Sometime the biggest pressure at work isn’t the paperwork piled high, or a deadline or demanding client or an upcoming performance review. It’s the pressure to stick to your health and fitness goals in the face of pizza lunches, birthdays or Friday happy hours. While being a part of the office fun is important and builds a team environment, it can also derail health and fitness goals.
Setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) goals is the first step. If you have a SMART goal to lose 10 pounds in 2 months by walking at lunchtime 3 days a week and cutting back on sugar, and you buy a Tim Hortons Double Double with breakfast everyday, those goals quickly derail both fitness and nutrition goals.
- Remember why you started. Don’t just set it and forget it when it comes to a goal. Remind yourself regularly why this goal is important. Subtle reminders around your workspace can help you stay focused. It could be a sticky note on a monitor with the goal itself or an inspirational quote as a reminder. Or you could make the screen saver on your phone a picture of a pair of shoes you want to buy or that favourite beach you want to visit. Keep these reminders front and center so you see them before going through the drive-thru for that Tim Hortons Double Double and a box of donuts for that morning meeting!!
- Buddy-up. Once you set a goal, it’s important to find other like-minded people for accountability. To help navigate office temptations, partner up with a colleague who has similar goals and help each other stick to them. An accountability partner can remind you of your goals and support you when you’re tempted to veer off the healthy-living path.
- Track food and progress. To manage temptations and treat yourself (on occasion), it’s important to be aware of what and how much you are eating. That means tracking food daily and recording results such as weight, measurements and energy levels each week. I suggest to keep a food diary, there are studies that show results twice as much weight loss versus not keeping a food diary. Being aware of how many calories you’ve consumed allows you to know when you can indulge a bit.
- Plan and prep. Some weeks have too many temptations, especially in summer with patios opening and backyard bbq’s.. It may include multiple dinners and celebrations, or business travel that requires you to eat at restaurants for every meal. I meal prep and cook my lunch for the entire work week. I map out the week by planning for what, when and where I might indulge in and then preparing for the rest. I pack healthy lunches, and add in foods that satisfy the sweet craving with a small piece of dark chocolate or chocolate protein shake and I research restaurant menus in advance, so I am prepared to make the right selection when I am on the road.
- Lead the change. Chances are you aren’t the only one at work who is trying to be healthy, lose weight or exercise more. Be a leader by offering to find healthy alternatives to pizza for the next lunch-and-learn session. Or suggest starting a wellness committee that creates opportunities for employees to eat well and move more at work. By setting an example at the office you may make the team healthier and you’ll stand out as a leader.
You will spend many many hours at work over your lifetime. Ultimately, you can’t avoid every temptation at work, but with some planning, preparation, awareness and accountability, you can have your beer and pizza and achieve your goals too!