Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


The other day someone asked if I were going to make any New Year’s Resolutions. I said no.

It’s not like I have anything against change or improvement. But for me change doesn't occur overnight nor depend upon a certain date. Like New Year’s.

Change isn't a simple process. Like deciding I’ll do it, and it happens. No, for me change is a gradual process. An example is when I quit smoking 28 years ago.

Once I made the commitment I began making slow changes in my smoking habits. I went from unfiltered to filtered cigarettes. After that I progressed to cigarettes with less tar. Then I tapered to less than ten cigarettes a day. And when the time came to quit – July 25, 1984 at 9:00 am, I was ready. I’d armed myself with Nicorette gum and took the plunge. I've never smoked anything since.

I admire those who change overnight – but I don’t have their fortitude. That’s not my nature.

Each change comes slowly. With exercise, I started light - with few repetitions - and not a lot of weight. Twenty-two years later I’m still at the gym six days a week and enjoy a decent level of fitness. I kept at it because I didn't hurt myself. Nor did I have unreasonable expectations about what my badly-abused middle-aged body could do when I started working out again in 1991.

Same with diet. I gave up meat 22 years, but slowly. First beef and pork. A few years later chicken, then fish. Today I eat virtually no animal products. But I couldn't have done it over night.

To incorporate changes in our lives my recommendation is take baby steps.