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11 Tricks to Lose Weight with a Desk Job

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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.

Lose weight at your desk job with these simple tips and tricks. You won't believe how easy they are to implement or the results you'll see in 1-2 weeks!

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 calories by standing too! (If you have a FitBit or Apple Watch it will remind you to stand as well)

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 meal delivery like Freshly. 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?

Lose Weight with a Desk Job

11 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% workouts and 10% genetics.

With that said, we need to focus on simple healthy meals, easy snacks, and healthy recipes.

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.

someone holding a coke can

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.

If you’re not a tea drinker, you may also like Sparkling Ice or Bevvy.

Can’t seem to break the habit? Check out our guide to giving up soda!

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.

If you’re enjoying this post, you’ll also like: Lose 10 Pounds in 2 Weeks Through A Healthy Diet – 5 Easy Tips

kim and kalee walking outside

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.

ideas to take school lunches to the next level

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. (Yep, 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.

Consider meal prepping for the week and keeping snacks in your desk.

This will help you from hitting the vending machine. Nuts are an awesome choice because they stay fresh a long time. We also reach for a protein bars in a pinch. 

If you crave something sweet in the afternoon – try our high protein donuts or low carb, high protein cookies!

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

back of kim and kalee legs taking stairs

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 may also like our Reset & Simplify Series on our Podcast, the Kim and Kalee Show.

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…

Lose Weight at Work

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.

kim and kalee drinking water outside on a bench

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 thegirls@soreyfitness.com 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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10 Comments

  1. Great tips! One way to get more steps, if you work in a tall building like I do, is to take the elevator only to a lower floor. For instance, I am at the 26th floor and I take it to the 20th and walk 6 floors up. You could actually do the whole thing at least once a day but make sure you have comfortable shoes! :)

    1. That’s a great idea!!! :) I used to walk up to our third floor, wall all the way down the hall, go down a flight, walk down the hall, etc. I can’t imagine 26 stories!! Very cool and convenient!

  2. Excellent tips! I especially like #6. When I worked a desk job I would get up several times a day to walk up and down the stairs. After a while I could go up and down 10 floors without getting winded and I felt totally awesome about that. Every week I would try to add more steps to my record.

  3. Great tips! I will be trying a few, I work at home and this still applies! I really like the 80 percent diet and 10 percent exercise! It is so easy to undo your whole day!

  4. Those are all really great tips! I used to work in an office & almost every single woman that worked there was overweight. Your job shouldn’t have such a physical effect on you like that.

  5. I read this , all great comments , but what if your knee is out or your i a wheel chair, i found out the hard way for a while, i added a basket ball toy net in office for play at lunch ,made it a point to count the baskets for goal, then i went to y after work for relaxing, and swam i found with help i could get in the water and move, all this was for my mental stability , and you can even get a doctor slip for time off ,just added t more tis, I did like the tea idea, i was drinking water ,

  6. These are great tips! I work a desk job and I have been adding different things to my routine to try and maintain my weight and health. I use a balance ball chair, as suggested above. I also wear wrist weights, so when I am typing, our answering the phone, I am working a little more. I have a small elliptical without arms that I keep at my feet, so my feet are constantly moving even when I am sitting. I also have a thigh toner that I use on occasion. The thigh toner is a little bit harder to do at a desk, because I don’t have full range of motion.

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