Working all day is not a good excuse for “letting go” and ignoring the idea of staying fit and healthy. The result of this norm is that there can be a lot of unhealthy people in the office setting. Cakes, cookies, chocolates, big lunches, happy hours, and donuts are the office norms – and not eating these almost makes one an outsider. In all actuality, the office setting can make it easier to stay in shape. Having scheduled work hours means that you can create a routine that gets you healthier each and every day. Choosing to make good choices leads by example and makes you that much more of an exceptional employee, moving the office in a positive direction.
These 9 tips are a combination of my time learning from nutritionists, trainers, various spinal specialists, as well as my own personal experience. It is specific to the time spent in the office. I also advocate a routine workout program, as well as a strong nutritional program beyond office walls. Positive activities and a few structured rules added between the “9 to 5” can lead to long-term health and fitness.
Tip #1 – Eat healthy, high protein, snacks at planned times
Two options are to pack what you want to eat each day or stock snacks at your desk. Personally, I keep a container of protein at my desk and a bag of almonds as staples – although I prefer to eat fresh food and will pack food each day when possible. The idea is to avoid grazing and snacking on unhealthy items. It also helps you look forward to a snack break between meals – and you totally will! Protein helps you feel full longer and avoids the energy crash of carbohydrates.
i. Morning Snack Options – Fruit/Veggies and Protein
1. Small Apple and 20g Protein Shake
2. 1 cup of cottage cheese w/ pineapple
3. Veggies and a lean protein
ii. Afternoon Snack Options – Nuts/Fiber and Protein
1. 10 almonds and 20g Protein Shake
2. Greek yogurt with ½ oz walnuts
3. Veggies and a lean protein
Tip #2 – Plan then Prep your Protein or other Cook-able items
Cooking protein or other items that require the stove or oven ahead of time just requires you to add vegetables/condiments/ carbohydrates/healthy fats easily throughout the week. Buying 3lbs of frozen chicken to cook in the oven or steaming a large pot of lentils is simple and cost effective. Either option provides about 8-12 servings of protein-rich food that can be frozen or refrigerated then thawed and/or warmed throughout the week.
1. Green Salad w/ Chicken and Olive Oil dressing
2. Lean Ground beef on wheat tortilla w/ Veggies / Salsa / Greek Yogurt
3. Lentils w/ Mushrooms / Sweet Potatoes / Broccoli
Tip #3 – Make time each day to send appreciation
You MUST keep your mind healthy at work. If you want to be happy and positive at work, you must GIVE happiness and positivity. To do this, set aside 5 minutes each day to send appreciation notes. What is an appreciation note? A simple “thank you”, “you’re awesome”, “nice work.” These notes take about 30 seconds to write, but can make someone else’s day, week, or even year!
Not sure what to write? I always remember this quote “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” That definitely takes the pressure off!
It does not always have to be a note – it can be an email, facebook post, handwritten note, verbal exchange… you name it. The takeaway – just write or say something*.
*If you are at your 5 minutes and not sure who to write – no need to always send a note, just think of the different people that I have helped you get to where you are today – the time spent in good thought will uplift you – promise.
Tip #4 – Stop being a statue (Move your body Part I)
After 20 minutes of being in the same position your muscles lose blood flow from inactivity. Reduced blood flow will lead to stiffness and tense muscles – this day in and day out may leave you a life of staring at the floor. At 70 I do not want the “hunch” in my shoulders, neck bobbed, and crumpled wrists.
To combat this and get moving, try these stretches by holding each for 10-15 seconds then alternate. Do them every 20-30 minutes**.
Three main stretches:
1. Shoulders – Raise arms above head, stretch up with finger crossed and push your palms to the ceiling
2. Neck – Put one arm behind your lower back and lean your neck to the opposite side.
3. Wrists – Tilt your wrist all of the way back, a pull your hand towards your body with the opposite hand.
*Set an alarm or reminder on your phone or computer! Even if you don’t sit at a computer, these stretches can help reduce the impact of working at a station, on machinery, or writing/reading.
Tip #5 – Stay Hydrated
“Dehydration is my worst enemy” is a voice I hear constantly inside my head. Does that make me weird? Yes. Does it KEEP me hydrated? Definitely! Water is the #1 ingredient in your body… Staying hydrated means a happy body and allows your systems to fire on all cylinders. It can flush out the bugs, germs, toxins, and viruses that come your way.*
As such, drink 8oz every hour at while at work. Once your cup is empty, go back and fill it up! Over the course of the day, given an 8 hour shift, you will have consumed 64oz or half a gallon. Add lemon, cucumber, or berries to give it added flavor.
*If you are afraid of public restrooms or “don’t like water”, get over it! Your life is too valuable to be dictated by a phobia. And no – pop and other caffeinated drinks are not water.
Tip #6 – Don’t be a desk potato! (Move your body Part II)
What do you call someone who watches TV on the couch all day? A couch potato. Is sitting at a desk much different (i.e. couch is to desk chair as tv is to computer)? Not much of a stretch, eh? SO DON’T be a desk potato! As such, get up and walk around for a few minutes EVERY hour!
If you are “hydrating” as you should be, this will not be a problem. This means a brisk walk around the office, take a trip up and down the stairs, fill up your water, walk to your boss’ or friends desk**. Stay in motion for 2-3 minutes. Over the course of a day that is 16-24 minutes of walking.
PLUS, get in a 15 minutes walk at lunch or at some point during the day. The endorphins created by this 15-minute active break will surely help you return to your desk with more clarity and focus! Hop on the phone, call mom, call a supplier, call a hotline, call to set up your doctor appointment, listen to an audiobook, enjoy nature, etc…
*Visiting someone else, try to resist the urge to sit or “lean” on their desk. Focus on spending time standing. March in place, do your stretches!
Tip #7 – Volunteer with Coworkers
We are typically around coworkers more than our family and friends; finding great ways to strengthen these relationships in a healthy way is therefore a MUST.
Most companies are already organizing volunteer events, so one option is to just say “yes” or sign-up. Alternatively, if your company does not have any activities set up, start some! A few ideas**:
-Canned food drive during the holidays
-Habitat house build
-Bake sale for charity
-Hands on event with children
**All of these get you up moving around as well. So not only are they healthy for relationships, they are also healthy for your body by keeping it in motion! Some employers will give you time off to conduct these activities vs. doing them on your own time as well.
Tip #8 – 52 minutes of work, 8 minutes of rest
To be efficient and effective throughout the day, you must have focused work time without interruptions. To balance that work, you MUST also take good breaks. A great way to do this is to leverage the ratio of 6:1 (that is 6 periods of work followed by 1 period of rest).
For one hour that means, 52 minutes of work (not 49 not 53), followed by 8 minutes of rest. This ratio is very important! Rest too long and you will get lazy, rest too short and your mind will not be well rested for the next session of focused work. Use this rest time to index and organize your thoughts and progress rather than sit mindlessly.
Tip #9 – Get a Bro-worker (or the female equivalent)
Go out of your way to befriend someone at work. This can be someone to consistently go to lunch, grab coffee, walk around the block, converse– whatever! A person that knows the culture in which you show up to every day will be able to understand you in a way that others cannot. They will be able to help celebrate your successes and overcome challenges.
**Keep in mind: you do not have to tell this person your deepest darkest secrets, complain about people at work, or engage in gossip – this should be a friendship, not an alliance!
Thank you for reading the 9 Tips to Staying Fit, Healthy and Productive! Gaining a mental and physical edge at the office can be established by solid habits consistently applied throughout your day.
Being an Ohio-boy for the first years of my life gave me a solid foundation in Mathematics and Statistics at Miami University, the opportunity to start my career as a Data Scientist while getting my Master in Business Administration at Xavier, and the ability to spend the last two years on-site at a client in California. Now 26, I am excited to be taking advantage of a career opportunity in Sydney, Australia with a new company where I will be focused on the world of Big Data and analyzing consumer behavior for our grocery client. Personally, I love experiencing new cultures – recently spending time in South Africa, investing heavily in health and fitness to become an excellent athlete, developing personally and professionally through the help of my coach, as well as helping others set vision, maximize their potential and achieve greater results.