Staying committed to an exercise program is hard enough on a good day. But when life throws you a curveball, your workout can easily fall on the priority list — if it’s still included at all.
Health and fitness is truly a personal pursuit, but the most common keys to success include realistic expectations, a little flexibility and a positive attitude. It might not be easy or fun, but when you achieve what you set out to do, it’s all worth it.
Whether you’re trying to maintain your fitness level through an injury…
Braving frigid temperatures …
Or trying not to sweat through your clothes in the scorching sun…
We rounded up our best tips for sticking to your fitness routine, no matter what difficulties you encounter. Nothing should hold you back from achieving your goals, and we’re here to help you overcome any obstacle in your way.
Staying active during the workday can be a challenge for people who sit at a desk all day. This is especially true on days when you’re so busy it feels like there’s rarely an opportunity to look away from your computer, much less get up and move around.
Luckily, there are many ways to stay active in the office, even if you can’t manage to leave your desk. Check out these stretching and movement ideas from ergonomic pros, fitness experts and health advocates:
1. SUBTLY BOOST YOUR BURN
“Add extra resistance to your movement, turning that quick walk from your desk to your printer into an opportunity to tone and burn. You can wear discreet ankle weights or body weights.”
“Challenge yourself to drink 10, 8-ounce glasses of water throughout the day. Not only will you have to continually get up and refill your water, you’ll need to head to the bathroom, too. Added bonus: Drinking water is great for you, so you’re kind of winning on all fronts.”
To make it easy to track your water intake, log it with MyFitnessPal.
3. SET YOUR ACTIVITY TRACKER
“The best way to start keeping yourself more accountable for your activity level is to get an activity tracker. You can set your tracker to vibrate on your wrist to remind you that you’ve been sitting too long and it is time to get up and move.”
“Visit a colleague’s desk to deliver a message instead of sending an email. The trip will get you out of your desk chair and give you a fun, social reason to walk around the office. Plus, you’ll get the added bonus of some face time with a colleague, who will also appreciate the break from emails!”
“Cut off taking advantage of workplace supplies at noon so you have to leave [the office] and go get a snack or coffee from somewhere further away from your workstation.”
– Katie Johnson, outreach and PR Strategist forStandDesk.co.
6. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
“Remember, we are trying to replicate the experience of working in the fields or factory without all the heavy lifting and sweating. If you have an adjustable desk, you can listen to your body and you can move periodically throughout the day. You now have the freedom to move when it is convenient and when your body tells you that you need to.
“Stand for a few minutes when you get to your desk after a long commute. Stand while you take a phone call. Stand after lunch to help maintain your focus and avoid the afternoon crash. Stand when your back feels a little tight or your neck is stiff. Adjustments give you freedom and that is good for your body and your mind!”
– What You Should Know Before You Take a Stand,Workrite
Desk pushups offer great for toning the arms. Place your hands on your desk, walk your feet back to a 45-degree angle and do 10–15 pushups.
Shoulder squeezes helps prevent a hunched posture. Pretend there’s a pencil between your shoulder blades, squeeze them together and hold for 10–20 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Sit and stands tones your legs and butt. Stand in front of your chair and lower yourself down until your butt hits the edge of the chair and stand back up (make sure your chair is secure). Repeat 20 times.
Desk dips are perfect for toning your triceps. Face away from your desk and place your hands shoulder-width apart with fingers facing you, legs extended. Dip down until your elbows make a 90-degree angle; press back up 10–15 times.
Wall Sit: Stand against the wall and slide down until your knees are at a 90-degree angle directly over your ankles. Hold for 30–60 seconds and repeat 5 times.
Ben Pobjoy doesn’t look back fondly on his 20s. Today, he calls them a “decade of destruction” that led him down a road of inactivity and poor eating. By the time he was 32, he was 100 pounds overweight, tired and unhappy with his lifestyle.
“I was the poster boy for being out of shape,” he says. “I couldn’t even walk up the stairs without getting really out of breath.”
When he moved to Toronto in 2014 to start a new job with an advertising agency, he had an unpleasant epiphany: He was the unhealthy, overweight guy in the office.
“As soon as I showed up and I was surrounded with all of these healthy colleagues, I was faced with [a] stark contrast,” he says. “It was the last little kick in the butt I needed to make a change.”
The question was, how?
Two years ago, he heard Joe Rogan’s interview with biomechanist Katy Bowman, who encouraged listeners to simply get out and move — more specifically, to walk. So Pobjoy laced up his sneakers and started putting one foot in front of the other — first the couple of miles to and from work and soon to dinner, to run errands and to make social calls.
While he’d made plenty of half-hearted attempts to join gyms and start various fitness programs over the years, he found that walking was something to which he could actually stick.
“Since I had failed so many times,” he explains, “I wanted to choose something that was very slow and sustainable.”
In addition to tracking his walks — which eventually hit more than 60 miles a week — he began to use MyFitnessPal to get a better grip on his eating and the types of nutrients he took in each day. He’d long been what he calls a “French fries and potato chips” vegan, so tracking his nutrition and seeing what he was actually putting in his body helped motivate him to clean up his diet.
Soon, the weight began to fall off. But his biggest motivator to continue walking had nothing to do with health and fitness. Rather, it was as he puts it, “about converting physical movement to social movement.”
On a business trip in August 2015, Pobjoy took a walk through Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, an area of the city that is known for poverty, homelessness and crime.
“The drugs, the garbage everywhere, it was so depressing and unfathomable to me that this could exist in such an affluent city,” he says.
The next day, he bought supplies to make peanut butter sandwiches, and, soon after, he hit the street and began handing them out to those in need. That, he says, was his light-bulb moment.
“I realized that exercise is quite a selfish thing, and the irony wasn’t lost on me that I was blazing through a pair of shoes each month while passing people who didn’t have shoes,” he remembers. “I thought that there must be something I could do.”
For the remainder of that year, Pobjoy brought sandwiches with him everywhere he walked. By the end of 2015, he had walked 3,600 miles and handed out a whopping 1,000 sandwiches. Last year, he walked thousands more miles and added in boxing and swimming. All told, he dropped 100 pounds.
In addition to handing out sandwiches, he started fundraising via ultra-long walking challenges. Last summer, he completed an 85-kilometer walk in Tokyo to raise money for cats and dogs left behind in the evacuation zone after the disastrous 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. In September, he walked 77 miles from Toronto to Buffalo, New York, to raise money for a transitional housing program for LGBT youth.
He hopes the next chapter of his unique brand of “active helping” will include fundraising walks on all seven continents. In the meantime, he hopes his story will inspire others who might be struggling with achieving a healthy lifestyle.
“I never would have imagined what getting healthy would give me,” he says. “Most people aren’t aware how quickly they can transform their lives and work towards a better self. But more than feeling strong and healthy, it’s given me the chance to increase my empathy and reconnect with my humanity.”
Do you or a loved one have a personal Success Story you’d like to share? Let us know on our Facebook page, hit us up on Twitter or tag #MyFitnessPal on your Instagram posts. We’d love to feature it in a future blog post!