Chad Moran

Software Engineer for Amazon in Seattle, WA

Software Engineers and fitness

As Software Engineers, Designers, IT Ops and pointy-haired managers we lead pretty sedentary lifestyles. We spend at least 40+ hours at a desk whether it’s sitting or not, we’re not doing much movement. Not only are we not active we tend to have pretty poor eating habits due that come along with different forms of excuses like “it’s cheaper”, “the group is going to this pizza place” or “it’s crunch mode and I just need energy”. If you think about other jobs you probably had as a yougin’ you were probably fairly active compared to your new cushy job. So what can we do?

After going back and forth between being healthy and not-so-much I’ve noticed a lot of my co-workers have different approaches. I’ve tried at least all of these once, they’re all affective in one way or another. Put simply, the one that works the best is the one you stick to.

Obvious disclaimer that I am not a doctor, physician or even a person who should probably be giving advice. Use this information at your own risk and don’t sue me because you don’t have enough common sense to not harm yourself.

Diet

This is a popular solution for those that don’t like going to the gym or working out. Currently around the Woot offices the diet-o-choice seems to be following the carbs are evil mantra. A great read for this specific diet is the 4 hour body by Tim Ferriss. I’ve tried this diet before and it is very effective though requires great discipline and during the first 2 weeks will completely throw you into the ground feeling tired and needing energy.

Another diet I’ve seen used and this was known as the “cult diet” while I was at Curse – is the Paleo Diet. This is a diet that is similar to the no-carbs diet with some variations sprinkled with a little bit of crazy. I’ve also seen this diet with work great success from my co-workers but again – requires great discipline. This diet is a little hardcore by excluding all grains, dairy and even salt. A great read that was passed around the office is Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution.

Portion Control

In my opinion if you’re going to try and sort of diet I’d say give this a shot first. I’ve personally found this to be very effective without changing my eating habits very much.

While I was in Hong Kong I was reading the menu for something and noticed it said “We serve American portions”. I was a little confused by this and asked the waiter what this meant. So he showed me their normal portion vs the “American” and I was completely blown away. I don’t think Americans always make the right decisions when it comes with what to eat but I think we just eat way too much. One thing I’ve done is just cut down on the amount of fat I eat and introduce more veggies and fruit. I still eat pizza, chocolate cake and the occasional tiramisu. However I eat it less often and I eat less of it. One place this can really be put into play is condiments like ketchup and mayo… just use less.

Along with drinking a glass of water before eating lunch or dinner I have found this method to be very affective without sacrificing great food.

Exercise, dammit

Now I know a lot of us desk dwellers don’t like exercise. However, I’ve learned from experience combining exercise and portion control has not only helped with general weight loss but just feeling better day to day. I’ve even found I drink less coffee and have an easier time getting out of bed in the morning. You don’t need to be a gym rat to do some basic programs to help with your health.

Without a personal trainer it can be hard to stay motivated or even get started. If you’re going to look for a gym I would highly recommend a gym that has Fitlinxx support. These are little computers attached to each weight lifting/cardio machine that have you enter a pin. They then tell you which settings to set the machine on that fit you and even make sure you’re doing good-form motions and won’t count bad-form ones. They track your progress and will even tell you when you’re doing well enough to up the weight. This system was extremely helpful when I was using the gym.

C25K

Running is one of those things you take for granted. You probably think you could run quite a log distance – until you actually try it. I promise it’ll be harder than you think. Don’t believe me? Stop reading this and go outside and let me know how you proved me wrong. Other than injury there’s no reason not to try this program and I cannot recommend this enough – it’s that good.

This program basically consists of interval training having you alternate between running/walking on and off. It only requires 30 minutes, 3 times a week and can be done on a treadmill. By the time you’re done with a week you’ll think to yourself “there’s no way I could run for 3 mins straight if I had trouble running for 1 minute straight!”. Then when you try Day 1 of the next week you’ll notice this program hired secret fitness ninjas to help your body build endurance.

This program is incredible in it’s way to help you build your endurance very quickly and get you from 0 to 5k in 9 weeks. In my 3 weeks of this program I’ve lost 10 lbs, tripled my running distance and I’ve generally just felt better.

Here are some resources I highly recommend:

Even if running isn’t your thing – this program is worth a shot. I’m looking forward to finishing the program and entering into a 5K.

Pushups, sit-ups and squats

I think the reason the C25K program is so successful is the fact that it’s a program. It gives you guidance and doesn’t let you push yourself too hard and get demotivated.

Here are some other effective programs you can do at home (you’ll find information in the sidebar on the right):

I’ve finished 2 of these programs in the past and they’re very successful and you don’t need the gym to finish them.

When I started my careers as a Software Engineer I quickly went from 135 lbs to 200 without even knowing it. It’s easy to fall into a rut and not even notice it. I’ve found that running and eating better has positively effected all things including my attitude at work and my productivity. Even if you don’t care about your healthy it can positively impact your career and is worth a shot.