Stop the Insanity
September 12, 2012 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Advice on preventing weight gain and fitting in exercise when your life is spinning out of control.

Ok, it's not spinning out of control but I am extremely busy. I went from having plenty of leisure time to almost no time for myself. I have a job, a demanding volunteer position, and two kids who are in school who play a sport and play piano.

I am going morning until night and writing this question on my lunch break. I have been grabbing fast food and frozen pizza and not working out as much as I used to. I am gaining weight. I feel upset that I can't make it to gym. Sometimes I want to say screw it and forget everything for an hour and go but not so realistic. Example: tonight I want to take hour-long class at Y that I usually take on Wednesdays. No can do because two kids with two different baseball times and eldest kid has this family tree project that I am helping him with. I have a husband. We are team and he parents just as much as I do.

I know I need to stop eating junk and need to exercise. Looking for ways to fit in exercise in my busy schedule. Exhausted at night. Often working at night catching up on emails, preparing stuff for volunteer position, etc. I have to be at work 7:30. I don't work five days a week but I often fill in for people and sometimes I am working more than I would like. I don't say no. I am the fill-in person. Work is more important than volunteer position but I cannot quit either. There are other volunteers to help but I am the main man so to speak and cannot defer work all of the time.

Need to stop gaining weight now! What are your tips, tricks? I know how to eat right, just been on this crazy train and am grabbing for convenience.

posted by Fairchild to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Meant to add that I have lost 30 pounds in the last year and have gained ten back and at the rate I am going will gain all back. Also pick up my nephew with autism every day from school. If I'm at work, my husband does. We care for him after school and it can be a challenge. He is easy but we also help him with his homework after school and if I am volunteering he is often with me.
posted by Fairchild at 9:58 AM on September 12, 2012

Food seems to be your biggest issue, and boy, do I understand the temptation of fast food and frozen pizza. I have a similar schedule to yours (except I am at a little bit different of a life stage - full time job, grad program, volunteer position, but no kids). As far as eating goes, make a couple of large meals on Sunday night and then bag them up for the whole week, so that you don't end up eating fast food or heating up a frozen pizza in your rush to get through your daily tasks. Every morning, be sure to grab a bag for lunch and (if it is going to be a crazy night for you) for dinner.

As far as exercise goes, I am really lucky in that my place of work also offers a free gym as an employee benefit, so I usually work out for an hour and a half right before or right after work. What works for me is to pencil this in on my schedule every week and make it non-negotiable with myself, and thus, non-negotiable for others. I must go to the gym for an hour either before or after work, I am unavailable to anyone during those times. I understand that with your kids, it may be difficult to draw a hard line and say you are unavailable at certain times, but is there anyone else who can take them to these extracurricular activities? How much sleep do you need? Could you wake up an hour earlier, and dedicate an hour to working out then?
posted by SkylitDrawl at 10:02 AM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Keep crappy-for-you food out of the house (as much as possible, given kids). In your bag or the pocket of the jacket you wear most, put a low-carbish energy bar and/or a bag of almonds - these will keep you from starving, which leads to bad food choices. Had-boiled eggs keep fine out of refrigeration for hours or a day; so do babybel cheeses - or, even better, a piece of 3-year aged Gouda, cut up in chunks and put in a baggie.
posted by rtha at 10:08 AM on September 12, 2012

Skip the fast food. Back your desktop with nuts and fruit. Seriously, go crazy with. Use different kinds of nuts, different nut mixes. Use different fruits. Hummus and carrots. Peanut butter and apples. A few boiled eggs in the work frig, along with cheese to go on crackers or with apples.

Invest in a crock pot. Put frozen meats and veggies in it before you leave for work, turn it on. You'll have a ready made meal by dinner time. A wok is great, because stir fry is quick and delicious.

The gym is nice, do it when you can, but it isnot as important as stopping yourself from eating crap.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:15 AM on September 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

I sympathize. When my three kids were younger, it seemed the only exercise I got was jumping to conclusions and running my mouth. There are two factors here. One is food and the other is exercise. The easiest one to change is the food. You need to prepare your lunches and dinners in advance. Also, bring small healthy snacks. Baby carrots, walnuts, even chewing gum. As for exercise, I started to park much farther away from fields, the store and the office just to get a few minutes of walking.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:17 AM on September 12, 2012

Do you have a trader joe's? If so, even if you have to eat on the run, you will be able to find good options. Here are some examples:

Chicken Wonton Soup in frozen section
Tomato Bisque in refrigerated section
Pizza Primavera - this one is only 250 calories
Salmon burgers - 110 calories
Vegetable melange (super good, tastes relatively fresh)- 70 calories

I agree with snacks too. I do small amounts of almonds, carrots and spinach and kale dip (trader joe's again!), Pria protein bars (110 calories), fruit.

Start the day with a smoothie with lots of fruit, spinach and protein powder to keep you full.

As for working out, can you take walks while you are on conference calls? I don't know if you do conference calls, but if you can take an hour walk during an hour conference call, that could help. I would also set aside some family time for exercise. Bike around the neigborhood on nights your kids don't have activities. Even 30 mins would be great. Take an hour walk as a family.

You may also want to download the Nike Training Club app if you have a smartphone. It's amazing and they have hardcore 15 min workout options. You'll feel like you've exercised much more than that when you're done AND getting a little is better than none at all. Take 15 mins to do it before bed, so by the time you're done, you're tired and ready to sleep.
posted by superfille at 10:22 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Weight is not controlled well (if at all) by exercise, a fact that should be comforting as it means you have one priority, not two, at least in the near term.

Get your food under control - and go easy on the fruit and things like crackers.
posted by rr at 10:22 AM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

After reading your question, I feel like saying anything else is treating the symptom and not the illness, so here goes.

What are your priorities? If keeping yourself healthy isn't at or near the top of the list, you cannot expect to take weight off or keep it off permanently. When they say it requires constant vigilance, they aren't whistling Dixie.

Job, kids, and household are going to be important for you for a long time, but it seems to me like the other stuff can go. It will free time up for you to do some food planning and cooking of healthy food.

Too many commitments => stress => back to bad eating habits. You can watch others repeating ad nauseam and thank the God of your choice you're not them if you step off the crazy train.
posted by Currer Belfry at 10:27 AM on September 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

What you eat is more important than exercise in terms of losing/keeping weight off. Focus on eating better. It's easy to keep fruit, nuts, string cheese, bottled water at your desk. A bin of salad greens, a container of grape/cherry tomatoes, a package of cooked chicken and a bottle of dressing are easy to keep in the fridge at work (in most places). Throwing a salad together is faster than going out to the nearest fast food place. If the weather is accommodating, run for 20 minutes at lunch or at least take a walk. Also, take two or three 10 minutes walks during the day, the way some people take cigarette breaks.
posted by shoesietart at 10:29 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Calorie counter apps with breakdowns of carbs/fat/protein, etc have been a great way for me to manage my convenience eating, especially during work hours. Its not so much that I don't know how to eat healthily, but it's easy to ignore the amount and nature of what I'm putting into myself during busy days. Which they all are. :) I feel like most of this stuff is proactive - when you food shop, don't buy any junk. Zero. No sugar highs or easy carbs like boxes of crackers. Buy lots of protein type stuff. Nuts. Dried fruit. Cheese sticks (70 calories in a cheese stick and they're so tasty!!). That sort of thing. When you're food shopping as usual, buy this stuff in bulk and take it all, pop the dried fruit and nuts and such, mixed together, into little ziplocks for some quick available snacks. I also end up making a double batch of granola bars (recipe on probably once every three weeks. They have a ten minute prep time, twenty minute bake time, and after I pull them out of the oven I sprinkle on a handful of chocolate chips and spread them around after they melt. Easy, fairly cheap, they keep for weeks in fridge or freezer, and I know every time I grab one it's 300 calories of protein, fat, and some fiber. At work I can go from IMDYINGINEEDTOGOTOTHECAFANDEATTHATHEATLAMPPIZZANOW! to okay, I can wait until I get home to grab a real food out of the fridge.

Basically, whatever you can do to have healthy stuff on hand that isn't straight carbs is good. I can't last in between the traditional three meals a day and if I have to do so, I end up making way poorer choices at mealtimes out of sheer desperation and brain fog. With a little snack in my belly I can reason a little better with myself even when choosing better convenience foods. Even fast food has choices that are wiser than others.
posted by takoukla at 10:31 AM on September 12, 2012

Try getting up a bit earlier and using the time to take a walk or do an exercise dvd before the usual morning craziness.
posted by mareli at 10:32 AM on September 12, 2012

What I learned from Weight Watchers: keep a food journal. Better if you can journal ahead, i.e. plan out what you're going to eat. Even if you deviate from the plan, you will not be eating totally at random. Make a list of 3- or 400 calorie meals that are really simple and that you can fall back on any time. For me it revolves around Greek yogurt, fruits and vegetables, but pick whatever is easy and that you will really eat.

In my experience, total lack of exercise + stress absolutely makes it hard to keep weight off. Even one or two 20-minutes walks a day beats the hell out of nothing. Seize even five-minute opportunities to move.
posted by BibiRose at 10:38 AM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've been in a very similar situation, and here's what worked for me.

I dropped the volunteer work. I said the same sort of things that you're saying, that it couldn't be done, but then I realised that my priorities had to be my own health and after that being there for my family. I had to actually step back from the organisations or the "I must help them!" urge would have been too much and I would have gotten involved again. And when I stepped out and stopped helping, they found innovative, creative ways to get the work done that I no longer did.

It didn't solve everything, but it helped.

Others can help you with the food, but speaking as someone who's been in that situation, I strongly recommend that you reconsider your priorities.
posted by purplesludge at 10:40 AM on September 12, 2012 [10 favorites]

I often fill in for people and sometimes I am working more than I would like. I don't say no. I am the fill-in person.

Re: not having time to go to the gym, I think it's about drawing and sticking to your work hour boundaries. I see two options, depending on how your work schedule is determined:

1. Set an upper limit on the number of hours you work in a week, and then say no to any more than that.

2. Do you know your schedule a week in advance? Block out three hours in the week for workout time, and don't say yes to additional or short-notice work hours that conflict with your workout.

It's fine being the fill-in person, but put a hard limit on it.
posted by sillymama at 10:41 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm going through the same thing.

Due to a ton of free time, I was eating healthy, working out, and managed to drop over 50 pounds.

Then, over the course of a year or so, work ramped up, a dating life turned into marriage with a toddler, my "volunteer" activities could no longer be spread out to work whenever was requested, but had to be firmly scheduled, so exercise and paying attention to what I was eating fell by the wayside. I have put back on about 40 of those 50 pounds, but am slowly reversing the process.

This is what I do now:

1. Wake up. Drink large coffee.
2. Bike 5 miles to work (unless it's raining)
3. Eat a whole piece of fruit for breakfast.
4. Before lunch walk .75 mile, turn around and walk .75 mile back. (Takes about 20 minutes)
5. Lunch 5 days a week consists of:

3/4 LB Frozen California Blend Vegetables
1 medium pre-cooked frozen Grilled Chicken Breast.
Toss with a bit of McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning and teaspoon of parmesan.

I leave several bags of frozen veggies and the chicken in the freezer at work when I do drive in, throw the contents for lunch in a tupperware container and microwave for 5 minutes. I don't want to know the sodium content of this meal, but it's better for my goals than Taco Bell or McDonald's.

6. Bike 5 miles home.

It takes an extra 30 minutes out of my daily schedule due to the biking.

I don't always bike to work, on average it's been about 3 times a week. If I have something to do immediately after work, and if it's raining I don't walk either. Saturday and Sunday, I eat what I want, and just try to limit portions, working out on the weekend almost never occurs.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:43 AM on September 12, 2012

There are some things you can do without changing your schedule, such as choosing healthier take-out options (grocery store salad bar, perhaps) or stocking up on healthy grab-and-go foods (easy-to-eat fruits and veggies like apples, bananas, baby carrots, snow peas, etc.; nuts and hard cheeses you can pack up in single portions; frozen things like Trader Joe's pre-cooked steel-cut oatmeal; etc.).

But I think that, at the same time, it's worth looking at where you can carve out some time for the gym. I find that I lose weight by changing my eating habits, but I feel best when I'm working out regularly. I think it's worth considering making this a family priority, if possible.

No can do because two kids with two different baseball times and eldest kid has this family tree project that I am helping him with.
  • Do you have the financial flexibility to hire someone to drive your kids to baseball practices/games?
  • Do you and your husband feel that the stress of ferrying kids to all the activities and lessons they're in is worth it? Do your kids feel it's worth it? Might it make sense to cut piano and keep baseball or vice versa?
  • Do you have the financial flexibility to hire someone (babysitter? tutor?) to hang out with your kids while you spend an hour at the gym on a non-baseball night?
  • Can you get a baseball carpool going to share the burden with other parents so that, e.g., you drive the kids to baseball on Mondays and another parent drives them on Wednesdays?
  • Can you sit down with your kids on Sunday afternoons (or whenever makes sense) and talk about upcoming school projects, so that you can plan to help them without sacrificing your sanity?
Work is more important than volunteer position but I cannot quit either.
  • What does it mean to be the fill-in person at work? Is there a way to set a firmer schedule along the lines of, "Work Monday through Wednesday, available to fill in on either Thursday or Friday but not both" or "Work Monday through Wednesday, available to fill in Thursday but never Friday"?
  • Can you keep your day schedule but reduce or change your hours so that you can go to the gym first thing in the morning (say, go to the gym 7-8, arrive at work around 8:30/8:45) or take a longer "lunch break" and go at noon?
  • If work is more important than the volunteer position, can you scale back at the volunteer organization? Have them bring on a new "main man" so that you're still there, but have more flexibility in your schedule.
It sounds like something's gotta give, and right now that something is your health (mental and physical). There may be an alternative--it's just hard to come up with one because the way things are, you're choosing the path that imposes the least on others, and it's uncomfortable to pursue a change that imposes on others. But really, a less-stressed but slightly less available mom/partner/employee/volunteer is probably preferable to one who's always there for everyone else, but is well on her way to burning out.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:47 AM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are over-committed. Plain and simple. You have poorly allocated all of the hours in your day.

You need to scale back or eliminate the volunteer position, due to your health.

You need to decline extra hours, or working for others, due to your health.

Now you have the time you need, to attend to your health.

At what point do you decide that the most important thing is YOU?

If you are unhealthy, worn to a frazzle and stressed out, what possible good can you do for your family, your employer or the organization you volunteer for?

You know what they say, attach your oxygen mask before helping others.

But based upon the way you discuss these extras: I often fill in for people and sometimes I am working more than I would like. I don't say no., There are other volunteers to help but I am the main man so to speak and cannot defer work all of the time. You have convinced yourself that YOU are the only one who can do these things and that everything will fall apart if you don't take care of it.

Let it fall apart. The world won't end.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:55 AM on September 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

You need to learn to say no. Not just to junk food, but to those extra commitments that you are taking on because you are a competent, capable, sincere person. I know you probably don't have time to read a book, but if you can squeeze in something on your bedside table, you might try The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes.

Listen, for volunteer positions and the stuff that's not your job and family: you are not irreplaceable. I know you are awesome, but I suspect no one will die if you step back. Working, taking care of your family, taking care of yourself, and helping out with your nephew are plenty for one person. Even if you can't step back completely, you need to give up some control and say no even when it means someone else will do something in a way that might be different than you wanted. (I'm projecting some of my own and friends' issues -- hope it's not too off-base.) Lower your standards: the fundraiser (or whatever) doesn't have to be the best ever, just good enough.

Reading about the science behind some of our food choices really helped me. We only have so much will power, and there are some foods that I have learned I have to avoid completely or I will eat too much of them. The book The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite has great insight into this.

I went through a period of major stress this summer, and my doctor told me I need to exercise every day -- stress can generate adrenaline, and my adrenaline surges were overwhelming me. So for a while I've been forcing myself to get out for a good run at least every other day, like I would take a prescription. Often I have one of my kids come and bike while I run, and I take the dog, which lessens the quality of my run but helps me get out there and take care of my kids or dog.

So what's happening during baseball practice? Can you run laps around the park? Do push-ups on the back of park benches? Do some yoga or stretching? Or relax and read a book? Give yourself credit for squeezing in that little bit of exercise when you can.

Here are some other things that have really helped me:

I eat better when I exercise, so exercising is part of eating better for me. I try to remember that.

I keep healthy snacks that I don't absolutely adore in my office. I like but don't love almonds, for example, so I don't go crazy eating them. Energy bars are also good as long as they don't taste too good. I bring a banana and apple or other to fruit every day so a healthy option is always convenient.

A lot of times in the late afternoon I get the urge to go get a snack. I'm trying to nip that in the bud and just take a walk to get some water or make some tea. (I like tea a lot and I keep several flavors at work so I have some variety.) I try hard to remember that what I want isn't really food, but a break. It's actually easier to avoid certain foods completely at work. For example, if I buy a chocolate chip cookie at work once, I find that I'm buying them all the time in a few weeks. So I try not to get that stuff in the first place.

I also forgive myself for lapses. Sometimes when I mess up I give up overall. Instead, it's better to realize I messed up and can do better next time.

I try to keep a water bottle filled at my desk and drink lots of water.

I figure out veggies first. I find it much harder to overeat bad food when I focus on getting three or more large servings of vegetables each day along with two or more servings of fruit.

I also ride my bike to work. I started doing this regularly a year ago, and it's been hugely motivating. It got me back into riding my road bike for exercise, and I'm now in the best shape I've been in a long time. Even though my ride to work is only 3 miles each way, the daily activity has been amazing for building fitness. It's also easy to overcompensate with calories for that exercise, so I try to keep a check on that.

It's really important for me to keep the tempting foods out of the house. My husband loves to bake cookies, and he finally agreed to stop doing it so much. I could not stop thinking about the cookies that were hanging around. Also, if we keep snack food around the kids, I buy stuff that doesn't tempt me so much.

Good luck! Re-gaining those ten pounds does NOT mean you have failed! Forgive yourself and move ahead.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:21 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't say no.

Yes, you do. When your schedule is as busy as yours seems to be, you're constantly saying no. Every time you say yes to picking up an extra shift at work, or to a volunteer position, or to driving for baseball practice, you're also saying no to going to the gym, or to cooking healthy food for yourself and your family, or to spending quality time with your husband and kids. In your life, every verbalized yes is also a silent no.

You need to really decide what your priorities are. Is the extra work shift more important than your kid's school project? Is the volunteer gig more important than taking care of your health? Is having your two kids each participate in multiple extracurricular activities more important than spending time together relaxing as a family? You have to make those choices explicitly, because if you don't, you're going to default to saying yes when other people ask you for things and saying no to the things you really want. Something has to give. Right now, what's giving is your health and happiness and sanity. I don't think that's the right choice for you, but ultimately, only you can make that decision.
posted by decathecting at 11:57 AM on September 12, 2012 [8 favorites]

I totally agree with what sillymama and others have said about drawing boundaries around how much volunteering/extra work you will do.

You have my sympathy--for a long, long time I said yes to too many things and it made me feel overloaded and stressed. However, I realized this was unsustainable and now I try to say no more often.

My health is important to me and I have (finally!) started treating my workout time as a major non-negotiable commitment. What has really worked for me is signing up for specific group fitness classes that are at the same time several days a week. This makes it really easy for me to say, "I am not able to do ____________ because I have a previous commitment that I can't reschedule."

Of course, ideally there wouldn't be a need to justify it at all, but, baby steps, right? If it feels too weird to just say "no" without further explanation, this is a good standard line to memorize and whip out when people ask you. And you know what? People are resourceful! They will find someone else who will do just as good a job as you would have, or at least will do a good-enough job. And that is FINE.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:03 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Keeping stockpiles of healthy-ish food at work is the only thing that can save me from frozen pizza without breaking the bank. (I say "healthy-ish" because the healthiest option would obviously involve lots of fresh vegetables & fruits, and those do not stockpile well.) I second the plan of buying up good frozen meals when you can, and keeping lots of snacks around (nuts, dried fruit, instant oatmeal, fill the office fridge with yogurt, etc.) I stay in stock by doing my work-specific shopping at the nearest grocery store during my Monday lunch hour, if that's an option for you.

As for finding more hours in the day, I would pick up a copy of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. As often happens, some of the advice in it is best suited for freelancers and others who can work at home, but it does take kids/parenting into account, which lots of books like that don't. Good luck!
posted by joJeppson at 12:53 PM on September 12, 2012

This is not sustainable. You are in a very busy season in life. Your kids need you, your family needs you, you have to work....and as far as a volunteer position goes, no one, NO ONE, is irreplaceable.

If you are not able to outsource some of what you are responsible for then you need to figure out how to drop something. If it is the volunteer position, so be it. Then what you do is schedule three times a week for exercise and keep those appointments. Your health is important!

Bear in mind that exercise as stress relief, and to keep up your energy, are just as much as important as exercise to help with weight loss.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:55 PM on September 12, 2012

Get rid of the volunteering position. You are overextended. You need to earmark a minimal amount of time to yourself, or you will not be available for people you love in the future when they might need you.

I speak from experience...
posted by KokuRyu at 2:19 PM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Agreed--scale back or quit the volunteer gig so you have time to exercise, and start eating healthier.
posted by elizeh at 3:56 PM on September 12, 2012

I'm gonna go against the grain and tell you to resolve the exercise issue first, not the eating. You're eating crappy food because you're not prioritizing your health and respecting your body. Exercising boosts your mood and puts you in a mindset where you value your body and you want to take good care of it. (Okay, none of this applies if you're a reluctant exerciser who spends 30 miserable minutes on the elliptical and then drags herself out of the gym feeling miserable about what just happened. But it sounds like you like exercising, so I'll continue). Furthermore, exercise is one of the best stress busters out there -- I have a super stressful job and the main thing that allows me to get a good night's sleep and keep my calm throughout the day is my workout.

hurdy gurdy girl is spot on about making a commitment and telling people at work that you can't break it. Even better if you can make it sound like there's money involved (e.g. "I signed up for a 10 week rock climbing class" makes it sound like you already paid for 10 weeks worth of classes and you'll lose that money if you miss a session). I put my workouts on my work calendar just like any other conflict. From 6-8:30 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday there's a block of time that says "Gym - Do Not Schedule", and you know what? 99% of the time my coworkers and my manager respect that.

At some point you have to put yourself first. If you can't bring yourself to do that, you have to acknowledge that when you don't take care of yourself, your children suffer too. Can't you prioritize your children ahead of your coworkers?
posted by telegraph at 4:28 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't eat on Sundays.

When I am overextended, making bad food choices, I fast on Sundays. It is not nearly as uncomfortable as people think, especially if you drink lots of water and tea.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 8:28 PM on September 12, 2012

Portions. Really. I eat a lot for comfort, especially when I'm feeling frazzled like you are. Going out for food is hard on your diet, but it's even worse when you get out and are all, "Hmm, onion rings or french fries? I can't decide, I'll have both." Or if you're working late and feeling awful and grab a bowl of ice cream...

My rule is a fixed number of calories for each meal (look up values for restaurant food and really keep track), fixed number of meals in a day. I don't worry about how many of those calories are junk food, as long as I stay under the numbers, but after too many crummy meals (because x calories of french fries is not much!) I am highly motivated to make better meals, which slowly spirals into a habit.

It will suck at some point, when you are starving but have already eaten all of your calories for the day, this is the point where you go make a healthy breakfast for tomorrow and put it in the fridge, and then grit your teeth and ride it out... That low point is very helpful next time you think about how much work making breakfast is.
posted by anaelith at 8:21 AM on September 13, 2012

Welcome to the Hurricane Years.

Planning. Have a menu for what *you* will eat during the week, have the stuff stocked and ready to "kit up". Have your planned breakfast, pack a lunch including a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack, then have your planned dinner (whether at home or out). If it's dinner out, make sure you know that the place you're eating has healthy meals in reasonable portions, or divide the portion as soon as you receive it and make the other half a lunch or dinner in the next day or two.

Make sure you don't eat ANYTHING unless it's in your lunch kit.

I'm currently doing the South Beach Diet, and I've been using the meal plans in the book to prepare my lunch/snack kit every day, and it's working pretty good so far.
posted by Doohickie at 8:38 AM on September 13, 2012

I hate gyms, and getting there and back can take up way more time than the actual workout.

As for 'squeezing in' exercises, I'm finding that bodyweight exercises are excellent: no equipment needed, can be done essentially whenever/wherever.

Some ideas:
1) At lunch get a (short) walk in and while you are out do some pushups, tricep dips, squats.

2) Break up your day (courtesy Nerd Fitness)
-Wake up, do 40 jumping jacks to warm up, and then do body weight squats.
-At lunch, you grab your suitcase/backpack/heavy purse and do bent over rows.
-After work, you do another 50 jumping jacks and then do your push ups.
-After dinner, you do your planks while others are cleaning up.

3) At a minimum, do some stretching when you get up. A sun salutation, or qi gong, or some zen shiatsu stretches are a good start.

But I agree with telegraph: exercise and you'll feel more inspired to eat better.
posted by sazanka at 12:13 PM on September 13, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you. I appreciate all of the answers. I will not be doing this volunteer gig next year. I absolutely refuse. I think a lot of my stress not only comes from the actual work, but worrying and fretting over the work to come. It's crazy but I do need to calm down a bit. I am an emotional/stress eater so it is difficult. I do know that exercise helps with my stress and improves my mental health considerably. I must make it a priority and manage my time well. Thank you again for all of the answers.
posted by Fairchild at 1:01 PM on September 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

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