Making the Most of your Time:
Workout Tips for People with Traditional 9 to 5 Jobs
We’ve heard the routine and we know the story: if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle you have to train consistently. These pearls of wisdom often come from those who have the liberty of job flexibility. They are often self-employed, personal trainers, professional athletes, or are able to work alternative schedules like flex time or 4x10’s. Many of these people are often granted the freedom of working out in between clients, preparing meals after workouts, and even completing 2 full workouts in a day since their schedule allows them to nap in between. That’s phenomenal! But what about those who work traditional 9 to 5 jobs? (Yes, there are still a few out there). Flexibility is not always an option, but making the most of the time given certainly is an option. For those of you like myself, who have fixed schedules w/ very limited flexibility, here are some tips to remain in optimal shape, regardless of the imposed time constraints.
Since making the time to workout is frequently more difficult than the workout itself, get it out of the way. If you’re a morning person, get going during your peak performance time before the rest of the world wakes up. If you don’t get energized until noon, go during your lunch break, you can eat post workout and socialize at work during breaks. If you get a rush from the high energy 5pm crowd, go right after work. If you’re a night owl, go late in the evening when the crowd dies down. Regardless of when you go, it still requires proper planning. Get your bag with all the necessities prepared the night before, so you are not scurrying around for items at the last minute. It’s just one less distraction to prevent you from ditching your workout. (And as I’m sure most people know, it doesn’t take much). This also means modifying your workout length and intensity to fit your allowable time period. Sometimes the best workouts are the shortest and most intense. It’s amazing what you can fit in to 40 minutes with weights, plyometrics, intervals, and circuits. A gym is not even necessary. Visit one of Bakersfield’s many parks with fitness circuits. Get creative, solicit ideas from magazines, or if you are very bold, ask area sports teams if you can participate in a practice session.
Unless you love spending time with meal preparation daily, pick 1 or 2 days each week to prepare several days worth of food. Weekends work best for me. I typically allow meats to thaw while I’m at work on Friday, cook them Friday night, and prepare specific dishes Saturday and Sunday morning…for 2 weeks. That’s right. I’m only in the kitchen 2-4 days a month. Prepare large quantities of food and freeze the rest. Boil or grill 12-20 lbs of chicken, brown and season 3-5 lbs of extra lean ground turkey or beef, or prepare 20-30 medium sized protein pancakes or protein muffins. All freeze easily and taste great without sacrificing flavor or consistency when thawed. Learn to prepare one dish meals that require what I call “dumping and simmering” in to one pot. Another trick is to invest in Ziploc bags. Once cooked and cooled, all my food is pre-measured, bagged, and placed in the refrigerator or freezer. The baggies take up less space than Tupperware. It also makes traveling with food much easier. (And of course w/ all the extra plastic use I do recycle). Finally, always have something in your refrigerator. Do not let it get empty because that is when it is easiest to fall off your eating plan.
Of course you have to be self-motivated to maintain your healthy lifestyle, but a little external incentive never hurt. Have a specific goal. A class reunion, vacation, your significant other’s birthday, anniversary, a stunning new outfit, a makeover, a contest, or sporting event. Clip pictures, get reminders, and get moving. And remember, you should continually be revamping your goals.
Just remember, you may not have the same flexibility as others, but it does not mean that you have to sacrifice your ability to achieve a desired level of optimal fitness. Following these tips will give you the edge, allow you to make the most of your 9 to 5 job, and have others asking, “How many hours a day do you workout?”