5 Ways to Navigate The Workplace While Trying To Lose Weight

Let’s face it. It isn’t easy to go to work when you’re trying to lose weight and change your eating habits.

You have finally committed to yourself to make the changes to get healthy. Over the weekend, you get into a roll of cooking at home and prepping your food for the week. Monday morning, you’re going to work feeling good because you’ve eaten a balanced breakfast and then…. You walk into work.

As soon as you arrive, three people tell you on your way to your desk that there are delicious donuts and coffee at X’s desk. OMG! You HAAAAAAVE to try one! By 10:00am everyone is talking about the special chocolates Y brought back from their trip to Europe. OMG! You HAAAAAAVE to try one! Guess what? You’re boss scheduled a working lunch and ordered pizza from the restaurant everyone LOVES. You haven’t even gotten through lunch and someone is already talking about the ice cream social your work is sponsoring that coming afternoon for some random company achievement.

Now, with all that temptation around you, I haven’t even gotten to your coworkers.

Let me tell you- Coworkers can be THE WORSE! IF you let them.

There was a time when I was working a job where I was at corporate headquarters for a marathon of meetings. The previous year, I had been training for bodybuilding competitions and following a strict diet. As a result, I was often traveling with my prepared food in Tupperware and off alcohol. I never made a big deal of it, but it’s hard to go unnoticed when you’re lugging around a gallon of water and a bag of food.

I was not training during that particular week of meetings. In fact, I was barely getting in any workouts and none-too-happy with my food intake the previous few months. I was feeling exhausted and teetering on burn out from too much travel for work. My group had been in meetings for four plus hours, with no breaks. My then Boss announced that we were going to have a working lunch and was ordering in, so we could continue to work uninterrupted. Awesome.

When the food arrived, it was pizza. No salads. Just pizza, soda, and a few waters. As my Boss went up to get the first piece, he slowly turned around-

“I didn’t even think of it. Annick, are you going to be able to eat this?”

The room was silent. At this point, my blood sugar was low because I hadn’t eaten in hours, I was beyond exhausted, and completely unprepared for the long day. The last thing I wanted to think about was what food I was going to eat. I just wanted some food in my belly. I didn’t care what it was. I didn’t care if it was going to leave me even more tired or bloated. I just wanted to eat right nooooow! My response was-

“Yeah, it’s no problem.”

Collective sigh of relief from the room. What did they think I was going to do? Jump up in protest, shaking my health fists, preaching the evils of pizza?!

“WOW,… it’s so nice to see you eating normal food. I mean, not that there is a problem with the way you eat…”

Eruption of mass laughter and then the peanut gallery chimes in-

“Yeah, Annick! It’s about time you eat some real food!”

“Yeah, what’s up with all that green stuff you eat. LAAAAAME!”

(mimicking me) “Oh where’s my gallon? I need some water. Quick, get me a protein bar! Let’s walk instead of taking the car. It’ll be fun!”

This goes on and on with hysterical laughter. The last big hit was-

“You know Annick, you’re a lot more fun when you drink!!!”

Well, Guys… Tell me what you really think!!! No, no,… don’t hold back! This is exactly what I wanted to hear today. Thank you for your input. I’m sure I’ll ask for it again…

Don’t get me wrong; while annoyed for many reasons, I was right there laughing with them. I lot of what they said was funny! I can see how my choices might look from the outside. As someone who had studied health for a while, and especially the mindset around this, I was much more interested in their response to my lifestyle than being offended. As we all know, there is a grain of truth behind every joke. In the end, their viewpoint of me has nothing to do with me. It has all to do with what they are dealing with in their lives and how they view their eating habits.

As for the last comment about being more fun when I drink? It came from a twenty-something who spends most nights partying. No judgment. That is what most twenty-somethings do. Of course their thought was- how could you have fun if you weren’t drinking??? In my own twenties, I would have been really bothered by that comment because- I like having fun, being part of the fun, and having people think I’m fun! As I have gotten older, I know I can have and be fun ANYTIME whether I’m drinking or not, because that is how I ROOOOOLLLL!!!

The thing is, you can’t control your coworkers. The workplace has a lot of different personalities running around. There is always some type of drama being stirred up. Someone always has an agenda. Things change. People say stupid stuff.

What you do have control of is yourself and how you react to your coworkers.

There is so much socially tied to food.

Coworkers are going to see you and want you to join them in the BBQ feast. They’ll entice you with cookies, cake, and candy. They will try to make you feel bad for trying to eat well. They’ll tell you how much you suck and how much better you’ll be after you eat or drink with them. People don’t like change and they especially don’t like to see it when they themselves feel stuck. You see, misery loves company.

How do you navigate the workplace while you’re trying to lose weight?

Here are five steps to get you started.

#1. Be Prepared

  • Bring your food to work. Make sure you have a healthy mid morning and late afternoon snack with you. You are less likely to make bad food decisions if you aren’t all out famished at lunch and dinner.

#2. Eat Breakfast At Home

  • No eating in the car on your way in! Besides the inevitable shirt stains, you eat too quickly and will be too distracted to know if you’re over eating. If you wait until you get to work, you’ll either skip breakfast or be so hungry you dive head first into the bagels and cream cheese.

#3. Always Have Water With You

  • Carry a liter size refillable bottle of water to every meeting you go to and keep it on your desk, in sight. Aim to refill the bottle three times a day. Water will keep you hydrated, feeling full, and make you get up to go to the bathroom. Yes! This is a good thing. It makes you take breaks. It’s a great excuse to get up from a boring meeting and leave the room for a breather. It also keeps you from hitting the coffee pot for energy.

#4. Practice Saying “No”

  • A lot of people give into the peer pressure because they feel bad that they’re disappointing someone or want to be liked. They will say yes to going out to the grease fest lunch because they don’t want to make someone feel bad that the person wants to go or their friendship has always revolved around going to greasy places to eat. Does a decision like that help you reach your goals??? If this person is a true friend, they will want to help you succeed. If you are a people pleaser, this will be the hardest part of your diet. I assure you, practice this and it will come with great personal growth.

#5. Choose Yourself

  • You have committed to changing your life. You have made the decision to lose weight and get fit. You have done your research, worked hard, and are seeing results. Is it worth losing all of that to give into the monetary delight of eating candy a coworker has pushed onto you? Why would you let someone who is NOT invested in YOU, dictate what you should do? When you say yes to something at work that you immediately hate yourself for doing, you lose. I know it’s easy for me to say- Who cares what they think! I do know that in those moments that you give into peer pressure, you give up your strength. Only you know what makes you feel good and what doesn’t. No one can tell you what that is. In the moments that you can say- No, thank you- even if someone gives you crap, on a certain level they respect you. The ONLY person you can control is yourself. YOU have the choice to interpret the situation as either negative or positive. When you learn to choose yourself, you gain an inner strength that will lead you to be more successful in life and in the workplace.

Let me know how you navigate the workplace and which steps work for you, in the comments below.

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A bientôt,

Annick