Another year is upon us, which means you are steadfastly committed to fulfill your resolutions to exercise more and get in shape. Right?
But like every other year before this one, work and life commitments get in the way and you are back to your same old routine. That’s why we put together this three-pronged guide to provide you with some tactics and strategies to reach your fitness goals.
To help you be more successful with your resolution to get in shape, we’ll show you how to keep the weight off while you are at work, make space in your home for exercising, and share with you our favorite workout routine.
Part 1: Organizing Your Office Desk to Lose Weight at Work
Weight loss starts in the kitchen and in the gym, but carrying healthy habits over to your workspace will help you avoid trips to the office vending machine and other bad habits that can sabotage your goals.
The first step: get organized at work so your surroundings support your health goals, says Dorothy Breininger, a professional organizer who lost 75 pounds and wrote the book “Stuff Your Face or Face Your Stuff: Lose Weight by Decluttering Your Life.”
“Having an organized desk or office reduces stress, raises your reputation at work, and can help you lose weight,” Breininger says.
Here are five surprising weight loss tips on how to get organized at work to help you drop those extra pounds:
1. Simplify and Streamline Your Desk.
Research shows an organized environment helps you make healthy choices.
For example, a recent study in the journal Psychological Science found workers in a neat space were more likely to snack on an apple than candy. That’s because clutter on your desk acts as a trigger that can stress you out, Breininger says.
“When you have triggers, you eat,” she says. “By removing triggers, you can shed pounds.”
Start by decluttering your desk and office space, tossing garbage and filing paperwork you need to keep. Clear your desk and create a “catch-it space” for incoming clutter. In the catch-it space, include a tray for documents, a box to hold other items and a trash can.
2. Store Supplies to Encourage Movement.
Sitting for too long has been linked to excess weight and other health problems.
“Truly, about an hour is the longest anybody should be sitting still,” says Ellen Goldman, a wellness coach for business professionals.
You can set an alert on your phone or calendar to remind you to get up and move. Also, arrange your office so that supplies you need are stored out of arm’s reach, says professional organizer Jill Annis. For example, put folders or paperclips in a high cupboard away from your desk to force yourself to get up periodically. You will be surprised how quickly these repeat trips can add up to help you burn extra calories throughout the day.
Really want a challenge? Consider adding a standing desk, which can be adjusted for working while sitting or standing up.
“Alternating between sitting and standing is a great way to get your blood flowing and get some movement as you work,” Annis says.
Gradually you will be able to stand for a longer period of time as you get used to working upright.
3. Keep Papers Under Control.
As papers flow into your workspace every day, they can quickly pile up. Use Breininger’s TAPP system to keep yours from devolving into clutter that will make you want to reach for the donuts your coworker brought.
With the TAPP system, every piece of paper falls into one of these categories: toss it, act on in, pass it on to someone else, or pile for storage.
“When your desk is decluttered from paper, you can then focus on your body clutter,” Breininger says.
4. Stock Up on Healthy Snacks.
Get rid of junk food and stock your workspace with healthy snacks stored in clear containers at arm’s reach. Your snacks should be “mini meals” that contain protein, complex carbs and healthy fats, Goldman says.
Try veggies and hummus with whole grain crackers, or string cheese with fruit, she recommends.
The goal: to keep your blood sugar steady to avoid crashes that send you reaching for sweets. If you don’t have access to an office fridge, buy a small cooler to store healthy foods by your desk. Choose snacks with healthy fats to give your brain a boost. Try eating a scoop of peanut butter or a handful of almonds instead of a bag of chips. If you are still having trouble staving off hunger, try chewing gum which simulates eating and trick your brain into feeling full temporarily.
While you are at it, make a point to drink more water. A recent study found that drinking just 17 ounces of water can increase your metabolic rate by as much as 30 percent—yet another reason to leave the diet soda behind.
5. Organize Workday Tasks and Breaks.
It’s common to work nonstop for hours, then grab a coffee—loaded with cream and sugar, of course—as a reward. Instead, organize your workday into chunks with planned breaks in between.
For example, Breininger used to keep hand weights in her desk drawer and use breaks to do a few sets of simple exercises.
During your breaks, do something that refreshes you, such as going for a short walk, stretching or reading. You can also hold “walking meetings” with colleagues instead of holding them in windowless conference rooms.
These micro-breaks are great stress relievers, and in turn will keep you from stress eating. When it comes to work, mental health and weight loss tend to go hand-in-hand.
6. Make Room For Desk Exercise.
Now that you have decluttered your cubicle, you should have more room to add a few small pieces of exercise equipment that can help you stay more active throughout the day.
Find a place for a pair of resistance bands or some light dumbbells. Having these items on hand will help you stay more active. If you still don’t have room, there are a number of stretches and movements that you can do simply using your desk chair as support.
Part 2: Make Room For Working Out at Home
Now that you have your office fitness habits in place, let’s move on to the next part of our New Year game plan—working out at home.
When it comes to exercising, sometimes sweating it out at home is best.
After all, it’s more affordable and convenient than a gym or workout studio, and you don’t have to worry about what you look like when you’re sprinting (or dying) on the treadmill.
Ready to get in shape?
1. Determine How Much Space You Need
Before you start rearranging furniture, decide what types of exercises you’ll actually be doing.
Do you want to pump iron, do cardio, or practice yoga? Do you prefer free weights or weight machines? Do you need a treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical?
Once you have a good idea of your regular workout routine, you can determine whether you’ll need a big space or just a small corner of your living room.
“Depending on what your needs are, you generally want enough room to move your body comfortably and not bump into a wall or machine, plus the size of your equipment,” according to Amy Trager, a professional organizer based in Chicago.
2. Choose the Right Room.
“It’s a matter of making sure there’s room to do the activities you want — both for exercise purposes and for whatever else the room functions are,” says Trager.
Trager says to think about where you’ll be most comfortable exercising, and to consider things like temperature, lighting, and even flooring when deciding how to arrange your workout space.
Keep large machines parallel to the walls or tucked into corner spots to maximize your space. Other items like mats, resistance bands, free weights, and balls can all be stored away in nearby closets or bins.
Houston-based pro organizer Ellen Delap says garages, offices, and guest rooms can all double as home gyms with the right set-up.
3. Smartly Store Gym Equipment.
Delap recommends the following storage strategies for various pieces of exercise equipment:
- Install shelves or hanging hooks for jump ropes and resistance bands.
- Stick rolled up yoga mats and rollers in a stylish wicker basket
- Use small bins or stacking shelves for hand weights and gym shoes
- Stash free weights in matching baskets and place them under chairs or benches.
“The main goal is to keep the items together and in an accessible place,” says Trager.
4. Hang a Mirror.
Delap suggests hanging a mirror near your workout zone — it’ll open up your space and come in handy when you need to check out your form during squats.
5. Hang a TV Too.
A TV mounted on the wall also serves a dual purpose: it’ll give your space a homey feel and distract you during grueling sets of bicep curls. It will make it easy to watch your favorite workout videos too.
6. Clear a Path.
Trager says you shouldn’t be afraid to move furniture around, either. If you need to push aside an end table or accent chair so you have space to lunge properly, do it. After all, your home gym should make it easier to exercise, not harder.
7. Keep it Organized.
Give all your exercise equipment a designated home, whether it’s on a shelf, in a basket, or in the closet.
“If the items have a home right away, you’ll not only know where to find what you’re looking for, but you’ll be able to put everything away easily,” says Trager.
Read more below for more ideas on storing exercise equipment when not in use:
Part 3: The SpareFoot Movers’ Workout
Moving homes isn’t just mentally draining, it’s also extremely physically demanding. Especially when you do it yourself. Loading and unloading bulky furniture and heavy boxes for an entire day can wear you out if you’re not prepared.
That’s why we’ve compiled this list of trainer-approved workouts to help increase your strength, improve your flexibility, and ramp up your endurance. Whether you are moving or not, these routines will strengthen your core and condition you for any physical challenge
Here are 10 awesome exercises to make your move easy and injury-free. Be sure to start training at least six weeks before your move date. You do not have to perform these all at once, but can mix and match to your liking.
3 sets of 10-20 reps
Jason Debel, personal trainer and founder of Urban Strength, says squats simulate good posture (which is key to picking up boxes), and strengthen your lower body so you can lift heavier items.
Stand with your heels shoulder-width apart and point your feet slightly outward, then lower down to a 90-degree angle.
“Focus on sitting back with a forward lean and maintaining a straight back, a bit like sitting in a chair,” Debel says.
2 sets of 10 reps
“The number one injury incurred while moving is lower back strain, almost always caused by picking up heavy objects without using the legs for leverage and mobility,” says Amanda Dale, a certified personal trainer, exercise instructor, and sports nutritionist.
Dale says deadlifts teach you how to lift with your legs, which increases your pulling power by strengthening your posterior chain of muscles: the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, keep your lower back neutral, then bend from the waist. Dale recommends starting with an empty Olympic bar (45 pounds) or an EZ bar (25 pounds). If you don’t have bars, use a set of dumbbells. “Once you’re comfortable, add weight in 5-pound increments until the tenth rep in a set is difficult,” Dale says.
3. Box Jumps
2 sets of 10 jumps
Box jumps — where you jump with both feet onto a sturdy platform or bench — are the perfect way to prepare yourself for endless trips up and down the stairs. The exercise helps strengthen your quads and glutes, in addition to providing supportive strength for your knees and ankles, Dale says.
“Don’t worry about the height of the platform — focus on explosive strength and using both feet at the same time, then stepping down one leg at a time to save your joints some pounding,” says Dale.
Start small by jumping onto a curb or low aerobic step until you feel comfortable enough to progress to a bench or box around 16 inches tall.
4. Prone Glute Raises
3 sets of 10 reps
Otherwise known as a bridge, this easy exercise strengthens your glutes and core, both of which provide healthy support for your back during lifting movements, Debel says.
To start, lay on your back and bend your knees at a 45-degree angle with your feet and arms flat on the ground. Then lift your buttocks. If the exercise is too easy with both feet planted, Debel suggests extending one leg straight out so you’re lifting with only one foot on the ground. Be sure to switch legs after each set. You can also hold a small weight over your waist to increase difficulty.
5. Weighted Step-Ups
3 sets of 10 reps on each leg
“If stairs are involved in your move, you have to practice moving your body efficiently even when saddled with unevenly distributed weight,” says Dale.
Stand in front of a stable bench or platform (aim for 16-20 inches in height), plant your left foot on the platform, then drive upward with your right leg until you’re standing on the platform.
“For an extra challenge to simulate moving odd-shaped objects, try holding two different weights (like 10 pounds in one hand and 8 pounds in the other) while performing your steps, then switch,” Dale says.
6. Bulgarian Split Squats
Do 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg
This single-leg squat lengthens and strengthens your hip flexors and glutes while simultaneously improving your balance.
“No more teetering between the moving truck and the curb while trying to unload and pass boxes to your moving buddy,” Dale says.
Stand in front of a sturdy bench and extend one foot behind you so that it’s resting on the bench (laces down). Take a wide stance and squat down slowly with your other leg. Make sure your front knee doesn’t pass over your toes as you bend.
7. Stability Ball Chops
2 sets of 12-15 reps on each side
“This multi-joint exercise involves the entire body and is a great warm up for any lifting or strength exercising,” says Chris Clough, a certified personal trainer.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a medicine or stability ball at waist-level with both hands (make sure it’s light enough to lift with relative ease). Turn gently to one side and bend your knees slightly to bring the ball to the outside of the knee, then shift your weight and raise the ball diagonally over your opposite shoulder (left to right).
8. Clean and Press
2 sets of 10 reps.
When you’re moving, you’re not just lifting boxes off the ground, you’re also loading them into cars and trucks.
“Lifting with the legs will get the boxes off the floor,” Dale says, “but practicing the clean and press will give you the momentum, initiation, and powerful movement strength to actually get the box up where it belongs.”
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, keep your back flat, then bend at the knees and hips to raise the bar off the floor and above your head. Practice your form with an empty Olympic bar, then increase the weight in 5-pound increments once you’re comfortable. You may also start by holding the bar in front of you at waist level, keeping you back straight.
“Because this is a compound Olympic lift, make sure to ask a trainer or coach before you attempt it to make sure you don’t do more harm than good,” says Dale.
9. Farmer’s Walk
Walk 20 steps forward, rest without your weights, then walk 20 steps backward. Do this 3 times.
When you move homes, you’ll inevitably have to carry plenty of heavy, oddly shaped items (think nightstands, floor lamps, and mattresses). A farmer’s walk, which is just the practice of picking up heavy weights and walking with good posture, “can improve grip strength, develop your forearms, and better your posture to move heavy items quickly and efficiently,” Dale says.
Dale says it’s crucial to use a weight that allows you to maintain an upright posture.
“It’s best if you can walk alongside a mirror to ensure that your shoulders aren’t rounded forward and your neck, back, hips, and ankles are all vertically aligned.”
10. Bicep Curls, Shoulder Press, and Single Arm Kneeling Kickback
Do 3 sets of 10-16 reps per exercise.
To do bicep curls, stand tall and bend your arms at the elbow to lift your weights to your chest. Make sure to release your curl slowly and keep your elbows locked in place.
For single arm kneeling kickbacks, rest your hands and knees on the ground. Plant one hand on the ground and place the other arm against your side. Bending at the elbow, lift your weight forward then extend it back in a straight line.
To do a shoulder press, stand tall, hold your weights at your shoulders, then lift them above your head and back down.
Stay Organized, Stay Fit and Keep Going
Staying organized can go a long way towards helping you keep your commitment to get in shape and eat better. We hope the strategies above will help and inspire you to continue on your fitness journey. You can do it!