Diana Kelly Levey

Avoid Gaining Weight When Working from Home

working from home and gaining weight freelancing

March 10, 2019 | Categories:

For many people, working from home sounds like a dream—no boss breathing down your neck, no noisy coworkers blabbering or chewing loudly, no commute hijacking your free time, no one telling you to put on pants. (If you want to find out how to work from home as a freelance writer, get details here.)

A lot of people are making the switch, too: The freelance economy is growing exponentially, and more companies are allowing full-time employees to work from home part-time. Some 25% of employees did some or all of their work from home in 2015, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But while you working from home might give you more time to work out and prepare healthy food, it can actually present some challenges to your physique. It even affects fitness professionals: Los Angeles-based personal trainer Mike Donavanik, C.S.C.S., said he recently experienced weight gain himself while transitioning to a more sedentary role.

“I went from training clients as 70% of my time to that being 30% of my time while I’m creating more online content,” says Donavanik. “I was like, ‘Why am I gaining weight?’ And then realized, ‘Oh, because I’m sitting down way more, and I’m not moving as much as I used to.’ It was an eye-opener.”

If you’re afraid you’ll gain weight once you start working at home—or if you’ve already noticed you’re getting softer with an at-home gig—check out expert tips for staying healthy and fit while working from home.

How Freelancers Can Avoid Gaining Weight Working from Home

1. Wear pants with a tight waistband

You’re probably excited to swap the work slacks for sweats, but it’s a good idea to put those pants on at least once a week to make sure they fit.

“When I wear jeans that are tighter, I’m like, ‘OK, I should go to the gym to keep this up,’ because I know if I stay in sweats, I’m likely to gain weight,” says Donavanik. “My first year in college, I wore sweats all the time, and then the next thing I knew, after the first semester in college, I was 20lbs heavier. I tend to put on workout clothes now while working from home, but still, you’ve got to make sure your pants with a waistband still fit, because that’s when you’ll start noticing that you’ve gained weight.” (And no, you can’t blame the dryer for shrinking your pants.)

When Donavanik noticed that his pants were getting tighter after being more sedentary at home, he realized, “I either need to watch what I eat or I need to work out a little harder in the gym. My solution was just to work out harder in the gym.”

2. Set up your environment for success

“People tend to want to pour all of their energy into increasing self-control and building self-discipline, but I would prefer people put more energy into creating a home environment that is conducive to good health,” says Torey Jones Armul, R.D., Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson. “This is the most important tip I share with clients who work from home.”

Put another way: When you’re at the office, it’s not so hard to ignore the brownies getting stale on the communal food table. At home, though, you’re looking at that good stuff multiple times a day—especially if you’ve got a junk food stash. “You’re walking through the kitchen more often, so you may need to overhaul that space and make it even healthier than it was before,” Armul says.

The solution? Put sweet treats and tempting snacks away from sight, in a drawer or on a high shelf—somewhere you’re not seeing them dozens of times a day.

3. Remember to eat lunch

“I find that people tend to let themselves get too hungry during the day, which can create that insatiable appetite, especially in the afternoon or early evening,” says Armul. “I recommend eating something every three to four hours so you never feel like you’re starving. That’s when your guard drops, and you tend to make those irrational food choices that are based on hunger rather than smart thinking.”

In addition to your healthy lunch, make sure you’re eating a snack that contains protein and fiber.

4. Meal prep for the week

Meal prep works for the commuter crowd, but it’ll do wonders for your waistline, too. If your work week begins on Monday, shop and prep on the weekends so you have plenty of premade meats, whole grains, washed and chopped veggies, and fruit at the ready. Portion out snacks like nuts, cheese, crackers, and pretzels into sandwich baggies or plastic containers so you’re not absentmindedly munching while working from home and typing. When you eat from the container or bag, it’s easy to lose portion control, says Armul. Pre-portioning out snacks and foods you tend to overeat will help you stay within your healthy calorie range while working from home.

Learn more tips on how to avoid getting fat while working from home on Men’s Journal.

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