Throughout my career as a personal trainer and health coach, I’ve had more than one client tell me “my job is making me fat”. Unfortunately, office culture in the United States can contribute to many health issues including carrying some extra weight. In this short blog series, I’ll outline 3 common healthy lifestyle hurdles that I’ve heard over and over when it comes to office life, and provide some ways to overcome them. In today’s blog, I’ll share what the 3 challenges are, some quick tips that you can apply today, and a preview of what’s to come in the next 3 weeks for each topic.
Habit #1: Sitting for too long
Some days it may feel like you’re chained to your desk. On those days you barely have time for a bathroom break, you eat your lunch at your desk, and before you know it, you’re headed out to your car to sit during your commute home. When you finally get to your home sweet home, you plop down on the couch totally exhausted. Not only that, but your legs feel tight, your back hurts, and your shoulders ache! Sound familiar? You’re not alone. The average American sits for about 12 hours a day! (https://www.juststand.org/the-facts/) Yikes! As you can imagine, this is problematic for your overall health and well-being. Not only are you not burning many calories while sitting on your rear, the extended time sitting can contribute to mobility issues and stiffness since your body is glued in one position for the majority of the day.
Quick Fix: Current recommendations suggest that you get up and move for 3 minutes for every 30 minutes you spend seated. This is where an activity tracker or the alarm on your phone can come in handy as a reminder to get up and move frequently throughout your day.
Stay Tuned: Next week, I’ll share some specific stretches and exercises that you can do right at your desk to get the blood flowing!
Habit #2: Easy-access Snacks
It seems like every office has a break room full of free snacks, or there is at least one co-worker known for keeping the candy jar stocked right there at their desk. You may enter their office with the best of intentions, but mid-way through the conversation you realize that you’re shoving the who-knows-what-number handful of candy pieces into your mouth. It feels like an out of body experience when you catch yourself in the middle of mindless snacking, but it seems to happen more often than you’d like to admit.
Quick Fix: Avoid the areas where these foods are readily available. You know where they are, so make a plan to change your route to the restroom, get water elsewhere, or intentionally walk to the fridge in the break room for your lunch that you brought from home. Another way to handle this situation is to enlist the help of a co-worker. It’s likely there’s someone in the office who also has health-related goals. Find that person and make a pact to avoid the area together. You can even make it a game and get others in on the fun. Who will be the first one to crack? Not you!
Stay Tuned: In two weeks, I’ll share some ideas for healthy snacks you can stash in your office or your bag to help you avoid the other tempting treats lurking in the office.
Habit #3: Afternoon pick-me-up
It’s 4pm and you’re on your 5th cup of coffee…wait, what?! No wonder you have a hard time sleeping at night! If you find that you can’t make it through your afternoon without reaching for a caffeine boost, this may indicate a deeper-rooted issue other than simple caffeine dependence.
Quick Fix: The afternoon slump could be caused in part by dehydration. The first place to start is by cutting back caffeine while increasing water intake. Start by cutting back on caffeine slowly. Caffeine withdrawal headaches can be a real bugger, so start by swapping out your last caffeinated beverage for water. If you like a hot drink, try some herbal tea instead. If soda is your thing, try a flavored (or plain!) sparkling water to get the fizz without the caffeine hit. Each week, swap out one more caffeinated beverage for water until you’re at 1-2 per day, ideally finishing your last caffeinated beverage before 2pm. Keep a water bottle at your desk, and keep it filled up so that you have something to grab other than coffee or soda!
Stay Tuned: In three weeks, I’ll share some tips for improving your sleep to help with your afternoon slump (what a novel idea!), along with proper nutrition and hydration so that you’re running on good, clean energy!
It’s your turn! Apply what you learned today:
After reading the 3 office habits described above, pick one that resonates with you the most and make it a goal to try one of the quick fixes listed. As the week goes on, notice how you feel and what changes you experience.
I hope that these quick fix tips give you something to try this week to improve your health. Stay tuned for more in-depth tips and tricks that you can try to help you feel your best both in and out of the gym!