Offices don’t make you fat. The walls don’t secrete lipids, which you unknowingly absorb through your pores. Unless you work in sweatshop, you aren’t forbidden from moving around. It’s just difficult, with little need for movement in order to fulfil your role and the constant supply of indulgent treats. The answer? These hacks can help you avoid gaining weight by sitting in the office.
Make your commute count
One of the easiest ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine is via your commute. Exercising first thing is great for boosting your mood and getting your metabolism up, and you’ll find exercising on the way home becomes a great wind down.
If you don’t have the time, money, or motivation to hit the gym before or after work, there are easy ways all of us can make our commutes count. From walking to the train station and getting off the bus a few stops early, to biking or jogging in to the office, the key is finding something that suits you and that you’ll enjoy.
Be a stair star
When it comes to avoiding office weight gain, the stairs are your best friend. Stair climbing burns 8-11kcal of energy a minute, which is pretty high for a moderate form of exercise. As well as helping you build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, climbing stairs can actually improve the amount of good cholesterol in your blood. If the lift still looks appealing, just remember two flights per day can equal up to six pounds of weight loss over 12 months, with zero sweating required!
Save your emails and calls for people who are situated outside of your office. When it comes to communicating with your office-dwelling colleagues, get up, walk over and do it face-to-face instead. Moving throughout the day will burn calories and stop your metabolism from slowing down too much. If you work for a forward-thinking company, you could also suggest standing or walking meetings too (or even push for standing desk facilities to be introduced!)
Glug, glug, glug. We all know you should drink eight glasses of water each day for your body to function healthily – we are made up of about 60 percent water and our brains are about 70 percent water. A great idea is to drink a glass of cold water every hour – cold liquids lower your bodies core temperature, and when this happens you burn more calories to get it back up. Allowing yourself to become dehydrated often leads to weight gain, as dehydration often feels like hunger and can encourage overeating. As an extra bonus of sufficient water drinking, you’ll be treated to more toilet trips, which helps out no end with your goal of moving throughout the day. If you go the bottled water route, know that your body prefers still, not sparkling.
Fight the fizz
It’s not just being too sedentary and your food choices that you need to keep a watch for in the office – drink matters too. In addition to drinking enough water (see above) you need to make sure you aren’t drinking too many nasties – the main culprit being an afternoon fizzy drink pick-me up. Fizzy drinks are laden with sugar, which turns to fat (a can of coke contains 33g). Diet drinks really aren’t a sensible alternative either, so best ditch it altogether.
If you’ve piled on a few office pounds you’re keen to shed, it can be tempting to try not to eat. However, this usually equates to binge eating unhealthy foods in the afternoon, and a slowing of your metabolism. If you don’t skip meals and make sure your choices are healthy, you’ll be far less inclined to succumb to the sweet treats that seem to orbit offices everywhere.
Us office workers need to make our lunchtimes count in terms of getting our bodies moving, and some of our consumed calories burned. If you can motivate yourself to join a gym close to work, or take your kit and head out running, that’s stellar. If not, simply leaving your desk in favour of a walk in the fresh air (or around the shops) will do you a world of good. Basically, anything other than sitting.
Stay Away From the ‘Office Feeder’
Every office has at least one feeder. They come in plenty of guises, but are often Mary Berry-loving, Great British Bake Off fans who somehow manage to maintain a trim waistline. Their secret – indulging sweet fantasies through you. There’s nothing wrong with bringing the team together over a slice of cake now and again, but the office feeder thrives on offloading a constant supply of cakes, biscuits and treats, and loves nothing more than organising food-centric events too. Avoid with more gusto than you would the office gossip.
Have you ever noticed that the vending machine’s magnetic pull seems strongest when you’ve not brought any food into work with you? It’s no coincidence. The key to avoiding desk job weight gain is organisation. Bring in lunches with you that are both healthy and hearty, and snacks that you’ll enjoy. You’re much less likely to gorge on cake if you’ve some strawberries, nuts and a bit of dark chocolate in your desk drawer. Organisation may seem like a hassle but is much less work ending up at fat camp.
Track Your Progress
There’s no reason while a sedentary job should mean a sloth-like waistline. Your office isn’t making you fat, but your choices might be. With a little effort and forethought you can have the job and BMI you want. Keeping track of your progress can make healthy living a lot easier and it encourages you to keep going. The MyFitnessPal app is the best free calorie counter on the market and good for tracking your exercise too. If you have difficulty knowing if you’ve moved enough, consider getting a wearable activity tracker, such as a Fitbit, which counts your daily steps, the stairs you climb and much more. In case you’re wondering, 10,000 steps per day is recommended. Many phones now also come with native health tracking apps that keep track of how much you move and more, but if yours doesn’t, then Moves is a fairly reliable step-counting app that’s free.
This story originally appeared on Lifehacker UK