Staying Healthy While Working from Home: The Pros and Cons

My husband and I both work for fantastic software companies that let us work from home (thanks, AgileBits and Salesforce!). While working from home is awesome for my productivity and saves me from LA traffic, there are definite pros and cons when it comes to my health.

Working from home can be a double-edged sword if you let it. The same things that benefit you can also become your detriment. The pitfalls aren't insurmountable; they just require mindfulness. For health-conscious remote workers, here are some solutions to common health conundrums, whether you're working from home now or may be soon.

PRO: You're not tempted by catered meals and junky free snacks in the office.

CON: You're surrounded by food in your own kitchen all day.

SOLUTION: It's easier said than done, but I try to make sure the stuff in my pantry is not the worst stuff. This way, I'm neither going hungry nor unsatisfied. I recommend going grocery shopping a) when you're not hungry and b) when you've already been eating healthy all day. You'll buy much better food if you just ate a kale salad vs. a big plate of pasta with garlic bread.

Example: I love crunchy and salty snacks, but if I buy a bag of kettle jalapeño chips, they'll disappear. Find snacks that let you compromise. I like vegan cheddar popcorn (only 150 calories in 2.75 cups!) and salty smoked almonds. Likewise, two squares of dark chocolate usually satisfy my need (it's an actual, almost medical need) for mid-day chocolate, so I just buy chocolate instead of Oreos.

PRO: You can eat on your own schedule.

CON: You can snack all day.

SOLUTION: Eat when you're hungry and don't when you're not. There's no magic wand other than having discipline and counting calories if you're into that. For me, counting calories puts some perspective on my day, because I can visually see that if I'm eating 60-70% of my calories while working, that doesn't leave many "fun calories" for dinner at a restaurant or going out for drinks.

If you're working from home with someone else, like your spouse, it's also important to remember that you don't have to eat just because they're eating. It's okay to eat on different schedules. If you eat every time the other person is eating, I think you'll just end up eating more.

PRO: No commute = more time to work out when time permits.

CON: No commute = more time to sleep in!

SOLUTION: You've heard that habits are key to exercise success, but habits are ten times more important when you work from home. Plenty of qualified scientists have written extensively about how to make lasting habits, so I won't tell you how. The goal is to make exercise an everyday thing.

I work out 4-5 days a week before work, and the best way I've found to make this a habit is by going to sleep when my body is ready. Sometimes that's much earlier than I would like, but it's what I have to do. There's no way I'll be lifting weights or running by 7:45 a.m. if I'm awake until 12:30 a.m., but that's just me.