5 Tips for Healthy Eating at the Office

Happy New Year to all! How are those New Year’s Resolutions going? Did you commit to getting healthy, getting active, or getting organized? According to Strava, we’ve officially made it past “Quitter’s Day” on Friday, and we’re chugging along towards success! Regardless of your motivations, though, eating healthy is an important goal, especially for those of us that spend most of our week in a sedentary work environment. While I’m not 100% consistent when it comes to healthy eating at the office, I’ve made huge strides in the past year. Here are some of my top tips to help you prioritize nutrition in 2018.

Prepare for Success

The first step to healthy eating at the office is to figure out where your healthy food will come from. Your work cafeteria can be a solid choice if there are healthy and affordable options available. But it’s generally more feasible and consistent to bring your meals from home. If you don’t have them already, stock up on some food storage containers. It helps to have various sizes for mains, sides, desserts, and snacks. If you’re making your food at home, leftovers will be your best friend!

Once you’re prepped at home, if you haven’t already, survey your work space for amenities. If your office has a fridge, you’re off to a good start. Look around for other small appliances, such as microwaves, toasters, or even blenders. Having any of these available will go a long way for your meal prepping plans. And if you don’t have any way to reheat your meals, don’t prep any foods that you don’t enjoy cold!

Expect the Afternoon Snack Attack

This may take some trial and error. Find some healthy snacks that you really enjoy and make sure to have them on hand. This way, you’re nowhere near as tempted when the 3pm donut break rolls around. (I work at Tim Hortons, I would know!) Your snack of choice might be some trail mix, a piece of fruit, or maybe even a healthy protein bar or shake. Keep experimenting until you find what you like. My personal favourite right now is chocolate chip Larabars:

That said, if you have this option, don’t keep your snacks right at your desk.  If you do, you might find yourself reaching into your desk every time you feel hungry — and that feeling might actually be boredom, thirst, or exhaustion. Make sure you keep your snacks a few yards away from your desk. Then you’ll have to get up for a snack, and get a few more steps on that Fitbit of yours!

Stay Hydrated

Speaking of thirst, you may have heard that it’s often hard to tell the difference between hunger and thirst. When you’re in the zone at work, it can be even more difficult to be in tune with your thirst cues. And once you start actually feeling parched, your body has already been thirsty for a while! So when it comes to water, you need to be proactive. Keep a refillable water bottle with you at all times at work. I personally carry a Swell bottle with me throughout the day and fill it at least three times, for a total of 6 cups throughout the day at the office. If water just doesn’t cut it for you, consider bringing in a few slices of lemon or a handful of berries to pop into your water bottle to make your hydration a little more exciting!

It’s Okay to Say No

it can be great to have some office birthday cake every week or two. But in my office, it feels like there’s a birthday almost daily — not to mention chocolate left over from Christmas, and any other goodies that might appear in the lunchroom. Remember to evaluate the treats that you’re being offered. Do you really enjoy that type of food? Does it match your goals for the year? Feel free to say no. Be gracious with your refusal, of course. I would even recommend leveraging the Tone It Up-approved phrase, “I’m not in the mood for that”. More on that below from the TIU trainers, if you’re curious:

Also remember that there are shades of grey when it comes to treats. Consider taking a smaller portion, splitting with a colleague, or making your own healthy snacks to share. I brought in these healthy chocolate berry muffins and my coworkers were obsessed!

Be Realistic

This tip manifests itself in a lot of ways when it comes to healthy eating at the office.

For starters, think about your office and what situations tend to crop up that sabotage your plans to eat healthy at work. Do you often stay late and miss your dinner at home? Try meal prepping dinner and bringing it to work as a backup plan. (I mentioned this tip in my post about surviving long hours at the office a few months ago!) Do you have a co-worker that is always stealing half of your snack? Bring double. (Or tell them off — your call!) If you find that you’re always craving chocolate in the afternoon, don’t try to quell that with a salty snack. Bring along some sweet snacks, like a piece of fruit or even some dark chocolate that will cure those cravings in no time.

If your team goes out for lunch every Friday, plan around it. Bringing a packed lunch with the intention of skipping out on your team event will only make you feel guilty. Bring healthy snacks for the rest of the day. If you know which restaurant you’re going to ahead of time, consider checking out the menu online and picking out a healthier choice beforehand. I find I can make better choices without the sensory overload of sitting in a loud, delicious-smelling restaurant.

Furthermore, find healthy foods that excite you. If your office has a salad bar but you don’t like any of the ingredients, don’t force yourself to eat a plate of lettuce. Bring something from home or seek out restaurants that have the types of foods you actually enjoy. Personally, I’ve found that I really love corn, cooked carrots, sunflower seeds, and sun-dried tomatoes, so adding those ingredients makes my healthy food a lot more fun.


How do you prioritize healthy eating at the office?

How to Prep for Your Workday Workou

Most of us are super busy these days, and it can be hard to fit exercise into that jam-packed schedule. I’ve posted before on the benefits of morning workouts, which have helped me establish a regular fitness routine. Mornings don’t work for everyone, though, so lunch breaks are the next best opportunity to get in some exercise. Plus, if your office has a gym inside or nearby, you can take advantage of those amenities with a workday workout.

But squeezing in a workout over lunch can be challenging. And I hate to say it, but the transition is even more difficult for ladies. Unlike most guys I know, I can’t have a full shower and be ready to get back to work in ten minutes flat! So when it comes to mid-day exercise, I can’t afford to waste time or effort in getting it done. Preparation is key to making your workday workout work for you. Here are some of my tips for doing just that!

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How I Became a Morning Workout Person

You know those people you see out jogging every morning? Or those people who finish exercising at the gym before you’re even out of bed? Or worse, your friends that post gym selfies or yoga poses with the sunrise as their backdrop? They are what we call “morning workout people”. Maybe they drive you nuts, but you’re probably a little bit jealous of them too. Where the heck do they get the energy and motivation to be a morning workout person?

I used to totally envy those people. The thought of waking up and working out seemed totally out of reach. But now, a year later, I’m one of them. I wake up at 5:45 (and some days at 5:20) to start my day and sweat it out. If you’re familiar with Tone It Up, my favourite online fitness community, the morning workout is so important that it has a name: the “Bootycall”. And it’s a daily occurrence, not just a few times a week or only weekdays! So how did I go from never exercising in the morning (or at all, for that matter) to putting in a morning workout every damn day?Continue reading

Five Simple Choices That Help Me Save Money

Millennials are having a really hard time these days when it comes to finances. Mountains of student debt, underemployment, housing prices through the roof… It’s crazy! And without a clear game plan, a lot of us are struggling to make ends meet and achieve our goals. While it’s not as easy as forgoing avocado toast (for a few decades), every money-saving habit helps to build the foundation for your financial future. For me, the most reliable ways to save money are the ones I don’t even think about. Here are five everyday choices and habits that help me save up. 

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5 Reasons You Should Start Gardening in Your Twenties

When it comes to gardening, most people tend to imagine older ladies in large-brimmed hats tending to flowerbeds outside their sprawling suburban homes. (At least, that’s what I think of.) So when my boyfriend and I started a backyard garden during our very first spring out of university, we were met with some surprise. Now that we’re into our third season of growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs, we can’t recommend it highly enough to other twenty-somethings! In fact, it seems that millennial gardeners are becoming a bit of a trend. (Finally, something millennials aren’t killing…) Here are five reasons why gardening in your twenties is a definite must-do. Continue reading

Why I'm Not Coaching for Beachbody

In the past few months, I’ve done a complete 180 when it comes to healthy living. I started exercising and eating right (for the most part…), and I shared the process on a fitness-focused Instagram account. I noticed it almost right away: these mysterious “virtual fitness coaches” saturating my feed with sweaty selfies and motivational quotes. And it didn’t take long, once my account started to gather a following, for these ladies to start reaching out to me with offers to become a coach myself. They didn’t always mention their employer outright, but I only needed a quick Google search to tell me that these women work for a multi-level marketing company called Beachbody. That’s right, the dreaded “MLM” — what some people refer to as a “pyramid scheme”. Yikes.

But the peppy posts and the promise of a rewarding, engaging, self-propelled career were getting to me. So I did a bit of research. Continue reading

Tone It Up Bikini Series

Hello, dear readers! I’ve been AWOL again for a while, but between work and the Tone It Up Bikini Series beginning last week, I simply haven’t had the energy for my poor little blog. I have mentioned Tone It Up on this page before (check that out here). But you might be wondering, “What the heck is the Bikini Series?” Friends, six months ago, I would have been asking the exact same question.

Here it is in a nutshell. The Tone It Up Bikini Series is an eight week fitness challenge with an optional nutrition component, leading up to the first day of summer. Every day you have an assigned daily workout, some or all of which you complete first thing in the morning for your “Bootycall”. (Cheesy, I know — but hey, I didn’t come up with the lingo.) Then, if you’re a nutrition plan member, you also follow along with the meal plan. That means planning out and prepping “Lean Clean’N Green” meals every Sunday for eight weeks straight. And also trying not to eat Timbits. Which is basically impossibleContinue reading

How I Faced My Fitness Fears

About a year ago, I published a blog post entitled “3 Reasons Hiking is my Favourite Hobby for Exercise”. I provided those three reasons: a clear goal to achieve, no expectations about fitness levels, and the chance to experience the great outdoors. But I’ll tell you a secret, friends. Sure, I love hiking and its many benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. But the only reason it was my favourite hobby for exercise at the time was the second one on the list. I was afraid to try anything else because of judgment, both from others and myself. I was held back by my fitness fears. Continue reading

My Tone It Up Meal Prep Process

Hey friends! If you’ve been following along on Flinntrospection recently, you’ll know that I joined the Tone It Up 2017 Challenge two weeks ago. It’s a six week healthy living challenge with both a fitness and a nutrition component. (Oops, I joined two weeks late!) I’d been following along with the Tone It Up workouts for a few weeks beforehand. So in spite of a crazy work schedule, I’ve been keeping up with the fitness portion. The nutrition, on the other hand, has been a struggle. There is a ton of planning, effort, and time that has to go into preparing healthy meals for the week. But this week, for my third round of Sunday Tone It Up Meal Prep, I’ve settled into a routine. If you’re on the TIU Nutrition Plan — or even if you’re not — this method might work for you!

Note: I do Steps 1-4 on Saturdays, and 5-6 on Sundays!

Step 1: Choose Your Meals

The 2017 Challenge edition of the Nutrition Plan includes a full six-week meal plan breakdown. But you’re fully welcome, and often encouraged, to choose your own meals. Plus, once the challenge is over, you’re on your own with choosing meals for the week. For Week Five of the challenge, I’m loosely following the schedule, but making lots of substitutions.

The TIU Nutrition Plan has some helpful printables for filling out your weekly meal schedule:

 Tone It Up Meal Prep — Meal Plan Template

Obviously, you can make this for yourself too. Just type one up in Word, or literally draw it on a blank sheet of paper. (Or you can grab one of these — not an affiliate link, just a cool find.)

Once you have your template, write in all the meals and snacks you’re planning to eat for the week. I’m following the Nutrition Plan’s lead in making each weekday M3 (lunch) the leftovers from the previous night’s M5 (dinner). More complex recipes will show up on weekends, when I have time for them. I’m also loving make-ahead meals for weekday breakfasts, like Overnight Oats.

Step 2: Make Your Ingredient List

This step takes a bit of cross-referencing with your fridge or pantry. I pick a meal, look at the list of ingredients in the Nutrition Plan (if necessary), and write down whatever I don’t have in my kitchen. It’s also important to include quantities for the week, so you can aggregate them later on in the process. If you’re making enough for leftovers, make sure you’re duplicating quantities in single-serving recipes! After each meal’s ingredients have been accounted for, check it off everywhere it appears on your meal plan template. Keep going until you’ve listed ingredients for all of your meals, even if the ingredients overlap. It will look something like this:

 Tone It Up Meal Prep — Ingredient List

Step 3: Make Your Grocery List

Now you walk through your Ingredient List and consolidate it into a grocery list, sorted by product category. Cross them off on the ingredients list as you go, and don’t forget to add your quantities. I have one of those “All Out Of” grocery checklists, so that helps the process!

 Tone It Up Meal Prep — Grocery List

Why did I separate these two steps? Because it’s hard to look at a huge list of meals and flip back and forth between recipes to put together a list of, say, all the veggies you need for the week. I find it much easier to work by recipe. And once the ingredients are all on one page, consolidation is a breeze.

If you’re thinking of using the pre-made Challenge grocery list, a word of warning: it lies. (Okay, maybe not on purpose.) I followed it to the letter in my first week on the Nutrition Plan. I ended up missing some ingredients I needed, and having lots of things that weren’t even on the meal plan docket. For the sake of the environment and your wallet, I’d recommend making your own list!

Step 4: Write Your Meal Prep Checklist

The 2017 Challenge booklet also comes with a simple checklist for your meal prep adventures. It’s pretty reliable, but because of my volatile work schedule, I have to prep beyond the suggested list. Feel free to prepare whatever works for you. Pre-chop your veggies, make your frozen smoothie packs, cook your Monday night dinner, prepare your proteins, whatever! Make a list of all the tasks you’re going to tackle on Sunday.

Step 5: Grocery Shop

In the TIU world, Sunday has two purposes: Sunday Runday, and Tone It Up Meal Prep.

With your list in hand, head out to the grocery store and shop till you drop! But don’t drop. You have work to do.

Step 6: The Real Deal — Tone It Up Meal Prep

Organize your groceries, pull out your checklist, and start knocking those things off one by one. Try to prioritize oven tasks, especially with long cook times, so you can maximize your efficiency. This is where I find it was the most helpful to have my Nutrition Plan printed out for easy reference, especially for new dishes. I have tried fifteen new recipes in the past two weeks, which is absolutely insane for me! It also helps to clean up as you go. Prepare for high volumes of dishes, food waste/compost, and Tupperware filling up your entire fridge! (And don’t forget to share #tiuteam photos of the process and the delish food on Instagram!)


That’s how I do my Tone It Up Meal Prep! How do you prepare your meals for the week ahead?

Getting On The Wagon With Tone It Up

I signed up for Tone It Up last week. I’ve been following the daily workouts for seven days now. And I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

 Tone It Up: I have no idea what I'm doing

Okay, let me provide some background here.

Exercise has never been a priority of mine. Unlike many young professionals, I’m not saying that I “fell off the wagon” when I graduated. I was never on the wagon to begin with. In fact, here’s a rundown of my fitness history:

  • Took ballet at the age of five. Was horrible. Never went back.
  • Passed swimming lessons up to Level 12, when they had that — basically, the one before official lifeguard training — then stopped. Never went back.
  • Tried out for exactly zero sports in high school.
  • Stopped taking gym class after Grade Nine. (Swapped it out for science or music courses…)
  • Basically hated all things related to exercise.

Recently, I’ve participated in Zumba, done some hiking, and practiced yoga (including some month-long challenges). I even did a bit of circuit training, sort of… But the frequency and/or intensity of these activities don’t constitute a healthy lifestyle by anyone’s standards, including my own.

So I realized recently that it’s probably in my best interest to take care of my body. You know, so I can live longer, feel better, not get winded when I go up a flight of stairs… That kind of thing. Plus, I want to avoid a midlife epiphany that getting in shape would have been so much easier if I had only started earlier. Right now, for example.

Except I’m not the type of person that can motivate myself to do something brand new, and then commit to it from the get-go. Plus, gyms are scary for newbies like me. Like I said, I really don’t know what I’m doing.

Enter Tone It Up.

Tone It Up: Karena & KatrinaIf you haven’t heard of it, Tone It Up (or TIU) is a website, a YouTube channel, and a massive social media presence run by Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott, two (extremely) peppy fitness trainers. Their site has workouts, recipes, an online store, and a community forum. The Tone It Up videos are pretty tough for me, though it’s clear how to modify the difficulty up or down with weights, duration, etc. They are also bright, musical, beach-y, and usually very feminine. A decent portion of their videos and a few of their recipes are available for free, but their famous “Nutrition Plan” and video series are for sale in the shop. So far, I haven’t personally purchased anything from TIU.

I’ll post a bit later on why I chose this program over the countless others out there, but here’s a quick update on how it’s going.

I’ve probably exercised more this week than ever before. (That’s not saying much… but still!) Everything on me has been sore at some point. I haven’t bought into the social media component yet, and I think that will be a long time coming. I’m getting used to waking up early to complete at least some of the daily workout first thing in the morning. That’s one of the requirements, known as the “Bootycall”. Also, I have never heard or used the word “booty” as often in my entire life — and it’s getting kind of weird, to be honest.

Will I stick with it? No idea. The ultimate goal of this experience for me is to normalize exercise in my everyday life. Having a video series and daily challenges gives it some structure and external motivation, which is helpful in this (very) early stage!

How do you stay fit — or get fit in the first place?