In today’s culture of productivity-fetishism, the very notion of going to the gym on a daily basis is seen as a self-indulgent luxury reserved for those who have too much time or those who are privileged enough to have control over their own schedule. Some who claim to be too busy or too tired perceive religious gym-goers as fortunate people who are blessed enough to be spared from the tyranny of schedules, people who live pretty easy lifestyles, or simply people who have nothing better to do. They view fitness and health as an excess; something that can easily be discarded like skin on a chicken. However, they only see the results; never the sacrifices behind it. Inevitably, there will always be people who will force their feeble and ignorant beliefs on those who are dedicated to their passions, those who choose to care deeply about a specific pursuit. That’s the way the world works. The truth is that there is more than meets the eye to the stale meals, the backbreaking loads of concrete, the constant pain, the striated muscles, and the beautiful madness of popping veins. We’re not people who can just stretch lazily, roll out of bed at our own leisure, and then meander downstairs to find a cup of steaming hot coffee waiting for us. We don’t just saunter off into the sunset.

The vicious cycle and the endless work, which can disguise itself as selfishness or vanity, can make it look as if we do nothing but eat, sleep, and train, but we know well enough that life should never be one-dimensional. We have limits to our passion. Jobs. Relationships. Obligations. The gym is a huge part of my life, but I refuse to let it dictate the other things that I love. It’s tough, but I reserve my energy for what truly matters. Like family. Friends. Hard work. Purpose. And the occasional Sunday lunch buffet. This isn’t to say that all our workloads are equal. Some people certainly work more than other people. But we must all work nonetheless. Everyone has the same amount of time as everyone else. The only difference is that we consciously use the gym to actually energize and improve everything else in our days. We just do what we need to do depending on their circumstances because we treat our sweat sessions as unbreakable appointments. We have other buttons to push in the never-ending treadmill of life, and we would be doing an injustice to the rest of them if we neglect our health or wallow in an unwillingness to work hard. The human body is an amazingly advanced piece of machinery, and it would be unfair to waste this God-given gift if we opt to abuse it.

This existentially necessary pursuit that we endure everyday should not consume us – it should be there only to enhance it. Fitness is a timeless antidote helps us thrive in the busy society that we live in, but let’s face it: we’re normal people too, and we’ve got lives outside the gym to enjoy.

I believe in staying in good shape while enjoying life to the fullest.

Unlike other sports, the toughest part about being a bodybuilder is the fact that we are bodybuilders regardless of whether we are in the gym or not. We do not have a basketball court or a soccer field, but the gym is a place that follows us around wherever we go. Every single thing we do and every single meal we ingest affects our look and our performance. This applies not only to bodybuilders but to everyone in the fitness community. As fitness enthusiasts, how can we stick to our regimen without forgoing the festivities?

1. Choose your nights

There is really nothing wrong about a quality clubbing night or spending the end of a rough week at a house party. Maybe you plan to dance wildly to pounding bass or have long laughs in an Irish pub nearby, or maybe you have to talk business with someone in your favorite restaurant. No matter how much we love to stay in shape, the urge and need to go out will always be there. The number one rule is to decide which nights and gatherings are worth the indulgence. No matter how prepared you are, you have to be realistic – there will be temptations that will derail the momentum of your diet. People will find any excuse to celebrate ans go out, so pick your nights wisely. Choosing poorly won’t necessarily ruin you, but it can set you up to fail. Saying yes to everything will eventually take a toll on your hard-earned body, which may trigger a downward spiral of events. Of course, learn to plan ahead by pumping up in the gym before you go out. If you have time to party, then you definitely have time to get a workout in.

2. Watch what you eat

I always make sure to fill myself up with good food before going to the grocery, and the same goes with social events. Your satiated stomach will bestow you with the discipline you need to make smart choices at a party, which subsequently reduces the likelihood of overeating (choose a meal that’s high on protein and fat, like a burger). If you find yourself starving, then look around for something healthy to munch – nuts, fruit, cereal, anything that is not crappy. Or try sticking a wad of sugar-free gum in your mouth. Maybe you’re willing to pass up on the booze, but it won’t mean anything if you binge on bar chow, french fries, and buffalo wings. Parties have a way of making your inhibitions fade away, so try not to resort to starchy carbs or dessert. Furthermore, do not pig out during the wee hours of the night, no matter how tempting it is. Alcohol has a numbing effect on the stomach, which allows you to eat larger amounts of food than you normally would. I’ve gained a lot of weight during regretful episodes in 24-hour Persian restaurants. Do not set yourself up for a nutritional shame walk by eating kebabs and buttered rice at 4:00 AM.

3. Control your drinking

It doesn’t matter if it’s a club, a bar, a restaurant, or a house party – you will inevitably be lured buy an assortment of high-calorie drinks. It is a universal fact that a lot of social settings involve a lot of alcohol; after all, it’s a social lubricant that’s woven into many areas of life. That being said, opt for light beer (average: 110 calories). Beer is made from cereals, so having a lot of it can easily fill your carb quota. Choosing a light beer will cut an average of 50 calories per bottle. When it comes to liquor, avoid sugary mixers and stick to transparent spirits such as vodka or gin (approximately 97 calories per shot). If it’s a wine night, then keep in mind that calories tend to range from about 110 to 130 for a five ounce glass. Nevertheless, if you’ve been on a roll in the gym as of late, feel free to reward yourself with a rich and creamy pint of Guinness. If you think you’ve earned it, forgive yourself and give in to a few temptations here and there.

4. Water down.

Quench your body with plenty of mineral-rich, high-quality water. It will make you feel full, rid you of the nasty hangover, and show toxins the door. If you want a healthy, fit body that works well in the morning, then drink as much water as you can throughout the night and before you go to bed. For every drink you have, make sure you have at least a 12oz glass of water. It will also flush out all the bad stuff from the dirty food. Yes, you will pee often, but you will thank yourself later on. It’s easy: if you aren’t feeling like a blob or nursing a hangover the next day, then it’s easier to go to the gym, and we all know that nothing resets your system after a night of binging better than an intense workout. Which leads us to…

5. Exercise hard the following day.

This needs no explanation.

Socializing doesn’t have to be all about binging, boozing and no sleep. By thinking ahead, you can stay healthy while maintaining your fast-paced life and your intense training regimen. It’s about moderation, planning, and setting boundaries. Let the good times bring you happiness and laughter, but do not let it affect your long-term fitness goals or wreak havoc on your body shape and health. At the same time, fitness shouldn’t ever make you feel deprived, nor should it be the center of your life; it should only teach you to operate by principle rather than desire. It’s all about finding balance. After all, the most important thing – and all that matters, actually – is to enjoy your life.

Written by: Sandro Roman

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