Ever since I started running in high school, being active has been woven into my life. But when I first started interning, I struggled with how to stay healthy and exercise while working a sedentary office job. These tips can help you adjust to your new working life while keeping the integral parts of your healthy habits.
1. Recognize that you are what you eat (and drink). Having a 9 to 5 means you no longer have the flexibility of a college schedule. When you do manage to squeeze in a workout, you want to make sure you’re maxing out your nutrition so that your sweat session gives you the best results. Guzzle water (I tried to down at least three large water bottles while I logged hours), and save money by packing whole grains, veggies and protein to keep your brain sharp and muscles fueled all day.
2. Sitting too much can make you feel stiff and achy when you clock out. Squeeze in a brisk walk around the cafeteria during your lunch break to limber up. Power walk to the restroom instead of strolling. I also like to do calf stretches under my desk to keep my legs from getting stiff. The best part? Unlike showy shoulder rolls and arm stretches, the calf stretch is discreet and takes zero concentration for maximal results.
3. Make an appointment with your endorphins. Let’s face it – in college, you’re free to ditch that essay any time for speed sessions on the track or laps in the pool. But when you’re a member of the workforce, you have real responsibilities. Dedicate some time to your inner early bird or night owl by working out right before or right after work. Use the time to decompress solo or find a buddy to get your muscle burn on with. I run and work out with my roommates whenever possible to keep me motivated.
4. Rethink your morning social media scroll and use any down time in the morning before work to boost your mental health. A few minutes of meditating and a quick list of tasks, deadlines and meetings can calm down your brain from stressing about your to do list. You’ll be happier and more productive when you make an attack plan and give your tired brain a worry-free sanctuary, even if it’s only temporary.
5. Sometimes you really, truly don’t have time or energy – and that’s okay. I used to berate myself for missing a run because I made plans with friends, or because I crashed on the couch after a tough day at work. Seeking a balance between work, play and fitness isn’t easy or instantaneous, and it’s okay to give yourself some wiggle room while you adjust. Health is important, but so are the opportunities and stressors in your twenties – sometimes the fit choice isn’t always the right choice. You might have to work overtime, or attend a networking event, instead of hitting the gym. And that’s fine – it’s the reality of someone right at the bottom of the corporate ladder. You will adjust, and life will move on, eventually, when you’re past this in-between stage. Best of luck – you got this.