Is Work Making You Fat?

August 24, 2012   41 Comments

Ummm, what do you think? Do you think that this chair that I am sitting in is making me svelte?

Work Making You Fat

You must forgive me, but I saw the title for this post on another website and it just made me laugh. Since I am not an heiress (or going to become one), I believe I understand the work = fat dilemma.

Do you know anyone who has it together enough for work to be healthy?

I have always thought that famous actresses had it pretty good when it came to keeping in shape. Hey, they have enough money to hire personal trainers, chefs, nannies, masseuses.....Then, I read the biographies of Diane Keaton and Jane Fonda. Guess what? They were both bulimic for years.

Seems that not even millions of adoring fans and dollars can keep you from unhealthy habits.

The real question: “How Is Work Making You Unhealthy?”

I have a buddy whose workmates keep bringing in the leftover baked confections from home. If she is feeling down, she tends to go grab herself a couple of brownies to keep her going in her stressful job.

She could change this habit by taking the latest tray of goodies to the dumpster before anyone notices thereby enraging her office mates. Or she could just try to keep some squares of dark chocolate on hand for those emergency stress times - which is easier to think than actually DO because we all think our willpower will win.

The biggest complaint I hear about work is that people are bored. You find the hours slowly going by, so you need that Frappucino to keep you going. My suggestion - start an office romance. (just kidding!)

This isn’t an easy problem to fix. The solutions range from find a new job to start writing poetry on the side. The first thing is to realize that you are self-medicating with food and then try to stop.

I used to eat a large cookie EVERY day at 3:30 PM because I was so bored. Do you know how I stopped doing it? I got laid off. Sad, really.

How do you solve the work = unhealthy dilemma? Please share.

Other posts you might like:

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The above photo is a recent one of Ashley and her mom, Beth. They have a great story to tell.

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I think a lot of it is also the sitting... all. day. long. I've thought about somehow rigging a standing desk and then putting a standing mat/comfy shoes under my desk so that I can stand comfortably while I work. Something that I could raise and lower would be nice because I don't know if I could stand ALL day, but half would be better than nothing. Anyone have one of those or know someone who does, and how they did it?

Also, as far as snacking when I'm bored, I try to bring a big bag of cut up veggies (celery, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers) to work every Monday and eat through that during the week when I'm feeling like I want to eat something but know that it's just out of boredom.

I LOVE this post! I work in a cubicle all day...I used to work in the hospital and I was on the move all day. Very BIG difference in staying fit. I have recently started something new with eating that might be helpful! Eat breakfast every morning so you body doesn't think you are starving it and go into starvation mode. Breakfast can be as simple as string cheese or an egg. Always eat around every 3 hours and make sure there is protein involved. Carbs just make you hungrier...It is also wise to eat 50/50 for example, cheese & crackers or cheese and an apple, etc. I tried this for the past week and I have not been tempted to binge on crackers, cookies, etc. Just an idea! P.S. I had a very bad snack habit going from the time I came home from work until bedtime...pretzels, crackers, pita chips, you name it!

looking for recipe for a homemade energy drink(in a powder form) for teenage boy,who hates breakfast.nice if it could be reconstituted with a liquid eaach morning.thanks so your ideas!

My bones ache because of the constant sitting I do at work. BORING!! I try to get up and stretch. However, I am now looking for a job where I am not chained to my desk all day.

ugh...I seem to be able to cope with a big bowl of chopped salad to graze on (cuke/tiomato/pepper/chick peas/2% string cheese) and a handful of peanuts. EXCEPT for summer, when we have a stream of visitors and the days are non-stop from 5am - midnight - then I fall into eating-because-I'm-tired or eating-and-drinking-too-much with company - since they are on vacation the junk food starts accumulating on the kitchen counter. sigh. no easy answers.

Everyone feels guilty eating bad around me, so they always eat healthier. But when I went on vacation, the first day they brought in Krispy Kreme, Godiva Chocolates and Cupcakes! Talk about overboard!! They had a sweet party without me! I'm glad! :)

When I had to work in a cubicle every day, there were baked goods and pizza and other catered lunch leftovers all the time. I gained weight. Then I decided to go on a strict diet and started saying no to everything. I lost 30 lbs. Then one of the fellows I worked for brought me a box of chocolates for Christmas and the weight loss ceased and the regain began. The chocolate wasn't the cause, but it was the crack in the dam.

Now I work from home. Now I am confronted strictly with the food in my own home rather than other people's goodies and leftovers from meetings. I have better control over what I eat since cookies are not being dangled in front of me all the time. But I also have access to the fridge any time I want, and there are plenty of things to eat here no matter what I'm in the mood for.

I think people in outdoor jobs have it better. But you can still overeat once you get home. One of my neighbors is a postal worker--he walked a delivery route daily for years. He still has extra weight he could get rid of.

So, honestly, I think work doesn't help--especially seated work, but there are lots of other factors too that contribute.


I've been doing WW since April 2010 and in the very beginnning I decided that I was going to pack my lunch every day. In the morning I make my breakfast and lunch and 2 snacks (fruit & string cheese) and track everything in my tracker. I only eat what is in my bag. I do not participate in any of the breakfast or lunch events at work and I don't eat anything that someone else brings in. I won't lie to you - it was very hard in the beginning and even after 2+ years people take it as a challenge to get me to break down but I feel that it really helps me keep on track. I've lost 83.4 pounds, I'm at goal, and I feel awesome. It can be done.

I used to sit in my cube all day except for bathroom breaks. Now I have a pedometer and I make sure that I am staying on track to get my steps in every day. I go to the bathroom farthest away from me. I always eat breakfast, bring lunch from home, and have a green smoothie from my afternoon snack. Other snack ideas are unsalted roasted almonds or an apple and a Light Laughing Cow wedge. Yummy!

I'm in accounting and got tired of sitting, so I requested my desk to be raised so I could stand all day. Now sitting only happens at the end of the day and feels great.

I also avoid crap people bring in and cook food for my wife and me. It should be easy to have the willpower if it means quality of life! Get bored/hungry? Gulp down water first and wait a bit.

sitting at a cubicle all day definitly contributes to weight gain! which is what i do. so i try to make sure i stand up and walk somewhere, the mail room, break room, bathroom, anywhere just to keep the metabolism going every hour or 2. then i bring a protein shake for breakfast, so i'm full, so when i see doughnuts or other junk people have brought in i'm not starving and reach for it. then packing a lunch every day and having healthy snacks in my desk is a must! i keep organic granola bars and oatmeal. so if i'm tempted by other crap around me i just go eat something i brought. once in a while i'll crack but not very often, i know i feel like crap when i eat unhealthy! i also keep ghiridelli (sp?) dark chocolate in my desk so when i need something delicious i can have dark chocolate!

I went for waitressing to working at a desk which was a huge adjustment. I got used to sitting all day and slowly started to put on weight. Now, instead of sitting on my lunch break, I eat at my desk and then work out for my 30 minute lunch break EVERY DAY. That along with eating relatively healthy has helped me to get into the best shape of my life now. I also ordered a FitDesk on Amazon that I put in my office and planned on using with a lap top a couple hours each day, but after I got it set up and going, my boss made me take it home. I really liked it, but if you are considering this, run it by your bosses first.

I recently got to a point where I was eating a package of Oreos in the afternoon becuase I was running low on energy and cookies perk up my mood. I realized that the perk was only temporary and that shortly after eating them I felt guilty and slugish. So I decided the best way to stay away from the cookies was to put something healthier and more delicious in closer proximity to me than the vending machine. I starting loading up on snacks in my lunch bag - string cheese, apples, trail mix, whole wheat crackers, cucumbers, even an avocado half! I don't eat it all but having so much at my finger tips somehow makes me feel satisfied. And packing healthy snacks makes me feel good about my choices!

I gained 55 lbs over 5 years when I went from an "active" job to a desk job. I'm almost gotten to my pre-desk job weight. Something that have worked for me include: going to a bathroom that is far away from your desk. take a 15 min break and go for a walk around your office. bring lots of healthy food to snack on and don't even walk by the goodies somebody brought in. find a partner in crime to talk with about healthy eating, this has been the best for me! I regularly stretch in my cubicle anf throw in a couple squats. Every once in a while go head and have a freaking cookie. Just remember that tomorrow you are back on track. These are my tools to combat office chair butt.

It *is* the sitting..... killing me. I hate those times when I am chained to the desk. So I have walking shoes under the desk to use.... I know 10 minutes is optimal but even 5 is better than nothing. I do keep a small stash of choc minis in the desk drawer but I limit myself to 2 a day (and surprisingly that works). AND I bought one of those little "pedal exercisers" to stash at the desk. Right now, any port in a storm. I bring my lunch most days, and the vast majority of my coworkers know my weight-loss story and don't try to sabotage me. It also helps to be the wellness coordinator and to try to remember I'm setting the example.

I also wear an activity monitor to help me know how I've done throughout the day.

I used to walk over to my coworker's cube at around 3pm most days for a socializing and chocolate break. He has a big basket of candy. Now, whenever I feel the need for that break, I go walk around the block a couple times instead. Once I changed that routine, the craving for chocolate at that time of day stopped. It CAN happen!

Roasted edamame beans are really great, you can buy them ready roasted and lightly salted from Tesco, they're full of protein and because they tend to get stuck in your teeth you reach a point very quickly where you can't eat more. I just have a small tub of them so I can control how many calories are in the tub then I have a few every time I get bored. Plus the slight salty flavor is great for stress cravings.

I am starting a desk job in a couple of weeks and I'm scared of gaining weight. I think for me the answer is that I'm going to get up at the crack of dawn and be sure to exercise before work. That seems to set the tone for the day and I am more likely to stick with packed and planned lunch and snacks. Thanks for the the great tips on what to pack!

I DO keep squares of dark chocolate at my desk to keep from eating the snacks at work - and they are almost constantly available.

I also keep some reconstituted PB2 (I discovered it through Snack Girl and I am forever grateful - I love it!) on hand for when I just want a spoonful of something.

If I'm dragging at 3:30, I have fruit or yogurt with some animal crackers.

These strategies work extremely well for me and I am consistently losing weight. :-)

I bring a thermal lunch bag full of healthy snacks. Cheese, Fruit, Veggies, etc. This helps me stay away from the snack machine. As far as sitting at the desk all day, I try to move as much as possible. When I need to print something I use the printer that is the furthest from me, and the bath room across the building rather than right down the hall. I use my breaks to get outside and walk around the block.

For the past 78 weeks I have tried to incorporate a healthy lifestyle. Successfully I have lost 63.5 lbs. There is A LOT of pre-planning involved and snack girl has definitely helped. Sitting at a desk sure doesn't help, but a noon hour walk with the girls does!

I try to have the entire office in on the healthy eating. We encourage each other to pack our lunches. Sweets are in a drawer...out of sight/out of mind. But I try not to be to pushy about it!

wow, this is such a great post. I agree that it is quite a dilemma. I don't really know if there is a way around this except to try to have fruit at your desk or have a tea as a pick me up instead of the frappuccino. Even more reason to make sure you have some sort of exercise regiment in place. It would be nice if there was some time during the day to get in some activity in (some people go for a jog during their lunch hour but then you get all sweaty and have to wash up after). I agree that 8 hours is a long time to be sedentary at a desk. I take lots of stretch/walking breaks and make sure to hit the gym outside of work but I have to admit, it takes effort.

Being bored at work definitely makes me want to eat, so I try to keep healthy snacks handy. Taking a walk around the office only does so much.

I tend to think my desk job is definitely not helping, so I try to do as much walking around the office as I can, and then get workouts in on the nights and weekends. Add in healthy eating, and you've got my weight loss plan

It is most certainly the food that people bring in, but is also certainly the sitting all day. Sitting all day is very detrimental to anyone's health. There's been a bunch of articles coming out about the topic recently. I started working in a office about 4 years ago. It was my first job ever where I was sitting all day. It only took a year and a half for me to gain nearly 50 lbs! I finally got fed up and took my health more seriously (I put myself above all else, it's my life after all!). Instead of reading during my hour lunch break, I go for an hour-long walk. I get off the subway 5 stops early and walk the rest of the way. I also have asked folks here in the office to stop putting tasty treats on the table directly behind my desk. It's about taking control and finding will power. It's all up to you to make the right choices. Either you succumb and be miserable for the choices you made, or be strong and be proud of the choices you made.

I do give in occasionally but when I know treats are in the break-room or the main food room called the Vortex...I literally avoid those areas for a couple of hours. By then all the yummies are gone and I'm still in check for the day. Avoidance is key for me!

I work in a cubicle. In my dept., we have what we affectionately call "food cube" which consists of everything from donuts to chips/salsa to big bowls of m&ms. I used to sit right by it. The day I switched aisles, I started losing weight. That was a couple of years ago. I am now 20 lbs. lighter. But guess what? Things have been rearranged and now the food cube has moved closer to me yet again. Ugh. I am not going down that road again...

My husband is going to switch his office to have a standing desk. Research shows that sitting is killing us!

I've pretty much always had a desk job, but I've noticed the difference in my body & weight when I make a conscious effort to MOVE, versus when I don't! I have a few co-workers doing the standing desk thing...which is a bit much for me, but I do sit most of the day on a stability ball, stand when doing certain tasks like reading/editing a document or when on calls, try to get out the office at least a 1/2 hour for a walk, and keep my snacks in the kitchen and get water a cup at a time so that I am walking back and forth throughout the day as opposed to stock-piling in my office and only getting up for bathroom breaks. I find the little things make the difference.

You can sit on an exercize ball, several people in our office do this to help support their back. I am constantly up and walking around. When I wasn't, I would set an alarm on my computer to remind me to get up and walk around the floor. Walking up the stairs is another idea. Just stop using the elevator (assuming you don't have 10 flights to walk up, but then maybe stop and walk up 2-3). Walking UP is doable even in heels. I think the key is setting yourself up for success and not thinking you'll just muttle through. It's the muttling through that makes the donuts irrisistable. I also think your attitude about it is huge! I'm trying (though I still feel like it's corny) to tell myself how much I love vegetables and how satisfying they are. Trying to work out how I reward myself so that it's not food related. I find that to be the hardest!!

Packing your own lunch and snacks help a lot. It limits you to only what you bring. If all the snacks brought in the lunch room are too tempting, avoid going in there as much as you can, or break out one of the snacks you stashed for yourself at that time. And while everyone else is eating cake or cookies you can sit there and feel great as you munch on grapes, carrots or something like that. You know in about an hour they are all going to regret their choice, but you won't ;o)

For those stuck at a desk, I asked for a headset so that I am not chained to my phone. I will get up and stretch or just walk around while I'm on the phone. It keeps me moving and the busier I am, the less snack cravings find me.

My job starts at 10 AM on weekdays, so I make sure that I am getting to the gym before work. If I wait until my work day is over, I'm a lot less likely to go due to exhaustion!

Bringing my own snacks to work helps, but it's sitting all day long that's difficult.

I am recovered form anorexia, and at school I try to get up alot during class to release some of that energy. Getting a tissue, sharpening a pencil, getting up to get my backpack...

Great post and comments... Almonds help me when I feel snacky.

It's not easy to combat a sedentary job, sometimes co-workers are sympathetic but sometimes there is a dynamic going on that is simply our of your control - maybe they are even jealous that you are exhibiting self-control and they are not? No one is going to do it for you, but you can keep the weight off or even lose it (I am in the process) with the help of these tips and weight loss web sites. Someone in my office started a support group, which was so brave and I am eternally grateful. I think maybe I could be that person, now - maybe some of you could start a support group? As said above, be a good example!

Thanks for this post!! I have gained 20 pounds over the last year after going from an active job to a in a cubicle most the day job. :( Afternoon is my rough time also. Drinking tea helps, as does "protein" snacks, like nuts. And grapes!

I actually lost weight going from college to a desk job. My routine is as follows = At my desk for breakfast a banana + natural peanut butter + black coffee. Holds me over until about 10am when I grab for some unsalted almonds. I eat my packed lunch (saves $$$) while I do work at my desk which consists of either lunch meat with veggies or a salad, and then use the hour break (if I have it) to run errands or go for a walk. I try to hit the gym 3-4 times per week but the recent college grad in me still can rarely say no to a happy hour!

I find that while desk jobs are inactive, they can help you get into a healthy eating routine - you've just have to willing to prepare your own meals/snacks!

This is such a dilemma and look how many people here can relate!

The key for me is bringing all my food from home - that includes breakfast, lunch and snack. Having my own healthy food to look forward to helps me not eat whatever else might be lying around.

When I've eaten all my food for the day and I am still looking for something, I drink a green tea from the packets I keep in my desk.

Going for a run in the morning also helps set your day off to a good start. I am way less likely to go off track after I've exercised.

I find myself often going to Starbucks on my prep period or at lunch because I know a 150 calorie skinny latte will shut up my cravings...and keep me from eating what sugar I can scavenge in lounge.

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