Changing Workplace Culture is No Piece of Cake

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Posted February 21, 2013 by Adrienne Asselmeier in Life After Five
cupcakes
My taste has been called many things, but never “normal.” I’ll pass on cookies, but never say no to salt and vinegar chips. I think frosting is gross, and to be honest, sweetened ice tea is a crime. This might sound like just a difference of opinion, but it’s strange how often it becomes a battle with colleagues:

“Do you want ice cream, too?”
“Oh, no thanks. I don’t need anything.”
“Okay, here is your cake.”
“Oh, no, it’s okay. I don’t want cake.”
“Do you just want ice cream?”
“No. I’m fine. I don’t really like sweets.”
“…Just have a piece of cake.”
Nervous laughter
“Okay?”

Now, I know that my refusal of cake mostly has to do with the aforementioned fact: I don’t really like sweets. It’s my commitment to a reasonable caloric intake that leads me to this post, however. I frequently see women around me getting sabotaged in their attempts to eat well. It happens when a staff meeting includes someone’s birthday and suddenly we’re eating cake and ice cream before lunch, or when we’re reaching for junk food because it’s on the counter and we’ve walked passed it ten times. A sweet treat here and there isn’t going to ruin your healthy lifestyle, but some people make it their business to push the pastries. So your office’s food culture is no good—what can you do to help?

Changing the health and wellness attitudes of people around you can be a big challenge.

For Career Girls who need ideas to give their workplace a shot of wheatgrass, here are 5 suggestions:

  1. Look into healthy habits programs offered through local organizations or your local government. Michigan started the MI Healthier Tomorrow program to promote people losing weight and remaining in a healthy BMI. They send free kits that include all kinds of information that could be posted on the company fridge—visuals to give you an idea of ideal portion sizes, daily value percentages, and so on. Most states and cities have similar resources available, so see what’s out there for you through your department of health.
  2. Talk to your healthcare provider. Larger providers usually have websites with valuable information, tips, assessments, and even Biggest Loser-style challenges or wellness programs you and your colleagues may be able to join. Don’t try to push people into doing something if they’re not interested. Think of ways that you might be able to inspire or encourage someone without making them feel judged or pressured.
  3. Sign up for a 5k, or 5k training program. Running and walking stores have programs specifically designed for people who want to work up to participating in a 5k. Find out what programs are around you and ask your co-workers to join. I promise you’ll have fun! Want to train for a run without the cost of joining a group? Look for free groups like Moms RUN This Town or others. Or, talk to your doctor about starting a fitness plan and discuss training methods like Couch to 5k. If you can find a local race that has something to do with your company or organization, sign up and ask your colleagues to come, too. It’d be a great way to show solidarity while getting moving!
  4. Make exercise accessible. If you’ve got the room, see if you can turn an area into a workout space. It can be as simple as a bike and treadmill and some yoga mats, and you may be able to get items donated if you ask around. Some Career Girls are lucky enough to have gyms and locker rooms available—take advantage! Offer to lead a walking group one night a week (get outside if the weather is nice), or see if you can bring in a fitness professional to help. If that’s not possible, check with your health care provider to see if local gyms offer a discount with your insurance. Many do, and you could be the first to set the day of the week, invite others, and carpool. People will get involved when someone leads, but rarely initiate things like this alone. You can be the one to make a difference! Just make sure that you cover exercise safety through your employer, healthcare program, or exercise facility.
  5. And no matter which of these suggestions you take, make it okay for other people to choose healthy habits. Nobody likes feeling like the oddball for trying to make good choices.


About the Author

Adrienne Asselmeier

Adrienne "Dren" Asselmeier is a writer and marketing specialist. Dren has a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature and is a blogger, runner, over-achiever, and friend to everyone. She likes to write about science-based health and fitness, small business ownership, and motivational topics.

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