Is anybody else realizing that despite getting settled into our “new normal” over the past year (Hello, COVID-19 pandemic), that life is changing… again!? It’s true, a recent study conducted by the LaSalle Network, 70% of businesses plan to welcome employees back into the workplace in some capacity by this fall. This means that as we prepare to head back into the office, we might encounter life looking a little differently than it has been for the past year and a half. With many routines shifting to accommodate changing work, school, and social schedules, Stronger U coaches have taken the time to offer their best tips for going back to work.
Tip 1: Plan, plan, plan
As any Stronger U member knows, one of the most important things to remember is the importance of planning. This continues to be true when returning to the office, “Stay out of the dang kitchen (or break room) and make yourself some visual reminders of your goals! I used to put them on my computer at work so I could see them” Coach Jamie Tuttle recommends.
Returning to the office presents new opportunities to plan for success. There are numerous social interactions that you may need to plan for that you haven’t encountered while working from home. These scenarios could include:
- Office birthdays
- Meals out
- Work travel
- After work socializing
- And more (each workplace culture is different, so it’s important to think about how your work handles celebrations, community events, and more!).
Stronger U coaches encourage all members to create a plan to help them stick to their goals despite the change in to their routine. Consider the following:
- Pack your meals and snacks the night before to help with the morning rush.
- Keep healthy snacks in your desk to avoid mindless office grabs.
- Decide if you’re going to eat mini meals and snacks or one full meal during the day.
Why wait until you’re back in the office to start practicing? Coach Adina recommends, “start now! Start packing your lunch/snacks and limit your daily options to what is in the bag”. If you already know you’re heading back into a routine, start practicing so you’re ready.
As you start the transition back to work, you might find that your first week back is one of the most challenging yet. This is because many offices may organize treats to celebrate being back to work. Coach Gretchen encourages “keep your meals that first week pretty lean with mostly proteins, veggies, and low-calorie fruits to give yourself some room to enjoy some possible treats at the office. Or even bring your favorite treat you have planned into your day that you can enjoy while everybody else enjoys office treats.”
By taking some time to create a plan for your day, you can eliminate some of the surprises that you will encounter. With a plan in place, you will have the roadmap for success in front of you, trust us, your mental health will thank you.
Tip 2: Get moving
The next thing you should consider is how you are going to fit movement and exercise into your new routine. For many Stronger U members, working remotely allowed them some flexibility to get outside and go for a midday walk, create a schedule for fitness, and find more opportunities to exercise on their own schedule. With the return to work, it is important to create a new routine that will support movement throughout the day. If you work in an office setting that requires you to sit most of the day, schedule in time to get moving. Find a time during your day to stretch or take a walk (psst… want more ideas on how to stay NEAT? Click here).
Finding time for movement during the day does not necessarily mean that you need to schedule in 90-minutes of exercise at the gym each day. Find ways to fit it into your changing schedule. This can look like taking a walk during your lunch break or setting a timer to get up and move around each hour.
“GET MOVEMENT IN, hunger is normal, it’s how you deal with it that determines your success.” Coach Candace
Tip 3: Pack a snack
As you prepare to return to the office, snacking might be a cause for concern. While we typically recommend reducing or removing snacking entirely while on Stronger U, we understand that having smart snacks available can reduce break room or vending machine snaccidents. Here are some of the top smart snack recommendations from Stronger U coaches:
- Tuna/Salmon packets
- Protein bars
- Dried fruit
- Epic bars
- Protein shakes
- Sparkling water and kombucha
- Gum and mints
Also plan on some refrigerated snacks (labeled of course!) such as greek yogurt, hummus, mixed berries, or watermelon. Use the time you walk to the fridge to grab your food as a chance to get some extra movement while at work.
Tip 4: Make it Water Cooler Conversation
Coaches Amanda Pietros and Jamie Tuttle both encourage their members to talk about their goals with coworkers. You have worked hard to get where you are with your Stronger U journey, do not let it get derailed because you don’t want your coworkers to know. By asking for support from coworkers, both Amanda and Jamie were able to more openly talk about their goals and journey. Ultimately, they felt they were not only more supported but served as an example that it is possible to stick to a plan even at work.
Tip 5: Get Ready to Fail
A change in routine means that you most likely will have days where you don’t meet your plan perfectly. That’s okay! The goal isn’t for perfection, but instead a sustainable plan that will yield long-term results. Coach Robbie encourages his members to remember that failure is a natural part of the experience and doesn’t have to derail your efforts when you return to the office,
“You. Are. Going. To. Fail. You will go back to the office and you will eat something off-plan, and maybe, just maybe, want to beat yourself up for it. When you feel that way, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t do it. You wanna. Gosh, I know you do. But don’t. Don’t.
And why won’t you beat yourself up? Because you will have already admitted what I said above, that you will fail.
Accepting that now will make your future mistake easier to stomach.
You. Will. Fail.
Holy cow does that feel good right? You accepted your future failure, saw it for what it is, something we all — as humans — do. And now you can carry on with your plan.
(Now’s the part where you re-read this and then sit and think and stare off into the distance like you do at work anyways, so you can think about how you’re not gonna let your future failure derail you because you planned for it.)”
Stronger U coaches work hard with members to stop allowing failure to undo all of their hard work. Returning to the office will present new challenges, it’s undeniable. But with the help of a Stronger U coach, it doesn’t have to be impossible. Think of it like having a cheerleader, motivational speaker, and truth-teller tucked into your back pocket ready to help when you encounter a new challenge.
A change in routine is not limited to heading back to work. As we all know, with more things reopening, social opportunities are happening much more frequently. Happy hours, meals with friends, children’s sports and activities, and traveling, are also back in full swing. The great news is with all of these reopenings, you have a chance to establish a new routine for how you are going to handle these social gatherings. While in the past you may have fallen into a cycle of not planning and then feeling overwhelmed or guilty afterward, with Stronger U in your corner you can thoughtfully plan your gatherings.
Whether you are consulting your coach, our Facebook community, or even just this article, Stronger U is ready to help you meet your goals. Use these tips and apply them to your life regardless if you are heading back to the office or to lunch with friends. Consider how preplanning and staying consistent is supporting your journey.
A change in routine can be an intimidating and challenging struggle for even the most experienced Stronger U member. It’s understandable! Many Stronger U members signed up for a session when they transitioned to a work from home model, and this new change will be the first time that they will have to make Stronger U work outside of their home and comfort zone. As many employees have adjusted to working during a pandemic, adding a new change may feel intimidating. Stronger U coaches regularly coach members on navigating everyday scenarios like returning to work, eating out, traveling for kid’s sports, and so much more!
Don’t let a change to your normal derail your hard work! With a little thought and planning, you will be on your way to thriving back at work!
“What’s something that you could change about the way you’re living your life that would help you be the version of yourself that you want to be, reach goals, and contribute more fully to the roles and relationships that matter to you?” - Dr. Kelly McGonigal
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