How to use a tomato timer to get fit at work

How can a Tomato Timer and the Pomodoro Technique get me fit at work?

The Pomodoro Timer... cute isn't it?
The Pomodoro Timer… cute isn't it?

Fact: The World Health Organization states that lack of physical activity is a top ten risk factor for death.

These are some scary facts aren’t they? While you’re reading this, you’re probably sitting down. My guess would be you sat down a lot today. From breakfast in the morning, to the drive to and from work, to your workstation back home in the evening for dinner and some TV — that's a lot of sitting isn't it?

Just think about it.

What do you do when you come home after sitting a whole day? Well if you are like most people it involves a whole pile of sitting. My point? After sitting down a whole day, you come home and sit some more. I don’t blame you. It’s the way society works today, but that doesn’t mean we should just accept it.

Luckily there’s a pretty easy fix for this problem and we can carry out a lot more than we think if we look at our use of time a bit differently.

How working 40 Hours a Week for 40 years transforms people's lives (and bodies) for the worse

When I was in college I trained 4-5 times a week. I rode my bike to school and to the gym. I went out with friends and I didn’t actually had to be in class a lot. I played soccer/football a couple of times a week. I was moving a lot, I looked good and I felt awesome. I always heard people say they didn’t have time to work out because of time. I never believed that excuse  and I never even considered the possibility that it could happen to me.

This picture reflects what happened. Sitting down a lot at work made me tired. I tried to compensate by drinking coffee. In the long run that actually even made things worse.
This picture reflects what happened. Sitting down a lot at work made me tired. I tried to compensate by drinking coffee. In the long run that actually even made things worse.

I started working and guess what happened? I had troubles going to the gym twice a week. I didn’t train serious anymore. I took my car everywhere instead of my bike. I had to be at the office 7 hours every weekday. To summarize: I had to buy new pants after a year. I gained around 20 pounds of fat.

I realized I wasn’t doing well, but I couldn’t stop it. Going to the gym was such a pain. I never felt like working out. I even felt a lot of stress by just thinking about it. Doing fewer workouts led to getting out of shape. Seeing my stamina and overall fitness disappear also started leading to stress. I would try to work out, but because I wasn’t motivated I would miss a couple of workouts. This lead to a lot of frustration.

Then something wonderful happened. I realized I was focusing on the negative a lot. I also realized this wasn’t helping me. This led me to change my mindset to something more positive, a solution. The first thing I did was analyse when I felt stress and why I kept missing workouts. I started looking for ways to get exercise without actually exercising. How could I save my time so it wouldn’t all go into working out after I came home from work? I realized that maybe I should try to incorporate more physical activity at work… but how?

The solution: The Pomodoro Technique implemented in the work place

The Pomodoro Technique is a great time management technique. [Image Credit: Fractus Learning]
The Pomodoro Technique is a great time management technique. [Image Credit: Fractus Learning]
I always was a bit of a productivity geek. I didn’t like spending a lot of time on certain tasks so I searched the most productive ways to do it. One of the most used and popular time management techniques is the Pomodoro technique. It’s a really easy technique. It tells you to work for 25 minutes, focusing on just one task and then take a short 5-minute break.

I used this technique to my advantage. I would work for 25-45 minutes and then take a small break. In these breaks, I made sure to get up and get some movement. There were a lot of things that I could do without looking weird. A short walk to the water fountain was the most basic thing. Going up a floor to get water or to get to the toilet was a next step. Doing some exercises like squats, incline push-ups was such an easy solution to this big problem I had.  For those worried about looking weird, you can do exercises in the bathroom. No one will see you.

As per Wikipedia: The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are known as “pomodoros”, the plural in English of the Italian word pomodoro meaning “tomato”. The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.

So all I did was make time intervals. Take 5-10 minute breaks 8-10 times each working day. At home, I would do the same during commercial breaks or when I’m doing stuff on the PC. The difference at home is that during that time I would make the workouts a bit more difficult. This made sure I could keep making progress. The easiest way to make it more difficult is by doing more repetitions, sets or harder exercises (Eg. A jumping squat instead of a normal squat).

The Pomodoro Results and my key takeaway

I got more energy which made me feel fitter and even happier. My sitting time drastically decreased. When I came home I wouldn’t feel like a zombie. All the stress was gone because and I got some exercise in throughout the day. Because of creating the habit again I even got back to the gym! After this, I started enjoying working out again and the 20 pounds flew off. I felt and looked great by just doing something so simple.

The picture on the left is me after already losing some weight. The picture on the right is just around 6 weeks later after taking getting more physical exercise. You can definitely see a big difference on my abs and chest area.
The picture on the left is me after already losing some weight. The picture on the right is just around 6 weeks later after taking getting more physical exercise. You can definitely see a big difference on my abs and chest area.

A cool side-effect of this technique is that you can make a giant habit creator out of this. I would not just do some exercises, but I would also drink water and do some deep breathing. In these small breaks, I’m really conscious about the things I do. I wouldn’t get a snack out of a vending machine, but I would make sure I had a piece of fruit to eat instead. There are so many things you can do in these mini-breaks/mini-workout sessions.

So what is the number one thing that I hope you take away from this article? Don’t beat yourself up over missing workouts. Instead, keep it positive. Search for ways that you can get at least some form of exercise daily. To decrease sitting time the mini-workouts are ideal. You can even use the mini-workouts to create the habit of working out again.

Now it's time to take action – here's your next steps

Set a reminder at work so you can try to use this technique as well. Just use a simple countdown timer and when it’s done, get some water or go to the toilet and do 10 squats. Over time you can increase the amount of exercise you do.

To help you, use my free habit tracker to track your movement throughout the week. If you feel motivated to start working out you can also use a free 5-week program. I made this program exclusively for the ‘Moose is Loose’ readers. The program is developed to get you working out again. If you’re dreaming of getting in shape again without spending too much time, make sure to check it out here.

marco wolfs bio picAuthor Bio: Marco Wolfs

Marco Wolfs is the founder of Achiefit. His goal is to help full-time working people, with lack of time, to achieve their dream body. Marco has been training for 8 years now and now combines full-time working with his blog and working out. Connect with Marco at .

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30 minutes a Day for a Healthier Body, Mind & Spirit

The Whole Life Fitness Manifesto is not just about physical health but whole-life fitness that blends mindfulness and personal development with equipment-free workouts.

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