Since the COVID 19 pandemic hit many of us have been forced to work from home full time or some of the time and it looks like some level of working from home will be with us for the foreseeable future. Speaking to friends and family as well as clients it seems that working from home can make it really difficult to stay in shape.

So with this in mind I thought I would give you some tips and advice on how to avoid putting on weight and how to even lose weight when working from home.

The chances are if you are working from home your NEAT levels will be down quite markedly (don’t know what NEAT is? Click this link to learn more about something you really need to know about if you are looking to lose weight Looking To Lose Weight? You Need To Hear This! – Get Results Fitness). NEAT stands for non exercise activity thermogenesis. Which is basically how much do you move out with structured exercise.

It has sharply brought into focus for me the difference between working from home and being physically at my place of work. My step count during lockdown is 5,500 steps. This has been accumulated by me parking the car and a short walk to the club, setting equipment up and the occasional trip to the toilet or to fill my water bottle up. Contrast this with the days I am working from home where I can get to 5pm and have only done 1,000 steps! So you can clearly see how much movement I am losing each day by simply not being at my place of work.

I bet if you think about it you will be the same. The walk to the train station, the walk up the stairs to the office, walking between meeting rooms/colleagues’ desks, nipping out at lunch time to the shop.

This is probably what you would think of as inconsequential parts of your day, however when you take them away your movement levels will likely be down quite significantly and as we have discussed previously, this can have a massive impact on whether you gain or lose weight.

It is important therefore that you consciously build movement into your day. Try finding reasons to go up and down the stairs throughout the day (place your printer up the stairs, between each zoom meeting go up and down the stairs 5 times). Go for a walk at some point every day. Walk to the shops rather than taking the car.

Another issue with working from home is the increased possibility of accessing food.

Chances are you are only a few short steps away from your kitchen where there is a fridge and cupboards stacked with food. This can lead to regular trips to get snacks and an uncontrolled manner of eating where you graze around the clock. Obviously this is going to likely lead to you eating more calories, which will ultimately lead to weight gain. Like most things when it comes to changing habits and behaviours there is no one size fits all solution that will work for everyone.

Instead there are techniques that you can try that might work for you. I will list a few and you can pick which ones you think might work for you and try them out:

  1. The first one is an obvious one, don’t buy lots of high calorie foods like chocolates, cheeses, biscuits, crisps etc. Chances are if it’s not easily accessible you are not going to stop what you are doing and go to the shops to get it. Many behaviour experts believe we have limited amounts of willpower that we can access each day and you been so close to these foods all day will mostly likely chip away at your willpower and before you know it a bad phone call later or a slump in energy and you will be in raiding the cupboards with out you barely registering it.  So make life easier for yourself and minimise/eradicate the amount of junk food you have.
  2. If you insist on buying junk food don’t have it stored somewhere visible, stick it in a high cupboard out of your eye line. Chances are if you see it you are going to want to eat it.
  3. Another tip to stop you snacking would be If you are not working in the kitchen, bring the kettle into the room you are working in. This stops the temptation of grabbing a snack every time you enter the kitchen to make yourself a cuppa.
  4. Try preparing your food as if it is a work day. Have your lunch and snacks laid out as if you are at your desk at work. Again if possible store them in the room you are working in to avoid you going into the kitchen and being tempted by the foods surrounding you. Aim to get in the mindset “If I was at my work right now this would be all I would need to sustain me for the full day” (you might actually need a little less if you are moving less). By doing this your food intake for the day is set and you just eat it when you have your breaks. Another benefit of doing it this way is that it takes away another decision for you to make. Did you notice Steve Jobs always wore the same clothes? The reason why he did this was to limit decision fatigue. It was one less thing for him to decide on for the day. Having your lunch laid out for the day can take away the times where you are standing in the kitchen trying to decide what you ‘fancy’ having.
  5. Chances are if you are working from home your day may be a bit more fluid than it would be if you were at your place of work. This can be good from the perspective of taking a break when you feel you need it, or being able to go for a nice walk when you need space or a break. However it can also mean you don’t take those breaks and end up working longer hours each day. This can become an issue when you finally do stop you are ready to inhale whatever food you can get your hands on. If this has been happening with you, perhaps it would be a good idea to set alarms for yourself when you are going to stop and have some food. Try and completely switch off from your work and enjoy your food. Eating whilst you work has been shown to increase the likelihood that you will consume more calories as you are not really registering what you’re eating.
  6. The final tip I would advise would be to get plenty of low calorie healthier snacks in the house. Some of my personal favorites are fruits, yoghurts, and smoothies (I particularly like smoothies if I am craving something sweet as I put frozen mango and cinnamon in and it feels like a wee treat to drink it)

Other suggestions for low calories snacks:

  • Oven cooked Kale with Chilli
  • Cut up Veg with Hummus (portion out your hummus to avoid over consuming)
  • Small portions of nuts
  • Apple slices with a small portion of nut butter
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Cup of homemade soup
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Protein bars
  • Crackers and cottage cheese

Working from home certainly be tough but if you can get focused and have a plan it can be very achievable!

Paul

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