We’ve all heard about the Freshman 15. But what about the Mid-Twenties Muffin Top? Dewy-eyed college freshmen may have to face the daunting fact that it might not be figure-friendly to tackle the all-you-can-eat dining hall, but recent graduates are confronted with an equally intimidating opponent: the sedentary office job.
The simple truth is that most of us just aren’t as physically active once we get into the “real” world. We sit at our desks, maybe take a short jaunt to the office kitchen for a cup of coffee, and the closest we get to a marathon is the journey from our buildings to wherever happy hour is. And what do you do when you’re driving or taking public transportation to your job, without even the benefit of having to walk across campus to get to your class building? What do you do if you don’t live near a gym—or can’t afford the crazy membership fees?
**How to: Stay Trim with No Treadmill**
Park farther from your building’s entrance. Deliberately adding a few yards to your walk to the door might seem like small potatoes, but every little bit helps! If you don’t drive to work, get off the subway one stop earlier than normal to log some extra mileage.
Use the stairs instead of the elevator. You’ll definitely feel the burn if you make this switch on a daily basis (perhaps rethink this option if you work on the sixtieth floor. Let’s not be too crazy here!) Bonus points if your apartment is a walk-up.
Set a designated “break” time every few hours. Get up, stretch, take a lap around your office (good for circulation, too!)—little things to keep you moving more, particularly if formal exercise has become harder to squeeze in.
Don’t snack mindlessly. Are you really hungry? Or are you just bored? If it’s the latter, try taking one of the mini-breaks mentioned above. Other times, we’re really craving liquids—see if guzzling a glass of water satisfies your craving. If noshing is a must, put in the effort to pack some healthy snacks for yourself so you don’t make a habit of visiting the vending machine.
Be conscious of how much you’re eating. How many times have we heard the words “portion control“? But it’s true! That foot-long sub from the deli next door to your office is probably way more than you actually need to eat to feel satisfied at lunch. Eating in moderation means you can still treat yourself without going overboard.
Limit your takeout and dining out. In addition to saving some cash, you’ll also save some calories. Restaurant meals often pile on the toppings and dressings, and are prepared using fats and oils you can cut out by preparing food at home. Plus, you can try out some fun new meals!
Make time for exercise. Maybe the monthly cost of your local gym rivals your student loans, but that doesn’t mean exercise is out of the question. Find an at-home routine that feels comfortable for you, or lace up those running shoes and go for a jog around your neighborhood! That episode of Downton Abbey will still be on your DVR when you get back.
Tara Powers is a college graduate turned 9-5 office worker who’s been known to power walk down Fifth Avenue and jog up subway staircases. She’s also known for the bottomless bag of healthy snacks she’s always armed with, some of which she blogs about at Chip Chip Hooray.