Managing priorities can be hard especially when working a full-time job. Before starting my job, the gym was my playground. I had A LOT of free time and was able to workout whenever I wanted – often every day! I pretty much planned my daily routine around my workouts / runs.
So what happens when you start working full-time? You lose your free time. I never thought how a 9-5:30 job would affect me – first of all, it’s not 9, it’s 8 because you need to factor in travel time, and secondly, 5:30 is subjective – it depends on whether you have anything that needs finishing before you leave.
So how do you continue to stay fit whilst pursuing a career? I hate to say it, but it’s tough. The early mornings, the lack of energy and motivation; not to mention the fear of losing your hard-earned progress.
Let me tell you though, it is possible to make it work. It’s taken me a while (18 months) but I now feel settled and like I can share worthwhile tips.
So here are my four top tips for staying fit whilst working full-time:
1. B E F L E X I B L E
One important thing I have learnt since starting to work full time is that you can miss a few workouts here and there and still stay on track – so don’t panic. It’s tough but life happens – and it’s okay if I feel too tired for leg day or if I get in a 8PM and don’t fancy going for a run!
If you want to be fitter and healthier in general then you must truly accept that it is a lifestyle change and not a temporary 8-week fitness binge.
Some people can work a full-time job, exercise every day before work and be extremely content (and functional!) – and that is amazing! But that’s not how I personally like to do my version of fitness. So if you are finding that being strict on yourself is making you unhappy when you miss a workout, then change it. Physical injuries, changes in your mood, work and (god-forbid) our hormones get in the way all the time – so chances are you need to take it easy for a little while. It’s all about moderation.
Instagram is a great source for fitness inspiration – but we too often forget we aren’t all aspiring fitness models with access to a gym 24 / 7 and able to fit in 2 classes a day; we are real people with real jobs and real commitments that often get in the way.
2. B E O R G A N I S E D
Half the battle of a workout is actually getting yourself there. The do-I don’t-I battle of good vs bad on your shoulder about whether or not you should go workout (when it comes to morning workouts, I’ll the first to admit that the bed almost always wins).
As previously stated, it is so important to listen to your body and take a rest when you need it / not feel bad if you do miss a workout, but it’s about learning to distinguish genuine fatigue from an I-can’t-be-arsed mindset.
If you’re just being lazy, I’ve found that you can usually convince yourself into getting yourself to the gym. You know that once you’re there you’ll be fine and once you’ve finished your workout you’ll feel amazing. The hardest part is getting your gym kit on – once it’s on you might as well go! So:
- If you like to train in the mornings, lay your gym kit out the night before right beside your bed so it’s ready and waiting for you. Some people even sleep in it.
- If you like to train in the evenings, go to the bathroom once the clock hits home-time and get changed into your kit before you leave work.
3. E A T R I G H T
Nutrition is arguably the most crucial player in getting you to where you want to be fitness–wise, be that fat-loss or muscle-gain. If you have a hectic week at work and can only squeeze in one workout, then don’t stress out over it – simply let it be and focus on nailing your nutrition instead.
In the grand scheme of things, missing a couple of workouts will not be detrimental to your success in reaching your goal. However devouring 5-6 Caramel McVities from the biscuit tin at work every day… yeah that might.
There are a couple of ways I’ve found that help me when I try to stick to healthy eating:
- Plan all your meals in advance (including snacks), do your weekly shop and only stick to eating those.
- You could also track your food for a week on MyFitnessPal and challenge yourself to stick to your Carb / Fat / Protein goals. I don’t do this every week, but sometimes it’s good to check on how I’m doing.
When those client lunches crop up and you have no other choice but to eat out, try to be sensible and clever with your order. Choose something that’s fairly obvious what’s in it (think meat and veg or pasta with pesto) – often with creamy sauces there’s cream, cheese and other naughty-but-nice ingredients hidden away sneakily. You can also dodge the alcohol to cut down the calories (…but sometimes it’s rude not to!)
4. G E T O U T
By taking a packed lunch, you can control what you are eating, save yourself time AND save yourself money. The only downside I’ve come across is that when I don’t have lunch with me, I make the most of my lunch break and go outside to find food. Alternatively – when I bring my food with me, I grab it out of the fridge, heat it up and go back to my desk to eat it. I don’t get any sunlight, fresh air or movement (really)!
What I’ve started doing is taking my lunch break – and making a special effort to do so when I already have my food. I either take my food outside with me and find a bench to eat it or I eat it in the office and go for a walk afterwards – trust me, even 15 minutes will make you feel better! Plus the break from your computer screen / environment will give you a bit of a refresh, allowing you to come back motivated!
If there’s no time during the working day, try walking / cycling to work or from work (or both) – it’s an easy win! You get in your cardio and you’re going somewhere you would be going anyway! Also it’s great to make the most of the lighter evenings – go for a walk with your other half to chat about your day.
If you have any questions or want to share your own secret tips then leave a comment!