A food critic creates a sustainable workout routine

Categories: Booze

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Over the last few months, I went from the worst shape of my life to the best while continuing to eat like a food critic. Don't punch me in the face; instead, read how I did it in part ten of this series:

Ow, every single part of my body hurts -- even my eyelashes, I think.

I wish I could distill and bottle this feeling so that next time I'm tempted to fall off the workout wagon -- and believe me, there will be a next time -- I can just get a hit of this pain and reverse right back toward the straight and narrow.

I spent the holiday season deluding myself into thinking I hadn't fallen so far off the wagon as to be left to die of dysentery by my traveling party (that was an Oregon Trail reference... I went there), even though I spent more than one night cramming my face full of all sorts of seasonal and unseasonal treats paired with all kinds of booze. In the moment, I'd think, "It'd be rude to the host not to try her cookies...and fudge...and caramel corn...and homemade marshmallows...and festive Christmas punch" or "The calories from these Hershey's Kisses practically don't even count because I'm only eating one at a time." Making matters worse, because the month of December is a veritable shitshow of scheduling, I didn't even mitigate my activities with workouts, convincing myself I was too busy even for a twenty-minute re-feed exercise.

When Jamie Atlas heard about my antics -- and insistence that I would get back in gear once New Year's Resolution season rolled back around -- he asked, instead, that I make a St. Patrick's Day resolution. Because I'd rather not reverse all the progress I've made since late last spring, I agreed. And come January 2, give or take a couple of travel days, I put myself back on the food plan.

But to really succeed, I knew I'd have to get my butt back into spandex and sweat out my food-related sins.

Most fitness experts -- including Jamie -- say food is most of the battle. If you can get your eating in check, then you're most of the way toward a shiny, happy lifestyle with flat abs and clothes that fit. That may be true, but for me, exercise is way more important, and that's not just because it allows me to cheat a little on the whole protein-and-vegetable regimen to eat out for my job.

I've mentioned before that the re-feed workout, a burst of activity I do before chowing down on a meal, is a key part of my success -- and that's mostly for the mentality that comes with it. If I don't cheat before I re-feed workout, then I usually spend most of my day sticking with the food plan. Doing it that way also makes it routine-forming: Because I eat out at least four times a week, I also work out at least four times a week. And because I'm working out four times a week, I'm consequently more conscious of my fitness level. Bam. See how that happened?

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