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In Part I of this article, I detailed my life working 60+ hours a week. I had activities that were essential and activities that were discretionary. Training was discretionary; however, it will always be an activity I want to do because I enjoy it and its good for my mental health. Enjoying the things you do helps improve your outlook and makes living easier.
In this part, I'll focus on nutrition, supplementation and provide some ideas for saving time. These topics are very important for staying physically and mentally healthy while working long hours.
Refueling Your Body
A vital part of staying fit and healthy while working long hours is your nutritional plan. It is easy to let your diet get out of hand and not supplement properly when half of your life is spent at work. Too many trips to fast-food joints, although convenient, should be avoided. There are ways to combat this potential problem and keep yourself fueled up.
Eating regularly is the first step. Your refuel should start first thing after awakening. Your body craves protein and energy and should have a mix of both to get ready for the day. Couple of scenarios to consider:
Meals Throughout The Day
Meals throughout the day should be small and many. Having small, frequent meals is also recommended in most of the bodybuilding literature. With the nature of my work, I usually had breaks every 1-2 hours. I tried to eat at every break.
One of my favorite foods during this time was hard-boiled eggs. I was eating 2-3 eggs several times during the day. I ended up eating roughly 10-12 a day, about 4 with yolks.
In addition to eggs, I also ate a lot of different bars during the day - protein bars, breakfast bars, yogurt bars, granola bar, etc. With my schedule, they were easy to buy, pack and eat throughout the day.
Main course meals were almost always brought from home. The main dishes that I brought most often were chili, tuna salad, salmon and chicken breasts. These high protein items were the cornerstone of my meal. Some fresh fruits or vegetables were usually included as well. And to break the monotony, I had a bag of chips or a couple of cookies on occasions. I wasn't contest dieting so these treats were good for my mental health.
contest dieting, contest prep would be difficult while working this many hours. I thought about doing so, but realized that the stress and strain would be excessive. Contest prep requires dedicated time and effort that would have consumed too much of my discretionary time.
I never calculated the macronutrient split. I would estimate that it was close to a 50/35/15 protein/carbohydrate/fat mix. Once again, this mix was in keeping with my goals of size and strength gains. My main concern was getting 300-400 g of protein daily.
Pre- and post-workout meals were standard protein shakes. Post-workout included more carbohydrates than the pre workout shake. Often, after working the day and then training afterward, I didn't have time for a formal evening meal. I don't believe this hindered any progress.
My supplement regime didn't change much during this timeframe. My regular daily supplements consisted of a
flax oil and
7-keto. I'd often include
GABA before sleep.
I believe working long hours necessitates a few changes. A good multi-vitamin and multi-mineral should be taken. Reason for this is that the increased number of hours worked will increase your stress level - be it directly at work or indirectly at home. The increased stress levels will exhaust vitamins and minerals more rapidly from your system.
You can also expect increased levels of cortisol from the higher stress levels and probable sleep deprivation. Supplementing with a cortisol-blocker should be considered. Choice has increased as many diet aids now include or are straight cortisol blockers.
One supplement that I did add was Milk Thistle. Milk Thistle is an herb recommended for stress and liver detoxification. My reason for adding it was of the additional stress and time spent exposed to an industrial environment. I'll see if it has any positive influence on an upcoming blood test.
One item I didn't use that often is caffeine. I drank an occasional cola when I feel sleep deprived and needed to continue to perform at high levels. Beyond that, I tried to limit my caffeine use so I wouldn't be dependent on it. Consuming caffeine is an individual choice and you should be aware of its' stimulant properties.
There are many things that you can do to save time. In the gym is a good place to look for time savers. Beyond the gym, there are a few other things that can be done to save time. I list the gym time savers first.
The first way to save time in the gym is to be organized. You should have a plan as to what specific exercises and repetition scheme you'll be performing. A training notebook will assist in planning and tracking your workout.
At the gym, your mission should be training. It is nice to occasionally socialize and say hello to folks at the gym, but it should be limited.
You may have a talkative nature, but if your time is limited, your talking should be as well. This will apply to both casual facility members as well as training partners.
Training partners can be a help or a hindrance to getting in and out of the gym rapidly. The partners that motivate and keep things moving are great and should be used as much as possible. The ones that are chatty and require your extra attentiveness should be dropped. As mentioned above, your mission in the gym is training.
Personal trainers can be good or bad when crunched for time. A personal trainer that preps the next exercise and keeps your workout moving can be a valuable addition to your training routine.
Another simple time saver is to wear headphones. Other members of the gym tend not to bother headphone wearers. This will keep any conversation very limited, and can also provide motivation.
Clothing & Accessories
Do you need to change into workout clothes? If you can get by wearing your work clothes and just changing into a T-shirt, do it. I often train in jeans and a T-shirt, avoiding locker-room time.
Minimizing lifting accessories can save you time. Think of the pro baseball player Nomar Garciaparra at bat. He checks his gloves, helmet, elbow pads and wristbands every time he gets ready to swing. I see folks checking their gloves, belts, headphones, elbow and knee wraps, wrist straps, etc. Get yourself good equipment that fits well and wear it only when needed so you don't have to waste time fiddling with it.
Cutting down your rest/recovery time between sets will shorten your stay in the gym. This may necessitate dropping a bit of weight, but there are other benefits. Reducing your rest and recovery time will make your workout more aerobic, particularly helpful if you forgo cardio training due to a limited amount of time available.
water bottle. This will save you some time in traveling back and forth to the water fountain.
Additionally, it helps reduce time between sets and potential interruptions from other gym members.
Eliminate Similar Exercises
For example, how much value is added by doing
alternate dumbbell curls and
donkey calf raises or
lat pulldowns and
Examine your routine and eliminate exercises that are very similar. This will save time by reducing the need to move from machine or station, waiting for equipment or setting-up equipment for very little benefit.
Travel to and from the gym should be combined with your commute to work. This will save time and helps ensure you go to the gym on your training days.
Travel time to your gym should also be convenient. It should take no more than 20 minutes to get there. If it takes more, there needs to be a significant monetary, operating hours or equipment reason to travel to it.
I mentioned food preparation as an essential task earlier in Part I. There are some things I do that you may want to try.
I usually made eggs twice a week. I was boiling up 3 or 4 dozen eggs at a time and refrigerating them when done. Once at a boil, it takes between 10-15 minutes to have them all hard-boiled. Run them under cold water and put them in the fridge. As mentioned I was taking 9-12 to work daily.
Chili was another item I made often. Brown roughly 4 pounds of ground meat (hamburger, chicken/turkey burger, buffalo burger, ground round, sausage) in a big pot.
I liked to use a variety for different taste.
Drain the fat, add in a couple cans of diced tomatoes, 2-3 cans of beans (any variety - kidney, black, garbanzo, chick peas, black-eyed peas), small can of
tomato paste, packet of chili mix, and a couple of onions.
Let all the ingredients simmer for an hour or two and then pack the results. I usually filled five or six tupperware containers with this type of recipe. I put the number I would eat during the week in the fridge and froze the rest.
Chicken breasts were often prepared in advance. After cleaning, I'd just pan fry them in coconut or olive oil and added some spices to them. There are several varieties of "Chicken Spice" that add good flavor. When complete, these were generally put in baggies or tupperware.
Tuna salad is simple to make. Just drain your tuna; add some spice, mayonnaise or salad dressing and your done. To get fancy you could also add a hard-boiled egg or some pickle to the mix.
Salmon was out of a can. Not much to do on that one for lunch. I thought about cooking fresh salmon steaks on the grill, but never had the time for it.
When the weather was nice, I would fire up the grill and make some burgers, pork, steaks or other items on the barbecue. Peppers, Portabella mushrooms and onions complement anything cooked on the grill.
- On-line banking is very convenient. Once you have standard addressees and monthly schedules down, you can save plenty of time in household administration.
- Still have a dial-up connection? If you are working this many hours you can afford broadband. It is a definite time saver.
- Get rid of telemarketers. Have your name removed from their list at www.the-dma.org. You can also find different services from your telephone company that block most calls from telemarketing organization. Caller ID is also a valuable tool for identifying calls you want to take.
Recap And Results
So that's how I trained and lived while working a bunch of hours. I felt that I accomplished what I needed around the house, I packed on several pounds of muscle mass, added a little fat by not doing cardio and padded my bank account. Additionally, I didn't go off the deep end mentally, by maintaining some balance in my life.
I hope these tips help when you find yourself in a similar situation. You will have many choices to make, so wisely spend the precious hours you have.
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