With the world rapidly changing, working from home has become a new reality for many of us. There are a variety of benefits to this new scenario - no more early morning commutes, increased flexibility, and more time spent at home in our pyjamas. But working from home can also make managing weight difficult, especially without supportive habits in place. We’ve identified 3 manageable steps that you can take to implement a sustainable routine that can assist you in managing your weight while working from home.
Step 1: Focus on regular, nutritionally balanced meals
Spending all day at home can make sticking to regular mealtimes difficult. When we’re never more than a few steps from the kitchen, it can be tempting to eat whenever it suits us rather than sticking to a set schedule. But blurring the lines between meal and snack times can lead to us eating more overall, resulting in weight gain.
Reduce chances of snacking and overeating by aiming to have three regular meals at around the same time each day. Make these meals satisfying and nutritionally balanced by filling your plate with fruits and veggies and including a source of protein at each meal.
Planning weekly meals ahead of time can make sticking to these set meal times much easier. Make time before your food shop to sit down and make a meal plan for the coming week. Preparing a list before you shop (and sticking to it!) can help you to make sure that the food available in your home is nutritious. This way when you do feel hungry, you’ll have good options at the ready. If you struggle with overeating higher-calorie foods, put them away out of sight, such as on a high shelf or in a drawer or avoid buying them altogether to reduce temptation.
Keep in mind that it’s not just what you eat, it’s how you eat. With lines between work spaces and eating spaces blurring, it can be easy to sit down to a meal with a laptop open in front of us. But being distracted at mealtimes can mean that we don’t give our bodies the opportunity to realise when we’ve had enough to eat. This can result in eating much larger portions than needed. Getting into the habit of turning off screens while eating and having a designated space for meals can help in becoming more mindful of hunger cues, which can reduce overeating.
Step 2: Introduce daily movement
It's important to make time for movement when working from home. Without the established routine and incidental movements of physically going to work, it’s easy to skip workouts and become less active. But the benefits of staying active extend beyond improving just overall fitness levels and supporting weight loss. In fact, physical activity has also been found to lower stress levels and improve mental health¹, making it a great support for your job and/or managing your commitments at home.
The key to building a sustainable routine is finding an activity that works for you. Do you like to kick start your day with a morning walk or jog, or unwind in the evenings with yoga? You’ll be more likely to stick to an activity routine that you genuinely enjoy doing, so try a few things out and see what makes you feel good.
Struggling to find enough time for activity? Schedule your physical activity into your calendar ahead of time, just as you would schedule a work meeting, and make sure you show up! None of your workouts have to be too long – even just 15 minutes of activity a day can make a huge difference to your physical and mental health². Keep in mind that if you have been inactive for a while, it’s important to take things slowly at first to prevent injuries. Start gently, and then rev up the intensity over time.
Step 3: Prioritise quality sleep
Although often overlooked, getting enough sleep is a crucial part of managing your weight. Poor sleep has been found to be a major risk factor for weight gain. Studies have reported that being sleep deprived is associated with increased appetite and reduced portion control³. As well as eating more, food choices can also be affected. A lack of sleep can cause the brain to seek reward and pleasure, often leading to us reaching for foods that are high in fat and sugar³. Feeling exhausted during the day can also inhibit your motivation to exercise, meaning that you’ll be less likely to get active.
Working from home can make it hard to switch off, causing significant disruptions to our sleep. But small changes can make creating a healthy sleep routine easy. Research has indicated that for most people, more than seven hours a night is ideal for weight maintenance⁴. Make sure that you’re getting enough sleep by sticking to predefined work hours as much as possible, and avoid the temptation to be constantly contactable.
It’s also important to set parameters between the space that you work and where you sleep. Resist the temptation to spend workdays in bed by creating dedicated work and rest zones in different areas of the home. Set up a desk or area in the living room as the office, and keep the laptop out of the bedroom.
If you still have trouble falling asleep, creating a bedtime ritual can be a great way to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. Hot showers and gentle stretches can encourage hormones that can help you to fall asleep faster. Technology should be put away at least an hour before bed - and make sure your phone is on “Do Not Disturb” before you put it down for the evening.
Still struggling? Join our programme!
If you feel like you are struggling with your weight and need additional support, consider joining our Counterweight-Plus programme. Our programme offers:
- A Total Diet Replacement phase where you will have access to our soups and shakes to promote fast, long term weight loss
- A Food Reintroduction phase where you will work closely with a dietitian to implement sustainable changes to your eating and activity behaviours so that you can maintain your weight loss long term
- A Weight Maintenance phase where you will have ongoing support from a dietitian to assist you in implementing your new behaviours and dealing with challenges along the way
Research indicates that people who have this kind of support from a dietitian are more likely to be successful in losing weight and keeping it off⁵, and many of our customers report that the support and education that they received from their dietitian was invaluable. Our programme runs entirely remotely with consultations being conducted via phone or video call. This means that you can participate from the comfort and convenience of your own home with no delays due to the pandemic! To find out more about the Counterweight-Plus programme and how it can help you to achieve your weight loss and health goals, book a free phone call with one of our dietitians!
Key points to remember
- Make time to sit down for three satisfying and nutritious meals a day in a distraction free environment
- Stock your pantry with nutritious foods so that healthy options are at the ready when you do need to snack
- Make physical activity a priority in your daily routine. Find an activity that you enjoy and make time and space for it
- Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night
- Try to keep your bedroom as a work free zone and aim to switch off screens at least an hour before bed
- Structure and routine is important, but so is being kind to yourself. These are difficult times, and there will always be days when things don’t go as planned. Aiming to stick to your eating, sleep and activity routine around 80% of the time is still a great achievement and provides a strong foundation for long term change. Do what you can and give yourself flexibility to not be perfect- none of us are!
- Still struggling? Our team of dietitians are here to support you, click here to book a free information phone call today!
- Mandolesi, L., Polverino, A., Montuori, S., Foti, F., Ferraioli, G., Sorrentino, P., & Sorrentino, G. (2018). Effects of Physical Exercise on Cognitive Functioning and Wellbeing: Biological and Psychological Benefits. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 509. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00509
- Hamer, M., Stamatakis, E., & Steptoe, A. (2009). Dose-response relationship between physical activity and mental health: the Scottish Health Survey. British journal of sports medicine, 43(14), 1111-1114.
- Beccuti, G., & Pannain, S. (2011). Sleep and obesity. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 14(4), 402–412. https://doi.org/10.1097/MCO.0b013e3283479109
- Hirshkowitz, M., Whiton, K., Albert, S. M., Alessi, C., Bruni, O., DonCarlos, L., ... & Neubauer, D. N. (2015). National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep health, 1(1), 40-43.
- Hall, K. D., & Kahan, S. (2018). Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of Obesity. The Medical clinics of North America, 102(1), 183–197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mcna.2017.08.012