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Recovery Basics: Building a Foundation for Your Body

by Jeffrey Juergens ❘  

The Start to a Successful Recovery

I’ve always loved swimming. I was never a good swimmer, but I loved the feeling of the water on my skin and the warm sun on my body.

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to learn how to swim properly, so I began watching YouTube videos on swim instruction. When I first started, I could barely make it 50 feet without having to catch my breath. A few days ago, I swam 1.3 miles without stopping. I was amazed at how my body responded to the training.

How did I do it? I built my foundation.

I started small and tried to get a little better each time. Slow and steady, one day at a time—just like recovery.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been abusing substances for three months or 30 years. Today can be the start of your recovery.

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Building a Foundation Starts With Your Doctor

If you had a plumbing problem at your home, would you call an electrician? Of course not. Likewise, for your body, you need to consult a doctor as they’re the body experts.

One of the first steps in building your body’s foundation is to see a doctor regularly. I don’t know anyone who likes going to the doctor, but it is very important. I think many of us don’t like going to the doctor because they tell us things we know, but don’t want to hear.

Years ago, I gained weight (lots of donuts!) and my doctor said, “Your weight is up.” I responded, “Doc, I’m a weightlifter. I gained muscle.” He poked me in the side and said, “That’s not all muscle.”

Boom! He was right. I needed to face reality. If you keep your appointments with your doctor, you will be able to prevent major health issues and learn how to take care of your body.

How to Build Your Body Foundation

After visiting your doctor, you can now begin working on your body’s foundation. Be sure to take your doctor’s recommendations and advice into consideration when doing so. You can start with the basics:


Go to bed at roughly the same time each night and get up around the same time in the morning. You should feel rested during the day without having to take more than a short nap. For most people, seven to nine hours of sleep per night seems to be the magic number. You have to find the number that works for you…we’re all different.


Are you eating the diet your doctor recommends? Fruits, vegetables and whole grains work wonders for many people. Watch out for caffeine in coffee and soda. Some people are sensitive to it, so if you drink too much or drink it too late in the day, your sleep will suffer.


What kind of exercise does your doctor recommend? Most experts agree you should be doing something active every day for at least 20 minutes. Even if that means 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. We could name a hundred activities, but here’s some ideas:

  • Walking (alone or with a friend)
  • Jogging
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Martial arts
  • Dance or exercise classes

There are lots of exercises that can help. Even playing Frisbee in the park with your dog counts! Pick some activities you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, you probably won’t keep it up.


The key here is to go easy, slow and not to push yourself. If you feel pain, back off and slow down.

Warm baths/showers

A warm shower relaxes the body. It’s great for warming you up for the day in the morning, but also relaxes you before bed, leading to a better night’s sleep.


Soothes your entire body and helps you to slow down.  Massage therapists are great, but if going somewhere is too expensive, you can learn self-massage or have your partner/friend involved.

Do you notice the theme here? Slow and steady. Small steps. Gentle forward motion toward your goals. Addiction fools you—it wants you to speed up. It doesn’t like patience or doing small, daily things towards your recovery. Addiction wants to have everything, right now.

Your Foundation Will Support You in Recovery

It’s not easy to build a foundation at first, but nothing worth having is ever easy. However, if you stick with it, with daily small steps and a belief in yourself, you will build a rock-solid foundation.
Over time, it will get easier and easier because you’ve built your foundation blocks up, one by one, with care.
Then, when storms of life come along, like a relationship breakup or fight, a job loss or money problems, you will be ready. You won’t be blown over. You’ll keep swimming, slow and steady, toward the life that you want.

And if you happen to pass me swimming in the lake, say “Hello.” I’ll be the guy swimming slowly, one stroke at a time.


About the Author: Brian Carberg, LPC, NCC, BCPC

Brian Carberg is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private counseling practice in Connecticut. He is a National Certified Counselor, a Board Certified Professional Counselor in the American Psychotherapy Association, and holds a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Counseling. He has been assisting people in their healing journeys since 1990, serving as a counselor and supervisor in various Mental Health and Addiction programs. For ten years he worked as a Substance Abuse Counselor and Supervisor in an outpatient treatment program for people addicted to heroin and other opiates. In his current private counseling practice, he thoroughly enjoys assisting clients in all stages of recovery from various addictions. He believes today can be the start of the life you want, if you are willing to do the work.

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