Office Weight Woes
By Amy Kopecky
December 20, 2006
This year I got my first desk job. Of course I expected the usual annoyances; I watch The Office. I've heard the cubicle horror stories. I knew I would be sitting all day, staring blankly at a computer screen, typing away while my restless body screamed in agony. What I didn't know is that the worst rumors were true: poundage increase. A few weeks into the job, my clothes weren't fitting the same. I couldn't help but think to myself that it's impossible not to gain weight at a desk.
For those of you who have been fighting the horrid scare of office weight gain for awhile now, please pardon my ignorance. I graduated college a year and a half ago and since then have mostly held jobs that require standing or walking quickly. Now, to sit all day wreaks havoc on both my emotional and physical state. While my poor, victimized muscles atrophy on a cushioned chair, it is difficult for me to think properly. Since then, I've made a few improvements using some lesser-known tricks of the weight trade.
1. Start Small
When I first began the job, it took me a few days to notice that I wasn't as hungry as I used to be. (Because I didn’t notice right away, it was a sign that I wasn't listening to my stomach telling me when and how much to eat.) I finally adjusted my eating habits and started each meal smaller than usual. In the morning I began with yogurt and fruit, and in case of later hunger, I brought a healthy snack. The same goes for lunch and dinner. Remember to eat slowly so you can properly gauge what you need to function. You’ll realize how much less you really need to eat.
2. Mints, Gum and Toothpaste Are Your New Best Friends
I'm always surprised at how easy it is avoid grazing habits when my breath is minty fresh. I've gotten into the habit of popping a breath neutralizer or brushing my teeth whenever I'm tempted, and it works. Of course, I'd suggest having a second toothbrush and toothpaste on hand for work and home, lest you forget your one and only set at work one night …
3. The Eating Ritual
People have a tendency to overeat when they don't pay attention to their food. If you surf the net or read a book while eating, you won't be as satisfied with the taste, smell and texture of your food.
Make the most of the food you choose. In other words, if you only half-heartedly enjoy a certain kind of fruit, start buying the fruit you really enjoy. If you don't absolutely love a certain kind of candy or chocolate that just happens to be sitting in the office break room, don't waste your calories. Bring a small piece of the dark chocolate you crave.
Every single bite should be savored, and at the end of the meal, you'll find yourself feeling more full and able to continue working. If possible, go somewhere other than your desk for lunch. It'll make the meal more of an experience, as opposed to shoving in food as fast as possible and forgetting to enjoy the senses God gave us.
5. Adjust Your Thermometer
When you're at home, it's tempting to turn your thermostat up high in the winter. Unfortunately, being warm and cozy isn't the best motivator for movement. If your house is hotter, you'll be more likely to spend a lethargic evening cuddled in a blanket watching TV. If your house is cooler, you'll naturally want to warm up by getting up and moving. Sweep, pick up, do laundry, clean floors—do something active in your house rather than sitting.
Some people like to run—they can get a good exercise in without music, a TV in the workout room or conversation. But if you’re like me and have a hard time motivating yourself to get moving, look for ways to make it interesting. Find a friend to work out with, or, if you like to do it alone, buy an iPod or arm radio. If you use the stair-stepper, read some magazines. One caution: don't let “extras” get in the way of the intensity of your workout. It's okay to have lighter days, but as a regular rule, don't let the gossip column keep you from reaching your goals.
Finally, Everything Else …
Don't let your body size determine your worth, everything in moderation, it's OK to splurge once in a while and take lots of trips to the water cooler—you can stay in the loop and in shape at the same time.