Is Your Desk Job Making It Harder to Lose Weight?
February 10, 2016 at 6:13 PM
Most people spend at least half of their waking hours at work, and for many Americans that means sitting at a desk in front of a computer. Obviously this isn’t ideal for weight loss, but the office can sabotage your weight loss plans in more ways than you might realize.
If you’re trying to shed some extra pounds and think your job might be making it more difficult, take a look at some of the most common ways that our work gets in the way of weight loss and how to overcome them.
Too much time sitting. With sedentary jobs on the rise, sitting has famously been referred to as the new smoking. And for good reason – excessive sitting has been linked to increased risk of obesity, heart disease, back pain, diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more.
Alternatives to traditional desks like standing desks and even treadmill desks are becoming increasingly common to address this problem. Standing instead of sitting has been shown to result in higher metabolisms, lower blood pressures, and better blood glucose levels in office workers.
But you don’t need new office furniture to counteract the harmful effects of sitting. Try some of these tips to sit less and move more at the office:
- Stand or pace while you talk on the phone.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.
- Instead of sitting around a table, make your next meeting a walking meeting.
- Stand up to stretch at least once per hour.
- Instead of sending emails to officemates, walk to their desk and talk to them.
- Keep a glass of water at your desk, and get up to fill it often. Not only will this keep you hydrated, but it’s a good way to remind yourself to stand up every so often (the extra trips to the bathroom help too).
Unhealthy stress coping. A little bit of stress can be a good thing, keeping us motivated and even boosting attentiveness and creativity. But when stress gets to be excessive, it can lead us to unhealthy habits. When people get too stressed, they often react in ways that can be detrimental to their health and weight loss goals, notably by “stress eating.” Excessive stress has even been shown to cause hormonal changes that encourage weight gain.
If excessive feelings of stress at work are becoming a chronic problem, then you should probably do something about your job. But in the meantime it’s important not to fall back on unhealthy habits to help you cope. Unhealthy stress coping habits usually include excessive eating, drinking, smoking, and inactivity at home. Instead, try some of these stress reduction methods when you’re feeling overwhelmed:
- Get plenty of sleep. The benefits of getting enough sleep extend beyond stress reduction, but getting at least 8 hours of quality sleep per night is one of the best ways to take on chronic stress.
- Be active. Exercise is a powerful weapon in the fight against stress. Aerobic exercise increases positive mood hormones, sharpens focus, and helps both mind and body relax. Of course it’s also necessary for a healthy weight loss regimen as well. Even if you’re at the office, a 5-minute walk around the building or 25 jumping jacks in the break room is an awesome way to beat feelings of stress.
- Prioritize your tasks and break your tasks into manageable steps. Feeling like you’re trying to do everything at once is a surefire way to become overwhelmed and stressed, and a common path to unhealthy coping habits. Make a list of priorities and go through it in the way that feels best to you. Take manageable, concrete steps toward completing your next task instead of losing productivity to anxiety over the big picture.
- Don’t be afraid to take breaks. If you feel stressed or overwhelmed, let yourself step away for a few minutes to take some deep breaths, enjoy a healthy snack, take a walk, talk to a friend, or something else that helps you to relax. Then go back to your task with clear focus.
Unhealthy eating habits. Many people find that their office life doesn’t do them any favors when it comes to healthy eating. Unhealthy office eating habits can include fast food lunches, junk food snacking, and drinking soda or other sugary beverages. If any of these sound familiar, try these tips:
- Make an effort to bring healthy lunches from home. This can be as simple as making a little extra dinner the night before work and packing it up for lunch. It’s not only a great way to save on calories, but it’s a good way to save money too ($10 a day for lunch around the corner adds up).
- Keep healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables on hand instead of taking too many trips to the vending machine. Many people find themselves snacking mindlessly on things like chips or party mix at their desk; alternatives like celery sticks or baby carrots will not only be lower in calories, but will help to regulate blood sugar and keep you satisfied throughout the day.
- Ditch the soda! Instead of sugary beverages or diet sodas, sip on seltzer, unsweetened tea, or plain water. Be careful not to add to much sugar to your coffee.
No time for fitness. The 9-to-5 job is becoming a fond memory for many people as they’re expected to put in longer hours at the office. This can lead to a schedule too hectic for trips to the gym – especially when you consider other obligations like family, errands, and household chores. If your job makes it hard to find the time to exercise, consider trying some of these tips:
- If you live close enough, forego your car or public transportation and bike or walk to work. Even if this isn’t an option where you live, you can maximize your commute’s activity by getting off your bus or train a few stops early, or parking a few streets away and walking the rest of the way to the office.
- Wake up early and hit the gym before work. Every day is filled with endless excuses and excursions that will get in the way of your next workout. Beat them to the punch by getting your exercise in first thing in the morning. This will also help boost your metabolism throughout the day.
- Sneak in some exercise on your lunch break. Instead of reading or catching up on social media, spend a half an hour in the middle of the day taking a walk (weather permitting) or stretching.
- Don’t be afraid to multitask. If you have to do some reading or research for work, there’s no reason not to do it on a treadmill or stationary bike at the gym.
- Even if multitasking isn’t your thing, there’s no reason why work and exercise having to be mutually exclusive; a growing number of companies are incorporating exercise programs into working hours to cut healthcare costs and increase morale. Talk to your manager or human resources department about instituting an employee wellness program at the office.
It’s important to remember that maintaining a healthy weight is a holistic effort – while these tips will be helpful for many people during working hours, they don’t equal permission to do whatever you want for the rest of the time. If you think you’d like a professional weight loss consultation, or are in need of medically supervised weight loss assistance, contact Medical Weight Loss Solutions in Wallingford, CT.
Tags: Office Health
Category: Weight Loss Tips
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