Why not work it out at work? By Mariana Sanabria

Mariana Sanabria is a Graduate Enrollment Advisor at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Education. She completed her Bachelor of Arts at The University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and her Master of Education in Counseling at DePaul University. She lives in Chicago with her partner and daughter, enjoys reading fiction, watching Frozen with her kid and blogging about her adventures in health and wellness at www.projectunfluff.wordpress.com
Why Not Work It Out at Work?
Every student affairs professional I have ever met has more than one job. We have commitments to our students, our universities, have a thirst for knowledge and learning new skills, plus we have lives outside of our workplaces too. In addition to working in graduate enrollment, I am also a mother of one with another on the way, a partner to a man who also works in student affairs, an active member and president of my local professional/graduate chapter of my sorority and on most days, just a woman trying to enjoy life! So it came as no surprise to anyone that I was going to add yet another thing to my plate: weight loss. I had been putting this off for years trying to make it through work, graduate school, getting married and becoming a parent. Now that I finally had some breathing room, I knew it was time to make my move.
Anyone that knows me knows that I’m not big on complicated schedules and over-commitment (although recently, some extra commitments I’ve made before going on maternity leave would have you calling me a liar…). Most days, my motto is a lot like the U.S. Postal Service’s flat rate boxes: “If it fits, it ships!” When I finally took the plunge on joining Weight Watchers (WW) and working out, it came with the stipulation that it fit into my daily schedule, I would do it. So when I joined WW, it was because we had an at-work meeting, one day a week, over a lunch hour. About a month into revamping my eating habits, I then threw in work outs by working out in my living room early in the morning. This worked well in the winter months when I didn’t feel much like going outside anyway. Since my daughter had finally started sleeping through the night, I was finally getting enough rest so that waking up an extra 45 minutes early didn’t completely derail my day or my mood.
Then the incredible happened: my campus was opening a gym two buildings away! Suddenly, it became even easier to keep going now that I had the option to work out over lunch. Working out 5 days a week at work meant I no longer had to wake up extra early or even work out on the weekends unless I wanted to. And others started to notice the changes. Aside from my noticeably smaller wardrobe, I was full of energy and excitement! Building my health goals into my professional life shifted my entire perspective on what it meant to go to work everyday. Suddenly, I was signing up for 5K’s and 10K’s with friends and spent lunch hours walking with my colleagues. Vegging out on the couch at night was actually something I earned instead something I did out habit and sheer laziness.
Our family was becoming healthier too. We planned healthier meals, packed our lunches everyday and chose restaurants that offered healthier options. Our friends and families started to take notice too and our potluck and family gatherings started featuring healthier, fresher options. Why am I telling you all of this? Because I think as SA professionals, we often struggle with making ourselves a priority in an environment that makes it easy to lose ourselves in our work with students. But as it turns out, you can only better serve your students and your colleagues when you’ve put your health and wellness first. As my activity level increased so did my productivity. As my energy level skyrocketed, so did my creativity and my involvement in several committees. And healthy actions are contagious! I started running into colleagues at the gym more often. I witnessed a coworker sign up for her first 5K and cheered her on as she put herself through the Couch to 5K training program. We were cheering each other on and sharing our wellness-related achievements.
And now that I’m pregnant again, I  am reaping the benefits of all of my hard work. This has been a wonderful pregnancy compared to my last. I’m full of energy still even in my third trimester and I haven’t missed any days due to illness or pregnancy-related symptoms. I look forward to my maternity leave to be home with my expanding family and I’m even more excited about returning to work and getting back into my exercise routine —  because as it turns out, that just happens to be where I’ve been able to make the magic happen!

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