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.