Doug Bopst was always “on the heavier side” growing up, and by age 18, he had another problem, too: an opioid addiction. But when he got busted for selling marijuana and wound up in jail in 2008, he turned things around, thanks to a cellmate who pushed him to get in shape. These days, he’s a personal trainer with a book, The Heart of Recovery, due out in March. This is his story.
- Age: 31
- Height: 5’8
- Heaviest weight: 195
- Current weight: 145
- Total Weight Loss: 50 pounds
- Occupation: Personal trainer
He gained weight during high school.
“Growing up, I was always on the heavier side. For a while, I brushed it off as bad genetics, but once I started high school, my self-confidence really took a hit. That’s when I started smoking pot. It was a way to mask my insecurities about how I looked, but the more I smoked, the more weight I seemed to gain. After school, I’d smoke weed, then buy burgers and hot dogs and bags of chips. I ate like crap because I felt like crap; I really didn’t care what I put in my body.”
A panic attack sent him to the ER.
“I was 18 years old when I started having panic attacks. I had just graduated from high school, and was juggling two jobs: delivering pizza and selling marijuana. One night, I was driving around with my friends, and I thought I was having a heart attack. It wasn’t as crazy as it sounded—I was out of shape, smoking tons of weed, and had also picked up a pack-a-day cigarette habit. But when I went to the emergency room, the doctors told me that I’d had an anxiety attack.”
He developed a $ 200-day opioid habit.
“When I say I smoked a lot of weed, that’s not an exaggeration—I smoked so much weed it was no longer working for me anymore. Instead of feeling high, I’d feel anxious and paranoid. I felt so embarrassed—I couldn’t even smoke with my friends anymore. Then someone offered me 5 milligrams of Percocet to numb the anxiety. It worked. It worked so well, over the next year, I developed a $ 200-a-day opioid habit, where I was snorting 700 milligrams of Oxycontin a day.”
He was arrested for selling marijuana.
“I got arrested thanks to a busted car headlight. People had been telling me for months that I needed to get it fixed. It’s like a cardinal sin: You don’t ride around with a busted headlight when you’re selling drugs. Sure enough, I was driving around one day when I saw a cop running his radar; I panicked and flashed my highbeams at him, thinking he wouldn’t notice that one was out. Instead, he pulled me over for flashing him. I guess that was the druggie in me, thinking that was a good idea. The officer searched my car and found a glovebox full of money and a half a pound of marijuana. Then he pulled me out of the car and put me in handcuffs. I was just sitting in the cruiser having flashbacks—all these bad decisions I had made started flooding into my mind, and I kept thinking, ‘My life is over.’”
He was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
“In December of 2008, I was charged with a felony: intention to distribute. The judge sentenced me to 5 years, but he suspended everything but a 90-day stint in jail. He looked at me and said, ‘This felony conviction is going to haunt you for the rest of your life. But if you can prove that you won’t mess up, I’ll take the felony off your record.’ And I thought, ‘Whatever you say—I’m not going to live that much longer anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.’”
His cellmate became his personal trainer.
“I cried when I reported to jail, around the time of my 21st birthday. About a week later—this was when I was still detoxing off Oxycontin—I saw my soon-to-be cellmate doing all these pushups and pullups. He was like this freak-of-nature, and we started talking. He told me that once I was done with my detox, I was going to work out with him. At the time, I was like, whatever, dude, but for some reason, I took him up on his offer one night. I didn’t get off to a good start: I couldn’t do a single pushup. Not even one from my knees. He said, “Dude, you’re fat.” I really hated that. It made me cringe. There were other guys working out nearby, and I remember feeling embarrassed. But I it motivated to make a change, too. I set a goal to do 10 pushups and run a mile by the time my sentence was over, and with his help, I did it. He trained me every day, and by the time I left jail, I was crying again—this time, because I felt sad about leaving. I asked my cellmate how I could ever repay him, and he said, ‘Just pay it forward.’”
He swapped fast food for lean protein.
“When I got out of jail, I started working out every day. I picked up Arnold Schwarzenegger’s book about bodybuilding and started doing his splits. I also cut out fast food completely and revamped my diet. I started eating oatmeal for breakfast, chicken salad for lunch, and a protein shake at night to curb my sweet tooth. I had a whole new mindset—it wasn’t that the pushups and sit-ups were going to change my life, but exercising made me feel confident and motivated.”
He started ‘paying it forward’—as a personal trainer.
“When I was hired for a job at an athletic club, I was still a convicted felon. But this was my chance to pay it forward, and I wasn’t going to let anyone down. Being a personal trainer gave me the chance to really help people, and I shared my whole story with everyone. It paid off, too: During my first year, I brought in more revenue than any other trainer in the company. It’s because I’m so passionate about helping others, just like someone once helped me.”
His experience led him to write The Heart of Recovery.
“The judge removed the felony from my record in 2014. I also started writing. My second book, The Heart of Recovery, comes out in March of 2019. I interviewed so many inspiring people about how they overcame drug addiction and how they take care of their body, either with running, or yoga, or lifting weights. I’ve come a long way in the past decade, but I still have a workout plan from my former cellmate framed on my wall so that I’ll always remember where I came from.”