Quick tricks to fight the ‘Office 15’

Remember the Freshman 15, that annoying weight you gained during your transition from Mom’s home cooking to the all-you-can-eat college cafeteria chow line? Turns out there’s a sequel of sorts in the corporate world, due to the fast-food (and drink) lifestyle of adapting to the stresses of a new job, boss, officemates, and work schedule.

Suffice to say, the already-hectic lifestyle of meeting and event planners makes them particularly susceptible to the Office 15. Fortunately, scientists recently weighed in on the causes and potential defenses against unwelcome newcomer pounds.

Environmental challenges

Research shows that office temperature and the amount of daylight can have measurable effects on worker weight. According to Alan Hedge, a workplace design specialist at Cornell University, women who feel constantly cold at work tend to gain one or two pounds per year as insulation, even without consuming an extra calorie.

Science also provides another reason to covet those sunlight-filled corner offices: Cubeland workers who are deprived of light, especially in the morning, tend to gain an additional 1.4 pounds annually. The theory is that a lack of daylight messes up their circadian rhythms, making those morning snacks even more tempting.

Possible solutions? Dress more warmly, hold stand-up meetings next to windows, take stairs rather than elevators to and from the office, and try to add a 20-minute walk before noon to your workday routine.

Coworker temptations

Did you know your coworkers can plump you up? According to research by Cornell professor Brian Wansink, author of Slim by Design, 30 percent of dieting employees say their colleagues prompt them to eat more and/or less healthy. We also tend to overeat when food is within sight and consume an average of 30 percent more when we dine with another person, because we get lost in the conversation.

To avoid the problem, balance out the pro (socializing) and the con (those LBS). One way is to pack your own lunch but eat it with workmates in the lunchroom instead of at your desk, where you’re likely to eat more mindlessly. You should also seat yourself as far away from the treats station as possible in conferences and meetings. Make the sacrifice worthwhile by treating yourself at least once a week as a reward for your self-discipline.

Job stress

A new job can be hard enough without outgrowing your clothing. Studies show that when we get stressed, hormonal changes lure us to fatty and sugary foods, which in turn slow down our metabolism, prompting weight gain. Combine this chubby circle with a hectic schedule that interrupts your otherwise nutritious diet and exercise regimen, and those stress calories can really add up.

How to cope? Keep your balance by building some “me” time into your workday — short, one- to two-minute pauses every half-hour or so to briefly meditate, catch your breath, and reclaim your energy. Retrieve the cardio you missed at the gym by climbing stairs or simply standing occasionally for 20 minutes. And make sure you get a fresh start: Research shows that you’ll lose twice as much weight by eating half your day’s calories at breakfast rather than dinner.

(Photo by Shutterstock)

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald is an award-winning journalist, author and blogger who incorporates humor and human interest into a broad range of topics. Follow him on Twitter @omnisaurus

Leave a Comment