You might have noticed that since you started your new job, you've gained a few pounds--but why? You're still eating the same and you're still going to the gym for a quick workout. What gives?
Don't worry: you're not alone.
In a 2013 Harris Interactive survey of more than 3,000 workers conducted for CareerBuilder, 41% of respondents said they’d gained weight in their current jobs, Yahoo! Health reports. Those who spent the majority of their day at a desk (like assistants) or who experienced high levels of stress (like engineers) were found to have gained more weight than those who did not.
Overall, however, there are a lot of reasons you may be gaining weight. “It really has to do with diet, physical activity, and behavior,” says Katherine Tryon, a medical doctor with the Vitality Institute, a global research organization based New York City.
Here are some of the ways your job might me making you gain extra weight.
1. Hours of sitting.
Are you sitting too much? Hours of sitting everyday can have a really negative effect on your overall fitness level. Interestingly, however, while it's true that those who stand or walk throughout their work day burn more calories and thus weight less on average, researchers have been unable to find a direct connection between inactivity and obesity rates.
2. Your long commute.
The average American spends about 25.4 minutes commuting to work and then again to get home, according to the US Census Bureau, and the American Community Survey shows that 86 percent of workers commute by car. One 2014 study in the British Medical Journal found that those who took public transportation, rode their bike, or walked to work had lower BMIs than those who drove their car. “Businesses need to think about ways to turn commuting into a healthy activity, like offering bike racks and showers to their employees,” says Dr. Tryon.
3. On-the-job stress.
If you find that you are incredibly stressed in your new job, it might be the biggest contributor to your waistline. "High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can trigger fat and sugar cravings, and can also cause the body to hang onto fat and store it around the midsection. And a 2014 German study found that work-related stress is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes," Yahoo! Health reports.
4. Staying up late.
If you find that you're staying up way too late or are unable to sleep, this could severely effect your performance as well as your waistline. A recent study found that those who got four hours of sleep a night for five nights reached for extra food (and high-calorie foods) in order to compensate.
5. Your lunch options.
If you find that you have little to no time to make yourself a salad to bring to work, you might end up walking over to Burger King for lunch--this is another big no-no in weight loss. Always bring your lunch--it will ensure that you are getting the right amount of nutrition and calories. Not to mention, it's cheaper! Try these salads-in-a-jar for lunch!
6. Your coworker's eating habits.
Surprisingly, how your coworkers eat could effect how you eat. A review study published in 2014 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that people tend to conform to the "eating norms" in social settings. In other words, if your coworker grabbed a nice juicy burger on his way back from lunch, you're more likely to do the same. "This makes sense, especially in a work setting," says Largeman-Roth. “You want to fit in—no one wants to be known as the girl who only eats tofu or drinks green smoothies, so you go along with the crowd even if it’s not what you’d normally order,” she says.
7. Constant office parties.
"It's a party, why can't I have that extra slice of pizza?" If you find yourself saying this every time you have an office party--and they have a lot of office parties--you definitely might gain some unexpected weight. "Employers may see these events as fun perks that boost company morale, so it can be quite controversial to suggest that they may not be so good for their health," says Dr. Tryon. "The challenge here is in finding ways to celebrate and reward workers that doesn’t necessarily involve forcing sugary foods on them."
8. Lack of sunlight.
If you find that you work in a cubicle far away from the window, you might not see a lot of sunlight throughout the day. This can cause some serious problems if you're trying to lose weight! A 2014 study from Northwestern University found that exposure to the sun was associated with BMI, and that "getting bright light in the morning hours seemed to have a slimming effect." The study authors explain that light helps to regulate circadian rhythms, which in turn regulate energy balance and expenditure. Try getting at least 20 minutes of sunlight between 8 a.m. and noon each day to reap the slimming effects of the sun!
9. Distracted eating.
Eating at your desk everyday will not only drive you crazy (you need to get up and walk around, after all!), but it can also cause some serious weight gain. “You’re multitasking—answering emails, making phone calls, doing online shopping—and you’re not focusing on the enjoyment or the fulfillment of your food,” says Largeman-Roth. “And an hour later, you’ve almost forgotten you ate lunch and you’re already grabbing something else, not realizing you just had a full meal.”
10. Your electronics.
This is also true outside of the office: those that are glued to their cell phone screens tend to have increased rates of sedentary behavior, which can in turn lead to unwanted weight gain. A 2013 study from Kent State University found that people who used their cell phones most often were also more likely to skip the gym or other physical activities.
What do you think about this? Let us know your thoughts and reactions in the comments!
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