- Start with Reasonable Calorie Reduction – often our weight loss goals are significant at the start of the New Year. Being too restrictive and shaving off large amounts of calories can leave a person feeling deprived, bored, fatigued, and at risk of nutrient deficiencies. Evidence shows that slow and steady weight loss through reasonable calorie reduction is the key to weight that stays off long term. So instead, try decreasing your caloric intake by 500 calories per day. This manageable change will make a significant impact in weight within a relatively short period of time. Eliminating 500 calories per day from your diet may sound daunting but it is often easier than you think. On average 1 slice of pizza is around 250 calories, a bagel with cream cheese is roughly 500 calories, and many specialty coffee drinks such as frappuccinos or lattes can run up to 500 calories or more! By reviewing your diet and eliminating some of these items, the small changes you make will add up quickly supporting progress in your weight and health.
- Track Food for Success – figuring out how many calories you consume in a day can be difficult to assess. The best way to stay on top of your diet is to track your foods. This is especially true when you first start making changes in your eating and are unaware of the calories in many of the foods you eat. SuperTracker and My Fitness Pal are both excellent food tracking resources. Getting familiar with the foods you consume on a regular basis can help to direct the changes you make to your diet to adjust calories. A tip on tracking your calories – recommended daily minimum caloric intake for women is 1,200 calories and for men is 1,500 calories. Make sure when tracking you are meeting these minimums for optimal health.
- More Fruits and Veggies – it cannot be stressed enough the importance of more fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a minimum of 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day. Not only do fruits and veggies pack a powerful health punch of vitamins and minerals essential for your body but they are also low in calories. This can be very useful when trying to reduce calories in your diet. Try replacing high calorie desserts with fruit or adding more veggies to soups, omelets, and family favorites like lasagna to reduce use of more calorie dense foods like cream and cheese.
- Move More – You don’t have to be in the gym hours every day to stay healthy. ANY exercise is better than NO exercise. One of the biggest challenges for working Americans is that being on the job requires sitting ALL. DAY. LONG. Excessive sitting has been linked to many detrimental health outcomes, contributing to conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure. So rather than feeling overwhelmed by the idea of living at the gym, focus on finding ways to be less sedentary. Take the stairs, park farther from stores when shopping, walk with a friend at lunch, stand at your desk whenever possible, or start the day with a brisk walk around the block. These small changes develop positive habits that support larger exercise efforts, improve mood, reduce stress, and can have ripple effects in your health.
Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine summarized his findings on inactivity and cognitive processes by stating, “Sitting too long can put our brains into a slumbering state, resulting in slower processing speed and impeded problem-solving capability, learning, and memory retention.” I’m not experienced in establishing corporate cultures, but my instincts tell me reduced cognitive ability in the workplace needs direct and purposeful intervention.
The culture of movement minimization in the workplace likely crept into the mainstream because of the responsibility each employee feels to produce. Incorporating physical activity into our normal work patterns is a great way to keep our brains and bodies firing on all cylinders while satisfying our responsibility to be productive members of society. Speaking bluntly, traditional “employee wellness” is a fringe Human Resources issue. Increasing employee productivity to positively impact the bottom line is front and center in every executive office. What steps can companies take to realize the financial benefits of an active workforce?
- Establish a culture that supports and encourages movement at work.
- Moving meetings: recommend that participants in a longer meeting stand as needed and schedule brief meetings as standing or walking events.
- Structure all meetings to end 5-10 minutes early if possible so that attendees can participate in a short bout of movement prior to returning to their desk.
- Where possible, flexible scheduling allows employees to incorporate movement in ways that are convenient to them while still meeting essential business needs.
- Make the environment movement-friendly.
- Increase attractiveness of existing stairwells by using color, good lighting, decoration, and cleanliness.
- Centralize the location of employee mail, office supplies, printers and copiers to promote walking from the desk to these locations.
- In larger buildings, designate and clearly mark approved walking corridors by adding directional arrows. These corridors can be utilized for walking meetings and create a climate controlled space for walking during lunch.
- Add standing height tables without chairs to employee break rooms
- If you are a manager or supervisor, you can be a role model and involve your team members. Investments in movement-friendly policies might fall short of expectations if they lack the support and example of leaders within the company.
“The bottom line: Any employer who aims to maximize work quality and quantity will want to create a movement-friendly workplace as a core business strategy. Changes to the work environment and policies that make movement throughout the workday the norm can help promote a high-performing workforce.”
Information inspired by: http://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/5-financially-beneficial-ways-to-get-employees-exercising-at-work
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jsmjr/6863676014