Thursday, 8 March 2012

The law and your health

There are plenty of cliches about stress leading to an early grave, but there are other concerns as well.  Perhaps the biggest one is obesity.

I spend most of my day sitting at a desk typing away.  Occasionally I drive to see a client, or spend 30 minutes pacing in a courtroom, but otherwise my only excursions are to get food. I tend to eat out at least one lunch per week, usually two or more, and I tend to eat pretty badly on the weekend as well.

I also note that almost all of the lawyers that I know (male especially) are at least marginally overweight.  Some are more than marginally overweight.

The cause is pretty obvious; we are paid well, but we are expected to spend a lot of time working. Even if that isn't expected, by the time we get home from work, we are totally wiped and just want to spend the evening in front of the cricket/computer/gossip girl.

I have a few solutions to avoid the bulge while not spending too much time or effort.

1:  Choose a hobby that gets you out and about.
Whether your hobby is a round of golf every weekend, or a game of netball on a Sunday night, choosing a sport to become involved in can get you moving and active.  More importantly, choosing a team sport, or a sport where you play in company, means you are more likely to continue. Although I run fairly regularly, I never feel any pressure to run, and so if I am tired, I just don't do it. However since I started riding with a group on Saturday mornings, I have been doing it reliably every weekend. Similarly, when I was playing netball, I would attend every game, partly for the fitness, and partly because I loved playing with the team. So pick something you can stick with, and stick with it.

On that note, choosing your hobby needs to be a considered decision.  If you aren't at all fit, don't start riding through the mountains on your first trip. Don't jump in to training for a marathon; you just won't get there. Instead, join a cycling group that rides 20km once a week, or a sporting team that has an 'F' grade. You might move up quickly, to 100km rides and A grade cricket, but at the least you will be able to play regularly and comfortably.

2:  Do something active every day.
This one should go without saying, but you need to get up and about every day.  It is recommended that you spend at least 30 minutes every day doing an activity that gets your heart rate up, but this seems to be a huge investment of time. It should be noted that this doesn't have to be all at once.

Some things to consider are as follows;
Walking to work (or walking from the carpark out of town into the office).  You might only walk 2 km, but that makes 4km a day, or at least 30 minutes of hard walking. You might actually save time parking your car, depending on where you work. Take a change of clothes and leave your work shoes at the office.
Racing up (or crawling up) 3 flights of stairs rather than taking the lift.  Honestly, you might save time by doing this, and hopefully you will beat the suckers who waited for a minute then stopped at floors 2, 3 and 4.
Walking to the sushi-joint on the other side of the mall, rather than the one on the ground floor of your office.
Going for a swim at lunch time (if there is somewhere nearby with showers)
Going for a swim after work. IF you can find a pool on your way home, just make sure you have a towel, goggles, and bathers in your bag, and off you go. It can be a really relaxing way of exercising, and you don't have to be fit to start. Also, since I started going, I have met about 4 other office-workers who swim every night after work.  The atmosphere at that time is so much better than weekends when you have hundreds of kids in the pool.

You get the idea.  Work out what little things you can do that might save you time and still get your heart rate up.  Remember that when it comes to exercise, time and distance are more important than speed. If you can sprint for 100m, that is great, but you will get a better workout from jogging 5k at 8km/h. Similarly, sure you can swim a lap in 20 seconds, but you will have more fun if you aim to swim 1km.

3:  Challenge yourself ever now and then.
Who isn't motivated by a challenge? Pick someone in your office and make sure you go an extra step than them! Go to the gym and push an extra 100m on the treadmill every visit, and try to get your first 1km done at .5km/h faster each time.

4:  Find time.
Duh.  This is the big one.  We are all too busy, but some of us are too busy and still manage to go for a swim every now and then.  Deal with it. Put aside 30 minutes every day. Get up 15 minutes early and walk to work. Leave work AT 5.30, not just some time between then and 7pm. Make commitments to activities, and keep them. (Hell, have kids, they will sweat pounds off you!)

I recently embarked on a month without alcohol.  I am one week in, and I think I have dropped 3ks already. It was challenging the first few days, but now I don't even think about reaching for a beer when I get home. I feel better, and I actually got up at 6am and went for a bike ride yesterday!  Amazing!

Any suggestions to keep the pounds off?

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