Considering that many of us spend more than one-third of our lives on the clock, our office behavior has a huge impact on our health
and our weight. In fact, in a CareerBuilder survey released earlier this year,
44 percent of workers said they’ve gained weight at their current gig—and more
than one-quarter of workers gained over 10 pounds. Sure, it’s no secret that
office birthday cake can pad your waistline, but
watch out for these less-expected culprits too:
You Usually Go Out to Lunch
Whether you’re entertaining clients or just loathe bringing
lunch from home, eating restaurant food for your mid-day meal may sabotage your
weight-loss efforts. In a study recently published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and
Dietetics, women who
ate out often lost less weight than those who didn’t—and the strongest link was
with eating lunch out. Those who ate lunch out at least once a week lost about
five fewer pounds than those who did so less often. The effect may be a
combination of eating less-healthy food and also bigger portions.
The Fix: The obvious solution is to bring lunch from home more; an easy way is
to make bigger dinners and tote the leftovers the next day. When you do eat
out, do your homework in advance: scope the healthiest options on restaurants’
online menus so you know exactly what you’re eating.
You Have a Horrible Commute
becoming increasingly normal for many of us to spend an hour or more each way
in cars or on trains or buses, which strikes a double blow: It makes us cranky,
tired, and stressed, priming us to eat more food for comfort, and it also
steals some precious free time we could spend exercising.
The fix: Since exercise is a known stress-fighter, find little ways to bake more
movement into your commute. If you take public transportation, could you get
off a stop earlier and walk for 10 minutes? If you drive, park as far away from
the office door as possible. And if you’re like me and tend to feel famished
and ravenous when you walk in the door at home after work (it’s a recipe for
pre-dinner pigging out), keep a healthy snack on hand to munch while you ride.
You Log Long Hours
overtime can send your stress levels soaring and eat into your sleep time;
which is a bad combination for your hunger hormones. It’s been well-documented
that people who sleep too little have more junk-food cravings and are prone to
The fix: This is a tough one, since today’s economy has many of us working extra
hard to keep up. One thing is just to be extra aware of possible junk-food
hankerings and plan in advance. You’ll be better equipped to say no to the
office candy bowl if you have a shiny red apple and a jar of peanut butter at
You Type and Talk All Day Long
“Sitting disease” is a serious matter—it’s
associated not just with weight gain, but cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and
early death. If your fingers are the only body part that consistently get a
workout during your work day, it’s time to make a change.
The fix: Find a
like-minded coworker so you can help keep each other active. Make a point to
get up from your desk and walk over to hers to chat a couple of times a day,
and take a 10-minute (or more if you can) walk at lunch time. I’ve also seen
colleagues stand during short-ish meetings to avoid sitting down or take some
phone calls standing up.