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Is Your Job Making You Fat? 3 Tips to Stay Healthy at Work

During times of high work demands, health often falls by the wayside. Yet as I've aged, I realize, times of high work demands require more fitness rather than less. Here are three ways, I've found to work good health into my schedule.
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Woman's feet on a scale. Metaphor for diet and healthy living. Close-up with Shallow DOF.
Woman's feet on a scale. Metaphor for diet and healthy living. Close-up with Shallow DOF.

Are you finding there's a little more of you to love lately?

If you're a little heftier than you used to be, the real culprit might be stress.

Stress can lower your metabolism; it also causes you to increase your consumption. Mindless eating is a mainstay in many offices. If you've ever been held captive in cubicle city, you know sometimes, donuts are the only way to stay sane. Those who work in home offices, as I often do, feel the siren call of the fridge when you're on a deadline.

If I were to graph my own expanding and contracting waistline over the years, the lumps and bumps would directly correlate to the stressed-out, over-worked phases of my life.

It's not just stress-eating that causes you to gain weight; it's lack of time and sleep. When you're sleep deprived, you instinctively reach for high fat and high sugar foods, as an immediate energy source. It works temporarily, but you find yourself crashing at the end of the day too tired for that afternoon walk. When you're short of time, you grab whatever is available, which generally is not arugula and lean chicken.

During times of high work demands, health often falls by the wayside. Yet as I've aged, I realize, times of high work demands require more fitness rather than less. Here are three ways, I've found to work good health into my schedule:

1. Do a walk/talk
If you have frequent phone meetings, pick one where no notes are required, grab your headset and head for the door. I walk my neighborhood, my sister who works in an office, does the stairs (she's younger and in better shape).

I find this is best for creative brainstorm conversations with someone you know well. I have a few colleagues who've joined me on this program, we schedule a walk, talk for our creative conversations. You get a little background noise, and you might have to stop to jot a note. But brain science tells us when you're walking, you ignite different parts of your brain, you're more creative. Three 30 - minute walk/talks a week make a huge difference in your stamina.

2. Order water before alcohol
I confess, I can't refuse a free drink. Whether it's the flight lounge or a champagne cocktail on check in, I never refuse. But I came to realize that taking that first drink often results in drinking alcohol when you're thirsty. Now whenever someone offers me a drink, I ask for a big glass of water first. You find yourself sipping your cocktail, rather than glugging it. And on rare occasions, I sometimes even pass on the alcohol.

3. Mindfully eat lunch
Turn your keyboard upside down; if a bunch of crumbs falls out, you're eating too many meals at your desk. I used to be guilty of this one, I'd be working on something with a sandwich beside me; suddenly the sandwich was gone and I didn't even remember eating it. Now I schedule at least 20 minutes for lunch. It's not as good as an hour's walk. But when I practice mindful eating, focusing on what my food tastes like, I eat less and enjoy more.

It's hard to work a high stress job and still be healthy. But it's not impossible.