In this episode, Chris Scott gives his advice and tips for taking advantage of the lockdown, biochemical optimization, obtaining a daily routine, and keeping social during the pandemic.
Here is the transcript of this episode:
Hey everyone, I’m Chris Scott and I’ve got a solo-cast for you here. Today I just want to talk about some things that are helping me to dominate “lockdown life.” Recently Matt Finch and I have done some episodes discussing why now is the perfect time to end your addiction, and how you can make the most of any horrible time by focusing on what matters.
But you already know that I’m a silver lining optimist who sees all setbacks as opportunities. I don’t want to beat a dead horse today. (I probably will anyway.) But most importantly, I’m going to give you a window into my life since this whole pandemic unfolded.
Like most of you, I kept an eye on the news when this whole thing began, but I wanted to avoid getting too consumed by it. I have an early article on Fit Recovery about the dangers of focusing on the news too much. We feel what we focus on, and if we’re focused on people dying in other parts of the world, it simply multiplies the misery because we can’t do anything about it and we’re not focused on making ourselves the best we can be. And we can’t help other people if we’re in a suboptimal state ourselves.
Statistically a lot of people who slide into addiction are empaths; we easily take on the pain of others. And even if we have a hard exterior, we’re prone to guilt for not taking on the pain of others. But we have to realize that refusing to take on more pain than we can handle is NOT cold or self-indulgent; it’s practical and necessary for making the kind of dent in the world that we were born to make.
So back to the crisis unfolding. I think there had been a few hundred deaths total in the U.S. by the time the virus threw my personal life into disarray. My yoga studio closed down, followed by my MMA gym, and weightlifting gym. I’d become pretty dependent on regular workouts followed by a hot steam room session and cold pool plunge. I’ve also long extolled the virtues of “being a regular” at such places in your life post-addiction; there’s a valuable oxytocin (and probably serotonin) boost from having places that you go where people are happy to see you in your transformed state. They’re happy to see you even if they don’t know anything about your past or your transformation, because after we transcend addiction and repair ourselves from scratch, often our posture and facial expressions and general mood indicate that we’re the kind of people who have our shit together and we focus on what matters in life. Especially if we’ve been following the tip in my book Drinking Sucks!, which says always dress just a little nicer than you have to no matter where you’re going.
So obviously for myself along with pretty much every single person in this country, there was some initial disappointment and fear of boredom that accompanied the mass closure of activities. Not to mention the elephant in the room – the fear of getting the virus, whether the more severe reports were true, and even worse, the fear that my family or friends might become infected. But in early recovery, I’d cemented in my mind the axiom that we can only do what it’s in our power to do. Worrying about anything beyond that is totally futile. So I was going to play it safe to the best of my ability, avoid getting sick or getting people sick as best I could, and more importantly figure out how to emerge from this crisis as a better and stronger person than I was before, in all possible ways.
The first thing I realized was that most of my clients don’t belong to three different gyms – in fact, I’d had a client in a different country who quit a liter of vodka per day using only supplements, cold showers, pushups in his tiny apartment, and our coaching sessions. He went to a shop across the street to get some interpersonal interaction each day because he’d burned all his bridges. So whenever this crisis ends, I’ll be SUPER grateful for luxuries like steam rooms, saunas, and nice people at yoga classes. But until then, I’ll be grateful for what I do have – and I’ve realized that there’s a LOT we can feel good about focusing on every day if we structure our lives properly in this strange and unprecedented world.
So here’s the first thing I did: I I Enhanced My Biochemical Optimization Regimen.
I’m talking about supplements here. I experiment with different supplements often, and my goals are not necessarily the same as yours. I’m long past using supplements for repairing alcohol damage and well into the maintenance or optimization phase – which means that I’m trying to turbo-charge my immune system, repair my body from workouts, make my brain work as best as possible, and protect myself from aging – especially brain aging.
I’m going to share with you my exact biochemical optimization regimen as of this moment in time, but I want to mention that you shouldn’t start here if you’re still addicted or haven’t done nutrient repair. Some of you might find my current regimen useful, especially if you’ve been off of alcohol or drugs for some time. But if you’re not there yet, check out my online course Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0 or Matt Finch’s opiate recovery courses before ordering anything I’m about to discuss.
When I wake up in the morning, I typically have a huge glass of water and start making my coffee or Yerba Mate tea. Yerba Mate is a south american tea that’s known for “energizing the soul,” while coffee “energizes the body.” It’s a bit more euphoric than coffee and less jittery. I’d say it’s somewhere between a strong green tea and coffee, but it makes you feel GOOD. I prefer the Mate Factor Dark Roast, which I make with one tablespoon in a French Press.
I don’t usually eat first thing upon waking – often I’ll wait several hours, and in the meantime I’ll do my morning routine, which we’ll get to here in a bit. I prefer to take supplements with food to avoid nausea. So once I do finally eat, I’ll take my supplements: A scoop of organic beet powder to support heart health, a scoop of Tonic Alchemy by Dragon Herbs which makes me feel noticeably more energetic and uplifted, and a scoop of Naked Nutrient mushroom powder that contains a number of medicinal and adaptogenic mushrooms. Then I take a range of capsules, which I would take in powder form but it looks like if I want that, I’ll have to make it myself.
I’ll just list them here:
- Legion Triumph to cover all of my bases
- Krill Oil to support my brain and reduce inflammation
- CoQ10 for heart health, since I had high cholesterol during my drinking years (which is very common, in part because the liver isn’t working as it should)
- Astaxanthin, a nutrient contained in Krill oil naturally but which taken in isolation provides protection against the sun, kind of like an “internal sunscreen,” and increases endurance
- Quercetin, which has anti-aging, anti-cancer, and anti-allergy properties. The pollen where I live has been out of control, and even though quitting drinking largely cured my allergies, it’s impossible not to literally inhale mouthfuls of pollen if you’re outside.
- BCM-95, which is the most potent form of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, that I’m aware of. I use this to prevent joint inflammation from exercise as well as reduce any neuroinflammation that could contribute to brain aging.
- Vitamin D3, which has high quality studies supporting its use for immune system support and which we’ve discussed at length on previous episodes of this show.
- Immune Support by CalmSupport, which you can get 20% off by using my coupon TAR20. I should mention that I’m also a huge fan of SourceNaturals Wellness Tabs, which also works very well but is quite expensive at the moment.
- In the even that I or my family get coronavirus, I have 1,000 mg liposomal vitamin C capsules and N-Acetyl Cysteine on hand. I’ve knocked out colds by taking 10 grams of liposomal vitamin C, and NAC reduces inflammation in the lungs and has already helped people with COVID-19 get off of ventilators.
I also take a range of herbal tinctures from Dragon Herbs each morning. These are very expensive and alcohol-based, but a little bit goes a long way. I like to add them into a smoothie with the beet powder and Tonic Alchemy; you’ll never notice the tiny amount of alcohol in them. But people in early recovery from alcohol addiction might want to opt for the capsule versions instead. Generally, liquid or powder is better absorbed than capsules – but Dragon Herbs is great stuff.
Here are a few other things I’ve been using during this time to support my biochemistry:
- Molekule air purifier (that’s “molecule” with a “k”), which I keep in my bedroom to get rid of all allergens and household chemicals that could be floating around. This is especially important now that we’re all spending more time inside our homes than usual. I talked recently on this podcast with Dr. John Umhau about the benefits of “open air therapy,” one of which, it turns out, could simply be the absence of harmful chemicals being emitted by our carpets and even furniture. I’ve only had the Molecule air purifier for a week, and it was pretty expensive, but I consider it as an important investment in my long-term health.
- Dram “Beauty Bubbles.” This is one of my favorite non-alcoholic beverages that has to be gotten online. It contains 25 mg of CBD, no carbs, and it contains other adaptogenic herbs and tastes fantastic. I like to pour it into a champagne glass.
- Curious Elixirs. This is the most recent addition to my repertoire of alcohol-free beverages – like Dram, it’s not cheap but it can be obtained easily online. I have to say it’s the most unique tasting out of all of them, although the emphasis is more on taste than on functional effects. If I wanted to feel relaxed AND please my tastebuds, I’d have a Dram followed by a Curious Elixir.
- Ancient Minerals bath salts. A client of mine recently introduced this brand of magnesium salt to me, and I’ve been using it almost every night. Because it’s magnesium chloride instead of magnesium sulfate, it’s more rapidly absorbed into the skin. Many people who don’t have a strong response to traditional epsom salts find this brand to be incredible. Sulfate does have detoxification benefits though, so I will continue to use both.
For anyone who’s wondering, my own supplement BioRebalance WILL absolutely be back – but we don’t know when, because Amazon handles our fulfillment. We have 1,500 units at their door, but there are delays in stocking due to the crisis.
Alright, that’s enough geeking out on biochemical optimization for now. I want to turn my attention to some other strategies that have helped me to dominate lockdown life!
I’ve made it a point to preserve, and even turbo-charge, my Morning and Evening Routines.
Back in January I read The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, which was recommended to me by Kymberly Stephens, who’s a brain spotting expert. She was actually a fellow speaker, along with myself, at Tricia Lewis’s Recovery Happy Hour Retreat in Dallas. I already had a decent morning routine, but reading the Miracle Morning really helped me dial it up. I now use a 5-minute iPhone timer to make sure that I get through journaling, meditation, breath work, and reading – all within 20 minutes after my first cup of coffee or tea. There’s a huge sense of self-efficacy from doing all of those things before your day even really begins.
As for my evening routine, I keep it pretty simple. I dim the lights, turn on my himalayan salt lamps, and turn on a diffuser with clary sage oil, which has been shown in studies to aid in relaxation. I think the studies involved pregnant women – I’m not a woman and I’m definitely not pregnant, but clary sage was an anchor for relaxation for me ever since my days of early recovery. So at the very least, it’s kind of become a subjective scent signal for chilling out and winding down – just like the scent of red wine was before I quit drinking.
It can be really tempting during this time to turn on Netflix instead of do any kind of proactive routine. I did this a few times when the crisis began unfolding, and I always had a good excuse. I actually turned on Netflix and watched two episodes of Tiger Kings after doing my normal nightly routine. My primitive brain, which no longer cares about alcohol, decided that it should go into slumber party mode and stay up all night because there wasn’t really much to do the next day anyway!
As it turned out, the negative momentum I achieved by staying up until 4 AM watching Tiger King for no reason translated into a late start the next day, which then translated into a week of struggling to get my wake-up time back on point. I’m not saying that you should never watch Netflix, but if you do, make it something that you’ve allotted for instead of a reflexive response to boredom. The sole exception to this is if you’re in the early phase of detoxing off of alcohol or drugs, in which case watching Netflix without falling into your addictive behavior is actually a sort of achievement. But after several days, watching shows gets really boring anyway.
So with all of those nuances balanced in your mind, I want to say that I think the most dangerous psychological barrier to progress for anyone in addiction recovery right now, during this coronavirus pandemic or panic, is what I call the “blizzard mentality.” The idea that we can sit back and drink schnapps and just wait it out. If this is what you’ve been doing, then you already know that mindless hedonism is unsustainable. This is because you’ve probably been doing it for 2-4 weeks by now, and you’ve reached the point of near-depletion for your “feel-good” brain chemicals. There’s just not much else to squeeze out. I got to this point with alcohol without a blizzard or a national pandemic, and it was pure hell. Alcohol simply stopped curing the alcohol withdrawal, so I was at a sort of permanent rock bottom with no way out that I knew of.
If this is the case for you, then I strongly urge you to invest in an online course or coaching program, and preferably one tailored to your addiction. And since supplementation is the a glaring omission in most recovery programs – and since it’s a strategy that’s incredibly convenient to use at home – I recommend incorporating supplementation into your home recovery plan as well.
But back to my strategies for dominating lockdown life. I’ve spent more time on important relationships, ironically, even though I haven’t been able to go out as much. I’ve used this time to reconnect through emails, text, and FaceTime with friends who I’ve long been close to, but for whom life has simply gotten in the way of consistent interactions. I’ve been really lucky in a way to be able to make use of two purchases that I considered to be somewhat decadent when I made them – a jet ski and a pool table. I’ve been able to use the jet ski to get to an uninhabited beach to work out at. It’s really nice to get some fresh air and sun, and I know there are parts of the country where this is barely even possible.
I’ve also spent time playing pool with family and one close friend who lives nearby. In my post-addiction phase of life, I made it a point early on to avoid having a living situation that revolved around TV or social media. I’d rather my life revolve around activities instead of vicariously living through characters on a screen. So instead of a TV in my living room, I have a pool table, and on the patio I have a dart board, a fire pit, and a charcoal BBQ. I also have a mini-trampoline that my friends have all made fun of me for. But it’s useful for breaking up writer’s block, and it’s healthy because it moves lymph around in the body. I knew I was onto something when I spent 4 hours at a time as an 8 year old jumping on the trampoline outside…Or perhaps that was just my undiagnosed ADD getting the best of me.
I’ve used my journaling time each morning, which is technically only 5 minutes per my iPhone timer but which I often voluntarily stretch to 20 minutes or more, to determine how best to find a balance between “The Lifestyle Basics” I’ve just described and my long-term vision for myself and my businesses. It’s important to eat well, optimize our bodies, having relaxing routines, and take care of our “mental diets” via the books we read and podcasts we listen to. (I’ve actually spent more time listening to great podcasts since this period began.) But I find that my subconscious mind is most connected with my conscious mind first thing in the morning, and so I’ve used that time to ask myself Big Questions: How can I best continue to help people transcend addiction if things take a turn for the worse? What can I do today that will turn out to be worthwhile if things bounce back much sooner than expected? And if things get really bad, what can I do to insure myself and my family against that?
For those of you who aren’t in early recovery, this crisis is actually an opportunity to assess the anti-fragility of the life that you’ve been building since you made the decision to transcend addiction. “Anti-fragile” is a term invented by Nassim Taleb, who wrote a book of the same name. It means the property of thriving from chaos and disorder. When I quit drinking in 2014, I never wanted to feel as unprepared and vulnerable as I did when I couldn’t go 3 hours without shaking if I didn’t drink. I made it my mission to build a life that was truly anti-fragile – and a key part of my strategy for doing that was to make it my M.O. to seize on every single setback and crisis, whether personal or large-scale, to make myself stronger in the long-run.
Physically, I had to make myself competent in a survival sense. There’s also a great source of self-efficacy to be found in staying fit and being the type of person who determines what happens if shit hits the fan. Psychologically, I had to extricate my sense of well-being from fragile systems, such as the 24/7 news cycle or the Facebook rants of toxic people with no purpose in life. Most importantly, I had to establish a purpose that could not itself be torn down, even if any business that I built around it could be diminished. Since I find satisfaction in helping others achieve something that I have a vast amount of experience with – namely, alcohol recovery – there’s no way that I’ll ever stop doing that, even if the money stops flowing. I’ll find a way to do what I was born to do. So I don’t really worry about the economy. Although I do hope for everyone’s sake that it turns around, as there’s a ton of pain and suffering out there.
With all of that said, I have used this time as an opportunity to take on some additional responsibility.6 years ago there’s a high probability that I would’ve succumbed to the “blizzard mentality” and drank myself to death during a national pandemic. My interpersonal interaction is sufficient but limited, and there’s not much I can do to help coronavirus victims beyond donating money, since we can’t go places without wearing masks. So like millions of other Americans apparently have already done, I decided to rescue a dog. His name is Magnus and he’s a handsome 20-month Rhodesian ridgeback mix. We’ve had a hell of a week so far. And Magnus has no idea that he’s about to become the unofficial mascot of Fit Recovery, and maybe even the Elevation Recovery Podcast. I’ll be sure to post a picture in the show notes at ElevationRecovery.com, and on my Instagram at chrisscottFR. With a balanced brain and an optimized lifestyle, I can honestly say that Magnus is 1,000 times more fun for me than drinking myself to sleep every night back in the dark ages of my own life narrative.
So that’s it for today. If you’ve been in a “blizzard mentality,” it’s not too late to snap out of it, get moving, and dominate lockdown life by first dominating your addiction. It won’t be easy, but the long-term rewards will make it the best thing you’ve ever done in your life. In fact, if it weren’t for Magnus the dog, I would kind of envy you. I look back at my own early recovery now with an odd tinge of nostalgia. That was the moment I went from nothing to something, despite crushing uncertainty and amidst allegedly crushing odds. Make it your mission to rearrange the odds in your favor.
Good luck to you, there’s lots of work to be done.
Resources mentioned in this episode: