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CQ Roll Call’s Hill Navigator advice column helps staffers with sticky or complicated situations they find themselves in on Capitol Hill. Each week, we take the most interesting submissions from our inbox and answer your concerns. This week: how to fend off office-induced weight gain.

Q. I moved to D.C. about a year ago and am a runner. With my Hill and networking schedules, it is really hard to get a work-out in. I have been packing on what my friends and I call the “D.C. 15” pounds. Any advice on a work-life balance or gyms that are open late night around the Hill that other staffers go to?

A. You’re lucky to be a staffer in the time of ubiquitous gyms. Both the House and Senate have staff gyms in the office buildings for fairly low fees — the House gym is in the Rayburn basement and the Senate gym is on the fourth floor of Dirksen. If you can keep sneakers and workout gear stashed at your desk and make haste during the lunch hour, that could be a good option for you.

Or, now that the weather is finally getting warmer (and will hopefully stay that way) you can always go for a run outside and then use the gym for a post-workout shower and primp.

But let’s be realistic. You’re not referring to the lack of gyms in D.C. You can’t walk a block without seeing a gym, yoga studio or some group exercise community. You’re likely referring to the lack of time in D.C., which no one has enough of — ever. D.C.-ites, Capitol Hill staff in particular, lament how busy we are, all the while signing up for more work, more meetings, a new project or new activity. If working out is going to be part of your jam-packed life, then you need to find a creative way to make it part of your networking schedule.

Try a softball team. You can do a few laps around the mall before chugging beer at the games. Sign up for one of the Capitol Hill races — there are 10Ks and 5Ks all the time — and encourage other staffers to train with you. Find a flag football team with your state delegation or alumni group. Even if the games don’t break enough of a sweat, you’ll already be in your workout gear and you can probably find a few buddies who don’t mind running the two miles to the bar for post-game drinks.

And no one in D.C. is too busy for a drink.

Q. I recently dated a fellow staffer from an office that my office works with often. It ended badly and now he won’t take my calls or work with me! Do I explain to my chief of staff what happened?

A. Um, no. Your chief of staff does not need to know. And they probably won’t care, even if they did know.

It’s a fairly juvenile move to shirk work-related phone calls from an ex. Editorializing aside, perhaps see if one of your co-workers can help contact the office until everyone calms down, grows up and realizes that life goes on even when relationships fizzle.

But this is assuming you are calling him/her with work-related items. If you’re reaching out for anything other than strictly official business, it might be time to hold off for now.

Q. This is my first recess on the Hill and it is slooooow. Any advice on how to make the most of the downtime?

A. Network. Meet people for coffee, learn about their jobs, brush up on the old contact list. If you don’t want to leave your desk, pull out your old issues of Roll Call and catch up on your reading. Hill Navigator is a good place to start!

Got a question, concern or complaint about navigating life on Capitol Hill? Email us at or submit online at All submissions are treated anonymously.

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