Have you joined my incredibly non-annoying, once-in-a-while email newsletter?
This isn’t a social media or marketing post. If you’re looking for that, check back in a few days, I’m sure I’ll have something for you. This is a personal post.
You ever meet someone at the gym who does nothing but Cardio? Daily? Like, every single day, you show up at the gym, and they’re on the bike or the stairmaster, biking or climbing to some invisible goal known only to them? What’s the difference between them, and the person who smokes two packs a day, other than the former has much better lung capacity than the latter?
I submit, not much difference at all. I say we’re all slaves to some addiction, whether we call it an addiction or not, whether the government classifies it as a schedule one drug, or just someone with the appropriate BMI. to our height. We’re all addicts.
I wanted a drink tonight. No real reason, I just felt like having a drink to take the edge off. But, if you’ve been following my other blog, you know I’m in the middle of a 12-day protein-only diet. Of course, alcohol is banned from said diet. So I can’t drink. And that’s fine. I didn’t break my diet, nor did I go and inhale a pizza. Instead, I went out for a walk, and stopped by Dunkin Donuts for a large black coffee. As I walked through my city, I sipped my coffee, letting one addiction take the place of another.
Am I an alcoholic? Of course not. Nor am I a coffee addict. But, I needed something. Some sort of fix, something to put in my system and make me feel ok. Does that make me an addict of some sort? I believe it does. And for what it’s worth, I believe we’re all the same in that regard. We all need something to make us feel “whole,” when the need arises.
For me, tonight, it was coffee and a long walk. Healthy? Of course. Healthier than two shots and a burger? No doubt. But now, as I sit at a friend’s house, typing madly on his computer, a nice glaze of sweat under my shirt from my long walk, I feel the caffeine from the coffee, and the endorphins from the walk kicking in. And I feel good. I feel… Well, there is no better way to say it. I feel “good.” I feel like I’d feel had I just done two shots with a friend at a local bar.
While one is healthier than the other, I find it interesting that they’re essentially, psychologically, no different. Physically, of course they are, and that’s why we don’t label people who drink coffee and work out as “addicts.” It’s socially acceptable to walk (hell, it’s even promoted by the government) and it’s “ok” to drink coffee.
So where’s the problem? Perhaps the problem is in the fact that we’re not good at realizing that, even though we could be totally healthy in our pursuits of a better body, or in our calorie counts, we’re no more than one or two steps away from the negative cycle path of addiction – i.e., sitting at the bar, lighting a cigarette, or doing something worse – because deep down, we all want to feel “whole.”
So how do we keep ourselves on the “good” side of addiction? I don’t know if it’s possible. I don’t know if any “addiction” is good for us – Sure, physically, the training I do for my Ironman is considered “healthy” (if not insane,) but why am I doing it? To prove to myself that I can, sure. But I also do it for the high – the high I get from finishing, the high I get from accomplishment, the mental and most definitely physical high I get from completion – when every muscle hurts, but I cross the finish line. My question is simple: How is being addicted to that any better psychologically than being addicted to drinking or drugs?
Now look, I’ve never thought of myself as an addict of any kind. I’ve never been in rehab, and I’m not a doctor. So please don’t come down on me with the standard comments of “Oh, you don’t know, it’s totally different,” etc. I don’t know the difference. But I do know that the high I have right now from my walk and coffee, the high that’s propelling me to write this blog post at 100 miles per hour, is no different than how I felt last Wednesday night, when I met my fiancee and some friends for drinks at a local bar.
So I guess the purpose of this post is this – Whether it be cardio, cigarettes, booze, or something else… Am I an addict? Is there a certain type of person prone to addiction, and I’m one of them? Are there people who are just able to “always” feel good, without any needed outside influences? As far as I can tell, humans aren’t capable of being like that. I’ve never met one. Perhaps I’m not looking hard enough. Hell, it could even be work – Ever hear of a workaholic? The only beings on this earth I’ve seen who don’t need that are animals. A dog doesn’t come home from the park and say “Wow, that was a hard day of chasing squirrels, I need a drink.” My cat has never looked at me and said “My sister is driving me crazy, I’m going to the gym.” What is it about humans that makes us different?
And I guess lastly… I guess I’m lucky that my addictions tend towards the “benign” side – coffee, cardio, Ironman races, etc. But I wonder – Is that just upbringing? If I’d been exposed to other things at an earlier age, would I be on the flip-side of that? The side that’s looked down upon by society? And what really differentiates those on the “benign side” with those on the other side? In the end, whether it’s affection, drugs, sweat, or paperwork… Aren’t we all addicted to something?
As always, would love your comments.