I am a gym-rat. Or I was until I recently took up a landscaping job. This isn't powerlift for an hour and go home, it's squatting, kneeling and reaching for weeds and cultivating soil for 9 or more hours a day. It's breaking me. When I get home my muscles ache and my joints feel stiff and inflamed (especially my knees, lower back and wrists) and the gym is the last thing on my mind.
Skipping the gym and my usual boxing classes is upsetting as it has grown into my identity. I've lost a lot of weight and I don't want to lose my hard-earned muscle. To do this it is clear that I still need some gym sessions and bring down my inflammation. I supplement with fish oil and eat a very clean paleo diet including organ meats and mostly yams and squash for carbs (with the occasional white rice) so getting more anti-inflammatory seems hard. I was thinking maybe ginger and tumeric tea every night but haven't tried it yet. I am also fairly calorie deficient as I have been losing weight quickly which could be a factor in how I feel overall (i.e. like poo) but I'm not sure if that would affect muscle and joint pain.
My question is has anyone experienced a similar issue of balancing gym and physically-demanding work? What did you do about the lack of recovery time? Did your body adapt to the stresses of the job or did you become permanently damaged from repetitive movements causing strains, sprains and constant inflammation? Should I up my protein? Stretch every night? Drink tumeric tea? Give it up and get a new job?
Thanks for your thoughts,
asked byLindsey_7 (80)
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on June 07, 2013
at 01:54 AM
This summer I started working on the oyster docks. I (along with 3 others) shovel approximately 45-60 tons of oysters a day (split up in 3 sessions). The rest of the day I'm on my feet, sorting oysters and carrying heavy (maybe 60lbs) buckets of oysters around.I work 12+ hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week. I have still been squatting hard saturdays, hitting upper body and conditioning sundays, and doing some more upper body stuff at 4:30 am 2 days during the week. I've dropped 5 pounds, and I think its all fat because I squatted 250x20 last saturday, a PR. I definitely look like I've lost fat. Wanna know my secret?
Copious amounts of food. I've been eating probably 4000 to 5000 calories a day. I'm getting at least 200g of protein and 250g of carbs every day, all from whole foods. I eat tons of ribs, bacon, meat, sweet potatoes, and fruit during work. And don't be afraid to dirty it up a bit. I had a snickers bar before I shoveled the last boat today. Also, once a week I've just been going ham on food. After a really hard day (thursday I lifted in the am, shoveled 4 boats, then lifted in the pm) or if I'm just feeling depleted, my go to is a pint of Ben and Jerry's Stephen Colbert's AmerCone Dream and some waffles.
Beyond that I take a handful of fish oil every night, sleep like a baby for 7-8 hours, and stretch/foam roll for 15 minutes in the mornings. I feel like I'm adapting great. The first week was rough, but now I'm actually feeling more energetic than I ever have been. I am also only having 1 cup of coffee on my way to work in the morning as my sole source of caffeine. Your job doesn't sound a physically demanding as mine, but I would still eat a ton more food, make sure your sleep is on point, take care of your body (stretch/foam roll), and just hit the gym when you have time.
on June 07, 2013
at 02:48 AM
Hey Lindsey, years ago I owned a landscaping company and had similar problems. Ultimately the solution for me was to switch to strength training in the gym (no to failure bs), always cutting sets short of failure by at least 1 if not 2. I actually left the gym feeling exhilarated and stronger every single session and then started breaking up the workouts (DL, Squat, BP, Chin Ups) to where I was only going to the gym to dl, squat and bench and doing chin ups and pull ups at home (with weight of course). At work I decided I had to move slightly slower but more deliberately than I had originally wanted (thought I could) to. This all worked out extremely well and it was very easy to lose body fat AND gain strength (and some muscle) while fluctuating my calories from lower to higher than my tdee. Try not to take too many NSAIDS as they actually make things worse in the mid to long term also.