Friday, September 05, 2008

Whittle While You Work

Eight easy ways to lighten your load at the office

It's not your imagination: Sitting at a desk all day really can make your rear end as wide as your swivel chair. In a recent survey by, 49 percent of office workers said they had gained weight at their current jobs, and 28 percent of those had piled on more than 10 pounds. Try these easy adjustments, so you can work 9 to 5 without gaining 10 to 20.

1. Stand and Deliver

James Levine, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic professor, found that we burn about 1,500 fewer calories per day than we did 150 years ago. That deficit could mean a 10-pound gain in one year. Chained to your desk? Get an adjustable-height work station so you can stand for part of the day. Your posture will improve, and you'll burn a third more calories. The average set up runs $350. (

2. Dial "C" for Calorie

Get a headset and walk while you take calls. "Use a pedometer to track how many steps you take," says Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer and physi­ologist for the American Council on Exercise. An extra 500 a day burns 25 extra calories--in a year, you could drop two pounds without changing your diet. Sure, coworkers might make fun of you. But you can laugh all the way to the beach.

3. Schedule Snacks

An American Dietetic Asso­ciation report found that 75 percent of workers eat lunch at their desks at least two to three times per week. But that kind of multitasking can lead to multi chins, so minimize mindless eating by booking snack appointments in your calendar. When an e-reminder pops up, step away from work and enjoy your food. If you're aware of what you eat when, you'll be less likely to nibble all day.

4. Lean to the Left

If you have an emergency stash of Combos, keep them in a left-hand desk drawer. Researchers at Dartmouth College found that we're more likely to reach for things to the right of our field of vision regardless of handedness. Even better, keep fruit on your desk in a prime right-hand spot so it will be an obvious snack choice.

5. Go Green

Fill your mug with green tea. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who drank oolong tea fortified with green tea extract every day for three months lost 2.4 more pounds than people who drank plain oolong tea. Catechins, antioxidants found in green tea, may stimulate the body to burn calories and decrease fat.

6. Put a Lid on It

Give your willpower an assist and keep candy in an opaque dish. A study by the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab found that workers dipped into chocolates 71 percent more often when they were in transparent containers. Or switch to hard candies: They're lower in calories than bonbons, and they last longer.

7. Smell Success

Break out the air freshener. A group of overweight people who inhaled sweet smells (green apple, peppermint, vanilla, or banana) when they were hungry lost an average of 30 pounds in six months. Alan Hirsch, M.D., neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, believes the scents suppressed rather than stimulated appetites. Can't stand room spray? Go au naturel: "Just having the smell of a green apple on your desk could suppress your hunger," Hirsch says.

8. Place Your Bets

Strike up a weight-loss competition with your cube mates. Researchers from Southeast Missouri State University asked office mates to split into teams for a 12-week diet program, with the winners awarded cash prizes. On average, participants lost eight pounds. Sometimes it pays to lose.

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