Journal Entry 

 Health and Hope In Prison 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Anyone can survive imprisonment. To thrive inside requires a personal strategy and daily tactics. 

Early during my sentence, which spanned over two decades, I learned how to create a strategy. To maintain my mental and physical health in an environment that can easily erode both, I had to adapt and evolve constantly.

At 23, my world shrunk to the confines of a solitary cell. I didn’t want isolation to break me. To build strength, I ran in place, clocking more than an hour at a time. I couldn’t leave the cell, but I could do 1,000 pushups in sets of 20. This routine strengthened my mind. 

After a year, the judicial proceedings finished and the marshals transferred me to prison. Once I got to the general prison population, my routine shifted to weight training and running. The oval tracks of federal prisons became my marathon courses. I ran around those tracks for hours, building endurance. The exercise helped me both physically and mentally. Running became a metaphor for my journey – a relentless forward motion against challenges.

As years passed and I grew older, prison systems changed. Institutions removed weights, so I spent most of my time running, finding solace in its rhythmic, meditative quality. This physical discipline was crucial in building my confidence and resilience. It taught me a valuable lesson: even within confinement, we can set and surpass goals.

In our course “Preparing for Success after Prison,” we emphasize such strategies for maintaining hope and health. Whether through physical exercise, education, or creative pursuits, finding a personal method to cope and grow is vital. This course is designed to help you discover and develop these strategies, turning your time inside into a period of profound personal growth.

We encourage you to share your journey and the methods you use to maintain hope and health. By sending an email to [email protected] with “Request a Book” in the subject line, you can access resources like “Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45-Year Sentence,” “Success after Prison,” and more. These books, available through our nonprofit, provide insights and strategies for navigating through and beyond incarceration.

Consider the question:

  • What daily practice can I adopt that will not only keep me physically fit but also mentally strong during my time here?

Responding to such questions can help to build resilience.

Additionally, set a personal development goal for the next month. It could be establishing a regular exercise routine, meditating, or learning something new. Ensure this goal aligns with your broader vision of health and hope.

Remember, your current environment doesn’t define your limits. With the right mindset and tools, you can turn even the most challenging situations into opportunities for growth and success.

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