Before we get into the specifics, you can argue that “healthy” has become more subjective of a term throughout the years. Does healthy mean that you eat nothing but greens or that at the very least you have a normal BMI? Well, there is a universal definition (“being absent of disease” or “unifying the state of mind, body, and soul”) that we all can somewhat agree on, but let’s just say you consider yourself healthy, assuming that you already do.
Yes, you are healthy, but your workplace? Not so much. Many people can deal with somewhat unhealthy family members, significant others, friends, co-workers, specifically individuals (I’d be more than happy to write about how healthifying the habits of your social circle is so fulfilling and why you should try it). However, anyone’s environment can significantly impact the choices you make when it comes to food and fitness. Imagine if you lived in a cramped suburban area in the middle of nowhere and the nearest gym is more than thirty minutes away. What if you come home from a 9-5 desk job and you’re exhausted, not wanting to work out at all? Not to mention, you always have that one co-worker who will bring three boxes of donuts by the dozen that smell heavenly. Ugh. Those people are the best, but the WORST.
Say you work in a food service establishment, one that does not have too many healthy options (a fast food joint, a dessert parlor, a candy factory, or a restaurant where every item is 700 calories or over). WORST OF ALL is when you are granted free food in return for your shift, but you have to eat the meal right then and there during your break due to restaurant policy. Alternatively, many times there will be incorrect orders and meals will be taken home. You don’t want to waste the food, so you volunteer. What ends up happening is that you consume that platter of leftover burgers and fries for dinner every day instead of cooking a homemade meal for yourself. Trust me–I’ve brought home boxes of the world’s best vegan peanut butter brownies after work. Thank goodness I’d walk all over the mall before and after my shifts, otherwise my health would have been of concern from all the fat and sugar.
In all seriousness, I truly feel you. There are two workplaces where I am currently the most susceptible to mindless grazing and overeating: the chocolatier of my part-time job, and my Food Science club meetings.
Firstly, the chocolatier is superb–Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates in San Luis Obispo!–with organic, fair-trade, and ethically sourced chocolate products with countless vegan options, you can’t go wrong! Fortunately, the material is expensive enough for me to not want to consume them, plus it is extremely easy to immerse myself in working on non-food-related tasks where I don’t end up eating an entire bar’s worth of chocolate by the time my shift is over.
Secondly, the Food Science club meetings: we don’t always make junk food, but just yesterday, my co-food coordinator and I hosted a Valentine’s Day-themed cookie decorating party for our meeting and baked over a hundred vegan cookies for everyone to eat. I ended up bringing seven home and just ate three more on top of four at the meeting. Yes, seven cookies total. I have an inner fatty. Nobody’s perfect.
But anyhow, there are many times where I regret my decisions, hence I recognize that the after-math with acting upon my actions ultimately isn’t worth it. It’s actually much harder when you give into social pressure, but watch other people around you and see if it’s truly worth mimicking their behaviors. It may vary drastically where you’ll find one person not touching a cookie and another individual eating ten cookies in one sitting. Truly listen to your internal cues and ask if the decision to consume a particular food is for hunger, for pleasure, or for conformity.
Lastly, I don’t believe in the mantra we all like to use: “I don’t have time”. We all have the same amount of time to do anything and it is simply a matter of where we allot our energy with that time. Be practical: take a walk after you come home to get in a warm up before working out in your living room or at the gym, or wake up earlier in the morning to complete an exercise session, maybe even half of it and then complete the other half once you return from your shift. If your work place is a cubicle, feel free to squeeze in a twenty minute workout during your lunch break. Purposely don’t bring enough money to buy takeout and bring your own meal prep to work instead. Opt for tea, water, and unsweetened Americanos if you drink coffee instead of soda or energy drinks.
And like I articulated before–nobody is perfect. I overeat sometimes and there will even be moments where I will wish that I tried a new item when I restrained myself from doing so. Go ahead and have a coffee shop pastry if you want to. Not every day has to be “workout like crazy” day. Sometimes you just have to chillax and enjoy the world around you. It’s critical to not fear or dread your environment because one day, you’ll become so mentally drained that succumbing to these opportunities will be the end result. At then end of the day, you come home with you and yourself. Health is everything–mental, physical, and emotional–and it helps you function more efficiently.
Does your current workplace/school sabotage your goals? What are your tips to maintaining a healthy routine?