In the past few years, I’ve quadrupled my income, been promoted multiple times, and now have leadership responsibility at my job. That all hasn’t come without stress.
Unfortunately, the more successful I’ve been at work, the less successful I’ve been at my taking care of myself.
In my first job out of college, I made time to work out everyday. I had very little responsibility, a non-existent commute, and motivation to workout. The past two years, I’ve barely made it to the gym. I have a 50 mile commute each way, increased stress at work, and more excuses.
My Top Excuses to Not Workout
- I’m Too Tired When I Get Home
- I’ll Workout Tomorrow
- I Look Fine
A few months ago I had to go to the hospital to get my appendix out. That was a turning point for me. While I’m not 100% sure that the appendicitis was related to stress, I really do feel that it had something to do with it.
Since then, I’ve really made a point to put my health first. I’ve started eating better and working out 4 times a week.
I’m also much more honest with myself about my health. I had been putting off taking care of myself for two years and it came at a cost – physical (I lost an organ) and financial (I have about $5k in medical bills from the surgery after insurance).
Weight Loss From Stress
I never imagined I would have this problem but I actually lost 15-20 lbs from stress. In the past three years I have dropped from a little over 140 lbs to 125 lbs. I didn’t realize it was a “problem” until I saw some pictures of myself and realized how much muscle I had lost. I used to be a college athlete and now I feel and look extremely weak.
My goal for 2016 is to get extremely strong. Strong is healthy.
My Plan to Prioritize Working Out
Working out is a big stress-reliever for me. It’s probably the endorphins but I feel much better after I’ve worked out. For my physical, emotional, and financial well-being – I am making working out a top priority for myself from now on.
#1. Working Out at Home
In order to commit to a regular workout schedule, I needed to make working out as easy as possible. I decided to use the gym equipment I have in my garage instead of purchasing a gym membership. It’s cheaper and I also have one less excuse not to workout since I don’t have to go anywhere.
For anyone looking to start a home gym – an exercise band, a kettlebell, and some free weights will do the trick. Purchasing a few pieces of equipment is much less expensive than buying a gym membership and you’ll have the stuff forever.
#2. Getting Professional Help
I realized the first week that I needed to follow a program written by a professional. I was making up exercises as I went along and it wasn’t working to my benefit. I was ending workouts early since I wasn’t sure what to do next.
I now have a four-week program written by a fitness professional and I’ve been really happy with my workouts thus far. I am doing enough in the workouts to get that good sore feeling but not too much that I am discouraged or demotivated to continue.
I also see results already and it’s only been three weeks! My legs look stronger and more muscular. I also feel 100% better which is most important.
How I’m Minimizing Work Stress
#1. Stopping the Competition
I have always been extremely competitive. Whether it was in school or sports, I wanted to be the best at whatever I did. This competitive spirit has come with me into the workplace and it’s been detrimental to my health.
One of the other managers works every night until 10 or 11. It makes me feel like I need to be online nights and weekends too to keep up.
I stopped logging in most nights and weekends over a year ago but I haven’t been able to let go of the guilt. It stresses me out that my peer is putting in 110% and I’m not.
But, I’m over it.
I realized lately that I am not going to get any more results from working those extra hours. I’m a big believer in the productivity hacks preached by Tim Ferriss and others which prove that hours worked does not correlate directly with results.
#2. Just Leaving Work
My commute is horrible if I leave after 5 but I feel pressure and guilt leaving before 5.
The past few weeks, I’ve put my health first and left at 4:30. Getting home at a decent hour made me 100 times more motivated to workout.
I encourage everyone to “just leave” and put their health or their family first.
The most common excuse I have heard of why people can’t leave work at a decent hour is that they “need that time to get things done.”
That’s the mantra of someone who is afraid to jump off the traditional work hamster wheel. Challenge yourself to get those work tasks done earlier in the day. Eliminate unnecessary meetings and clutter so you can prioritize what is actually important to the job.
I’ve always encouraged my team to leave early. I have stated that I don’t want to see them online on weekends. I have even emphasized that I care more about their results than hours worked.
So why don’t I apply that same philosophy to myself?
My boss has said that he values smart work over hard work yet I’m still afraid I’ll be judged.
Well, It’s time I start practicing what I preach and follow my own philosophy. I need to set the example for my team and I also need to do this for myself.
For the past few weeks I’ve left at 4:30 and I will continue to do so.
Readers, do you feel your work gets in the way of your health? Do believe in working out to relieve stress?
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