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How do you make sure you stay healthy as an office worker?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Governmenta month ago

As a fellow keyboard goblin, commit-ing away either from home or the office (depending on the alignment of the moon) it can be sometimes tricky to make sure you're also living a healthy lifestyle.

It can be so easy to fall into bad habits of eating at your desk, snacking excessively, retorting at the scorn of ultraviolet rays hitting your eyes upon waking up 10 minutes before stand-up etc.

How do you mitigate this?

My personal strategy:

  • Maintain high water KPIs
  • Using my lunch to do some laps outside of the office
  • Going for runs (albeit lately, nearly exclusively on treadmills)
  • Never buying bulk snacks (gotta increase the friction somehow)
  • Having a health checklist with a list of items I've determined to be impactful

I have also played around with the idea of finding the health "meta" and tracking every single micronutrient via cronometer, basing my diet off of a nutrigenomic report compiled via my gene data, buying every single reasonable health tracker and using that as a success metric etc.

But the above won't be useful if I randomly decide, "today I'm going to only eat pbnj sandwiches bc I'm feeling lazy".

Consistency definitely seems key

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Discussion

(5 comments)
  • 6
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a month ago

    Agreed that consistency is key! I like the idea of "habit stacking" so you train your brian to do one action right after another action. Two that come to mind:

    • Brush my teeth early in the evening, e.g. 8pm so I prevent myself from eating/drinking anything else.
    • Fill up my thermos with hot water in the morning and sip on that until lunch time.

    I've never done any kind of nutrigenomic report -- have you found that to be helpful?

  • 6
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    Eng @ Taro
    a month ago

    I also agree with the consistency piece. Consistency starts with building sustainable habits you can do for years. It's hard to maintain David Goggins intensity over a long period of time.

    Starting with a strong foundation for diet, exercise, and sleep is key. Having those locked in will get you 80-90% of the way there, then you can start adding more of the incremental things later.

    • For exercise, the most important thing is to just get to the gym. Find a workout, class, activity that you really enjoy and can see yourself doing ten years down the line. There is less of a chance for you to quit in 6 months. Even if the exercise "isn't optimal", it's better than doing nothing.
    • Set a schedule for when you want to exercise. For me, that's usually in the morning, ideally, before I start work. I am way too tired in the evening to want to do anything that requires any willpower.
    • Make sure to get enough sleep each night. You build muscle and consolidate memories during sleep.
  • 12
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    Great question! Here are the healthy habits I try to maintain:

    • Get good sleep - This is the highest-leverage one from my experience, and the one I see engineers mess up the most. There's a lot of pieces here:
      • Get 8+ hours
      • Strive to wake up naturally (without an alarm) - This is usually contingent on the next item
      • Go to sleep at the same time every night, even on weekends
      • Use blue light reduction software like f.lux as looking at blue light from a computer screen late at night isn't natural
      • Don't eat things >2 hours before you go to bed as you don't want your stomach processing things to distract your brain trying to go to sleep
      • Try not to look at screens right before you go to bed (I'm personally bad at this, going on Reddit or something is too tempting)
      • If you need additional help, take a bit of melatonin 1 hour before you go to sleep
    • Regular exercise - 3 to 5 times a week, a long walk is good enough
    • Spend time with friends and family - Loneliness is a real killer, so try to use your weekends in particular to hang out with people you love
    • Eat healthy - Avoid junk food snacks, and if you have to snack, eat something healthier like fruits or nuts. For main meals, eat slowly and only until you're around 80% full. Eat your veggies as well

    All that being said, the real tactic here is to find an accountability partner. Social pressure is extremely powerful. If you have a workout buddy, your chances of making up an excuse to not go for a walk/jog or trek to the gym go down 90% easily.

    We have a playlist about all this as well: [Taro Top 10] Work-Life Balance

  • 4
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    Team Lead (people manager) at Mistplay
    a month ago

    Great comments above, wanted to underscore the mental side of things as well for overall health. Spending time with friends and family as Alex said plus exploring non tech side hobbies, spending time in nature, appreciating little things everyday, and aligning what you do with what you value in life can help you WANT to eat healthy and exercise and have good sleep without forcing it.

  • 4
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    Staff Data Engineer at 🧑‍💻
    a month ago

    I agree with Rahul's comment about habit stacking. I was most consistent with gym, when I would go directly after work. It could be directly after any task, but associating with something else you do regularly helps it stick. I learned about that and several other tips from the book "Tiny Habits".