“Training to become a Jedi is not an easy challenge, and even if you succeed, it's a hard life.” – Qui-Gon Jinn to Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
The Jedi Order impressed us all with their fantastic physical abilities. Unfortunately, real people can’t harness the Force to run, leap, and spin lightsabers the way the Jedi did on-screen. To add further insult to injury, many work situations have us sitting down most of the day, surrounded by artificial light, constantly tempted by office treats, and possibly even surrounded by coworkers whose thoughts are more dark side than light. With all of this against us, how can modern office workers stay healthy and Jedi fit while we’re on the clock? This month, I’ll examine how we can monitor our exercise, nutrition, and attitude throughout the workday.
Even on days when I’ve got Krav Maga training or a run scheduled, I take action at the office to keep my body working and blood pumping. If you’re lucky enough to be able to go to the gym or squeeze in a swim or run during the workday – lucky you! If you can’t, though, all hope is not lost.
First off, I have a standing desk, and I rarely sit at the office. In the year that I’ve done this, I’ve noticed increased core strength, better posture, lessened lower back pain, and a huge increase in mental alertness. Simply put, it’s difficult to fall asleep standing up (though I’ve done it before, under very different conditions). The contraption actually clamps to my existing office furniture, and does slide up and down should I care to sit to do paperwork or be more eye-to-eye with my clients. My chair is an exercise ball cradled in a rolling stand, so when I do sit, I’m still engaging my core – and the slight bouncing is fun, too! It was fairly inexpensive, and I actually convinced the company to buy it for me (it’s their property now, of course), so this is something that many people could do if they desired.
Push-ups don’t take up too much floor space, and bodyweight squats take up even less. Other exercises requiring no equipment include arm circles, lunges, trunk twists, and stretching. If you can bring in some small weights, you can add in curls, shoulder presses, bent-over rows, and many more. Another item I’ve found helpful is the ubiquitous five gallon drinking water bottle. Weighing in at about forty pounds, this gem will allow for much greater lifting resistance, provided you don’t drop it on your foot – it’s somewhat clumsy (and random, like a blaster).
All of these exercises are scalable. I do several sets of just enough repetitions to feel the burn without breaking a sweat in my office clothes. I track my progress throughout the day on my handy Yoda dry-erase board on my wall.
If lifting or pushing isn’t your thing, go for a walk – or at least get up and walk around the office as much as you can. “10,000 steps” is the latest fashion trend. I’m not sure how much science is in that, but it’s a great goal and is definitely – wait for it – a step in the right direction. I recently started tracking my steps throughout the day (using MyFitnessPal on my phone) just to get an idea for how much I really move around. Unfortunately I can’t just stick my phone in my pocket during Krav Maga! Oh well.
You are what you eat! Many office workers are dehydrated, over-caffeinated, and eat foods that… aren’t even food. I won’t get into deep discussions of diets, be they conventional, Paleo, Primal, gluten-free, Atkins (is that still a thing?), vegetarian, Hutt, etc. Instead I’ll focus on more general topics.
I eat often throughout the day to keep the fire stoked. Avoiding low blood sugar both maintains energy and prevents dangerous trips to the vending machine or overeating at the next scheduled mealtime. Snacks include nuts and plenty of fruits. I’m not a great vegetable eater, but I’m getting better at it. Most of this can keep just fine at one’s desk, allowing for no excuse not to stay energized (though a walk to the fridge is a walk, right?).
Drink water. A lot. It keeps us hydrated and reduces false feelings of hunger. Know your caffeine needs. If you’d like to cut back, consider tea or even hot water. I found that hot water is comforting without adding unwanted caffeine to my system. See how you do with less, especially in the afternoons.
And, oh, those office treats… they lead to the dark side. Be mindful, my fellow Jedi.
Of the three topics here, this is the most subjective. I admitted in a previous post that I am prone to anger. Anxiety also figures into my life. I work on improving myself daily through meditation and mindfulness.
I will always find the time, however short it may be, to meditate in some fashion during the workday if I need to. The Jedi definitely did – Qui-Gon was a master of this, even with a murderous Sith Lord pacing angrily in front of him. If I can sit quietly during my lunch break, that’s great, but it’s not always feasible. There are days when the only meditation I can squeeze in are a few deep, full breaths. The extra oxygen is invigorating, and the brief pause from calamity soothes me. Meditation doesn’t require pretzel-like contortions, mudras, or mantras – just sit. Or stand. Or walk. Just BE. Give it a try if you never have – you may be surprised how nice the little break is. If you really want to carry on the Jedi parallels, see if you can tap into the Force as you meditate. Imagine taking your first steps into a larger world!
Despite the popularity that positive mental attitude gets, I’m not such a fan. I prefer to accept that sometimes bad things happen, sometimes we fail, and sometimes conditions just suck. Glossing over all of that deprives us of the true nature of the human condition (this from a guy who thinks he’s a Jedi). This is not to say that I try to add to the negative, though. I simply stay mindful throughout the day and take appropriate action from there. Office politics can be tough, so I just stay out of them. Instead, I resist the urge to gossip, stay in my lane, and help out when I can. Also, getting outside for some natural sunlight, vitamin D, and fresh air will do wonders for your attitude!
I’d love to hear about what others do to stay sharp at the office. How do you stay active? Please comment below so that we may all share in your knowledge! Until next time, thank you for reading, may the Force be with you, and remember –
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