Being Healthy During a 60-Hour Work Week

Man, how my life has changed. Three months ago I was unemployed, blogging like a madman, working out 6 times a week, and watching a helluva lot of TV. Now things are completely different. And that’s a good thing. But it’s difficult. Here’s why:

Last week I ended up working over 60 hours. I’m not looking for sympathy, nor will I be sending out engraved invitations to a pity party. I knew it would be a possibility when I took this job, and last week was a really big week that was particularly loaded with deadlines and projects. It was a very productive week, and I’m proud of what I accomplished. It was also exhausting – which explains why this post is a day late. I decided to spend most of the weekend regrouping and tending to other neglected areas of my life, like laundry and bills.

On the whole, I did stay really healthy. Although what ‘healthy’ means during a 60-hour work week is a lot different than what it means when I’m not working at all. Right now I’m focusing on accepting the idea that if do the best I can, no matter the circumstances, than that’s a good thing, and all I can ask for. There’s a part of me that insists that I’m not living up to my potential if I don’t maintain the regimen that I was able to keep during my unemployment, but that’s ridiculous. I know it’s ridiculous, and yet, I still think it sometimes. I think it less and less with every passing week, but it’s still there.

Last week, I did the best I could, and, looking back, I don’t think I could have done any better. I worked out three times, including going one morning with a friend at the crack of dawn on a hike before work. I didn’t exercise after work at all, but that’s because it was hard to rally for the gym when you’re leaving the office between 9 and 10pm. I missed Richard Simmons’ class on Saturday morning, because I was working, but I made up for it with a great session at the gym where I lifted weights for nearly an hour.

Plus, I ate really well. I brought my lunch four days out of the five, and I would’ve brought it the fifth day, too, except I knew my department would be ordering lunch in (I got a grilled ahi tuna salad, dressing on the side). In fact, I was thinking about lunches the other day, and I realized that since I started this job on June 25th, I’ve brought my lunch every single day except on four occasions, when I had plans to go out or order lunch in. No, wait, I lied. I’ve gone out or ordered in three times, and the fourth time I packed my lunch but forgot it at home. I ended up running to Subway and picking up a sandwich.

In addition to packing lunches, I’ve also been packing lots of healthy snacks: non-fat Greek yogurt, raw veggies, hard-boiled eggs, jerky, fruit. I’ve been settling into a rhythm where I do some significant healthy snacking around 5pm, and it ends up being Part One of my dinner. Then, when I get home, I’ll whip up something quick and easy as Part Two of my dinner. Last week I pan-seared some salmon with a Thai peanut glaze (from a bottle) one night, and made broccoli and tofu another night. I eat this meal pretty late at night, as late as 10pm, so I stay away from carbs.

Lastly, my hectic work schedule means I’ve been shopping differently. I just went back and reread my blog post from June, where I spent two hours cleaning and prepping fruits and veggies for my lunches. Yeah… I have no time for that anymore. Pre-washed, pre-cut veggies are my new best friend. This past weekend, I was in the vicinity of a Fresh ‘n’ Easy, which I normally don’t shop, so I went in to see their selection. I ended up with almost enough veggies to get me through the week…

…but barely. A lot of it didn’t look great, and a lot more of it had an expiration date for that day or the next, which did me no good whatsoever. I couldn’t find a bag of baby carrots that didn’t expire within 48 hours – and baby carrots are usually good for up to three weeks. Plus, I didn’t care for the fruit selection whatsoever, so I decided I’d need to hit up a second store. That store was my tried and true local Sprouts, where I stocked up on fruit and the baby carrots I wanted:

I did spent about 10 minutes when I got home washing the grapes, raspberries, and strawberries and transferring them to other containers. All the rest went straight into the fridge or fruit bowl, and is ready for me to toss in my lunch bag.

I’ll end with the message I’ve been repeating to myself the past couple mornings: bringing healthy food to work (and eating it!) and exercising when you can during long and difficult weeks are major victories. Don’t forget that. And…

…Keep it up, David!

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6 Responses to Being Healthy During a 60-Hour Work Week

  1. You r doing great! I wish I had 1% of what you had…someday

  2. You really inspire me here! I do so well at home, and then I’m just not organized enough (yet) to do better from work. You have me thinking that I need to take advantage of the many prepared fruits and vegetables and not be so perfectionistic in my expectations…which obviously isn’t working! :-) Debra

  3. Coco says:

    David, I’m impressed that you bring your lunch so often and still manage to eat well, that is a real feat. I would be interested in seeing a photo of your lunches. I’m always interested in new ideas for healthy and filling lunches that aren’t too much trouble to assemble. You can add that to your to-do list, b/c I know you didn’t have enough to keep you busy. ;-)

  4. Sarah says:

    Good Job David!

  5. Danielle says:

    Thanks for your ongoing and inspiring posts. It keeps reminding me of how much each of us can accomplish if we just keep trying and setting manageable goals. Everything is a process and several consistent, but small adjustments can really make a big difference. Congratulations on being so good to yourself.

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