Tips to Help Prevent Weight Gain While Working from Home

I have heard quite a few people express concern about gaining the “Quarantine 15” while working from home.  The easy access to our favorite foods, higher levels of stress, and occasional boredom being stuck at home doesn’t help.  Here are some easy tips to help control what we’re eating and prevent mindless eating that can creep up on us and lead to unwanted weight gain.

  1. Create a plan for the day.  Start each day with a plan on what you’re going to eat and when.  You can write it first thing in the morning or the night before.  Include the 3 main healthy meals and 3 healthy snacks.  Be specific and include how much of each food.  Remember that protein sticks with you and keeps you fuller longer than carbohydrates.  Research and consider how many calories you want to eat for the day.  Your plan should be reasonable and doable.  Then stick to your plan by only eating what you planned for.  If you mess up and eat something not on your plan, don’t beat yourself up or give up, just switch it with something you had on your plan and keep trying.
  2. Eat something every 2-3 hours.  This will prevent you from getting too hungry and mindlessly snacking.  It will also help keep your blood sugars and metabolism stay steady throughout the day.
  3. Write down what you eat.  You’ll be less likely to mindlessly snack if you have to write everything down.  It also helps you keep within your targeted daily caloric consumption.  There are many free easy apps (My Fitness Pal, My Net Diary) to help you track what you eat with bar code scans to make it even easier. 
  4. Limit temptation.  Don’t stock the items that are your biggest unhealthy temptations.  If you must have them for others in your household, keep them out of sight.
  5. Build in a treat.  When you’re planning your meals and snacks for the day, include something that’s a treat for you (as one of your snacks).  Just limit the quantity if it’s something unhealthy or high in calories.  (one cookie vs. a handful) and build it into your planned calories for the day.  This will give you something to look forward to so watching what you eat won’t be so painful.
  6. Water only after 8:00pm.  Food sitting in your belly at night is more likely to turn to unwanted fat. 
  7. Find time to move.  We often move at work much more than we realize, whether it’s to and from the car and/or meetings, up and down stairs, etc.  Our movements are even more confined at home.  Make and take the time to get your body moving.  Take a walk, do an exercise video, walk the stairs in your home.  Moving will help you physically and mentally.
  8. Find a partner.  Find someone also trying eat well and not gain weight that you can partner with to hold each other accountable.  Share your plans for the day, how well you did against your plans, and how you will make any adjustments to your plans going forward.
  9. Don’t be too hard on yourself.  These are stressful times and we’re all making significant changes to adjust to these unusual circumstances.  We’re not just dealing with the shift to working from home, but also the uncertainties and worries for how long this will last, how we will be impacted in health and/or financially, and how to best care for ourselves and our families.  The good news is in times of uncertainty and change, it’s human nature to look for routines and structure which helps us feel more in control.  If you didn’t stick to your plan like you wanted to today, think of what you can and want to do tomorrow to make it better.  And don’t give up!!
  10. Reward yourself.  Help motivate yourself with a reward at the end of the day.  Whether it’s a glass of wine (just add it to your plan and or diary), time to do your favorite thing like reading or a hobby, or extra TV time, just make sure it’s motivating to you and will feel like a reward when you earn it.  At the end of the day consider how well you managed your day and whether you think you deserve the reward or not.  If not, think of what you can do to help you be successful next time, and try again tomorrow.

Karen is an executive coach, leadership development consultant and author of “Leadership Breakthrough:  Leadership Practices that Help Executives and Their Organizations Achieve Breakthrough Growth”

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