February 28, 2017

Realistic Tips for Staying Healthy at Work

Most of us came to Superhuman from an agency of 50+ people. Being at a larger agency meant more client meetings, more leftovers, and more people bringing in Friday donuts. As hard as we tried to make standing desks happen and to ignore the free leftover pizza, the pounds crept on.

We now have the luxury of working in an office with less than 10 people where it’s a little bit easier to manage some of those environmental factors and to rally the people around us to embrace healthy lifestyles. At Superhuman, the small but passionate healthy faction has taken over. Here’s what we’ve learned by trying to implement our habits into our workday and shared space.

1. Skip the Friday donuts (most of the time)

Nothing crushes my soul more than saying no to free donuts. In fact, it is so difficult that I convince myself that even just a small bite will be enough and I resort to cutting small bites out of all the different donut options throughout the day. I love to bake and am totally guilty of bringing in the work treats. It’s fun! But try to indulge if it’s more of a handmade, special treat and less of a weekly, store-bought tradition. There are plenty of ways to bring in snacks to share that won’t make you feel like you need a nap by 10 a.m. Try bringing in a veggie and hummus tray that you set out a few hours after lunch. Becky brought us all healthy granola for Christmas and Grant loves stealing baby carrots from me.

2. Develop an arsenal of healthy snacks

I make my worst food decisions when I am away from my pantry and I don’t come to work prepared. I tend to come to work with 3-5 healthy snack options, most of which I don’t even end up eating. It gives me peace of mind to know if hunger strikes, I am ready with healthy options. Some of my favorite snacks are baby carrots, low-sugar yogurt (I like plain Fage or Siggi’s), raw nuts, fruit, cottage cheese, or hard-boiled eggs. If you’re in a small office like us, make this a team effort!

3. Help each other make healthier lunch choices

If you don’t have time to meal prep healthy lunches or find yourself out to eat a lot during the work day, don’t fret! As a team, try to make better restaurant choices based on healthy menu options. If you find yourself at a place with a more limited menu, don’t be afraid to ask for customizations. I like adding avocados to salads or omelets, getting a side salad instead of french fries, or ordering sandwiches without the bun. Sometimes restaurants will even let you sub avocado or greens for toast, buns, hash browns, etc.

4. Recognize your patterns

A big part of being healthier during the workday for me involved recognizing when and why I was eating during the day. If I’m not super busy I tend to snack a lot more often. When I hit a wall of tiredness around 2 or 3 I start to think about grabbing a treat. After lunch I often want a small bite of something sweet. I’m trying to combat these habits by 1) asking if I’m truly hungry before aimlessly reaching for a snack 2) going on a short walk instead and 3) if I’m still feeling a craving, I’ll have a coffee, a few nuts, or a small spoonful of peanut or almond butter.

5. Take a walk

As mentioned above, a lot of my aimless snacking comes from boredom or just needing a break from the computer screen. I recently purchased a FitBit, which quickly revealed to me how much I am really sitting during the day. It’s easier said than done to interrupt a steady workflow to go for a stroll, especially when it’s -10 in Minneapolis. I’ve been trying to do it more often, even if that means walking up all of the stairs in our 6-story building. I find it helps with unnecessary cravings and overall makes me more productive when I’m back on the computer.

6. Pick healthy drink options

I’ve never been much of a soda drinker, but having more healthy drink options has helped me turn to those instead of unhealthy food. La Croix has obviously been a game-changer for many people. Other great options include Kombucha, hot tea and unsweetened iced tea. As I’ve grown to like coffee more, I enjoy ordering an almond milk latte or an Americano as a less-bitter-but-not-sweet option.

7. Workout together

This might be a stretch for some, but it’s helpful to have a workout buddy, especially when they sit next to you all day. Get the whole office to do push-ups at 3 p.m., commit with a coworker to play racquetball once a week, or if your office is small enough, get them all to come try a class at your gym. This is my subtle hint to my fellow Superhumans to come to my gym.

8. Don’t be too hard on yourself

Whenever I’m reflecting on fitness and nutrition, this is the ultimate philosophy I try to loop back to, mostly because it’s really difficult for me. Following these types of principles 80% of the time leaves 20% of life to truly be enjoyed with no restrictions or regrets. That’s when you eat the Friday donuts, go to Shake Shack for lunch, have an extra cocktail at happy hour and take that much-needed exercise rest day. There will be days where, unfortunately, getting stuff done becomes a priority over having a nutritionally perfect day. It’s life, it happens. Think of every day as a fresh start and an exciting opportunity to make good choices for your mind and body. It will reflect in your demeanor and your work will benefit.

Stacia Burtis

-Illustration by Stacia Burtis

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