My day job used to be my dream job. I was a reporter for an acclaimed national newspaper in Washington, D.C., making a difference in people’s lives and touching readers all over the world.
My day started at 4:30 a.m. and often ended 14 hours later. For most of that time, I didn’t budge from my seat. As news stories broke, I was in charge of getting first iterations up online as other reporters and sources called me with leads. To move was to miss something: a shooting, a bombing, an earthquake, an overturned truck spilling pineapples onto the Beltway, a baby-panda birth. I had to stay put.
For hours on end, only my fingers moved. I barely drank anything for fear of having to use the bathroom. My posture and energy suffered. And over time, my dream job became a nightmare, affecting my health and my outlook on life.
After hours, I worked out as hard as I could, but it didn’t counter my daytime routine. We humans are made to move, and my mobility and energy were limited by my lack of consistent activity.
When I relocated to Minnesota to join the Experience Life team, I met new colleagues who walked the talk of the magazine, seeking out ways to maintain the integrity of our journalism without compromising our own wellness in the process.
I was inspired — and eager to follow the lead of my peers. But I struggled to fit in. The go-go-go lifestyle becomes a habit. And, like all habits, it’s hard to break. I filled my early days at EL with work that wasn’t needed or expected of me, and I quickly found myself deskbound for hours on end. When I realized that I was falling into old ways that I had hoped to leave behind, I knew I needed a change.
My new colleagues, whether they realized it or not, came to my rescue. They invited me to join them for midday walks. They periodically popped into my cube for exercise demos. They forced me out of my habitual work patterns. I’m not only a better version of myself for it — I’m a better employee.
Holding any one position for long periods doesn’t do us any favors. I now keep a kettlebell at my desk for impromptu swings and a sticky note on my laptop with a list of my favorite stretches to unglue my shoulders, back, and hips from my seated position. I go for walks around the neighborhood and hydrate as needed; I no longer fear what I might miss if I step away.
My work is not a matter of life and death, but my health ultimately is. So is yours.
“Determine what you want to do. The truth is that there is not one single approach that works for every person, even those who are working toward the same goals. The entry points to fitness are numerous, so treat it like you’re at a buffet: Where would you like to start? Consistency is the key to everything; it’s not hard to show up to an activity you really like doing (or don’t actively hate).”
— Jennifer Blake, NASM-CPT, RKC-II, Life Time personal trainer and powerlifting coach
“Be accountable. Create a plan, write it down, and share it with someone. Surround yourself with people who will motivate you to be the best you. You are a reflection of the company you keep, so have people around you who support your objectives and goals.”
— David Freeman, NASM-PES, OPEX CCP, national manager of Alpha Training at Life Time
“Value frequency and consistency over difficulty. The challenge is always time and the belief that if something is not challenging, it’s not worthwhile. This overlooks the fact that a walk versus a run can produce significant health benefits, for example. Take the stairs; get up and move every hour to break up the day.” — Jeff Rosga, NASM- CPT, CES, PES, BCS, senior director at Life Time Academy
This originally appeared as “Strong Body, Strong Mind: Work It Out” in the March 2019 print issue of Experience Life Magazine.