Jeff Stein is a freelance writer and a regular participant on Daily Burn 365, a live, daily workout show based in NYC. The opinions expressed in this guest post are his own. To read more from Jeff, check out 7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting Daily Burn 365.
Since joining Daily Burn 365 as an in-studio participant, I’ve reset my commitment to my health and fitness at least twice, every month. Things come up. Birthdays, vacations, Thursday afternoons.
I’m not a doctor, fitness expert, or nutritionist, but I am the one person responsible for taking care of my body. Here are seven moments I’ve gone off the rails, and what I’ve done to reset and get back on track.
Ready, Set, Refresh: The 7 Times I’ve Hit Reset
1. Wine Parties.
For me, the big one is always on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. No, it’s not historically a food-heavy holiday, but my friend Sue and her husband throw a wine tasting party that weekend every year. This is what I call a strategic and planned wagon fall and reset.
I love wine. I love the food Sue pairs with the wine. I’m going to drink the wine and eat the food. Knowing this, I set a few ground rules for myself. Have a glass of water between every tasting station. Load up on veggies and salad before the tasting and the dinner. But more importantly, enjoy each and every indiscretion and go back to plan the next day like nothing ever happened.
2. Look-How-Far-I’ve-Come Days.
February 2 was the 11th anniversary of my quitting smoking. For those counting at home, that’s 4,000 packs of cigarettes I have not smoked. That accomplishment really dwarfs the two pitchers of beer and four free ketchup-soaked hot dogs I alone scarfed at Rudy’s Bar & Grill.
Originally, I intended to celebrate my smoke-free anniversary by running a 5K that raised money for the American Cancer Society, but ended up in one of the dingiest dive bars just outside of Port Authority bus station. What’s done is done! The next day, I added a cap full of raw apple cider vinegar to my morning-water to ease the beer and sodium bloat, then I walked out the door into a bright new day filled with crunchy greens and a sweaty workout. The past is in the past.
3. Road Trips.
Only in the car, just off a strange highway, do I crave beef jerky, Diet Dr. Pepper and pork rinds. I would never buy or eat these things near my home. You put me in a car for a few hours, though, and I go feral. In March, I took a road trip to western Pennsylvania and everything I promised myself went out the window. When I returned after three days, I destroyed all the evidence littering my floor mats, then made a cleansing green soup. We all (my dog and I) pretend this never happened. (Sensing a pattern here?)
4. My Birthday.
Another strategic and planned wagon fall and reset. I had more than 20 friends over to celebrate so I wanted to make food that was fun, tasty and easy to serve buffet-style. So I created a baked potato station.
The bacon was real bacon, not turkey. The sour cream was full fat. The butter was churned by the drunkest Irish farmers in County Kerry. The chives were the salad.
The next day, I thanked my body for its first 46 years of service and rewarded it with with a hilly five-mile hike. The potato station wasn’t a failure; it was carb loading for a purpose.
“All your past decisions, good or not so good, cannot be changed.”
5. The First Half of May.
Let’s just say I got comfortable. I’d been losing weight and working out for a while. Tracking my calories and sticking to plan didn’t seem necessary any longer. So, instead of continuing with what was working for me (recording my food intake), I started to do exactly what caused me to gain weight, mindlessly eat. Even the most incompetent therapist would have told me I was self-sabotaging my success and falling into destructive patterns. Going against my subconscious to regain all the weight I lost, I recommitted myself to my health.
To make the recommitment tangible, I doubled the amount of days I worked out the remainder of the month. I bought the freshest whole foods and prepared delicious and body-fueling meals in advance. Being healthy is all about your next choice. All your past decisions, good or not so good, cannot be changed.
6. Monday Mornings.
Repeat after me: The weekend should not be an excuse to go nuts with food and alcohol and skip workouts. But it is.
Knowing that I’m such a weekend warrior (at the bagel shop, not the gym), I’ve designated Sunday as my grocery shopping day. No matter what, on Sundays, I buy nutritious foods that I love, then I prepare a few easy grab-and-go meals and snacks. Come Monday, it’s simple to make great choices because the great choices are already in my refrigerator.
7. Right. Now.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been extremely active. My Daily Burn workouts, general running around with the dog and making a little extra money by taking heavy lifting-type jobs. Some days I burn more than 7,000 calories and I eat whatever I can get my hands on. I’ve still lost weight. So why bother tracking calories and eating right? Because not every day am I burning 7,000 calories, and most of my jobs require sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time. I’m setting myself up for disaster.
Truth is, I didn’t even realize I was off track again until I started to write this piece. It forced me to think about what I was doing when I was successful and I realized: I’m not practicing any of those habits anymore.
So, right now, as I type, I reset. Nothing dramatic, no pictures of me on Instagram showing how big I think my gut has grown with tearful promises to be a better person. I’m just going to get back to what I was doing because it is important and time will march forward regardless of what I choose to do.
What are your go-to strategies to get back to healthy after a hiatus? Share them in the comments below.