Forget about the reported freshman 15, the biggest threat to your diet and weight is likely your career. Research shows that workers’ weights are directly linked to the amount of stress they’re feeling. Long hours, tight deadlines, travel and heavy lunches are just a few of the complaints I hear from clients and friends struggling to balance work and a healthy life. I know from my workaholic ways that I constantly have to struggle to “make the bacon” without becoming, well, a bit PIGish!
Our scales are tipping upward even in this down economy. The recession is hard on our wallets for sure, but it’s also destroying our waistlines. A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that 44% of workers say that they have gained weight in their current job, and that stress was a contributing factor. Constant fear of losing one’s job coupled with constant grim economic news adds more anxiety about work to our lives.
As companies layoff employees, workers have additional stress doing the jobs of two or three. And more pressure leads to overeating, cravings for comfort (read: high-cal) food, and wanting to just “veg-out” and exercise once we return home from the daily grind.
A study by the University of Rochester found that 72-75 percent of middle-aged employees were overweight or obese. Workers in the highest job stress categories had a full one unit BMI higher than those is a less stressful position. One BMI point is about a five-pound weight difference.
As a stress-eater, I have learned to manage my job stress in other ways than snacking on sweets or salty snacks. Here are some of my tricks. Let us know what you do to make sure your job doesn’t destroy your diet.
1. Get Outside: Try to get outside to improve your mood and reboot your brain. Even better, exercise outside if possible most days of the week. Research shows that outdoor exercise is one of the best ways to combat stress.
2. B.Y.O.B. When I worked in a Manhattan office, I brown bagged it almost every day. Start with bringing your own lunch at least three days a week and work up to five days a week. You’ll save tons of money and hundreds of calories
3. Make Office Kitchen and Vending Machines Off-limits: Vending machines rarely offer any nutritional options and the food that’s left in office kitchens is usually doughnuts, desserts or candy.
4.Make a commitment to eat light and exercise when traveling: I travel all the time for work and have to cut portions of all my meals by 25-30 percent and make sure that I exercise in the hotel gym (even if it’s just 20 minutes) or do a little run outside. I do this as soon as I wake up each day so that nothing else gets in the way of my workout.