For us fit folks, with lofty goals and plans, parties can be a cause of stress and worry. Here is a step-by-step guide that allows you to party without losing any fitness or backsliding on your athletic performance goals.
Parties, get togethers, or special events are a great chance to catch up with friends, cut loose, and have some fun, especially if they arrive during off training season. But, they also bring with them unscheduled overindulging. And for us fit folks with lofty race goals and big fitness plans, parties can also be a cause for fear of losing all that fitness or backsliding on our goals.
The problem is that partying (especially if it involves alcohol) can be pretty hard on the body.
So here, my friends, is a blow-by-blow plan to arm yourself with the tools you need to ensure you get through each party without any added guilt, shame, lost gains, or unwanted added pounds.
1. Two Days Before The Party
Log as much extra sleep or naps as possible. Being well rested before the party will mean you can have more fun, stay out later (without yawning embarrassingly), and limit the oxidative stress of staying out late. Yes, good quality sleep is important all year round but a good night’s sleep will help make sure that being exhausted doesn’t cause you to have lapses in judgment when it comes to food, alcohol, and exercise.
Be sure to get all your workouts done leading up to the party. Or perhaps even add in a couple extra! Exercise increases endogenous (that is, your own) antioxidant production and can also reduce liver damage from the alcohol you may (or may not) enjoy.
2. The Morning of the Party
Once you have hit the bathroom and put the coffee or tea on, it is time to set some intentions and decide ahead of time what behaviors you will and won’t compromise on later tonight. You have your fitness, weight loss, or performance goals and they are as important tonight as they are any other night. So make a plan.
If your good intentions aren’t crystal clear, you’ll have trouble sticking them. Don’t walk into the party and base your decisions on whims.
If your good intentions aren’t crystal clear, you’ll have trouble sticking them. Don’t walk into the party and base your decisions on whims. Base them on your specific goals and your specific priorities. Write them down while you drink your black coffee or tea (no sugar or milk or you will break your fast and we don’t want to do that—yet). Now put your notes somewhere that you can easily peek at later in the day.
Next, if you live in a cold climate, go outside to exercise. A heated indoor gym is certainly comfy, but you will actually burn more calories by going outside. Of course, you need to be mentally prepared to be cold when you start your bike ride, run, or brisk “shiver walk” but remember that you will feel warmer after about 10 minutes so hang in there. Be sure to protect body parts that are sensitive to the cold, such as your head, fingers, and feet, with a toque (wool hat), gloves, and warm socks.
After 30-45 minutes of cold exposure and exercise, it is now time to break your fast!
Although having the perfect breakfast doesn’t guarantee that you’ll stick to your plan for the rest of the day, it can certainly help. Adding some protein often helps to keep you feeling full, it can boost your metabolism, and it can help you hold onto muscle even if you are losing weight in general. Avoid sugar and add some antioxidant rich vegetables and healthy fats. You can find more info in the Nutrition Diva’s article 9 Ways to Optimize Your Breakfast.
If you are planning to drink more alcohol than usual tonight, I recommend you eat a few eggs, some liver, or take a few choline supplements. Your liver processes choline quickly when you drink alcohol and if you metabolize alcohol while you have a little extra choline in your system, you may feel better the next morning. Check out the article How to Stay Fit While Partying for more biohack-y tips like this.
3. On the Way to Work
Try adopting a carless mindset and find a more active way to get to work. Can you walk? Ride your bike? Take the bus? Take the subway? Or any combo of those?
The great thing about not sitting on your butt in traffic is that the alternatives involve physically moving your body. Even taking the bus or the subway involves walking, standing, and balancing (proprioception) that we don’t use when we are sitting in a car seat. Keeping the blood flowing will not only burn some extra calories and keep your metabolism moving but it will give you more energy, focus, spring in your steps, and a glimmer in your eye.
4. At Work
All day today, set an alarm on your SmartPhone to go off every hour, on the hour, and do some pushups, or calf raises, or squats, or jumping jacks, or burpees.
You may know this as the Greasing the Groove technique from the martial arts weight training book called The Naked Warrior. This is how it works: instead of doing a long workout at the gym, you simply spread your exercises throughout the day. This not only allows you to become more proficient at certain movements (like pushups, if that is the movement you choose for the day) but it also elevates and re-elevates your metabolism throughout the day.
Lately I have been doing this to improve my squat range of motion. I want to get better at squatting so I have a rule that every time I go to the bathroom during the day, I have to do 20 squats.
Other examples of Greasing the Groove include:
Doing 25 jumping jacks for every hour that you’re sitting at your desk.
Doing 10 push-ups during every commercial break of a television program.
Doing 20 calf raises every time you take a phone call.
Doing 30 seconds of isometric hand squeezes every time you get an email from your boss.
Aside from all the other benefits I mentioned, this can make you more productive, clear your head, and get you refocused and energized. Yes, getting up from your desk is good for your brain as well as body.