The Working Man’s Guide to Fitness and Weight Loss

man driving a vanToday Pete Wade, one of Essex’s most respected delivery drivers, and also my brother, has spoken to us about his own fitness and wellness lifestyle.

A few years ago Pete worked in a London office, was overweight, unfit and was forever suffering from a cold. Now he is slim, lean, fit and healthy. Does he workout in a gym? Does he eat a special weight loss diet? The answer to both of these is no. So what is his fitness secret?

It is simple. He now works his whole body every day as part of his job. As well as operating as a van delivery driver, which can involve moving furniture, heavy boxes, washing machines and even motorbikes, as also fills in with gardening work, doing garden clearance, hedge trimming and grass cutting.


His diet is simple. If you see an overweight builder it is because they have an unhealthy diet that is very high in calories and junk food. Pete eats pretty much what he wants, but his lifestyle choices mean that he eats a lean diet that is relatively low in calories. However, he never under-eats; he needs his energy for working. He also treats himself to a few beers on a regular basis. Low carb, high protein it is not.

The key to being slim and healthy really is in eating a healthy diet that is low in calories and doing regular exercise. Exercising once or twice a week if you sit at a desk all day is not going to be enough. Lets look at his office days a bit more.

A Typical Weight Gaining Officer Worker

Pete’s typical day would start with a 90 minute commute into London, driving then sitting on a train. Then he would have breakfast at work, sometimes cooked, sometimes toast, always pretty unhealthy. Then a hard morning sitting at a desk would be done, with possibly a toilet break and a trip to the coffee machine.

Often lunch would be purchased in the staff canteen (4 floors down in the lift) and then eaten at his desk while surfing the net. Some days he would step outside to buy something in a local shop, often he would not.

The afternoon would be spent working at the desk, with breaks for more coffee and often a chocolate snack. Then work would finish, a 90 minute commute home followed by sitting on the sofa resting his weary feet.

Does that sound familiar? Probably, as thousands of people following this lifestyle and put on weight as a result.

A New Healthy Lifestyle

Pete wants to make it clear that his meal habits are more or less the same. Snacks are reduced massively though, he eats for energy that is required to work. So a day may look more like this.

Wake up in the morning and have breakfast at home, taking his time and eating a good balanced breakfast. Then checking for new messages in case any clients contacted him during the night.

Work would start with a drive to a house of retail centre, pick up some goods then a drive to a customer’s location. Drop off goods. Still a lot of sitting around – but with short bursts of relatively intensive exercise in between.

After the delivery jobs are done gardening would be completed. Usually just loading up the van with equipment, then driving to the clients home, unloading the van, cutting the grass, disposing of waste, loading up the van again and driving to the next job.

He still stops for coffee breaks, sometimes eats a cooked lunch, sometimes just grabs something on the go.

The days are often long, especially in the summer months. There is still a lot of driving. But, all in all the lifestyle change is enough to turn an overweight, unhealthy office worker into a healthy, fit and lean outdoor worker. So, what is the real key to this transformation?

It really is just eating slightly fewer calories and doing a little more exercise. Weight loss is about 80% diet and 20% exercise, so being active all day will not make you lose a lot of weight if you are not also reducing calories – remember those fat builders. By being busy, and also happy and stress free, you eat less. You feel less hungry and desire less food. The result is a healthier weight and healthier body.

The Metabolic Factor

The constant stop and start of activity throughout the day keeps metabolism racing. Unlike when you just exercise intensively for 45 minutes 3 times a week, if you are active on and off all day long, you keep your metabolism high all day long. So a combination of fewer calories as a result of zero comfort eating and being active all day makes you a healthier person.

Think about it – this is just common sense. In the “old days” when very few people were overweight, this is how people lived. This is how many farmers still live today. They get up. have breakfast then set about work. Work may not be full on high intensity work all day long – nobody can sustain this – but a constant change from low activity to medium to intense activity throughout that day. The end result is that you burn off a lot more calories than you would in one weight training session. You burn more fat as your metabolism never switches off.

The Hunger Factor

If you have ever gone to the gym before you had time for dinner, you may have noticed that once you have exercised you actually lose your appetite. Many people that eat in the evenings are not doing so because they need those calories to function, it is really just a form of comfort eating.

After spending the whole day in an office you come home and want to feel better, and the answer is a nice meal and sometimes a drink. Lots of calories that you do not need. If instead you exercise for 60 minutes, after you are not hungry. A small protein snack is enough.

Just imagine if you were like this all the time – never feeling really hungry, just eating a little at a time when you needed it. Sometimes this is called “grazing” although many people that try to mimic this to lose weight end up over-grazing!

Can An Office Worker Ever Be Like A Working Man?

Not really. Things you can do to help are:

  • Stop snacking altogether in the office
  • Go for a long walk at lunchtime
  • Get out for a shorter break in the morning and afternoon if possible, walk for 10 minutes around the block
  • Get home and instead of comfort eating on the sofa do some exercise
  • Increase activity at the weekend – so lots of chores around the house, improve the garden, go for long walks, cycles or hit the gym for a long session
  • Reduce stress – stress leads to comfort eating and overeating accounts for 80% of weight gain

Be conscious of how you spend your day, increase activity. Take the stairs, walk more as part of the commute to the office, do some weight bearing exercise each day and above all eat less.

More like this in the Fitness section

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