Office Gut

Happy Thursday, amigos! Just one more day until the weekend. I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.

So! As most of you are already aware, blogging about the Hunger Games-like trials and tribulations of weight loss (ha!) is not actually my full-time gig. Though believe me, if someone were to offer me a livable salary to take photos of my dogs and write about how frustrating it is to lose the libbies, I would most certainly NOT turn them down! Alas, however, as that is not the case, I have to have a little thing called a day job. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the concept.

My particular breed of day job involves working for a government contractor in our nation’s capital. It is just as interesting and invigorating as it sounds. I spend the majority of my day glued to my desk, staring blankly at my computer monitor. And between my actual job, blogging, being part of the iPhone generation in general, and taking up the hobby of writing a book in my spare time, I’m finding that I’m spending more time than ever seated. And, y’know, computer…ing.

Sure, it’s great that I’ve replaced hours upon hours of TV and gaming time with something productive (ish) like writing, but it’s still time I’m spending literally resting on my laurels. I’m still making it to the gym 2 to 3 times a week, and often oing workout stuff at home in between, but I’m finding that my efforts there still aren’t really enough to fully counteract the 10+ hours a day I spend on my butt. I think I first saw this infographic (fair warning, it’s really long, so feel free to scroll on through although it is fascinating) on Mary’s blog like, forever ago:

Sitting is Killing You
Via: Medical Billing And Coding

I’m pretty sure that after I saw this making the rounds for the first time, I quickly proceeded to ignore it and crawl into a state of denial about my habits. But not anymore! Consider this my official declaration of making an active effort not to spend all my young life in a seated position. As such, I’ve already implemented the following habits:

1. Taking the stairs

Okay, well, this needs a caveat. I work on the 10th floor of my building, so let’s not get crazy: I’m not taking ALL the stairs. But I *am* taking the stairs to and from the parking garage up to the main lobby, and that’s three flights up and three flights down each day. Certainly not groundbreaking, but it’s a start! Maybe one day I’ll start getting brave and tackle the actual stairs up to my office. I’m sure it would give me coworkers great pleasure to see me red-faced and sweaty at 8 AM. 😉

2. Walk through the office

One of the worst things I’m finding is that my efforts to slim down and save money by bringing in my lunches has actually proven detrimental to this whole sitting-all-day-thing. When I bring my lunch, it’s often salads and sandwiches and stuff that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or heated up (or that I’m too lazy to heat up. Oops.) and thus, I just end up spending more time at my desk. I’ve started to force myself to walk back through the office more often, often just to do things like go talk to a coworker about something face-to-face instead of just calling them. Basically, I’m just trying to counteract my natural laziness.

I’m also trying to refocus on my hydration efforts so that I’m more motivated to walk back to the kitchen to get water, which is obviously a healthy effort for multiple reasons.

3. A moderate amount of office-appropriate exercise

At one point, I was really motivated to try and turn my time spent working into time spent working OUT as well. So I tried to turn my desk into a standing desk, and at one point began doing lunges down rows of empty cubicles. In a dress. (It was kind of fun.) Neither turned out to be particularly sustainable, however, since my desk is at the front of our office, and I have high-visibility. Whenever I did need to sit down to work on something, nobody could see me tucked behind my little nook (arguably this wasn’t a bad thing, but you know, the job is as the job does.)

As for the office lunges, well, as amazed as you may be to hear it, even I have a threshold for humiliation. So instead of that, I’m trying to work in movements at my desk that are slightly less attention-drawing, like stretching. It may not be burpees, but it still helps get the blood flowing and that’s something. Before it got ridiculously, outlandishly hot, I was taking fairly frequent walking breaks outside as well, although it’s not particularly motivating to do so with current weather conditions. I know, I know, excuses, excuses. I’m working on it!

So there you have it. Sitting = the enemy. Well, one of the enemies of our computer-driven lives, that is. I’m pretty sure all this typing and computer-based activity is also giving me carpal tunnel, but that’s another whale to tackle at another time, eh? Hahaha… ha.

Anywho, I’d LOVE to hear what you guys to do maintain your sanity and stability while whittling away at your day jobs. One thing I’m sure may occur to you, and that I’ve already thought about, is going to the gym in the AM. I know that if I went and worked out every morning BEFORE work that I’d probably feel less guilty about sitting at my desk all day, but… c’mon. We all know that just won’t happen. It was enough of a struggle just to get myself into the habit of going to the gym AT ALL, and sleeping is just too good, mes amis.

Hopefully these efforts (among others that I will hopefully pick up from you?) will help continue to keep the office gut at bay while I figure out what I’m doing… both with my weight loss, and with my life. You know, until my novel is a national bestseller or something, and then I can pay someone else to figure it out for me. 😉

What are your tips for staying loose and getting some non-sitting movement in at work?

Weight Loss 101: Eat Real Food, Not Your Savings

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So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about eating healthy and finances. As in, how do you eat REAL food without going REALLY broke? And then yesterday Ali tweeted at me that she had similar concerns: How do you eat healthy without going bankrupt at the grocery store? Which obviously got me thinking about it even more. I’ll be the first to admit (and I’m sure that my sister will be the second, haha!) that I am not exactly the most frugally minded person. Sure, I can appreciate a good deal as much as the next person, but for the most part I adhere to the mindset that I would rather pay more for better quality, faster service, or convenience, than have to deal with the opposites of those things. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a rockin’ deal as much as the next person, but some things aren’t worth the hassle to me. Hence why it’s more likely you’d find me leisurely perusing the displays at Nordstrom than getting sweaty and harried pawing through the racks at Marshall’s, haha.

That being said, I’m not exactly rolling in it over here. And real food is expensive! Ramen is cheap, produce is not. So while I often ignore my own advice, I do feel like this is an area where saving money really matters. And I feel there are some surefire ways to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to healthy eating.

Number 1: Eat at home.

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Uh, duh. This should probably go without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway: If you want to save money, don’t go out to eat. Shop for your own groceries, and prepare your own food. I spent just over $20 at the store yesterday and will be covered for meals for three days. When you break that amount down, you’re talking about something like $2 – $3 a meal!

Number 2: Meal plan.

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I’ve admitted in the past that I’m not very good at creating and following meal plans. I try to pretend it’s because I’m all spontaneous and like to be creative with my meals, but really I’m just lazy and unorganized hahaha. This week I tried to make an exception, however, because I’m taking off for the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference in Boulder, CO on Friday morning! So going grocery shopping mid-week, while a complete necessity given the state of food options in my house, wasn’t the most ideal situation. I didn’t want to buy things that were just going to spoil when I left! I feel that the biggest money-suck when it comes to eating real food is having it spoil because you weren’t able to utilize it in time. Meal planning is the absolute best way to avoid this.

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Number 3: Make (and stick to!) a grocery list.

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My list yesterday was super short because I was literally only shopping for a few days’ worth of food. But if I hadn’t done up a list, I would have walked out with so much unnecessary, unusable food.

Number 4: Buy generic.

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Stacy’s pita chips are priced at $2.99 a bag. Giant’s Nature’s Promise brand pita chips at priced at $2.49 a bag. Which product should you purchase? Seems like it should be a no-brainer, right? I mean, sure 50 cents might not seem like that much, but it adds up. Fast. And this rule applies across the spectrum: groceries, pharmacy items, etc. People will pay a lot more just for a particular brand slapped on the packaging, when the generic version is just as good (and oftentimes, the same manufacturer makes both products anyway. So you are LITERALLY just choosing between a branded and a generic version of the exact same thing.)

Number 5: Stretch your meat.

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There are lots of creative ways to make the expensive items you buy, like meat, last longer. Cara gave me the tip of adding ~2 cups of mashed chickpeas (which you can snag for about $0.89 a can!) to turkey burgers to bulk ’em up and stretch ’em out. I took that tip as inspiration for my own dinner last night, which involved bulking up my T-burgers with tons of veggies that I already had!

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I chopped up green onion, red onion, button mushrooms, and grated baby carrots and added it all to the mix. Not only did it make for big, thick patties, the mushrooms kept the meat SUPER moist (often a complaint when it comes to turkey burgers — thanks for that tip, Aunt Lynda!), but the meal was healthified with the addition of extra veggies, AND it helped alleviate that whole food-spoilage thing mentioned previously by letting me use up more items that were just waiting to spoil in the fridge! Win-win-win.

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With the addition of asparagus that I subbed the grocery-listed bibb lettuce for because it was a much better deal, and potatoes that I already had lying around, we have a complete meal, with enough leftovers to last me for lunch today AND tomorrow (and would have lasted another dinner, too, if I hadn’t been a piggy and had two patties last night. Whoops! Hahaha.)

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I really need to get on this meal-planning train much more regularly. That way I’ll have more money leftover for the massages I apparently desperately need! 😉

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What are your tips for saving money but still eating healthy? Another thing I should probably look into doing more is deal-shopping (going to different stores for specific items) and couponing, two things I’m terrible at! Any advice on those fronts?