Go to Navigation Go to Content

How to Get Fit When You Work Crazy Hours

The average U.S. adult works 47 hours a week, with around 40% saying they put in 50+ hours. This adds up to an average of a month extra work each year compared to our European counterparts! We get it: you’re ambitious, determined …perhaps even a bit entrepreneurial. But when you add in time spent with family and friends socializing, relaxing, and sleeping, that doesn’t leave you a lot of time for exercise. In honor of May being National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, we’ve come up with some actionablestrategies for time-crunched workaholics who want to improve their body composition (specifically, build lean muscle and lose fat). If you’re strapped for time and want to build a leaner, stronger physique, then this article is for you. Read on for the 3 strategies and action steps you can take in accordance with each.

Strategy #1: Start in the Kitchen

Ok, we know you’ve heard it before but it bears repeating:

Unless you’re in the small minority of people who are incredibly disciplined/mindful/educated about what you’re eating when you eat out, eating out often puts you in a perilous spot if you’re trying to improve your body composition. People who work long hours tend to order takeout or dine out a lot because at the end of a long day, they don’t feel like they have much time, interest, and/or energy left to cook. The numbers back this up: Millennials spend 44% of their food dollars on meals out of the house, according to the USDA’s latest food expenditure data. Even baby boomers spend close to 40 percent of their food dollars on eating out.

What’s the problem with this, you ask? Eating out is one of the biggest reasons people become overweight. It’s hard to control the number of calories you’re eating when most restaurants either a) don’t know the nutrition facts information for their dishes, or b) make it hard for you to find them. When you eat out, you consume excess calories and thus increase the chances of storing fat. That’s why preparing your own food is so important. It gives you direct control over what you eat and allows you to test different dietary approaches to see which one works best for improving your body composition (and gut health as an added benefit). Even if you don’t enjoy cooking, try following these steps for a few weeks and see how your body responds.

Action Steps:

Find out your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR (aka, the minimum amount of calories you need in a day for basic bodily functions).

1. Pick one day of the week to prepare an array of whole, nutrient-dense foods to eat for the week. Here are some food prep ideas for both omnivores and vegetarians/vegans:

2. Get a salad spinner and rinse/spin a bunch of greens for the week.

3. Roast root vegetables like beets, carrots, onions, and parsnips (a little olive oil and salt is all you need).

4. Prepare a big batch of oatmeal, quinoa, rice, or other whole grain you enjoy eating. Experiment with other whole grains you haven’t tried before.

5. Grill a bunch of lean chicken, fish, or tofu so you have an abundance of lean protein on hand.

6. Buy raw nuts and seeds and roast them with sea salt for a healthy snack.

Keep a food diary and track everything you eat. It may sound tedious and annoying but it’s effective: keeping a food journal can double weight loss, according to research. There are plenty of apps and websites that let you easily track what you’re eating in 5-10 minutes/day. If you want to take a more data-driven approach to understanding your body composition, then keeping track of what you eat is an important piece of the equation most people neglect.

Strategy # 2. Strength Training + HIIT = Build Muscle, Burn Fat

After a busy workday, you want to be as efficient as you can with the time left in the day. If you want to improve your lean body mass and achieve a toned, healthy look in the least amount of time possible, resistance training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are your best bets.

Let’s unpack the science behind each.

Resistance Training

Resistance training has as many stigmas attached to it as well as benefits. First, let’s look at the benefits. Resistance training, also known as “strength training,” can help you: Increase lean body mass, make your bones, joints, and skeletal muscles stronger and reduce pain

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Improve your body image
  • Help you burn more calories at rest

There are a plenty of myths surrounding resistance training that may make some hesitate to incorporate it into their fitness routine. Here are two of the biggest:

1. Myth 1: Resistance training will automatically make you gain weight. It’s true that resistance training may make losing weight more difficult--but that’s because resistance training helps you burn fat and build lean body mass. This means your weight may stay the same but you will “look” leaner.

2. Myth 2: Resistance training isn’t as effective as hardcore cardio. If you like to run, bike or swim, more power to you … those are all great workouts. Plus, aerobic exercise can help reduce cardiovascular risk and body fat. However, we lose muscle mass every year after age 35. This increases our risk for sarcopenia, which is a decrease in muscle mass associated with aging.  Studies show that resistance training is beneficial for preventing and even reversing sarcopenia in older adults and can be an effective long-term strategy to prevent weight gain and unwanted changes in body composition. Although aerobic exercise may be effective in fat loss, it does not help as much to increase muscle mass-- and sometimes may result in decreases in muscle mass. And let’s face it: most of us don’t just exercise because it’s good for our heart—we do it because it also helps us look and feel better about ourselves. If you’re seeking a more athletic, toned look, then plain old cardio isn’t going to cut it.

Resistance training can seem daunting at first, but doing more bench presses at the gym and even adding dumbbell exercises at home can help you build the muscle you need to stay healthier at your job.


High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is a type of workout that includes quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short (sometimes active) recovery periods. If your main goal is to lose body fat in the least amount of time and you’re not as concerned about building muscle, HIIT is a proven approach. Studies show that HIIT is equal to or better than cardio for overall cardiovascular health … and more efficient. One caveat here: if you’re sedentary, HIIT may actually not be any more efficient than traditional steady-state cardio (i.e., running on the treadmill) for losing weight quickly. But it’s still one of the best types of workouts for burning fat and improving your body composition.

Strategy 3: Track Your Progress, Get Results

Tracking your progress is one of the most underlooked things you can do to encourage a long-term commitment to eating well and exercising. Especially with the hours and hours you’re spending at your desk or running around making calls, the last thing on your mind while trying to eat healthy and exercise is to calculate how your body is changing. Like we mentioned, keeping a food journal is a good way to track what you’re eating over time and make notes of how different foods affect your body. Likewise, it’s a good idea to schedule your workouts in advance and record your exercise routines in a journal. But aside from the obvious physical exam and labs from your physician, how can you track progress without using arbitrary measures such as the scale and BMI?

Body Composition Analysis

Tracking body composition progress gives you objective, measurable feedback that translates into physical results. And it’s easy. Body composition analysis tests can be done in a minute and are vital in showing you what’s working and what’s not.  You’ll be able to directly make data-driven adjustments and tweaks that can help you achieve your goal. You don’t have time to waste as a working individual, and seeing how your body is improving over time with numbers you can track makes staying healthy a whole lot easier.

Action Steps:

1 Start small.  Research shows small commitments can help prevent weight gain and lead to sustainable behavior changes that become lifelong habits. For example, commit to 20 minutes of exercise per day. Pack fruit with you for breakfast or lunch. Do 5 pushups every day. Take a 30-minute walk. All of these “tiny habits”, as Dr. Fogg, a Stanford psychologist, calls them, can add up to big rewards.

2 Track your progress. If you don’t have a daily planner, get one. Or use Evernote, Google Calendar/Docs/Sheets, Apple Notes, Momentum, etc. The key is, record what you’re doing. Find a local gym that offers body composition analysis services. Keep your numbers, set a new goal, and get your numbers checked every 1-3 months. For food tracking, try free services like MyPlate or MyFitnessPal.


The “best” approach for you, the busy professional, is the one that 1) helps you strike the right personal balance between work, health, and play, and 2) aligns with your personal body composition goal. If your goal is to build lean body mass while keeping a low body fat percentage, resistance training is a proven method. What you eat and how much you eat obviously are big factors too. For example, research shows eating about 15% more calories per day than what is required to maintain your body weight is optimal for increasing lean body mass. If you’re trying to burn more fat and get a toned, lean look in the least amount of time, HIIT is a great option. Regardless of which type of exercise fits into your busy life, eat right, exercise, and track your progress, including your body composition numbers! The next generation of successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, and big thinkers are already using this highly strategic, data-driven approach. If you haven’t jumped on the body composition bandwagon, maybe it’s time to start.

Let’s have a great National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and get our health back on track. Even with the loads of work you have on your plate, small, incremental changes to your diet and exercise can do wonders to your health.




Come watch the fights with us at Christian’s Tailgate at 5114 Kirby Dr. on Saturday, January 20th!

Baytown Instructor Highlight: Brittney Martin


Martial Arts Instructor 

What classes do you teach

I teach Kids Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing at Elite MMA Baytown

What martial art(s) have trained in: 

I did Tae Kwon Do when I was younger for about two years and now I do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing.

Number of years of training martial arts: 

I trained about two years or so in Tae Kwon Do when I was a teen.  I have been in Kickboxing since 2014 and in Jiu Jitsu for a little over two years starting in 2015.

When did you start teaching at Elite MMA? 

I've helped with kids jiu jitsu class since I was a white belt and I actually started teaching Kids Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing in May of 2016.

What is a memorable moment for you at Elite MMA? 

In July of 2017, I got a 4-year-old student that wanted to do one on one sessions while he was in town with his Grandparents. He did two sessions a week for almost two months. Throughout his one on one lessons with me, he always wanted a trophy or medal that he would see in our school. So on his last day here at the end of his session, me and his family awarded him a medal for all his hard work in Jiu Jitsu. I have never seen a young kid so happy in my life and it made the time with him worth so much more to me.

In your own words, why do you enjoy Elite MMA

I enjoy Elite MMA because everyone inside of Elite becomes an extended family. I've never met so many people geared towards helping others live better lives. Elite MMA is a great environment with awesome instructors and great programs! 

Do you have any martial arts accomplishments that you are proud of and why?

I recently competed for the first time as a blue belt at an IBJJF tournament, it meant a lot to me to get out on the mats and see where my Jiu-Jitsu was. I enjoyed being able to compete for myself and my school and coaches.

Are there any professional accomplishments that you are proud of and why? 

I'm proud of my accomplishments inside of being an instructor and helping people grow every day. It makes me happy to be able to help people learn and better themselves inside of martial arts.

What hobbies do you enjoy and why? 

Jiu-Jitsu is my number one hobby. I love training and learning new things inside of Jiu-Jitsu. I love watching scary movies. I've seen them all and wait for new ones to come out! And, another big hobby of mine is going to the races with my family. All of my family races dirt cars and I get to spend more time with them doing something we all love.

Academic accomplishments: 

I graduated a year early from high school after skipping the 10th grade. I went to San Jacinto College to get my associates degree and graduated from there on the Dean's List for academic standing with a 4.0 GPA. I transferred to the University of Houston after that where I study Math with a minor in Geology and Physics. 

Learn more about Brittney here 




Hey Elite MMA Family, check out this article on our very own Trevin Giles!

Under the Radar UFC Fighters to Keep an Eye On For 2018

Trevin Giles: Paulo Costa and Eryk Anders are the obvious choices here, but they’ve been getting a nice push from the UFC. So I’m going with Giles. Part of the reason he hasn’t been getting much of a push is his heavy reliance on fundamentals. The UFC brass loves flash and Giles isn’t going to go out of his way to provide it. Can’t blame him. His simple combinations have led to a pair of violent finishes over James Bochnovic and Antonio Braga Neto. Giles isn’t freakishly long, but he knows how to effectively fight long. Did I mention his ground-and-pound? Violent as hell….


Kingwood Student Highlight: Daniel Ferguson

What is your name and age?

Daniel Ferguson 21

When did you join Elite MMA?

September 2016

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

I’ve always been passionate about fighting and I’ve always been very shy. Taking martial arts classes is a way that I can work on myself socially, physically, really improving myself overall while doing something I love.

In the past what had caused you not to take martial arts?

I was worried that if other people found out I trained martial arts, they would think I was a dork in his pajamas practicing punching and kicking the air while screaming. Once I discovered the UFC and saw Carlos Condit kick Georges St. Pierre in the head after being rag dolled for three rounds, I quickly changed tunes.

Is this your first time taking martial arts and what classes do you take?

I take the kickboxing and jiujitsu classes and I mentor all the classes as well. I trained at a different MMA gym when I was in high school, but I decided to leave that school after getting injured several times.

If you had any concerns about joining Elite MMA, what helped you with your decision?

I once overheard some people who knew nothing about MMA call elite MMA a belt factory run by people trying to make a buck. For whatever reason, I accepted that nonsense as fact. Luckily Coach Tyler and I knew each other in high school and he would tell me about training at Elite. I knew he wouldn’t stick around at a belt factory, so I started to rethink my opinion of Elite. A few years later when I started thinking about getting back into MMA I remembered some of the things he told me, saw he had become a coach and decided to give it a shot. Best decision of my life.

Since you have been part of Elite, please share what you have been able to accomplish?

I don’t even know where to begin. I feel like a whole new level of person. Two years ago, I could barely look people in the eye when I first met them, now I can start a conversation with a group of strangers. My fighting skills have improved exponentially, I look back at when I first started training at Elite and I thought I was a decent fighter. Now I would trash that kid. I imagine that in a year I’ll be saying the same thing about myself now. I’ve always valued athleticism and exercise, but I’m in the best shape of my life by far. MMA has improved my cardio and flexibility to higher levels and faster than I ever could have imagined. I can land head kicks now.

Anything else you want to share with someone who is looking to get involved with martial arts or looking to change their current lifestyle?

Do it. Embarking on this journey will improve your life in areas you couldn’t imagine martial arts would affect.



Greenway Student Highlight: The Altenberg Family

What is your name and age?

Eytan (E) – 7 years and 4 months old

Talia (T) - 5 years and 6 months old

Maksim (M) -3 years 9 months old

When did you join Elite MMA?

(E) I started on September 22, 2016

(T) I started last year on September 11.

(M) I started last year on September 11

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

(E) Because Daddy insisted

(T) Because I saw my brother Eytan doing it and I started to like it.

(M) I have been watching my big brother since he started. And, I’ve been wanting to do it as soon as Coach Jose said I was ready to start.

In the past what had caused you not to take martial arts?

(E) I did not know about it.

(T) Because I did not know it was going to be so fun and with games.

(M) I was too young

Is this your first time taking martial arts and what classes do you take?

(E) Yes, this is my first time. And I do BJJ, private lessons and kids group classes.

(T) Yes, this is my first time and I do BJJ private lessons with my brothers.

(M) Yes, I take private lessons on BJJ with my older brother and older sister.

If you had any concerns about joining Elite MMA, what helped you with your decision?

(E) No concerns, Ready to do this

(T) I was concerned I would get hurt. And, that I couldn’t do it.

(M) No, because I was watching people train

Since you have been part of Elite, please share what you have been able to accomplish?

(E) Coach Jose says I’m a Star at Single Leg Takedowns, I like how the Arm Bar affects you, I know how to defend myself and I have earned a 1 stripe on my Gray/White Belt. And I also lead warm-ups.

(T) Helping my partner and listening to Coach Jose and being a really good partner. I led warm-ups for the first time last week. Oh, and I got a stripe for tying my belt.

(M) Taking care of my partner, Bear Crawls, Backwards Bear Crawls, Forward Rolls, Arm Bar, Hip Throw and Mount.

Anything else you want to share with someone who is looking to get involved with martial arts or looking to change their current lifestyle?

(E) I want more of my friends to do it

(T) I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(M) I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Not Sure Which Class To Try?
click here to reach out to an instructor!