Ah, the New Year.
That magical time when people are determined to care about their health.
At least for the next week or so.
Then the gyms, which were so crowded with bright-eyed hopefuls with visions of chiseled abs dancing in their heads, will gradually empty out as lifetimes of poor habits reassert themselves. That family-size bag of Doritos that you swore you wouldn’t purchase again is no longer singing a gentle siren song from its exalted spot on the supermarket shelf–it has now resorted to badgering you like a desperate drug dealer with an hour to sell enough to break even before the cartel comes to cut his head off.
Now, having made this observation, you might imagine me up on my high horse, having completed the holiday season subsisting solely on chicken breasts, brown rice, and rainwater.
From Thanksgiving to New Years Eve, I live on cookies, eggnog, and beer.
Okay, that’s a lie. There was also pie. Lots of pie.
And you know what? I loved it. I loved every second of it.
Not once during the entire month did I regret a single thing that I ate or drank. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things to say while I’m eating something particularly artery-clogging. I like to smile and say, “I don’t regret this at all.”
Why? Because I know that right on the other side of this single indulgent month, are eleven months of *relative* discipline. I know that come January 1st, I’ll be cutting out the beer and the sugar. I know I’ll be cleaning up my diet in general. I know that I’ll get back on my workout routine. And I know that any strength lost and pounds gained will be fixed by the time January comes to a close.
The small cost is totally worth it to me, because I love a celebration, and I love a feast.
You see, I have a habit of often thinking about things in terms of how I would feel about them during my inevitable and eventual demise. For this particular mental exercise, I like to imagine that I will be able to see the end approaching, perhaps bleeding out on the pavement somewhere.
And in that moment, you know what I WON’T be thinking?
“Man, I wish I hadn’t eaten that cheesecake.”
You know what I WILL be thinking?
“Man, I’m glad I did it up big this past Christmas, since it was the last Christmas I’ll ever get.”
Now, after a solid month of guilt-free indulgence, it’s time to buckle down, get my stamina back where it needs to be, harden off my joints again, hack those three packs of Marlboro Reds out of my lungs (that’s how lungs work, right?), and drink some damn water, for God’s sake.
And I’m happy to do it. I enter into it with joy, just as I entered the holiday season. Because it’s all part of a life lived in balance. So if you indulged a bit too much this past holiday season, stop feeling guilty about it. Accept the fact that the holidays were created for feasting and celebration, and you rightfully embraced the spirit of the season.
Now, having accepted that and absolved yourself of guilt, get your ass out there and harden up. You got a long eleven months of toil of trouble ahead of you, and it’s gonna be fuckin’ glorious.
Happy New Year!