10 Ways to Deal with Work-at-Home Weight Gain


Not surprisingly, studies have shown that people who work at a desk are more likely to be overweight than those with more active jobs. The risk is probably even higher for those of us who work at home. For one thing, it’s easier to forget to eat a meal when you don’t have scheduled lunch and break times, increasing the likelihood of overindulging when you do eat. In addition, because the entire office is usually in one room, you have no more trips to the photocopy room, the mail room, or the file room. For some people, job-related stress helped keep their weight down, a discovery that may not be made until that stress is eliminated.

It’s no secret that weight gain has a negative impact not only on your appearance, but on your health. Taking care of yourself is especially important when you’re self-employed, because you don’t get paid for sick days or time taken off for medical appointments. Despite this fact, it’s a sad fact that many of us don’t eat properly or feel we can’t take time away from work for exercise. There are, however, a number of changes you can make without a significant impact on your lifestyle or your pocketbook.

  1. Make the effort to eat proper meals during the day, so you’ll be less likely to overindulge in snacks after dinner.
  2. Avoid eating at your desk. If you’re hungry, take a break! If you munch while you’re working, you may not notice that you’re full and eat more than you need to.
  3. Drink water instead of soft drinks, and black coffee (or even better, herbal tea) instead of a double-double.
  4. Take time on weekends to prepare food for the rest of the week. You’re more likely to snack on celery sticks if you don’t have to take the time to wash and cut them up!
  5. Instead of heading straight for the computer, go for a walk as soon as you get up. Whether it’s a result of the activity or because you feel you need to work harder to make up the time, you just may find that you’re more productive when you kick-start your morning.
  6. Ignore the productivity experts who tell you to place your filing cabinet close to your desk. You need to increase your movements, not decrease them!
  7. When meeting with colleagues or clients, go for a walk instead of a meal.
  8. Walk around while you’re talking on the telephone, if you don’t have to be reading or writing notes.
  9. If you use exercise equipment, kill two birds with one stone by reading business books or listening to audio classes while you’re working out.
  10. If you live in a condo or an apartment, take the stairs instead of the elevator, whenever it is safe to do so.

If you think that gaining weight is inevitable when you work at home, try one or more of these steps – you might be in for a pleasant surprise!

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  1. Julia Wooster on July 15, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Great tips Janet – #5 is a really good one – when you work at home it is so easy to immediately turn on the computer first thing in the morning. I’ve taken to shutting it off at 6PM and have put my phone on Do Not Disturb from 6PM until the next day.

    I’m not so sure about #9 though – first because when you get focussed on a book or audio while exercising you don’t give your full attention to the exercise which probably doesn’t give a good workout (at least for me). I like my workouts to be work/business-free zones.

    Lots of water and green tea is great. When I get the snacking feeling in the afternoon, I like a cup of chocolate chip mint green tea – it’s a real treat. I also like to have a pitcher of water with sliced orange, lemon and lime nearby.

  2. Janet Barclay on July 18, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I agree that you will probably be more successful at anything you do when you give it your full attention, but some workaholics find it hard to take time away from work for exercise, so it can be helpful to justify it to themselves by doubling it up with learning activities.

    I think I’ve tried that chocolate mint tea, and it is wonderful!

  3. Hazel Thornton on March 21, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Fast forward to 2020…..great advice for everyone who is now suddenly working from home, even if they weren’t before the COVID-19 pandemic!

    • GHVA Group GHVA Group on March 24, 2020 at 10:42 am

      Thank you, Hazel! I definitely didn’t have anything like that in mind when I wrote this article so many years ago.

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