No, wait! Don’t X this tab!
Your blood pressure is probably soaring at the thought of yet another article on “workplace wellness.”
I get it.
But this isn’t just another nag about that second donut you ate in the break room. In fact, a minute ago I consumed a chocolate brownie while imagining how to convince you (without appearing to convince you), that your health is connected to success at work.
Then I ate another one (with a detox tea).
Look, work is stressful, and there are health landmines everywhere. Last week, I got blown up by bagels, lox, and cream cheese at a client meeting and that was before sandwiches at lunch. The wheat belly took days to subside.
The truth is, we all understand what the benefits of wholesome food and exercise are: greater confidence and more energy, which experts say contribute to productivity and career success. And of course, we know why employers encourage wellness: higher morale, stress resistance, fewer sick days, and lower insurance rates.
That’s a lot of ROI!
However, diet and exercise changes can seem dictatorial, complicated, and time-consuming. While summer is here and the produce is ripe, why not take a month to try these simple and fun workday ideas to kickstart a healthier lifestyle?
1. Stop stressing about it
Did you know that gym guilt and dieting actually increases psychological stress and cortisol, two known causes of weight gain? In fact, one published study1 concluded that “Dieting may be deleterious to psychological well-being and biological functioning.”
So, step one: not one more word to your co-workers about the 250 calories in the Starbucks Grande Vanilla Latte that will take your entire lunch hour to burn off. Focus instead on healthy behaviors that will last a lifetime.
2. Move vigorously for at least 45 minutes a day
Got a meeting scheduled? Walk while you talk, as companies are doing all across America.
Spend lunch outside in the fresh air, strolling with your office buddies.
If it’s not raining, park one mile away from the office.
If exercise is not an option until you get home, decompress by power-walking or cycling the neighborhood with a friend. Work in fun activities like hiking, dancing, or simply rough-housing with the kids.
While you might think you are too tired after a long day, exercise refreshes you, giving you the energy to tackle the remainder of your day. It also helps you sleep better at night.
3. Pack a rainbow for lunch
For one month, consume only nutrient-rich foods in primary colors for lunch and snacks. If it’s brown, pink, or white, skip it, and opt instead for the anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, cell-protecting goodness found in primary-color foods:
Spinach, cucumbers, asparagus, artichokes, greens, apples and limes are filled with phytonutrients that help prevent heart disease, cancer, and macular degeneration, which some health practitioners link to heavy computer use.
Throw in a handful of blueberries, purple cabbage, or purple grapes into your lunchtime salad or smoothie for a boost of resveratrol and anthocyanin to assist with memory and cell regeneration.
Stuff a red bell pepper with your chopped salad of red veggies, including radishes, radicchio, tomatoes, apples, and grapes. These foods are filled with lycopene, which may help to prevent prostate and urinary tract problems.
Opt for a banana or yellow apple as a snack, and for lunch, sip on a cup of butternut squash soup. The carotenoids have been shown to be protective from inflammatory arthritis, a health risk for those who type all day.
Rainbow foods don’t have to be boring. Combine all the colors for a nutritional extravaganza. Add to the fun by getting your co-workers involved. Check out Eating Well for some photo-perfect veggie creations, and encourage your office buddies to share their rainbow lunch recipes on Pinterest or Instagram.
Time works in your favor here since you can take advantage of nine hours away from the food free-for-all that is our home kitchen. Apply the rainbow rule for a month, pack in serious nutrition, and see how you feel in 30 days’ time.
4. Working at Home
Apply your remote worker superpowers to what you eat and when you eat it at home and avoid trips to the kitchen. Use your daily planner and decide on snacks and meals before your day begins. Prep some of your rainbow lunch veggies and fruits on the weekend.
Keep a pitcher filled with iced water or preferably, green tea (a powerful brain food!), and sip between meals. If you need something crunchy, chew on a few almond, pumpkin, or sunflower seeds.
For exercise, turn on YouTube for a quick yoga routine before starting your day. I love 30 Days of Yoga with Adrienne, because who doesn’t like counting down to stay on track? Yoga combines strength training, cardio, and relaxation, making it the ultimate workout.
Final thoughts for success? Have fun and keep things simple to begin enjoying the habits of a healthier lifestyle!
Tomiyama, A. J., Mann, T., Vinas, D., Hunger, J. M., DeJager, J., & Taylor, S. E. (2010). Low Calorie Dieting Increases Cortisol. Psychosomatic Medicine, 72(4), 357–364. http://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181d9523c