How I’m Hacking a Healthier Remote Work-Day

Aidan Meyer via Unsplash

A few months ago I finally got fed up with my health. I hate the gym, I hate running, but I love my work. So I made being healthy just more ‘work’.

I’m unwilling to set aside time for working out or eating healthy. I simply have higher priorities. I want to spend my time on helping others. But my own health was just getting worse. I was the heaviest I’d ever been at 195lbs. (I’m 5' 9.5"). Technically obese.

It all started when the car broke

6 months back my wife’s car had broken. Normally I’d just fix it, but I’d never worked on her 1996 GMC Suburban before. (I’ve put in some effort over the months, and it’s literally still sitting there.) Needing to do the school & grocery runs, she commandeered my car, and I was left to walk, skateboard or cycle (since I work remotely and rarely need to be anywhere in-particular).

I realized it wasn’t a waste of time

At first, walking everywhere annoyed me. I felt like I was wasting precious time. Then I realized how much ‘work’ I was actually getting done. The ‘spare time’ was helping me make better decisions for work projects. I had so much time to think.

Why it worked

Like I said, I refuse to dedicate time to health; if I’m going to get healthy, it better fit into what I’m already doing. Otherwise it’s not going to happen. Walking every day turned out be exactly that — it fit into my day. I lost a few pounds, and it inspired me to try some more hacking.

More Hacking

With the realization that I barely had to change anything, I started looking for more opportunities to make tiny changes that would fit into my existing routines, and perhaps even improve them. Lunch was one of them.

I hacked my lunchtime

Eating healthy usually requires more trips to the grocery store, extra time learning how to prepare healthy foods, and way too much cognitive load. Since the majority of health is just what you eat, I decided to turn this problem on its head.

In fact, lunchtime was already a problem. As a utilitarian, I saw it as little more than an inconvenient necessity of my day. Don’t get me wrong — I clearly enjoy my food; otherwise I wouldn’t weight 195lbs. But during work hours it’s inconvenient.

I started throwing fruits, nuts & vegetables into my backpack before leaving the house in the morning. Now I snack on those all day, quite happily, and obviously it’s better for my health than going home to nuke a few slices of last night’s Domino’s.

I gained time, convenience and lost more weight.

I hacked my travel

Walking was nice, but there were busy days when it still felt like a burden on my time. I needed more flexibility with my transportation. I needed to be able to get to a cafe for a Skype call without spending 40 minutes walking in-between.

Now… let me be perfectly clear. I hate running. I’ve tried it several times over the years, and I still hate it. But I stumbled across a blog post while looking for some better walking shoes. It mentioned a term I had never heard before: run-commuting.

It instantly piqued my interest. Wait a second, this is a thing!? I was already walking everywhere on these beautiful local bike paths and parks. People ran past me every day. I knew I hated running, but this was a different thing altogether. Now, instead of thinking of it as ‘exercise’, I thought about it as another hack.

So I started. I ran. Jeans, backpack, beanie and everything. I looked and felt like a complete idiot. But I knew I was easily doubling my pace. It was accomplishing my goal of improved transportation, while accidentally also getting me healthier.

I got home that night (completely shot) and noticed I had burned 912 active calories: almost twice my normal amount. Pretty sure I ate a pizza that night. But hey.

Optimizing a proven experience

After a couple weeks of ‘run-commuting’ and my anti-lunch routine, I finally allowed myself a reward. I would find a backpack that let me run with a laptop and not bounce around all the time. I found a good pack. No more bouncing.

Today

Ten weeks later and I’m now down to 154lbs. I’ve lost 41lbs and barely changed anything; I certainly didn’t do anything I didn’t want to, and that feels great. The food I’m eating not only gives me more energy, but it’s also saving energy that would otherwise have been spent digesting pizzas.

How are you hacking your day for health?