Friday, 27 January 2017

Work Life | How to Keep Fit in an Office Job

I've worked in an office for over a year and a half now and in terms of health and lifestyle, I don't feel it's particularly different to being a student.

At university, I spent a large majority of my time sat down at a desk either on campus or off, so I wasn't exactly getting a lot of exercise. During first year I had an optional 15-20 minute trek to get on to campus, which I mostly did and for second and third year I had a similar walk to get to the bus station. But aside from those strolls, before I got into going to the gym, the most exercise I got was slut dropping on a night out...

After working in an office for just a few weeks I started to feel so lethargic and it quickly reminded me of my student days. The only difference: instead of having to be in a 1 hour lecture with my brain engaged, I'm sat at a desk for 37.5 hours of the week, where my brain really does need to be engaged 100% of the time.

So, if I'm still managing to keep myself toned and relatively healthy whilst sitting in an office on my arse all day, what advice would I give to others to get or keep fit whilst working in an office job?

A note before I say one more word: I am not a healthcare professional and this advice comes only from my own experience and personal research over years and years of feeling tired, eating unhealthily and various other things. Consult a GP before starting any exercise programme or venturing into healthy living, as is often advised! 

Avoid eating out of boredom/just because the food is there.
I've been pretty guilty of this in the past and I also see no end of people snacking whilst waiting for something to happen and it's what I'm trying to avoid doing - not always that successfully I might add. However, I feel it's extremely important, as your diet always is, to being healthy. You'll easily forget what snacks you had at work whilst you munch on more at home, and more than likely you'll munch on these snacks when you're not even hungry.
How:
  • Find something to keep your hands busy - I play with a slinky at work
  • Bring in healthy snacks, like fruit & nuts, even chopped up veg
  • Don't bring loose change to work with you 
You'll be surprised how easy it is to over eat on snacks when you're at uni too. You're only working for yourself and you're not going to be chatting to a customer or colleague on the phone, so your mouth is literally free for all the food - so take on this advice too!

Eat filling and satisfying meals 
As I said it's more likely for you to snack on things because they're there, not because you're hungry. If you're completely stuffed after a good solid lunch you won't be as tempted to dip into the biscuit tin or ask for a cupcake!
How:
  • Cook meals the night before from scratch that are packed with good nutrients. Google some good lunch recipes or dust off your old cookbooks!
  • Make meals you'll know you'll enjoy - if you throw together a salad for lunch knowing you aren't a fan of salad, how're you going to be satisfied? Don't follow some fad diet that recommends you eat things that you don't like! Certain foods, yes, you can grow to like. But make sure you're getting the nutrients as well as the satisfaction from eating it!
  • Keep hydrated too - often, your body just wants hydration not food! 
Say no and yes in moderation
If you limit everything your body is craving you'll only want it more. But don't eat snacks all day long and claim you're doing so only in moderation. No one's going to judge you for it, but when it comes to feeling good you've got to decide what's best for you. 
How:
  • Learn how to politely decline offers of food without having to explain to someone 'you're dieting' or 'watching your weight' - in my opinion these terms demonstrate how you're limiting yourself, when in reality, you're saying no to things that you don't need to make an excuse for
  • Pay attention to what you eat - that way you'll be aware of how many 'treats' you've eaten in the week
  • Don't feel like you have to eat something to be polite - if someone's baked cakes it's okay to not try one, don't feel obliged
  • Don't deny yourself of every little thing - leave one meal or one day for some treats, but don't go over board!   
Move around
When you're in an office job or a student as lazy as I once was, it's pretty easy to remain in your desk chair for the entire day. You begin to feel tired so you top up the coffee, you're in that 'I can't be bothered to move' mood and yeah, we all have those days, but why make a habit of it? One thing that needs to be shouted from the rooftops is that you can change the way you feel. There are of course cases where it can't be helped, in illnesses for example, but if the only reason you feel so tired is because you sit in an office chair staring at a screen all day, you can honestly change that.
How:
  • Stand up from your chair and just stroll around the office or your room
  • Take a walk outside as often as possible - fresh air will really wake you up - even if it's damp and raining, just stand under cover and get some fresh air
  • Make time to exercise outside of work - pay attention to the word 'make' - simply review your day and see if you can slip in even 30 minutes
Find exercises that you enjoy
People often claim that they 'hate cardio' or 'just don't enjoy exercise' but there's plenty out there to help keep you fit. Join the gym with a friend, research workouts at home, find out what clubs are in your area. At the end of the day, you're not going to like everything. I personally never pictured myself lifting weights, or ever doing cardio, but you'd be surprised how much endorphins and changes in your body can change your opinion of something you once thought you hated! 

Other little pieces of advice: 
  • Try not to play off having a few glasses of wine or pints of beer every night as 'well deserved' - as a student I'd be a hypocrite saying don't drink every night, but as a graduate I feel okay giving this advice - things are okay in small amounts but every night can be bad for your health
  • Try new things - if you don't know how to go about keeping fit, find fun classes that you think might keep you healthy whilst at the same time give you the chance to meet new people and try something new, or perhaps something you once loved doing!
  • Don't go it alone - try to motivate your work colleages or team up with those gym bunnies and thrive off their motivation
Student life was just the same until I joined the gym and began to really enjoy it. You can't keep exercise up consistently if your heart and your head aren't in it. If you truly feel like you want to be fit, and are willing to give everything you've got, you'll do your best to fit in little bits here and there. And that's the best advice I could give. A little everyday will just help you keep more active, gradually feel less lathargic whilst at work, or during lectures, and in general will help your health.

It's as easy to slip into bad habits in an office job as it is as a student, so if you want to work hard at work but also work hard at staying healthy, you'll have to find the time and stop indulging in too many temptations, or if you've already figured out how to say no to those, it may just be a case of reminding yourself to get up and about more frequently!
MissIsGoode

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