JANUARY 4, 2023 BY ARCH KENNEDY
(This blog is part of a series of articles on overcoming life’s challenges to achieve your purpose and goals. Want to read more? Purchase my new book, “The Weather’s Fine: My Method for Overcoming Life’s Challenges” at ArchKennedy.com.)
Fitness and nutrition became important to me for two life-changing reasons. The first reason is watching the most important person in my life, my mother, slowly die and wither away from a debilitating disease. The second reason is the destruction caused by active alcoholism, which shortens and substantially reduces the quality of life.
Because of these profound experiences, I’ve come to appreciate and cherish the gift of good health. In fact, it has become a lifesaver for me.
My Mother’s Battle with RA
We spent many days in Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta for doctor’s appointments and operation after operation. When a family member is struck with a debilitating disease, you come to really appreciate good health and don’t take it for granted. I never have.
In addition to Mom’s physical battle was the mental stress my grandfather put on my mother, which I am convinced accelerated her disease and made it worse. A person’s state of mind has much to do with physical diseases. Studies have shown that negative influences and thinking not only make a disease worse but can actually create disease in the body. To say Mother had chronic stress would be an understatement. Conversely, positive thinking and positive influences have been known to slow and even prevent some diseases.
My Battle With Alcoholism and Health
After going in and out of detox hospitals and two emergency rooms for alcoholism over 10 years, I developed a deep appreciation for good health. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the poisonous effects that alcohol has on the body, mind, and spirit. On my second visit to detox, my doctor called me in with results from a blood test. He said, “Your liver enzymes are high.” My heart sank. I asked, “What does this mean? What do I do about it?” His answer was simply, “Quit drinking.” So obvious but so hard to do as an alcoholic.
Once you get to the point of cirrhosis, there is little hope except for a transplant—and the transplant waiting list is a long one. Additionally, for a liver transplant, a person must stop all alcohol intake for at least six months to be eligible. My grandfather died of cirrhosis of the liver, an all too common ending for many alcoholics and a tragic way to go. His addiction was so great that he was willing to die for it. After my last drink, I vowed never to have an end like my grandfather. Watching him suffer that type of death impacted me greatly, and I will never forget it.
My Focus Is Now on Healthy Living
My days in sobriety include healthy eating, supplementation, exercise, and grounding. It’s amazing what you can do in your twenties that does not work in your fifties. One of those things is eating fast food. I haven’t touched it in several years. That change alone allowed me to lose 30 pounds. As we all know, the body’s metabolism slows as we get older, and thus the pounds start adding up. Along with eating better, I have learned that we need supplementation in addition to healthy eating habits.
In my opinion, the soil used continuously in farming has depleted the nutrients in our vegetables, even if we’re eating them regularly. As we get older, we need to supplement with B vitamins as well as vitamin C and D. Our bodies are unique, so a blood test for vitamin deficiencies can be a great help in determining what you actually need.
For addicts in sobriety, my perspective is that exercise is also very important in helping to reset one’s body and keeping it healthy. Exercise is great for brain disease recovery. For someone who has suffered greatly from anxiety and depression from alcohol abuse, I can attest to the benefit of exercise. The reason it is so important for addicts in recovery is that it helps the brain stimulate its own “feel good” chemicals, which helps in preventing relapse. Exercise also helps with long-term recovery as replacement therapy. We addicts are constantly searching for the great feeling that the drug of choice brought us. Exercise is a way to feel good naturally rather than artificially from drugs.
Finally, I have discovered a technique called grounding, also called “earthing,” which is simply walking barefoot outside. The jury is still out on its overall benefits, but some studies have shown that this is a great way to get antioxidants from the Earth. Grounding or earthing is therapeutic because it focuses on realigning your electrical energy by contact with the Earth. There’s not a great amount of research on grounding, but some smaller studies have shown benefits for inflammation, pain, mood, and more. At the very least, it is getting you outside 30 minutes a day with fresh air and natural sunlight.
For a comprehensive look at overcoming health challenges in life, I hope you will check out my book. Also, I would love to hear what you are doing to improve your health as we head into 2023!