I highly doubt I need to delve into what "Black Friday" is in the U.S. Many of you (by the time you read this) will have gotten up before dawn to stand in-line at Wal-Mart or Best Buy or Macy's or the shopping destination of your choice. Understandably, there will be tons of great sales and many people (some in my own family) will make a mad dash to get their Christmas shopping finished by sundown tomorrow.
But I believe "Black Friday" has another purpose that is greatly overlooked.
"Black Friday" is the single best day of the year to clean up your diet.
As our culture embraces, many people will stuff themselves to the point of food coma with turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and other family-made dishes. Most of those same people face looming guilt the following few days after they see all the damage they've done at the dining table (and on the bathroom scale). But the Day-After-Thanksgiving also marks one of the best times to refocus and clean up your eating habits for the rest of 2011.
This is not meant to point fingers at anyone else but myself. After training for, and completing two half-marathons in the past month, my diet has gotten way out-of-wack. Not compared to the average person, or those around my office, but by my own personal standards. When logging heavy miles and lots of hours of endurance training, it becomes very easy to allow dietary standards to relax by rationalizing things such as "I ran 5 miles this morning, I can have this cupcake that so-and-so brought into the office" or "These fries from Chick-Fil-A won't kill me, I did 8 miles yesterday, I need the carbs." Even someone like me who is heavily concerned with proper diet and nutritional function can rationalize eating junk, just because it tastes good.
One of the fitness experts I follow on Twitter, Jade Teta said it well in a recent article (he frequently drops Tweet knowledge), that there's no point in claiming you are "Eating Right" if your diet isn't giving you the results you're after. As usual, he is spot-on, and might as well have been speaking to me directly.
Many people, myself included often have a single "tipping point" (credit: Malcolm Gladwell) that causes them to (figuratively) jump off the couch and decide to clean up their diet. In-addition to finishing my endurance event calendar for 2011, my recent tipping point was seeing The Rock come back on WWE Raw last week (confession: we are potentially entering Man Crush territory).
The People's Champ looked great, he was more ripped and defined than ever. Some of his tweets while on-set shooting the movie "G.I. Joe 2" mention his diet, and Rocky eats clean even while busy. The Rock trains hard, and he eats clean, it's not a magic formula. It works for him, it works for Jade Teta and his wife Jill Coleman, it works for another of my fitness heroes Rob Riches, it works for Jamie Eason, it works for ironman triathlete Nell Stephenson, I think we're seeing a pattern develop.
I'm not "done" with running, I'll still work in 2-3 solid runs per week (one tempo/speedwork, one long run) but after close to six months away from regular resistance training, it's time to ditch some of the superfluous cycle classes and jogs, and get back to throwing some weight around.
As for the rest of you, hopefully you enjoy your Thanksgiving dinners, and take time to enjoy the company of your family and friends and reflect on whatever it is that makes you thankful these days. Even those with many problems in life have blessings for which to still be thankful. Be sure to mix in some football games on the couch as well.
Then, come "Black Friday" take a detour from Best Buy or Nordstrom or the mall, and head to the grocery store and get a head start on eating clean for the rest of 2011. Not only will your body will thank you, but bathing suit/bikini season will be here before you know it.