I bet that almost anyone who has ever worked in an office, has experienced on-the-job weight gain – I certainly have in the past.
Given that many people spend a lot of hours at work, “your job certainly could be contributing to weight gain,” states Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise. So in this post, I want to share my 7 strategies for preventing unnecessary weight gain at your job…
The very nature of an office job promotes weight gain – it’s sedentary – you are sitting on your behind for hours on end. When I spend my first months in culinary school and started working in restaurant kitchens, spending more time on my feet, chopping and lifting pots and pans, I saw a huge difference in the number of calories and treats I could consume simply because my job was so physical compared to my old desk job.
But now that I no longer work in restaurants, most of my day is spent sitting at a computer writing up recipes I test in the morning – so my routine has become more “office like”.
It can seem like an impossible feat at times, with vending machines looming at every turn, coworkers showcasing their baking talents and the break room flooded with doughnuts and bagels! Stress, missed lunches and client dinners can also contribute to your struggle.
So you need to be proactive and I’ll show you easy ways to be prepared.
7 Ways To Avoid On-The-Job Weight Gain
- Bring your lunch to work. This is the #1 bit of great advice you can follow, especially since eating lunch out could mean any where from 700 to 1000 calories depending on which restaurant or take-out meal you pick. If you must eat out because it’s a business dinner, start with a salad with no dressing and ask for a lemon wedge. Eat half your meal and take the rest to go. Plan to take your lunch the rest of the week.
- Sneak in exercise. Walk to work if you can, use stairs, park further away, walk to coworkers instead of e-mail, walk around the block on breaks, stretch at your desk, and find a way to move.
- Keep healthy snack options in your desk. This will help you to avoid trips to the vending machine that could mean saving 500 to 600 calories in a week and over a year’s time that could mean up to 7 pounds! Nuts, whole grain crackers dried fruit in 100 calorie packs, fresh fruit that will keep a few days such as bananas, apples, and orange, and other decadent 100 calorie snacks that will fill you up and give you an added nutrition boost.
- How to navigate Happy Hour. Out for drinks, but don’t want the extra 200 to 300 calories you’ll get during a typical happy hour? Get a seltzer water with a wedge of fresh lime or lemon. It will fill you up and won’t add calories or a next-day hangover that will make you feel sluggish and could make you incredible hungry the following day. Excessive alcohol consumption, or some times just two glasses of wine can cause your blood sugar levels to drop which means more cravings for rich foods and sweets! Just what you need when you’re bored at work and you can see the box of donut holes in the conference room, right?
- Limit yourself to one. Your assistant or co-worker brought in cookies? Treat yourself, but limit it to one small cookie and count that as your one treat for the day. I say “small” cookie, since some of those coffee shop cookies can clock in at 500 calories a pop. Share a large cookie with a co-worker if the cookie is bigger than your closed fist.
- Don’t let yourself be peer-pressured. Remember those high school and college days when you felt you just had to be a crowd pleaser? Just because someone brought in food, does not mean you need to eat it, it will be there tomorrow and the next day, it’s not a one in a lifetime opportunity.
- Don’t forget to eat, it helps with will power. You can easily lose track of time when busy at work, but you need to eat to keep metabolism up and to prevent a binge on unhealthy foods later in the day. People always ask me about my “will power” when it comes to sweets and junk food. Well, I never go hungry and almost never skip a meal so junk food is a lot less tempting, especially when your taste buds have readjusted like mine to love healthy, filling home cooked fare.