From Addiction and Felony to Transforming Life Through Health and Fitness with Doug Bopst
Everyone has a burden to carry. Everyone has pain or trauma. But not everyone handles it the same way — sometimes, the weight is too great for someone, and they look for anything to numb their pain. Chasing numbness leads them down a rabbit hole of slow self-destruction and disregarding the important things in life. But there's a light that you can reach, no matter how deep the pit you're in. The path to transforming life may take some time, but it's never too late.
In today's episode, fitness trainer Doug Bopst joins us to share his journey in transforming his life from addiction and a felony conviction. He discusses the negative mentalities stacked up in his mind that made him turn to drugs at a young age. Doug also talks about how addiction affected his life and relationships and the catalyst that sparked his recovery journey. He imparts the lessons he has learned from his life story and how he uses it to help others.
If you want to learn what it takes for you to go through the process of transforming your life, this episode is for you!
Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
- Discover the importance of establishing an identity for yourself through how you see yourself and show up.
- Find out the role of having a mentor and people who guide, motivate, and hold you accountable throughout your recovery.
- Learn the most critical aspects of the addiction recovery journey and transforming life.
Doug’s Last Name
- Doug had no confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth growing up.
- People have been mispronouncing his last name throughout his life, but he couldn’t stand up for himself.
- It wasn’t until he gained self-confidence that he dared to correct people.
- Your name is your identity. You'll be sacrificing your identity in other ways if you can't stay true to that part.
- Doug was born and raised in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland.
- He has been a trainer for over ten years. Doug also hosts the Adversity Advantage Podcast, wrote multiple books, and spoke at various events.
- Growing up, Doug used adversity at his complete disadvantage. He ended up incarcerated on felony drug charges.
- Turning to drugs and ending up incarcerated was him mismanaging pain, stress, and his identity.
Stacking Negative Mentalities Inside Your Head
- Doug's "What's wrong with me?" mentality is rooted in two things: his parents' divorce and loving sports yet being unathletic.
- The first thing he used to numb the pain was food. Doug also blamed his genetics for his athletic ability.
- This mentality stacks limiting beliefs and creates a massive balloon of anxiety, fear, and worry.
- Doug turned to drugs at 14 and found that he could pop this balloon and numb his pain.
- Addiction keeps you chasing that same numbing feeling. Because he couldn't afford to buy pot every day, Doug started selling it himself.
How Addiction Affected Doug’s Relationships
- If you don't establish an identity for yourself, you will use other people to create it for you.
- Doing what he needed to do to fit in with a certain crowd created tension at home.
- Doug’s mother kicked him out of the house at 16 and sent him to live with his dad full time.
- He transferred to another school and ended up meeting different people doing more drugs.
- Doug barely graduated high school. Despite being a decent student and having dreams, he was only worried about fitting in.
The Catalyst Moment
- He started to sell more drugs for money after graduating high school and met more people doing it.
- Doug eventually started doing cocaine every day, which affected his anxiety. But ending up in the ER because of his panic attacks didn’t change anything for him.
- He went from taking five milligrams to hundreds of milligrams of Percocet every day to maintain his lifestyle.
- On May 5, 2008, Doug got arrested for felony drug charges. A cop pulled him over before a drug deal for a busted headlight and searched the car.
- The judge convicted Doug of felony drug charges. He initially got a 5-year sentence in jail but was put under a 90-day suspension.
- He then received a 5-year probation, 200 hours of community service, and fines.
- The judge offered to take the felony conviction off his record if he completes the probation without any problem.
- Doug cried when he walked into the gates of the detention center at 21. He also cried when he left because he didn’t want to leave.
Transforming Life and Beginning Recovery
- Doug had to go through detox while in jail. A detox from drugs is like having the worst case of the flu for three weeks straight.
- Doug’s transformation started when his cellmate asked him how he landed in jail.
- When he told his cellmate his story, his cellmate told him to quit being a victim. It’s not what Doug wanted to hear, but it was what he needed to hear.
- His cellmate told him to own his choices. These words empowered Doug.
Starting to Workout
- After asking his cellmate why he couldn't do push-ups, he replied it's because he was fat. Not wanting to remain fat drove and motivated Doug.
- During this time, Doug was fat physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. That is, he was carrying a lot of weight with him.
- His cellmate trained, motivated, and held Doug accountable. As a result, he successfully reached his fitness goal after his sentence.
- A light bulb went off in his head; he was finally going to change his life.
- The only repayment his cellmate asked of him was not to mess up and pay it forward.
Changing and Paying it Forward
- Doug stuck to his word. He got to a place where he wanted to help people use fitness to change their lives.
- He became a personal trainer, wrote several books, and has shared his story on various platforms since then.
- While changing, he had to earn back the trust of his family.
Doug’s Recovery Journey
- He didn't have a clear-cut recovery program. Fitness became his catalyst for getting out of jail.
- Through that, he decided to change his friends, eat better, go back to school, become a trainer, and pay it forward.
- His grandparents took him in when he got out of jail. They gave him the sense of love and accountability he needed.
- When you’re in the process of transforming life, you need to take responsibility for yourself.
Accepting His Relationship with His Family
- Part of recovery and life is accepting that some family dynamics will not be perfect.
- The key is to continue working on yourself.
- Doug is unsure if there was anything his parents could have done differently to help him with his addiction.
- But he wished his mother asked him “Why?” instead of “What?”
On Addiction and Battling It
- When we look at the “what,” we come down on the person instead of the underlying trauma.
- Addiction is an internal battle displayed externally. There’s no blueprint in handling this situation.
Transforming Life through Faith
- Doug was at a point in his life wherein he achieved what he previously wanted. Still, there were moments when he felt unhappy.
- One of Doug's clients, who is a pastor, invited him to church.
- Though resistant at first, Doug finally tried it out. After praying, he felt the monkey on his back come off — the same monkey that would come off when he was doing drugs.
Doug’s Final Advice
- You may be in a place of darkness now, but things will get better. You just need to keep moving forward.
- If you make choices aligned with your highest self and take one small step every day, you'll get to the light.
How Doug Feels Radically Loved
- Doug experiences radical love when he's making choices aligned to his truest self and who he wants to be in the future.
- Self-love means that you hold yourself accountable even when life is tough.
5 Powerful Quotes
[11:43] “Because I didn't establish who I really was, I didn't stand up for myself. I was just looking to fit in. I always say to people, if you don't establish your identity for yourself, you will end up using other people to create that identity for you.”
[28:20] “[My cellmate said,] ‘You can be a man, and own your choices, and know that you got yourself here. And it's up to you to get yourself out.’”
[31:34] “What drives me is just being able to share my story, not to, for the notoriety of it, but to help other people get inspired, to help other people get motivated, to not go down the same path that I did, or if they're going down that same path to course correct, if you will.”
[35:43] “I believe in having a safety net. But I also believe in doing the work and taking responsibility for yourself. Because no one's coming to save you.”
[45:04] “Just know that if you just put one foot in front of the other and make choices that are aligned with your highest self, and in your future, and where you want to go one small step every single day, you'll get to the light. I promise you. There's no guarantee when or how it's gonna happen. But you'll get there; you just got to keep moving forward.”
Doug Bopst is the founder of Doug Bopst Fitness. He is also an award-winning personal trainer, bestselling author, and public speaker who has worked with various companies, organizations, and schools. The books he has written reflect his personal story of transforming his life from addiction. His purpose is to inspire people to get into recovery and improve their overall health and wellness.
Doug is also the host of the Adversity Advantage Podcast, where he interviews people about their trial-to-triumph stories. He has been featured on various national media platforms and podcasts. In 2015, The Baltimore Sun voted him as one of the "12 Fitness Heroes" in Baltimore.
If you want to connect with Doug, you can his website and follow him on Instagram.
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