Going Concern's Guide to a Healthy Busy Season: Because No One Should Die at Work

We like to answer reader questions from time to time, just so long as it's interesting. If your question is boring, it will be ignored. It's nothing personal; we just get a lot of them. Send us your best questions, career conundrums, and work-life problems to advice@goingconcern.com.

Not an inside tip, as much as a post suggestion: Busy season diet? What to eat, how to not be fat, etc.
This is important question. Sure, some of you can live like human garbage disposals and keep your svelte figures without exercising and thus become the envy of all your frumpy colleagues, but what about the rest of the desk jockeys out there? Sitting is killing you! Combine that with three (or more) square vending machine meals a day and you'll be leaving work horizontally some day. No one wants to be like the BKD partner that died at his desk
 
We'll do our best to offer some simple suggestions for two things that will help you navigate busy season and keep your fighting weight: 1) healthier eating and 2) less sitting.
 
Eating
So let's start with food. I'll borrow something from Michael Pollan that you can use as a rough guide: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." If plants don't make up a good portion of your diet, then you're putting yourself at greater risk for weight gain and other health issues. "But what if I'm not a liberal weenie like you, Caleb and don't want to spend all my money at Whole Paycheck?" Fine, I understand. The good news is that healthy food really isn't that expensive; here are twenty foods that cost less than a dollar and they include kale, apples, bananas, nuts, potatoes, and eggs. If you live in New York, spend some of that cash burning a hole in your pocket at the fruit stands. You can keep a bunch of apples in the fridge at work -- they are very sturdy fruit, so you don't have to worry about them going bad. You can also freeze bananas if you're worried about them getting too brown. Keep some raw almonds, walnuts, or pecans around for an occasional snack too. If cheese is something you can't live without, you'll be happy to know that you don't have to eliminate it from your life. Put it on salad. Eat it with your apples. Avoid Pizza Hut eating an entire bag of Babybels.
 
Now, I know the carnivores are saying, "I don't eat any of that green shit. I NEED MEAT." Okay, fine. Well, have you ever tried brussel sprouts with bacon? Or kale with bacon? If not, you're doing it wrong. OH SO WRONG. If you MUST have a burger once in a while, don't skip the garnish (yes, the plants) and maybe add avocado. I realize you're not probably going to whip this stuff up at the office, but experimenting with healthier foods may help you break through your picky habits and you may discover stuff you never knew you liked. Then it becomes a staple.  If you're still not convinced that you can eat healthier food, check out this Lifehacker post for more ideas. It's NOT a hopeless cause. 
 
One of the easiest things to do during busy season to avoid bad eating habits is never be hungry. No, I'm serious. For starters, it will also prevent you from turning into Joe Pesci. But more importantly, people get in trouble when they don't eat something for hours on end because they've been engrossed in some number-crunching exercise at their desk; all of a sudden the hunger pains strike and they rush out to inhale two Subway footlongs. After that, they're useless for the rest of the day (and night). Eat breakfast, drink lots of water, keep plenty of healthy snacks1 around, avoid big lunches, and if you're really ambitious, bring your dinner and skip on ordering in. It's fine if you cheat now and then, but if you're cheating more than once a week, then you're sorta defeating the purpose.
 
Physical Activity
The easiest thing you can do to keep your health from deteriorating on a daily basis is to stand more/sit less. "Whatever. I hit the gym five days a week." That's very impressive. Too bad studies have found that it doesn't matter:
It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting — in your car, your office chair, on your sofa at home — you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death. In other words, irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you.
Okay, now that we've established that, how do you sit less? Ideally, TPTB would get all of you standing desks. That's unlikely but as we've pointed out, PwC has installed walking workstations in some of its offices. Yes, we mock (that's what we do here) but it is a good sign that the word is out that spending 14 hours on your ass is NOT a good for you. One other idea that is mentioned over at Lifehacker is to use a small water glass. This will force you to get off your Herman Miller more times per day and it will keep you hydrated (also kinda important for good health). 
 
Of course you should still try to get some exercise in when you can. More cities are starting bike sharing programs, so if the weather isn't too awful in your area it should be open (here in Denver, the program is in hibernation until March). Memberships aren't unreasonable and plus, bikes are fun and sitting in traffice BLOWS. 
 
Most people have their preferred exercise routines, but what if busy season derails that routine? Check our sister site's Busy Season Daily Workplace Exercises as an alternative. It won't exactly pump you up but at least it'll encourage a little more blood flow.
 
If you're REALLY serious about exercise, you could always look up the Deloitte bodybuilder. No doubt he'll have ideas for sticking with the routine during busy season.
 
As we said at the start, you can boil a healthy busy season down to two key things: 1) eat less junk; 2) sit less. How you accomplish those things are up to you. More ideas? Share below. It's just your lives -- and maybe your career -- we're talking about. Help each other out.
 
1 Just because "Fruit Rollups" have the word "fruit" in their name doesn't mean they are healthy.

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