You diet, you exercise, and you still don’t lose weight. It’s a frustrating problem that millions of people have. But the answer to achieving your weight-loss goals may not lie in harder workouts with Lars from the gym or some crazy cayenne-pepper cleanse. It may be as simple as changing a few of the bad habits you have … at the office.
That’s right: According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 43 percent of workers say that they’ve gained weight in their current jobs, due in large part to bad habits at the office like eating out, skipping meals, “stress-eating” and partaking in office celebrations (like birthdays, potlucks, etc).
Though the combination of a sedentary desk job, a stressful schedule and an office kitchen stocked with birthday cupcakes isn’t exactly the perfect recipe for weight loss, it also doesn’t have to be an automatic sentence to poor health. (Proving that it’s possible? Eighteen percent of respondents to the CareerBuilder survey said they’d actually lost weight in their current jobs, up from 16 percent who said the same last year.) If you want to adopt a healthier 9-to-5 lifestyle, making these small tweaks in your daily work routine will help.
1. Move – Thirty-six percent of workers surveyed by CareerBuilder felt that “sitting at a desk all day” had contributed to their weight gain. And, while there’s a reason some jobs are called “desk jobs,” making an effort to get up from your chair once an hour — even if it’s just to walk to the kitchen to refill your water bottle — will help make a sedentary job less so.
Better still? Get out of the office for a quick walk each day and you’ll reap twofold benefits. Not only will you burn extra calories, but getting away from your desk will also ease stress and allow you to clear your head, helping to prevent emotional eating.
“To justify this excursion, think of it as a ‘cigarette break.’ Since smokers are allowed to get outside to get their fix, you should be able to leave your work area to get your fix of oxygen to your brain mixed with muscle stimulation,” says Carol Frazey, author of “The Fit School Plan: 1 Year to a Nutritionally and Physically Fit Life.” “Breathing hard, moving your body and getting away from the work environment for a few minutes allows you to wake up and gives you a new perspective and solutions to your daily tasks. You’ll be surprised from what a few minutes of walking can do to help rejuvenate you for the rest of your day while burning calories.”
Bottom line: “Regularly get up from your desk, stretch out your muscles, go for a walk, take the stairs, etc.,” says Beverly Beuermann-King, a health and wellness expert who gives presentations and seminars to businesses on employee health, through her company Work Smart Live Smart. “Our bodies were designed for movement and when we don’t we are not burning off the calories.”
2. Pack your lunch — “Make your lunch at home with at least one protein, a whole-grain, vegetable, fruit, and dairy. A well-balanced, homemade lunch will save you thousands of calories each year compared to dining out each day,” Frazey says. “Most restaurants have great tasting meals because they add fat, sugar and salt. Save yourself the extra pounds and make dining out a ‘once-in-awhile’ thing.”
The same rule should apply to snacks. According to the CareerBuilder survey, 65 percent of workers snack at least once during the workday, so packing healthy options will make it easier to avoid the desserts in the kitchen or a neighbor’s candy bowl when hunger strikes.
3. Take something off your plate — (Figuratively speaking). If you can’t spare 10 minutes to eat a sandwich at some point in your day, then you’re too busy at work. Ask your boss to help you prioritize or slim-down your workload. Taking a break to eat an actual meal during your day will not only prevent low-blood sugar-induced visits to the vending machine (never good for the waistline), but it will also give you the energy needed to actually get your work done.
Packing a lunch will also help eliminate the “too busy to eat” conundrum, because you’ll already have your food with you, saving you the hassle of going out to buy it.
4. Stay hydrated — Thirst can actually mimic hunger, so next time you have a snack craving, reach for a glass of water first. Then, if you still feel hungry 10 minutes later, have a healthy snack. Don’t like plain water? Try keeping another healthy beverage — like iced green tea — on your desk instead.
One thing that is definitely not on the healthy-beverage list? Soda. “A regular, 20-ounce cola contains 250 calories and almost 17 teaspoons of sugar,” Frazey says. “If you replace one 20-ounce cola with water each day, you could lose 26 pounds in one year.”
5. Get a healthy work buddy — Involving a coworker in your plans to get healthy will help keep you both accountable and motivated. “It is easier to have a healthy lunch, take your breaks and go for a walk when you have made a commitment to another person,” Beuermann-King says. “You are less likely to slough off when you get busy.”
What are your tips for a healthy workday? Share them in the comments section, below.