January 30 2013

10 Ways to Make Your Workplace Healthier and More Productive

By Mark Sisson
176 Comments

Grok MemoFor the most part, we all got into this Primal stuff to improve our own health and that of those close to us. Maybe we’re hoping to avoid the diabetes and heart disease that got our loved ones. Maybe we’re trying to lose a few pounds. Maybe we want to know what it’s like to walk ten miles without getting out of breath or having to coax our creaky joints out of their torpor. Whatever the motivation, we’re in this to make ourselves healthier and happier.

That’s how it starts. Once you reach your goals or even just begin to make headway, you notice everyone around you, especially the ones with visible health issues. It’s not that you’re looking down at them or that you’re superior in some way. You feel lucky enough to be privy to a secret is all, and you’d like to share what you know with the people around you – even strangers – who appear to be hurting unnecessarily. And your co-workers are no exception. Ah, co-workers. Many of us see these people more than our own spouses or children. We essentially live with them for eight hours a day. We learn their foibles, their habits, their quirks. In the best workplaces, our coworkers become a kind of family to us, and what do we do with family?

We care about them, especially their health.

The quickest way to get someone to stop listening and brand you forever as “that health nut guy” is to blather on and on about your diet, your exercise, your new healthy lifestyle that seems diametrically opposed to whatever they’re doing. Because when you do that, you’re telling them that they’re unhealthy, that they’re doing it all wrong. Even if you don’t explicitly criticize or question what they’re eating or “doing in the gym,” by talking up the stuff you’re doing (and discussing how bad wheat or vegetable oils are), you’re indirectly criticizing them. Or at least that’s how it might be taken.

So what are some unobtrusive ways to encourage healthy workplace practices? What might be done on the small-scale, individual, micro level? What might be done on a larger, office-wise scale? Let’s explore ten, simple (and not so simple), basic (and more complex), and effective ways to get your workplace healthier.

Walking meetings.

Ah, the mid-afternoon meeting. Is there a drearier human social activity? We’ve all fiddled with our smartphones through enough boring, pointless, useless meetings to last us a lifetime, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can walk and talk (and chew Stevia-sweetened gum) at the same time, can’t you? So why not try it? You’ll get your 10,000 steps for the day, along with your colleagues, you’ll get fresh air, you’ll get sun (hopefully), you’ll get a change in the group dynamic that might spur creative thinking, and if the ancient tales are true, you’ll be in good company: Aristotle was said to conduct his teachings as he walked the halls of the Lyceum in Athens.

Unless you’re the boss, I don’t expect you to instate walking meetings across the entire office and discard all standard sit-down meetings. That’s not realistic. But next time you have an informal meeting with another coworker or two, suggest you go for a walk outside (or even through the confines of the building and down hallways, Aaron Sorkin-style). It might catch on.

Why your boss should care: There’s reason to believe that walking meetings may be more productive that sit-down meetings, since walking has been shown to boost brain connectivity and function. Better functioning brains with better neural connectivity come up with better ideas.

Standing workstations.

Sitting all day is terrible for your health, it hampers your ability to oxidize the fat you just ate, increases the risk of obesity and diabetes, and it’s an evolutionarily novel environmental factor with drastic consequences. Forget the health aspects of it and focus on the qualitative, subjective effects, even. Whenever I’m forced to spend all day sitting down, I can actually feel my zest for life being snubbed away. I feel like a slug. When I do get up and move around after having sat for a long time, I’m slower. My joints are achier, my muscles less responsive. It’s just awful. I can’t imagine trying to work with that frame of mind and body.

Lobby for a standing workstation, or build a makeshift one. They’re getting more and more popular, so your office may already have a few pioneers. At any rate, start a trend and others will soon follow. You may be that weird guy who stands for awhile, but that’s okay. One or two curious and brave souls will inevitably join your ranks.

Why your boss should care: Since sitting kills, quite literally, and a dead workforce is an unproductive workforce, standing workstations may improve productivity (and increase liveliness). If the boss is concerned about standing affecting the quality of work, one study found that standing (or walking) workstations improved metabolic processes without hampering the quality of the work.

Plants in the office.

My post a while back on why working outside (at least some of the time) is ideal if you can make it work got a lot of responses. Problem is, most people can’t make that work. Not yet, at least. But some of the benefits of being outdoors come from being close to plants, trees, and other green things. Save for most trees and a select variety of plant life scheduled by the DEA, we can bring plants into the office, where they can improve the quality of the air and make workers more productive. Even if you don’t buy into the physiological underpinnings of why plants are good to be around, almost anyone would agree that plants are just nice to look at. A bare room is awful, but stick a big green plant in the corner, and you’ve suddenly changed the vibe of the room to be more positive and welcoming. That counts for something, doesn’t it?

Start small. Adorn your cubicle/office/desk with various plants. Maybe buy a few extra to give as gifts to each “area” of the office. Hook your boss up with a fern or something. Just get people exposed to plants and the rest will follow. And if it doesn’t, at least you’re reaping the benefits.

Why your boss should care: Research shows (PDF) that plants in the office can improve productivity, increase concentration, and make workers happier and less stressed. This effect is greatest among workers who spend more than four hours a day in front of a computer (sound familiar to anyone?).

Start a (healthy) breakfast club.

Okay, I get it. Fried rings of sugary dough dipped in even more sugar covered with sugary glazes satisfy (or at least trigger) some deep-seated primal desires for salt, sugar, fat, and crispiness, but they aren’t Primal. And yet they enjoy persistent popularity as a breakfast item. What about muffins? At least everyone knows donuts are health disasters, but the muffin has somehow retained the reputation for being a healthy breakfast food. Meanwhile, they’re cupcakes without the frosting and they seem to be getting bigger and bigger every time I see one (c’mon, who needs a pound of muffin?).

If you were to start a healthy breakfast club (double points if you have the classic movie running in the background), where people bring in food to share with the office that isn’t cake-related, you’d have an easy avenue to show off what’s truly possible when you eat Primal. Think hardboiled eggs. Think reams of bacon. Think actual fresh fruit. Think Primal pancakes. Think sweet potato hash (with more bacon and more eggs). Nominate yourself to be one of the first to bring breakfast and set the tone.

Why your boss should care: Donuts and muffins elicit massive spikes in blood sugar, followed by a subsequent drop-off, while protein-and-fat-rich breakfasts result in steadier levels of blood sugar. Why does this matter? Steady blood sugar levels improve cognitive function.

Sponsored gym memberships.

Lots of employers are doing this nowadays, and it’s a great thing. Gym memberships are seen as a luxury item for many household budgets, particularly in these difficult times, so an employer who includes a gym membership among the other benefits afforded to their employees is a great one.

If your boss won’t sponsor you for the gym, consider assembling a group of willing and able coworkers to head on down to the gym and angle for a group rate. Once the higher-ups notice that there’s a demand (and the tax breaks outlined below won’t hurt), they may change their minds. And if they don’t, at least you just got yourself a bunch of gym buddies.

Why your boss should care: What you might lose in gym fees (which you’ll get a great package deal on, no doubt), you’ll gain in savings on health care costs. Stronger, healthier, fitter employees are happier, more productive employees who are less liable to use sick days. Plus, you’ll kill the other office in the annual softball game. Oh, and you can probably even get some tax write-offs while you’re at it.

Integrated exercise equipment in the office.

I’m a big fan of peppering my day with activity. Dedicated extended workouts are great and all, but I think working exercise into the flow of your normal day is more sustainable for the average person – and it more closely approximates how our ancestors would have “exercised.” The problem is that most of us get our exercise in gyms. We have to suit up, get in our cars, drive to the gym, file inside, and wait our turns for whatever machine or weight we need to use. Some people have home gyms, but not most. What if you could have a “work gym”? What if there was a pullup bar leading in to the break room, a climbing rope hanging from the rafters, gymnastics rings attached to the overhead beam near the bathrooms? How awesome would that be? How many pullups do you think you’d be able to do after a year of doing them every time you went to fill your water bottle?

Start with a pullup bar in a doorframe somewhere. As long as you don’t damage the building, your boss should be receptive to it. Then, expand from there.

Why your boss should care: Intermittent bouts of exercise will keep workers alert, productive, and engaged. They won’t be “going to failure,” after all, but rather hitting a few reps here and there. Plus, healthy workers get sick less often and use less health care.

Fitness challenges.

Competition breeds progress. Wanting to beat the other guy or girl can make the prospect of working out regularly seem doable or even pleasurable, even in the normally sedentary. Having others with whom to share your pain (or triumph) makes the task more bearable.

Suggest some fitness challenges to your workmates. Stuff like “first to 100 pushups” (or 50) or “first to 15 pullups” (or 5) or “first to deadlift twice your bodyweight” (or just bodyweight) are simple and easy to keep track of and prizes for the winner may heat things up. The challenges don’t even have to really be competitive, either. You can all pledge to “hike for six miles” or “take a walk every night” or “do fifty pushups a day.” They can be common goals you all rally around, where the prize is simply completing the goal.

Why your boss should care: Whenever you get people together in an enclosed space, rivalries and politics and pettiness will arise. By channeling all that energy into fitness-related competition, you can avoid the office politics that are the downfall of many a workplace.

Start a walking club.

I’d never heard of this before a wife of one the Worker Bees told me about her workplace’s walking club. Basically, this is how it works. The floor is split up into groups of four people. Each person is given a basic pedometer, paid for by the company, and the groups keep track of their daily steps. Each week or two, the groups add up their steps and whichever one gets the most wins a prize. It’s pretty simple, but it gets the people walking a lot. They keep track of steps taken on weekends, too, so people are motivated to be more active away from work.

Start with a mini club – just a few people, perhaps – and expand from there. Since standard pedometers are pretty cheap, you can even buy the first round for your club. It’s a few bucks out of your pocket, but you’ll have triggered a monumental (yet simple) change in people’s lives.

Why your boss should care: As mentioned above, walking improves cognitive function. Healthy, well-functioning brains do better work, which increases productivity. Plus, if your employees are consistently hitting 10,000 steps a day, they’re going to be healthier.

Office naps.

The midday siesta is a cherished tradition in many a nation, but not because people are lazy good for nothings. The nap is just good policy. For one, it’s a bite-sized piece of sleep, a kind of sleep snack, and sleep is as physiologically vital as food and water. We need it to be healthy, but we don’t get enough, and naps can help us chip away at accrued sleep debt. Second, naps are proven to increase alertness. Naps are also superior to (but less delicious than) coffee when it comes to the “purity” of said alertness.

I wouldn’t recommend sprawling out underneath your desk willy-nilly. If you’d like to incite a napping revolution, you need to start small and inconspicuous. Don’t assume people will immediately understand (“Oh, George is just fortifying his relational memory!”), as napping still carries negative connotations. Take a short power nap after lunch – cut your lunch a bit short if you have to – and urge your receptive coworkers to do the same. Then, consider approaching the boss with your suggestions.

Why your boss should care: Tired employees are less effective employees who produce subpar work. And long naps that take up valuable work time aren’t necessary, or even necessarily beneficial; one study found that a 10-minute power nap was the most recuperative compared to 20- and 30-minute naps.

Lead by quiet example.

People like leaders. They like inconspicuous leaders even more, the people who lead by example rather than by decree. Because none of us are experts in everything, we need people to look up to for  motivation, for instruction. If you’re just a healthy person who’s never really stressed out about your workouts, who doesn’t fear animal fat or meat, who’s happy with her Big Ass Salad at lunch, who doesn’t seem to need to mainline coffee throughout the day to stay awake, there’s a strong chance you’ll be one of those inconspicuous leaders without even trying. People will take note of how you do it and start to question themselves – and their lack of progress. They may even come to you with questions. Don’t lecture, don’t be pushy. Just answer and help and guide as needed (and when asked).

Why your boss should care: I don’t think this one’s really applicable, is it?

That’s what I’ve got, folks. What about you? How would you enact some healthy changes in your workplace? How have you already? Let us know in the comment section!

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

176 thoughts on “10 Ways to Make Your Workplace Healthier and More Productive”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    1. I’ve used the washroom stall framework for this before, but beware, some are built better/stronger than others. Also, it’s awkward when someone walks in and you’re mid-drop. 🙂

      1. I took to doing this a couple weeks ago in my dorm. Just use the towel as a pad (the crossbeam has a ridge); 3 pull-ups; 3 chin-ups; 4-5 times a day; perhaps 5 days a week.

        1. Sometimes I sling a towel, rope, etc. over a pull-up bar or suitable substitute and hold on to it while doing pull-ups. It’s a great exercise; it’s easier in a way if you wrap the grip around your fingers, and you can manipulate your position and form much better and with more variety than a bar. I’ve never owned rings so that’s my parallel.

      2. A few summers ago a friend and I used to work out together sometimes and we were talking about our muscle-exaggerating passion while in a mall bathroom. Getting pumped up about toning his abs, as he’d been putting some effort into it, my friend lifted up his shirt to examine his stomach in the mirror just before someone walked in. That was awkward. I used to be a little narcissistic in a similar way. I habitually looked at my reflection to see how I was doing. I still do occasionally but not overmuch. A little bit of self-criticism and self-esteem indulging can be useful.

    2. One of the offices i work in has a pullup bar above the conference room table. It’s pretty rad. And they have a running competition on who can do the most pull-ups. I’m working on getting the female record! lol

    3. In grade 10 my tech classroom had a pullup bar that was really an oar stuck through two boards attached to the wall. When encouraged by a friend I did the best set of chinups I ever did so far on that bar – 19 fast ones. I did 19 chinups and a “twentieth” when I could just get my face at bar level since but not as fast. It takes dedication. I used to do about 10, maybe 12 chinups every school morning before showering, just after waking up, and somehow that, gym class, and football and rugby made me pretty good at chinups, for my better-than-average-but-not-so-pro standards.
      My workout methods change frequently. Sometimes I just walk around a lot, sometimes I get into a climbing spree, sometimes I go for weights (including wood and rocks, and, most ghetto of all so far, just recently, lifting my chamber pots (as I have no toilet) by the handles, edges, and ridges circling the outside of the buckets).

  1. I built a stand-up desk using IKEA parts (easy to find with a google search). Now at least one person has one on my floor, and I know some others are thinking about it. It took me about a week to get used to, but after that, I wouldn’t go back to a sitting desk if I don’t have to. I’m pregger though (new development) so hopefully this kiddo will let me keep the stand up desk going for a long time!

    1. I use a standing desk throughout the day too. For me, it doesn’t really fix my back pain, it just helps a bit. I like to alternate between sitting and standing though.

    2. After two months of a haphazard stand-up desk of books and boxes I finally got the IKEA model. Now that people in the office have seen that it looks good 5 others have jumped on the standing band wagon. It’s awesome and the boss likes it because he can look out of his office and see who’s at their desk!!
      Standing at work is really one of the best things I have done for health and productivity.

    3. I work from home but at a desk most of the day. I couldn’t justify spending money on a new standing desk so finally it hit me to take some paint cans and prop my current desk on top of those…perfect height for me!!! HAHA!

    4. My probation officer has an excercise ball beside her regular chair. I respect that.

  2. Hi Mark,
    What is the best lighting for an office without windows?

    1. AustinGirl – I’d recommend a height adjustable lamp of some kind with “daylight bulbs”, you can get them cheap on-line and they come as long life energy saving bulbs too!

      I have one over my screens at work and it definitely makes a difference, especially during winter. The lamp itself is an £8 Ikea desk lamp with a clamp.

  3. I love this article. These suggestions are pretty awesome, especially the plants, standing desk and equipment lying around the office. I wish I could do walking meetings more often but it is tough to walk and write at the same time.

  4. LOVE IT! Printing out and sharing with my (health-conscious) boss. I am working on the plans for my own standing desk!! (I’ve gotten approval for making one, but it has to match the rest of our classy office furniture). I also love the “lead by quiet example”. I get lots of comments on my weird breakfasts (meat and veggies), but those usually lead to some good questions where I can share some resources. I try to let the questions come to me, rather than push it on people. Every time you put yourself out there, you could be planting a seed in someone else and not even know it! 🙂

        1. I’m with you. Doesn’t matter what’s on the agenda—skiing, lifting, hiking, whatever—I don’t eat till it’s been 16 hrs minimum, and Fridays I work out and then eat after 26.

      1. I eat breakfast at work most days, but it’s a communal thing. I work at a power plant, staffed 24/7/365. We have a full kitchen and someone cooks breakfast nearly every day. If you want to eat, you kick in a few bucks to the Breakfast Fund. When you leave for work at 6AM, it’s nice to not have to worry about prepping/fixing something beforehand when you can just get some bacon and eggs at the office. That being said, I do keep nuts or a bag of coconut flakes on hand for the rare days when they make pancakes or French toast and nothing else.

      2. I eat breakfast at work every day as well. We have a fully loaded kitchen (everything you’d need except your actual food) and I have to leave my house by 6am every morning. Why -wouldn’t- I eat breakfast at work? 🙂

      3. I eat breakfast at work while I go through my morning email, because it allows me to get more sleep! Of course, I eat dried meat and some nuts for breakfast (and I’m not even all that primal).

        BTW, the coffee shop at my work has little signs on all their food with the calories each food contains. The lemon-poppyseed muffins have 800 calories!!

        1. Lemon and poppy seeds go well together, but skip the other baking ingredients. Baking soda would reduce the acidity, and a pH of 6.5 or so is best for opiate absorption. Opiates and at least one of their derivatives stunt hunger.

      4. I eat breakfast at work mainly because it’s just such a pain getting out of the house in the morning. Between kids and the dogs, it’s easier to put some primal fuel in a baggie and a few hardboiled eggs (and whatever else is laying around) while I put my lunch together and eat in peace once I get to my desk. This wouldn’t have worked with my old job which was “GASP” at Einstein Bagels. This was before I found out I was gluten intolerant and got back into the corporate world.

      5. I eat breakfast at work because I have to take medicine on an empty stomach–and I can’t eat or drink anything besides water for 3 hours after. I have to be at work at 5:30am, so I’d have to wake up at 2:00am to take medicine if I wanted to eat breakfast before I go to work. My sleep is more important than the 10 minutes it takes me to heat up my breakfast in the office microwave and eat it!

      6. I eat breakfast at work. I prefer to break my fast after my workout, and we have both a full gym and a full cafeteria here. The eggs are semi-local, and I get to watch them fried to order in front of me.

      7. I eat breakfast EVERYDAY at my office, one of the side effects of having to be at the desk at 0700. Hardboiled eggs, avocados and sliced raw veggies are my best friends.

      8. I eat at work too. I start pretty early (8am), but have an hour long commute. In addition to getting myself ready in the morning, I have to cook breakfast for and feed my 4 year old before getting out of the house. It’s sort of a combination of not having the extra time to feed myself, but also I’m just not hungry that early in the morning. I soft boil a batch of eggs that I bring in and around 9/9:30am every morning I peel and eat. It’s really all I need, but I do need something in the morning besides a cup of joe. 🙂

      9. I eat at work as well, for a couple of reasons. One (which I don’t seem to be alone in) is that I like to sleep as late as possible in the mornings. The other is that I still don’t love to cook. Rather than prepare each meal one at a time just before I eat it, I cook large batches of food (including a breakfast casserole with meat, eggs, and lots of veggies) each weekend and reheat portions throughout the week.

      10. I eat breakfast at work. I need to be there at around 5:30am which means getting up at 4am (3:30 if it’s a workout day), and leaving the house at 5am.

        I eat at right after our daily 7am meeting, so usually around 8am. It actually works out to the same time that I have breakfast on my days off.

        I happen to work in a 1 million sq ft facility, so there is ample room for walking, which I do a lot of. In fact, spending lots of time in the office is considered not doing your job.

        Not everyone has your typical 9-5 job! 🙂

    1. I eat breakfast at work (well second breakfast) I have a protein shake on the way to work, around 8, and at 9:30 break I microwave a couple of eggs with some cheese, spinach, meats

      1. lol second breakfast. I’ve been amused by the term since The Fellowship of the Ring film came out. I like a second breakfast. In grade 12B after biking to school in the morning I’d normally have a second breakfast of vegetables during my first class.

        1. Studies have shown that snacking on raw vegetables betters brain function.

  5. Any recommendations on resilient indoor plants? I like the greenery…but am still working on earning my green thumb card.

    1. Offhand I recall a TED talk that makes the case for a specific plant arrangement to improve indoor air quality. [pause while searching]. Kamal Meattle. (inserted the hyperlink below)

      1. I read in a newspaper that citronella is supposed to improve mood. There were other plants I can’t remember that were recommended for therapeutic purposes. Mint is good for the brain and vascular system. Catnip, I’ve found through experimentation, makes a great tea when steeped freshly picked in cold water. It’s relaxing, soothing, and increases the body’s propensity to sweat, which gives your pores a good cleaning.

        1. Catnip is also known as a mosquito repellent. In the summer, if I’m staying in my lair (I expect so), I plan to pick catnip and leave it wherever mosquitos are able to get in.

    2. Pothos. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epipremnum_aureum They are a vining plant commonly used for houseplants because they are INDESTRUCTABLE. All they need is a liberal amount of water every other day or so and they go NUTS. If you go on vacation or forget to water or something and they start to wilt, just pick up watering where you left off and theyll come back. I also had a friend who had one accidentally eaten by a bearded dragon of hers, and even though it was eaten completely down to the stubs it grew back.

      Since they grow as vines, it can be fun to drape them all over the place, or let them grow into interesting patterns. Try balancing the vines on hooks or pushpins to trail the vines up a wall or side of a cubicle. It will look super green and jungle-y in no time.

      1. Pothos is toxic to cats. I realize you don’t have cats in the workplace, but beware if you have pothos at home if you have cats.

        Oh and I recently lost a cat to lillies of all things – these cause renal failure. 🙁

    3. Philodendrons, my friend. My father used to put *coffee* on his at work. Water, fertilizer once a year, and a tiny bit of light is all they need. They can be trimmed with office scissors. I’m about ready to post a link to a bunch of plants that make good office plants. The philodendron is towards the bottom.

    4. Philodendrons come in a variety of leaf sizes and colorations and are known for being good air filters. They prefer indirect light and require watering once a week, if that. We have five plants scattered about our office. Vines can be wrapped around pots or posts to create at ‘tree’.

    5. Aglonema, and diffenbachia are two that I have in my home. They are doing well. The aglonema likes low light and thrives in the basement bathroom. Oh – I have an outdoor gardening green thumb but somehow I manage to kill most houseplants even cacti!

      Spiderplants and african violets are a couple more.

    6. You don’t have to have resilient plants…you could take in a plant of your choice, that you like and then change it for a nother one after a week or so; just take the other one home or swap it with a colleague. This way you refresh your desk and cheer up a mate too.

  6. We very recently started a walking club. There’s plenty of interest, but only a few of us actually participating every day. We work in a large building, so someone did the measurements and figured out that 5 laps around our floor is about 1 mile. We walk 4 laps, then down the stairs to the lobby (we work on the 7th floor), across the lobby, take the stairs back up to our floor, then do one final lap to cool down. So far, so fun.

    1. Our group does a “Biggest Buddy” Loser contest 4x a year. My Buddy and I walk as fast as we can for 10 minutes before we eat lunch every day. Thank goodness there are underground tunnels we can use since it’s pouring rain outside and 60 today, and will be 20 with snow tomorrow!

  7. Over the last few years, at some point literally everyone I work with has come to me to ask more about primal/paleo and said theyre interested in trying it out. 90% of them have shrugged it off, or tried it for a few weeks and then shrugged it off. Its made me a little jaded about sharing my info with people, since its disheartening to pour my heart into sharing this thing im passionate about and know can help people but they only go “meh” about it. I mean, I still share info when they ask, but I dont devote as much energy toward it like I used to.

    But, in all fairness, at least one coworker of mine stuck with it HARD and is now fully on board. And my boss goes back and forth a little but definitely keeps giving it a try.

    1. I just send people to this website and recommend books like Marks, Wheat Belly, and the Paleo Answer. If they are really interested, they will do the reading. If not, they won’t. You can lead a horse to water…

      1. Last year, chilling in a forested small park with a friend and wanting to know the time, I decided to climb a tree to look at a big clock on top of a building. There were some boards nailed into the tree for climbing. I had to jump for the lowest. It came out of the tree and resulted in me landing in the foot-first, squatting, back half-roll cushioning style. I got up as quick as was comfortable, backstepped, then ran at the tree, jumped, pushed off with a foot and gripped the next board. A group of teens walking by watched me and expressed their amaze and asked me how I was able to perform that action. I told them I climb trees regularly and eat a primal diet. Easy as pie.

    2. A book which has some excellent ideas for getting people to change is ‘Switch’. Suggest they do one thing, in fact, don’t even suggest, just take them on a walking meeting ( described in the book as the Critical move). Repeat this to establish the habit, to reduce the change and to gradually allow them to form their new identity of say a Paleo Worker. When they form this new association change becomes easier as it will start to underpin their thinking. Along the way things need to be done to make the path easier. The suggestions in this article – pull up bars, walking routes, standing at your desk are just such path smoothing devices. Further ones which can be implemented: remove desk side bins (means you have to walk to a central bin). Likewise, avoid big water bottles in favour of small cups and more trips to the cooler.
      Standing at your desk is good, but walking is better if you can find an old treadmill take the arms off so that it fits under your desk with the console on the desk. Similarly mini-steppers work well under the desk

      I’m not sure if it was mentioned in the article but studies have shown that cognitive and memory function improves greatly as a result of exercise which is ancestrally linked to the fact that we had to be switched on and alert whilst hunting and tracking. Survival was a great motivator for being alert. After the 6-9 hours a day walking we could switch off our brains and bodies and rest. Modern life has switched that around completely, which is way many of us feel so encumbered and stifled by office life.

      If you want to change others I’d say take Mark’s advice and just quietly lead be example. Changing people through words alone is hard. It’s actions that count. If others follow, that’s great. If not it’s up to them.

      One thing I’m pretty sure of, though, is that the workplace in 20 years will be very different to the workplace of today. Change is on its way as more and more findings reveal how out of step we are with the people we once were

    3. Haha yeah I hear that. It’s like anything though, if you come to people acting like you’re an authority… people don’t like it. Even if they do, people don’t need diet advice, they need psychology advice in order to change their habits and deeply understand behavioral change.

      I wish the problem were simply ignorance, but it’s not… it’s habit change. Which is tough!

      1. Thank you! I’ve become more and more primal over the last 6months in terms of diet but can’t seem to get into the fitness groove. Been trying to get there but my bed is so comfy and warm in the morning I just don’t want to get up to workout. Started taking the stairs at work though… It’s a start.

  8. Mark,

    I’d be interested to see pictures from around your office of cool things that you implement in your daily work.

    John

  9. Awesome article Mark…… Am battling with work over our “Broken” fitness facility right now…. I / WE will win!

  10. Yearly at my company we’re required to give a speech. Last year mine was on the fact that sitting all day is killing us. After that speech three other people in the office got standing desks, and they all said it was because of my speech. Public speaking is not my forte, mind you. I love the idea of a pull up bar somewhere in the office, since I can’t even do one. That, and I’m going to buy some plants…

  11. Although I finally got an “official” standing desk at work, I made my own prior to that my stacking my computer on top of phone books and setting my keyboard on an empty banker’s box. 🙂 It’s so nice getting home at the end of the day knowing that I haven’t been sitting for most of the day! I also stand up at meetings. I am definitely the ONLY one who does this – but for my health, it’s worth it to be the “weird one!” Thanks Mark!

  12. If you don’t want to stand at your desk, get an exercise ball and sit on that. I had 15 years of lower back issues disappear without doing anything else. You want to get one size larger than is recommended for your height. It’s easy to do stretches and movements at any time without even getting up.

  13. Sweet! Maybe even the stuffy and super conservative law firm I work for can even get on board.

  14. Great article, Mark. I really like your ideas and I’m not trying to be a troll but I count only 9. Is it me? Am I missing it?

    1. Walking meetings.
    2. Standing workstations.
    3. Plants in the office.
    4. Start a (healthy) breakfast club.
    5. Sponsored gym memberships.
    6. Integrated exercise equipment in the office.
    7. Fitness challenges.
    8. Start a walking club.
    9. Lead by quiet example.


    1. 8. Start a walking club.
      9. Office naps.
      10. Lead by quiet example.

  15. I stand at work frequently. I put my monitor on a box and prop up my mouse and keyboard on stacks of books. Works great. Co-worker of mine started doing it last year and I picked it up from her. Also find that I do more activity throughout the day this way – I’ll end up doing calf raises, or squats, or just moving more.

    My office also does a summer walking group & offers workers the chance to track their physical activity and receive prizes if they get to certain goals.

    While I think the idea of installing pull up bars, rings, etc. – I wouldn’t expect it to happen anytime soon, because of liability issues.

  16. Try to lead by example and don’t really indulge anyone in the details of my lifestyle unless they ask me. Over the past 5 years of being primal/paleo people have asked and some really good conversations and friendships resulted. A few eat/live a primal lifestyle and really enjoy the improvements. One of the big things I’ve done for the past 8 yrs at my workplace, is workout during lunch. Everyone knows Wednesday as mountain bike riding day. We also do group workouts right after work, running, cycling, HIIT, or walking. At one point a small group started the work Olympics and we had competitions every couple months with 5-10 events. Lead by example and people will follow.

  17. I raised the desk in my cubicle to standing height and gave away my chair which both have the added benefit of opening up lots of floor space for sitting/squatting/kneeling to work on the floor, stretching, floor exercises, or “Costanza-style” napping. 😉 Sitting too much makes me stiff, sore, tired, and much less productive.

    1. My “nest” of five blankets and a foam mattress and bags of extra clothes are positioned in a way by the door of the room I dwell in so I have to traverse the pile by lunging to enter or exit the room. That combined with climbing through a window as my access point gets me routine natural exercise. In one campsite there was a fallen tree about waist level blocking my path so I normally got by it by holding onto it and doing the limbo or going over it.

      1. I’ve realized language doesn’t have a lot of words for bush living, which seems restrictive.
        Also jumping or any other form of expending extra energy besides striding in public seems to be looked at with critical scrutiny. I’ve gotten weird looks from people after hopping fences or running across a road and leaping onto the sidewalk. It’s stressful for me when people look at me funny but the more active I am the more I want to move freely and the more jubilant I feel.

  18. I gave my boss “The Primal Blueprint” to read after he witnessed my success. (He was actually the first one to comment how “skinny” I was getting and how I looked 10 years younger.) Anyways, not only did he not read it fully, he told me I could NOT tell other people about it while at work because I do not know enough about it. (February 19th is my ONE YEAR PRIMAL ANNIVERSARY!!) He is a true believer in conventional wisdom and I don’t think anyone will change his mind. So I just keep my lips zipped at work. Does anyone else feel discriminated against at work for being Primal?

    1. I hope you got the book bag to pass on to others who could benefit from reading it.

      While I agree there are work appropriate conversations and non work appropriate conversations, I would think talking about food choices during lunch or a break time- especially if asked do to ones weight loss- does not fall under the “non work appropriate” category. Unless you happen to work for Kraft, Pepsi, Monsanto, etc.

    2. Hi Sara, I feel your pain!
      I am lucky, I am ignored 100%, not discriminated 🙂

    3. I’ve been told at least twice that I “eat the weirdest shit.” That was in shelters and I just continued my intake of primal sustenance and metaphorically slapped their faces.

  19. I created a stand up desk at work, but the problem is, if I don’t keep moving my legs will hurt and go numb (prior back injury) and as a result I tended to gravitate away from the standing. I may try again when I have dropped some weight and my injury will hopefully not be so much of an issue.
    I am a teacher and I try to stay standing and moving as much as possible anyways, but at the computer s a no go.
    I did get some students to start an unoffical fitness club at school! Hoping to slip in as much MDA wisdom as I can along the way!

    1. I have also crafted a bastard standup desk, for office and when I work in the home office. My back will hurt if I stand too long, so while standing, I do a lot of rocking, shifting weight from one foot to the other. I also have a kneeling chair that can be a minute-to-minute support on which to rest my knee while standing.
      I also go from standing to sitting. And when I sit, I use the kneeling chair so I am strengthening my back. I usually stand for the first 2-3 hours, sit for an hour, stand a couple more. And I am the lone wacko who does a standing desk 🙂 But yeah, getting comments, for sure!

    2. Teachers impress me by writing on blackboards. I’ve always found that to quickly turn into a strenuous activity.

  20. I’m very lucky in that my office has it’s own gym. It’s small, but I’ve been able to help pick out some of the equipment. Tomorrow ends our January 3000 push-up in 30 Days challenge. Thinking February might be 3000 sit-ups??? I’ll admit, not very many people participated in the challenge, but it got them talking! I’m also very lucky that I work in an office where there are quite a few people that eat Primal/Paleo (that’s how I found out about it) and every once and I while I hear about someone else going Primal – I love it!! I recently started making terrariums and have my first one sitting on my desk and it’s amazing how many people stop to look and comment on it – they always walk away smiling! There aren’t any standing work stations in the office – perhaps that will be my next project for the office!!

  21. Our law office provides bagels, muffins and donuts every Friday. After reading the suggestions I think I’ll subversively bring in a dozen hard-boiled eggs and place them on the same table this Friday and check back to see how many of them are still there.

    Also, I thought of putting a pull-up bar in my doorway but you know there’d be a few attorneys who’d have to prove themselves by using it – HR probably wouldn’t approve.

    1. If you want better response, make some deviled eggs. Every time, I’ve make them for work there is never enough and they gone in a couple mins.

    2. Go see HR – it never hurts to ask. They might say yes – you won’t know until you ask.

  22. I’m wondering what everyone’s thoughts are on full spectrum lighting. I work at home and just recently bought some full spectrum CFL bulbs for my home office.

    1. A 45 watt bulb is supposed to be a decent simulation of moonlight.

  23. Excellent suggestions. Even for people who work from home and are already convinced paleo-life-stylists. We’ve bought stand-up desks for the whole family by now. We even got a stand-up desk for our teenage son now and there’s a huge difference already. None of us have headaches anymore, which were a result of bad posture, we have all lost weight (not because of stand-up desks alone, but because of going primal in general), and I can only agree that standing over sitting has so many health benefits, they are too many to recite here.

    Mark is so right about just doing all this by example. If you talk too much about the primal lifestyle, you invariably get comments like “so you wear fur at home”? But just the fact that I fit into a little black dress again, after 13 years of mediocre health and struggling with weight, creates enough curiosity among friends and family. Of course, they all ask, which diet we’re on. It’s not a diet – it’s a lifestyle.
    I’ll be forever grateful to my podiatrist Dr. Pardis Kelly, who suggested to read the Wheat Belly and follow Mark’s Daily Apple. It changed all our lives for the better forever.

    1. Totally OT, but my little girl’s name is Dagmar and I’ve never seen anyone called that on American interwebz before. (I’m in Scandinavia.) Awesome! Cool name. 😉

  24. I’ve been debating on a standing workstation for months now. It sounds crazy but I have an office that clients come in to and I don’t want it to look tacky since impression is everything. I’ve opted for a stability ball instead, even though the benefits aren’t as great.

    1. Hey I use both, spend half the time on each. I think it is better than full time on either. and in the ball you can do a lot of mobility exercises while doing your office work. I understand the clients issue

    2. I work in a professional office and my standing workstation looks totally professional. Why would you think that a standing workstation looks tacky? I have a lovely tall desk with a tall chair beside it for times when I just need to ocassionally sit down. If I am meeting clients, we go into an adjacent meeting room, or have a small regular height table and chairs in the office. So, most of the time, I can stand and do my work (and I pace around while taking calls so always moving..take most of my calls in the file room!), but my work space is completely professional looking.

    3. I work from home, and my standing desk is the same as my previous siting desk – an antique drop-front bureau. I can sit with the flap down, or I can rest my laptop on the top with the flap up and stand very comfortably. I don’t think you can get a more professional look than one of these old bureaux – I think Ikea do a modern one as well.

  25. I am ok in this area, including the standing workstation. I think I am a good example, but I noticed that when asked about what I eat and I mention that most of my calories come from fat (preferably saturated animal fat) the questioners disappear! My conversion rate is a big zero.
    My immediate action item is:
    I need to add the plants!

  26. I love this! I have been known for awhile now as the “crazy soup girl” in my office. I make tons of bone broth and find it easier for me to feel satified with a bowl of soup for lunch than a salad. I love salads for breakfast and dinenr, but for some reason soup with tons of veggies and some meat really does the trick for me at lunch. Several of my co-workers check my lunch daily to see what soup I’ve concocted. Now, on a regular basis people will bring in a crock pot full of soup to share with everyone. With all of the combos they’ve seen me bring in, most of the time they are even primal with out knowing it 🙂

  27. Lead by example. I have been primal/paleo for three years and had already lost my weight before joining my current company. However people do notice what I eat and frequently ask about it. I have no issues telling them and without exception every person who has looked into primal or paleo eating agrees that it REALLY makes sense. What is interesting is that this is a drug development company full of people who practice science every day. Each year after the holidays there is a 60 day “biggest loser” contest based on a percent of body weight lost. Weigh ins are weekly. Of the contestants two people are paleo and they have consistently been #1 & 2 out of the 15 people in the contest. Four more people have recently come on board.

    1. When I went primal about 2.5 years ago I often had the unwanted urge to shout it from the rooftops like I’d just found jesus or something. I found myself talking about it wayy too much at work. I could even see people go somewhere else while crazy guy talks but couldn’t stop. I hated that. I slowly learned to shut it off and avoid the topic when it comes up. I see most of my peers a couple times a year at compnay meetings. They all ask how but now most are amazed that I’ve been able to keep the weight off. I tell them that’s because I’ve made a permanent change but, based on the looks I get when i say that, I don’t think most people have any idea what that means. I’ve learned to tell who truly wants to make meaningful change in their life from those who are just making small talk. Those few are psyched and having great success. Now how do I help my large friend who has recently decided to go vege? He’s intelligent and open minded…that’s right..send him a copy of PB. It works about 50% of the time.

      1. I have the same issue but for different reasons. See, I’m an artist and writer who’s employed as a software developer. Often I’ll kill time doing art on my white board and everyone says they enjoy the art but nobody talks to me about anything else (I don’t care about sports much and I have no interest in cars/machines) save an occasional conversation about the weather. So long story short: I’ve been here for six years, three of which I was obese and the last three of which I’ve slimmed down to nearly ripped (just a tiny tricycle tire remains) and not once has anyone asked how I lost the weight. Not one time. Even if they did and I was to tell them, I guarantee they’d just label it as something for ‘nuts’.

        Oh well. I’ll continue to enjoy my migraine free, asthma free, allergy free, heart burn free, perfect cholesterol, 50 BPM resting heart rate existence. It just makes me sad I can’t help them. Especially the lady in the cube next door whose son is in High school and taking multiple asthma medications (like I was, steroids and everything), she won’t even discuss it. *sigh*

        -Tim

        1. Hi Tim, you just can’t help people who want to follow their doctors orders, even if those solutions aren’t working. I’ve seen it over and over again. Lead by example. When this woman’s son hits rock bottom she’ll ask you…

  28. I must say…that since I have been using a stand-up workstation, my core strength is really great and much superior to many of the other people (at a similiar fitness level) in my fitness class (which I discovered when they were all dying doing the stomach crunches and other core exercises and I was “meh”…no problem there!!) Just from having a standing workstation I can “out plank” almost any of my equal age and equal fitness colleagues!!

    I have also started having walking meetings with certain colleagues. In the good weather, we walk outside, just around the block. This is obviously only appropriate for small meetings (3 or less) as you have to be in close proximity to be heard and you need to stay on a sidewalk if you are in the city!
    I love all these “healthier” at work ideas. I have also been part of a lunchtime walking club and we also offer 10K running clinics during leading up to the big city 10K event that our work supports and encourages us to participate in (either walking or running) These things are all employee driven and employee run and FREE..so don’t think you need the boss to provide money or organize lunchtime walking/running clinics…do it yourself!! It will be worth it 🙂

  29. I got my little brother on the Primal Blueprint. He then held a competition at his work place to see who could lose the most weight. Everyone had to put in $50 bucks. My brother walked away with the money and all his co-workers wanted to know how he beat the crap outta all of them by a longshot. So he shared with them all how to do it. Most thought he was crazy for eating fat and said forget it (and of course these were fat people). Fortunately, a few are now on board, but my brother was just shocked at how many people can see how this works, but won’t come along for the ride.

  30. My partner’s made a real difference at the school where he works. He was running a couple of Kilometers in his lunch break to stay sane then some of the ‘bad kids’ started running with him (‘cos it was cool to be seen out with Mr Murray!), then some of the sports kids started up and this year, which has just started in NZ, some of the teachers have said they want to join him. Most of his enjoyment comes from seeing the ‘bad kids’ do something better than smoke behind the bike sheds at lunch time – and a couple of colleagues have mentioned those kids are more focused and better behaved in the afternoon on the days they’ve run. Leading by example really works.

  31. When I’m not on the road doing software training, I work from home. I recently acquired a Trek Desk (you can search for them on Amazon.com or Google them). It fits over my treadmill at home and I walk at 1 mph/1% incline while I work. Yesterday I logged about 5 miles. I’m hoping to get to the point where I can easily spend an 8 hour + day walking and working, and hoping to maybe be able to increase both incline and speed just a bit as I become more accustomed to working in this manner. You adjust very rapidly. I’ve been taking meetings, and doing all manner of work on my laptop.

    The desk portion is really large, so plenty of room for all the other stuff I might want around me. It’s not cheap, ($550), but I think it is definitely going to be worth it for maintaining my good health.

  32. When I worked in an office I would always walk on my lunch breaks. I would eat at my desk then take a walk as it would help digest my food and it allowed me to get outside.

    I also used to chug a ton of water then go to the bathroom and do squats, wall push ups, lunges, etc to get my blood flowing.

    1. “I also used to chug a ton of water then go to the bathroom and do squats, wall push ups, lunges, etc to get my blood flowing.”

      +1 I do this too! I use the wheelchair access stall for more room and do jump squats, lunges and wall pushups 🙂

  33. I asked about a standing workstation for my cubicle last year. I was told I had to have a medical reason to get one. (???) So, I have a lap tray I’m going to put my monitor on and I’m making something for my keyboard and mouse. I try to move around a lot (long hallways) but when I’m busy I’m glued to my desk. I can’t leave.

    1. You need to tell your work a standing desk is meant to prevent medical problems!

  34. Something I know people at the office do — the 11:00 stretch. They’ve set up a 5 minute meeting invite for everyone on the aisle. At 11:00, everyone stands up and stretches together, arms, legs, etc. A couple of people have also organized a 5 PM yoga class in one of the big conference rooms once a week.

  35. People notice my weight loss and comment about it. That opens the door to how I did it and the health benefits I’ve reaped. And it progresses from there with the Primal/Paleo being brought up. They usually say something like I need to check it out. I work for a city (and most of them do too), so I ask for their work email (if I don’t know it already), telling them I will send them some links to the places I read almost every day (marksdailyapple.com being the first on the list, of course ;P)

    I just tell them to read the sites for a couple of weeks and if things make sense to them, try it. If they have questions, let me know, I’m always happy to talk to people about what I did last summer to get the results I got.

    Like Amy and her soup post above, eat Primal/Paleo around your coworkers. It is a great way to open the door to talking about our lifestyle.

    I usually forward the email with the links a couple times a week.

    Fred

  36. Love the idea of plants in the office! I already have a standing work station that I alternate with sitting on a 75cm exercise ball, works great. What I really want is a treadmill to add to the setup. Don’t know if I’ll end up buying a Trekdesk or just make my own, but the idea is brilliant and they have proven that you can indeed walk all day and still be productive – likely much more so than just sitting.

  37. Great article. A few months ago, I started using a pedal exerciser under my desk at work for an average of 3 hours a day. I’ve noticed that my concentration has improved greatly and so has my overall quality of work.

    1. Could you give more details about this device? It might be just the ticket for me as a standing set-up is seemingly too much for my feet for long hours.

      1. I think she means bicycle pedals. Just Google images “cycle desk”, “bicycle desk”, or “pedal desk”.

        1. Thanks so much, Charlotte & Bill! I just ordered one! I’m so excited– I’m fidgety & hate sitting still for hours on end but my deadline work often makes it necessary. I can & do stand up for some of it but this will give me a wonderful new option!!

  38. my wife’s problem:
    She stands all day, then comes home and becomes horizontal in front of the TV.
    So, my question is, too much standing? comments?

    I have no problem (I try to stick to 80/20rule) I do yoga twice a week, and walk 1377 meters, and sprint 70.
    I just had to punch a new hole in my belt,
    I’ve gone from 211 lb down to 172 over the last few years.

  39. My workplace happens to be a kitchen. I have quite a different set of problems than those in an office setting. I’m a kitchen manager/”chef” at a bar and grill where there is plenty of movement, lifting heavy things, walking, etc, but I get to have food around me all day. Talk about self control (or lack thereof every so often on a bad day)! I constantly am watching my coworkers cram huge sandwiches and fried food in their mouths. Luckily, I can make myself whatever I want which usually involves the coworkers asking “so what weird concoction did Jen make today? That’s too much green. Kale?? Isn’t that seaweed?!” I try to teach but I’ve definitely found out that *most* people say “hm” and go back to eating said meal.

  40. I have been walking on a treadmill desk for a year in my home office. Yesterday, while working, I walked at a slow pace-1.2 mph for 3.5 hrs. and burned an extra 300 calories…I am SO happy not sitting. Even if I am not walking I am standing for the whole workday. No sitting, no stiffness, no back pain! Here’s the TD I have: http://www.lifespanfitness.com…Changed my life and made my home office job doable!

  41. Hey Mark

    I was really interested in which if these suggests you follow yourself?

  42. Just a note about the taxes. First, the usual disclaimer: This info maybe dated and the tax code is hideously complex, so look it up before acting on the info below and getting a nasty surprise.

    A sponsored gym membership is deductible to the company, but only in the way paying your wages are. From the point of view of the tax code, it’s simply salary paid in a slightly different form. Therefore, you, the worker, will be taxed (both payroll and income) taxes on it. It also means the business has to kick their share of the payroll taxes as well. (Things that generally improve health, like gym memberships, are unfortunately never tax deductible because Congress would apparently prefer to have masses of sick taxpayers.)

    *Anyway* – An in house gym (part of the facilities) is fully deductible to the business and the workers also incur no extra taxes. No commute and wasted time from the business’ point of view as well. It’s the way to go from a tax point of view if your business can swing it. (And the paleo types only need a few free weights and maybe a treadmill anyway).

  43. Oooh, oooh… Don’t forget the disc tossing session at lunch or break time!

  44. I just got a standing desk this past week. My office chair broke and I figured I could get another chair that would annoy me, or pay a little more for the new desk.

    Anyway…since I often listen to music while I work, I’ve found that I spend a lot of my day dancing while typing. Awesome! I should mention that I work from home where only the cats can see me. Probably less awesome to be dancing if I was in an office environment.

  45. Myself and two colleagues have recently introduced Ladies’ Lunchtime Fitness Club. We spend the first 30 mins of our lunchbreak doing exercises in an empty meeting room (with the blinds down!). We do things that don’t require any equipment, such as squats, pushups, lunges, tricep dips, situps, Russian twists. Next week we will be getting on to the burpees and bastards! But yes, other colleagues that have seen us heading off to work out are becoming interested so hopefully it will catch on! We are certainly more productive in the afternoons now.

  46. This Article and motif is useful, if we would like a sport. Through higher fitness and better performance, the combination is simpler and you’re feeling great..

  47. Mark, you’ve really nailed the problem, one of my greatest frustrations. In my well-vegetated, naturally lighted office, however, the main problem is definitely conventional diet beliefs. My fabulous colleagues are healthy by most standards – lots of hardcore cyclists, vegetarians, vegans, runners…no-one is overweight, no-one smokes…but whenever I pull out an avocado, some nuts or a tin of mackeral for lunch, it’s obvious that I’m the ‘weirdo’ while everyone else smugly tucks into their enormous wholegrain salad roll or leftover pasta, tofu and soy lattes and talks about ‘everything in moderation, right?’. I’ve managed to convince a few people I work closely with to embrace everything coconut and ditch the seed oils – by lending out ‘The Primal Blueprint’ and Taubes’ ‘Why We Get Fat’.
    But you are so right – the next step is tricky. When you come up with a great way to approach this, I’m all ears 🙂 Perhaps I’ll just try putting them onto MDA one by one. The vegos won’t like it though!

    1. Well, they are healthy in the sense they aren’t eating 100% processed food, do get exercise, and aren’t smoking.

      On another, deeper level, they aren’t very healthy because they don’t love themselves a whole lot. It’s hard to escape that the core POV of vegetarianism is that humanity is a scourge on the Earth, rather than part of it. It’s not wrong for the lion to kill an animal to eat, but somehow it has become that for the human animal. (Who nutritionally requires the calories and nutrients just as much as the lion, despite our sentience.)

      And if your “exercise” takes up all your free time, causes injury, and wears you down, I’m failing to see how that’s healthy either.

      In many senses, my late grandmother in law was much healthier then the people you describe, not because she ate Paleo, but that she thought she was worth taking care of.

      1. Lions kill their prey, but they don’t operate factory farms where literally billions of birds and animals live miserable, unnatural lives while waiting to be turned into food. Humans, unfortunately, do. Talk about a scourge on the Earth!

        Getting rid of such atrocities is one of the prime goals of most vegetarians and vegans, and I refuse to condemn them for that, or to agree with idiotic statements about someone else’s supposed self-hatred.

        1. Do you really think that scrounging for any food you can get, dodging predators, and then being eaten alive is an ideal life? Preferable to factory farm living, probably. Ideal, no. I generally don’t romanticize the life of a wild animal.

          The concerns about factory farming are legitimate. However, their conditions in no way justify denying yourself the nutrition that comes from animals. It’s easy enough (especially in the US)to find local farmers treating their animals well. Such farming is also far more self-sustaining than the soy fields of Iowa.

          At any rate, I did not come my POV about vegetarianism merely by observing. I was a vegetarian for about 2 years, supposedly for health reasons but also because I bought the save the planet stuff. By the end, it was clear the choice was either me or the planet. Working under the theory that I was probably not going to save the planet by feeling awful all the time, I decided I was as important as all the other animals. I went low carb and never looked back.

          So, I stand by the statement.I do not see how vegetarians can like themselves very much if they cannot be bothered to feed themselves properly. The condition of human animal is just as important as any other on the planet, to me at least.

        2. Wow calm down. Most people in the primal community support local, free range pastured holistic farms. People that are Vegetarian/Vegan because a part of humanity has distorted what is natural have to face the fact that their might be people who A)Treat animals well while alive B)Eat those animals C)Are healthy because of it. They should think about their goals before they settle on a moralistic journey into that debate.

        3. “On another, deeper level, they aren’t very healthy because they don’t love themselves a whole lot.”

          A bit presumptuous, no?

          “It’s hard to escape that the core POV of vegetarianism is that humanity is a scourge on the Earth…”

          …still presumptuous…..

          “I do not see how vegetarians can like themselves very much if they cannot be bothered to feed themselves properly.”

          Properly by whose standards???

          People have their own reasons why they eat some foods but not others, and vegetarianism suits some people just fine.

  48. I’m pretty lucky to work in a sport and exercise department at University with a exercise lab less than 10 steps from my office which doubles nicely as a gym for hourly ‘movement’ breaks…I’ve been bugging our HOD for standing work places for months and he seems to be giving in?! Your post has reminded me to add office plants to my list of requests (or i’ll just bring my own if that doesn’t work)

  49. I LOVE these ideas! I’m a personal banker that works in a public setting, so a lot of these are hard to incorporate into my workplace 🙁 My dilemma is how to incorporate things like standing desks into a setting where you’re sitting down with clients (literally) every day and the only lucky ones with standing desks are in back office, where no clients see them.

    I go out on my lunch to walk, and my co-workers are always commenting how great I look, and what crazy salads I eat! I have sucessfully started to turn the tides on the 3x a week donut/muffin/bagel habit, though. They’re bringing more yogurt now (good lord the sugar content on those name brands is thru the roof!), and eating more fruit.

    But then they ask what I’m doing, and I explain, I get the CW eye glaze over! Most of the time that’s the end of it, because “I can’t live without my pasta/bread/rice/etc”.

    1. Gosh, the “I can’t live without…” Statement is the WORST! Because to me it says they buy my theories and admit they work for me, at least, but basically state they’re too lazy/weak-willed to do it for themselves. If vegetarians don’t like themselves, what do you say about people like this? Like smokers who won’t quit – because when it comes to breaking addiction, there is literally no such thing as “cant’t”, only “won’t try hard or long enough”

      Also, my stand up desk is electric – it goes up and down. One of these would be ideal for your situation where you need the seated option. I admit that sometimes I get tired and sit down too (I work really hard in the gym I swear!!)

      1. That’s a great idea! the desks we have I know can be adjusted manually, but not hugh enough for my liking.

        The “can’t live withouts”, I know! My husband and I used to be smokers, and we used to be addicted to online video games too. There was a time we used those excuses, but we finally decided we “couldn’t live with it” anymore.

        I just bide my time and let them be unhappy with their weight & health, while I keep feeling better and lookibg better!

  50. Our HR sets up walking challenges using the website 10000steps.org.au.

    Makes it dead easy to set up teams and goals etc. and it’s free!! Check it out, even if just for yourself.

  51. Hi Mark. I recently signed up to receive all primal literature. I find it very interesting and will probably embrace the way to eat and work outs on a regular basis. Just one question I have never seen broached. You mention the Fish, fowl, meat, veges, fruit, nut diet etc… but never anything on Dairy products. Is dairy a no no? Thanks,

    1. Top of the page/site -> About -> Primal Blueprint 101 -> Scroll down to “Is It Primal?”

  52. I think a lot of these ideas are so important, that changing jobs may be neccessary for some. Life is too short to have to put up with unhealthy cultures where we work. Once we know and feel what’s right, there is no turning back!

  53. Thomas, full fat dairy in moderation IF your body can handle the lactose.

  54. I found an awesome way to get colleagues interested – baking primal treats and bringing them to share! I send a floor-wide email telling people what I made and what’s in it . To date the only two people who haven’t tried one of my creations are a vegan and a man who is allergic to egg (poor guy!).
    I also have a standing desk and bought a Ninja Standing Desk for home. One of the Execs at my previous job did walking meetings, very revolutionary in a govt job!!

  55. I love your suggestions! My husband’s work has implemented several walking stations there and I am already standing and moving around all day for my profession. Going for walks for a meeting would be really enjoyable, as long as all you need to do is talk and not write!

  56. Read this today and just flat out started a daily walking routine with a buddy at the office. Don’t be afraid to just do it.

    Now I’m looking into constructing something to turn my desk into a standing desk.

  57. My husband built me a stand-up work station, and one of my co-workers wanted one too, so then he built her one. She and I are almost always the fastest to jump into the spontaneous Nerf-gun wars that sometimes break out on our floor. That’s a good enough reason to work standing up, in my opinion!

  58. I’m the HSE manager for a petrochemical company in Egypt. Health and wellness programs are rare here and usually just consist of things like BP checks, etc. Health advice is pretty much along the lines of US CW.

    It is a new company and I’m working on the health and wellness program now. I’m going to sneak any several PB elements into the program.

    For me, it has worked great. I have a standup desk where I spend 6-7 hours working at. This is a construction site and I have a backpack with about 30 pounds of sand in it that I wear when I’m out doing site checks.

    I’m working on getting people out and walking during lunch and since the company pays for the lunches, hope to have some influence over what is sent out.

    Looks to be a lot of fun!

    When we get closer to production, we will have a full time fire department. I’m already gathering up training tools for the fitness program. Going high-tech on that one.

    -sandbags
    -old tires
    -sledgehammers
    -having a prowler type sled built

    I can hardly wait!

  59. Humm…I work in a hospital emergency department. My co-workers are mostly unhealthy & overweight (more than a few almost at or past morbidly obese). Plants are a no-no, lighting is as is, we already stand (and run like crazy) all day. Meals are variable, the hospital kiosk is woeful (and I am about to try and get them to make modifications ha…we’ll see how that goes!) but gradually more & more staff are bringing their own lunches/meals but they vary from good to terrible! (eg the healthy salad smothered in unhealthy caesar dressing and the OJ drink on the side; coke & meat pies; hot dog & flavoured milk!). I have left 2 huge piles of womens’ fitness magazines in the tearoom (which have been well riffled through and some taken home (YEAH!), I organised a hospital-wide healthy heart campaign stair-walking competition (and the winner lost more than 5 kilos just walking stairs!!!). I like the bring a healthy meal suggestion…..but are there any other ideas? Shift workers suffer badly, worse if they are not organised, and I’d love to make some subtle (and not so subtle suggestions) to make changes. We are supposed to be helping people get well & stay healthy, yet most nurses are in a terrible state (as are our doctors) and nurses and doctors are by and large uneducated in the basics of good health and fitness!!! Do you all have any more suggestions I could try???

  60. Thanks for the inspirational article Mark. Item #10′, Lead by quiet example, validates this introvert ‘s approach. When asked, I answer questions about the contents of my lunch box from home but I am uncomfortable extending the subject unless the questioner shows further interest. Yep, quiet example has more potential to persuade most folks to experience Primal/Paleo lifestyle. Thanks for the reminder.

  61. This article is great! We started a Monday lunchtime Yoga and Meditation club at work about a year ago, the dividends are profound. Great way to start off the week (no more ‘case of the Mundays’), builds a unique atmosphere of camaraderie and group interest, and promotes a recovery day for those of us who may swim, ride, or run a bit more than we should.

    I’ll think I’m going to get that bonsai tree for my desk that I’ve always wanted…

  62. I work from home and use a stability ball to sit on. I really like it. You’re never quite comfortable on it; always shifting your position. You can’t ‘sink’ into it like you would with a chair or you’ll roll off. I also have a mini rebounder trampoline nearby, and like to jump on it for a few minutes at a time. Great exercise and a stress reliever, and it’s fun too!

  63. I’m determined to make my office a healthier place. I’m the nutrition representative for our Balanced Lifestlye committee. I just started a program where a local produce shop is delivering CSA farmers market boxes to us weekly. Easy to sign up and no commitmtent. $20 a box, which is cheap for local produce! I think it’s taking off nicely….very excited 🙂

  64. “they seem to be getting bigger and bigger every time I see one (c’mon, who needs a pound of muffin?”

    Ohmygosh, that made me laugh. Are there muffins that are really a pound?!

  65. I have a standing work station and as of this very moment, I have been standing for 7 hours!! 🙂

    This standing station really has done wonders for my lower back. I used to have a lot of pain but now I hardly get any! It’s quite amazing what standing vs. sitting can do for you!

  66. Any suggestions for plants for the office that can survive with no natural light? I have an office with no access to windows – just fluorescent lighting for 12 hrs a day…

  67. Iam a goldsmith/silversmith and I try not sitting all day but thats hard to.do when your as busy as I am. My daughter and I try to walk every day also we do palaties and a bit of yoga. I ve been a jeweler fo over 35 years and I struggle with my wait.

  68. This was a great article by Mark. I had e-mailed him about how to get co-workers motivated and asked if he had suggestions so it was great to see this post, answering some of my questions.

    I am starting a weight-loss support group at work after giving 2, 1-hour sessions with power points I created.
    I used many different resources, including Mark’s, Robb’s and other Paleo authors but also covered topics by authors who talk about the dangers of sugar, to create the power points and my lesson plans.
    I hope to expand this more, since I have had such positive feedback and people are really “catching on” to healthier eating. Its been life changing for me to eat 80% Paleo and its exciting to see baby-steps with my co-workers. I’m even learning from them, as they send my new recipes and links to other Paleo sites.

  69. I started working upright about 10 years ago after a car accident made prolonged sitting uncomfortable. Yeah, I was kind of the office curiosity for awhile (the stacked cardboard box risers didn’t help) but standing workstations are pretty commonplace now.

    To reclaim office-freak status, I recently ‘evolved’ to a desk treadmill. What a revelation!! I cover about 200 miles a month, clocking in at the oh so speedy pace of 1-1.8mph (depending on task at hand). My attention span and energy levels have really benefitted, not to mention my productivity. God, I sound like an infomercial — but it feels so good to stare at a computer all day and still be able to freaking move. Highly recommend it!!

  70. My company OFFERED me a standing workstation when I stopped using my chair due to pain from a herniated lumbar disc. I was resistant at first, but I eventually had to do it because bending over my desk was worse! I’m glad that I did. Even though I’ve moved twice since then, I’ve had each of my new desks taken up to 41″.

    I have a good anti-fatigue mat on the floor and my barefoot shoes that I wear every single day!

    I have a barstool height chair for the times when I’m too tired to stand all day.

    I think that I do better work when I’m standing than when I’m sitting. I think better on my feet.

  71. Clean eating is not a new concept! Nor is it a fad diet to shed weight. Clean eating is about sticking to what is closest to natural products and avoid processed foods that come out of a box. It’s not about restricting what you eat, but rather about making conscious choices to eat better quality foods. This means more natural products and less chemicals and additives. Although some people may be able to jump right into clean eating and never look back, most need to ease into this lifestyle. A sure way to get started is to firstly drink more water; secondly eliminate processed foods; thirdly balance your meals; and finally control portion size.

  72. Great ideas! Especially love the healthy breakfast club. Going off of that, incorporating some healthy alternative snack options would be fantastic too, especially if your office already provides snacks, simply replacing some of the current assortment with some healthier alternatives can go a long way!
    – Jodi Shapiro
    @workperks