Right now, millions of people are sitting at a desk getting fat! It is the sad truth. All over America, millions of people are stuck at a desk every day from 9 to 5, not moving, not eating healthy, and usually stressed out. This is not a good equation. Inactivity combined with stress and poor eating habits is a sure fire way to become over weight, or even worse- obese. And yet this dreadful phenomenon has become more prevalent than ever. Many people in this situation feel “stuck” or unable to change. The reason for this may be in some part due to lack of time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “Well, I’d love to exercise, but I just don’t have time”. In this column I’m going to try to point out some ideas to help these people overcome their inactive slump as well improve their eating habits. I’m also going to explain how proper exercise and nutrition can improve their work capability and make not only themselves happy, but their bosses too!

I’m going to be discussing the following ideas:

1. Doing your bodywork before work.
2. Pre- planning your meals.
3. Taking active breaks.
4. 20 minutes to breathe.
5. Self care methods.
6. Making use of down time.

Doing your bodywork before work. People who work 9 to 5 or who sometimes start even earlier find it very difficult to have enough time in the day to exercise. The best way to combat this challenge is to get up early and do it first. I know what some of you must be thinking: “Get up early? Is he crazy! I barely have enough time to get ready in the morning as it is. And I’m not a morning person!” Believe me I’ve heard all this before. I know it is not the easiest thing in the world to get up earlier than you’re used to, especially to exercise. However, the important thing here to understand is that changing your lifestyle in this way will also change your way of thinking. Of course it will be difficult at first, but if you can make it through the first couple of weeks, you will already be feeling better, and your body will start to adjust to the new time change. A couple of weeks of agony sure beats a lifetime of it, doesn’t it?

By getting up early and doing your anaerobic and aerobic workouts first thing in the morning, you will reap the following benefits:

a. Increased metabolism.
b. Increased energy throughout the day.
c. Increased self esteem.
d. Improved work capability.
e. Increased strength and muscle hypertrophy.
f. Decreased body fat.

Of course, none of these benefits will be possible without also incorporating proper nutrition which I will be discussing next. But first, I want to make one thing clear: It is always best to do your resistance workout first, followed by your aerobic workout. This will allow you turn burn more fat and avoid further breakdown of muscle tissue, which could actually slow metabolism.

Pre- planning your meals. It is very easy to order out for meals if you are sitting at a desk all day; or even worse, ordering fast food, or even worse than that eating the doughnuts that your coworker brings in to the office. These are all challenges that need to be overcome if one is to make a serious lifestyle change. One thing that will help more than anything is to pre plan your meals. For some this may mean preparing them in the morning after your workout. For others, preparing meals days ahead of time may be easier. That way you can just throw it in the Tupperware container and head out. But what is proper nutrition? It consists of three things:

1. Lean protein: chicken breast, turkey breast, egg whites, fish, beans, soy, nuts.
2. Starchy carbohydrates: bread, rice, cereal, pasta, potatoes, yams. It is important here to stay away from anything that has been bleached or processed such as all of the “whites”: white bread, white rice, white flour, white pasta, etc. Stick to whole wheat and multi grain sources and watch your energy soar!
3. Fibrous carbohydrates: spinach, asparagus, carrots, green and red peppers, broccoli, fruits.

These three sources of nutrition should generally be eaten together throughout the day, preferably every three to four hours. Pre- planning your meals will make this possible. It takes a little effort, but the payoff is far worth it. And by the way, take one cheat day a week. This will satisfy your cravings and make adherence to the program much easier.

Taking active breaks. If you are someone who is constantly sitting at a desk all day, it is very important to periodically stand up and walk around for a bit. Without doing this, negative postures start to take shape in the body. For many desk workers, Rounded Shoulder Syndrome becomes an inevitable problem. The musculature of the thoracic spine becomes elongated and weak while the pecs become chronically tight. After this starts happening at the desk it starts to carry over into every day life, until it becomes a natural posture. Taking these active breaks is a great preventative measure to avoid this faulty posture as is an intentional focus on maintaining a good sitting posture while at the desk.

20 minutes to breathe. No matter how busy you are, I highly recommend taking 20 minutes a day to stop whatever you are doing and find a nice quite corner or room and just breathe deeply for 20 minutes. This simple act can clear your mind of stress and also strongly reduce the levels of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is the hormone that is released during times of high stress that can actually eat away at muscle tissue and lower metabolism.

Self care methods. It is very important to listen to your body throughout the day and give it what it is asking for. If a particular muscle is feeling very tight, stretch it! Light stretching can be a great self care method for chronically tight muscles as well as for muscle spasms. It is also wise to have a heat pad on hand which can reduce spasm and also calm chronically tight areas, bringing about a reduction in physical stress.

Making use of down time. Many people have a common problem of bringing their work home with them, and that includes all of the stress that goes along with it. After coming home from a long day of stress, the last thing your body needs is more stress. So try to leave work at work and use your down time to do things that you enjoy. It is very important to treat the mind as well as the body. Also, for those of you who just absolutely cannot get up early enough in the morning to exercise and pre plan your meals, after work is the only other time to do it. However, exercising after work can be very beneficial as it allows the body to de- stress and it places a positive focus on the mind.

There is one more very important element to be discussed in regards to training the body and the mind: proper rest and recovery! Your body needs proper rest from physical exercise and the mind needs rest from all of the stressors from the day. The best way to do this is to get a good night’s sleep. Without this, cortisol levels can once again increase and eat away at muscle tissue lowering metabolism. I know I’m giving you a lot of ideas to follow and it’s not going to be easy. One needs to become very efficient in time management for all of this to work. But it is very possible and far worth all of the work!

By following these concepts, the body can undergo a significant physical change and the brain will become much more alert and focused. If one truly makes the commitment to making a positive physical change they can reap the following benefits in the workplace.

a. Increased time efficiency.
b. Positive mental outlook.
c. Improved work ethic.
d. Becoming a team player.
e. Increased confidence.
f. Your new outlook will start to positively affect the people around you.

Your boss will probably be as happy as you are with your new body and improved outlook. Certain companies have even started hiring trainers and massage therapists to train and/ or massage their employees because the results in their work are just so amazing. I hope this information helps you.

Thanks for reading. Be healthy!