Is your job making you pile on the pounds?
The stats aren’t great for those that have demanding jobs-Higher job stress is related to higher BMI (1), whilst women who undertake longer work hours (Above 9 hours) are also more likely to have a higher BMI (2).
Even for those that have less intensive careers, the workplace is frequently credited as a barrier in fat loss , and here’s why.
1. You’re less active-It is a no brainer that if you are sitting at a desk all day, you won’t be walking around much- it is therefore important to get your steps in - take the stairs wherever you can, do walking meetings, get off the train 2 stops earlier and walk the rest of the way, go for a walk on your lunch break ( get a friend to come with you!)- these things all contribute to burning calories, and I guarantee you will feel better and more energised for it- feeling tired can also have a huge influence on how much you eat and the choices you make ( see below)
2. If you work long work hours it is likely you are getting less sleep. A lack of sleep is strongly linked to making poor decisions around food, and cravings for higher carb and higher fat options (3). It is therefore important to maximise and improve the quality of your sleep- the hour and a half before you sleep is particularly important, you should spend this time reading, having a bath, cooking, speaking to friends and loved ones (social media doesn’t count- and should actually be avoided in this period!)
3. In relation to this, it is important to keep your energy levels up. When you find yourself craving carbs mid-afternoon (massive warning sign that you’re tired) , have a break if possible, or consider grabbing something with caffeine in it.
4. Eating at your desk– many studies have shown that having a meal whilst distracted, be it television or work- increases the amount you eat. It is therefore important that you take a break to eat your lunch, and simply eat your food with no distractions, rather than eating it at your desk whilst you are working. This also kills two birds as the break should re-energise you ( see above)
5. You talk yourself out of the gym!-So you have FINALLY left work and it’s time to go to the gym- in order to make sure you actually go, you need to keep up the prompts- bring your gym kit to work with you , leave gym gear by the front door, and consider finding a gym near your work- humans are incredibly talented at justifying any action, given enough time to create one- and therefore it is very easy to talk yourself out of it on the journey home- don’t give yourself enough time to do this!
6. People bring treats into the office
This is an absolute minefield, so below are a few tips to minimise the damage to you waistline:
· Covering sweets-research has shown that people eat 71% more sweets if the dish they are served in is transparent (4) rather than opaque- so either get a bowl that is opaque, or cover it with foil.
· We need some space-further research by Wansink also showed that if sweets are placed within reach of someone, they ate over double the amount, versus when they were placed just 6 feet away.-If someone brings sweets into the office , keep them in a kitchen , in a drawer- the keys is to always minimise visibility.
· Healthy stuff at the front of cupboards and fridges- people are 3 times more likely to pick the first thing they see in the cupboard than the 5th thing they see- encourage employers to bring in fruit and vegetables, and push the junk to the back
Let me know how you get on!
I am also available for office visits, should you want to maximise the health of your employers! To get in contact, just follow the contact buttons at the top of the page
1. Netterstrom et al (1991) Job strain and cardiovascular risk factors: a cross sectional study of employed Danish men and women. British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 48:684-689.
2. Kim et al (2016) Long working hours and overweight and obesity in working adults. Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 28:36, DOI: 10.1186/s40557-016-0110-7
3. Greer et al (2013) The Impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nat Commun, 4:2259, Doi: 10.1038/ncomms3259
4. Wansink B (2011) Mindless Eating- Why We Eat More Than We Think. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mindless-Eating-Brian-Wansink-PhD/dp/1848502524