Don’t Pack on the Pounds at a Desk

I’ve had the opportunity to see two very distinctly-different career styles:  desk jobs, and tough manual labor jobs.  My father did manual labor his entire life.  From the time he married my mother in his early 20’s to his passing at age 46, he gained 5 lbs.  That’s all.  Millions of people around America wish they could maintain weight that well.  Dad’s secret was the amount of hard, physical labor he did.  You see, he worked in various areas of construction.  First, he was a roofer.  Then, he did general contracting.  Then, he helped run a heating and air conditioning company.  All of his jobs required a lot of hard, back-breaking work and a lot of unpleasant time out in the elements.  One of the big payoffs (other than providing for my mother, myself, and my 3 older siblings) was that he was always, always in great physical shape.

Then there’s me.  My job?  Sitting at a desk, sharing my thoughts with you lovely people (among other responsibilities).  I spend most of my days sitting at my desk.  There are plenty of stressful moments attached to my job.  There’s also those 3 o’clock slumps where it feels danged-near impossible to survive the rest of the work day.  Sometimes, eating feels like the only way to get away from my desk and shake myself out of a comatose state.

On the flip-side, I also help out on a farm.  I carry feed bags, drive tractors, and build fences.  (The guys get quite a kick out of little ol’ me getting down and dirty…I’m only 4’10”, I’m blonde, and I usually have well-manicured nails.)  So, compared to my weekends and evening tasks on the farm, my office job can seem fairly…sedentary.  So, I’ve forced myself to find some good ways to fight the “sit-on-your-butt-all-day-at-a-computer” bulge.

  1. If you must bring snacks, make them healthy.  Carrots, celery, and fruit all make great options.  My favorite (which gets weird looks) is plain Cheerios.  Just regular, oaty Cheerios.
  2. Instead of coffee, reach for tea.  Our break room always has a great selection of tea’s.  Some still have caffeine, and even if that’s not the best option health-wise, it can help wake up.  Lay off the sugar and heavy creams.  Most teas are naturally flavored, and don’t need additives.  In addition, tea’s are rich in antioxidants, which can be really helpful for heart health.
  3. Get up and move.  Instead of turning to food when you’re bored, go for a walk and clear your head.  Go down the hallway, around the office, or down the street.  Granted, this depends on the amount of break time and freedom you have, but a quick walk somewhere can really help jog your senses and fight monitor-hypnosis.
  4. Keep water with you.  It’s easier to ignore snacking urges if you take a sip of water every time you want to munch.  I keep mine in a stainless steel bottle; it keeps it cold, but doesn’t encourage contamination like some plastics will.  It’s also more environmentally friendly that one-time use bottles.  Besides, tons of water means a healthier body overall…and more bathroom breaks, which could be considered part of #3.
  5. Plan your snacks for the day.  Knowing what you can allow yourself as far as snacking goes creates more structure.  Promise yourself that you’ll only eat one of such-and-such at blank-o’clock.  Keep a schedule, follow it.

Gaining weight doesn’t need to be a side-effect of a desk job.  We can all be healthy, whether we work in an office or on a hot rooftop.