Wednesday Afternoon Gym Class Update: Monday Edition

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.