- Getty/Lean In/Tara Moore
- Working from home can make losing weight difficult, especially when you don’t know how to separate work life from personal life, and give yourself a break.
- The three primary keys to losing and keeping weight off are good nutrition, regular exercise, and quality sleep.
- When you work from home, it’s important to make time for movement (i.e. walking around the apartment during conference calls, stretching while you cook breakfast or warm up your cup of coffee).
- You don’t have to go to the gym to lose weight, but you should dedicate space in your home to exercise.
Working from home is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you have the freedom to dress however you’d like, finish assignments from the comfort of your living room couch, and have an entire kitchen at your disposal whenever the afternoon munchies come on strong. It’s great unless you’re trying to lose weight.
It’s one thing to say no to a piece of cake at an office birthday party, but training yourself not to take a mid-morning break to browse your own pantry full of your favorite foods is a whole new ballpark. Then there’s the issue of not having to leave your house for anything other than grocery shopping if you so choose. Gym memberships sound good in theory, but so does moving from your desk chair to the couch to watch Netflix after a hard day.
The question is, under these super convenient, incredibly comfortable circumstances, how can you can you lose weight when you work from home? Here are a few expert tips on how to do just that.
Invest in workout equipment you can use at home.
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You don’t need fancy machines and clunky equipment to achieve your weight loss goals. In fact, the director of fitness from Daily Burn, Amanda Murdock said you don’t even have to have a gym membership. You will, however, benefit from investing in a few basic tools to help speed things along.
“Most of the things you can do at a gym, you can do at home with a little money spent on equipment,” she told INSIDER. “For example buying a set of weights, bands, and subscribing to a platform to motivate you, like Daily Burn, will give you many of the same weight loss benefits that any big box gym will give you.”
Find activities you genuinely enjoy doing, and you’re more likely to stick with a plan.
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Oftentimes, fitness is looked at as a chore – something that has to get done in order to reach your weight loss goals. Although it’s true that physical activity is an important component, it shouldn’t feel like a burden, and it doesn’t have to. The key is to find exercises and activities you genuinely enjoy doing so that the time you commit to doing them feels like time well spent.
“Finding the exercises that you like and will be consistent with is by far more important than spending a lot of time doing a form of movement that you think you should be doing,” Murdock said. “What I mean by this is, rather than spending hours on a treadmill or a bike because you think you should…do a type of movement that excites or motivates you regardless of the proposed effects on weight loss.”
Clock in the right amount of quality sleep.
Nutrition and fitness are two of the most important elements of weight loss. The third is sleep – getting the right amount, and the right quality of it. And because when you work from home, your living space is also your workspace, it’s important that you not only set parameters for yourself, and know when to shut down, it’s also important that you create a sleep space that’s designed for sleep, not work under the covers.
“Aim to turn the company phone and email off at least one hour before you want to go to bed. This will help you wind down,” former desk bound IT professional, turned certified personal trainer, Rob of Minimal Fit told INSIDER. “Also try dimming the lights at home, having a hot bath/shower and using an app like Headspace to help you relax.”
Create a space in your home that can be your designated workout area.
You’d associate a gym or yoga studio with exercise, right? When you work from home and opt out of a membership, Murdock explained, it’s important to make room for exercise in your living space by reserving either an entire room or just a section of one, and transforming it into your workout spot.
“Have your equipment (mat, weights, bands, etc) in a central location that is easy to access. If you need to shoo everyone out while you workout, do it,” she told INSIDER. “If you need to move furniture to create space, do it. Make your workout time and space sacred so you and everyone else in the house know that your workouts are important.”
Kelly Borowiec, CPT, founder of Keebs Fitness suggested that, after setting up a designated workout area in your home, fill it was a few basic pieces of equipment, like a set of 5-10lb dumbbells and a thick mat, to start.
“As you begin to exercise more frequently at home, you can reward yourself by buying more exercise equipment,” Borowiec said.
Plan your workouts around the times you’re most energized.
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Are you a night owl? Early bird? Do you prefer afternoons to morning and evening hours? When you figure out what exercises you’re most likely to enjoy, your next task is to figure out when you’re most likely to exercise.
“For example, are you a morning person and most likely to workout if you do it when you first wake up? Or do you always sleep through your alarm and have more success with yoga to unwind after work?” Borowiec asked. “I recommend starting an exercise and food journal to identify patterns. See what works for you and do more of it.”
Be mindful of your meals and snacking options.
Nutrition is just as, if not more important when it comes to losing weight – whether you work from home or otherwise – so if you have a sweet tooth, you’ll just have to find ways to nip mindless cravings in the bud. One foolproof method Borowiec swore by was filling your fridge and pantry with healthy snacks, and preparing nutrient-dense meals in advance so that when you go grazing, you already have good-for-you options at the ready.
She also suggested that, for someone who might be easily tempted by junk foods, to avoid buying them altogether if eating them in moderation just isn’t realistic for you.
Read more: 9 tips to stop mindlessly snacking
Don’t skimp out on cardio.
- Flickr / Luke Redmond
Walking from the bedroom to your couch or dining room isn’t much of a commute, but when your career can be done from the comfort of your living room, it’s easy to forgo cardio altogether. Joanna Stahl, the founder of Go2Practice told INSIDER this is a major, common mistake.
“The small incremental shifts of transit to and from the office, pounding the pavement, stairs up the subway, taking a coffee break walk with coworkers needs to be fit into the work-from-home person’s day,” Stahl explained.
But, she added, cardio is key to most weight loss goals, so even though your work doesn’t require you to get up and out of the house, “there needs to be a concerted effort to put the pencils down and get in a workout daily,” Stahl said.
Drink a ton of water, but don’t sip on a glass with meals.
According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the average adult should be drinking two liters, or eight cups, of water per day. However, the key is to drink these eight cups between meals, not during them.
“Aim for 3 liters of water per day, but drink water around your meals, not with your meals,” Demi Dee, the CEO and founder The Knockout Room explained. “If you drink water with your meals, you will dilute the digestive juices in the food you eat. Drink more water on days when you exercise.”
Sign up for classes to hold you accountable.
If you’re struggling to find motivation, Stahl told INSIDER that either signing up for a workout class at a studio, gym, or online is a great resource. Not only will you have committed to be at the gym at a specific time, but classes that come at a price up the ante, because you’ve not only committed time, you’ve put down payment, too.
Remember that small adjustments to your schedule can make a difference, too.
It’s definitely possible to do a complete 180 and go from couch potato to fitness guru if you have enough stamina and motivation, but if you’re starting from square one, small changes can go a long way, too.
Liana Hughes, certified personal trainer and coach at Gixo said you can become more active by making some small changes like “planning a time to exercise each day, setting alarms to get up and walk around each hour, stretching while you are making your morning coffee, and getting up and walking around during conference calls.”
Walk whenever and wherever you can.
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Don’t assume that cardio has to translate to interval sprinting or HIIT training. If you’re team cardi-no, Hughes said walking is an easy way to get active.
“You don’t have to take a 60 minute cycling class or run miles and miles because small changes can mean big differences,” she told INSIDER. “For instance, taking walk breaks during the day will not only get you disconnected from your computer, but will count towards that weekly minimum. Go outside and take a walk and add in some power walking for a block to raise your heart rate to bring in cardio to your daily routine.”
Set up shop as far away from the kitchen as possible.
- Flickr / Erin Sparling
Does just being in the same vicinity of food initiate temptation? If so, set up your workspace far away from the kitchen to avoid wandering into the kitchen when you aren’t actually hungry.
“If you don’t have a lot of options, pick the spot with the most obstructed view of the fridge, pantry, or wherever else you keep food,” former Deputy Editor at Men’s Health, founder of STAT Media PR, a boutique health, fitness, and wellness PR agency, and the host of GAMMA PROJECT, Dean Stattmann told INSIDER. “Catching a mere glimpse of a snack can derail you and cause you to continue associating work with food.”
Get dressed for work in the same way you would if you were going to an office.
It’s easy to fall into the mindset that because no one’s going to see you, working in your pajamas or baggy sweats is acceptable. On the one hand, it is, but on the other, getting dressed in the morning the same way you would to go to an office building will take you out of a lazy mindset.
“Even on days when I have no outside meetings, I get dressed as if I were going to the office,” Stattman explained. “You’re not trying to impress anyone, but rather physically putting yourself in work mode. This one strategy will help your productivity and discourage excessive lunch or snack breaks-and it’s as simple as putting on pants.”
Practice mindful eating.
Getting up and away from your desk to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner is just as important as taking a walk to the kitchen for a coffee break when you work from home and your job can virtually be done from every room in the house.”Eat in the common work kitchen area or an empty conference room,” American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, V Shred‘s lead trainer, and an expert in nutrition, Benjamin Suyematsu suggested. “Use the time to really be mindful about your meal. Taste the food. Take your time and enjoy the meal as opposed to rushing through which only adds air to your stomach leading to bloat and even indigestion.”
Cut back on sugar, alcohol, and high-fat foods.
“The biggest things to stay away from while trying to lose weight are sugars, alcohol, and high-fat foods,” CruBox trainer, Brian Evans said. “It is important to eat a super balanced diet and additionally, stay away from food that is labeled low fat or sugar-free. Typically those food have to either added fat or sugar for taste than the normal full calorie options.”
Read more: Here’s why added sugar is so bad for you
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