Thursday, 18 February 2010

Fitting In Exercise With Family Life & Work (Guest Post)

Robert at Malvern 27 June 2009

I asked my husband Robert (photo above), who has lost over 84 pounds himself (6 stone), and only rarely uses my elliptical crosstrainer or Wii Fit, to explain how he fits exercise and fitness into his daily schedule with the responsibilities of work and family life. (For those of you who don't know, we have 7 kids.) You can see an occassional post by Robert on his family life blog, Baby Blues. (and pester him to post more on it, please) and you can see some of his wonderful photography at his photo gallery.

Lots of people ask how is it that I do all the exercise I do and fit it in with my work and family life as they do not have the time to apply the same effort that I do.

I have often thought on this and realised that two things help to free up so much more time for doing the healthy option and these are a family that usually works as a unit and simplifying my daily activities.

Becky asked if I would write a piece on fitting in exercise into my working day and I must admit it took a second or two to understand exactly what this meant as I always thought that in general it was the time I spent exercising away from work that was the most effective, so rather than a list of exercises and times achieved, I decided to write a diary entry for the typical day to day activities and healthy alternatives that I do to keep my weight down.

Six a.m. the alarm wakes me from my slumber, and I stumble out of bed to wake my 16 year old so she can take her dog out for a walk before getting ready for college. I pass my wife on her way to the Wii to do her early exercises as I hop back into bed for the next hour and snooze whilst listening to the local radio morning hosts go in about traffic problems and traffic jams. At around seven thirty my seven and four year olds jump on the bed beside me to do their daily reading, and then I rise for the second time to weigh and have breakfast.

Breakfast for me consists of high-fibre serial, additional powdered bran, sultanas, sliced banana and a fat free yogurt; I would put in more but as it already spills over the edge of the bowl it is kind of difficult to think how. This is then followed by two eggs on a slice of toast; the eggs can be scrambled, poached or, as long as it’s with a light oil spray, fried. If I am still hungry then I also have an apple or a low fat fibre bar.

By now Becky has fed and dressed the three little ones while I shower and shave having run up the stairs as I am behind the time as usual.

As I leave home to take the kids to school, I wave hello to my neighbours, who are fitting child seats and strapping kids into seats whilst throwing school bags into the backs of cars and driving off to drop the kids off, and I walk at my 4-year-old’s leisurely pace along the half mile pavement to her school where along the way I wave hi to my neighbours, who are parking cars on cluttered road sides, unpacking their kids from their cars and collecting bags from the back of their cars, and enter the school grounds where I drop off each off the little ones, checking that they are signed in, lunches placed on shelves and books put away. After I sit with my daughter and “Wow!” at her interesting colourings or chat with her teacher about after school clubs, I plug my headphones into my ears and walk the three miles to my office, having plenty of time to think about what the day may offer or issues to resolve, only stopping to wave to my neighbours who toot their frustration at the traffic jam they now sit in (obviously they didn’t get time to listen to the traffic reports this morning).

Arriving in the Town Centre, I pop into my local Starbucks, and I am greeted with the customary hello and beverage, an Americano venti with an additional shot, plus one on the house for that really great caffeine kick (I guess I come here far too often). As I walk into my building, I wave hello to my neighbours as they rush by from parking their cars on their way to work. I work on the fifth floor so I greet my colleagues in the elevator foyer and pass the time of day until the lift arrives. At this point, I take the stairwell and run up the stairs to the second floor where the delivery reception has our office milk supply, collect our two litres of milk and then run up the stairs to the fifth floor, slightly out of breath but concerned to hear from those arriving in one lift that the other has broken down again and Jinni or Jenny or Jimmy is going to be late as they are stuck in it.

The morning ritual of “check in” with my fellow colleagues now commences while we wait for our computers to grind their own morning rituals of updates and security policy checks and again remember which post-it note stuck on the monitors is our current password and then ring the helpdesk as after three different passwords we are locked out; my colleagues and I swap stories about their great nights out that in truth get a bit hazy after ten o’clock, and it takes several of their friends to fill in the blanks leaving them a little blushed.

Of course by now the customary cakes and biscuits now litter the tops of the stationary cupboards and post area tables. Not bad considering most of the people in my office are all on long term diets and cannot figure out why they don’t lose the weight, even though they spend three hours a week in the gym before they go out to get sloshed with their mates.

Hey you make your choices.....

After checking my e-mail I then go in my morning rounds of visiting the senior managers and directors to discuss their business whilst drinking tea and coffee, this done by walking from building to building and taking the stairs; the Council has many offices and buildings, and most of these are around the shopping plaza (pedestrians only) and about half a mile apart. There are a couple of sites that are a mile or two away but several cycle and footpaths connect them, and, as most people take the spider web routes by car, these tend to be pleasant walks where only the distant beeping of horns from traffic stuck in queues disturbs my journey.

As lunch time arrives, I pop into the local greengrocers or supermarket to purchase fruit for my mid-day snack and return from my walk carrying a couple of heavy bags up the stairs to my office where people marvel at my serving bowl of melon, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, banana and kiwi which is topped with a fat free chocolate yogurt and a sprinkling of high-fibre muesli and agree to me making them a small bowl too where, once they have eaten, proclaim themselves full and wonder how I can eat my very large bowl of the same stuff. “It’s all the exercise I do at night,” I proclaim as I bring out two large bowls of apples, pears, bananas, oranges, plums and peaches, one to share with the office and one for my desk, which I promptly start to munch my way through as I write up my business reports and e-mails for the day.

Pretty much the same goes on for the rest of the afternoon with meetings and typing, munching and drinking coffee and then often the running, yes the running, to and from the toilet ( I really drink too much coffee).

Often when inspiration is required, I will go for a walk around the offices of the block and jog up to the ninth floor and down to the third several times as I pop into the offices of my business support colleagues.

The day then comes to a close and as we all get up to go, turning our computers off in order to, as the poster says, save seventeen thousand cooked chickens a year or five microwave dinners from being unboxed and microwaved. (Who it is that does all this because I leave my computer on is a mystery and why they do it every night I do not know.) Actually as a “Green Champion” for the council most of my office friends have now been beaten (metaphorically speaking, well in most cases anyway) into keeping their computers switched off at night and the last one turns the light off, which our cleaner hates as it leaves him in the dark (not metaphorically speaking) but I do love saving those microwave meals from being cooked.

Well getting back to my day, about now I plug my headphones back in to my ears, turn up the music, tuck my hands into my pockets as it’s usually raining or cold, and start the three miles walk uphill to my home. This walk actually takes less time even though it’s uphill as the rewards at the end of this trip are far greater. In these winter evenings my street is so dark as I walk to my home as most of my neighbours are still in their cars heading home, but there is always a warm glow from our home and squeals of delight as I enter the home (from the children mostly).

In general, I walk over nine miles a day just going and returning to work. In most cases, I take no longer than my colleagues in getting from one meeting to another, although those pesky cyclists are beginning to show me a wonderful technological advancement called the bicycle that apparently will move me from one place to another in half the time; golly what next?

Keeping healthy and fit is very important to me at forty five as I love the time I get to spend with my family from the one year old through to the seventeen year old and of course my wife. Dieting is not starving yourself but eating smarter. Nature does not in general create waste so sticking to that simple premise I can eat as much of what I want, I just have to make sure I do not mix the wrong types of food together. Fruit and vegetables can be eaten by the casserole dish load and eggs are great as filler for those times I feel like I need a small snack. Pasta, rice, pulses all good and meat is great as long as I keep away from the fats. Steak and chips often appear on my daily menu, and Saturday I lose weight with sausage, bacon, eggs, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and a slice of toast for lunch. All of this only works when supplementing an active life. The body will only convert all of this food to energy if you get off your butt and wiggle it.


  1. My goodness, Robert, you look terrific! I haven't seen a picture of you for a while, and you can certainly tell the difference! Hooray for you! I'm so proud of you and Becky, and so glad you're getting fit and losing weight the healthy way.

  2. I have to admit i love this post!! It is so true that if you lead a healthy life that includes lots of moving you can and will enjoy eating well :)

  3. Walking 3 miles to and from work will do that to you, I guess! Nice. I can't get over the scenery in that photo. Wow!!! That is gorgeous! Is that near your house??

  4. I loved Robert's post. Thanks so much for sharing the secret to your success. :-)


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