We are BLESSED to have another individual willing to share their story in regards to their addiction, their recovery, and how they are making fitness a crucial part of their new substance free lifestyle.
This week we get to hear from the very flexible and wonderful Jen Yockey. She is 47 years old, residing in Southern California, and has been sober since 3/6/2009. I actually read her story online about a year ago and really identified with what she said, and now I get to ask HER some questions – how surreal is that!?! Without further ado let’s get this party started!!!
Jen…tell us what it was like in your addiction.
“From the time I started until I stopped, there were soul crushing moments. I have a horrific long term memory except when it comes to my actions and lack of a moral compass while using. As I look back now, the most awful things were the loss of self, the self-loathing and the crushing feeling of hopelessness. I had NO idea that substance abuse was even REMOTELY a problem; THE problem. The inability to connect the dots between my misery and substance abuse, as I look back, is dumbfounding.”
TELL US WHAT YOUR LIFE IS LIKE NOW THAT YOU ARE IN RECOVERY.
“I have an amazing life that I have worked very hard for and that I am proud of. Life has its ups and downs and I have not lived it, unscathed. But I have, over the last 8 years, not used substances to cope with things that are uncomfortable or unpleasant. I have learned to sit with my feelings and emotions. I have learned to recognize how I am feeling and recognize that *sometimes* all I can do is just BE with it. Sometimes, things cannot be fixed and some feelings are not meant to be pushed through. I have learned that in order to feel the absolute unconditional love that I have for my son, I have to be able to bear the excruciating pain of loss and disappointment. I can’t choose to dampen some feelings and let the others freely engulf me. It just doesn’t work that way. I have learned that acceptance is not approval and that I have the right to take my place and express my wants, desires and needs. And also accept that expressing those things doesn’t mean that I will get them. I am willing and forever a student. I crave knowledge, creativity, the ocean, peace, coffee, friendships and experiences. NONE of this was accessible to me when I was dulling out, stuffing down and numbing every sense that I had. Gratitude ABOUNDS.”
WHAT ARE YOU DOING TODAY TO MAKE FITNESS A PART OF YOUR RECOVERY PROCESS? WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO YOU THAT YOU BE FIT WHILE IN YOUR RECOVERY?
“I have always been an athlete. I was a scholarship athlete to a Pac-12 school and played professionally after college. I have run a couple of marathons and half marathons. Currently, I teach/practice yoga and participate in fitness bootcamps. Even during the height of my substance abuse, I ran. I have always felt peace when exercising. There is something meditative about running and about pushing my body to see where it’s limits are. Even when I wasn’t ready for community, when I would isolate myself for days, I would take my dog for a walk or a run. As far as nutrition, I started consuming A LOT of sugar when I got sober. I never had a sweet tooth before and this was kind of surprising to me. Sugar and me do NOT get along. I crash really hard. There was a battle, in the beginning because I felt as if I had given up so much and NOW I couldn’t have sugar! I am mindful of what I eat and how it makes me feel. That is one thing that has come in sobriety is an acute awareness of how my mind and body feel. So, sometimes I eat things knowing I am not going to feel good. Or I eat something that I shouldn’t but have a smaller portion. I just pay attention. Denial is no longer part of my behavior. Lastly, I came to yoga and meditation about two years ago. I don’t practice yoga for the physical exercise. I practice yoga and meditation for inner peace. I have a 5 year old and three dogs so there is normally a LOT of chaos. I crave peace within the chaos; yoga and meditation provide that for me. I have learned so much about my body and the mind/body/heart/soul connection through yoga. This has propelled my recovery to a different level. Awareness is a foundational piece for me.”
ANY ADVICE YOU WANT TO GIVE TO THOSE IN RECOVERY WHO ARE STILL ON THE FENCE ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT FITNESS SHOULD BE A PART OF THEIR RECOVERY PROCESS?
“6 reasons why fitness should be part of your recovery process:
Some of these are a MESS from using. Fitness (along with other modalities) can assist in getting them to work in your favor.
- Serotonin regulates sleep and appetite.
- Dopamine is a “feel good” chemical and plays an important role in mood, energy, attitude, motivation.
- GABA acts as your calming neurotransmitter, helping you relax.
- Acetylcholine for processing information and memory.
- Endorphins are feel good chemicals our bodies release after intense exercise.
- Connection (to yourself and others). Building friendships, relationships, community in an environment that is healthy, safe and good for your body/mind/soul.”
Fantastic share Jen we truly appreciate you taking the time to share your story! If you would like to get a hold of Jen or maybe even sign up for some of her yoga classes which happen both online and in person you can see what she’s up to here:
Facebook: Jen L Yockey (SoulFuel)
Until our next fitness and Recovery interview just remember we can accomplish anything so long as we do it just One Day At a Time.
One Meal At a Time.
One Set At a Time.
One Rep At a Time.