Desk job fitness.  4 tips for staying slim and fit while having a desk job.

So you work a desk job and have gained weight.

Welcome to the club. My metabolism went on vacation when I started working my desk job. Sitting is brutal.  Keeping a caloric deficit going is a challenge while sitting still for hours. Scientific evidence has shown the health hazards of sitting for long periods of time. Reduced blood circulation. Back problems. Excess body fat around the waist. It's the road to obesity. 

It sucks having a desk job, right? Sometimes.  

When I began working as a designer out of college, I was stoked at the money and benefits, and stoked that I found a calling that fit my work and educational experiences. I was less excited at the prospect of wasting my body, inheriting and exacerbating the physical problems that plagues my bloodline.  No male in my bloodline has lived to see 70 years old.  Good times knowing that fact. Most would say I'm halfway there, but my goal isn't a petty 70 -- you gotta dream big.  I'm aiming for 90.  

In the first six months of my desk job I gained 30lbs.  It was insane how fast the weight came on.  But I was sitting for seven hours, then I'd go home fatigued and devoid of energy.  I even had a pizza night.  I drank three craft beers most evenings. I Netflixed for hours. Knowing things had to change, I made some adjustments that helped decimate the excess weight, all 30lbs, while pushing my activity and energy levels upward. 


I downloaded the Runkeeper app because I have better things to spend a $100 than a Fitbit bracelet.  If you have a Fitbit or Apple Watch, awesome, use that instead.  My doctor tells me 10,000 steps per day is key, that's about 5 miles -- per day. Everyday.  I walk almost everyday, in the afternoon or on my lunch breaks.  I have a route that seems to grow every year.  I'll add another segment here, change direction there.  This is a huge benefit.  Although it's not a 5 mile walk, it is a 3 mile walk, and it burns almost 300 calories, my salad lunch.  I listen to audiobooks or music and I'm good to go.  It's great for getting my head cleared from the dry boilerplate world of office work.


Here's another thing I learned about myself. If I have a beverage nearby, I will reach for it until it's empty.  I love these Italian glass bottles. Might as well use a cool looking one for your desk if you're going to be around it for eight hours.  I have a similar perspective on the rest of the items I keep on my desk.  Obviously, you want to drink lots of water, that's the point. That glass bottle will hold about a liter and you'll be surprised how quickly you can down a liter without realizing it. Sometimes I'll drink two liters in four hours.  Just having this stylist water bottle around instead of a soft drink, energy drink or sugary coffee makes a big difference. You do less snacking. You crave less. You eat less. You keep your system flushed.  

I stopped drinking soft drinks years ago;  I used to drink 3-5 cans a day. I know, it kills me to think of those days.  I probably chipped a few years off my life thanks to soda.  Now I drink a lot of water and keep my fun calories aside for craft beer and good wine. 


Years ago, I bought a single 15lb dumbbell and would do three sets of ten repetitions, 30 total curls.  Now I'm up to a 25lb dumbbell  and four sets of fifteen repetitions, 60 total curls. The key here is doing them safely.  Prop your elbow on your knee, lift the dumbbell slowly ensuring you are keeping your wrist straight and rigid.  Assist with your other hand if necessary. Be mindful of your wrist, don't injure yourself.  Lift the weight slowly, this is important, don't aim for numbers, aim for quality, slow lifts.  I also do two sets of 30 repetitions of two arm seated tricep extensions.  This is where you sit with a straight back and hold the weight behind your head with two hands and lift like you're chucking a spear with two hands over your head.  Check out this dumbbell exercises page for more information on these and other exercises for you and your desk dumbbell.  


I admit it, I eat out far too often.  This is my greatest vice.  I eat out for lunch nearly everyday because it's easy, but I also hate wasting money.  I've tried salads everywhere.  We have a local California health food chain called The Natural Cafe and they serve great, amazing salads, but you'll grow tired of shelling $10.00 for romaine, parmesan, some nuts and arugula after a while. Sure, it tastes incredible, but it's a wallet crusher.  Then I tried Panera Bread Co. salads, I just couldn't get into the wilted lettuce and crappy  dressings. Just a box of green depression. I'm now onto Trader Joe's salads.  I always find the latest expiration date for the freshest salad, go ahead and reach in the back of the display and check those dates.   Most days I'll drop only $4 on a salad lunch.  I toss the accompanying dressing and instead use an extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar I keep stashed in my desk. It's all about the little tweaks.  One of these days my goal is to bring a salad bin to leave in my office fridge and simply build my own salads at work.  One of these days...  

These little tweaks made the greatest difference in my weight loss over the last years.  Now it's about maintenance. I still have a cheat day on the weekends, if I order a pizza, it's loaded with basil, garlic, cilantro and chicken.  When I drink beer, it's Amstel light usually (95 calories), but the real credit goes to what's above.  This is how I remain slim. Make the most of your time at your desk.  Keep yourself healthy and sane.  Working out benefits your mind as much as your body.