How the hell do you stay healthy in sweat shop groups?

Seriously asking for help here. Was a student athlete in college and it feels like my years of fucking meticulous work ethic were seemingly for nothing with this bullshit job. I make a conscious effort to not snack, opt for veggies on the side/a salad for meals, walk to and from the office whenever I can, drink ~1 gall of water per day and workout on the rare chance I have 5 minutes of free time. That being said, I'm getting crushed. Working 100+ hours per week since hitting the desk and I can see it physically on my body. Not sure what the fuck else I'm supposed to do but at this point I either need to develop an eating disorder, cut my 5 hours of sleep down to 4 and get a workout in, or quit entirely (which i'm not willing to do in this environment). I've all but cut out drinking since I barely have the time anymore anyway and am just feeling really unhappy with myself and my appearance at this point. If anyone who has survived this without gaining 50 pounds has any sound advice, please help me out.

Comments (38)

  • Intern in PE - LBOs


  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A

I have the same problem and I prefer not to quit before the 1yr mark so not sure what to do

  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A

Depends on the culture of your team, but for me, even during my sweatiest couple of months, there is usually 30/45 mins of downtime (waiting for comments, something that can wait a bit) where I'll head to the gym in my work building and do a quick workout. I'd see if that is feasible, otherwise sleep will always be more important than exercise if you have to choose, unless its 7+ hours sleep then the difference is minimal. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov


i quit my sweatshop team with nothing lined up after i lost weight (c 10kg) and developed severe anxiety (on a rare free saturday, i couldnt get out of bed (felt as if I was physically unable to get out of bed, like my body would not allow me to) and over the course of a few months developed shakes in my hands). Would start at 7:30 and finish at 3/4 and this was an M&A desk of a tier 3 european bank who hired a new MD who was ex lehmann. Best decision i ever made was quitting

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov

Good for you. Was the ex-Lehman part so noticeable in terms of how he treated the juniors?

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov

Things this MD did that i saw first hand:

- Screamed at an associate, where the whole floor (which is some 300+ people) stopped and stared

- Walked up to an associate and cut the wires to his headphones whilst he was wearing them

- Full on went ape shit crazy on an analyst who stood up from his seat, literally stood up, and the MD started berating him and swearing at him for doing that and not working 

When i interviewed at a different bank, the interviewer asked about the MD and when I said he was good to work for, my interviewer said thats bullshit, he was a bastard and everyone knows it. 

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov

This is common for the first year. You learn how to handle it and it just gets easier. Stick in there, you'll figure out how to get workouts in and kick work down.

  • 1
BoutiqueAsc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would get home late and run around the empty streets of New York by myself in the dark lol. I also had a gym in my building which made a huge difference and made me feel better even if I just went for 20 minutes.

I also made an effort to eat salad everyday and eat breakfast. Also when you get lunch try and get up and walk a bit.

And most important gtfo of banking after 2 years lol

monkiseemonkido, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you're gaining weight, you're eating in a calorie surplus. It doesn't matter how healthy the calories are if the number of calories is too high. It's a tough transition from being an athlete and eating whatever you want to not being able to work out and having to really watch it so I feel you, but it's definitely an issue where people assume that because the calories are healthy they don't have to watch them. I would try and squeeze in at least 1 hr of cardio and 1 hr of lifting on Saturday/Sundays if you can.

  • 4
IncomingIBDreject, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yes, OP that's the tradeoff you signed up for in exchange for a high salary. 


  • 2
  • Associate 3 in IB - Cov

If you are working 60 to 80 hours, theres some discussion to be had here.

but 90 to 100?  thats like asking how do you stay healthy while in a gulag prisoner of war camp in sibera.  really nothing you can do but hold on and hope things get better.....

  • Prospect in Consulting

Ignore my flair but ended up getting an eating disorder, so that was fun. One thing I did was commiserate with my friends who were residents on the premed path, because they also had it terrible and it was nice to talk to someone not doing finance. Also get better at saying no, because a lot of the times as long as you overcommunicate people will still respect you. Therapy is great, I do the phone call stuff rather than visit and then I usually get a walk in on a treadmill at home. there is no good solution though, personally I'm just trying to make sure my eating disorder stays mild and not severe at this point. 

  • 1
ironman5761234, what's your opinion? Comment below:

walk to work

eat a yogurt for breakfast 

lunch with carbs 

no carbs for dinner

walk back home 

  • 1
Most Helpful
rubiomn9, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Some good tips in here (walking to / from work, walking to pickup lunch / dinner), but at the end of the day it's really tough, especially as a first year.

In my time in IB / PE, really only remember one dude who was able to stay in really good shape, and he was a nut about it (waking up early / going during dinner / bringing food from home). Outside of that, felt I was one of the people who cared a bit more about staying in shape than peers. Here are my tips:

  • As mentioned, walk to / from work and to / from lunch and dinner
    • This requires living within ~1.5 miles of the office (i.e., 30 minutes or less walking time)
    • Walking to lunch and dinner can add another 20 minutes of walking in, total (or more if you really want)
    • Doing the math here, adds up to ~60-minutes of walking a day. Not necessarily going to be Mr. Olympia doing this, but certainly helps if you are really struggling to fit workouts in
  • I had an apple watch to help me track how active I was being / see how far behind I was on my goals
  • Join / have access to a 24-7 gym
    • The amount of times I worked out at 10pm while waiting on VP comments / strapping back in for a few hours was a little higher than I'd like to admit
    • Apartment / office gyms are a bonus due to no commute time
  • Prioritize calorie burning over lifting
    • I was somewhat into lifting in college (not a body builder but definitely my preferred method of working out), but transitioned to cardio when in IB / PE purely to be more efficient with workouts when on live deals
      • Found 20 minutes on the Peloton / stairstepper would burn more calories than a 40 minute lift (could also do 15 min of cardio and 10 min of lifting, so would sometimes combine if I really still wanted to lift while still going after calories)
    • Yes, lost muscle mass but that was okay because I was able to relatively maintain my weight / appearance
      • Now that I have a better WLB, have transitioned back to lifting more and am happier about my appearance
  • Try to eat one salad a day
    • Helps with calorie counting, also allows you to look forward to at least one meal, which I think is positive for mental health
  • Try to rationalize that this won't be your peak shape in your life
    • This stinks, but frankly, as you admit, you don't have enough time to work, stay in perfect shape, sleep, be social, etc., in banking. 
    • Some thing has to give, and may temporarily be your appearance / fitness (can make your way back, though!)

Hope this helps, definitely sympathize with the literal ware and tear the job can have on you, but remember it's just a job and it's temporary. A lot of people are fine putting physical health on the backburner to prioritize their career; I got tired of that after 4 years.

oakley17, what's your opinion? Comment below:

He's an independent sponsor that did a roll-up strategy of 24/7 gyms 

  • 6
joehuntbbc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'll try make things simple here: Calories in, Calories out

Tips from my lifestyle being a 6' 0" 150 Ibs man (or boy since I have no facial hair)

WARNING: I am not an expert, I'm just putting out there what I do, please don't follow 

1. Caffeine, or sparkling water, or both. I don't eat breakfast and these things that I mentioned blunt my appetite.

2. Start my first meal as lunch

3. Workout before dinner

4. Dinner after I shower

5. Final meal = snack (protein bar, banana, nuts, leftover dinner, etc.)

6. If you need to be up for a few hours after that drink sparkling water or just water to blunt the appetite. If you're actually hungry (body really needs calories), your body will tell you and you'll be starving, then go ahead and eat. If you ignore your hunger for more than 20 mins and you don't feel hungry before bed, you were never hungry to begin with and you just wanted pleasure from food.

Tips: Eat protein rich, fiber rich foods. 

If you're just eating carbs = you won't be satiated, you'll be hungry in another hour or two

Try to make the majority of your diet from food from your home. Know what foods make you full/satiated. The best diet is the one you can stick to forever. People on strict diets obsess over food which cause additional stress/anxiety that you already experience in your own life. 

Things people won't tell you but are true:

1. Weight loss is a SLOW process. 1 Ibs per week is a great goal. Find out what your maintenance calories are and try a 200 calorie deficit.

2. Counting every calorie is useless. Are you really going to weigh and scale your food/condiments/oils every time you eat? Didn't think so. Also, your body burns random amounts of calories throughout the day and are never the same (same with your workout). Just get a general idea.

3. Steady state cardio is the most effective way of burning calories. Riding a bike, swimming, and running are some of the best forms of cardio that can burn a lot of calories each session. I don't believe in the HIT cardio bullshit where people say all you need is 10 mins of extreme cardio...

  • 3
  • 2
mm_simp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Really is not much you can do if you're working 100+ hrs...

Most of my co workers try to go before getting to the office. Hardest in the first year for sure.

APAE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You have to choose if phsyical health is the one other thing you're going to prioritize.

You don't get three things. Your job is one. Fitness is another. Social life, a meaningful and committed relationship, your own hobbies and intellectual development are all others. 

This is the honest truth. There's a huge different between 80 hours a week and 100. It's unspeakable, actually. If you're in the latter, you are in extended fight-or-flight mode and it will rot you from the inside out. You're experiencing this. 

The solve is to:

  • understand this is not permanent
  • squeeze every other 'thing' out for the remainder of your pre-offer time to make space for fitness
  • create a minimum viable movement plan for yourself 
  • be fanatical about diet


Ideally you have only one year of this job being this way. The learning curve should flatten, so you get work done more quickly. Your political standing should also improve, allowing you to shunt the least desirable work away. If you get a buy-side offer, things get easier because you don't have to care the same way.

Make this your light at the end of the tunnel. It's hard to sign up for limitless pain for an unknown duration. If you understand that something is coming around the corner, it makes it easier to commit to an action plan that requires a lot of sacrifice.


Understand that you can't have it all at once. If you value the income from this job and the career optionality it creates for your future, you aren't going to enjoy high scores on other dimensions right now. If you care about physical health, that's about all you're going to be able to score highly on during this period. 


There's a lot of conflicting advice about how to exercise. You were a college athlete so I don't want to insult you with things you already know.

I will say that you need to be relentless about making sure to make it happen. Weekend mornings were my go-to. My mindset was that there is nothing so urgent that I can't do 90 minutes on both Saturday and Sunday before giving up my two weekend days to your nonsense. This is where I fit in my compound lifts that required all the stretching, band work, and warmup to really get into the movement safely. 

During the workweek, get into the habit of reclaiming 30-minute blocks for yourself. You know who the sycophantic personalities in your group are. They won't change. You're still going to get shit shoveled your way with a needless deadline. When you finish a deliverable for one project that you're getting hounded on and are about to roll to another, step away for half an hour. Do something to move. If your office has a gym or at least a shower, do 20 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical or stairmaster, or a burpee or med ball complex. If there isn't a shower, walk two laps around the block and call a family member or friend. The work will still be there. The person who's mad you weren't doing their ask an hour ago while you were doing someone else's is still going to be unreasonably mad.


Honest to god, be maniacal. It's so much easier to manage what goes in than to adjust your exercise. Do meal prep. Pay for the meal prep delivery service. Be the oddball that brings in their own food. Who cares what people think? You know what you're about.


This sucks, I hate that you're going through it. Keep your head up, make the commitment to yourself, and remember it's not forever. 

Here are a couple other things I've written in a similar vein: "Ain't Nothing But A Peanut: Maintaining Your Best Health", and a comment on "How To Boost Energy Levels In General"

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

  • 12
  • Intern in IB-M&A

Group isn't sweaty, fortunately, but we all have rough periods. I can find at least 30-45 mins a day if I put my mind to it. Will run 1.5 miles on the treadmill 7 days a week, put in my bench press, squats, etc, whenever I can. I use MyFitnessPal to track protein intake and eat at a slight calorie deficit. Take multivitamins every morning and get blood tests every 5-6 months to make sure I'm getting vitamins. Limit alcohol, caffeine, etc wherever I can. Get strong lifts in on the weekends. 

  • VP in IB-M&A

Don't do this shit job

Working banking hours isn't healthy for your body, mental health or soul. This job also f*cks up your brain in a big way and you will suffer long-term from lack of sleep. This is not a healthy way to live

PE isn't much better and the partnership track where the real money is made is out of reach for everyone except for a select few. You have a small shot of getting there even if you are willing to grind it out for another 15 years and deal with the sacrifice and missing out on seminal life experiences.

Don't do this shit job. People are slowly waking up to the fact that it is just not worth it. Find a more meaningful career that gives you self fulfillment while maintaining your health and relationships with people. It is not normal to be chained to an office desk with no enjoyment in life. Don't do it man

  • 6
  • 1
  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov

Echo above...don't do it. When you don't get your bonus or you get a 5% bonus at the end of the "season", you would feel double crossed. That would be your wake-up call.

Going into industry, including non-late-stage start-ups, can be a very good option depending on what specific skill you want to acquire. Sure, starting salary is (a lot) lower, but if you know what you are doing, it isn't hard to get good dollars. 

bzfracas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

did you stay in IB because you didn't want to jump hoops in climbing the ranks of PE when you already had tenure/seniority built up in IB? I always wonder whether going to PE is worth it, considering much harder in the 2 and out, promotion cycles are harder due to fund economics and partners have to give up part of their carry if there is a new partner.

just curious about your thoughts and whether you tried to recruit for PE or career thoughts? is a job just a job for you essentially and stacking as much money in the first 10-15 years and then exiting to a chill job? 

  • 1
Winnfield, what's your opinion? Comment below:

the only form of exercise that's culturally acceptable in banking is steady-state cardio, and golf once you're senior.

if that isn't you... just collect a few bonuses and get out. 

The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You don't need to work out to look good. Abs with some muscle will look just fine (a lot of muscle is not necessary). In order to lose fat, just eat less. Weight lifting for an hour burns 400 cal. One burger is like 800 cal. So just skip a meal or have a snack instead of a full meal and you'll be better off than working out for an hour, calorie-wise.

  • VP in PE - Growth

A ton of great tips here. I will give my top 6

  1. Lift religiously Friday, Saturday, Sunday-honestly, lifting 3 days a week you can build strength and maintain solid cardio especially if you had a solid base before. My routine was a push, pull, legs/core split and before and after each workout I would run 1 mile. Running 6 miles a week, and 3 bouts of lifting is really pretty great in terms of maintaining muscle mass and burning calories. I think people talking about getting workouts in during the week either were sacrificing their happiness or work quality in order to get workouts in. From my experience having years in really sweaty shops, the work is too unpredictable and the lack of sleep is too prevalent to reliably build any consistency with weekday workouts. I also think the anxiety of getting pinged or robbing yourself of extra sleep by waking up early is a bad idea for your mental health and just enjoying workouts in general, which should be the point. If it feels like a chore, that defeats the purpose.
  2. Cut out hangovers as much as you can. For me this led to drinking only on Friday evenings, so I didn't have horrible horrible Sunday evenings where I had to stay up late having already slept horribly the night before. In IB especially, every week was a gauntlet where I was just trying to get to the next weekend and sleep. If you don't catch up on sleep on a weekend, you will get sick or have mental breakdowns. Along with this, if I did drink, I was religious about having pedialyte before and after I went out so the hangover didn't sting too badly. A more intelligent person would also likely not drink at all or drink responsibly, but that's hard for me.
  3. If you have a rampant calorie consumption issue, eat the same thing so it is easier to track and can become mindless. Spend one weekend really thinking about how many calories you consume and try to backsolve for what exactly you should eat in a day. If that doesn't work a few other dieting tips: 1) Try to not eat before 12pm or after 6pm. Caffeine can help suppress hunger in the mornings. 2) try to drink the right amount of water and drink 16 oz before each meal. 3) try to have 1g of protein for every lbs of body weight. (The reality is eating protein dense foods will leave you feeling much more full and will decrease the calories you consume)
  4. Set weekly, monthly, yearly goals. If you are in a really bad situation, you need to draw boundaries on what you are trying to accomplish. As mentioned, getting through a week to sleep on Saturday can be a weekly goal, but a monthly goal should be like a long weekend or something. My firms have all been pretty solid about vacations, so I would tell people long in advance and count the days until my next long weekend trip.
  5. Understand your limits and recognize when to quit or draw boundaries. I have had many interns and I always tell them the following, "I'm a pretty tough mf, but even I would break down after not sleeping for several days. It's one thing to sleep 6 hours 1 day in a week or even 2, but if someone has you staying up past 3am 3 days in a row and it isn't a freak situation, you should draw a boundary. If you are looking for when to draw a boundary, the standard is pretty simple: if you got fired for drawing a boundary could you explain it in an interview for the next role and almost anyone would agree you are in the right?" I felt fully confident that someone telling me to stay up past 3am more than 3 nights was unreasonable and I would tell bosses that when things reached that point. You can't flake on someone for one late night, or even 2, but 3 is where there is a staffing issue or your boss needs to step in to help. People in finance tend to not have a spine, but realize no one is getting fired or even thought lesser for being an analyst that will "only stay up past 3am twice a week" Along with this, if you do a role and you have gained 40 lbs and have heart palpitations, it's time to leave the job. You might just not be built for the work or you might be in a really crappy office, so you should find an alternate place to work. 
  • VP in IB - Gen

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