Truth be told, I live a charmed life. It hasn’t always been this way, but as a long-time freelance writer with phenomenal clients, I get to work from home and choose my own hours, which makes it easy to regularly prioritize workouts. I essentially work the equivalent of part-time for full-time pay. Yes, I’m bragging. I’ve worked really hard to get here.
But even though day-to-day life is pretty good, there’s one week every month that kills me: The last week of the month. Inevitably, I’ve procrastinated on one assignment or another, or I suddenly realize I need to take on more work to meet my monthly income goals or I decide to wait until the last minute to pay attention to bookkeeping and discover invoices are going to be a trial. It’s the adult version of finals hell week in college.
Clearly, I have no one to blame but myself. And yet, there’s something about looming deadlines that always motivates me – I never miss a deadline.
What I do sometimes miss during the last week of every month, though, is my workouts. I get tunnel vision with work and sit in front of the computer for hours, tap-tap-tapping away to wrap up my assignments and invoices. At the same time, I forget to eat and stay hydrated. I also sabotage my sleep and stay up all night.
I’m pretty much my own worst enemy.
After seeing some awesome tips from Bob Seebohar, a Sports Nutrition Expert who’s one of the first Board Certified Specialists in Sports Dietetics and is a Sport Dietitian for the United States Olympic Committee, I decided this month would be different. I would not go down my work life rabbit hole and instead find a way to maximize my time and energy to maintain an active lifestyle, even when work gets crazy.
Check out Bob’s tips and learn how I followed them below:
How to Maximize Energy and Workouts During Hell Week
Here’s how I personally implemented Bob’s tips into real life:
1. Drink plenty of water.
Drinking enough water isn’t a problem for me at all. I have a larger water bottle (40 ounces) that I fill at least three to four times a day. As a result, I make lots of trips to the bathroom. So instead of doing a series of squats every time I refilled my water bottle, I did a series of squats every time I needed a pit stop at the bathroom. I did lots of squats.
2. Complete a pushup goal.
I’ll admit my upper body strength could use some work, so working toward a pushup goal is a great way to add bursts of activity throughout the day while beefing up my chest, shoulder and triceps strength. Since I work at home and my dogs are spoiled, I decided to do 10 pushups every time I fed them a meal. If you’re thinking, “Laura, come on. That’s only 20 pushups a day,” think again. I work at home and my dogs are seriously spoiled. They get a (very) small meal every two to three hours. So yeah, it was more like 70 to 80 pushups a day. Boom.
3. Eat before your workout.
It’s true that I have constant access to food in my home, but during my work binges, I don’t eat much. This is mainly because I make most of my meals from scratch, so I have very few “grab and go” items to snack on. When I received samples of some of the new Clif Bar products, I lined them up in my glass-front kitchen cabinets for easy access and made a commitment: I’d eat one of the CLIF Organic Energy Food Banana Maple Oatmeal packs for breakfast with my morning coffee to help me get focused on work, then I’d set an alarm to go off two hours before my scheduled workout to remind me to eat one of the Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal packs as energy for exercise.
With the help of my alarm, the plan worked like a charm. I kept my blood sugar, mood and energy stable, putting me in the right physical and mental frame of mind to get sweaty.
4. Enjoy a quick strength training routine.
I’m a glutton for punishment, so most of my gym sessions last 90 minutes to two hours. Needless to say, I don’t have time for a two-hour workout when I’m up against serious deadlines, and I often forego the gym altogether.
Bob’s tips on quick strength training routines reminded me that something is better than nothing, and there’s a lot to be said for squeezing in a workout in 15 to 30 minutes. Frankly, most of my strength training routines are just 30 minutes, but I typically combine them with cardio and yoga, too.
This week it was time to cut away the fat (proverbially speaking) and focus on just a single form of exercise.
I decided to go with a basic, 30-minute circuit routine to boost my heart rate while performing strength moves. Here’s what I did:
- 60 seconds prisoner squats
- 60 seconds jumping jacks
- 60 seconds alternating lunges with dumbbells
- 60 seconds mountain climbers
- 60 seconds bent over dumbbell row
- 60 seconds jumping jacks
- 60 seconds pushups
- 60 seconds burpees (without a pushup at the bottom)
- 60 seconds weighted situps
- 60 seconds rest
Then I repeated the circuit two more times for a total body, 30-minute workout. It was tough.
5. Don’t forget the post-workout food/source of protein.
Eating after your workout is so important – it’s when your body is primed and ready to build and repair your muscle while replenishing glycogen stores to prepare you for your next workout. I’m not terrible at eating after exercise, but I’ve been known to wait longer than the suggested 30 to 60 minutes after a routine. I decided to pop a Clif Builder’s Protein Bar into my gym bag so I could eat one of them on the way home instead of waiting ’til I’m already there and risk getting distracted. Again, the tip worked like a charm. I got 20 grams of protein into my system and could get right back to work after I got home.