Gaining kilos at the keyboard

Is your job making you fat? No, that caramel doughnut latte is probably to blame, but your job may not be helping. I had this revelation – not so stunning or original, I’ll admit, but it felt like mine, so shut up you – hopping on the scales for my Friday morning weigh in, last week. The fourth week of a crushing book deadline.

Here’s the thing about crushing book deadlines, they’re all crushy and hurty. You crawl from the bed to the keyboard via the toasted sandwich maker and you don’t really leave the keyboard until you need another toasted sandwich or a bottle of wine.

You can see where this is going, right?

A month into my deadline, my waistline was showing it.

In the previous two months I’d dropped six kilograms. I needed to. A broken toe and a stress injury to one of my knees last year had brought my cardio workouts to a halt. (Yeah, I could have swum, but then I would have been swimming. Ugh.)

It became serious enough that I even… I even… Oh god, … I even bought a pushy and rode it around the park. Just to hold the flab back.

Maybe it helped, but not enough. By Christmas I was back above 90 kilograms, which for a 178 centimetre male put me right on the edge of obesity. Again.

So Santa brought me a Fitbit, which was cool, because I do love me a shiny gadget, and it was great fun data mining my bad habits. (Example? Sixty per cent of my nutrition between Christmas and New Years Eve came from wine). But having to record all of the calories I took in, and tracking all of the calories I burned was a shocker. I was drinking too much, and bakery treats were not my friend.

With my various injuries fixed up by a qualified physio I could finally get back to cardio intervals, although not the hill sprints I used to favour for their brutal efficiency. (Especially when you’re running with the Zombies, run! app playing through headphones).

I cut out the grog and the Portuguese custard tarts, and got my calorie burn up above my intake.

The weight fell off. Like magic, except it wasn’t. It was just physics and chemistry.

All that is unremarkable, and of little interest to anyone but me or those few other nimrods who like to geek out on fitness and weight loss tech.

But here’s the bit that might be relevant to you.

The deadline.

When the deadline closed in, the first thing to go was the daily exercise. The hour to an hour-and-a-half I spent working out was a thousand words I could be adding to my daily total. Twenty, thirty thousand words over the month. The pressure eventually ramped up to the point where it was irresistible. I could finish the book, or do the exercise. But not both.

And then, of course, without the motivation of that daily burn session to eat well, and stay off the grog, I started throwing down the drinks at night, because why the hell not? When you’ve already been at your screen for ten hours you need something to keep you there for another five or six. And a schooner of Pendleton whiskey is a damn fine motivator. And you already blew your health and fitness cred with crap food and sitting on your butt all day, anyway. So hell yes, pour me my goddamned drink!

I’m lucky I only went up a kilo.

But it got me to wondering about you. About normal people, with normal jobs. The sort of jobs and lives that don’t afford them the luxury I enjoy of controlling my own day. Mostly. When I’m not on hell deadline.

Most of you don’t have hell deadlines, but you do have the weight of work that isn’t flexible, and for many, the added complication of family responsibilities. (It’s hard to find an hour for exercise when you’re spending two hours a day driving kids around to various activities. Let's not go all derpy about whether that's a thing or not. For some people, it's just unavoidable).

I don’t know where this leads in the end.

There are many, many other contributing factors to high rates of obesity. The modern diet, the additives in processed food, the amount of sitting down we all do now, they all play a role.

But having just had a month where I had to make a choice between getting the job done and getting my exercise in, I feel a lot more privileged to have a job which normally doesn’t demand that choice of me. And a lot more understanding of those who cannot the escape the bind.


Comment are now closed