According to the U.S Census Bureau the number of people working primarily from home tripled from 5.7% (roughly 9 million people) to 17.9% (27.6 million people) from 2019 to 2021. A 2022 study found that 46% of participants who worked from home had weight gain due to higher consumption of sugary and fatty foods as well as increase in sedentary hours. While it can be more difficult to maintain a healthy weight and optimal health while working from home or in an office, it is not impossible. This article will provide you with strategies on how to lose weight while working from home or in an office.
Understanding Weight Loss Challenges at Work
Desk jobs, whether in an office or at home, create challenges for managing weight due to sedentary lifestyles, long workdays, processed convenient food options, and stress.
The sedentary lifestyle that accompanies home or office desks jobs have many Americans battling to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. A 2011 study suggested that those in sedentary occupations (home or office desk jobs) were sedentary for an average of 11 hours a day. Furthermore, a study conducted over 15 years found that sedentary lifestyles led to weight gain, chronic disease, and earlier deaths.
Long work hours for those working at home or in an office lead to many Americans choosing low quality, convenient food options due to stress and lack of time. Highly processed, convenient food options from fast food, vending machines at work, or packaged snacks in the house can lead to excess calories, fat and sugar for many working at desk jobs. The excess calories, fat, and sugar found in these foods can lead to weight gain, chronic disease, lower energy and reduced focus.
The challenges that accompany office and at home desk jobs can make maintaining a healthy weight more difficult. However, weight gain can be avoided while working from home or working from an office desk job. Continue reading for strategies on how to lose weight while working from home or in an office.
How to Lose Weight while Working from Home or an Office
Organize Your Schedule
One of the most important strategies for being able to lose weight while working from home or in an office is to develop an organized daily routine. Unorganized work days can quickly turn into sedentary days where “grazing” and unplanned meals lead to excess calorie intake. To prevent this from happening, set up a schedule in which you plan times for work, breaks, meals and snacks, and daily activity.
- Start your day off right by dressing for success just as you would if going into an office. This will help increase your motivation throughout the day.
- Pencil in time for activity throughout your day. Before or after work (when you would normally have a commute) or during your lunch break are great times to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.
- Develop a meal schedule with organized meals and snacks that work for you. This will prevent grazing, skipping meals, and overeating. Set alarms on your phone, if necessary, to remember to take a break from work and enjoy your meal or snack.
Create a Space for Success
In order to lose weight while working from home, you should set up a dedicated workspace that promotes a healthy lifestyle.
- Distance your work space away from your kitchen and pantry to avoid extra snacking and temptation throughout the day.
- Set up your office upstairs or downstairs in your basement, if you are able. This will allow for extra movement throughout the day.
- Create a space for activity in your office. Use a standing desk or an under the desk treadmill to help get in movement while working.
- Place handheld weights and a yoga mat in your office to help motivate you to take activity and stretch breaks throughout the day.
- Create a space that is relaxing to help reduce stress as high cortisol can contribute to weight gain. Place relaxing pictures and/or your favorite candle in your office, have a soft blanket nearby, or keep a stress ball in your desk for stress relief.
- Keep a water bottle on your desk to help remember to hydrate throughout the day.
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Get at Least 30 Minutes of Exercise
Working from home or in an office can quickly turn into a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to weight gain and increased risk of chronic disease. It is important to be intentional about movement throughout the day whether working from home or in an office. Below are some tips for increasing activity throughout the day.
- Schedule in time for exercise: Set your alarm to go off 30 minutes earlier in the morning to workout before work or plan to go for a walk or do an at home workout video during your lunch break or directly after work.
- Split activity up throughout the day. Short bursts of activity are just as beneficial as long exercise sessions. Try taking 10-15 minute breaks throughout the day for exercise. For example, do a 15 minute workout video before work and take a 15 minute walk at lunch and after dinner to get 45 minutes of daily activity.
- Set your office up for movement. Use a standing desk or under the desk treadmill and walk during your virtual meetings.
- Create an exercise space near your office with exercise equipment such as handheld weights or resistance bands and a yoga mat to make activity more convenient.
- Download free physical activity apps such as FITON or Fitnessblender, or utilize youtube.com for free at home workout videos. Also, check to see if your health insurance covers yearly subscriptions to Apple Fitness or the Peloton app.
- Link exercise with another daily chore or activity. For example, do 10-20 squats every time you have to take a bathroom break.
- Park further away from your office building, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and walk to speak with a coworker instead of sending an email or chat message.
Practice Mindful Eating
It is easy to overeat when working from home or an office. At home you have access to your kitchen and food 24/7; at an office, there are often tempting snacks brought into the break room. Below are some mindful eating tips to help you reduce daily calorie intake and lose weight while working from home or the office.
- Schedule organized meals/snacks that are spaced about 3-4 hours apart to prevent mindless snacking or skipping meals which can lead to overeating later in the day. A sample day could look like this: Breakfast at 8am, lunch at 12pm, afternoon snack at 3pm and dinner at 6pm.
- Aim to prepare 2-3 different dishes on the weekend to have healthy meals at your fingertips for those busy workdays. For example, cook chicken breasts in the crockpot on a Sunday for easy, lean protein to put on salads, in wraps, or with frozen, steamed vegetables throughout the week.
- Avoid keeping tempting processed snacks in the house or office. Processed foods often contain high amounts of calories, sugar, and fat which can lead to weight gain, chronic disease, and lower energy levels and focus at work.
- Stock your environment with protein and fiber rich foods. Ensuring adequate protein (20-30g/meal and 10g/snack) and fiber (25g/day for women and 38g/day for men) intake assists with satiety, and reduces hunger and cravings.
- Healthy snack ideas include: Fresh fruit, raw vegetables (i.e. baby carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes), string cheese, protein bars, protein shakes, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, nut butters, etc.
- Break the snacking habit. Pause before you grab a snack or treat. Ask yourself, “Why am I about to eat?” “Can I wait until my next scheduled meal or snack?” “What will this food do for my body?” or “How will I feel after I eat this food?” Take a break from work to enjoy your meal mindfully. Turn off all distractions, sit away from your desk, and eat slowly.
- Keep a food journal, if necessary, to hold yourself accountable and increase your awareness of daily food intake.
Don’t Forget Water
Staying hydrated can help improve your energy and focus, and help reduce cravings all while helping you lose weight while working from home.
- Start your day by drinking a bottle of water as soon as you wake up to get a headstart on your daily fluid intake.
- Keep your favorite water bottle at your desk at all times. Motivational Water Bottles marked with times of the day in which you need to drink a certain amount of water are a great way to increase motivation for drinking throughout the day.
- Set alarms on your phone to go off every hour to remember to drink.
- Flavor your water with natural flavorings by adding cut up fruit (i.e. lemons, oranges, limes, strawberries, etc), fresh cucumbers, or fresh mint or add sugar-free flavorings to make it more exciting.
Develop a Weight Loss Plan with Professionals
If you have tried to lose weight and not been successful, FORM can help! FORM patients are paired with a board certified doctor and a Registered Dietitian who create a personalized plan for each patient that takes into account their medical history and food preferences. FORM patients have frequent meetings with their Care Team to help them learn healthy new habits and stay accountable to their goals. To get started, take our quiz or schedule a call with a Care Advisor today!
From Desk to Fitness: Your Blueprint for Work-Weight Balance
Managing your weight while working from home or in an office can be difficult. Desk jobs at home or in an office often lead to a sedentary lifestyle. Furthermore, working at home or in an office is usually accompanied by 24/7 access to snacks. These factors create a challenging environment for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, it is possible to maintain or even lose weight while working from home or from an office. Creating an organized schedule, a healthy workspace, incorporating daily activity, practicing mindful eating, and ensuring adequate water intake can help you reach your weight and health goals while working from home or in an office.