Even if you have the best intentions, it can be hard to lose weight when you’re at work a third or more of your day. Plus, most of us have to commute by car most days.
While there are plenty of scary health facts out there about the dangers of a desk job to our health, they aren’t going away anytime soon. So it’s time to rework our time at the J-O-B to make it count towards our weight loss goals too!
One of those scary facts I mentioned above is that our risk of diabetes increases after only a couple of hours of sitting! Luckily, that one is an easy fix – stand up every 20 or so minutes to keep your body active. You’ll also burn up to 50% more by standing too!
Before we jump into our 9 tips to lose weight at work, it’s important to identify bad habits that are already established.
Think about your workday.
Are you eating emotionally anywhere?
I was guilty of hitting the drive-thru after work. I rationalized it because I hadn’t eaten a lot during the day, and I didn’t want to cook.
A better option would be making a big pot of chili on Sunday to eat on during the week or looking into a program like Nutrisystem. While Nutrisystem seemed expensive at the time, it was cheaper than fast food most days!
Do you have office sabotage?
If your goal is to lose weight at work but everyone else isn’t on board, it can lead to lack of willpower on your count. Identify where you are weak -maybe a lunch out with friends or the candy dish – and find a healthy swap.
What would make it easier?
Maybe it’s time to invest in a pretty water bottle, yummy healthy snacks, or a program like Nutrisystem. It doesn’t have to be longterm, but until you get the weight off – why not invest in making it a little easier on yourself?
Check out our review on Nutrisystem here – includes pricing.
9 Ways to Lose Weight at a Desk Job
1) 80% is Diet
If you look up other sites for tips, a lot will focus so much on activity. It’s really important to stay up and about, but your diet is really the majority of your weight loss.
Studies have shown you lose weight based on the ratio: 80% is diet, 10% activity/workouts and 10% genetics.
Studies also have shown if you’re getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night, it’s actually better to sleep than to work out for your metabolism!
So while everyone is “work out happy”, know your priorities. Diet, Sleep, then workouts.
When it comes to your workouts – a little bit is better than nothing. You don’t have to workout 6 days a week to see results.
For me, I chose to workout 3 days a week while I worked at a desk job. I knew I could get in 2 on the weekends if I had to. That left just 1 more to find time to do during the work week.
You can view our favorite at home workouts here.
2 Easy Diet Swaps to Lose Weight
Diet Soda for Green Tea – Diet soda and its equivalents are linked to larger waist sizes. Science isn’t sure why, but it may make you crave unhealthy or sweet foods – causing the cravings to crank up. If you add in a craving with work stress, and it’s going to be hard to fight. Green Tea, on the other hand, has antioxidants and a little caffeine.
Baked Chips for Nuts – I used to love a Diet Coke and chips in the afternoon. It helped me get my energy back, and I loved the salt. Baked chips really aren’t a healthy choice though. They are better than normal fried chips, but nuts will offer more energy and aren’t processed.
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2) Walk Instead of Emailing
I cannot believe how little I walk during the day!
I bought a FitBit in February when I was still teaching. Without trying, I walked about 7,000 steps, but the goal for a healthy life is 10,000 steps. I figured I was getting in more than enough steps, but I was 3,000 short!
Then when I started working from home at a desk the majority of the day, my steps went down to as little as 1,000!!!! EEEK! Just walking will help your muscles stay flexible and keep your mobility strong. Plus, it is going to burn calories.
Also making it a habit to walk instead of email will give you a trigger to get up and move.
3) Use Your Lunch
You don’t have to go for a jog during your lunch, but you also shouldn’t skip it or eat at your desk.
Work can raise our stress levels and make us eat without enjoying our food.
Take a moment each day to recap all of your accomplishments, set intentions and actually enjoy your food.
If you can – go outside or somewhere away from your desk to enjoy your healthy, packed lunch. (Ya, we suggest a packed lunch. Even “healthy” options at fast food joints pack some extra sodium and are heavily processed).
4) Plan Ahead
Planning ahead was my issue. I never planned to be as tired as I was after work, and then I would be exhausted and go to the drive-thru.
Knowing your schedule, mood and energy level is critical to staying on track.
Keep snacks in your desk versus hitting the vending machine. Nuts are an awesome choice because they stay fresh a long time. We also outlined the best protein bars as an option earlier this year.
Also, don’t forget to pack your water or tea as well. Staying hydrated will help you have better energy all day.
5) Stay Away From the Lounge
There are 2 reasons to stay out of the lounge: unhealthy snacks and unhealthy habits.
Besides gossip, you will be exposed to muffins, doughnuts, and more. Stick to your goals both professionally and physically. Invite a friend for lunch somewhere other than the lounge.
If you’re enjoying this post, you’ll also like: Healthy Habits – 11 Simple Tips to Lose Weight
6) Take the stairs
Taking the stairs can help you get a little cardio and resistance training all in one.
Just walking up and down the stairs 3 times a day for 10 minutes can count as a workout! You can also do two 15-minute sessions or one 30-minute session. Just get moving!
7) Use public transportation if possible
It has been shown that people that take public transportation are active more each day, and they also weigh less than those driving in.
Typically someone taking public transportation has to walk a little, and they don’t experience the stress of rush hour traffic which can lead you feeling famished and in need of comfort.
Not only will you avoid a terrible commute, you’ll make new friendships taking public transportation and possibly also save some money.
8) Remember Your Goals
If your goal is to lose weight at your desk job, it’s going to take a little tracking too.
We talked about how important your diet is before, but if your goal is specific to weight loss – you also may want to track your calories.
To lose 1lb per week, you need to create a 3,500 calorie deficit. It sounds worse than it is.
A good rule of thumb is to take your goal weight and multiply it by 12. This should be about what you should eating per day. You should never drop below 1200 calories though and always consult your doctor when making changes to your diet.
Also don’t take on too much!
Set an alarm in your phone to refocus your energy on your goals or ask yourself “does this help me get closer to my goal?” before making a decision. Don’t forget it’s okay to say “no, thank you” or “Let me check my calendar, and I’ll get back to you.”
Checking your calendar allows you time to think over the decision and decide what is best for you.
If you’re enjoying this post, you’ll also like: Simple Ways to Improve Your Health in Under 5 Minutes
9) Do Less at Home
One of our client’s husband offered to watch the kids while she worked out for an hour at night. Not only does she love it and is so excited to see her results, he also feels fantastic about letting her have some time for herself. Now I can’t imagine all husbands are going to be so wise as to offer but creating a schedule can help even busy couples find that compromise.
Figure out what is taking your time or energy at home, and see if there is a way to lessen your load or to create a system where your family helps you out more.
People may notice, but you can also…
10) Get a Balance Ball Chair or a Standing Desk.
These balance ball chairs are so cool! They can help your alignment, core and balance just from trading in your original office chair. It might draw some weird looks though.
A standing desk is also a great option, or if you work at home – you could look into a treadmill or bike desk as well.
11) Set an alarm to do mini workouts by your desk
You could do jumping jacks, mountain climbers, walking in place, etc for 10 minutes 3x a day, and you’d have your 30 minutes of working out done before you got home!
Also, don’t forget to not be too hard on yourself.
Yes, you should be motivated to be healthier and live the life you want, but I don’t want you killing yourself or putting yourself down to get there. Make small, measurable changes in your life consistently, and you will see a great improvement over time.
Find Some Support
We’ve helped 1000s of people lose weight and get healthier. We’d love to help you do the same too! We have a year-round accountability group that is free and private. If you’d like to join us, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!
We also offer a 21 Day Challenge to jumpstart your results. You’ll receive a custom plan to help get you going! If you’re not sure it’s for you, at least check out the 21 Day Challenge details because the ladies’ results we featured are amazing!
What are your tips to lose weight at a desk job?
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