It’s a new year, and you’re raring to go on your shiny new (or renewed) resolutions. Deciding to get/stay/live healthy is an excellent goal. But if you want this to stick, it can’t just be a lifestyle change in your spare time. On average, we spend 40-50 hours at work per week—a huge chunk of time that can make or break your commitment to healthier living.
1. Jump around.
Okay, maybe don’t actually do jumping jacks at your desk—unless you’re really sure your coworkers won’t mind—but there are ways to be active while you’re working. Studies show that people with desk jobs are at a higher risk for health issues like diabetes and heart disease. Being sedentary is the biggest enemy to your weight loss and fitness goals. Every hour, make sure you get up and take a brief walk, run small errands around the office, etc. The important thing is to get moving. It can be a challenge to get away from your desk some days, but it’s worth it.
2. Don’t skip lunch.
No matter how busy a day is, try to set aside time to sit and eat lunch, instead of wolfing something down on the go. Being conscious about what (and how much) you’re eating can help you stay on track with any food-related goals.
3. Brown bag it.
Packing your lunch not only gives you more control over what you’re eating, but also saves money. The takeout struggle is real for me: I happen to work in a big city with a ton of fast food places and trucks camped out within a few blocks. This can be awesome for convenience, but it makes the takeout trap too easy. My solution is a rewards-based system: some of the money I save each week by making my own salads or bringing in leftovers goes into a personal slush fund, which I then use on movies or a small splurges. It seems a minor incentive, but it motivates me to take the 10 minutes each night to pack lunch for the next day.
4. Take a hike.
Literally! If you have some time left in your lunch break after eating, go outside and take a quick walk. In addition to the benefits of moving around (see #1), it can be a useful head-clearing exercise while you get a break from your inbox.
5. Find some zen at your desk.
Yoga Journal has some excellent tips for getting your yoga on at work. You don’t need any special yoga expertise to do these stretches. And while they’re not a high-impact cardio workout, yoga moves can help your body stay limber after that half-hour you spent hunched over your keyboard, replying to emails.
Yoga is also great for stress relief as well. Stress can seriously undermine any fitness regime you’re trying to start or maintain, so getting a handle on it is a key part of building any healthy routine.
6. Work in your workout.
Think about your daily and weekly routines. Is there anywhere you can fit in some extra workout time? If, like me, you’re not a morning person and just can’t comprehend getting up at 5 a.m. to hit the gym. Maybe there’s a spin class you can take immediately after work or you can spare an hour to go to the gym on your way home.
If evenings are a no-go because you go straight from work to family or other obligations, you could stake out a few mornings per week where you can go to the gym before work. Building workout appointments into your existing schedule is the best way to stick to your new resolution. Otherwise, it gets too easy to put things off.
7. Stand and deliver.
Check with your company—are standing desks an option? As an alternative to sitting all day, standing while you work promotes blood flow and muscle tone. If you’re able to stay on your feet for extended periods of time, this might be an easy substitution to make for your regular chair.
Implementing a new health and fitness routine can be daunting. It always sounds so great in theory, but then busy lives (and so many tasty temptations!) get in the way. It doesn’t have to be that way—and by making small, consistent changes to your work day, you’re that much closer to succeeding. This is the year we make it stick!