Wed, 18 Jan 2006

Two Things.

  1. Work out at lunchtime.
  2. Walk.
If you tend to be a "night person", if the first thing on your mind when you wake up is going to work, and the first thing on your mind when you're done working is going home, this might just be your answer.

Does this sound like you? Then read on because I think I have a breakthrough.

Step 1: Work out at lunchtime.

Let's face it, working out is the hardest thing for you to do. It's not hard for you to wake up and go to work in the morning. And it's not hard at the end of the day to go straight home, and you most likely already justify taking an hour in the middle of the day for lunch.

But if you should find that the gym membership card is just making your wallet fatter without making you any thinner, consider this advice:

Make the most difficult thing for you to do the easiest you can make it. You know you're not getting up early to work out, and you're not going to do it in the evening. Not to be Mr. Obvious, but the only time left is lunchtime. This presents a problem, which I will be quick to solve, but let's point out why lunchtime makes sense again:

  1. If you're a night owl, getting up early regularly is difficult.
  2. If you sleep in on weekends, it's odd to wake up early during the week and sleep in on weekends.
  3. If you're gainfully employed still, it's because you rarely if ever come to work late, and working out at lunch doesn't have a big impact on that.
  4. Working out outdoors, particularly in the northwest during wintertime, is a burden, because it's dark when you wake up, and it's dark when you get home from work.
  5. Working out in a gym doesn't give you fresh air, nor a break from work if you do it before or after work.
The problem, of course, is what to do about lunch, which I'll get to right after...

Step 2: Walk.

But why walk? Why not run? I hear you. I've always considered walking "wimpy" when running burns so many more calories, and gets more done in less time.

Some coworkers have invited me to go running with them at lunchtime. But I haven't gone, for a few reasons. First, even moderate jogging is enough to get me sweating profusely, regardless of the shape I'm in. Second, you need to warm up and stretch really well. Third, I should probably stretch and cooldown afterward. Fourth, I need a change of clothes, which also means lots more laundry. Fifth I need to shower, and sixth, I'll be redfaced the rest of the afternoon. The point is, if you can't convince yourself it's a good idea, you're not going to do it, and that's quite a stack of obstacles.

Plus, weight loss should not be a race. Permanent weight loss is typically achieved when it's lost 1-2 lbs. a week.

The point is, make your workout as easy to do as possible, such that it's an easy habit to introduce into four out of five workdays. I can literally take 45 minutes to go for a walk, and not a single minute more for any pre-activity, post-activity, no extra laundry, just 45 minutes of basic exercise. All it takes are good (and waterproof) walking shoes (on nice days, you can walk in your work shoes, assuming they are moderately comfortable), a rainproof jacket, and a mini telescoping umbrella. You get the benefit of fresh air, a break in the middle of what could be a stressful day, and no time-consuming trip to the gym.

You can go with a co-worker, or if you go solo, 45 minutes a day of free time means (assuming safe walking conditions with no trip hazards) justification for buying a video iPod. (You didn't see that coming?)

What About Lunch?

I'm glad you asked. OK, you didn't, but it's obviously something I need to address because I took 45 minutes of your lunch hour away, didn't I? You have several options, but here's three ways you could go:

  1. Zone it.
  2. Shake it.
  3. Plan it and make it yourself.
Perhaps the best way to go is a combination of the above, in succession.

The first item is the "Zone Diet". You can find out more about it at Zone Seattle. The real key to this program is that they deliver your food to your door. It is pricey. To the tune of $40/day pricey, but it enables you to work out at lunch instead of worrying what you're going to eat. It teaches you portion control, which is a huge problem when you go out to lunch five days a week. It teaches you to graze. So I think it makes a lot of sense to start with the Zone Diet for at least a week, perhaps as many as 3-4, just to get you on the right track and reinforce positive eating habits.

The second way is to use protein powder shakes like Balance products. Since the Zone Diet focuses on a 40/30/30% balance of protein, fat and carbs (as measured by caloric intake-- protein and fat are relatively calorie dense, so this diet has an emphasis on fruits and vegetables), it's an obvious choice ( Augment that with either fresh fruit or vegetables, or even a Balance bar for a snack, and now you only need to worry about breakfast and dinner.

Finally, once you start getting sick of the cost of the Zone program, get sick of the shakes, you can start pre-preparing your meals on weekends for the upcoming week, and bring your lunch, but worry about that once you've established a workout routine, established good eating habits, and have begun to see the results of your actions.

Khan Klatt

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