by Kevin DiDonato, MS, CSCS, CES
You wake up early in the morning. You shower and get ready for work. Then you drive to work, work for eight hours (sometimes more), then you drive home. You eat, then maybe time for a little television, then bed. Rinse and repeat.
If this sounds like your typical day, trust me, you are not alone.
You, and the rest of the world, have to work. The typical grind called work is what helps pay your bills, save for retirement, and have a little fun on the weekends.
Besides your normal work-related grievances, there is one more reason why work can be a drag: it secretly causes weight gain.
That’s right, I will say it again, weight gain!
Unless you are a landscaper, or have some other job that gets you outdoors, the majority of your time is spent sitting behind a computer screen, talking on the phone, answering emails, and eating periodically at your desk throughout your day.
This could be a recipe for disaster, unless you keep in mind the following four steps.
Four Steps to Prevent Weight Gain at Work
Face it, unless you win the lottery, you will be stuck working for most of your adult life.
You may work 40 to 50 hours per week, a minimum of 5 days per week. However, most people work more than this, sometimes 60 plus hours and up to 6 or 7 days per week.
This may leave little time to exercise, which could send your stress levels through the roof, leaving you hungry and craving the wrong foods.
However, if you avoid these work-related pitfalls, then you could keep your waistline trim and your energy levels sky high.
Here are the Top Four Work-Related, Weight-Gaining Pitfalls:
Pitfall #1: You Don’t Fidget Enough
It has been shown that sitting for long periods of time throughout the day actually may erase the benefits of your exercise program.
Most jobs require you to sit for long periods of time, entrenched in projects, emails, and phone calls, which doesn’t allow you much time to move around and get some physical activity.
Most companies may, however, include a wellness program that encourages employees to get up and move throughout the day.
It has been shown that exercise during your workday may lead to overall better job performance, productivity, and fewer absences than people who are not able to exercise during the day.
Solution: Take the time on your break or lunch hour to get moving and do a little bit of activity. Take a walk around the building, do stair climbing, or hit the company gym. Moving more has been shown to raise adiponectin levels (powerful weight loss adipokine released from fat cells) which could help you burn more fat.
This will help control your stress levels and burn more calories, keeping you fit and trim throughout the year.
Pitfall #2: You Don’t Do Brown Bag Lunches
Tom likes Applebees. Jen likes the deli around the corner with the huge sandwiches and enormous sides.
When working in the office, a majority of people may choose to go out to eat, instead of bringing in lunch from home.
So, of course, you make your way to the local eatery, or to the cafeteria, and mingle amongst your co-workers.
However, what you may really be getting is a heaping portion of sodium, fat, and weight-promoting food (since you sit for most of the day and do not have the time to work out to burn off all those extra calories), which may suddenly halt your weight loss success.
In fact, a recent study showed that eating lunch resulted in increased weight gain – especially in women.
This spells trouble if your goal is to fit into your skinny jeans by the end of the year.
Solution: Brown bag it. You will be able to control your portions, sodium, and fat intake. Plus, you can ensure that you have a well-balanced meal by including fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and a healthy carbohydrate.
However, if you MUST eat out, then have half of your meal bagged for later. This will cut your portion size in half, which could prevent you from overindulging at lunch.
Also, you could order a salad and hide your own toppings, such as almonds, flaxseeds, walnuts, and some dried fruit, in your purse or
jacket to sprinkle onto your salad.
That way you will be getting plenty of nutrition, essential fats, and proteins which could keep your appetite under control and prevent overeating at your next meal.
Pitfall #3: Your Car Is Your Sanctuary
Unless you have a work-from-home job, or live in close proximity to your job, chances are you spend a good portion of your day in the car, bus, subway, or train.
This leaves very little time to move, exercise, and limber up your joints.
For some, the car ride home is a good way to unwind from your day, and clear your head so you are ready to spend time with your family
However, a long and stressful day may cause you to want to eat, which may spell trouble for your hips and butt.
For most, the car ride to and from work may be a problem area for unhealthy snacking (eating nutrient-dense, high-calorie junk food) which could easily add up to unhealthy weight gain.
Solution: In order to get a little more activity in throughout your day, try to get out of the office for an intense 10-minute walk outside. It has been shown that walking may prevent weight gain, which cuts your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.
Also, park your car further away from the building and walk to the office. If your office has an elevator, skip it and take the stairs. These tiny additions of activity could help keep your weight in check.
Pitfall #4: Not Enough Hours In Your Day
Face it: You only have 24 hours in a day. If you’re like me, sometimes you need a couple of extra hours added on to accomplish everything on your to-do list.
From spending time with your family to hitting the gym, there just seems to be some missing hours. So you avoid certain things (like the
gym, or making a healthy dinner) and opt for the drive-thru and sitting on the couch.
Working long hours may also cut into your sleeping time, which has been linked to altered appetite and increased cravings for junk food.
Plus, this may add extra stress to your life, which could lead to excess cortisol levels, which may also lead to weight gain.
Solution: There is no easy solution for adding extra hours to your day. The best trick is to work on better time management skills, which could organize the flow of your day better.
Time management skills also pinpoint certain hours in your day where you can fit in a workout, a brisk 10-minute jog, run, or office bodyweight circuit, which could be a perfect de-stressor to an otherwise hectic day.
Finding the time to take care of numero uno may even help you sleep better at night, leaving you feeling refreshed in the morning and avoiding the susceptibility to craving nutrient-poor junk food.
Don’t Let These Pitfalls Derail You
Finding the time to keep moving throughout the day, bringing in your lunch from home, keeping healthy snacks in your car (backpack or purse), and finding more time for yourself throughout your day, may lead to overall better health, plus may enable you to shed a few pounds.