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The hard work you put in at the gym is one thing, but what you do outside of it is just as important to reaching your fitness and weight loss goals. You break your body and muscles down when you’re working out, so your body needs to recover properly afterwards to build them back up stronger than before. Many of us spend our days sitting in office chairs outside of the gym, so we got to thinking, how are our work habits affecting all that hard work?

To get some answers, we sought the opinions of three experts: Joshua Abella, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach and Fitness Trainer at Encore House of Athletes, and a Quality Auditor for a BPO company; Eric Verdolaga, Fitness Consultant at Anytime Fitness White Plains; and Marlon Gopo, a freelance certified personal trainer and the 2017 AFC Singapore WPBF Men’s Physique champion.  

1) Not drinking enough water. Loitering around your desk or pantry with a Starbucks cup in hand might be the fashionable thing to do, but you should actually be brandishing a bottle of water instead. Drinking enough water not only helps with your energy levels, but it helps your metabolism function better as well.

Abella explains: “We may not notice it while on shift but often, people who focus too much at work tend to skip drinking enough water. As we all know, water helps in multiple body functions such as metabolism, nutrient transport, removal of waste, and regulation of body temperature, among others.”

2) Taking too many yosi breaks. There’s nothing wrong with taking a short breather from your desk every now and then. The problem comes when you use the time do damage to your lungs. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that smoking adversely affects your fitness. If you need motivation to quit, let getting in shape be a major factor.

“Save yourself and mother nature the trouble! Within a few weeks, you'll feel like breathing is way easier, and your lungs will be thanking you for it,” Verdolaga says.

3) Letting the pressures of the job get to you. Every employee dreads that ‘S’ word. And while we all have our own pressures and tasks to deal with, it’s up to us to not let it turn into stress. It’s not just bad for your mental state, but for your body as well.

“If you work too much and you are too stressed, your body will release a stress hormone called cortisol, which slows down your metabolism,” Gopo says.

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4) Turning said pressure into an excuse to eat. People deal with stress in many different ways. In the office, you can’t exactly drown your sorrows in beer or let your anger out against the furniture. Instead, people often turn to food. “I deserve this,” they’ll say, as they munch away to their heart’s content, calories be damned.

“Stress is the main reason why we feel bad at work. And what is the number one reason to make us feel good? Food! However, stress and food are not a good combination. Stress eating makes us consume more food—especially the unhealthy ones,” says Abella.

5) Skipping meals. Just as important as what kind of food you eat is when you eat it. Skipping lunch to meet your deadline might sound like a good idea, but it can have a negative effect on your body’s ability to burn what you eat later on.

“Skipping meals makes you fat and is one of the worst things you can do for your body and mind,” Gopo says. “Your metabolism slows down and you’re much more likely to overeat later in the day.”

6) Eating what’s convenient, rather than what’s healthy. It’s not always easy to eat healthy when you’re in the office, especially if you work in the evenings. Junk food and convenience store candy are easily accessible, but they won’t do much for your long-term gains. Find alternative options instead, or bring your own food to work.

“Instead of eating junk food that’s packed with salt and MSG, switch to healthier alternatives like unsalted almonds and berries. If it's still not enough, just get a salad to keep you sated for longer,” advises Verdolaga.

7) Not using your leaves. Your unused VLs and SLs might be convertible to cash, but is the extra money worth it when your healthy is on the line? You can’t maximize your workouts when your immune system is compromised. Work hard, by all means, but not at the expense of your wellbeing.

“Hello, workaholics! Leaves are there for a reason. Maximize the use of your sick leaves to recover from sickness and your vacation leaves to bring back your sanity,” Abella stresses.

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