As a remote worker living the remote lifestyle, you could spend all day hunched over your desk, snacking incessantly. You may already know that what initially seems ideal from a productivity perspective (no time wasted commuting!) can easily lead to some unhealthy behaviors.
This shouldn’t be overlooked. Your wellness not only has a huge impact on your work, but also on the overall quality of your life. It is crucial to develop healthy habits while working remotely.
While making small changes like taking walking meetings or using a standing desk are helpful, seeing results requires a bigger commitment. Yet it IS possible to build broader healthy routines into your workday without making it feel like a chore. Like any change, it’ll require a level of commitment on your part, so you’ll need to know why you’re making this decision. Affirming statements such as, “I want to work out at least three times per week,” or, “I want to eat more nutritious, low-sugar snacks,” are good places to start.
From a psychological perspective, it’s easier for you to keep commitments to a certain behavior instead of focusing on avoiding unhealthy options. (As the saying goes, we are what we eat—and apparently, we typically eat what consumes us.) Keep in mind that experts suggest that it takes 12 weeks for new habits to take hold, so the most important aspect of the following steps is that you stick to them.
Here are 3 steps for integrating healthy habits into your remote lifestyle:
1. Set a goal (or two).
Think of this as a promise to yourself; after all, you’re consciously making this change for a reason. Your reasons could range from, “I want to feel more energetic,” to, “I want to fit into my old clothes,” to, “I want to keep up with my kids.” Whether your focus is on integrating more exercise into your workweek or on eating healthier foods—or both—you must first set a measurable goal.
Start by answering the following questions:
- How many times per week will you exercise, and for how many minutes in each session?
- Will you vary the kind of workouts you do (strength training, running, yoga, etc.) or will you stick to a more uniform program?
- What type(s) of foods will you make available to yourself for meals and for snacking?
- When will you prepare those items so that they’re readily available? (You don’t want to be tempted to grab a cookie or chocolate when hungry. They’ll almost always win.)
Bonus: tell your spouse, a colleague, or a friend about the path you’re heading on. Simply making a goal known to others will help you be more accountable.
2. Carve out time.
This is a big one, and the fallacy with remote work is that you have so much more time than other professionals do to achieve these things.
In fact, your distractions are many: housework, pets, kids returning from school, etc. Therefore, it’s critical that you don’t leave your healthy habits to chance.
Find a time in your schedule and set up a recurring calendar alert for your physical activity or healthy eating. Guard that time as if it’s one of your most important meetings of the day. When the notification pops up, it’s go time. Consistency is key, and it’s up to you to adhere to your new plans.
That said, if you do skip a workout or grab a slice of cake, don’t beat yourself up too much. One slip-up doth not a failure make; developing your healthy new routine is truly a marathon, not a sprint.
3. Reward yourself.
Positive reinforcement works, and integrating healthy habits should be fun! (Really, who needs another obligation weighing them down?) So if you’re not celebrating the small wins along the way, you’re doing it wrong.
Every instance where you make a good decision should be noted; you can tally these healthy actions in an app (MapMyRun, MyFitnessPal, MyPlate, and My Food Diary are solid options depending upon what you’re tracking.) Or make your own list in Evernote or on a notepad. Once you’ve hit a full week, it’s time to reward yourself. Indulge in a special snack, spa treatment, or head out to see a new movie.
You can observe these milestones in your remote lifestyle as frequently as you’d like; after all, you’ve earned them! Once a month has passed, the positive changes you’ll notice in your mood, your size, or your increased fitness will be a reward all on its own.