It’s that time around the country: Graduation! In just a few days—if not already—millions of Americans will graduate college and join the work force. (Or, for the ones like me who have tackled both college and the workforce at the same time, they’ll have an opportunity to focus solely on climbing the corporate ladder!) This is an exciting time, but also one that will result in weight gain as people enter the corporate work and a more sedentary lifestyle.
59% of those workers have put on more than 10 pounds, and 30% of those surveyed have put on more than 20 pounds.
While the Career Builder survey cited that Administrative Assistants, Office Directors and Managers, Engineers, Teachers, Nurses, Information Technology Managers, Attorneys, Machine Operators, and Scientist were the most affected by work-related weight gain—there are other jobs also affected by work-related weight gain.
But why? The common denominator in all of the jobs listed (and others that may be unlisted) is stress—coupled with easy access (in most of the jobs listed) to junk food, and long periods of sitting. How can you avoid this going into your new job? Or, for those already working, how can you whittle your waist and get back on track?
The following tips are a surefire way to help you help yourself when it comes to wellness at work…
- Make sure to eat—and bring your snacks and lunch whenever possible!
Before work, eat a breakfast that consists of lean protein, fiber, whole grains (complex carbohydrates), fruits, or vegetables. (This will keep you satisfied, and studies show that students and employees who eat a healthy meal in the morning focus better at work.)
Plan your snacks and lunch each day! Make sure your snacks are healthy (vending machine snacks are often high in sugar and fat—which are can cause blood sugar spikes and drops, and ultimately leave you feeling lethargic and bloated). Whenever possible, pack a lunch and snacks.
Space your eating. Most nutritionists recommend eating every 3-4 hours. Watch the clock (this will help you avoid eating out of boredom—tip #3)
- Workout with coworkers! Chances are, if you live and work in America, people in your office could use help with their exercising and eating habits just as much as you could. Find someone (or a group of people) at work who like to run, dance, walk, jog, bike, or hike and hold each other accountable. (I run most days during my lunch hour with a coworker; that way, my workout is finished before I even leave work. On days I know I can’t run at lunch, I make it a point to run before work with coworkers or after work. Running with a buddy keeps me accountable and makes things enjoyable!)
- Don’t eat because you’re bored. Don’t eat because you’re stressed. People tend to overeat in two circumstances: when they have too little or too much to do. When you’re tempted to eat (and you know you aren’t hungry), drink a large glass of water or herbal tea, go for a 5-minute walk around the office, take 10 deep breaths, or stand up and stretch. But do yourself a favor and don’t eat that Kit-Kat.
- Vary your routine. I read somewhere that the hardest part of being an adult is “getting used to the mundane”—which essentially means, coping when life seems monotonous or the same day in and day out. Morning muffins, lattes, or the habitual glass of wine each night with dinner can seem harmless—but can result in unneeded additional pounds over the years. Allow yourself to have that muffin, or sip that latte or glass of wine—but do it on occasion.
This also means vary your routine with exercise. I mentioned that I run—but I also do yoga, attend Crossfit, and hike. Doing the same thing day in and day out can be good—but to get the maximum benefits from exercise, a person should vary their types of physical activity!
- Log your foods—and your feelings! Invest a dollar into a notepad. Write down what you eat, and at the end of the day, write down how you feel. Feeling bloated? Feeling lethargic? Observe the foods you’ve eaten on days when you feel something negative, and discern what foods you may need to avoid.
Most nutritionists agree that people at more than they think they do on a given day; sometimes we eat absentmindedly. Writing things down can keep you aware of what goes into your body.
- Drink enough water. Water is an essential piece of any healthy person—and it is especially important if you are more sedentary for hours during the day! Strive to drink at least 6 glasses (8 oz. each) of water each day!
- Take breaks throughout the work day. If you work an 8-5, you are permitted, in most places, an hour lunch and two 15-minutes breaks. Take them. Use those 15 minutes to walk around, stretch, or get your blood flowing!
- Get enough sleep. Experts agree that we make poor eating decisions when we have poor nights sleep. When the body needs energy, it often craves carbs –and when we’re tired, we tend to avoid those good-for-you complex carbs and binge on, well, the less helpful stuff. Assuring an adequate night sleep can set you up for success the following day. (Shoot for at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night!)
- Be positive, and forgive yourself. Being healthy is sometimes hard. It can be a challenge to change habits that have forged over the years, but a healthy body is totally worth the effort. Stay optimistic when you find yourself “messing up”—and forgive yourself. Each day is a new day, and a new opportunity to nourish your body well!
- Put your health before your job. It does not matter if you are Lady Gaga’s personal assistant or the President of the United States of America—you cannot serve others (in your workplace, or in your personal life) unless you are working well yourself. That means, to do your job and live your life in the most effective and beneficial way possible, you absolutely must put your health before all other things. Set boundaries with work, set goals for yourself, and enjoy living your healthiest life!
- Gaining weight at work? You’re not alone (usatoday.com)