I thought I’d write a slightly different type of post this time, one which I wish I had actually been able to read before I started my full time job after leaving school. To give you a bit of background, I currently work 9-5 in an office, 5 days a week. I also drive so it’s super easy for me to become rather lazy getting from place to place. When I was in school and even in Sixth Form, I would have to walk 20ish minutes to get there, same time to get back, would walk from class to class and took dance both as a subject and as out of school classes. At that age I really didn’t think much of it as it was just my normal routine – I seriously had no idea what impact it would have on me, my body and even how I felt about myself when I left school and my daily routine completely changed.
I’ve been in a full time office job for nearly 3 years now and it wasn’t until last Christmas time that I realised just how much weight had slowly crept on (just over a stone!), and how much more unhealthier I felt within myself since I started my new chapter in life and new daily routine. I still can’t actually believe how long it took for me to finally notice, but I suppose as I was slowly changing over such a long period of time it was never an ‘in your face’ difference. After looking back at old photos, it really hit me how different I looked and I knew I had to make some changes. I’ve now lost just under a stone since the new year and I’m really happy with the way I look and feel again – but it really did take a lot of commitment compared to when I was in school and didn’t have to think twice about what exercise I was doing or what I was eating. If I had known before how much of an impact a lifestyle of driving to work, sitting at a desk all day, driving home, watching TV/Netflix then going to bed (all while still eating the same diet and amount of calories as before) was going to have on me then I definitely would have followed these simple tips earlier.
Make time for exercise
This may seem really obvious, but trust me after doing a full days work it’s so much more effort to make time to get off your backside and work out. When I first started my job, I really felt the impact of finishing at 5pm instead of 3pm every day… The last thing I wanted to do was go to the gym or for a run and make what little time I had left in the evenings disappear even quicker. All I wanted was a bath and my PJs! You have to really force yourself to get into working out, but once you start to see differences and progress it will become much less of a chore. You also feel great once completing a work out, gym session, or run and you’ll actually start to enjoy it (yes, really!). I try and aim to get to the gym at least twice a week and do both cardio and weights in a session. I MUST go straight after work before I settle in at home, otherwise I know I’ll 100% convince myself it’s getting late and won’t go. I also attend a Zumba class most Thursday evenings with some colleagues which is so much fun and burns loads of calories.
Cut down portion sizes and eat healthier meals
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I got into my job was that I was still eating the same sorts of food that I did before (when I was burning it off all time). Thinking about it, I actually probably ate worse than I did before. In our office some of us would take part in ‘Fat Fridays’ where each week we would get a takeaway for lunch, alternating between meals like fish & chips, Chinese, McDonalds and KFC. Treating ourselves to food on a Friday seemed to make the endless countdown to the weekend a little more bearable. However thinking back on it now, I can’t believe that I sometimes ate a full takeaway for lunch and then went home to a full dinner – that was obviously NOT very good for me at all! Normal lunch days weren’t so good either. Me not being the most organised person in the mornings would hardly ever think ahead and plan my lunches. Meaning I would often end up with something along the lines of microwavable rice, instant noodles or basically just a load of rubbish to try and fill me up. Now my lunches are prepped as often as I can the night before and filled with more healthy/nutritious ingredients. Not only do I look better since eating healthier and losing weight but I also feel great – full of energy more often and not feeling sluggish as I sometimes felt before. When I first decided to change my eating habits and aim to lose weight the one thing that really helped guide and motivate me was the My Fitness Pal app. I seriously recommend this app to anyone trying to do what I did, as it really makes you aware of what you’re eating by detailing the calories in each item and the breakdown of macros (carbs, fats and protein). You can tailor it to your own personal and realistic goals by entering your current height and weight and what you aim to lose over a chosen period of time. It then cleverly calculates the amount of calories you should stick to consuming every day to reach your target. When I was losing weight I wasn’t allowed more than 1,540 calories a day, which wasn’t too difficult to stick to considering the recommended normal calorie intake for a woman is 2,000. Even though at first it was a right pain to try and remember to log every single thing I ate (including drinks) it soon turned into part of my life and I would freak out if I had forgot to log something. Now that I’m back down and more happy with my weight I’ve upped my calorie allowance to around 1,800 and a lot of the time I actually don’t bother logging every single thing as by now I know roughly how much of certain foods I should be eating to stick to my goal. So if you’re like me and LOVE your food and just need a little help to stop over indulging, this app would be perfect for you!
I find this a really hard one for working in an office as people often bring in treats, it’ll be someone’s birthday (which means cake!), or there’ll be plenty of leftover buffet from a client meeting. I’ve got to be honest, I tend to have both good days and bad days with snacking – the bad days often come hand in hand with a bad day of work itself. Stress = food. Having said that, most of the time when it comes to being offered sweet treats I stick to my guns and say no. *Forcing myself to think of a perfect summer body helps a lot at this point as a fat slice of chocolate cake goes right past me.* I also find that if I’ve had a great protein filled breakfast I don’t even feel the need to snack as I can go through to lunch time without feeling hungry again. The more filling your three main meals are throughout the day, you simply wont feel the need to eat in between. However if you feel that you need a little something to get you through, or even if you just tend to eat a lot out of boredom at your desk, I’d suggest going for fruit or a small pack of plain nuts. I always feel better about myself choosing these over a bar of chocolate or a pack of crisps, as when it comes to logging the food on my app it doesn’t waste a tonne of calories on one small item that doesn’t even really fill you up that much.
Give yourself the weekends off
Well this is definitely my favourite tip of them all! A lot of diets and health gurus often say that a cheat meal a week or a full cheat day is needed to ensure you give yourself some time off a healthy diet and not worry about what you’re eating. However for me, I tend to have busy and fun weekends with family and friends (often involving plenty of tasty but unhealthy food and alcohol!). If you’re sticking to being good throughout the week, then I don’t see anything wrong in giving yourself the whole weekend off and just enjoying yourself. You still lose weight overall, just a little slower, but I know that I’d be so down and unhappy if I was too strict on myself whilst everyone else around me indulges in meals out, takeaways, cocktails and prosecco – life’s too short to not treat yourself every now and then. After a week of work everyone looks forward to a fun weekend, so just throw all the rules out the window and you’ll be a lot more likely to reach your goals in the end. You won’t be wiping your favourite things out of your diet completely, so you can still enjoy yourself resulting in it not feeling as difficult to stick to being good throughout the week. In my opinion this is the best and healthiest way to do it.
So these are my top tips on how I manage to stay healthy while working in my full time office job. I hope this post is useful to some people, especially if you are just leaving school or Uni and about to start in an office job of your own. I know that if I had read a similar post 3 years ago, I would have been a lot more conscious of what I was eating and how much exercise I had to make myself do to adjust to my new lifestyle and routine.