The Benefits of a Healthy Workplace

29 02 2012
Liz Gilchrist

When I started my job with the PEIA Weight Management Program, I posted a blog about my relationship with exercise. In doing so I thought, “I work out six days per week and eat healthy. I am reasonably the example of healthy living.” Quickly, I realized there were many small steps I could take to get healthier. This was made apparent through the lifestyles of my new co-workers. No one was eating processed frozen “healthy” meals, and there were rarely sugary goodies at my disposal.

By listening and learning from the choices of my co-workers, I began to incorporate small changes into my daily nutritional intake. First and foremost, everyone brought their food from home. As I started to concentrate on packing my meals, I found that with my schedule, batch cooking on the weekends and packing my food in the evenings worked best for me. I started cutting up vegetables, separating snacks into baggies, and had plenty of healthy choices on hand. Since we all share a small refrigerator at work, I kept my staples there, like almond butter, and purchased a cooler that would fit all of my food for my shift.

I took lessons from another Health Behavior Counselor and increased my vegetable intake and learned about alternative protein sources, including beans, tofu, string cheese and yogurt. It wasn’t long before I not only felt empowered, but full of energy. I continued to reduce my refined sugar intake, like chocolate and other sweets, but did have these foods in moderation if I really wanted them. I am a firm believer that we should not deny ourselves of the foods we really want.

When it came to exercise, all of my co-workers had their passion and fostered me to embrace mine. My Supervisor rides his bike to work. The Director of the program shoots hoops on his break. A fellow Counselor ran and took yoga from a local studio. Everyone around me was exercising and I was inspired to do even more. It wasn’t about slimming down for them. It was about self-care and prioritizing personal needs. Now, if I’m having a stressful day, I don’t sink in despair in my office, I keep clothes on hand and go for a run to release some stress.

More than anything, I learned that to be successful and have the most insight into the quests of participants I speak to, I needed to practice what I preach. On my second day with the Weight Management Program, I reactivated my account with and have been logging ever since. Are there times I eat things I shouldn’t and have to come face to face with them in my log? YES! But I now embrace logging and know that it keeps me accountable for MY CHOICES. As for the results, this “example of healthy living” has lost an additional 13% of her body weight, dropped 3 pant sizes and can say that I am finally living my best life.

I choose to share my story for two reasons. One is the hope that I can encourage participants so they know they can do it too. More importantly, it’s to stress the influence healthy choices can have on others. My fellow employees didn’t know they had affected my choices so much. With that being said, don’t underestimate the impact YOU can have on others throughout your journey. One healthy choice will not only change your outlook, but may have a big impact on co-workers around you.




3 responses

3 03 2012
Andy Winters

Yes. It has to be done step by step and then it becomes just another part of your lifestyle, I guess. Logging and networking are all aspects I think I must incorporate. I’ve not done too well recently – and looking for inspiration. Thanks for your post. It is useful.

29 02 2012

I like how you discussed the dietary changes were a process.

I’ve tried to make small changes here and there and then look to another area. It’s much more manageable than looking at the big picture and trying to see all the changes that I need to make today or first thing in the morning.

Appreciate your blog!

1 03 2012

It is really all about baby steps. With my attempts in the past, I was changing everything at once, which just left me feeling frazzled and overwhelmed. It is the small changes that add up over time. We wouldn’t just go out tomorrow and run a marathon and lifestyle changes require the same preparation and training.

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