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Ask HN: How do you stay active while working from home?
36 points by imheretolearn 53 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 55 comments
Since the pandemic started and we've all been working from home, I've put on a lot of weight. I was wondering how can I keep myself active without having to go to the gym?



From someone who did it: Fixing your diet matters far, far more than your activity level. It takes much more work to burn a thousand calories than to simply not eat it in the first place.

I lost 40 pounds since the pandemic, by fixing my diet to eat 1500 calories of salad and vegetables instead of delivery and takeout fast food. This was with less activity, an hour or two per week of walking/biking as opposed to bike commuting every day.

Weight loss isn't about the morality of punishing yourself with exercise. It's just about the math of calories in vs out, and it's a lot easier to make big changes to the intake side.


I dunno...

I'm almost constantly hungry. I like to joke that I need to file a bug report on the human body because my logs are constantly filling with warnings about food input being required despite plenty of calories available in storage.

I've tried everything. I went keto, dumping the non-satisfying carbs and sugars in favor of fat, protein, and fiber which are supposed to satiate better and longer. I ensured I was drinking plenty of water. But I can put down a 20 oz ribeye with a large serving of broccoli on the side and wash it down with two ~12-oz glasses of water, and I'll still be back to the fridge in only an hour or two.

I tried adding more caffeine (I've heard it can be a slight appetite suppressant). I tried getting off of it (The crashes supposedly stimulate hunger). I tried getting more sleep.

At this point, I'm more and more considering asking my doctor for a prescription appetite suppressant, but those can have some pretty awful side effects.

Pre-COVID, I was going to the gym at work and very slowly losing weight while gaining significant endurance. I once did 103 flights of stairs on the stair machine, despite my decidedly-obese 32.5 BMI. I haven't been to the gym since ~April 2019, and I've gone from 215 lbs to 240 lbs. :-\


I'm hungry all the time too... and I trained myself to enjoy that feeling, since it means losing weight, and nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

I go browse the fridge every hour or two as well... and what works is to keep absolutely no junk food in the house or fridge. What's in the fridge is carrots and celery. If I'm not hungry enough to eat that, I'm not hungry enough to eat.

Tea also helps; I make three or four cups a day of various (mostly low/non caffeine) teas, and it works well to give some flavor that's a distraction from food.

What works for me is large volumes of calorie-not-dense food. My salads are a whole romaine of lettuce, half a bag of spinach, half a pound of baby carrots, half a cucumber, some sliced onion and pepper for flavor. It fills up a huge bowl and comes to like 300 calories (to which I do add a reasonable amount of light dressing.) The bulk and fiber results in a feeling that I could eat a couple hours later but I don't have to, and I've trained myself to realize that.

I don't find that big hunks of protein help. It's too calorie dense. A 20 ounce ribeye will get to satiation... but it's going to be around a thousand calories, which would need to account for like 12 hours of satiation, but nothing does that. I get protein from one protein bar per day (mostly soy protein), plus some from vegetables like chickpeas and black beans.


> and I trained myself to enjoy that feeling

I have a very hard time getting work done when I'm hungry.

> and nothing tastes as good as skinny feels

Have you ever had a Cheesecake Factory Cinnabon Cheesecake? You might change your tune.

> and what works is to keep absolutely no junk food in the house or fridge

I don't eat junk food. It's been years since I bought a package of cookies or chips outside of hosting a party, which only happens twice a year. The cheesecake mentioned above is only on the anniversary of my wife and I's first date.

> Tea also helps;

I drink Coke Zero, but keep it to two cans per day, max. The rest is water.

> My salads are a whole romaine of lettuce, half a bag of spinach...

O_o I don't think I could eat that much greens in a single sitting. I did do a week where 4 lunches were salad. I split a bag of spinach into 4, added carrots, mushrooms, cucumber, grape tomatoes, ~6 oz of chicken each, and of course just a little dressing to give some extra moisture to the spinach. Felt good to be eating something healthy, but was still hungry.

I just think...there are people who seem to have a perfectly calibrated sense of hunger. If they eat a large breakfast, they won't even get hungry for lunch, and will probably have a light dinner. If they eat something really shitty like a Cinnabon Cheesecake, they eat two bites and then acknowledge that's enough, while I could probably pound two entire slices at 1370 calories and 120g of sugar EACH.

Am I defective?


I find that intermittent fasting for just 12 - 16 hours can be helpful. If you stop eating around 7pm and don't have anything but water or bone broth until 11 or so the next day, that's going to help you burn a lot of calories.

Another thing I do in the evening is skip dinner and just eat a bowl of popcorn or a bowl of yogurt. Both seem to help me achieve satiety.

Half an avocado with olive oil and salt is also good.


What you describe reminds me a bit of myself. Is it a psychological thing? I used to be hungry all day. I would have breakfast, morning tea, lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner, and a night snack. Even stuffing myself didn't help. I would get irritated easily when I was hungry and not have a lot of patience. And being too hungry kept me from sleeping at night.

Keto helped a lot with not feeling hungry and the weight but it was too much effort to sustain.

With the weight just spiraling up and myself starting to feel a bit disgusted with myself I decided to try and stick to 3 meals a day and portion control my meals. I have been doing that for about 6 months now and it has helped tons with losing weight. Yes, I'm still hungry most of the day. I look forward to breakfast after having had dinner. I look forward to lunch from 10am. But, the irritation and restlessness coming with being hungry has faded into the background somewhat. Somehow telling myself "tough luck, you are not getting any more food until tomorrow" and sticking with it has really changed how I perceive it. It affects me a lot less and it doesn't stop me from being able to sleep anymore for example. Whereas before it defined me in some way, I couldn't function when I was too hungry. And I still eat shitty fatass meals, but it has become a once or twice a week on the weekend thing.

Just some food for thought. Hah.


I find after withstanding the hunger at a certain time of day, the hunger eventually subsides on its own then by the same time the next day I won't feel hungry again. It's weird. If I only eat one meal one day, I find I don't feel hungry at any time the next day. I end up eating anyways because I feel I should, but yeah, hunger is surprisingly manageable. It's like I only get hungry at a particular time if I ate at that same time the previous day. That also means that if I'm constantly eating, I'm constantly hungry.

This is my experience, anyway. YMMV.


I lost a ton of weight walking a hilly 5k 4 days a week. I was traveling for several months and would buy only as much food as needed. Worked great. Except once when I hit limit half way through my 5k.

Stopped traveling. Now house is full of snacks for kids. So yea…

Bad combo


Purely from a weight loss perspective that's probably true, but in the long run there are other issues with being too sedentary. So I think this is still an important thing to be mindful of with the shift to WFH.


Two ways:

1.) I bought and elliptical trainer machine and put it on my balcony, and do 30 minutes on that most mornings (often while watching some computer conference talk or something on a tablet — something mildly interesting but ok if i don’t pay it full attention)

2.) stopped ordering lunch and dedicated a whole hour to cooking and eating lunch

I’m not even a good cook, at all; but home-cooked food is just so much healthier, generally, that it is hard to go wrong. I find easy recipes for simple dishes on the web.

So yesterday I cut up about 500g of mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower, and hot peppers, tossed them in 20ml olive oil and 2.5ml “Janes krazy salt” (or something, you know, one of those salt-plus-pepper-and-spices brands).

While that roasted for 15 minutes at 200 C, I dumped a bag of pre washed salad greens into a huge bowl, and cut up some tomatoes and beets to augment it, and threw on a bag of steamed grains and caesar dressing.

That process plus eating takes almost the whole hour. While I think taking an hour off to just like, think or rest your brain is probably good for everybody, I personally have a hard time with feeling like I am wasting time, so I joined Audible and I listen to various nonfiction audio books during my solo lunch prep and eat time.

I also initially gained fat mass weight during 2020, after transitioning from commuting by bike a lot of the time and going out places to being home basically all the time.

But after several months of the above 2 changes, all the extra weight was gone.


Magic bullet for me: Podcasts.

I'm in my 40's and have never been able to motivate myself to exersize regularily. Until about three years ago when I tied listening to podcasts to going for walks in the middle of the day. Now I walk for an hour a day and hardly notice I'm doing it.

Swap walk out for something else if you like, but for me the absolute key was getting addicted to a bunch of 45 min to 1 hour podcasts and treating myself once a day.


A bit off-topic, but what podcasts do you listen to?


The golden rule of exercise: frequency beats duration beats intensity. We're habitual beings and quickly establish behavioural patterns so just do something (anything) every day and you'll improve your fitness surprisingly fast. A fast walk or a slow run outdoors.

Weight loss, however, starts and ends in the kitchen.


+1 on frequency and consistency.. it's all about area under the curve. Even just doing a set of pushups before showering every day makes a huge difference vs. nothing at all.

Also worth internalizing: "diet determines size, exercise determines shape"


2 mile walk every day. Other things depending on the day -- Bike rides, swimming, lifting weights, calisthenics, walking through the woods, woodworking. Basically, just keep moving. Develop hobbies that do not involve sitting down for a long time.

Even so, I'm still a big dude because I like food. Controlling your diet is equally important, if not more so.


I actually lost three stone during lockdown (between about this time last year and May 2021) and put it all back on again when I returned to the office (think nice cafe, crisps, chocolate, vending machines etc.)

Basically, when I was at home I planned everything I ate. Porridge for breakfast, homemade soup (a batch lasts four days) and bread for lunch and a proper dinner, such as a big batch of curry, chilli, stew (each lasts a few days ) plus veg.

I also exercised. I dusted down the old exercise bike and did 20 minutes most days followed by some basic calisthenics plank, pushups, airbike and crunches. I started with low numbers, so 60-seconds plank, 10 pushups, 15 airbikes, 20 crunches and then every added a few seconds/reps each day. Excel is your friend.

You'll be amazed at how much improvement you can achieve when it is structured over the space of a couple of weeks.


I had the opposite experience. My last job had fixed lunch breaks. I also walked there - 4 kilometres a day in total.

Now I don't really have to move and I'm next to a fridge full of delicious home-cooked food.


I'm lucky to live close enough to the ocean that I can cart my kayak to the water. I love paddling, so the exercise doesn't feel like much of a chore.

I think when choosing where to live, I'd either want to live adjacent to some good hiking trails, or near any body of water. Living in a city wouldn't be good for me, because I don't like going to the gym either.

Bodyweight fitness is a good alternative to the gym - I have some gymnastic rings set up and it's easy to get in a couple of 5-10 minute workouts at random times.

You still want to restrict your calories, but at least when you're working out regularly you can eat a more normal diet and still lose weight.


The question is how do you stay active when you have to go to an office. Being active while working from home is easy.


Exactly. Going back to the office has killed all my progress. Not just my old exercise time being taken up with commuting, but all the temptation to eat junk food which I never even had in the house when I was WFH.


Yardwork: splitting firewood, adding material to the compost bin, spreading arborist wood chips, planting or harvesting plants/trees, etc.


1. Get a pull up bar from Amazon.

2. Buy Get Strong by Al and Danny Kavadlo. Start training 3x per week following their Phase 1/Foundation program. Go for a 10-15 min run on your rest days.

3. If you want better results, then buy Overcoming Gravity by Steven Low. Read a bit everyday while doing 2. Once you get the basics, adjust your routine to match your goals.


I've got a home gym. Specifically: a barbell "power rack", 400+ lbs in plates, 3-35 lbs dumbbell pairs. I managed to score the bulk of my equipment on Craigslist 7-8 years ago when I started lifting. My workouts went completely uninterrupted during the "lockdowns" last year and the gyms were all shut down.


Baby steps. - It starts with food intake, add more fruit & veggie snacks through out your day. I found this post last year that gave me some new yummy snack to try. Hope it helps! :) ( https://chelseyamernutrition.com/healthy-snacks-working-from... ) - Get a dog that has a lot of energy, or just walk with the one you have if you do have one. Mine barks at me in my face when he wants to go out for his daily walk lol. I've found myself pushing towards jogging & then running for short intervals throughout my "walk" when I feel like I can do it. - Don't be hard on yourself, it takes patience & encouragement from OURSELVES to want to keep doing it the next day. You can do it! n.n


I joined some local recreational sports leagues in the last couple years, and plan to stay involved even if I go back to the office. It probably depends on the particular league (and you), but I've found the social expectation to show up helps keep me going even on days when I otherwise wouldn't feel like exercising. It's also just more fun IMO and provides a good replacement for IRL coworker banter.

FWIW the league I joined that I enjoy the most and remain the most involved in is a sport I'd never played before with people I'd never met before. A good league will facilitate meeting people, and there are usually beginner brackets available.

On the off chance you are in a cold weather area and want an outdoor winter sport, I highly recommend looking into platform tennis.


I’d recommend going to the gym quite honestly. Working from home doesn’t mean you’re trapped in your home. Right now I go for a 45 minute walk every day, make sure I have some errands to run at lunchtime so I get out and moving then, and then go to physio three times a week which is split between stationary biking and gym machines for an hour or so. Before that I was in the pool every morning swimming laps. A change of scenery and other people around does wonders. I’d also listen to the people talking about diet. Being alone it’s easy to slip into bad habits.

I think most health guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of walking at a good pace a day. That’s seven days a week and is an easy place to start. Like someone else here I listen to audiobooks and podcasts.


I got an under desk treadmill. It's flat -- doesn't have the bar that standard treadmills have. It only goes up to 6km/h; but I typically run it around 2km/h anyway. At this speed I can do most things - email, coding, etc. I do have to stop it during meetings where I'd love to run it the most since walking helps me concentrate. I do stop when I really have to concentrate.

I've been averaging about 8km/day on work days and apart from associated weight loss I noticed that my back doesn't hurt anymore, I can engage my core better and I don't fatigue as much. Sitting for prolonged periods (ie driving) is now acutely uncomfortable.


What brand/model of treadmill do you have?



The lockdown made me loose 10kg. Here is what I found: -Sugar is a drug and manipulates your will -Sugar is in everything -The money saved by not buying candy and soda anymore can be invested into high quality foods like salmon and blueberries -Home cooked meals are the key and do not even feel like missing out on something -Alcohol makes you fat and miserable -Digestion is key, only eat what makes you poop well -Steamed vegetables as a starter. Primes the intestines for the harder to break down components of the meal -Coffee makes you hungry -Movement, every day!


Eleven: Table Tennis on Oculus Quest 2. Extremely realistic.

There are also a lot of other things on there more specifically fitness oriented or that involve more cardio, such as the boxing thing named Creed.

I am still fat honestly. But the good table tennis players on there will definitely make you move around. I am up over a 1900 rating at the moment (very good for me) and making full use of the living room area in the new apartment which since I have almost no furniture is exclusively dedicated to it.

Also there is a recent update to Golf+/Top Golf or whatever that has full courses. And there is a disc golf thing I forget the name.


It depends on your personality but working from home allows us to be more connected with our mind and body (or connect them more).

I'm not a morning person but I try to find the time for a morning walk and get fresh air.

I take long lunch break to do sports or hike, this is my favorite time of the day for physical activities.

Don't be too comfortable sitting in front of the computer, try standing up or kneeling down. Go take a walk or do some exercise if you feel like it.

I'm amazed at how my brain switches on when I'm taking a break with a little sporty walk.

It's yours to find out what suits you the best.


I go for runs and bought a treadmill for the winter. I don't run a ton--only around 10 miles a week, which takes me around 3-4 hours including cool down and shower time.

I've tried a few different things, but running is really good calories / hour. Stuff like hiit, swimming, various work out routines can be better, but running is much less complicated and mostly free. I even do it on vacation, because most cities have iconic runs, which are make things interesting.


I set up a treadmill desk and have started walking 10,000 steps a day while working. Usually not a problem since most of my work doesn’t require flow state. I found a walking speed of approx 2.1 kph allows me to concentrate while moving.

I also have a squat rack, bench, barbells and do power lifting at home though that fell off in the last year. Goal is to lose weight, walk more, eat less, and lift moderately since I’m on a cut.


r/homegym. It took me far too long to accept that going to a physical gym is logistically stupid and dramatically reduces the chance of me working out consistently with high frequency. I decided to invest several thousand dollars in fitness equipment and will never go back. Worth every penny. Being able work out 1 minute after deciding to do so is a absolute game changer for me.


I gave up the gym during COVID and quickly dropped out of shape. I was going an hour a day, 5 days a week and was in decent shape.

I was unable to keep it up at home despite the equipment I had.

Recently I purchased a roll away treadmill and created a treadmill desk set up. I’m finally at least walking 30 minutes a day during the work week, but that’s obviously still not enough.

It’s tough, but the treadmill helps as I can keep working.


I saw somewhere that trigliceride levels rise after sitting for about an hour, which is thought to contribute to heart problems. So I wonder if getting up and walking for 5 minutes every hour to reset the clock is really a hack that works? Anyway thats what I naturally do, I will start to feel antsy after sitting too long and go walk around my backyard for a few minutes.


Stop snacking, in my case weight gain is more about your proximity to the fridge and the snacks rather than not not-being active.


I'm not saying you're wrong, because the additive/subtractive parts of calories are definitely a fact.

But there's more to health than not getting fat, exercising your muscles is important, else you'll lose them and your cholesterol will go to shit (too little of the good one).


Cardio: alternate total gym rower & run (also jump rope sometimes) Strength: TRX & body weight exercises

Works well for me, but I’m not super into strength training at this time. If I was would prefer a gym membership.

Honestly you just need to do it. Even without equipment you can run, do push ups, crunches, air squats. No excuses for doing nothing in my opinion.


I'm up early due to my wife's schedule & need to rehab a new knee. So I'm walking 3-4 miles every morning at ~6:30am-7:30am. It's not a panacea but "is part of a balanced breakfast" (to quote some sugary cereal commercials.)


I use a stationary bike in combination with the Peloton mobile app, Strava, and a heart rate monitor. It was a little hard and boring at the beginning until I got into structured workouts and playing with numbers. Now, I quite enjoy modeling how my FTP improves over time and adjusting my routine accordingly.


I run and do bodyweight exercises like pushups etc. I had a punching bag but it's not practical where I live now.

Actually I find it's easier to be active because I have more time and run longer, and in principle I snack less because there are not snacks at my house like at work. I drink more though.


Running, yoga, and/or calisthenics. Don't overdo it. The goal is to get your metabolism back up to baseline and stop muscle atrophy. The habit is far more important than the number on the scale.


Run outside, even in the rain. There are also some compact, foldable treadmills on Amazon. Jump rope, get a small rowing machine (won't be a concept 2). Get an exercise bike.


The Concept 2 has a very small footprint if you flip it up vertically when not using it.

https://darkhorserowing.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/rowin...


Bulgarian Bag. Great for both strength and cardio, only one piece of kit and you can do a lot of exercises, and you need about enough room to swing a school bag around.


I personally go for a 5 mile jog most days after work. When it gets cold, I put on warmer clothes. These days it gets dark early so I bring a flashlight.


every little helps: - standing desk and a cheap exercise bike for the more passive type of meetings - sturdy backpack with weights to turn a short walk into 'rucking' (burns more calories) - pull-up bar, dumbbells and 3 zoom calls a week with a fitness trainer I found on upwork

no weight loss or gain in the last year so far, but I feel better and can lift heavier things.


Zwift indoors & riding thousands of km's on a bicycle outdoors, weather permitting


Zwift was a game changer for me. Can highly recommend it, although the cost of entry is rather expensive.


Walk, bike, run, whichever is most fun for you.


what worked for me was: Eating less take out, cook at home more Going for walks No soda, only water


dog forces me to walk everyday. i love the habit now


Rowing machine




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