one rep at a time OR Marv

O.R. Marv joins us today on The SHAIR Podcast.  Marv is the founder of One Rep at a Time. His website blends fitness information with the challenges faced by those in recovery from some sort of addiction.

After years of non-biased research, soul-searching, and step-work, Marv has been able to completely change his approach, not only to fitness, but to nutrition, body image, and overall sense of well-being and spirituality. For years he has only wanted to help people.

Today he has finally found his calling, to give back what was so freely given to him in recovery.

Clean Date: June 22, 2013

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Omar:  First of all, Marv, tell us a little bit about what your normal daily routine looks like, including recover?

Marv:   So I wake up, I start brewing coffee. While I’m brewing coffee I read my daily reflection book of choice. I say my own version of a third-step prayer, then I do some morning cardio because I’m a fitness guy so I’ve got to get that cardio in first thing in the morning or I’m not going to do it. I do that, finish up with that, write my to-do list for the day and start working, whether that be writing, whether it be training clients, working for other websites or whatever, then at some point I talk to somebody at recovery, I make meetings three, four days a week.

Omar:  It’s very important, especially for those of us in early recovery, to try and establish that morning routine to kind of get your juices flowing first of all, and then actually getting the mind-set for the day ready to go so you’re in congruent with your higher power, which is my next question. How do you maintain regular, you said meditating, is there something more you do to maintain your spiritual condition on a daily basis?

Marv:   I suck at meditating but I’m really trying. No, it’s just more if I isolate I don’t talk to other people in recovery and I don’t go to meetings and I don’t put that magnifying glass away then my spiritual condition just gets totally messed up. My first symptom is I get irritated really easily. I don’t let shit just fall off my shoulders. That whole rule if it doesn’t apply, let it fly. I can’t follow that at all. Everything bugs me. I just become irritable, tired, and discontent. That’s my first warning sign that my spiritual condition is lacking.

One of my favorite saying to say, and I hate people who say slogans and crap, but I don’t have bad days, I just have bad moments and if I have enough bad moments to equal 24 hours, I’m just trying to feel sorry for myself and I’ve got to knock that off.

Omar:  Yep, absolutely. Could not agree more. First of all, tell us how much clean time you have and what is your anniversary date?

Marv:   I just celebrated three and a half years while on vacation last week. June 22, 2013 is my clean and sobriety date.

Omar:  Beautiful. Awesome. I love it. Tell us how old you were the first time you drank or used drugs, and more importantly, how did they make you feel?

Marv:   That’s an interesting answer for me because I had tried booze at 16. I tried Wild Turkey in a movie theater and I thought it was gasoline and I thought it was just horrendous and why the hell to people do this? I drank it out of a water bottle that a friend had bought and it was just like, I don’t get that. I tried to smoke marijuana that year and I didn’t know how to smoke correctly, so I didn’t get high and I got made fun of a lot, which is an awesome story but that’s for another time. Then the first time I got loaded was 17. I had a major injury so I still had an arm cast on. I had a head injury and I was really depressed and I was determined to get loaded. I was, I’m depressed, I’m miserable, I’m in pain, F this. I’m going to do what I want.

I got drunk on 151 rum and Smirnoff Ice, so my first three boozes were Wild Turkey, 151 and Smirnoff Ice. Why I kept drinking, probably a warning flag that I was going to develop alcoholism, but I didn’t think this is going to be a problem, it was more of this solves everything. Everything. Smarter, sexier, stronger, I could talk to women, more confident, didn’t need validation from others. Once I got truly drunk that first time I was off and running. That’s what I was going to chase no matter what it cost me to do, no matter what the wreckage was going to be, I don’t care. I found my answer for everything.

Omar:  Number one, what was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?

Marv:   I was too damn smart for my own good. I was going to figure out how I could learn to drink or use like a gentlemen or learn the trick to maintain and I wasn’t going to tell somebody my deepest darkest secrets, I wasn’t going to follow a program, I wasn’t going to meetings daily. I’m going to figure this shit out on my own. I’m analytical. I missed something. I missed something, I’m going to come to the meetings, learn how they use successfully or drink successfully, and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. If X, Y and Z happens so it only got that bad. Had that not happened, I’d have been fine. I’ve just got to learn how to maintain again. I thought I could figure it out on my own and I proved time and time again that that was never going to happen.

Omar:  At what point did you have that spiritual awakening, that a-ha moment in recovery when you accepted you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, by the first time had developed the hope that you could recover?

Marv:   It was when I was in treatment and I encountered myself for being dishonest. That was my biggest fear because I was so worried what everybody would think of me. That night something changed. A weight was lifted from my shoulders and I knew if I could get through that, because that was my biggest fear of just, the scam is up, they’re going to realize I’m a fake and a fraud. I got through that and everything changed from that moment forward.

Omar:  Number three, do you have a favorite book that you would recommend to a newcomer that you read in early recovery?

Marv:   If you’re going to do twelve steps, which I highly recommend … I’ll actually rephrase that. I do twelve step fellowships so the basic text for Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, specifically for any relapse, are chapter seven in the Narcotics Anonymous book about relapse and recovery. That chapter saved my effing life. For the Alcoholics Anonymous book, We Agnostics was my favorite chapter. Today I read “Living Clean”, but you need to, whatever fellowship you’re going to choose you need to read their basic text to understand what it is that you are, in essence, signing up for or what it is that you’re going to do to save your life.

Omar:  What is the best suggestion you have ever received?

Marv:   I would say the biggest … It’s a suggestion, but the biggest distinction that really made a difference for me was when I went to that first rehab at 25, the intake nurse looked at me because I was out of the psych ward, I hadn’t slept in ten days, I was a mess. She looked at me straight in the eyes and she said, “You are not an evil person getting righteous, you are a sick person getting better.” That made a huge difference to me because I’m really good at signing morality, whether it be … It would be as trivial as what I ate or how many ab veins I had popping out that day. That’s just crazy, but I was really good at … I was evil. I was scum of the earth. I was the devil incarnate. I had turned by back on religion and blah, blah, blah, and when she said that I just broke down and melted down. That was the first softening of my outer shell that I developed over the years.

Omar:  Marv, number five, finally. If you could give a newcomer only one suggestion, what would that be?

Marv:   You need to be hard on yourself but you can’t beat yourself up to much. What I mean by this is give yourself a freaking chance. We’ve been talking for what, 80 minutes? While we’ve been talking for 80 minutes a drug addict or alcoholic picked up a drink or a drug for the first time. A drug addict or alcoholic put down a drink or a drug for the last time and drug addict or alcoholic died never once making it into the rooms of the fellowship. You’re given a valuable opportunity and you need to take advantage and you need to beat yourself up to be able to do the work, but the same time, again, like I said before, you’re not evil you are sick. There’s a big distinction.

Fucking A, man, this is he easier, softer way. This is the one way that it has been proven to work for the first time in mankind’s history there’s a proven way that can overcome and help somebody recover. You’re fucking worth it. Quit making these excuses, you’re worth it. Knock it off. Everybody has a relapse in us. I have a relapse in me, Omar, you have a relapse in you, but I don’t know if I have another recovery in me. I don’t know if I’m ever going to make it back so I ain’t going to roll the dice. I’m done playing Russian roulette. Give yourself a chance. I knew what I needed to do. I didn’t know specifics, but I knew the concept of what I needed to do to recover and get clean and get off the drugs and alcohol. It’s just, was I going to do it?


“…give yourself a freaking chance.

Omar:  Absolutely. No question about it. One of the things I like to say is, or something I learned in recovery early on too is be gentle and kind with yourself and love yourself. You have to learn to love yourself.

Marv:   Yeah. When I was in treatment I wrote self-love” on my knuckles every day because I hated myself so much. I would look at that to remind myself. I never got it tattooed, but for four months I had self-love written on my knuckles to try and remind myself that.


Thanks again for your SHAIR, Marv! We SHAIR our stories every Tuesday so subscribe to us on iTunes and Stitcher Radio!

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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.