LifeStyle

How To Reinvent Yourself: Tips From a Convicted Felon

Today we have Doug Bopst on the blog & boy oh boy are you in for a treat.

Michael actually met Doug before I did. It was during the lockdown when Michael went on The Adversity Advantage. He was so impressed with Doug & his story that he wanted to invited Doug onto The Skinny Confidential HIM & HER podcast.

Doug’s story is incredible. He is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met & a MUST listen for anyone experiencing difficulties & wanting to come out the other side of it.

In the episode we talk about addiction, bullying, recovery & transforming your life so be sure to listen to the full episode. In the meantime, I’m so excited that Doug is here for a little q&a.

In this post you’ll learn about all the tools in Doug’s toolbox that have, & still do, help him have an amazing perspective on life, tangible tips you can apply to your own life if you’re struggling, wellness practices that make all the difference, & what jail was really like.

With that, let’s welcome Doug to the blog.

He’s so inspiring and his story is really great for anyone who is experiencing adversity.

Introduce yourself to The Skinny Confidential audience.

Doug Bopst: My name is Doug Bopst. I’m an award-winning personal trainer, author of three books, & host of the Adversity Advantage Podcast on a crusade to inspire others to overcome adversity & become the best version of themselves.

I’m a former convicted felon & drug addict who spent time in jail for “possession with intent to sell.” While locked in a cell, I slayed my personal demons, kicked addiction, & reinvented myself through a combination of faith, family & fitness. As a matter of fact, I haven’t touched drugs since the day I was incarcerated in 2008. 

You’ve overcome a lot of adversity. What are your tips & tricks for anyone experiencing this?

DB: There is so much more that I could add here but this is a good start:

+ Control the controllables: spend most/all of your time focusing on what you CAN control ( health/wellness, inner circle, social media time etc. ).

+ Do things DAILY that will elevate your mood ( exercise, listening to podcasts, spend time with good people, get outside, embrace gratitude, sauna/cold showers etc. ).

+ Don’t numb yourself with substances: you will end up making your adversity MUCH worse over time.

+ Lose the victim mindset & accept the fact that life isn’t fair. Take full responsibility & accountability for the choices that you make & accept that no one is coming to save you. Remind yourself that if you are living today, you have gotten through every other challenge life has thrown at you. 

+ Focus on little wins & small changes. I see so many people try to make massive changes overnight only to fall flat on their face soon after. If you are someone who just got a massive health wake up call, don’t try to do it all at once. A great first step I always give to someone who hasn’t exercised in years is to simply take a 5-10 minute walk a few days a week & build off of that.

+ Embrace discomfort: it’s uncomfortable to face your fears & do what’s necessary to get better during hard times. But, you know what else is uncomfortable? Spending time, months or years later, regretting the fact that you didn’t do the right thing or that you quit on yourself when things got tough.

+ Get introspective: so much growth happens when you are able to find the silver lining in setbacks. This could be lessons learned, wisdom gained, moments of clarity or the wake up call that you needed. Make a pen & paper your best friend & journal your thoughts & feelings during the process.

+ Be of service: One of my favorite things to do if I am having a bad day is to buy the person behind me coffee at Starbucks. I have never regretted it. You instantly feel better when you help someone else. It also takes the attention off of whatever you are going through & you use that energy for something positive.

+ Seek medical attention if necessary: reach out to local therapists, hospitals or other professionals if you feel that you are in danger.

+ Inner circle is everything: surround yourself with people who love, support & challenge you unconditionally. Remember the people you spend time with can either elevate you or bring you down. When adversity comes, you need all the “elevating” you can get.

+ BONUS: Focus on how far you have come & not how far you have to go! Celebrate the GOOD in your life versus solely looking at what’s bad.. Embrace the things that you DO HAVE instead of looking at everything you DON’T. Gratitude is everything & this is a mindset hack that I use often.

To make it simple when you find yourself in a rut try this:

  1. Awareness: what is it that you are going through? (anxious, low energy, depressed etc.).
  2. Acceptance: life isn’t always peachy. Accept the fact that it’s normal to feel stressed, anxious & down during certain points of your life.
  3. Action: do things that will make you happy that are healthy & aligned with the highest version of yourself.

What was jail like & what did you learn?

DB: Jail was scary & life changing all at the same time. When I reported for my 90 day sentence, I was incredibly terrified, anxious & angry & I had no idea what to expect.  At the time, I was a convicted felon & I was in the depths of despair, addiction & hopelessness. I was also severely unhealthy & overweight.

I can remember vividly when the tears flooded my face when I entered the gates of the detention center because I didn’t want to go in. Oddly enough, I also cried when I left because I didn’t want to leave ( more on that in a second ). On top of the crippling amount of fear & uncertainty I was dealing with, I also had to detox cold turkey from the opiates I was addicted to.

I had been doing several hundred milligrams per day so I knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. It ended up taking me nearly 3 weeks to fully detox ( which felt like the worst case of the flu ). The hardest part though was feeling like I was trying to crawl out of my own skin. As I look back, it was the old me leaving me so that the new me could be born.

One thing I definitely learned is that I had taken my freedoms for granted & I promised myself I would be more thankful for the little things in life upon my release.  My soon to be cellmate begged me to start working out with him when I was finished my detox. Initially, I thought “yeah right…I could be a model for Pillsbury right about now…” A few nights later, my cellmate was asking me more about my story & why I was in jail.

I began to blame everyone for my problems except MYSELF. He told me to “quit being a bitch…” & said that I have two choices: you can be a “man” & own your problems & your choices & do what’s needed to get better or you can be a “bitch” & go cry in the corner & blame everyone else in your life. He was right.

I was caught up in the victim mindset & it was preventing me from making choices to change my life. That conversation ignited me & I took him up on his workout offer not too long after. I could barely walk or do a pushup on my knees when I started. But, with his training, motivation & inspiration while I was in there, I was able to do a set of 10 pushups & run a mile by the time my sentence was up.

My life was forever changed. I still have the workout plan he gave me when I left so that I never forget where I came from. I got out & had this new found level of confidence & self esteem that had been completely absent in my life. I learned the importance of discipline, setting & achieving goals, getting uncomfortable & believing in myself when the odds were stacked against me. Jail unexpectedly taught me all of that & more. I am forever grateful for my time incarcerated & for my cellmate who helped save my life. 

What are 3 books you look to when it comes to motivating yourself & staying on track?

DB: Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon

Limitless by Jim Kwik

Are there any daily practices or habits you have that make all the difference in your day?

DB: Oh yes. Some of my daily practices & habits are that I exercise about 5-6 days/week ( strength training, conditioning & core work ) & as you will read below, running is like a moving meditation for me.

My nutrition is super important to me & it’s not just what I eat. It’s what I listen to, watch, read & surround myself with as well. I am very mindful of all of that. Some other things that make a big difference are taking “quiet time” to think or chat with God, listening to podcasts & limiting/avoiding things that aren’t aligned with the goals I am chasing. 

Another habit of mine is connection. I connect with multiple people every single day whether it’s a friend, mentor, colleague or member of my family. Practicing gratitude is also a must. It makes all the difference.

What would you say to anyone who is sober curious?

DB: I would say give it a try. There are so many people that I talk to who say that when they try a “30 day sobriety or alcohol free” challenge they feel so much better mentally, emotionally & physically. Even though it will have its challenges too ( you may have cravings when at parties/people questioning you etc. ) it’s so worth it to at least try it & prove to yourself that you can live your life without being reliant on substances to have fun or deal with life.

I would also make a plan & maybe list out activities you are going to do instead of drinking & some goals for the challenge as well.  Remember, your TRUE FRIENDS won’t make fun of you or give you a hard time because you are trying to do something to better yourself. Maybe for the first few weeks try to “eat in” to get into a rhythm & then test going out to a restaurant.  If a friend asks “why aren’t you drinking?” you can say “I am always looking to challenge myself & my new challenge is proving to myself I can live without alcohol.”

What’s your advice to someone who wants to start a podcast?

DB: My advice is just to start. There are so many people who wait to do things like this until they have everything lined up perfectly & never end up doing it. I wish I would have started mine years ago. Don’t get caught up in the comparison trap like I did!

Find a niche/topic that you are passionate about, figure out who your audience is/whether you want guests or not & get a mic/headset & just start recording.  Don’t invest in crazy production or equipment right away. Wait until you can prove to yourself that you are in this for the long haul & have some time under your belt.

Remember. your early episodes might SUCK & that’s perfectly fine, you will get better over time. Try to do your absolute best to be consistent, not to look at numbers & always be looking for more ways to master your craft. Keep in mind… people will listen to the show because of YOU! Stay true to yourself! 

If someone is struggling with addiction what are some first steps they can take?

DB: This is a really tough question & there are many ways to go about it. Some words of wisdom are:

+ Know that you are not alone & don’t be afraid to ask for help: call someone that you trust the most & share openly & honestly about what’s going on. I would also check out community support groups either online or offline. If you aren’t comfortable doing either of those, don’t be afraid to lean on social media. You would be shocked at how many people would be willing to help or point you in the right direction. 

+ Remember that the process is not going to be easy at all. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. I often will ask people to come up with a deep rooted “why” for getting into recovery. Like getting “sober” or “clean” is just surface level. The deeper rooted reasons could be to fix a marriage, have a relationship with your kids or save your own life. Also remember, if you are still living today there is purpose in your life! Don’t give up! 

+ Lean into the pain: one of the hardest things about getting into recovery is that you are forced to take a look at why things transpired the way they did. But, with self discovery & humility comes growth. You will begin to hopefully see what the underlying issues were that may have caused the addiction in the first place. Don’t be afraid to seek medical attention or therapy. 

+ Find healthy coping strategies: something that was pivotal in my early recovery from addiction was finding new ways to deal with anxiety, stress, depression etc. For me, exercise/running was the strategy when I would experience discomfort, but find what works for you. It could be prayer, attending a community support meeting, phoning a trusted friend, taking a hike, sauna/cold shower or a variety of other things.  

+ Don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter 32. Remember the person who has 32 years of recovery had to start with one day. & with that one day they continued to put together a bunch more “one days.” Be RELENTLESS about doing WHATEVER IT TAKES to make it through each “one day” & never stop believing in yourself. 

What is a morning routine that sets you up for success?

DB: Getting hydrated first thing is super important for me to have a great day as is coffee! Going for a good run in the morning is also a staple for me. Running is like a moving meditation & I normally will throw on a podcast or some music & it gives me an opportunity to think & process some current thoughts & emotions.

Some of my best ideas & biggest breakthroughs have come during a run.  I will also jot down some tasks for the day that I need to get done along with gratitude & quiet time.

What’s a book, podcast or resource you recommend? 

A few of my current favorite podcasts: Rich Roll, Impact Theory, Ed Mylett & The Skinny Confidential HIM & HER.

Where can everyone find you? Pimp yourself out! 

Podcast: The Adversity Advantage podcast (Apple, Spotify, etc)

Instagram: @dougbopst    

Website: dougbopst.com

Books: From Felony To Fitness To Free, The Heart of Recovery, Faith Family Fitness.

There you have it.

Be sure to listen to Doug’s episode on The Skinny Confidential HIM & HER. He dives deep & you’ll learn all about how he conquered his demons & reinvented himself.

Also be sure to listen to Michael on Doug’s podcast, The Adversity Advantage where he shares tips for gaining confidence, starting a successful business & not caring what others think of you.

x, lauryn

+ if you’re into overcoming adversity, be sure to listen to our episode with Nick Vujicic.

++ read my experience with addiction in my family here.

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