“You get up every morning
From your ‘larm clock’s warning
Take the 8:15 into the city
There’s a whistle up above
And people pushin’, people shovin’
And the girls who try to look pretty
And if your train’s on time
You can get to work by nine
And start your slaving job to get your pay”
— “Taking Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Let’s face it. Staying fit is easy when nothing else is vying for our time. But if we consider ourselves to be the average humanoids (unless there is a literate dog reading this, in which case let’s chat over a couple protein shakes sometime), that’s likely not the case. Most of us are waking up with the sun, chugging our triple shot mocha lattes, and just trying to get back home at night so we can hit the hay and do it all over again. Our meals consist of cafeteria food, or takeout, or whatever frozen meal we bring from home. We sit so long that there are overpasses being built to bridge the permanent indentations in our chairs. By the time we walk through the front door at night, the last thing we want to do (short of poking our fingers in electrical sockets or other such unpleasant pastimes) is lace up and start lifting anything but the TV remote.
The question thus arises: how do we get past all of that junk standing in our way, and stay fit anyway?
This is probably going to be the hardest step. We already established that staying fit when working is not easy, so a lot of what’s necessary is going to come down to good ol’ fashioned bucking up and getting it done. The key here is starting slow, and turning individual facets of a routine into habits. When we jump into a new routine too quickly, the chance of it failing is extremely likely (think of all the January resolutionists who are nowhere to be seen come February). But when we go slow, and turn small things into habits, it’s easier to have the discipline to stick to them.
Prep Meals Ahead of Time
Speaking from personal experience, it is nearly impossible to pack a healthy lunch at the crack of dawn when trying to run out the door and beat the morning rush hour. Bag of potato chips? Veggies, check. Chicken fingers? Protein, check. Can of soda? Well, we all need a little sugary pick me up during the day. How do we avoid this? By making Tupperware our best friend. Pick a day on the weekend, plan lunches for the week, and start prepping in bulk. Cook all of your protein for every meal together on a cookie sheet, and boil up all of your complex carbs. Don’t forget to include snacks too. Lunches are the most important, but those two chunks of time surrounding it can be long, and leave us pining away at a Snickers. And always, always, always (are you getting it yet?) bring a water bottle to drink from throughout the day. We often confuse thirst for hunger, so this is important in order to stick to the plan.
Bring Gym Clothes to Work
Don’t go home, change, and then head out to the gym. Why? Because our homes are black holes. They suck us in, making it less likely to leave once we’ve settled down in a comfy chair. I could use two hands, and then a few friends’, ticking off how many times I have gone home with the intent to go back out to the gym, and then thought, “Well, I’m here already and I’m tired so I’ll just rest tonight and go out tomorrow.” Avoid this trap entirely, and just go to the gym right away.
Yes, we’re back in fourth grade again. For all of these steps, have a partner. Prep together, work out together, develop discipline together. Chances are each of us is going to have an off day once in a while, and on our own that might prove tempting to skip all of these steps. But if we have buddies, we are accountable not only to ourselves but to others. Buddies are also great to lean on a little for support (just make sure to reciprocate). It’s a lot easier when we have someone else by our side, and a lot more fun.
If we follow these steps, we’ll be better set up to stay on track. Is it going to be easy? Probably not. It’s called “working out” for a reason. But if we want it enough, and if we utilize all the tools in our belt, we can make it easier on ourselves and be set up for success. And heck, our coworkers might take note and start up too. Maybe we just found the cure for the obesity epidemic.