Are you the weird fitness co-worker?
Do you bring mason jars of salad mix with you to work? A pill case of fish oil and Vitamin D supplements? Do you eat breakfast and two lunches before some of your co-workers have even had their first meal of the day? Do you drink your coffee black and refill your water bottle constantly? Are you always bringing a gym bag with you to work and count the hours until you can work out? Or perhaps arriving to work still somewhat glistening from your morning workout?
…then you might be the weird fitness co-worker.
Now, this can all be fun and good-natured. Most of us can be a good sport about the ‘health nut’ jokes made at our expense. But, what should you do in a situation where you are made to feel bad about the efforts you’ve taken to better your health?
- Recognize that your co-worker might be projecting some of their own insecurities on you. That’s okay, just keep doing your thing.
- If they question your food choices (“I could never eat that way!” or “don’t you just hate your life eating that?”), give a positive affirmation rather than just trying to be agreeable. Rather, try “actually, I’ve never felt better. Have you tried grilled steak in your salad before? It’s so summery and delicious.”
- Try to withhold from any lecturing of any kind. Even well-intentioned advice can come off preachy at best, and condescending or rude at worst. If the person in question is someone you have a lot of compassion for, this can be difficult, as you know how life-changing your experience has been and how it could do the same for them. However, now isn’t the time. So, if you feel compelled to inspire them to change some of their lifestyle habits, provide a very brief, casual testimony of your own experience, and then change the subject. Do not nudge, press, or try to convince!
- If you are being pressured to eat or drink something that is counter to your goals, check in with yourself and mindfully ask yourself if the item in question, despite it running counter to your goals, is still something you deem worth it to eat or drink. There is no right or wrong here – some things really are worth it. If it’s not worth it (example: it’s your co-worker’s niece’s half-birthday party and you don’t even like that kind of cake anyway), then, well, just say no! Smile and politely decline. Also: you don’t have to provide an outline or doctoral thesis for all the reasons you are saying no to the cake. We often feel like, in order for our “no” to be socially acceptable, we must justify why we are saying no, and that these many reasons must all be valid. So, let me just say it here: you don’t need to convince anyone that your reasons are valid. You finding validity in them is reason enough. So, you can go ahead and just leave it at “no thanks.”
- Continue to lead by example. If you get a chance to bring a dish to share with co-workers, bring your A-game! Show them how fun and flavorful eating healthy can truly be. If it comes time to move that heavy desk across the room, be the first to volunteer to help move it! You’ve worked hard to come this far, so own that weird fitness co-worker title. Wave that flag with pride!