happy young business man at office

Dr. James Levine, the author of “Get Up!,” is credited with the saying “Sitting is the new smoking.” And let’s face it, accounting is one of the highest seat-time professions. We sit in our cars to come to work, sit at our desks, then stroll short distances to our cars to drive home.

The path to this profession involved hours of sitting in classes, followed by stretches of sit-down studying — pencil in one hand, calculator in the other — with “breaks” at the computer screen for hours on end. During college, I ate and sat my way to 190 pounds for the first time. After a short burst of healthy eating and exercise, I lost the extra weight.

Confident in my ability to lose the weight at any time, those extra pounds easily found me when I slipped back into my bad habits. Studying for the CPA exam provided the perfect excuse for shifting exercise to the back burner while promoting fast food to the front.

My “aha” moment came in 2016 when I bent over to tie my shoe and lost my breath. I channeled my resolve by fasting for at least 16 hours between meals. At first this was not easy, but I kept telling myself the discomfort would pay off after a year had passed. To this day, I still fast intermittently to improve my energy level.

For those of us in sit-happy occupations, what can we do to offset the damage caused by the nature of the work? At Brown Armstrong, we invite speakers from Elite Corporate Medical Services to host lunch-and-learn sessions on healthy lifestyle choices. The firm offers free gym memberships to employees and encourages walking breaks.

Longtime employees remember the gigantic weekly doughnut boxes and vending machines full of soda and candy. Some of my colleagues tell tales of smoking inside the office “back in the day.” The smoking is long gone and the doughnuts are now reduced to a semiannual appearance. The candy and soda are still around, but trail mix is taking up more space in vending machines and a recent employee survey prompted requests for more candy-displacement with dried fruit, granola bars and high-protein snacks.

Hey soda machine! That survey also unearthed requests for flavored water and other noncarbonated beverages, so make room!

One millennial-inspired feature of the office is free food. One might think this is counterproductive to a healthy workplace, but the free food is healthy food. As tech companies discovered long ago, on-site food encourages employees to stick around. Loaves of bread, peanut butter and jelly are available at all times and fresh fruit, string cheese and low-fat yogurt make regular appearances.

Transitioning from bad health habits to good ones is a sometimes lonely and painful process. Through my last transformation, I was able to lose 45 pounds and I have kept those 45 pounds off for the past three years. I am passionate about staying healthy, sharing my story and helping others achieve their health goals.

One of the most unexpected discoveries along my path to health has been yoga, specifically the practice of placing focus on the present task. Since I began practicing yoga regularly, I have not had a single stressed tax season. Yoga has been my guide and outlet, reducing stress from my life in general. Yoga impacted me so much that I have enrolled in a yoga teacher training course so I can help others.

When it comes to healthy living, this piece of wisdom resonates with me: Do not let success stress you. Find habits to deal with the success. 

Rudy Valdivia, CPA, is a senior accountant with Brown Armstrong Accountancy Corp. He can be reached at 661-324-4971. The views expressed are his own.

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