Even those with the best office environments may feel that it’s hard to follow a healthy living routine while at work. From colleagues’ birthdays, to tempting takeaway lunch options, and long working hours zapping time and energy, it’s easy to give in to food.
After all, office kitchens are often supplied with delicious baked goods and sweets, company sponsored lunches seem to always revolve around greasy pizza and beers, and if you work in a bustling area, food hubs are often abundant and seem much more convenient than hours of meal prep.
But considering we spend a large portion of our time at the office (at least 40 hours a week), it’s imperative that our office lives match the healthy lifestyles we want to adopt for outside of the office.
We know it seems that the odds are against you, but it can be done—and relatively easily at that!
Here are the secrets:
Office Diet Tips
We know it’s tempting to join in the take-out lunch culture of most offices, but to live your healthiest life, it’s important to be strong and resist!
Pack a Lunch
Packing a lunch (and snacks) for throughout the day is one of the best ways to eat well while at work. Packing your lunch at home gives you time to plan your meals and ensure that they fit into your healthy diet parameters.
It also gives you the opportunity to customise your snacks throughout the day for optimum energy and performance. The key to maintaining home-packed lunches is to ensure you’re bringing food that you’re actually satisfied by.
If you’re always hungry after eating a salad, don’t pack a salad. Instead, try rice with protein and veggies, a grilled chicken and salad sandwich, healthy wraps or tacos. In Winter, skip the salad and try soup, whole wheat pasta or warm stir frys. Everyone’s body is different, and some people naturally eat more than others. Listen to your body and ensure you pack enough of the right foods.
This goes for snacks too—if you enjoy cake, rather than resisting, try making a healthier version, swapping refined sugar for natural sweeteners. Make batches so you have plenty to munch on with minimal effort.
And, although it might not seem health related, packing a lunch instead of eating out every day will save you a ton of money! Having that extra money can give you an opportunity to join a fitness club or save for a much needed vacation.
Even just having more money for bills and regular life expenses can be incredibly beneficial to your mental and emotional health.
Learn to Say “No”
Office peer pressure can be all-consuming. Even when that peer pressure is unintended, it can be hard to tell coworkers that you don’t want to go out to eat with them or that you would rather pass on the cake they brought in from home.
Find ways to politely explain that you’re working on living a healthier life and thus, must pass on their tempting goodies and snacks. And this doesn’t mean that you have to be completely isolated from your work family.
Instead of indulging in fast food and take-out with them, invite them to share your lunch. Or, pack an extra one for your work BFF and introduce him or her to the joys of healthier eating. You can always hang out with them during lunch but eat beforehand at your desk, if your job permits.
In addition, you need to learn how to say no to yourself. When we’re seated at a desk for long hours on end, it’s easy to mindlessly reach over for that chip packet or cupcake for no reason other than knowing the food is there.
When you notice yourself continuously eating (right after lunch), remove yourself from your desk and go for a quick walk, even if that walk is simply around the office. Removing yourself from your desk will allow you to observe how hungry (or not hungry) you really are.
Even while you’re seated at your desk, ask yourself whether you would be scrounging for food at home or when out—if the answer is no, you’re not actually hungry. You’re snacking for the sake of it.
With this insight, you can adjust your habits accordingly. If you’re still struggling, try investing in a gadget to fiddle with at your desk, chewing on gum, stretching or making yourself a cup of tea or coffee instead. Getting stuck into a project that will have you occupied for a long period of time can also help shift your focus away from food and onto something more beneficial.
Drinking water is important to healthy living in general. But, did you know that drinking water can help fight those mid afternoon munchies, flush toxins, and improve your clarity throughout the day?!
It’s true! Water is amazing and is one of the easiest and most inconspicuous ways to bring healthy living to the workplace.
And, you can even adopt some green methods into your water drinking habits.
Instead of buying bottles of water or using the disposable work cups to constantly fill up, bring a larger, reusable water bottle. Fill it up throughout the day and easily keep track of how much water you’ve been drinking.
You will notice that you’re less tempted to consume junk food and sugary drinks. You will also probably notice that it’s easy for you to manage your weight and stay focused throughout the day!
And while office eating is a big part of getting and staying healthy, you can incorporate other health methods into your work life as well.
Office Exercise Tips
Exercise at the office!?
Unless you are one of the lucky few who work in a place with an employee gym, the words office and exercise probably don’t sound like they belong in the same sentence. But, even without an office gym, you can get in some quality movement while at work!
Because many of us have jobs that are relatively sedentary, you’re unlikely to get much movement in without a conscious effort. But just like the need to make changes to your office diet, small changes in your office routine will help promote increased movement and healthier living.
Increased exercise will increase blood flow to your brain, make you more alert, and increase your productivity. All of those benefits are in addition to burning extra calories and increasing muscle tone and definition.
So how do you do it?
To add some movement into your workday, start by swapping out your coffee or tea break with a short, brisk walk. You can even invite your coworkers to add some good conversation and promote good, healthy work relationships.
You can opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or, if you’re growing your confidence and adrenaline in stair climbing, stop a few floors before your workstation and walk the rest of the way!
You can even participate in deskercise—exercising at the comfort of your own desk. Bring an exercise ball into the office and alternative between sitting on it, and sitting on your regular chair. Sitting on an exercise ball (assuming it’s the correct size for your height and desk) can help to improve posture. Throw in a few exercises on your break, and you’ll improve your strength too.
Pre-plan gym days
Who wants to go to the gym after a long day at the office? Unless exercise is your hobby or passion, probably not you. First of all, you are far from alone.
If your goal is to get an extra gym day or two in, start by pre-planning when you’ll go. If weekends work better for you, plan to hit the gym at least once or twice Friday – Sunday. Then commit to one work evening, and be consistent. If you know Wednesday evenings are your time to shine in the gym, be prepared and find a way to hold yourself accountable.
Think about the future
You will always regret eating that greasy burger or pizza—but you won’t ever regret eating the healthier salad or soup. Think about your immediate future; or in other words, how you’ll feel tonight (both physically and mentally) after a long day of poor eating.
You’ll likely feel sluggish or ill, demotivated and disappointed with yourself. If you ate well throughout the day and kept well hydrated, maybe even snuck in a quick work-out, odds are you’ll feel great.
In the longer-term, you’ll feel more energetic day-to-day, healthier all-round, more organised and productive. Most importantly, you’ll be ready for that summer vacation—you’ve earned it.