In this episode of Bulletproof Radio my guest shares an inspiring life story about addiction, adversity and resilience.
Doug Bopst is an award-winning personal trainer, author, speaker and host of the Adversity Advantage podcast. His journey traverses a difficult childhood, an addiction spiral and time in jail.
He credits a judge, a cell mate, and unexpectedly finding faith with 12 years of sobriety and his ability to help others change and reclaim their own lives.
His transformation started with fitness in jail to help him recover from drug addiction. Exercise changed his body, his state of mind and his ability to continuously show up for himself.
“I was finally able to get comfortable being uncomfortable,” Doug says. “I was finally able to face my fears and face my emotions, really, head on, and learn to channel a lot of that pain into something good.”
Post-jail time, he found new ways to manage his emotions. Where before he would have used drugs to respond to negative thoughts and feelings, he began relying on exercise, which built up his self-confidence.
“When I was working out, it wasn’t necessarily as much to get in shape as it was for me to relearn how to deal with my emotions in a way that was conducive to who I wanted to become,” Doug says.
Doug also shares how his self-support system developed over time, and the importance of a full healthy lifestyle, not just a good fitness routine. For him, feeling good isn’t just about exercise, but a network of family, faith, therapy, meditation and eating right.
He encourages the people that he trains to find their own version of a full, healthy life. No one thing can be a solution, but instead it’s all a part of journey of self-forgiveness, healing and finding the things that feel good for you.
“A lot of this stuff that I’ve been doing is simply to help people, give people hope, whether that’s somebody who’s struggling with addiction, whether that’s a parent, whether that’s somebody who’s just struggling to feel better about themselves,” Doug says. “That’s my main mission right now.”
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Follow Along with the Transcript
How Fitness Saved a Life and Became a Livelihood – Doug Bopst with Dave Asprey – #806
- What I like about your work is that you talk about self-destructive cycles people get stuck in. Why did you get thrown in jail? – 1:22
- “How did a kid who just wanted to be loved, how did a cute to just wanted to be good at sports, how did this kid get here?” – 7:41
- What’s funny is that, when I walked through jail, I cried because I didn’t want to go in, and when I left, I cried because I didn’t want to leave because a massive transformation happened. – 9:26
- I was like, “Ah, my parents got divorced, or I was picked, or the girls didn’t like me.” And he said, “Dude, quit being a victim, man.”- 11:36
- I never thought I could do a pushup. Now, I can do one pushup.” Then what happens? You want to do more of that. – 13:56
- I felt this light bulb go off in my head that for the first time of my life, I was finally going to be able to change my life. – 14:37
- I could now pay it forward and pass the torch and show other people what the power of fitness has done for me to them. – 17:15
- If you could, say, pick the four things that were the biggest cause of the trauma that messed with you. – 20:39
- I had the courage and overcame my fears to step away from that circle and stepped into a new circle that was with people that had common futures and not common past. – 23:25
- You’ve managed to stay clean for 12 years. Do you ever worry that you’re going to relapse? – 26:48
- Not only do I feel better at myself because I moved my body, I feel better at myself because I didn’t turn to drugs to numb my pain. – 28:42
- My identity isn’t wrapped around how I look in the mirror because if I did, it’s just a recipe for disaster. – 33:47
- I was clean, I was doing all these things, but I started noticing a pattern. I started noticing that I couldn’t forgive myself for my past. I still was hung up on the fact that I was a former convicted felon. – 37:04
- I said a prayer and we prayed together. And the same monkey that came off my back when I was doing drugs, came off my back again there. – 39:24
- I felt like my big spiritual awakening happened when I was in jail and I was really made new. – 40:28
- How did you figure out how to do forgiveness? It’s one of the hardest skills there is. – 42:08
- Instead of putting 95% of their energy on how I can learn from these and use these to grow, they spend 95% of the time focusing on the mistake and how they could have done it differently. They just stay in this same destructive cycle. – 46:15
- How do you train people? How has it shifted from your time learning in the hardest place actually as you could think of to where you are now? – 48:55
- Give yourself other metrics to focus on other than just the scale, that’s where lifting weights come in. – 52:42
- If somebody said, “Hey, go do 50 pushups,” when I couldn’t do one. I remember what it would’ve felt like, I was intimidated, I was scared, I was like, “There’s no way.” – 56:22
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