Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tax Season Fitness Plan

I knew when I picked my career what I was getting into. The nice thing is that the summer is quite flexible. The trade-off, of course, is busy season. From mid-January through April 15, though, you don't have a life. My firm is actually quite balanced, not expecting more than 60 to 65 hours per week (at some firms, 80 hours weeks are standard). Nonetheless, even a 60-hour work week makes it difficult to fit in self-care, like exercise and cooking.

The first year I was working, I actually lost weight. I didn't have a scale at the time, but I dropped a pants size. It wasn't all of my college weight, but it put me at a nice, comfortable, healthy size. What made that possible?

  • Exercised before work. I've never been a morning person; I still have no idea how I managed to get up at 5:30 most days for three months. But I did, and did a short workout video most days (I wasn't a runner yet).
  • I didn't eat junk food. There are plenty of snacks available in the office during busy season, but being new there I was too self-conscious to indulge very often. 
  • I didn't really have a social life. I hung out with my roommate and a mutual friend sometimes, but not having any other commitments outside of work allowed me to get plenty of sleep.

That's the only year that happened. Even last year, when I ran a few times a week, I still gained eight pounds and half a pants size (half a size = they went from being loose to being tight). But besides the running, I ate a lot of junk (I'm definitely not self-conscious about helping myself to treats at work anymore), and was busy with dating and socializing. Sleep wasn't always the highest priority. 

Basically, I've spent the rest of the year losing that weight, and now as it's almost New Year's, I'm back to the same place I was last New Year's (well, the same weight, but actually one size down in pants, so I guess I have lost some fat and gained some muscle?). I'm not going to cease being overweight if I'm constantly fluctuating in between busy season and the off season. I need to commit to losing, or at a bare minimum maintaining, during busy season this year.

Here's what I have in mind to make that happen:
  • Exercise - running and strength training (planning to do the K-Fit program once I'm done with five more weeks of K-Basic). To fit in more workouts, I want to form a habit of exercising in the morning, instead of in the evenings (which can interfere with sleeping if it's too late). I've been trying for the last month to do this, and actually gotten up early once.
  • Not eat junk food. Tracking calories might help, but I'm more concerned with the quality of food than quantity. I think perhaps counting fruits and veggies, and probably also protein grams, would be more beneficial. Filling up on good foods is easier than actively avoiding less healthy foods.
  • Sleep more. This requires a careful balance between work, exercise, and socializing. The morning exercise is part of this balance: I won't skip workouts because of evening social commitments, and getting more regular exercise will help sleep quality as well.

Easier said than  done, huh? I know I need to work on my sleep routine, and get used to morning exercise. I also need to come up with a tracking system that helps me eat more fresh food and less junk food. 

What's your best tip to form healthy habits, especially during a busy/stressful time?

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