Features February 2018 On The Cover

How To – Stay Fit During Your 9 to 5

Written By: Chris Marhefka and Carlee Marhefka

There are a lot of challenges while trying to stay fit in the workplace. But the truth is that it boils down to two barriers: the average person sits too much and has poor food choices constantly available to them.

When you start combating these two barriers, you will be able to maintain a healthier balance in the workplace. Here’s how to get started!

You must move more throughout the day. Think about it, the average American sits for 12 hours a day which means we spend more time sitting than we do sleeping! We sit while eating breakfast and then we get in a car and sit on our way to work. When we get to work, we sit down and only get up to use the restroom or go to the copier. Then we get back in our car to sit some more so that we can sit for dinner. This is followed by an evening of sitting on the couch.

Why is this so terrible? There are over 3 million deaths per year related to physical inactivity. Meaning it’s time to get our bodies in motion.

The goal is to make all these tips as easy to implement as possible. Humans naturally choose the path of least resistance. So, set yourself up for success by grabbing an accountability partner and scheduling time to move in your Google calendar. You can also keep a stocked gym bag at your office, so you have no excuses for not making it to the gym.

Another great tip is to schedule more time in your commute to work so that you can take your bike once a week. Don’t have a bike? No problem! Schedule at least one of your meetings per day as a walking meeting to get more steps in.

If your job requires you to be at your desk all day, make the most of that time. For starters, switch out your chair for an exercise ball. Or better yet, switch to a standing or adjustable desk. Want a greater challenge? Go all out and use a walking desk. We do, however, recommend making smaller adjustments first before going straight to a walking desk. An adjustable desk is the perfect sweet spot, because it allows you to move easily between sitting and standing.

Finally, schedule mini breaks to get up and move throughout the day. This can be a stretch break or a workout. Workouts at your desk are important because they are proven to boost energy, productivity and your metabolism. When we take a look at our work day, we realize it is much more effective to focus on sprints. Don’t worry, we don’t mean actually sprinting. Work sprints allow you to set blocks of time, 90 minutes long, that are focused solely on one task. At the end of your sprint, add in a movement break to help you refocus before your next sprint.

Fitness watches such as Fitbit and Garmin can be set to remind you when it’s time for a movement break, so you don’t have to think about it. Start by setting just 10 minutes aside after every sprint for these great desk stretches. You can do a standing hip flexor stretch to open up your hips after sitting all day. Chest openers are great to combat slouching while typing and can be done in any door frame. It’s also good to roll your neck from side to side and front to back, as well as move your wrists in all directions.

The culture of your office matters. When you change the mindset of your team to a health-focused one, it makes it a lot easier to stay focused. For example, challenge your team to participate in a Whole30 program every January. Compete in a 5k that supports your company’s favorite charity or plan a group workout together once a week.

Companies like PeerFit and B3 gym make it easy to bring fitness to the workplace. PeerFit allows employers to purchase a corresponding number of credits to redeem for paid fitness classes in the community. Whereas B3 Gym will send a trainer straight to your workplace to create group workouts based around your company’s schedule.

You can also start a monthly step challenge or organize your company’s first health fair. Whatever it is, just remember to take action on the changes you wish to see in your office. You can’t just expect that they are going to happen.

The second half of the battle is food in the workplace. It’s no surprise that temptation is everywhere. It feels like co-workers celebrate birthdays every other day with cupcakes or sweet treats as well as being bombarded by clients constantly buying the office appreciation donuts for a job well done. There is a constant abundance of unhealthy temptations. So here are a few ways you can contribute to a healthier workplace for everyone.

Coffee bars are a seemingly innocent way to add value to an office. However, they quickly become sugar bombs when they are stocked with refined white sugar, fancy holiday creamers and syrups. For a healthier option, keep dairy free creamers on hand like almond or coconut milk, and be sure to stock better sweetener alternatives like stevia.

Companies get bonus points for adding bulletproof coffee ingredients, such as MCT oil and grass-fed butter. Adding healthy fats to your coffee keeps you satiated for hours, and will kick your focus into overdrive. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

If you are going to revamp your coffee bar, you might as well change your snack station too. Keep fresh fruit, plain nuts and grass-fed jerky around to keep people from choosing sweets. Make it a companywide policy to bring in treats once a month and then celebrate birthdays collectively. It is perfectly acceptable to indulge once in a while! Just don’t be the person that constantly brings treats in because decision fatigue always sets in, and it becomes increasingly hard to ignore treats staring you in the face every day of the week!

It is also difficult to eat healthy when catered lunch options are chosen for you and there is no healthy option. Speak up before your boss orders the next office luncheon and ask for a healthier alternative such as Root and Pecker. If you can’t pick the restaurant, at least ask that an option is provided that meets your dietary restrictions. The easiest way to control what you eat is to pack your lunch each day, but if you don’t have time to do that every week, local companies such as Eat the 80 will prepare a healthy lunch for you.

Finally, don’t forget to get plenty of water in. A great place to start is to drink half your bodyweight in ounces. If you don’t have one already, see if getting a water cooler installed is an option as it will also cut way back on your plastic usage! For a great soda alternative, you can try La Croix or Perrier.

Last but not least it’s important to practice eating more mindfully. This means when lunchtime, or a snack attack occurs, focus only on eating.  Put the screens away including your phone, laptop and tv. Distracted eating can cause up to 50% higher calorie intake. So, when it’s time to eat, focus only on your meal. It’s a great time to reset your mind, take a needed break from work and enjoy your meal.

All it takes are small, simple changes over the course of each workday to make a large impact on your fitness level. Don’t get overwhelmed. Pick one item from the list above that you can implement tomorrow, and before you know it, you’ll have your healthiest year yet!


Chris and Carlee Marhefka are partners in both business and life. Together they co-own two health and wellness companies, B3 Gym and Eat the 80, a healthy meal delivery company. Chris is also a business coach with 321GoProject, and the host of a cable TV series, Altar’d, on Z Living. Chris and Carlee co-host a podcast called “Crush Couple” which helps to entertain, educate and inspire couples all over the world. 

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