We all know sitting for long periods of time is bad for you. We all know how important to our health exercising is. So WHY is it so hard to workout and maintain an active lifestyle?
Here’s what my day looks like. I wake up around 6:00am (more like 6:40am, because snooze buttons), I’m out the door by 7:10am and I’m at work to start my day at 7:30am. Then I leave the office around 5:30pm, or later. I work 9/80 schedules, which means I work 9 hours everyday except Fridays, which I have off every other week.
I feel VERY blessed to work this schedule because it is so refreshing to have a three day weekend every other week. However, it makes for longer days. The last thing I want to do is stop by the gym and get home around 7:30pm or later. I tried this last year and found myself skipping out on workouts just so I could get home and unwind in my comfy-comfs. If you work late nights or have a long commute, you can probably agree.
I took to Instagram to find out from those who work out during work how they did it and asked for their advice. Initially, I didn’t receive a single piece of advice. None. But apparently everyone I follow was in the same boat as me because I received a lot of requests to share what I found out.
I’ve noticed TONS of people at my office workout during lunch at the gym or outside. I always wondered: How do people do it? When do they eat? Do they sit in their own sweat when they get back to their desk? Do they time travel?
So, after asking coworkers to share their workout wisdom, and trying it out myself, here are my favorite, most practical pieces of advice for lunch-time gym time. They may seem obvious, but for me, it helped make something I found intimidating seem more realistic.
1. Pack the night before
I value my sleep – big time. That means if I’m waiting until morning to pack my gym bag, it’s probably not happening. Go ahead and pack your gym bag with everything you need the night before and place it by your door. That way, you have no excuse but to bring it with you.
Here’s what’s in my gym bag:
- Gym clothes (don’t forget socks!)
- Fresh underwear – you’ll be so glad
- Tennis shoes
- Bluetooth Earbuds
- Hair brush and Hair ties
- Dry Shampoo
- Smoothing serum and Heat protectant spray for my hair (in travel containers)
- Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes or Micellar Water
- Clinique 3 step program (travel sizes) here and here
- Mascara and blush
- High protein snack
Things to include if your gym doesn’t provide them:
- Hair dryer
- Travel shampoo + conditioner bottles
- Travel body wash
Another option is to pack your bag with enough gym clothes for the week so you’re not having to bring it back up more than once.
2. Go with a buddy
If you’re like me, accountability when working out is huge. I don’t need someone to come with me as I switch to the different machines. I just need someone to get to the gym doors with!
Ask a coworker if they want to join you and encourage each other to commit to whichever days work best for the two (or more!) of you. Remind each other to pack your gym bags before your leave for the day!
3. Block time off
Self-care is important. We block time off to meet with others and for our doctor’s appointments, so why wouldn’t we block time off for the gym? Of course, be mindful of your work schedule and use your own discretion. Seeing time blocked off on your calendar will make the act of going to the gym more concrete. Obviously, your workout routine will be shortened in order to fit it in. But a little gym time every week is better than none.
Here’s what I try to do if my work schedule permits:
1:00-1:15pm – Treadmill or Recumbent Bike
1:15-1:30pm – Elliptical
1:30-1:45pm – Stretch (this is a non-negotiable for me because this is what makes my workout make me feel like a million bucks after)
1:45-2:00pm – Rinse off, change, quickly dry hair (or dry as much as I can)
Don’t have time to wash your hair or even just to rinse your body off? Try focusing on weights only and keep your hair in a low pony to avoid any weird bun head hair after your workout.
4. Plan your meal
Maybe you can afford the luxury of eating a full lunch while you work at your desk before or after you workout. Or maybe it’s best to work out and eat something light and quick on your way. Pack a few protein rich snacks in your gym bag, purse, or desk so you never have to skip lunch.
5. Simplify your hair
Obviously, dry shampoo is a gift from the Lord. When you don’t have time to wash your hair, apply dry shampoo and run a brush through it to disperse the product.
Tip from a friend: If you do decide to wash your hair, save some time by blow drying just your bangs or the areas around your face. Use a smoothing serum to keep your hair from getting frizzy as it dries at your desk.
Or, embrace your natural hair and wear it as a badge of honor to remind yourself that you made it to the gym!
- You’re getting your heart rate up. It doesn’t matter if you’re not breaking any gym records. Anything is better than sitting all day.
- You don’t need a psychology degree to understand that exercise improves mood by increasing serotonin levels. It’s amazing how much better I feel after a lunch-time workout. Here’s more info. Bonus points if you can work out outside and get some extra vitamin C (don’t forget sunscreen!).
- There are also numerous studies showing taking breaks in your work day can increase your concentration. You’re a better employee when you’re taking care of your health!
- It saves your shower/hair drying time at home. I used to shower at night, which ate away at my precious home time after work and made my nighttime routine feel like it lasted forever. I couldn’t let my hair air dry because the serums I use would get all over my pillowcase, then my face, causing clogged pores. Now, all of that is taken care of for the day!
- I believe working out should ultimately be for your health but it sure doesn’t hurt that most bodies will start to show progress if you consistently show up to work out!
Don’t have a gym nearby? Try packing tennis shoes and walking (or running if that’s your thing) around the block outside of your office. Your body will thank you for doing anything other than sitting.
I’ve linked my favorite workout gear to help motivate you to head to the gym! What are you favorite gym tips and tricks? Or are you in the same boat as I was and find it intimating? Let me know in the comments!