Exercise and Endorphins on TSM

In this short video excerpt from our Tackling the Tough TSM Questions live stream on Twitch, C Three Foundation CEO Claudia Christian and Executive Director Jenny Williamson discuss the topic of exercise and other endorphin-boosting activities while on TSM.

Watch the full video Tackling the Tough TSM Questions on our YouTube channel.



Exercise and Endorphins on TSM


Jenny: All right. This one I see a lot, and it’s on a pretty regular basis. If I’m supposed to do endorphin boosting activities on my alcohol free days, should I avoid things like exercise and spicy foods on my drinking days?

Claudia: No! So I get so riled up because people take the book so literally, and I think Dr. Sinclair, god bless him, I think that he would maybe, just much like I would change a lot of things that I said in my TEDx talk, like ordering naltrexone online, and that addiction is mainly biological, I think he might say, you know what, this is a little too hard-core.


Any exercise is great exercise. Any enjoyment of life in recovery is really great for you.


So Dr. Sinclair says in the book that you have to have a washout day. After you stop drinking and taking naltrexone on a Friday, that you shouldn’t do anything on a Saturday, and then you do wonderful things on Sunday. In my experience, personally and both anecdotally with thousands, at this point, of people that I’ve worked with, or known that are on TSM, any exercise is great exercise. Any enjoyment of life in recovery is really great for you. If you want to have a spicy curry when you take naltrexone and have a beer with that spicy curry, go for it. If you want to take a walk, you drink on Friday night, you want to get up on Saturday morning, take a walk, please do it. It’s just going to create beautiful dopamine and endorphins in your system, and you’re going to be in better shape. You’re going to see some nature. You’re going to feel better about yourself, and you’re going to start creating good habits.

So we want you to fall in love with life again. If by all means, play guitar when you’re on naltrexone, it doesn’t matter. Make love when you’re on naltrexone. People say, “Oh, is it gonna feel good?” It feels good. You know, all of this stuff. Go for a swim. You shouldn’t stop living because you’re on naltrexone. People take naltrexone every single day with abstinence. They take it every single day for neurological disorders and for pain and for sleep. It should not be a give all be all. However, that said, the theory is and remains that when you do not have any alcohol or naltrexone in your system, take advantage of good endorphin producing activities on those days for sure. That’s when you are going to feel a great reward, a wonderful reinforcement of these good activities. Okay, so it doesn’t mean don’t do these good activities on the days that you’re drinking or taking naltrexone. It just means, really keep in mind, that if you have an alcohol free, naltrexone free day, that’s the day to hit it. Does that make sense?


If you have existing, healthy, endorphin-producing activities before you start the Sinclair Method, do not ever, ever, ever, ever, give up something that you’re already doing that’s healthy for you.


Jenny: I mean that is pretty much exactly what I usually tell people. I mean first of all, endorphins come from so many different places as it is, it’s not like, barring a major medical emergency, you’re going to isolate yourself from endorphins. Those are going to be there. But if you have existing, healthy, endorphin-producing activities before you start the Sinclair Method, do not ever, ever, ever, ever, give up something that you’re already doing that’s healthy for you. And exercise is about so much more than endorphins. Exercise – it’s keeping you in a healthy, you know, it’s stretching your muscles, it’s building your muscles, it’s helping your cardiovascular system and your blood supply. There are so many benefits to exercising. It would be absolutely counterproductive to stop doing those things just because you took your naltrexone. Now there are ways that you can also, you know, mitigate the dampening from naltrexone. I’ve seen a lot of people over the years who will take their naltrexone when they get to their gym for their 45-minute workout, knowing that it’s not going to be at its peak efficiency until after their workout’s done, knowing that they’re going to go home after their workout, and have a beer. And so they’re getting that done before they drink, before the naltrexone is active and concentrated. But also, if you’re drinking in the evening and you work out in the morning, you know again, short half-life, there’s not as much naltrexone left in your system, so go for it. Maybe you need to just change your patterns around. I mean you probably don’t want to take your naltrexone and then wait an hour and go to the gym, because that’s going to be problematic but …

Claudia: I’m gonna let you keep talking. I’m gonna be right back okay

Jenny: But the whole point of TSM, the whole point of recovery, is to build a better quality of life. You know, now that’s not, the TSM part is by building a better health through less alcohol, whether you choose to reduce, or completely eliminate alcohol eventually, you know that’s up to you, but with alcohol being dose response uh a dose-dependent to many chronic and health issues, you know, reducing reduces risk, reducing all the way reduces it a little bit more. So, either way is fine, but you want to do as many healthy good habits as you can, both on and off naltrexone. I mean otherwise, if you’re not improving your quality of life, what’s the point?  What are some of the things that you guys have done on your alcohol free days or even that have boosted endorphins on days when you have drank? I mean get-togethers can boost endorphins and yet they can also revolve around alcohol so it’s two at the same time. What do you guys do?

Of course if I’m not talking when Claudia comes back she’s going to think we were all just sitting here waiting for her. There. She’s back.

Claudia: Sorry. Nature called.

Jenny: Yeah, so I’ve asked the audience what they do on, you know, both on and off their naltrexone and alcohol days, alcohol free days, and I don’t know maybe the sound of my voice and your disappearance put everybody to sleep. What are some other things – oh hiking in state parks. Again so many benefits out even beyond endorphins.

Claudia: I used to kill the hour on my treadmill, and I’ll tell you, I still felt great. So you know I had, I would take naltrexone, and then work out, so but all of those things that you’re talking about like nature hikes and everything, can only add value and benefits to your health, and your life, your mental health, everything. You know, getting your heart rate up immediately causes a relaxation effect afterwards and you’re gonna get that that yummy feeling of uh, it lessens anxiety. It does a myriad of things. Just gonna feel better, so do it as often as possible.

Jenny: Yeah, we’ve got exercise, hiking, socializing with friends and family, petting fur babies, walk it out with gusto. Yeah all of these are good whether it’s an alcohol-free day or not.

Claudia: Absolutely. Live your life. Enjoy it whether or not you’re on naltrexone.

Jenny: Yeah. Otherwise, as I said while you were away, what’s the point if it’s not bringing you a better quality of life, why?

Claudia: But do keep in mind that the dual aspect, yep, that on those wash out, the days that you have absolutely nothing in your system you are going to feel fabulous. I got addicted to Pilates, and I still do it to this day. So, and that was back in 2009, so I kept that love of that Pilates, because I discovered it in the beginning of TSM, and that was probably on my alcohol free, naltrexone these days unbeknownst to me I used that dual aspect of TSM to become sort of um in love and more prone to do that particular activity.

Jenny: All right, well if we don’t have any questions on this one. This one apparently was not nearly as complex of a question, but yet it’s still really important because it comes up so often. The next one we’ll get to is going to be a little bit more of a doozy, so we’re going to go ahead and take our quick pause and transition over to question number seven.