These last 2 months got pretty busy for me.
I worked no less than 60 hours during each week. For a short while, it got close to 80 hours each week. This was a huge shock for me; I was in the office so much that I barely had time to sleep 5 hours a night.
And no, I'm not one of those people who claims they can operate on low sleep. If you're one of those people... I hate you.
All right, I don't HATE you, but why even bother reading this? Unless maybe you need more sleep than you think?
When your job takes a huge priority in your life though, it's hard to do much else.
For over a month, I worked out solely on the weekends and ate well enough during the week to maintain my physique and strength. None of my lifts suffered during this stressful period.
If you're working long hours, follow these tips to stay healthy!
1) Watch your Diet
You should always watch what you eat, but this advice is especially important during busy seasons at work.
Stay disciplined about what you eat and resist the alluring menus you might be offered.
Here are some basic diet tips:
- Choose veggies (not fries or chips) as your side when eating lunch or dinner
- Limit the dressing you use in your salad (you don't have to use all of it).
- Keep the cream and sugar in your coffee to a minimum; it adds up quickly
- Stay hydrated with healthy liquids (water, coffee, protein shake, etc.) and not crappy ones (diet or regular sodas, alcohol, juice)
- If you're about to have dinner or lunch, resist the urge to snack on something. It's okay to be hungry.
- Skip breakfast or opt for a small one (under 30% of your caloric intake for the day). Don't worry, you'll be able to make it to lunch.
Beyond this, you want to make sure you're keeping in mind how many calories you burn and ensuring your weight doesn't go up.
2) Short Workouts
Do you enjoy running for hours on end? Or spending over an hour lifting in your local gym?
If so, I have bad news: you can't afford to do that anymore.
Keep your lifting workouts to no more than an hour and focus on big, compound movements (Bench Press instead of Flyes, Overhead Press instead of Front Raises, etc.)
Also, try intervals instead of traditional cardio. In fact, if you've never done Burpee circuits before, I'd recommend it. It's one of the most convenient and intense forms of cardio you could perform.
3) Exercise on Weekends
Trust me, I love my weekends as much as the next guy. Unfortunately though, some things have to give a little if you're going to stay fit despite the hours you're putting in.
Some of you might be working Saturdays and even Sundays.
But if this is the case, you still could make fitness a priority.
Call it an early night at the club on Friday and get up in the AM to hit the weights.
Leave Happy Hour with your team early on Saturday so you could do some cardio on Sunday morning.
These little actions might be small, but they can make a huge difference in staying and feeling healthy.
4) Take Breaks
Whether your job is as dynamic as a politician's life or as tedious as coding data, you need to take breaks from your work.
I understand your have deadlines to meet and projects to finish. You definitely don't want your boss thinking that you're slacking off.
However, find reasonable ways to take breaks.
Take a glance away from your computer screen every 20-30 minutes and close your eyes for 20 seconds. As simple as it may seem, it will definitely help prevent eye strain during the day.
Swing by the water cooler (stereotypical, I know) and take a breather from the stress.
5) Relax at Night
You are screwed with your job. From a hormonal point of view, that is. You see, when you spend 12+ hours during the day staring at spreadsheets or lugging equipment around, your body acts up in response. Cortisol and other stress hormones shoot towards the stars.
I already published a post on tips for sleeping, but let me just emphasize this:
Take time to wind down.
Don't watch TV or go on the Internet when you're home from work.
Dust off that book lying on the coffee table and give it a go. Or maybe do some quick yoga stretches to release the tension stored in your body.
In fact, if you're traveling far for work, the first night away and the first night back home can seem near-impossible to catch Zs due to jet lag. For these nights, I would recommend using melatonin; it's one of the few effective and safe sleep supplements out there. And trust me, as someone who hardly slept during a trip to China (roughly 2 hours on the first night and 15 minutes on the plane ride over), sometimes you need an extra assist to get to bed.
Don't let your work get in the way of your fitness anymore!
Not only will these tips improve your well being; they'll keep your energized and motivated during your day at work.
Although I touched on it, I'll eventually be writing an entirely separate article on staying fit while traveling; that's a whole other beast in and of itself.