Keeping Fit in a Desk Job

It wasn’t so long ago that I struggled with keeping fit whilst working at a desk all day. I worked in IT at the time and aside from walking to the odd job in another office or a weekly game of football I was sitting around, a lot. This is a timeline of how I broke my habits, leading up to what I do now.

My manager at the time got a group of us into running. I played a bit of football, how hard could it have been?

Running Changed my Habits

The group signed up for a 10k—Men’s Health in Glasgow—which I finished in just under an hour. I done alright for my first one and a few months training. My main goal was to run it without stopping. Before the race I had only managed 7k without stopping. Nailed it. I caught the bug though, the Men’s Health 10k was followed by several other 10k races, a leg in the Highland Fling relay, and the Alloa Half Marathon, over the next couple of years. My wee toilet has medals nailed to the wall now.

Because of the hard work I sometimes felt like I had earned a snack, or ten. A dangerous habit.

As part of the training for the races I attended the gym twice a week and tried to go for a run outside at least once a week. I didn’t really change my diet during all of this, I just tried to eat a little smarter. Tea Cakes were still involved. Because of the hard work I sometimes felt like I had earned a snack, or ten. A dangerous habit.

I hit a bit of a plateau though, my runs were around 50mins for the 10k, my weight remained pretty much the same.

Fitness Tracker

I purchased a Jawbone UP to track what I was eating and moving. I set my daily target of 10,000 steps and strived to hit that each day. I tried to keep my calorie intake between 2,000 and 2,500 per day and stopped myself from eating after 7:30pm as I usually snacked at night. This worked for me, I dropped 5mins off my 10k time, and lost a little more weight. I’ve had the UP for a year now and despite it breaking 3 times, I found it pushed me on. I always had a reminder of my targets right there on my wrist. At £100 I wanted my monies worth—I was going to make it work.

The plateau struck again though, turned out sticking to this no snacking at night and hitting 10k steps per day wasn’t an everlasting path to success. After 6 months it was time to change things up again.

Diet

I’m a fussy eater. I don’t really like vegetables, the thought of a salad reminds me of rabbit food. I tried a salad last year, it didn’t end well. I even order my food without the veg. I suppose this makes things a bit harder for me but to make it work I introduced some little changes—changes that I was more likely to stick to. The not snacking after 7:30pm rule worked pretty well, but I also introduced a daily protein shake which I turned into a fruit smoothie. The shake has:

  • 1 scoop of Impact Whey Protein (vanilla), mixed with Glutamine and Creatine
  • 1 raw egg
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of frozen summer berries
  • Some milk (skimmed)

It’s all blended up and tastes pretty sweet! I take it in the morning after my workout which I started a few months back. I bought the supplements from My Protein. If you signup, Refer a Friend code MP25212173 will let them know I sent you.

Insanity Workout

That morning workout was the Insanity workout. It’s 6 days a week of high intensity training. Each one lasting between 40mins and just over an hour which I done just before work. For the first 60 day cycle through the workout calendar I stuck to it and it really worked well—how could 6 days a week high intensity not? It was a nice start to the day, I found that come 9am my head was in the game. I felt stronger and focused.

After the first cycle I took a week off and went to visit Newcastle. On my return I modified the calendar to fit better with my week, making sure it didn’t clash with my football and I also moved the rest day to a Friday from Sunday. I don’t mind working out over the weekend but a longer lie before work during the week felt like more of a reward. It was hard to get back into it after a week off, so much so I’m not going to break routine again—instead I’ll just tone it down during a rest week. It was probably mostly mental, but it was tough.

Now and Next

Right now each week I’m playing football on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and doing a revised Insanity Workout every day except Friday. I take my shake daily. Friday is my treat day, but that sometimes sneaks into Saturday too. I weigh, give or take, 77kg and sit around 16% body fat. I’ve not done nearly as much running as I done last year, and I’ve not done any races this year yet.

I’ve reached that plateau again, but I have a plan which kicks into action tomorrow.

I find it hard to get in the mindset without parting with cash and committing to something—be it a fitness tracker, or a race signup.

I’m signing up for a couple of 10k races and get into that training again. I find it hard to get in the mindset without parting with cash and committing to something—be it a fitness tracker, or a race signup. I’m going to take the diet a step further. I know the rubbish I still snack on so that’s going. The new Jawbone UP app rates your food out of 10, so that’ll be a big help. I’m going to try and stay below 2,000 calories. I signed up for a Graze box—you can use the friend code RABR6YPZP to get 3 free boxes—to see if that’ll help me snack on dried fruit over Tea Cakes.

Let’s see if I can drop that body fat percentage again. Before all this I was a 36 waist, now I need a belt for my 32s. I’ll drop it a little further still—I’ll prove it in an few months with another post.

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