Wednesday Afternoon Gym Class Update: Monday Edition

by Frost on July 25, 2011

By any quantitative measure, the past week and half has been an epic failure in terms of my health and fitness goals.

– I skipped the gym all week
– Sleep was rare and erratic
– I drank and smoked too much

But you know what?

I feel great.

I’m calm and stress-free, which is both pleasant and vital to good health. I’m positive, happy and energetic, as I usually am when I’ve been eating well and exercising. In my daily hour-long bathroom mirror pose-down, I thought I looked damn good.

My philosophy for balancing good health and freedom is as follows: Focus on optimizing your routines and habits, rather than winning micro-battles of willpower. If your friends all want to eat sushi for dinner, don’t pick the grains of rice from the rolls. If an old friend wants to have lunch on day when you have a workout scheduled, skip the gym.

This past week (and a half), I invested zero energy into micro-battles of willpower. I simply did not give a single fuck. Why? Well, I’m all about celebrating life right now, but more on that later. For now, I’ll just make some observations on a week in which I made no real effort to adhere to my diet and exercise regimen.

1) I still ate a healthier diet than 99% of North Americans

I love eating salads for lunch. And why would I eat a big, heavy plate of pasta for dinner when I can just as easily have a steak and veggies? Or a thick, meaty chilli or stew? Or a big plate of bacon and eggs? (Can you tell I’m a bachelor?) Even the few non-paleo indulgences which I occasionally allow myself – a slice of heavily buttered dark bread with breakfast, a scoop of ice cream on top of a bowl of berries, cream, dark chocolate and almonds – aren’t lethal.

If I could take a pill and sever the connection between the necessity of eating healthy and being healthy, I would make very few changes to my current diet. That strikes me as a very good sign that the habits I‘ve developed will stick with me throughout life.

2) I still exercised more than 99% of North Americans

So I missed two short workouts this week. Who cares? It’s good to take a break occasionally to prevent overtraining. And here’s a short list of my physical activity over my one-week “break.”

– Two hours each of Ultimate, hockey and beach volleyball

– One hour of yoga

– 5-7 hours of walking

– Two full days of swimming, climbing, diving, Tarzan-rope-swinging, hiking and sunbathing

I’m back in the gym this week, but resistance training should be a minor complement to a lifestyle of activity and play. I think I’ve created a life in which that’s the case.

3) I partied harder than 99% of North Americans

Actually, more like 75%. Fucking kids these days…

Fortunately, I can get 80% of the enjoyment liquor offers for only 20% of the ill effects via (slight) restraint, using Vitamin B and Alpha Lipoic acid to prevent and cure hangovers, and abiding by the rules of the Paleolithic Alcoholic.

4) I’ve chosen a martial art

After tallying the responses to last week’s request for suggestions, I’ve decided to sign up for introductory Muay Thai classes. Muay Thai received a healthy number of votes, and as you’ll see in a future post – it dovetails nicely with another decision I’ve made recently.

Final Score: B

Despite near-optimal diet and exercise throughout most of the week, multiple booze-soaked nights keep my self-assessment below the stratosphere. I didn’t flawlessly optimize my health this week.

But looking back at a ten awesome days of friends, parties, and sensual pleasure – during which I still managed to eat and exercise 95% paleo – I feel like I earned an A+ in something.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

J.W. Black July 27, 2011 at 12:24 am

Great choice on Muay Thai. I’ve trained in Tae Kwon Do (I don’t recommend Tae Kwon Do to anyone BTW), Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. Of the three, Muay Thai is my favorite. Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu gives you some great competency on the ground and really works the core area, but it isn’t quite as exciting for me as throwing ‘bows, knees and jabs. If your school offers a Jiu-Jitsu curriculum, you should check it out once you have some Muay Thai competency. Training the two together is awesome, really rounds you out, you’ll be comfortable in any situation that presents itself.

Keoni Galt July 25, 2011 at 9:07 pm

The thing that’s lame about Paleo is that it’s a cult.

Depends on who you’re talking about. The most popluar advocate, Mark Sisson has two principles he constantly talks about when it comes to paleo: the 80/20 principle (if you eat good 80% of the time, it should be enough to offset 20% when you’re not), and “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

I’m fairly similar in practice Frost…for instance, I ate a piece of cake at my baby’s first birthday party. And I enjoyed it too, it’s even more delicious when you rarely indulge.

Frost July 26, 2011 at 10:39 am

Happy birthday to paleo baby!

Indulgences (in whatever form) are much better when they aren’t a daily routine, definitely. Although I find since I’ve been avoiding sugar, everything that most people consider semi-sweet tastes very pleasantly sugary to me, and the treats that most consider pleasantly sugary, are disgusting.

As an example, I bought an iced coffee this weekend at a chain coffee shop. My usual coffee place is a hippie-dippie organic shop, so their iced coffee is literally just iced coffee. The chain pumped about 100mL of vanilla sugar water into it, and was disgusting.

Mike July 25, 2011 at 7:51 pm

The thing that’s lame about Paleo is that it’s a cult. People act like you sin if you deviate from the dogma. That’s why I avoid those Paleo message boards. I would NOT want to hang out with Paleo people. I have…They are lame, no fun, and remind me of fundamentalist Christians.

I just got back from ballin’ in San Diego. I drank enough to throw up, ate nachos and milk shakes on the beach, danced, and hooked up with women. It was great, though on Sunday my body was a bit of a mess – bloating, a bit heavier than usual, and my skin was dry. Big deal.

I’ll be especially “clean” for the next couples of days. By Thursday, the bloat will be gone, and I’ll look lean again. It’s going out big all the time that catches up with people…

Frost July 26, 2011 at 10:34 am

I know the people you’re talking about.

Everyone needs a purpose in life. Some find it in their jobs, families, hobbies, or relationships, but those who don’t must eventually latch onto something.

Another problem I have with the paleo community is the occasional fetishization of paleo qua paleo. My goal is always to be as healthy as possible, for a given amount of sacrifice. Paleo is the most logical a priori diet to optimize human health, but I’m also willing to go beyond it via supplementation, modern-but-healthy foods. Some paleo advocates try to replicate a prehistorical diet as an end in itself.

That said, I think most of the paleo community – and definitely the slice of it that I choose to expose myself to – is similar in attitude to Keoni, Mark Sisson and myself.

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