A few years ago, I went through what I call my Chunkster Phase. I didn’t even notice I had gotten out of shape until one of my favorite clients, a grandmotherly nutritionist, told me I was looking “well-loved.” Since then, I have made it a point to exercise regularly — through a job change, a trial, and a file-cabinet-drawer-related injury. And during the past year or so, I have figured out how to eat a mostly balanced diet. The result is that I still fit comfortably into my high-school cheerleading uniform (as demonstrated at my office Halloween party). And I can climb to the top of Mailbox Peak — one of the steepest day hikes around — without needing to take a breather or cry.
Though of course everyone’s health and fitness needs are different (and some may need to consult with a doctor before changing diet and exercise routines), here’s what I found worked for me to get fit, without a huge time commitment:
Wrap your mind around the no-brainers.
There are some obvious steps to getting healthier. They do not make life more enjoyable, but they work. For me, these included:
- Swapping out iceberg for greener stuff like spinach, kale, and romaine.
- Avoiding fried food and drinking less. (Sigh.)
- Bringing a healthy lunch and snacks to work.
- Making extra at dinner to have healthy leftovers for lunch.
- Buying whole-wheat bread, English muffins, and pasta instead of products made from processed flour.
- And the most intuitive but somehow hardest: Stop eating when you are full.
For most of my adult existence, the crisper drawer in my fridge housed little more than a couple of bruised apples and a bag of dried-out baby carrots. Now I try to build my meals around fruits and vegetables. I stock up on “the usual suspects”— broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers — which can be sliced up and roasted with garlic powder in minutes. I always keep a bag of salad in the office fridge, so that even if I have to buy a sandwich or eat a Lean Cuisine, my midday meal is somewhat healthy. (I can’t eat just a salad. In my stomach’s opinion, a bowl of lettuce is not a meal.) And I literally eat an apple a day.
Annoyingly, having a lot of produce around usually requires an additional trip to the grocery store each week. But I try to take care of that task right after the gym, so my sweaty gym clothes can serve as a reminder to me of what it takes to burn off the calories I am about to buy.
Remove common road blocks.
I have found that it is best to think of working out as the default: Plan to work out every day, and only opt out if there is a competing commitment. It also helps to remove any of the usual impediments:
- Pick a gym that is close to work and do not stop at home first (it is so hard to get the motivation to leave the house). Indeed, proximity is worth a pricier membership, since you will go more.
- Work out as early in the day as you can, to avoid feeling too worn out for post-work exercise.
- Bring your gym bag to work every day, even if you have other plans (in case they fall through).
- Keep healthy snacks at work to avoid the “I’m too starving to work out before dinner” excuse.
- Stock up on decent workout clothes, so you have clean gear without constant laundering.
- And for those with kids, pick a gym that has childcare.
My gym is across the street from my office. It takes me 10 minutes to get from my office chair to the treadmill. If I have plans after work or more work to do at night, I can leave for the gym and come back. This level of convenience makes it irritatingly convenient to exercise regularly.
Using shortcuts can make healthy eating choices an efficient option.
- Keep an apple slicer at work to cut up fresh fruit.
- Buy pre-cut fruits and vegetables if you do not have a lot of time or energy to play sous-chef.
- Choose bagged salad that comes with all the necessary ingredients.
Pile fruits and vegetables on ready-to-eat stuff.
I like food that tastes like chicken strips. I am also lazy as all get-out when it comes to meal preparation. My compromise is minimal-effort things like throwing a bunch of vegetables into pasta sauce, or layering a frozen cheese pizza with a ton of veggies. I have also mastered this breakfast burrito — whole-wheat tortilla, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, ham, and a little cheese — that requires only one egg. Since vegetables make up so much of the meal, I end up eating less of the bad stuff that I still need to consume to avoid food rage. Try a little ice cream with a large serving of strawberries, or add a banana to your cereal.
Visit NWSidebar later this week for Part 2 of A Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Health and Fitness in 2014!
The Washington Young Lawyers Committee (WYLC) is the vehicle for new attorneys and law students to get involved with the Washington State Bar Association.
3 thoughts on “A Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Health and Fitness in 2014: Part 1”
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My firm still buys donuts every Friday. The temptation is real. An angel appears on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Its a tremendous debate, usually settled by how high the number was on the scale Friday morning.
Today is Friday, and due to the figure on my scale, I will not be consuming the donuts.
Tis as straightforward as the child support schedule or more accurately the offender score under determinative sentencing.
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