Weight Gain at Work

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I know a thing or two about work-related weight gain. I once gained 5 pounds while interning at an investor relations firm because I couldn’t stay away from the meeting leftovers.

And while I was a freelance writer, I purposely kept my cupboards bare so I couldn’t take a Cheetos break every five minutes. In fact, I’m actually writing this article to try to distract myself from the muffins in the kitchen. (But how does writing about muffins keep you from thinking about them, you ask? It doesn’t. My plan has failed.)

However, I find some solace in the fact that I am not alone in my work-induced gluttony. A recent CareerBuilder survey found that, overall, 44 percent of workers reported weight gain at their current jobs, up slightly from 43 percent in 2009. Out of those who confessed to on-the-job weight gain, 28 percent reported an increase of more than 10 pounds and 12 percent said they gained more than 20 pounds.

So why does going to work make us fat?

The survey responses pointed to a variety of factors:

  • Work-related stress – 32 percent
  • Sitting at a desk most of the day – 49 percent
  • Eating out regularly – 25 percent
  • Workplace celebrations (potlucks, birthdays,  etc.) – 16 percent
  • Skipping meals because of time constraints – 14 percent

“Especially in this economy, it is easier to pick up unhealthy eating habits in the office as workers spend more time on heavier workloads and less time on themselves,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder.

There are ways you can combat work-related weight gain, though. Haefner offers the following tips to help reduce your chance of packing on the pounds at work:

Set an eating schedule for your workday – Planning out your meals and snacks will help control your hunger. Set aside allotted time throughout your day for eating or have your work calendar send you alerts when it is time for you to eat something. Most importantly, make sure you actually eat.

Pack a lunch and snacks – Bring lower-calorie foods such as canned soups, lean lunch meats, baked chips, celery, carrots, grapes or low-fat yogurt, and help yourself to these snacks when you get hungry. Packing food from home will help prevent a midday vending machine binge and reduce temptation to indulge in the cookie tray at your afternoon meeting. Plus, you’ll save money.

Find a weight loss buddy in the office – Your company is made up of different teams that work together toward one goal: success. Apply the same principle to your weight loss by recruiting co-workers looking to shed a few pounds. You can even make a competition out of it: Pair off into teams and see who can lose the most weight by the end of the summer.

Go the extra mile – Every little bit of activity helps when it comes to preventing weight gain. Sneak in a few minutes of extra exercise by taking the stairs to your floor, walking over to co-workers instead of e-mailing them, parking a little farther from your office or taking a walk during your lunch break.

So, on that note, I’m heading to the kitchen to grab a muffin — but tomorrow, I’m bringing my lunch.

26 Comments
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  3. The workplace doesn’t make you fat! You make yourself fat by the choices you make while you are at work. I take the elevator everyday but I also schedule time before or after lunch to go for a walk outside or inside on the treadmill. I realize that not all workplaces have perks like a gym, health insurance, but to really blame the workplace is misplacing the blame. You Can stop eating the cake or meeting left-over’s. It’s called will power!

  4. I believe in the pizza diet at work with a light salad with oil vinager,thin crust with light cheese. Maybe pinnapple and ham. Pizza is quick, easy to handle and can be servered hot or cold. Walk up stairs at work and stand and strech every 30 minutes. Sit on exercise ball to tighten core muscels while working. Makes a great eniromental change of pace chair. Avoid sugar products and anything flour based. Cut fresh fruit for snacks between main meal. Drink water instead of soda. Chew sugar free gum whne possible as away to avoid the snack machine. Use energy drinks only on special project deadline days. These drinkds are loaded with sugar. 5 hour energy when possible.

  5. Two women at my workplace have repeatedly told after I switched jobs that my new job meant that I was going to get fat. It was–they said–inevitable and unvoidable. Now that I’m forty they tell me I will gain weight because I’m getting older. Again, it’s “fate.” I am so stressed out and I would quit if I could, but it’s not fair that they get to run me off and keep their jobs!

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