When you finally secure the prestigious job of your dreams, or at least something which will pay the bills, the welcome pack never includes details on the ‘office stone’…
Now, this isn’t a magical rock which you acquire after passing probation, oh no, this is a stone you can carry for life, usually on your hips, belly or thighs depending on the genes mother nature bestowed upon you.
What am I talking about? Grab a brew and pretend like you’re reading something work related.
When you’re at school or university, you probably move a lot. Walking to and from school or uni, walking around to class, PE, games, and a lot of spare time to be involved in sports clubs or go to the gym.
Even if you didn’t actively partake in sports or gym, you probably moved a fair bit during the day in between lectures and maybe you even danced yourself silly into the early hours a few nights per week.
Office life changes all that. You’re probably now able to afford transport which means a car or bus to work, a short walk to your desk and then a fairly sedentary day. You’ll now also be working longer hours than before, so sports or gym attendance might suffer.
This overall reduction in NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) – the calories you burn through things other than exercise like walking around and being alive – are now reduced, so you’ve got less of a buffer against the food you eat. Ultimately, this means you’re now at risk of weight gain, without changing your diet.
But your diet will change…as anyone who has ever worked in an office knows, they’re a hot bed for things like ‘Fat Friday’ aka the Friday morning bap run to Newsbeat which is more often than not, the medication for ‘Thirsty Thursday’, and if it’s been a really shitty week, maybe a knock-on from ‘Wine Wednesday’ too.
You begin to see the problem…
That coupled with cake or a yard of pasty (A 100% Manx-only tradition FYI, as I found out when I tried to order it for my office in Manchester from the local Greggs, only to be met with howls of laughter) for birthdays, anniversaries and pretty much any excuse to celebrate, and you’re almost certainly going to be in an energy surplus.
Energy surplus = weight gain. Soon enough, the lovely new clothes you bought for work will be busting at the seams and you’ll be wondering what happened.
So what can you do about it?
I could recommend you download an app, track your food, sign up for the gym, make time to play sport but that’s all perfect world scenario stuff, I want to help you make a change without even having to make a change so here are my 5 top tips.
#1 Eat more fruit and vegetables
This is the most simple tip and you might have heard it called ‘crowding’ – basically where you crowd out the junk in your diet by packing your plate with fruit and veg instead. The easiest way to do this? Swap your usual sandwich for a salad or make sure your portion of veg is twice the size of your portion of ‘beige’ (Rice, pasta, potato, etc)
#2 Make a choice that makes you feel good
We all know that voice, the one who says ‘F*ck it, just eat it’ and then comes the ‘Urgh, why did I eat that?’ feeling.
Instead, focus on the smug ‘F*ck yeah, I made a good choice and I feel amazing!’ voice instead. You know what I mean.
#3 Check in with your feelings
Now this isn’t meant to sound all ‘woo’ but before you eat, ask yourself this simple question, ‘How do I feel?’.
If the answer is anything other than hungry, then food isn’t the answer. Feel tired? Go to bed earlier. Feel angry? Sort out your problem. Sugar won’t help your tiredness and a glass of wine won’t calm your anger. Sleep, yoga, talking…all of the none food things unless the answer is hungry.
#4 Eat more protein
This doesn’t mean go all caveman and start on the steak. There are lots of ways to boost protein intake. It’s the one nutrient which our body needs throughout the day and it’s the one a lot of us eat the least.
Add greek yoghurt to your breakfast, buy an extra pack of chicken/prawns to add to your sandwich, swap grains like rice for protein packed options such as chickpeas, beans or peas, or have a glass of dairy or soy milk before bed.
Note: Other milk alternatives don’t contain protein so if dairy or soy aren’t your thing, try making some protein balls with non-dairy protein instead.
#5 Be prepared
Taking a few minutes to prep food for the day ahead will help you eat well and save you money. Make a double portion of your evening meal to take for lunch the next day. Throw oats, milk and toppings of your choice into a container before you go to bed, you can eat them the next day cold at your desk or reheated if you have a microwave. If you get really hungry, snack on fruit or keep small portions of nuts in your desk draw.
If you’re sat at your desk right now and you recognise these signs, get in touch. I have a free Facebook group called ‘Blurred Limes – Myth Busting with Next Level Nutrition’ which you can join to ask questions or just use as a safe location to post food pics without getting ripped to shreds by your mates.