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Medicine IT

Staying In Shape vs. a Busy IT Job Schedule? 865 865

tnok85 writes "I started a new job ~7 months ago at a very large company working a 12-hour night shift (7PM-7AM) in a fairly high volume NOC. Our responsibilities extend during the night to basically cover everything but the most complex situations regarding UNIX/Windows/Linux/App administration, at which point we'll reach out to the on-calls. I live 1.5 hours away as well, so it turns into 4-5 15 hour days a week of sitting still — throw in almost an hour to get ready to leave, and a bit of time after I get home to unwind and I'm out of time to work out. Unfortunately I'm pretty sure I have a very slow metabolism, ever since I was a pre-teen I would gain weight fairly quickly if I didn't actively work out, regardless of how much or what I eat. (Barring starving myself, I suppose...) So, how does somebody who works a minimum of 60 hours over 4 days, often adding another 12 another day, and sometimes working 7-10 days straight like this, stay in shape? I can't hold a workout schedule, (which every person I've talked to in my history says is necessary to stay in shape) and I can't 'wake up early' or 'work out before bed' because I need sleep. Any thoughts/opinions/suggestions?"
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Staying In Shape vs. a Busy IT Job Schedule?

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  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @03:24PM (#28547569)

    Get a treadmill for a desk. [treadmill-desk.com]

  • Madness (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hibiki_r (649814) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @03:27PM (#28547615)

    Working those hours, in a night shift, that far from home, seems to me like a terrible long term arrangement. You'll cut years off your life. It'll make sure you can't get even a semblance of a social life. As a support job, it might not even pay enough as to allow you to see it as a temporary sacrifice for a better lifestyle later.

    Look for another job, pronto.

  • Some obvious ones (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JerryLove (1158461) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @03:32PM (#28547739)

    Not to be obvious but: do whatever you can do on your breaks.

    I used to go out with someone I met at a work location and do TaiChi. Yoga comes to mind. Crunches/Push-ups/curling a freeweight comes to mind as well.

    After every call (or every 30min without one) drop and do (say) 20 of any of the above. Even if that ends up being once an hour (hour long calls?) a 10-hour-day will have 200 push-ups/stomach crunches (for a freeweight, working it while at your desk isn't bad; but remember to switch arms from time to time).

    Durnig your break, go for a run.

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @03:33PM (#28547755)

    Get a bike rack, a bicycle, a good headlamp and some very reflective clothes.

    Map a bike route from your worksite to a terminus about 6 to 10 miles away (where you can park your car). Optimize the route for safety and speed.

    Drive your car to the terminus every day and ride your bike into work in the morning and back to your car in the evening.

  • Re:Sugars (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DeafDumbBlind (264205) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @03:38PM (#28547885)

    So you were consuming 3500 calories a day in corn syrup?
    All that matters is calories in vs. calories out.
    The calorie source doesn't matter for weight gain unless you don't get the minimum requirements of a given macro nutrient.
    30 lbs in 30 days just by cutting out corn syrup? I call BS.

  • by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecrans&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @03:50PM (#28548145) Homepage

    I have been working night shift in a NOC lately, myself. Deep into my 12 hour shifts, there is almost nobody in the building, so I can do laps. I carry my blackberry which will yell if I actually have to respond to an outage. I'm never more than 30 seconds away from my desk while I do laps. It's also easy to do jumping jacks, pushups and situps while with line of sight to my desk. Add in the occasional jumping jacks, and I'm oddly enough probably getting myself in better shape since having started this schedule. Go figure.

    Of course, there is also the days off. I could theretically use those for excercise. I used to be in the habit of jogging when I had a working iPod because I could listen to education audio books while I ran. Now I can be at work while I run. I think I feel silly if the only thing I'm doing is running. As much as I know it is important, I don't really feel it is an accomplishment on its own.

    Also, be careful with what you eat. Quantity is obviously a concern, but quality is a huge factor as well. On this schedule, I never really have time to cook the days that I work. The result is that I eat more burgers than would be ideal since that's the most convenient thing. When I'm at work, I often microwave frozen TV dinners or cans of soup with enough sodium to preserve an elephant. I'm trying to make a point of sticking to fruit juice instead of energy drinks, making the TV dinners the 'healthy' option, and at least squeezing in enough time to eat something better than a burger on my way home from work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @03:51PM (#28548151)

    The most important thing is to start out with stretching

    It looks like stretching may actually be bad for you [nytimes.com].

  • by goombah99 (560566) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:04PM (#28548391)

    I've know people who worked 28 or 32 hour "days". That is you just treat 28 hours as you circadian rythm. it means your sleep/wake schedule drifts from the day/night cycle, but it still overlaps it so you can have productive interactions with regular humans. IN your case since you claim you are working all the time, it's obviously not a big deal if you don't perfectly sync with others socially.

    if you go to that cycle then you will now have 4 or 8 extra hours of wake time in which you can exsercize. you are actually awake slightly more of the time so it's a net gain for waking activity.

    people I've know who did this find it sustainable for an entire year.

    if you are really productive working 15 hours a day then you probably are a candidate for this regimen.

  • by beerbear (1289124) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:05PM (#28548417)
    As well as candida [wikipedia.org] infection. Many, many people have one and don't even notice it.
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:07PM (#28548475) Homepage

    Fiber will flush calories.

    This is something that a lot of people don't seem to know about when they say, "More calories will add more weight if you don't burn them." Your digestive system isn't 100% efficient, and the human body will, at times, dump excess calories.

    So in effect, your body is capable of saying, "I have enough food for now, so I'm going to poop out the rest." Some bodies seem to do this more readily than others, and science doesn't yet know all the factors. It could be genetics, emotional state, the kind of bacteria living in your gut, or what you're eating rather than how much you're eating.

    But the point is, yes, someone else can have the same diet and exercise routine as you have, and still weigh a very different amount.

  • Wii Fit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dark_requiem (806308) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:10PM (#28548551)
    Seriously, I bought this thing when it first came out, and I lost 20 pounds in a couple months. I know it seems silly to think that such a non-game will hold your attention and keep you working out, but if you have a desire to work out and lose weight, it will help. If you don't really have an interest in working out, it probably won't hold your attention long. But if you do, it will teach you some basic workouts, and the videogame-esque style may give you that extra ambition to get to it.
  • by twistedsymphony (956982) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:14PM (#28548613) Homepage
    I agree dieting is as simple as counting calories.

    (Calories Eaten - Calories burned)/3500 = weight change [lbs]

    figure out how many calories you burn in a typical day, and eat less than that, the amount less than that you eat will determine how fast you lose weight.

    I put on A LOT of weight when I first started working in IT and I was busy enough that I rarely made it to the gym. I THOUGHT I was eating less, and eating healthy and even tried all kinds of stupid diets that never seemed to get me anywhere. About 4 months ago I decided to look for a diet that was specifically tailored to a programmer's lifestyle (I figured there are enough smart people out there that someone must have come up with something) After about 2 minutes of searching I found The Hackers Diet [fourmilab.ch]. I read it and it made a lot of common sense... I decided to try it. and so far I've lost 35 lbs and I haven't set foot in a gym since I started.

    in short it's just calorie counting in a way that makes good logical sense... I don't even follow the diet plan that closely, I weight myself every day so I can plot my change, and the first week I took a closer look at how many calories the foods I typically eat contain. The first few days I had some crazy hunger pains but after that I don't feel hungry anymore than usual and I the only time I even really think about how many calories I'm eating is when I break away from my normal daily eating habits (ie: family BBQ, or a party, etc.) and even then I just make a rough guess and eat a little less during my meals earlier in the day.

    I still go out for ice cream, have pizza at lunch, etc. I just keep a mental tally of roughtly how many calories I'm taking in so I can adjust my other meals accordingly...
  • EAT LESS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:16PM (#28548659) Homepage

    Jesus Christ. And I definitely have the problem too so I am not pointing fingers at "everyone else but me." It is HARD to eat less, especially as you get older. I used to shut down pizza buffet restaurants in my 20s. But when I hit my 30s, things started to change and I should have paid closer attention but the change was gradual. So while I continued to eat the amounts and types of foods I was accustomed to, my body was changing the way it handles things.

    Initially I compensated by placing a weight bench next to my bed. Every morning after waking up, I would almost literally roll over onto the bench and start doing reps. The results were good. Not only did I wake up better getting the heart moving and being more alert, but immediately following that, I took my morning shower and was fresh as anything without any serious interruption of my morning schedule. That didn't last long after I got married. A weight bench in the bedroom did not go over well. But let's face it; if it wasn't for being convenient, I NEVER would have done it in the first place.

    So now, I simply make a concerted effort to eat LESS. And believe me, it is HARD. For those who know what "Whataburger" is, who could say no to a double-double with bacon? NOT ME!! That is a hard habit to break let me tell you. But my body reminds me a lot lately when I am overeating -- I get FULL and uncomfortable... but that is only because I am actually making the effort to eat less and my stomach has literally shrunk allowing less food at any one time.

    Changing habits is a really hard thing to do, especially when it's something as pleasurable as food. But that's what it means to be human -- smart enough to know better. Just make the effort to eat less. Just do it.

  • Re:Madness (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tnk1 (899206) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:21PM (#28548737)

    Note to OP: Start looking for a new job now.

    I worked a shift like that, for a couple of years. Luckily I lived close by, but it was enough.even with that. I gained like 10-15 pounds, I was as bored as shit, and really had few opportunities to do anything. Happily, I was anything but fat to begin with, so I didn't blimp up, but I am still living with the extra weight years later.

    For my part, I took the job because I was younger, less experienced, and they had rate cuts at the old place which were likely to turn into layoffs. It was a horrendous job, not simply because of the hours (which I had some limited experience with before), but also because of the shitty place I worked.

    I hope this person takes the people who tell him to get another job very seriously. I was already married when I took the job, so I didn't end up without a chance at being with someone of the opposite sex, but I would have been if I had been single. Even worse, I saw absolutely none of my friends unless I radically altered my sleep schedule, which I would pay for later.

      I was out of shape, stressed, and I even started getting a little paranoid and otherwise neurotic. All of this from a person who stays up late by default anyway.

    You will come to understand that no matter how late you tend to go to bed, you are still ten times better off going to bed before the sun starts rising. I went to bed at 4AM this morning, got up for a 9AM install and I feel better than some days that I got 8 hours of "sleep" on my 7PM-7AM or my 7PM-5AM shifts. And my commute was basically only 12 miles on streets where all the traffic was going the other way, if you get my drift. Any sort of commute would almost ensure that I was trying to get to sleep around the time that the school buses and garbage trucks started showing up.

    There is only one reason to take a job like that... a stopgap job between your last job and your next job. If you make a career out of that shift, you will have no career, no life, and no health. Keeping off the weight is the least of your worries. I mean it.

  • by fprintf (82740) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:23PM (#28548781) Journal

    Love your ideas about exercise being fun. Tennis is fun. Raquetball, squash, basketball, handball are all examples of really fun sports that will work you hard enough to give all the benefits of exercise while being something that doesn't require tons of motivation to do. As a cyclist I can work off 300 calories easily on a weekend day... it is generally 40 calories per mile. 7 or 8 miles on a bike is *nothing* to even most beginners.

    Personally I like your idea of sailing. Not everyone is close to the coast or has the money for a boat but it is really fun, and if you get the right boat (you try hiking on a Laser for a 20 minute upwind leg of a race) you will be in great shape.

    Hiking is always fun, and running up walking trails can even be more fun. Exercise need not be mindless lifting of weights in a gym or miles on a treadmill. Hell, just get out Dance Dance Revolution for 15 minutes a day!

  • Eating (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NeoSkandranon (515696) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:29PM (#28548903)

    Figure out how many calories you eat in a day (doesn't have to be exact) and see how that stacks up with average for such a sedentary lifestyle. While you won't be "in shape" per se, you can at least help to curb weight gain by not eating more than you need, and making sure what you DO eat is high in fiber, contains more complex carbs than sugars, and lots of lean protein.

  • by dasunt (249686) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:31PM (#28548957)

    I agree dieting is as simple as counting calories.

    (Calories Eaten - Calories burned)/3500 = weight change [lbs]

    figure out how many calories you burn in a typical day, and eat less than that, the amount less than that you eat will determine how fast you lose weight.

    For me, it doesn't always work that way.

    Below a certain point, my body decides that instead of getting the missing 3500 calories from burning fat, it would rather decrease my metabolism. Drastically, if necessary. I'm still losing small amounts of weight, but not 1 lb for every 3500 missing calories.

    From a perspective of evolution, my body's great: It cuts down on calorie usage when food supply decreases. From a dieting perspective, it is hard for me to lose the final 5-10 lbs of weight.

  • Re:Easy Solution (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:01PM (#28549569)

    I realise you were being facetious, but just to dispel the 'amphetamines will help you lose weight' rumour...
    As someone who has had the occasional meth binge when an interesting game comes out and some grinding is in order:
    Unless you're an actual addict, you don't lose shit all weight. Sure, you'll spend a couple of days not eating and constantly jigging your leg up and down while you sit at your desk, but once you come down, get some sleep and need to start functioning like a human again, your appetite is immense. Like 2 whole pizzas to yourself kinda immense. You'll seem skinny for a day or two, then pile it all straight back on.

    Not that anyone needs another reason to avoid meth. It's a terrible drug that turns even occasional users into selfish, hollow assholes.
    Don't play with it, kids. Stick to the acid.

  • by Yokaze (70883) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:11PM (#28549779)

    > No it doesn't. A calorie is a unit of heat.

    A unit of heat is an amount of energy. Calories are are practically deprecated and the only commonly used meaning is as unit of food energy.

    > Fiber may prevent absorption of certain carbohydrates in the intestines, etc, but nothing can "flush heat".

    Fibre in your food makes your intestines work more when digesting, which requires more energy. The other positive effect is, that it fills your stomach, without providing any nutritious value, thereby being net-negative in your energy household. "Flushing calories", so to speak.

  • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @05:19PM (#28549929)

    This is so true. I too have an incredibly long sedentary job stuck behind a desk.

    While metabolism does adjust based upon various factors, which alters how efficiently you burn calories (as opposed to flushing them out) the body is remarkably efficient; if you can digest it (i.e. not fibre), you will either burn it or store it. If you can't adjust how much you burn by substantial exercise, then the answer is to reduce how much goes in at the front end. Most people, like myself, who think they have a slow metabolism simply don't realise how much they eat.

    Lets say you do an hour of moderate exercise in the gym a day; that's maybe 500-700 calories. If you work really really hard, that's 1000, absolute tops. 500 calories is the difference between a medium meal and a big meal; or a couple of cans of energy drink. Or a slice of cake. Or even just little snacks between meals. 130 calories a day over how much you expend (a can of coke), and that's 14 pounds weight gain a year.

    I've read the hackers diet and it's good advice for guys like us. I've started counting how much I eat. You know what? I massively underestimated how much I was really eating. All the little stuff really mounts up. Even when I thought I was being good, I wasn't.
    So now I count my calories (reasonably roughly) mainyl by weighing my food when I'm cooking it. I've cut down my portions by around 30% - which sounds like a lot, but honestly isn't considering I was eating past when I was full. I've substituted my crap snacks with fruit, and cut out the sweets, second portions, junk food and normal desserts. I record my weight daily on physicsdiet [physicsdiet.com] (which has a nice smoothing function for when you go up or down a few pounds due to water weight - it shows the overall trend very nicely)

    I still have three proper meals a day, and even have low-calorie desserts. I can put my hand on my heart, and honestly say I do not feel hungry. I'm eating 1700-odd calories a day, which is about half of what I'm expending. I don't go to the gym, and have only slightly increased how much exercise I do - parking at the far end of the carpark and walking the extra two minutes, a short stroll at lunch, that sort of thing.

    Going by the scales, I've lost 21 pounds in 6 weeks. According to the bodyfat it's almost entirely fat. I'm under 280 pounds for the first time in years. I can certainly wear trousers I haven't been able to wear for years. I've lost 4" off my waist. While I may not look much different, I do feel better - I certainly never feel starved. I'm going to try to fit some time in the gym a few days a week, but that will be in addition to the 1700 calories I'm already dieting.

    So my advice to you, original tnok85 - estimate how much you eat in a day. Then keep a food diary, and record how much you eat, in full detail. Record your weight daily on physicsdiet (which is basically an online version of the hackers diet spreadsheets), or even just in excel. I bet you'll be surprised at the difference between what you think you eat, and what you do eat.

    Then work out how many calories you'd likely spend in the gym, and see if you can cut that from your diet with low hanging fruit - the no-S [nosdiet.com] diet may help here. Keep recording your weight daily. And see how you go.

    Me? I'm going to lose all this weight I've put on in 20 years through inattention, whether it takes 6 months, a year or 3 years. I'm likely going to have to keep a close eye on how much I cook, and weigh myself regularly for life. But the diet? It's not a diet. I'm just eating like a normal healthy person, instead of a normal healthy person who eats big meals and has the odd slice of cake.

  • by klenwell (960296) <klenwellNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @06:37PM (#28551063) Homepage Journal

    You may also want to look at this:

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/can-you-get-fit-in-six-minutes-a-week/?em [nytimes.com]

    Even 6 minutes a week, with the breaks described and the equipment, may be more than is possible for you. But you're going to need to find some kind of optimization obviously.

  • by spacey (741) <spacey-slashdot...org@@@ssr...com> on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @08:58PM (#28552513) Homepage

    At my office we've been having some fun by trying to get to 100 pushups using the schedule at the site hundredpushups.com. I haven't gotten to 100, but I've gotten as far as 83, which from 35 6 weeks ago is still huge.

    These sorts of programs work out much better with peers so that you can encourage each other. It's something you can do at your desk if you have 2 or 3 co-workers who want to join you and it's really invigorating. You get to see what kind of people you're working with, too.

    -Peter

  • by rgviza (1303161) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @09:53AM (#28557015)

    LOL Yep. Dude if your personal fitness is a priority, get a new job. I used to work like that. It's not worth it. It will lead to an early death. I found a job that pays a little less where I work 40 hours a week. I work out 2 hours a day, 4-5 times a week.

    You need to figure out what you want. Working 60 hours a week is completely fucked and not worth your health. If you think they won't hesitate to lay you off you are sadly mistaken. So why should you be loyal to them? Hard work and dedication buys you _nothing_ in today's work world. Working a sensible job and taking care of yourself buys you a longer lifespan.

    What would you rather have? Personally I'd like to see my great grandchildren. At least if you work out you are guaranteed some sort of benefit by doing so. You will definitely look better and you might live longer. That's tangible and real.

    If you work 60 hours a week, it will cost you your health and there's no guarantee it will have any career benefit. Been there, did the work, did a fantastic job and got laid off by relocation. Never again. Learn from my mistakes.

    -Viz

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