The Work-Workout Balance

Work hard and the results will come, right? Kind of. If your goal is to get in shape, then yes, you will have to work hard in the gym (or wherever you fit in your fitness). But you will also have to balance your diet and make sure your sleep schedule is on point. Likewise, there is more to it when it comes to your making “gains” in your career. It takes long hours, evening social events, and sometimes lengthy travel in order to make progress and move upward. So what happens when those requirements interfere with your gym time and your promise to replace beers with banana-spinach protein shakes? The following solutions will ensure you overcome those pesky barriers to success. 

The Problem:
  Happy Hour
The Solution
It’s been a long day filled with phone calls, emails and meetings. You’ve made some final decisions regarding a big project while texts from your indecisive friends pop up on your phone. Pizza or burgers? Outdoor beer garden or indoor with flat screens to watch the game? The only decision you want to make is what time to leave the office. One of the problems with happy hour, is it rarely lasts an hour.   It might turn into dinner following your after-work drink, which then turns into “one more” after finishing the entire burger and fries you ordered because your alcohol-influenced self read it on the menu as “protein.”

  • Avoid showing up to happy hour on an empty stomach.  Drinking on an empty stomach will increase the impact of the alcohol, and decrease your ability to resist that plate of nachos.
  • Have a snack beforehand.
  • It’s also a good idea to be the last one to have the first drink.  The later you begin your happy hour, the less alcohol you will likely consume throughout the evening.
The Problem: Burning the Midnight Oil
The Solution
Maybe you’re up with the birds to catch that rush of endorphins that you chase at the gym. Maybe you’re up late every night, replying to every email and reviewing every power point slide of your presentation. If you can relate to either of these, or (worse) both, there’s a chance you’re not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If you’d rather burn fat than “midnight oil,” prioritizing your sleep is a must. The quantity and quality of rest you get has a direct impact on your mood, energy levels and the hormones that support muscle growth and control your appetite. Having trouble calling it quits?
  • Unplug at the same time every night to develop consistent sleep habits.
  • Retire from the phone, computer and TV so you can recharge your body along with those devices.
  • Consider using an eye mask to reduce the impact of light in your room.  Even a subtle amount can affect your melatonin levels, a hormone which plays a role in weight control and immune health.
The Problem: The Vending Machine and Food Delivery Services
The Solution
Remember when hunger struck and you instinctively ran to the vending machine to grab a snack? With countless food delivery services, you might find yourself grabbing your phone just as quickly as those Gardetto’s. Overcome endless, convenient food options and a bottomless burrito bowl by filling up with these tips.
  • Schedule healthy food. The convenience of many smartphone apps makes order food fast, easy and efficient. Use this to your advantage! Know which restaurants or meal delivery services offer nutrient dense options. Many of them offer customized options such as gluten-free, nut-free, Paleo and vegetarian.
  • If you’re eating out, don’t be afraid to create your own “meal” of side dishes. A few of these “micro-meals” can add up to create a well rounded lunch. Aim to include a protein, carb and veggie. An example might be a baked potato, loaded with steamed broccoli and cottage cheese.
  • Go with the tried and true “old school” method of packing your own. And keep snacks at your desk!
The Problem: When (and where?) to Workout
The Solution
There’s an increasing number of hotels and workplaces that provide gyms and wellness programs. Whether you’re on the road or at work, there are countless opportunities to workout regardless of what your HR department might offer. Many companies provide free access to onsite gyms, or discounted memberships to one in your community. Onsite fitness centers, or those at a hotel, may not be “all inclusive” but the most important part isn’t the amount of equipment or how new it is, but what you do with it.  Regardless of where you are or what equipment you have access to, keep the following in mind.
  • Implement activities throughout your workday. Think planks, wall sits, and stair climbs! Never underestimate the significance of staying active. Before roll your eyes and think “I’ll pass on burning the 10 calories,” take into account the energy-impact, how it will contribute to a quick mood boost. It might also be exactly what you need to prevent a trip to your co-worker’s candy jar.
  • Keep a pair of gym shoes and workout clothes in your office. While you might not have access to a shower, you never know when you might be able to get outside for a quick walk or outdoor circuit.
Despite work-related obstacles, these tips will help you achieve progress and bring you closer to your fitness goals. What are your favorite ways to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle when balancing responsibilities at work? For more information about my online training programs, click here.