It’s National Nutrition Month, and we all know how important a healthy lifestyle is in recovery. So today we’re talking with one of our alumni, Antonio, who not only has a passion for healthy living but has experience working in the health and fitness industry.
Lindsey (L): Could you share a little bit about your experience with addiction?
Antonio (A): Addiction is not just about using drugs and alcohol. I think it’s about behaviors and attitudes. For me, it started at a young age. It consumed my life, obsessions, and compulsions. It carried on through adulthood and plagued me for a long time. My thinking, my behaviors – it brought me near death and to my knees. Then I reached out for help.
L: You have a lot of experience in the fitness industry. Can you tell us about that?
A: My whole life, my entire family, we’re pretty much thoroughbred athletes, and we come from a long line of military. Physical fitness has a lot to do with all of that. It was a release that my brothers and I utilized our whole lives. It carried on through high school and college. Paid for my college and related to what I decided to do as a career. I was a personal trainer and personal training director for LA Fitness for a long time. I would bring people in who were new to fitness, get them signed up for a membership, put them on a fitness journey which included diet, exercise, and routines. I would act as their coach. I excelled in that and became one of the top guys in the country for LA Fitness. I became a general manager and started opening up all the new locations, hire staff, training, and development. Get them up and running and set people up on their journeys.
L: How has a healthy lifestyle helped you in your recovery?
A: The cool thing about recovery and fitness is they are intertwined. The principles that you have in health and fitness carry over to recovery as well. So, you get out of it what you put into it. You build yourself a good healthy routine, and you stick to it. It’s about discipline, consistency, and having the right attitude. It’s all about building better well-being for yourself.
With recovery, it’s a physical, emotional, and spiritual journey and it’s the same thing that goes on with fitness as well.
L: What do you do in typical day to implement a healthy mindset and lifestyle into your recovery?
A: Try to get 7-8 hours of good sleep. I like to hit my knees and pray and thank my Higher Power for another opportunity at life and for giving me the vessel to help other people. I love to start off by drinking a lot of water. I take my vitamins. I’m conscious of everything that I eat. Lately, I’ve been on more of a plant-based diet, so I like to stick with natural and organic products. I stay away from animal bi-products, dairy, and white carbohydrates. I want to lead a healthy lifestyle and a healthy routine every single day. Every two and a half to three hours I stay consistent with putting fuel in my body. So smaller and cleaner meals. Stay hydrated. I pray throughout the day. And most importantly I like to be conscious of how I treat other people.
L: Even though you’re not in the industry anymore, do you still get a lot of people asking you for advice about eating healthy and working out?
A: Yeah they do. It’s infectious and contagious. There is good mood and bad mood food so if you eat like crap you’re going to feel like crap most of the time. The whole thing with health and fitness in recovery – it’s an inside job. It will benefit the exterior, and you’ll feel better about yourself, but it is an interior job. I try to be a role model, too. I get my friends to come to the gym. That’s another thing I didn’t touch base on – I go to the gym 5-6 days a week. It’s not just about exerting energy, and feeling better about myself it’s to get my out of my head. Some people enjoy meditation; I like to put headphones on and press weights. It’s weird, but I feel most comfortable when I’m exhausted and have sweat all over – that’s when I’m at peace the most.
L: Do you ever have days where you don’t feel like doing this stuff?
A: Yes. Sundays. Every Sunday I take a day to relax, step back, and do a self-care day. I like to get a manicure, a pedicure, a facial maybe. Get my eyebrows done or get a massage. Do my step work, get with my sponsor, and go to church to pay homage to my Higher Power.
L: How do you stay motivated to be healthy and on point all the time?
A: I keep it green from where I came. For me to get where I’m at I had to go through a lot. I had to step over a lot of dead bodies to get here, so death is a huge part. A lot of my friends and family members have died along the way. Any day above ground is a blessed day so even when I’m feeling down about myself I like to take a recap of what it took for me to get to where I am. I say a little prayer to get me out of my attitude or my mood and kind of stay positive and keep it moving.
L: Do you have a gratitude practice?
A: When I open my eyes I’m grateful. I’m thankful to have my family and friends back in my life and for the opportunity to stay clean and to affect other people positively. It translates into what I do for a living. I work in the addiction treatment industry now, so I’m able to give back what was so freely given to me. Giving people better opportunities in life and a chance at life in recovery, so that keeps me grateful on a daily basis. To stay on the front lines and hear about people’s pain and despair and having them reach out for help that keeps it green for me.
L: What are some of your favorite ways to indulge? Do you ever have cheat days?
A: Yeah. With health and fitness and staying on a diet or routine that cheat day or that cheat meal (everyone says it’s a cheat day but it is a cheat meal. If you cheat the whole day it explodes everything) but that one cheat meal can raise your metabolism. Your body is going to work two to three times as hard to get the bad foods out of your body, and it’s going to raise your metabolism. I like to indulge in a big breakfast. That’s where I get in all the excellent breakfast meats and the potatoes and all that good stuff. I like treats. One of the big things is Taco Bell has those little Cinnabon things with the cheesecake filling. Oh man, I’ll take a nice 24 piece to the head.
Because I eat so healthy all the time when I don’t eat a healthy meal I can feel it. It’s like I’m hungover. It motivates me to get up the next day and stay on top of my diet and get to the gym.
L: Let’s talk about meal prepping. Is that something that is a big part of your week?
A: Like anything, having a plan and executing it will leave the smallest margin for error. So when you do have those weak moments where you want to indulge or grab a burger, you don’t have to because you have everything regimented out for you. So it’s always a good idea to have your meals prepped.
You can make it into a team event. If you want to motivate your friends, invite them over and show them how to do it and it’s just like the program. Just as you have to have a sponsor that’s going to show you the steps and how to stay clean on a daily basis, you have to do the same thing with your health and fitness. Also, if you don’t have the time and you have the money, there are meal prep programs that you can get your meals prepared for you.
I’ve also been juicing lately. I get my fresh produce, get it juiced, and drink some with my meals instead of eating them to help reboot my metabolism.
L: What is your favorite go-to meal?
A: Asparagus, chicken, and sweet potatoes.