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Jul 17, 2006 10:00 PM

Exercising & Eating after Work

Just wondering how other people work their schedules, especially in the summer...
I get home around 5:30-6pm after work, and since of the heat, I figure theres not much point to going running right when I come home. But, I also don't like to eat dinner at 9pm after I've been able to go for a run, and cook a warm meal...
What are your after work schedules like?

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  1. My job is very ...uh... dynamic. The demands on me in the morning are completely different from the afternoon and those to the late evening. We run news at 6pm and that is earliest I've can run out of here most nights. I am an avid hound and cook and clothes horse (My pasion for Fine Clothes runs about even to Fine Ingredients) so I NEED to work out or I'm out a grand investment.

    The only times I can do this is in the evening after work (Have to show up to work much too early for a morning routine, We run a 5am news as well... :P) So basically at 4pm I have a light snack (Whole Wheat Crackers and Peanut Butter, Plain Yogurt, Honey and Granola, A piece of fruit), then leave work at 6pm and I spent one hour at the gym working heavy weights and heavy cardio (I alternate Running and Spinning, arms and legs). I usually get home at 8pm.

    I'm lucky in that I totally plan my meals out. I know exactly what I'm making and have all the ingredients at hand. Also, sometimes I invest the time to make certain preprations the night before. So you can TOTALLY beat your 9pm cut off. You just have to meal plan a little more and perhaps prepare ahead of time so all you have to to is warm up when you get home.

    Due to another lifestyle issue, I DO end up eating way later than most do, even if I'm done with dinner by 9pm. But it works for me, I've been able to maintain my weight loss for about 3 years.


    1. I love these long summer evenings. I don't work out every day, but I do walk my dog. In winter I was running home to take the dog out while there were a few glimmers of light, but in summer I come home, have a light dinner, and then take the dog for a walk between about 7:30 and 8:30. It's cooler, it's good for the digestion, and I get to see lots of pretty sunsets.

      1. Not trying to be smart-aleky but one idea is to get more accustomed to running in the heat. It doesn't have to be torture. In addition to pre-hydrating throughout the day, there are a number of products to help you hydrate and build up electrolytes (sodium and potassium primarily) to support summer athletics. When you're properly hydrated (and clothed), you would be surprised that running in high heat/humidity isn't that bad. When a 70 degree breezy day comes along, your run will be that much sweeter.

        Helpful tips for a comfortable, hot weather run: drink a good amount of water throughout the day. Then, when you're leaving work, have a gel packet, Gatorade-type product, Enduralyte tablets or whatever suits your fancy (dare I say some of them can actually be close to chow-worthy?) Very importantly, when you finish, continue to hydrate for the rest of the evening! For me, this is a big key to avoiding heat-related cramping, headaches and discomfort.

        Specific example, a bit extreme but maybe it will help someone reading this: I did a 3-hour, 62-mile bike ride this past weekend in 90+ degrees and 70 degree dewpoints. Steady water and good supper the day before, 20 oz. of Accelerade, 24 oz. Gatorade Endurance and one gel packet washed down with water for "breakfast" during the first half, refill with 20 oz. water, 24 oz. standard Gatorade, terrible convenience store glazed donut and second gel at the midpoint, and downed a small skim iced mocha at the coffee shop at mile 51. One Gatorade, about 64 oz. of water and normal meals over the next few hours and I felt absolutely no effects from the heat of the ride.

        The other simple answers (and I know from "walking the walk") are to get out of bed earlier or run late in the evening. I hate mornings (I'd rather work out in 90+ degrees or freezing temps than haul my butt out of bed at 6:30 a.m.) but with two kids, some days I just have to bite the bullet. Several times a month, I also close the YMCA at 10:00 p.m. It's about priorities I suppose.

        Note, my office also has showers, lockers, a workout room and even a cool stairwell which I can use for a quick interval workout in a pinch. I often bike commute to work and many people run during lunch or just before work. I know this is atypical. But I actually know people who bike commute to offices without facilities and they've learned to manage hygiene using sinks, wipes and other products (not my cup of tea but more power to them). I guess what I'm saying is -- if you really want to, you can get very creative and find ways to make it work for your schedule.

        Finally, it makes a huge difference to have meals planned and prepped to the extent possible so when you get home, you can hit the ground running right when you get home (so to speak).

        So to answer your question, using last night for example, here's what a typical evening schedule looks like for us:


        5:30 -- get home
        5:35 -- start cooking (last night was grilled fish with glaze, baked sweet potato fries and brussels sprouts)
        6:00 -- eat
        6:45 -- clean up, wash up, throw stuff in bags, ready the kids, head out to YMCA
        7:15 -- begin workout
        8:15 -- head home
        8:25 -- kids baths
        8:45 -- mom does bedtimes, I head out for weekly grocery shopping (well-organized list)
        9:45 -- home, groceries away, butt on couch

        I know this is more information than you probably wanted and may not be applicable to your specific situation, but I feel like I've achieved a great balance of fitness, time with my kids, time with my wife (never enough though), and my chowhound pursuits. I've become passionate (obviously) about constantly improving life balance and I'm enjoying the benefits. I'm hoping someone reading can gain from this, especially as it has taken me a long time to wise up and learn how to manage my priorities.

        10 Replies
        1. re: MSPD

          Excellent post. Thanks for taking the time to write that.

          1. re: MSPD

            I do agree with what you have written about acclimating to the heat, but always be very careful about doing that. I usually run 20-40 mi per week, and JUST TODAY, in the morning (at about 7:45) I had an episode of heat exhaustion. I only went four miles for a run, but after the third, I really got sick. Acclimating is a slow process, and no matter how fit you are, you have to be careful and make sure you have money, id, and water if you go running.

            As for one more point of view on schedule, I have the luxury of a 3 mile drive to the office, so my schedule looks like this:

            roughly 7:00 - 7:30 - head out the door for a run or to the gym
            8:30 - home, get ready for work
            9:00 - leave for work
            9:10 - 9:15 - arrive at work
            5:15 - 6:00 - leave work
            6:00 - begin cooking dinner
            7:00 - 7:30 - finish eating dinner, clean up
            7:30 -- assorted evening activities (reading, tv, paperwork)
            11:00 - go to bed.

            1. re: MSPD

              WOW I really have to applaud you!
              I was wondering, if it makes any difference if you workout after you eat? I've been told not to do this, because you could get cramping.

              Also, I think more offices should be equipped with showers and lockers, because going to work is a great opportunity to get some exercise in, but being smelly is a total no go at the office. It's a great way to advocate exercise!

              1. re: jayseeca

                OK...impossible to keep chow-centered but has to do with eating and balancing chow with life, right? I've historically been very prone to stomach cramping during exercise. For a long time, I had trouble with morning runs, rides, bike commutes -- if I ate, I would cramp, but if I didn't eat, I would bonk (become glucose deficient, body stops working, sit nauseous next the road for 15 minutes and then limp to the finish). For me, the gel packs have been the answer. Also, I've noticed that when my metabolism is firing (achieved by the frequent exercise, small meals many times throughout the day) my body processes the food quicker, so I'm OK as long as I have about 30 minutes between a meal and getting started.

                So, if I'm working out in the A.M., I make sure to eat something before bed (generally a piece of multigrain toast with creamed honey or Nutella) to supplement supper, then a gel packet immediately when I wake up (takes me 15 minutes to get geared up and started). If I'm riding more than an hour, I'll have an energy source (liquid or gel) on the bike.

                If I'm working out in the evening, a normal supper but keeping the portions a bit smaller. I can always eat more when I get home.

                Also, I tend to eat too fast. This sometimes causes reflux and/or cramping on the bike (partially due to the position, especially if I don't remember to sit up straight every half hour or so). Eating slower, smaller bites and chewing more helps avoid problems...well, for me at least.

                There are some foods I can tolerate better -- stuff like eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, fruit smoothies and peanut butter. The more "liquidy" the better. Bananas are great for the potassium (electrolytes, reduces muscle cramping). Some of it can be tucked into the pockets on my jersey.

                Regarding the office thing...I would encourage people (at least those in a more corporate setting) to bug their HR people about fitness incentives/equipment. In addition to facilities, our employer opted into a fitness program through our health insurer (Blue Cross of MN). If you go to your gym 8x in a month, BCBS pays $20 of your member dues. $40 if you have a spouse that also goes 8x. It reduces our fitness center bill almost 50% ($90 family membership per month). Most health insurers offer some type of incentive like that. I tell my HR VP I'm the poster child for the program -- I've missed only 2 months since the program started (a December due to holiday travel and a spring month when I was on vacation). I've taken one sick day in three years (knock on wood).

                To try and refocus on chow, a couple cool things going on here in MSP -- the Birchwood Cafe which is an excellent neighborhood cafe has a competitive bike team and cycling club. Apparently the club includes some prominent chefs from around town (I'm not involved, just read that somewhere about the chefs).

                Also cool, I just heard that some urban restaurants (great ones) will "valet park" your bikes if you cycle to dine there. Campiello in Uptown Minneapolis does this and Sea Salt Eatery will allow bikes inside while you order.

                I point that out because I'm sure other places have restaurants like this and it's another idea for balancing dining and fitness. Just do the two at the same time.

              2. re: MSPD

                Agreed. Live with the heat.

                Just yesterday, I debated abandoning my normal 6 pm club ride because it was going to be upper 90's. I don't know what the humidity is, but it's South Carolina, you do the math.

                Then I realized that deciding not to work out when it's hot is a self defeating excuse. Especially if you live here. So I rode and had no problem.

                I have discovered that Coconut Water (little juice paks at Whole Foods) has a huge amount of patassium and other electrolytes. That's my new pre-ride drink. I keep Smart Water in my bottle.

                I have, however, taken to running 15-20 minutes in the morning before work now that it's so light outside so early. This will cease as the calendar marches into September.

                1. re: MSPD

                  Wow! Great post, MSPD.

                  I'm impressed. I think I'd better stop whining about the heat and my discomfort of exercising in it and just get it done.

                  One question about those gel and electrolyte products, I'm a person who can't take a lot of refined sugars. I'm under the impression most of those products are very sugary. Are there some which are not?

                  Thank you!


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I'm really sold on Smart Water. Although I AM a person who can deal with a lot of refined sugar *ha ha* , Gatorade gives me sticky dry-mouth during hot weather activity. I was very happy to discover Smart Water , which has no sugar or artificial's just water and electrolytes.

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Well...I'm not perfect. I almost wussed out of the Lifetime Fitness Torchlight Run last night because of the iffy weather and talk of storms. I ran and it turned out to be very nice, though humid.

                      Anybody on any diet can get the electrolytes -- it's as simple as popping a Hammer Nutrition Enduralyte tablet. Some electrolyte products have lower sodium for those that have to watch that.

                      For the energy source, you just have to be selective in your shopping. The Clif brand does a lot of "organic and natural" talk. I took a look at a few products and here's what they show for ingredients:

                      Clif Shot Bloks (same concept as gels, gatorade but in a gelatin block style) Lemon Lime flavor:
                      Organic brown rice syrup, Organic evaporated cane juice, Organic brown rice syrup solids, Pectin, Citric acid, Natural flavor, Coconut oil, Carnauba wax

                      Clif Shot Energy Gel Mocha flavor (w/caffeine)
                      Ingredients: Organic brown rice syrup, Cocoa Powder, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Green tea extract (contains caffeine), Potassium Citrate, Magnesium Oxide

                      Gu Sports Energy Gel Tri-berry Flavor
                      Ingredients: Maltodextrin (Glucose Polymers), Filtered Water, Fructose, Leucine, Potassium and Sodium Citrate, Valine, Natural and Artifical flavoring, Natural Vitamin E and C (as Anti-Oxidants), Calcium Carbonate, Fumaric acid, Histidine, Sea Salt, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, GU Herbal BlendTM [Chamomile, Cola Nut (has Caffine), Ginger], Pectin

                      You can check out other stuff at and

                      By the way, Jelly Belly now makes "Sport Beans". I haven't tried them. They have comparable electrolytes and carbs to the gels and blocks. I can't imagine negotiating the road or path and trying to eat jelly beans at the same time.

                      If nothing else and you're not prone to stomach cramping, gnaw down a banana and a salt tablet with a glass of water.

                      I also like Smart Water as danna mentioned but so few places carry it around where I bike. As for Gatorade brand, the Gatorade "Rain" (same formula as standard Gatorade) is much more crisp and doesn't leave that sticky aftermath in your mouth -- it's available at most convenience stores. I find that the most chowish of Gatorade products. (Trying REALLY hard to keep this relevant to chow).

                      1. re: MSPD

                        Thank you Danna and MSPD for all of that terrific info. I will investigate those options a bit. In the meantime, Jelly Belly Sport Beans? Golly, just when you think you've seen everything!



                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Yeah, and they're pretty tasty, too. I think I like extra salt w/ my sugar! The Jelly Belly folks sponsor a big domestic bike team, so there's your tie-in. They were throwing out gobs of Sport Beans at the Tour de Georgia this spring...when I ran out of my stash I went to buy some....and discovered they were $1.99 per (tiny) pack. YIKES!

                    2. run in the morning or join a gym. figure out a schedule that will work best for you... and prepare your meals in advance.

                      i normally get out of work between 5:30-6pm and head straight to the gym. i never go home first because i know i'll never make it back out. it takes me about 20 minutes to get to the gym from work. I'm there for about an hour and then i have an hour commute back home. I'll shorten my workout if i have to because I like to be back home by 8:30. Once a week i add an hour of strength training and get back home at 9:30. I normally have dinner waiting for me when I get back, but when I don't I'll pick up something on my way home.

                      1. I have trouble reconciling work sched, hunger, and workouts, myself, and I work from home and belong to a gym! It's worse in an office...when I spend time in the office at CNET, I can count on gaining 5 pounds/week from lost workouts.

                        Best is to get work to be flexible (i.e. let you out early if you'll work at night from home, time shift, etc). Lots of managers understand how important workouts are to efficiency and state of mind (and to keeping health insurance premiums down!), and will work with you on this stuff.

                        Obviously, a gym membership is a spendy solution. But even the cheapest lousiest clubs have treadmills....