Let’s be real for a second:
You’re up at 6AM. You sit at a desk all day, casually walk around time to time 8AM to 5PM all while putting in all of your mental power for success in the work place. Keeping a positive attitude, talking on the phone, attending important meetings and using brain power…the last thing you want to do is go to the gym and eat healthy. I mean…you’ve worked hard all day and all week, you deserve time to relax and indulge in a glass of wine or ice cream from your favorite place [The Chocolate Moose, to be exact, if you’re in Bloomington].
Before my internship started, I knew I needed a game plan for my fitness and nutrition regimen. I’ve never had a formal 8-5 job and I had no idea what my energy would be like. (I’ve nannied full time the past summers, but my kids were the best J and it never felt like a job…so this would definitely be different). My boyfriend even told me to take it easy the first week because he’s had a few years of experience working full time in internships and said it’s quite exhausting at the beginning…AND BOY- he was absolutely right. I can’t remember the last time I had to routinely get up at 6AM because our highschool changed to a late start when I was there…so middle school maybe?? Anywho, I worked out twice the first week, didn’t get enough sleep and definitely was off with nutrition because I craved sweets when i was tired all the time. At the end of the week, I knew I needed to make some changes and figure out a way to not completely lose my strength in the weight room and make sure I was eating to fuel my body for a full time schedule.
I decided to make a few changes and things started to turn around with my energy and strength after a couple weeks. I know so many people are in this boat, so I decided to share my top tips for staying on track with your nutrition/fitness/health while working full time:
Make it an Appointment: Making workouts is important to me and my happiness. I’m a happier person when I get my workouts in, so I’m probably a nicer person to those around me as well. J Unless I knew my body was completely exhausted and it would cause me to feel over-trained, I made sure to pen-in my workouts in my planner each week. Schedule your workouts as an appointment and if someone asks to make plans, tell them you need to work around that time. I made a 30-60 minute block to work out 3 times during the work-week.
I told myself I needed to work out at least three times during the week just because I knew it would be a manageable goal for me and I could push a workout back one day or move it around if need be. If I told myself I needed to workout everyday and I was tired one day, I would feel bad about skipping it and guilty that night.
- Get your Z’s: I’m not one of those people who likes to run on caffeine or can get away with 5 or 6 hours of sleep. I need AT LEAST 7 hours on day to day basis without working or working out. But when you factor in a full time schedule and workouts, I started requiring 8 hours to feel energized all day long. Everyone is different here, but make it a priority to get the sleep you need everyday. Make it a routine, your body clock knows when you’re off and not getting the rest you need. Therefore, I would get in bed by 9PM and hope to fall asleep before 10PM to get 8 hours of sleep every night during the week.
- Prep for Success: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- meal prep says lives! Not only are you eating healthier if you prep your meals ahead of time, but you also only have to pop your meal in the microwave for a couple minutes and you can eat right away! I prepped my snacks and meals on Sundays when I worked in the summer. I had 1-2 different lean meats for lunch and dinners, various veggies for the sides and had sweet potatoes or beans for carb sources! My snacks were nuts, eggs, protein bars, string cheeses, or corn chips and salsa! Bringing my lunch to work helped me out by saving money and knowing what I was eating. I was thankful there were healthy options where I worked if I forgot my lunch and I always got a side salad from the salad bar everyday because I love my greens! AND don’t forget your water, I always refill my bottle 2-3 times before and after lunch! Water helps me stay energized and alert throughout the day and hydrates me for my workouts in the afternoon.
Prepping really helped me stay on track during the week so I could indulge on dates nights, or have my ice cream and wine at the end of the week with my boyfriend, friends and family!
Use a Tracker: Now this was a game changer. I’ve never really needed a tracker for my steps because I’m always walking on campus or do cardio at the gym, but this summer I definitely didn’t have enough time for lifting and cardio when I was at the gym. SO! My FitBit was my bestfriend. I made it a need to walk to the furthest bathroom from my desk whenever I needed to go (which was like every hour if you know how much water I drink lol). And also made a point of taking 3-5 minute walking breaks a couple times a day. Whether it was to get a coffee, fill up my water or walking to meetings. It all added up and I easily could end the day with 6-8k steps. The facility I worked in was quite large, so it definitely made it easier when I had full meeting days in various parts of the building. I definitely recommend having a tracker to remind you to move around if you realize you work at a desk job!
- Try a Group Exercise Class: Is it hard to motivate yourself to work out? Or do you not know what to do? I highly highly highly recommend joining a gym that offers group exercise classes. I think they are the best way to stay accountable while enjoying being fit. A class atmostphere is much more motivating and it is always nice not having to think about what you should do at the gym because the instructor already does that for you! My favorites are spinning, zumba, and bootcamp because I love high intensity classes or classes with good music! Other options you could try are kickboxing, step classes, pilates or yoga! My number one rule in fitness is- you need to do what you enjoy. So make sure to try all different things out until you find one that you don’t dread!
- Tell Someone/Accountability Plan: Do you have a weight loss or weight gain goal?? If you do, I always think that telling someone your goal is really helpful because it makes you want to be accountable in achieving it! I always tell my boyfriend my goals and he helps motivate me when I don’t want to work out or when I want to eat junk food he knows that I will regret it in the end- so he reminds me of my goals. Maybe have your friend text you everyday and ask if you went to the gym or tell them you need a little push and you could workout together!
Listen to Your Body: Some days that I planned workouts, I knew at the end of the day that my body was completely exhausted. Being completely fatigued in your mental state and body is a sign that you need rest. If you work out you will stress the body and it probably won’t be a good work out, you might over eat or your cortisol will just increase. High cortisol and stress leads to increased bodyfat in the end anyway. I promise taking one rest day won’t kill your progress and it could even do yourself better.
- Don’t stop: So to the people who don’t have time to work out in the morning and like to go after work…I recommend going straight to the gym. Don’t stop at home to “relax” because once you sit your tush on the couch, I promise you it is so much harder to get back up and go to the gym. And if you go straight to the gym, you’ll have more time to relax at night anyway! You won’t have to think about it and you’ll just get it done!
- Be Prepared: Whether you workout in the morning or at night, it is so important to be prepared. Have your gym clothes ready, know where your water bottle, shoes, ipod and whatever you need for the gym together! When I was working I always packed my bag the night before with a snack to eat before my workout so I was ready to go straight to the rec center after I left work. It definitely helped me because I didn’t have to stop at home, nor did I have to think about anything during the day because I knew everything was together in my car.
- Make a SMART goal: Whether you have a goal in the gym, work, or school – I always think its important to make SMART goals. SMART goals are: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time oriented! I make a goal to have five healthy lunches and dinners during the week and also have a weight that I like to stick around. If I’m a little bit heavier than I want to be, I know I need to tighten things up. I’m only weighing myself once a week or once every other week right now to check where I’m at. Weighing yourself everyday can cause anxiety so that’s why I’ve stopped doing that! Do you have a fitness goal? Make it a goal to go to the gym twice a week for a month. If you’ve achieved that goal, increase it to three times a week or increase the time that youre at the gym! Need help making a fitness or wellness goal/figuring out the steps to get there?
–>Let me help you! I have four week fitness or nutrition or combined customized programs starting at 20 dollars. Check them out on my online coaching page: NicoleChamberlin.weebly.com
Welp! Those are my top tips for staying on track while working full time. I know its not an easy task, so if you have any questions on how you can make it manageable with your schedule, feel free to ask me and I’d love to help you figure out an idea to make it work for your lifestyle!
Also feel free to share with me your top tips in the comments. I love to know what other people do (: