Stay in Shape, and Stay Employed

We have sort of a running joke at Men's Fitness that once you start working here, you quickly fall into the worst shape of your life. I'd guess that there's a similar problem where you work. Here are a few ideas on how to not let a stressful job and long hours wreck your fitness.

  • Train in the morning. Yeah, I know. You "can't" get up early (waaah, waaah!). I decided to start doing it when I first began working at MF, after years of hitting the gym after five o'clock. A year later, I still hadn't gotten used to it. Two years later, I still hadn't gotten used to it. To tell you the truth, I'm not used to it now, and I would much prefer to get that extra hour or two of sleep. But the reality is that if you train after 8-10 hours on the job, especially if your job is the least bit physical, you're going into the gym at a disadvantage. Sometimes, you're just flat-out beat. When you go in the morning, you get it out of the way. You can meet people for drinks that evening with a clean conscience. You also get your metabolism going at a faster rate earlier in the day, and that means you can burn more fat throughout the day. Try working out at seven or eight in the morning if you can.
  • Pre-pack your food. Most fitness addicts spend most of Sunday cooking meals to last the week, and sometimes do it again Wednesday night if they run out of food before. Invest in glass containers (of course you could go the Ziploc route as well, but with all the reports about the dangers of plastics, including that they are estrogenic, you might want to avoid them). It doesn't require as much work as it seems. Case in point, I started buying frozen chicken breasts in bulk from Trader Joe's. Defrost them in the microwave, then cover with bbq sauce and cook them in the microwave. It takes only minutes and you've got five or so chicken breasts ready to go. Wrap em and pack em.
  • Keep snacks in your desk. Even if you're trying to lose weight, this is a good strategy. A lot of times you'll look up at the clock and suddenly realize you haven't eaten in four hours (or done actual work, if you're hooked on Youtube). You've simply got to keep the metabolism going, and that's done by eating at regular intervals. Nuts, seeds, beef jerky, and dried fruit will all keep in your desk drawer for a long time. Reaching for them may also prevent you from overeating at lunch, if you remember to take one.
  • Use your chair. Chairs can be evil. Sitting in them for so many hours leads to tight hips and subsequently lower-back pain. At least make some good use of that ass pedestal by stretching. Cross one leg over the other and push down on the crossed leg's knee. Try to get the lower leg parallel to the floor. If you can't, you have a tight hip. Hold that position and work on it. Another stretch is leaning backward over your chair to stretch out your lats. There are many more stretches you can do with a chair, but I know you don't want to look stupid and have your co-workers thinking you need a vacation (although that could have its perks). Try those two for now.
  • Befriend your co-workers. Get in good with the people you work with so they'll bring you food. You should have one or two people you share meals with. Maybe one person brings in a healthy dish for all of you one day, the next person does it the next day, and so on... or, you can all bring in basic ingredients and fashion a meal together in your office kitchenette. For example, you bring some veggies, another person brings chicken, and somebody else brings some nuts or berries, and now you combine them to make an awesome salad. Date these people if you have to, promote them even if they're unqualified, but get a community food service going as soon as you can. It will save you time on weeknights.

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