I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s almost impossible to get in shape if you work in finance.
I’m sure you wish you still had the body you had in college, but how realistic is that?
You work 10+ hours a day, so you’ve got no time or energy to hit the gym. You eat takeout or at restaurants every meal, so good luck consistently sticking to a diet. And of course, your sleep schedule is wrecked from last minute fire-drills and all-nighters at work.
Basically, almost everything about your life and job is working against you.
Here is my extremely scientific view of the current state of finance world:
Since I quit my job, I spend everyday trying to grow the size of that sad little sliver in the middle of that venn diagram. Basically, I’ve made it my life mission to reduce the number of overworked and overweight professionals in this world.
This post outlines one of my favourite strategies for getting in shape when you have no time.
Why you should ignore mainstream fitness advice
I have a beef with mainstream health & fitness advice.
“Experts” tell you that if you want to get results, the default solution is to throw more time and effort at the problem — extra workouts, longer runs, more frequent meals, more sleep, more home-cooking, more supplements, etc.
For regular non-finance people, this advice is inconvenient but achievable. Regular people have limited time as well, but they are able to make the necessary sacrifices in the name of health and fitness.
For you — an overworked, time-starved desk monkey — this is a complete deal-breaker. The last thing you have is more time. Time is the limiting factor in your life. You don’t have the time for anything except work, let alone marathon 2 hour workouts and eating 6-meals-a-day.
I’ll save the rest of my rant on why most mainstream advice doesn’t even work, because here’s the simple truth: it will not work for you because you do not have the time.
As hard as it is, you need to put your blinders on and stop reading bodybuilding.com, Mens Fitness, or wherever you get your diet and workout advice from. Tune it out. Get rid of the preconceived ideas in your head that you’ve relied upon since high-school. Your lifestyle is completely different than it was back then, and so your approach should be completely different as well.
But don’t despair, because your lack of time does not guarantee a life of chubbiness. Despite what you’ve been told, more time is not the only way to get the results you’re looking for. Below I’m going to tell you a strategy that can actually save you time without compromising your results.
Seriously, ignore it all…?
At this point you might be asking yourself, “who is this dude telling me to ignore common sense, and why should I listen to him?”
Excellent questions, and I commend you for not just taking what I say at face value! You might just make it in this crazy world of finance after-all…
But I digress. Back to your concerns.
For starters, I didn’t grow up in the health & fitness world, and so I wasn’t indoctrinated with the party line. In my past life I worked as a management consultant for four years. I lived in hotels, I ate take out most nights, and I worked a lot and slept very little. I’ve worked 100-hour-weeks and pulled all-nighters. The bottom line is that I’ve been in your shoes and understand the challenges you are facing.
But just working hard doesn’t make me qualified to dole out health & fitness advice. I’m also a certified nutrition and exercise coach, and have spent the last 1.5 years working 1:1 with busy professionals, helping them lose that excess fat or figure out how to wake up with more energy. I’ve also walked the walk, playing international rugby while I was working as a management consultant.
I don’t say all this to impress you, I say this to impress upon you that this stuff works and has been tested on people just like you.
How to get in shape when you don’t have any free time
Alright, let’s get down to business. You need to get in shape, but you’re short on time.
Well, I’ve got a solution that will get you in killer shape and save you a lot of time… Too good to be true? I thought so too, until I tested it out.
A couple years ago I was out of shape and manically researching solutions for my declining fitness. By random chance, I came across something called Intermittent Fasting which has changed my life.
I had already tried a bunch of other tactics and quick fixes that weren’t working, so when I found something new I thought ‘what the hell’ and gave it a shot. I applied the fasting approach consistently for about 2 years while working and travelling, and the results were impressive to say the least: I got shredded with very little effort, I no longer had energy spikes and crashes during the day, and I saved (literally) hours of time each week.
I’m not the only one who likes it either. John Berardi (founder of the largest online nutrition coaching company in the world) did a 6-month intermittent fasting experiment and lost 20lbs and went from 10% to 4% bodyfat.
So, what is this silver bullet called Intermittent Fasting? Here’s the executive summary of my favourite version of fasting, the ’16/8′ approach:
- What is it:
- Intermittent fasting is a daily eating schedule that alternates periods of eating (“feasting”) with periods of not eating (“fasting”)
- Feasting occurs between noon and 8p.m. and fasting occurs the rest of the day
- During the feast, you eat the same amount you would on a regular day in two larger meals: lunch and dinner.
- Why is it beneficial:
- Aside from the obvious time savings from reducing meal frequency, intermittent fasting has beneficial effects on weight-loss, cancer, longevity, brain health, and exercise
- Reducing your meal frequency also reduces “decision fatigue” and increases the likelihood that you’ll eat healthy choices (i.e. make 2 healthy choices vs. 6 healthy choices)
- How it works:
- Start the fast after you finish eating dinner, around 8 p.m.
- Don’t eat for 16 hours until around 12 p.m. (noon) the next day.
- Eat for 8 hours starting with lunch and finishing with dinner.
- How does it save time:
- Intermittent fasting saves time by reducing the frequency of your meals.
- If you currently eat the standard three meals a day, intermittent fasting will save you around 3 hours 30 minutes a week.
- If you currently follow mainstream advice and eat 3 meals a day and 3 snacks a day, intermittent fasting will save you around 8 hours 45 minutes a week.
That is the bare-bones basics of fasting. You probably have questions, and luckily I have answers. I’ve put together a 30+ page .pdf with everything I know about fasting, including answering questions like:
- Who should try Intermittent Fasting? Who shouldn’t?
- Isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day?
- Will I get really hungry in the morning during the fast?
- Why shouldn’t I eat 6 meals-a-day?
[IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER]: What works for me may not work for you, and when trying something new you should keep a close eye on how your body is reacting. If you are currently practicing unhealthy eating habits I suggest you address these issues before making a drastic change like intermittent fasting. If you have existing medical conditions then you should consult a doctor. I also recommend that women check out this article for some tips on how to approach fasting, as there is evidence that men and women may react differently.
Over to you…
We all want to change our bodies. We want to get jacked / skinny / lean / shredded / toned / strong / fit / healthy. But it’s hard, and when you work an insanely busy job, it’s almost impossible.
But I’m here to tell you that it’s not impossible. I’ve been in the best shape of my life while working insane hours, and I’ve helped other people do it too.
If you’ve tried everything and nothing has worked, give intermittent fasting a shot and see what you think.
If you want more info on how to implement intermittent fasting, check out this free pdf download with everything you need to know.
I’m also going to finish with a question for you: What’s the #1 thing stopping you from getting in shape? Is it a lack of time? Is it something else? Put a comment below and let me know. I’d love to help you out.