Crossfit and my alcoholism

Posted: August 27, 2013 in Crossfit Lifestyle
Tags: , , ,

I am able to do Crossfit today because exactly 15-years-ago – August 27, 1998 – I got very, very drunk. It was the drunk I needed to hit my bottom. No mas. The end. Sayanara Corona.

It was the first time in my life I surrendered – completely. I finally said out loud to a room full of people what I had known for many, many years: I am an alcoholic.

Exercise and work were the counter-balances I used to physically and mentally sustain my drinking career for so many years. Luckily I have a career in which drinking is a badge of honor. Journalists are awesome alcoholics. Ever notice how many bars are located across the street from newspapers?

Anti-alcoholism comic book ad

Anti-alcoholism comic book ad (Photo credit: solviturambulando)

I used exercise – competitive exercise – to shield myself from the damage I was doing to my body with drugs and alcohol. The more I drank and smoked dope, the more I worked out.

Monday – Wednesday – Friday I got up at 5:15 and swam a couple of miles. Tuesday I ran back and forth across a steep, half-mile long bridge until my lungs felt as though they would burst. Thursday I ran track. Saturday and Sunday I tool ridiculously long runs and bike rides.

I ran marathons, triathlons, 5ks, 10ks, century bike rides and a half-ironman. The more I drank, the more I exercised. It was how I proved to myself that my life wasn’t out of control. Alcoholics were the guys under the bridge. I was running across it – over and over and over.

I did not exercise because it was fun. I did it because I had to. Despite the horrendous hang-overs, I ran and swam and lifted and rode. I once ran the last six miles of a marathon without my shoes. They hurt my feet and there was no way I was going to quit.

How could anyone who could do what I did – in the newsroom, in the water, on the road, at the gym – possibly be powerless over alcohol? My life was totally manageable – or so I thought. It all came tumbling down – like an avalanche – on August 27, 1998.

I have not had a drop of alcohol or a drug since that day. I have been clean and sober for 15 years. Learning to live a sober life has not been easy. I had to learn how to do things – like dance – without alcohol to melt my inhibitions. (I’m still working on karaoke.)

I had to learn to work out simply for the joy of working out. I had nothing to prove with my exercise anymore. I got to do it because I wanted to. Because it was fun. This was very, very difficult for me. I joined a gym, used machines to life weights and went to boot-camp classes. I tried yoga and pilates. I was in great shape but something was missing. I needed that edge.

I wanted to push myself. I wanted to hit the red-line without a bunch of other middle-aged women in a kick-boxing class staring at me like I was a freak. Then I found Crossfit.

I loved it. Absolutely loved it from the first WOD. I got to push myself, I got to compete and I got to do it because I wanted to. I had nothing to prove to myself. I did not need to use Crossfit to justify anything in my life. I could just do it for the sake of doing it.

Do you have any idea how liberating that is? How much fun that is? How much joy that brings me?

Could I become addicted to Crossfit? Yes. I have an addictive personality and I can become addicted to anything – from Twizzlers to bingo. It’s there – always there. I will always be and addict and alcoholic. My body will always want to be addicted to something.

I must constantly be vigilant. I won’t be able to see it in myself, just as I did not see the truth about my alcoholism. I hope and pray God puts people in my life who will tell me when I have gone too far: “That’s enough.”

I have not heard that yet. I pray that if I do, God knocks me upside the head and gently reels me in.

Today I will say a prayer for the sick and suffering alcoholics still out there and thank the Lord for the gift of my sobriety and my physical health. Had I kept drinking I would not – at age 54 – be able to do 24″ box jumps, double-unders and pull-ups.

Now, it is time to go work on my hand-stand push-ups.


  1. Reblogged this on L.O.V.E and commented:

  2. You’re an excellent writer. Well, it’s your job. I used to be a journalist, too. I’m following because I want to hear more stories.

  3. rachelaugh says:

    I just want to say that I’m really proud of you! And that’s an amazing mountain that you defeated. I’m sure it’s still an ongoing journey—but it’s really encouraging to hear your success.

    GO GET IT!!!!

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