Weight Gain in the Workplace

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potluck lunch

So here’s an update of where I am in terms of my ‘be as healthy as you can be’ for the month of March. It’s been 3 days and I have to say I haven’t slipped up once! Now I haven’t been as strict with my diet as I could be (yes..had myself a glass of pinot with dinner tonight), but overall not terrible. I went on a great power walk with my husband on Sunday, went to Crossfit on Monday, and went for a another walk with a girlfriend and her baby tonight.

This week I went back to work at a nursing home, just covering a vacation for a coworker. When I got home I was reflecting on how working in an office or social setting can really derail one’s healthy eating plan! Not only is a there a string of fast food places across the street, but it seems the staff is always eating or passing food around! Whether its a birthday potluck for a coworker or someone decided to bring in cookies because it’s Friday there is ALWAYS something to eat. This can make it tough for people, like myself, who are impulsive, always hungry and are too polite to say no when someone offers. So here are some tips on how to avoid gaining weight in the workplace.
– Planning and preparation is key, bring a lunch everyday with lots of healthy snacks. By snacking all day you won’t be starving when someone comes by with the box of donuts. Also by eating every 3 hours you will keep your metabolism revved which helps burn more calories.
– Pack your lunch at night while you are making dinner. This way it is not an inconvenience and you are less likely to forget in the morning because you woke up late.
– Keep a diary of everything that goes into your mouth. Even if you aren’t counting calories you are far less likely to eat that cookie if you know you have to write it down! Funny how that’s works huh.
– Use your step tracker. I mentioned in a previous post that i LOVE my fitbit. Most smart phones have their own built in step tracker. If you are an office worker make a point of taking the long way to the bathroom or copy machine. In a recent study by Thorp et al. (2014) it was shown that even just transitioning from sitting to standing every 30 minutes can significantly decrease fatigue and back pain. Maybe it’s time to convert to a standing workstation after all!?

On another note, I came across some interesting but true research while looking stuff up tonight. This article by Shoham et al (2012) studied social effects on people’s choice of activity and how this can contribute to the ‘contagion effect’ of obesity. “Network contagion” can be comprised of  3 different things,

1) social influence; 2) confounding by shared social environments of network members; and 3) social selection or homophily (“love of sameness”) on shared predisposition to engage in (un)healthy behaviors. (Shoham et al, 2014).

In their study they found that homophily and social influence are important in understanding factors contributing to adolescent obesity. I feel like this also applies to adults because doesn’t everyone want to feel like they fit in regardless of how old you are? So what’s the answer? Ditch all your overweight friends? NO!  (jeez that would be mean, and you deserve to have no friends!) The great thing is, this theory works both ways! If you live a healthy lifestyle your friends will want to as well! So next time, instead of eating those cookies on top of the office fridge bring some veggies or tasty dried fruit and let everyone feast on that. On that note, I’m going to make my lunch and go to bed early, I’m not used to having to leave the house early anymore!

In fitness and good health,

Natasha

References
Occup Environ Med. 2014 Nov;71(11):765-71. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2014-102348. Epub 2014 Aug 28.

Shoham DA, Tong L, Lamberson PJ, Auchincloss AH, Zhang J, et al. (2012) An Actor-Based Model of Social Network Influence on Adolescent Body Size, Screen Time, and Playing Sports. PLoS ONE 7(6): e39795. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039795

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