Carry healthy snacks
Workplaces are notorious for cheap and fluffy carbohydrates (i.e. donuts, bagels, cupcakes). It is far easier to grab a bagel off the table and eat it than it is to burn it off in the gym. An easy way to prevent overeating and snacking on these refined carbohydrates in the workplace is to bring healthy snacks and have them on hand. A healthy snack is one that has both protein and fiber (i.e. Greek yogurt and raspberries, cold cut turkey and high fiber crackers or one slice of whole grain bread with almond butter). These snacks will provide your body with sustained energy and will help combat those mid-day crashes.
Find a healthy-buddy
Eating a salad during the office party may be more enjoyable if a friend is eating one as well. Dieting and exercise partners keep motivation high. Considering that typically 8-10 hours per day are spent in the workplace, a large chunk of the health decisions are, therefore, made at work. Social influences have huge effects on health behaviors, and having a close friend involved in ramping up a healthy lifestyle will not only lead to success, but may make the road to health more fun! Also consider running an office health challenge and get everyone on board.
Keep a water bottle on the desk
Without a constant reminder to drink water or without water readily accessible, people can go an entire day without fluids. Having a water bottle stationed on the desk serves not only as a reminder to drink water, but also as a visual for the amount of water consumed throughout the day. Aim to purchase a large 32 oz. water bottle, and fill it up at least twice throughout the day. This will ensure water needs are being met even if fluid intake at meals is lacking.
Create a pocket motivation reminder
As the day progresses, thoughts of health can easily slip the mind. Having a note on your desk or computer screen can help maintain focus. Examples of a “pocket motivation reminder” may be a favorite motivational quote or an old picture where a person felt happiest and healthiest. Keeping this reminder on hand, and somewhere where you will easily see it throughout the work day can be crucial during times when unhealthy decisions are appealing and simple.
Prioritize time for exercise
When employees are overworked, exercise can quickly go on the back burner. An important way to maintain an exercise regimen is to set aside the same time every day for fitness. Allow the hour of fitness to be an escape from other responsibilities. Set the time to something realistic and achievable. For instance, if a person is more nocturnal, setting a 5am workout goal is unachievable. Time and location parameters are also critical to planning. For instance “I will work out for 30 minutes by running outside” is a more efficient goal than “I will exercise more.” Specific goals demand more accountability. For many people, finding a gym that is close and accessible or prepaying for some workout classes can be the difference between achieving fitness goals and failing.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.