How to Maintain (And Improve!) Your Health and Fitness at Work

The digital lifestyle is an exciting and potentially prosperous one, but without your health, what good is your wealth? 

🔎 Perspective

My experience working in Silicon Valley for nearly ten years as an IT specialist and as a solo affiliate marketer for another ten has taught me quite a bit about the importance of our health.

And let me tell you, I ended up learning the hard way…

It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of building your own business or working for a job you love (or hate… 🙃), but neglecting your health and fitness should never be part and parcel of it.

Yup, this was exactly what I did wrong…

And you know what? It once even nearly cost me my life.

It wasn’t until about seven years into my career and following a near death experience that I finally began to take my health seriously.

And even then, I slipped back into my old unhealthy ways more times than I can count. Achieving consistency is quite a challenge but I learned that results ultimately follow desire and action.

It’s hard to believe it took me so long to take my health seriously but I also realize all too well that I’m not alone here. After all, hindsight is 20/20. 👀

hindsight 2020

⏳ My Personal Journey from ‘The Health Void’ that Nearly Cost Me My Life

Years of neglecting my health and fitness pretty much destroyed my posture, wrecked my gut, caused me to gain weight, and also royally fucked up my back.

Oh, and this wasn’t even the beginning…

I didn’t wake up from my ‘neglecting-my-health’ slumber until many months after that fateful day in December 2007 when I ended up in the ICU for a mysterious and nasty viral infection in my heart.

How does a 199 beats per minute resting heart rate and an extreme case of double pneumonia sound? What about being told you will likely cease to exist in less than 12 hours or that you will need a new heart if by some miracle you survived? 💓

Yeah, it all sounds like a real shit time.

It was… 😔

I remember that day like yesterday. I was working for Rostein Kass & Company as their sole IT specialist in San Francisco on the 33rd story of the Charles Schwab building. 🏢

My work days were about thirteen hours long in total counting commute time and I was working six days a week at the time.

Being directly responsible for the IT operations of over sixty accounting professionals including five principal accounts was also not exactly what you’d call a stress free job.

Long story short, I literally nearly almost worked myself to death and barely came out of that experience unscathed.

Don’t be me! 🙃

If I was simply maintaining my health and fitness and a healthy work/life balance, that entire experience could have all been averted.

I wasn’t eating properly, wasn’t exercising much, if at all, and was barely even hydrating, unless you count the three or four cups of coffee and two sodas a day I was drinking.

You see, I was so focused on work that nothing else mattered to me at the time, not even my health. 🤦‍♂️

If this resonates with you in any capacity whatsoever, please do me a favor… Keep reading… This article may just save your life. ⚠️

healthier choices

💪 Determining Your Health Baseline

If you aren’t giving much time and energy to your health and fitness and instead dedicate seemingly every waking moment to your job or personal business, it’s time to determine your health baseline so you can get your life back on track.

According to Mary James, MD, an internal medicine physician at Stanford, “A health-care baseline is essentially where you are “at” on the broad, complex spectrum of physical, mental and emotional health.”

From my own personal experience, determining my health baseline helped me in the beginning of my journey to improved health and well-being.

It basically just gave me the confidence that I was not going to have a heart attack or whatnot by radically changing my lifestyle.

You could say I saw it as a sort of permission slip to proceed forward.

So, here’s where I started…

✔️ I set up an appointment with my primary care doctor and had them check everything – I’m talking everything

After being given the green light by my doctor… 

✔️ I spoke with a health and fitness specialist to gain guidance and insight on how to get myself back in proper shape

And finally…

✔️ I signed up for a gym membership and begin using my trainer’s guidance – started working out about four times per week and eating healthier foods daily

Because I was out of shape, I was initially guided into a progressive workout regimen that essentially started with a stability phase – where you basically prepare your body for more rigorous exercise via stretching, light lifting, massage and more.

You don’t just want to jump into heavy lifting or an intense cardiovascular exercise program without building a proper foundation. This is especially true, for example, if your posture is fucked or you have high blood pressure from years of personal neglect.

🤷 And if you don’t have a damn clue what you’re doing, I highly recommend you hire a qualified personal trainer immediately. And if your trainer doesn’t provide nutrition advice, simply hire a nutritionist.

To maintain your health and fitness, it’s absolutely going to take lifestyle changes which include proper nutrition and exercise regimen.

It will also take dedication, hence the lifestyle change part! 😉

We all have a million excuses but how important is your health? Some say health is wealth.

You know what? It is!

But, let’s move onto some easy to implement strategies to help you maintain your health and fitness while working a desk job.

That’s why you’re here, right? Good! Let’s carry on…

⚒️ Strategies to Help You Maintain Your Health and Fitness While Working a Desk Job

If you’re currently working a desk job, whether for a company or on your own, you need to take the proper steps to maintain your health and fitness, period.

Otherwise, you are going to experience a lot of pain down the road. Trust me, I know… I’ve been there, done that, and don’t ever want to do it again or see others go there either.

Please, learn from my mistakes… Don’t neglect your health!

Let’s dive in…

Here are Some Working for “The Man” Strategies to Help You Maintain and Improve Your Health and Fitness

work for man meme

Maintaining your health takes dedication, no doubt. It’s easy to get caught up in “the grind” of day-to-day life and work.

From my experience, dedicating yourself to a healthy lifestyle is generally harder when you work the 9 to 5 existence due to the nature of it.

You know.. ♾️

Getting up, showering, getting in your costume, commuting to work, settling into your office or cubicle, eating a quick lunch, taking a few breaks, attending boring meetings, and finally going home with little free time left after tending to house life and then repeating the cycle again…

It sure can be a drain and seem like you literally have no freaking time to do anything, right? ⏱️

Believe me, I know the feeling.

That being said, there are things you can do to stay healthy despite this.

💡 Here are some strategies I highly recommend you utilize… 

✔️ Take many breaks

Sitting at your desk all day is not good for your body or mental health. Be sure to take as many breaks as you can.

If you can’t seem to take a break other than those times where you just have no choice, if you know what I mean, download an app to remind yourself. And then take your damn breaks!

✔️ Stretch, take walks, and utilize exercise

Getting up every so often to stretch is great for your posture. In fact, stretching is a fantastic way to utilize your work breaks.

Stretch both your upper and lower body as both are crucial to keep your posture in check.

Performing some exercises is also great for your health and posture. For example, do some squats or lunges to keep your glutes strong (necessary for ideal posture).

Also, maintain your heart by taking a brisk walk around campus.

✔️ Give your eyes a break from screen time

Starting at a screen all day can cause uncomfortable eye strain. Eye strain can lead to headaches, fatigue, eye pain, and even blurred or double vision.

It’s best to take a break from screen time at least once an hour to keep your eyes in check. What I like to do is focus on distant objects and close my eyes completely for a bit.

✔️ Bring your own (healthy) lunch

It’s quite easy to get out of hand with your diet, especially if your company doesn’t provide healthy food options for you.

When running off campus to grab food, it’s quite convenient to grab items that aren’t exactly healthy. For me, our team’s highlight of the day was lunch. Three item combos at Panda Express were common.

Preparing your food at home is generally cheaper than eating out and you can easily prepare healthy meals (research it if you don’t know what a healthy meal looks like) for the entire week in advance.

✔️ Utilize a stand-up desk and ergo equipment

This is one of the most crucial strategies I’ve discovered. Purchasing a standing desk literally helped change my life.

If your company doesn’t provide a stand-up desk or ergo equipment by default, it’s time to speak to your HR department to request them. If you need a doctors note, make it happen.

Trust me. A stand-up desk will change your life, as it did mine. In today’s digital age, there is no reason to not have a stand-up desk.

✔️ Go to a gym at least three times per week

This is another imperative strategy. Unfortunately, it’s often the most difficult one for many because of the “I don’t have enough time excuse.”

Seriously, please make this happen. Your body will thank you, especially many years down the road. You might have to get up earlier or eat dinner later in the day to make it happen, but it can be done.

Also, many larger companies provide an on-site gym. If so, that’s money when it comes to maintaining your fitness and a great way to utilize some (or all!) of your breaks.

✔️ Use your vacation time

I opted over the course of 8 years to trade my vacation time for the payout. Big mistake. If there is one thing that defines a workaholic, it’s someone who doesn’t take vacations.

While your vacations may seem fleeting and maybe even pointless, they are not. Getting out and enjoying life outside of work is a big MUST for your mental health. Take your vacations! ✈️🌏🏖️

Here are Some Working for “Yourself” Strategies to Help You Maintain and Improve Your Health and Fitness

coffee meme

If you’ve already left the 9 to 5 grind in the dust and are working for yourself, there will certainly be new challenges to overcome.

Though, many of the aforementioned strategies also apply to at-home workers (coffee shop hoppers apply too! ☕). So, be sure to read above for the details if you’ve skipped that section.

But to recap…

✔️ Take many breaks
✔️ Eat a healthy, well-balanced lunch
✔️ Stretch, take walks and utilize exercise
✔️ Give your eyes a break from screen time
✔️ Go to a gym at least three times per week
✔️ Utilize a stand-up desk and ergo equipment

With no boss breathing down your neck, it’s going to be fully on you to self-motivate, remain organized and efficient in your day-to-day processes.

Thankfully, though, there are additional strategies that you can utilize to help you maintain your health and fitness.

💡 So, here are some additional strategies I highly recommend you utilize… 

✔️ Switch up your location daily

Unless you’re stuck working at home, switching up your location a few times a day is a great way to keep yourself motivated and in good spirits.

Switching locations offers a nice little mood boost and will also get you burning some calories in the process.

Changing it up is also a great way to meet new people and I’ve found it’s even a great remedy for writer’s block.

Why be stuck in the same place when you have the flexibility to go anywhere?

✔️ Cut back on coffee and sugary drinks

It’s very easy to get carried away with sugar treats and coffee beverages, especially if you work primarily out of coffee shops. The allure is real! ☕🍰😋

Unfortunately, many of the coffee drinks we enjoy daily are packed with sugar and other empty shit. Try using less or even no sugar if you add your own, buy healthier drinks, or simply replace some of your (ten! 🤪) coffees with water.

Too much caffeine and sugar can lead to anxiety, headaches, energy crashes and more, which will impact your health and productivity.

I personally recommend buying a juicer and/or mixer to create your own healthy energy and protein drinks.

✔️ Move overseas to work abroad

This one might be a bit daunting and ‘out there’ for many of you, but this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Besides being able to live on the cheap initially and funnel some of the extra money that you will save into your business, you will also on your journey meet a ton of amazing and talented people who may help you take your own game to a new level (that’s what happened to me! 😊).

On top of this, the adventure that awaits you is life changing! If you’re single, not married, have no kids, etc., what’s stopping you? Only you, that’s who!

✔️ Purchase some home gym equipment

This is one of the best things about working from home. You can build an effective home gym setup for very little money and can basically then workout anytime you feel like it. I personally take exercise and stretch breaks numerous times each day.

⚙️ TIP: Try attaching a resistance band to your stand-up desk and you can easily strengthen your back and stretch your chest throughout your day.

But without further ado, here are my home-gym setup recommendations:

        • Yoga mat
        • Jump rope
        • Tennis ball
        • Dumbbells
        • Foam roller
        • Resistance bands
        • Peanut massage ball
        • Deep tissue massage ball

And if you’ve got the space to dedicate solely to a home gym, I highly recommend:

        • Barbell
        • Weight plates
        • Weight bench
        • Total Gym XLS
        • Elliptical machine

🙋 Did you notice the sheer amount of recommended massage gear?

Good eye! 👁️

bad posture due to muscle imbalances
Common Muscle Imbalance Causes

For those of you who have been neglecting your health and fitness for awhile (like I did), these will be crucial to get yourself back in alignment, quite literally.

Shitty posture is a problem for just about anyone who lives a sedentary lifestyle, especially if they’ve been “letting themselves go” for many years.

Common posture problems include swayback, lumbar lordosis, thoracic kyphosis, and forward head, which is often called office or text neck.

In time, especially as you hit your later years, various problems will likely manifest if any of your posture issues are left unchecked.

For example, lumbar lordosis makes you more susceptible to throwing out your back (happened to me many times) or even slipping a disc due to increased compression on your vertebrae in the lumbar spine.

But this is only a few potential problems you may face. 😔

Office neck and thoracic kyphosis is that forward head posture (and rounded upper back) mostly due to tight chest muscles and weak back muscles from typing away on your keyboard for years on end.

These postural issues can cause a host of problems as well, such as impingement in the shoulders among many other issues.

🤷 Do you suffer from any of these problems? Not sure?

text neck curved spine
Is this you?

If you do, you may not yet even realize it unless you’ve already experienced problems or have been told by a professional that your posture basically sucks.

Most people don’t even know that they’re starting to look like Quasimodo or a literal question mark when viewed from the side.

Thankfully, yoga, stretching, strengthening exercises, and self-myofascial release will be your best friend. 🧘

I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty details here, but most of you will basically need to dramatically strengthen your core, butt and upper back muscles, and loosen up your tight hip flexors.

👨‍⚕️ I highly recommend you initially hire a specialist such as a physical therapist, corrective exercise specialist or personal trainer to guide and prescribe you a corrective exercise program.

From there, you can simply utilize my home gym equipment recommendations to perform any prescribed exercises daily or as directed.

Below, you’ll find some examples of self-myofascial release using a foam roller. Basically, you just roll over your tight muscles to relieve any tension.

home office exercises
Self-myofascial release in action!

Keep in mind, the doing here is going to be totally on you if you want results…

The best advice I can give you is that consistency and the right approach will absolutely net you results in time. Correcting your posture is not always an easy road to travel but it’s a road that leads to a better place, so take it! 🛣️

Even if you aren’t currently experiencing any negative side effects from working at a desk all day, you should still utilize all the tips in this guide to maintain your body and mind to prevent future problems.

📧 Shoot me any questions if you want or need additional tips and advice! 🙂

👋 Signing Off

I really hope you found this article engaging and insightful and that you immediately begin utilizing my tips to stay healthy and fit despite the fact you’re working a desk job.

I know, it’s not easy to overcome familiarity and the work grind can be an attention whore, but if your health goes, no amount of wealth in the world will be worth it.

In my opinion, health truly is wealth! 😀

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