s ‘Finding Ultra’. The fact that this guy was touted as a sober athlete AND he talked largely on nutrition brought my search to a quick end. It couldn’t have been more divinely appointed. There’s always a catch. I read the book and his story profoundly resonated with me but… he wants me to be a vegan. I ask google for a second opinion only to find Scott Jurek’s ‘Eat and Run’. “Okay, let’s give this an honest go,” I decide.
The simple truth is that I didn’t want this seemingly depressing diet to work. Life without pizza? Yea, no. But, I knew enough at this point about faith-in- process. Sticking to rules got me sober, and I knew that counter intuitive ‘internal cattle-prodding’ can really pay off by pushing through initial discomfort to deliver one unto a profoundly happier and healthier place in the long game. So, as those of us with addictive tendencies know, black and white rules tend to work in our favor. Do drink or do not drink – no in between. It just doesn’t ever work out for us when we think it’s safe to go back and moderate destructive habits. So the plants went in the mouth. At first it was 3 ‘mainly plants’ dinners a week. Then it became 4 plant dinner a week. Soon I started noticing my legs were rarely sore and my general outlook on life was improving because I felt so healthy. It’s so much easier to put on a smile without headaches, body aches, inflammation etc. Then, it happened: I was eating a chicken leg and it just wasn’t appealing. That was 4 years ago.
When we’re cleaning our life up the mess can seem daunting. We need help getting pulled from our own wreckage, but sooner or later the funeral for our former self is over and we’re left alone; a shiny brand new sole – again scratching our head at the limitless options this brave new world offers. So, we start with cutting out one thing and then we see how another thing isn’t serving us. We don’t try to transform ourselves into a golden god in a single moment of epiphany. Actually, that never happens which is what makes life a joy – growing. Look at it like this: first stop putting the things in your body that are killing it. Then, once we’ve reached that ‘plateau’, stasis, or cross-road, start examining the things we can put in our mouth that begin to improve us – grow us (yes, grow even later in life). I’m not saying you need to be a vegan – just love yourself. Eat sensibly and naturally. Don’t stop growing. It is the truest joy of life and best way to celebrate this unlikely gift you’ve been given.
Peace – Scott