While the weekend gets a lot of flack for being hard on diets and exercise, the workweek can wreak havoc on your attempts to stay healthy. This is especially true if you work long days, struggle with eating right, or are too busy to get time in at the gym. If you’re having a hard time with staying healthy at work and during the week, we have some tips for you!
The diet always starts Monday, right? There are a few problems with that:
- Many people don’t approach the diet in a healthy way
- The “diet” doesn’t stick for the whole week
- It’s a bummer when the diet isn’t working
Even for those who don’t resolve to start a diet each Monday, many workers struggle with healthy eating. Whether it’s eating out every day, not eating enough during the workday, or overindulging on donuts and other junk food, there are plenty of ways that the workweek wreaks havoc on your food habits.
To make food your friend during the workweek, you have to do some prep work. How much or how little totally depends on you. Packing lunches and snacks, or keeping healthy options in your desk are just a few of the ways you can address your inconsistent or unhealthy food habits at work.
Here are some tips to help you eat better at work.
- Invest in some good food storage containers to make prep work easier
- Prepare lunches in advance so you can grab and go
- Consider portioning out snacks, too, like trail mix or nuts
- Keep some healthy snacks in your work desk or fridge
- Keep some dark chocolate in there, too, to satisfy cravings!
- Stock up on easy-to-grab, healthy foods like fruit, yogurt, and oatmeal packets
Here are just a few make-ahead recipes for breakfast and lunch on the go:
If you do decide to eat out during the week, be intentional in your ordering to help you stay on the right track and to avoid that awful post-lunch feeling. It’s also a good idea to get in the habit of making healthy dinners throughout the week, too. If you struggle with dinner during the week, there are some ways to make things easier. Consider a meal delivery service, buy a slow cooker or Instant Pot, or get in the habit of shopping for and planning out meals for the week in advance.
It’s not just healthy food that helps you make the most of your workweek: It’s how you eat. Don’t starve yourself all day and then expect to make healthy decisions later when you’re really hungry. And learn what your body needs to stay alert and productive. For a lot of people, small meals throughout the day works best. For others, three meals and a few small snacks helps them do their best. Take the time to get to know your body’s needs and take the time to plan ahead. It’s worth it!
Whether or not you’re able to get workouts in during the week, it’s a good idea to pay attention to how much activity you’re getting in (or not getting) during the workday. There are lots of ways to add movement into your day, even if you feel chained to your desk most of the time. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Take a walk during your lunch break
- Take the stairs and park further away
- Walk to your colleague’s desk instead of emailing them
- Stand up regularly
- Add a noon workout (if your boss is okay with it) — something like Yin yoga is a good way to avoid getting super sweaty
If you have or invest in an activity tracker, most offer reminders to move or alarms to let you know if you’ve been stationary too long. Fitbit trackers nudge you to hit 250 steps per hour. Garmin trackers alert you when you’ve been sitting for an hour. Essentially any fitness tracker can help you to move around if you sit too long, which can be incredibly useful if you tend to get caught up in what you’re doing at work.
Moving around periodically also helps your eyes if you work at a computer. It’s a good idea to let your eyes rest your eyes (experts recommend taking a fifteen minute break every two hours).
I know that de-stressing during the workday is often easier said than done. But, staying healthy at work also necessarily includes your stress levels and mental well being. The previous two sections (eating well and being active) have positive implications for your mental health, but it’s a good idea to take some time to chill out a few times a day.
The fitness trackers I mentioned above all have some sort of breathing or relaxation app included, so, again, if you have one, take advantage of that feature. They might guide you through breathing techniques or give you a certain period of time to sit quietly and focus on your breath. None of them are very long, so you can even slip away from your desk and go somewhere quiet for just a few minutes to relax a bit.
The “chill out” portion of your healthy workday extends beyond the 9-5. Take time after or before work to do something you enjoy, stick to workouts during the week, and get plenty of sleep each night. Take care of yourself and be a more productive employee!
What are your tips for being healthy during the week?