If you’re reading this at work, and you’re lucky enough to have a good job, chances are your paycheck is padding more than your wallet. Most Americans work so much that it takes over our lives. All that work and no play leads to stress, overeating, and under-exercising, and it’s a major reason so many people are overweight. Here are 5 things that are keeping you from losing weight, and what you can do about them:
You’re under lots of stress.
During periods of stress, hormonal changes take place in your body. It’s called the “fight or flight” response, and the hormones that are released cause the heart to race, blood pressure to increase, and fat and sugar to be released into your system. That’s great if you’re being chased by a wild animal and need to run away. Not so great if those things are happening because you’re overworked or behind on a deadline, and constantly racing to catch up.
Some stress might be good for us – it helps to motivate and push us to be better, but if your stress is ongoing, it’s probably doing some bad things to your body, and it’s important to make some changes. If you let the stress hormones continue, the fat and sugar that are released end up being stored in your liver and deep inside your abdomen, which leads to insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease. They also prevent you from losing weight.
You have no time or energy to cook.
All that stress is exhausting, and who wants to come home late and spend time cooking dinner? Unfortunately, constantly stopping for take-out makes matters worse. It’s high in calories, which contributes to weight gain, and because your diet is unhealthy, you don’t have the energy deal with the stress.
- Try to Batch Cook – whenever you do cook, make enough for 2 or 3 meals and freeze the leftovers for another time.
- Let the crockpot do the work for you. Fill it at night, plug it in the morning, and dinner will be waiting for you.
- Have a few Fast Food Meal ideas on hand at all times. Nothing like a 5 minute meal to save the day.
You’re always buying lunch out.
Unless your lunch out is from the grocery store and consists of a small sandwich and an apple, you will be eating too many calories, and guess what? Yup. You’ll gain weight or you won’t be able to lose weight. So eat a healthy make-ahead breakfast like overnight oats, so you’re not starving by 11:00, and pack a lunch. It doesn’t need to be elaborate: Leftovers from dinner; peanut butter with sliced banana or strawberries on whole wheat bread plus a yogurt; or a can of tuna with whole wheat crackers and a bag of baby carrots. If you plan ahead and bring a lunch, you’ll have time to eat something healthy AND get a quick walk in AND you’ll save money, all of which will help you feel less stressed. Do you see where I’m going with this?
You’re great until 3:00, but then you make the wrong snack choices.
Step away from the vending machine (and the break room)! Or better, ask your HR department to stock healthier snacks, and make a deal with co-workers that you can only bring healthier treats and celebrate birthdays once per month. Whatever you do, don’t skip your snack, but keep it on the healthy and higher protein side. Use these tips for How to Make a Healthy Snack. That way you can avoid the break room all together.
You have no time to exercise.
You get up early, get home late, and when you’re not working there’s laundry to do, the kids to pick up, groceries to buy. Exercise is hard for most people to fit in before or after work, so try to fit it in during work hours.
- Aim for 150 minutes of exercise each week, and break that up in any way that works for you.
- Park a half-mile from your office (15 minutes of walking round trip) plus a brisk 15-minute walk at lunchtime.
- Every hour, get up and take a few flights of stars two at a time.
- Close the door and do this 8-minute workout in the morning, and again before you leave for the day.
If you see yourself in any of these scenarios – the best way to break the “job-stress-eat-no exercise” cycle is to always plan ahead. Having plan for each meal and exercise will make you feel so much better, and that in turn will help you deal with the stress of your job (or life).
Do you have any plan-ahead tips to fit healthy eating and exercise into your day?