Longevity & Health for the IT worker

My inspiration for this blog was a book by Dr Joel Fuhrman, MD called ‘Eat to Live’. To see an example of someone who transformed their life check out “Reboot Your Life” and watch the video, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead,  a Joe Cross Film which you can google on your own.

The people who design our Information Technology Infrastructure suffer the same maladies that everyone living in modern times has to avoid in order to remain healthy. Chief among them are obesity related illnesses, a host of degenerative illnesses peculiar to our way of life and various types of cancers. I’ve seen this more and more. Men and women that came into the industry fit and healthy can gain weight rapidly and become obese. I see in particular among office workers that do a lot of sitting. This type of work can be grueling and destructive when it is a chronic situation. Seeing one co-worker have a heart attack and die is too much. I also see too much of obesity, some of it extreme obesity. Many have head aches and frequently migraines. Then I see the vials of medication. My comrades that suffer this are working under great strain. Not only is the industry itself challenging and competitive, but poor health makes it harder to stay in the industry (or any industry for that matter).

It is a fact that designers of database systems, programmers, and developers of all sorts tend to spend long hours in front of the screen. Many help desk staff endure this. Also many times the users of the very systems we build, suffer with migraines or eye strain. In fact I’ve observed myself exhausted after long hours on programming task and often having a headache.  But I’ve recently observed,  that improving ones health, benefits your productivity at work, as surely as declining health hinders your performance. I notice, after losing over 30 lbs,  I am able to concentrate for longer periods of time and I can get more done in less time.

So here are some practical suggestions which I’ve done, that I wish to share for IT Workers that are obese that are ready to improve their health and their productivity.

1. Recognize that obesity is a particular hazard to programmers and IT Workers that put long hours sitting down and working in front of monitors. Take responsibility for the unique challenges that this puts on you and tell yourself you are ready to do something about it.

 As a confessed food ‘over-indulger’ this was very hard for me. I had to fast for several weeks on only fruits and vegetables to reduce the frequent headaches and chronic weight gain I have experienced. However, amazingly I discovered with several well planned, highly nutritious ‘juiced’ helpings of fruits and vegetables, I was not overly hungary

I’ve learned that the typical diet of the average person has produced the following symptoms: even when your body does not need food, it craves food and often produces headaches, weakness, irritability, mental confusion and even sometimes nausea and dizziness. This symptoms are not true hunger, it is due to the body attempting to detoxify from the food addiction and is a signal of a malnourished body. What would happen with me is I would eat more or have more caffeine to combat the false hunger. This would help but the result is I would gain more and more weight.

What is happening is the body is receiving too much of some foods and too little of others. These tend to be breads, pasta, dairy, meat products. What the body typically needs are more fresh fruits and vegetables. These must be consumed regularly and in large quantities. Limiting the breads, nuts, meats, diary products and avoiding highly processed foods, like canned foods one can achieve weight loss even if you have a busy schedule at work and home.

1. Nourish your body with fresh fruits and vegetables that are prepared directly from produce (not from cans or in packages) and that are prepared and consumed within a day .

I was amazed to learn that our bodies can receive enough protein and other nutrients just with the correct diet of fruits and vegetables. This is the most nutrient packed food so make sure your diet is predominantly made up of this energy food. A particularly good way to intake this nourishment is with a ‘juicer’. You place fruits and vegetables in a juicer, it extracts the non soluble material leaving a nutrient rich drink that is absorbed quickly into the body.

2. Consume lots of water. I frequently carry up to six bottles with sliced lemon and cold water.

3. Limit caffeine and every once in a while do without it. Try herbal tea that is non caffeinated.

4. Work healthy: If at all possible, configure your office so you stand instead of sit. Take frequent breaks when sitting down. Walk over and talk to people. In long meetings, schedule time for a break. Park farther away from your job so you can walk a little more.  And when lunch break comes around, invite some co workers out for a walk.

Finally if you see co-workers or others that are struggling with obesity, if the situation allows,  find some small way to respectfully offer some encouragement. And to you, yourself, if you find yourself struggling, I urge you to continue on until you ultimately succeed and do your utmost to make the necessary changes in your life to remain healthy in the long run.