The 3-day plan places structure and context around what I think are important principles, but I suggest you tailor your own strategy based on those principles, rather than assume the three-day timeline has any special meaning.
Less Illness?Before I describe the plan, I will say this: my theory is that this approach makes illness less likely because it coaxes the body back to full strength rather than frog-marching it there. Being an obsessive, I have in the past worn the hair shirt on days following bad behaviour. In the past, a few binges close together have caused illness. This year, an unprecedented number of consecutive binges have not yielded illness. Anecdotal, but for me, powerful.
Day 0: The BingeYou drink too much alcohol. You probably also eat too much, some or all of which is junk – sugary food, salty food, and processed food – all the things you would normally avoid. The following day, recovery must start.
Day 1: Healthy Food and Fresh air
- Eat healthy food: but don’t go hungry; eat as much as you need to satisfy. You may be worrying about all the excess calories you ate/drank the day before. Forget it – there will be an opportunity to compensate on days 2 and 3. Perhaps have some healthy treats. Plan to cook your favourite meal .The spectre of comfort eating will loom - if your binge included alcohol, the chances are your salt and sugar balances will be all over the place, so you may want to have more fruit than usual if you are craving sweetness.
- Don’t try to fast: this will be a struggle if you have a hangover – better to provide your body with the nutrients it has been deprived of forced to give up in the last 24 hours.
- Don’t go to the gym or exercise: it is tempting to go to the gym on day 1 - you will feel so much better afterwards. But resist this temptation – your body is at a low ebb and the risk of illness is probably greater later on if you kick it while it’s down. Feeling good in the short term does not mean it’s the best thing to do. Let your body recover first, then the benefits of the exercise will be most fully realised, and not at the expense of illness risk. ABOVE ALL, do not do some kind of long, hard cardio session – this will definitely knock back your immune system.
- Get some air: you won’t get the same buzz as you would from a gym session, but you will feel better nevertheless. A good walk will make you feel better about the night before without hitting your body in any significant way.
- Fast / reduce your food intake. Today, this will be easier. If you already do intermittent fasting, it will come naturally; if you don’t, then just do whatever you can to reduce your calories and give your system a day of rest.
- Still don’t go to the gym or do hard exercise! This will be getting tough, but you must continue to resist the temptation. One thing at a time. If you wait one more day then the chances are you won’t suffer a decline in performance as a result of the binge. Plus, if you are fasting or eating less, then the increased appetite from exercise might make it harder, give that you are still not fully ‘in balance’, appetite-wise.
- Go to the gym or do some hard exercise: now you are ready. By now most of the garbage has worked its way through your system and you are restored to something approximating the day before your binge. As well as making you feel good afterwards, the stresses you apply during exercise will now also confer their usual benefits in the medium term. Short, interval-based intense exercise is better - but of course this applies at all times, not just post-binge.
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