What 12 Step Recovery And Working Out At A Gym Have In Common…

According to some health statistics I found online, only 18% of those who join a gym actually go consistently and for those who do only 49% go at least twice a week. Aside from almost missing the entire month of January due to being very sick with COVID, I happen to be one of those who can be counted in both statistics since joining a local YMCA last year. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about being a member there, it’s that you go when you want to and even when you don’t, which is no different than what I was told long ago in the 12 Step recovery world from addiction.

There have been countless days over the past decade where I haven’t wanted to do some part of my recovery work. Whether it was attending a meeting I normally went to, or fulfilling some volunteer gig I had, or working with a sponsee or sponsor, or doing some part of my daily 12 Step work I do each day at home, my ego has often tried to convince me it’s ok to take a break from it. What I learned in doing so, when I’ve listened to my ego and taken that break, is how easy it is to slide backwards, where I eventually find myself skipping this and skipping that, until I’m skipping pretty much everything meant to keep me sober and healthy. It’s why my first sponsor in AA once told me, “Andrew you go to AA when you want to and you go to it even when you don’t want to.” The good thing about applying this is that I typically feel better after doing so, even on those days when I really didn’t want to do any 12 Step stuff. Learning this is why I’m now applying the same methodology to working out.

How many times in the past I’ve said to myself, I’ll go to the gym tomorrow and then awoken when that tomorrow comes and not gone, and then said once again, I’ll go tomorrow, until I don’t go at all and eventually just cancel my membership. That’s why I make sure now to go at least twice a week and often even three times a week. Not only has it been a great therapeutic tool for my pain-riddled body to keep it moving, it’s also been a great calming tool for my weary mind that has been running in way too many circles lately. After climbing a Stairmaster or using an elliptical for 30 minutes or more, I ALWAYS feel better on some level, not just because of raising my metabolism and keeping fit, but more so because it’s another win against my ego.

There are many days when I feel so lousy my ego says to stay home and skip both the gym and any of my 12 Step recovery obligations. But you know what, I push myself on those days to still do both because it does work to improve my mood and my self-esteem. Of course, there are also days when I do feel totally motivated to go to the gym and do those 12 Step recovery obligations, but going when you feel great is far easier than going when you don’t feel great.

I deal with a lot of feeling not so great in my life these days and have been for several years now. But continuing to keep all my 12 Step recovery obligations during this difficult period, as well as going to the gym a few times a week, have been great therapeutic tools for my life. In light of that, I’ve learned that what both 12 Step recovery and going to the gym have in common is attending either when the ego doesn’t want to may be one of the hardest things to overcome, but also one of the most truly rewarding things every time I do…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson