So it would be nice to pretend that for the last ten days or so, I've been getting almost no exercise and eating like crap on purpose. Can we make believe it was really a scientific study? Could I impress you with my dedication to the cause of health and fitness research?
We could say I've been undertaking an intense immersive examination of the psychological and physiological impact of behaving like an ordinary American for a week or two. I'm a regular anthropologist, like Jane Goodall--just without the chimps and the cute jungle khakis and the pith helmet. (Actually, I'm more like the guy who ate nothing but McDonalds for months til he almost died, but I loved the Jane Goodall documentaries I watched back in fifth grade. Do they still show those in schools?)
Anyway, the whole "undergoing hardship for the sake of science" thing is obviously bullsh*t. Really, this last ten days was just an unusually extreme and pathetic variation of what I normally do when on the road: I start off pretty good, then as the challenges of maintaining my normal routine start seeming like more of a pain in the ass, I start to slack. I eat stupider stuff and work out less until by the end, I'm a total disgusting slothful junk-food scarfing machine. But then I'm home.
This time, I gave up on my normal healthy routine about two hours in, said WTF, I'm just not in Virtuous Traveler mode this trip. Screw it. Other people are ordering cheeseburgers-- I'm having one too! And a gym day pass for $20? WTF? That's too much money. Oh, there's nothing healthy on this menu but they do offer chocolate cake for dessert? Sure, that sounds good...
Why was I so rebellious this time? I'm not sure, and I'm not worrying about it too much. One nice thing about doing the mostly-healthy-lifestyle thing for decades, is, I have extensive history with it. I know that I will rebel at times and that I will always get back on track.
The nice thing about this self-knowledge is that I can skip right over the "guilt" phase of the cycle and go straight to the "repent and reform" part. Which is not all that hard after a week or two of eating crap--it becomes way less attractive to me if I wallow in it for a while. Greasy cheeseburgers seem less of a treat after you've had them a couple days in a row.
The most interesting thing this time was discovering how much of the research I read about healthy eating and exercise is actually true! I don't think I'd gone off track for long enough before to really notice the difference.
It's one thing to read that you have more energy, sleep better, feel happier, ache less, and are less stressed if you eat right and exercise. But wow--there's nothing like a bunch of white flour and sugar and saturated fats and missed workouts to prove the point.
So today junk food goes back to being an occasional splurge, not a staple. Stretching and cardio and strengthening are back on the agenda. It was fun to walk on the wild side with the other chimps, but... I want my regular routine back now! I want to feel healthy and energetic and normal again. I feel like, oh my goodness... some vegetables and whole grains and non-hamburger based protein!
So does anyone else go a little crazy when they travel? And if so, how do you handle to the return to real life?