I was reading an article in Forbes which mentioned that India has the longest working hours for its employees. An average Indian works around 52 hours in a week. We know that we are ambitious and it is a generally accepted norm in India to work late. With the remaining time spent with family and friends, socializing and relaxing, there is no time left for workout/exercise. The trend is changing, but not enough to keep one in top shape.
If you work long hours and still want to be physically fit, build a leaner and stronger physique, this article is for you.
I am highlighting #3 strategies, plans, action steps. You could chose to work on them accordingly.
# Strategy 1: Kitchen is your 1st step
People working long hours tends to dine out or order takeaways. Eating out is the biggest reason for people becoming overweight. It is hard to control the amount of calories you are eating out in a restaurant mainly due to following:
- No nutrition information provided by the restaurant on the food the you are eating;
- It’s hard for you to find out the calorie contents [unless mentioned]. This is rare
When you eat out, you consume excess calories and thus increase the chances of storing fat. That’s why preparing food & eating at home is so important. It gives you direct control over what you eat, and it is best for improving your body composition (and gut health as an added benefit). If you don’t enjoy cooking, try following these steps for a few weeks and see how your body responds.
- Find out your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR (the minimum amount of calories you need in a day for basic bodily functions), follow my article on BMR.
- You can pick one day of the week to prepare nutrient-dense foods to eat for the week [store it in fridge]. Here are some food prep ideas for both vegetarian and non-vegetarians:
- Get a salad spinner and rinse/spin a bunch of greens for the week.
- Roast root vegetables like beetroots, carrots, onions, and any other vegetable you want to add (a little olive oil and salt is all you need).
- Prepare a big batch of oatmeal, quinoa, rice, or other whole grain you enjoy eating. Experiment with other whole grains you haven’t tried before.
- Grill a bunch of lean chicken, fish, or paneer/tofu so you have an abundance of lean protein on hand.
- Buy raw nuts and seeds and roast them with sea salt for a healthy snack.
- Keep a food journal and track everything you eat. It may sound tedious and annoying but it’s effective: keeping a food journal can double weight loss, according to research. There are plenty of apps and websites that let you easily track what you’re eating in 5-10 minutes/day. If you want to take a more data-driven approach to understanding your body composition, then keeping track of what you eat is an important piece of the equation most people neglect.
# Strategy 2: Hit Gym for Strength Training & HIIT
After a busy workday, if you want to improve your lean body mass and achieve a toned, healthy look in the short amount of time possible, you need to add weight/strength training and high intensity interval training (HIIT) to your workout regime.
Strength training has pros and cons. Strength training, also known as “resistance/weights training”. Let’s look at the benefits:
- It helps you to build lean body mass
- Make your bones, joints, and skeletal muscles stronger and reduce pain
- It produces hormones which are good for body and reduces anxiety. Follow this article.
- Help you burn more calories at rest
There are lots of cons associated with strength training but let me touchbase on some myths surrounding resistance training that may make some hesitate to incorporate it into their fitness routine. Here are two of the biggest:
Myth 1: Strength training will automatically make you gain weight. It’s true that strength training may make losing weight more difficult, but that’s because it helps you burn fat faster and build lean body mass. This means your weight may stay the same but you will “look” leaner.
Myth 2: Resistance training isn’t as effective as hardcore cardio. Cardio is great workouts and can help reduce cardiovascular risk and body fat. With age there is actually a decrease in muscle mass, which is called as sarcopenia. Studies show that strength training can be an effective long-term strategy to prevent weight gain and unwanted changes in body composition. And let’s face it: most of us don’t just exercise because it’s good for our heart—we do it because it also helps us look and feel better about ourselves. If you’re seeking a more athletic, toned look, then plain old cardio isn’t going to cut it. Resistance training can help you build the muscle you need to stay healthier at your job.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
HIIT, is a type of workout that includes quick, intense bursts of exercise followed by a short recovery periods. If your main goal is to lose body fat and improve your body composition in the least amount of time and you’re not as concerned about building muscle, HIIT is a proven approach. Studies show that HIIT is equal to or better than cardio for overall cardiovascular health and more efficient.
- Schedule at least two strength training and/or HIIT workouts every week (try hitting the gym and doing them on your lunch break)
- Track how your body is changing. The more you incorporate strength training and HIIT workouts into your schedule, the more you’ll see your body improve. The third and final strategy will show you how to do so.
# Strategy 3: Always Track Your Progress, follow a Results Oriented approach
Tracking your progress is one of the most underrated and underlooked things you can do to encourage a long-term commitment to eating well and exercising. Especially with the hours and hours you’re spending in your office, the last thing on your mind while trying to eat healthy and exercise is to calculate how your body is changing.
Like I mentioned, keeping a food journal is a good way to track what you’re eating over time and make notes of how different foods affect your body. Likewise, it’s a good idea to schedule your workouts in advance and record your exercise routines in a journal, this increases discipline.
Analyze your Body Composition
Tracking your body composition progress gives you objective, measurable feedback that translates into physical results. And it’s easy. You can go to a gym and get it done free. With the data in your hand you and work on the areas of improvement and you can adjust your workout/eating regime that can help you achieve your goal. As you anyway don’t have time to waste as a working individual, and seeing how your body is improving over time with numbers you can track makes staying healthy a whole lot easier.
- Start small. Research shows small commitments can help prevent weight gain and lead to sustainable behavior changes that become lifelong habits. For example, commit to 20 minutes of exercise per day. Pack fruit with you for breakfast or lunch. Do 5 pushups every day. Take a 30-minute walk.
- Track your progress. Get a planner. There are lots of apps available both for IOS / Android device. The key is, record what you’re doing. Find a local gym that offers body composition analysis services. Keep your numbers, set a new goal, and get your numbers checked every 1-3 months. Check my BMR articles for apps.
As a busy professional, the best approach is the one that:
- Helps you strike the right balance between work, health, and family, and
- Aligns with your personal physical goal.
If your goal is to build lean body mass while keeping a low body fat percentage, resistance training is a proven method. If you’re trying to burn more fat and get a toned, lean look in the least amount of time, HIIT is a great option. Regardless of which type of exercise fits into your busy life, eat right, exercise, and track your progress, including your body composition numbers!
The next generation of successful businessman, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and big thinkers are already using this highly strategic, data-driven approach. If you haven’t jumped on the body composition approach, maybe it’s time for you to start.
Hustled by Sanjeev Saikia – a die-hard gym enthusiast, a mountain-climber, a wannabe runner – based out of Taiwan and Singapore. You can direct all your weight loss queries at firstname.lastname@example.org