You’ve heard about the Freshman 15—the 15 pounds that creep on your freshman year from carb loading in the cafeteria, late pizza study nights and eating ice cream out of the carton watching TV. And don’t forget the all-night beer parties.
College isn’t the only pace for pigging out on bad food. If you’ve ever been in an office over the holidays, you know what it’s like to dodge plates of fudge, the cookie exchange and the department potluck with everyone’s favorite comfort food. On a regular day there’s donuts and bagels at the morning staff meeting, subs, sandwiches, chips and brownies in the box lunches, cookies and more brownies at the afternoon seminar break, and out with the gang for wings, beer and margarita’s after work. The break room fridge holds more than bottled water and fat free yogurt. And if you didn’t pack a lunch, there is always someone willing to go out for Chinese or Thai or burgers and fries.
It starts with the welcome party and keeps going until the farewell. Food is everywhere. How can you avoid packing on the pounds when your co-workers went to all that trouble to throw the party for your new baby or brought in a birthday cake that can feed a small country? Here are some tips to avoid packing on the New Hire 15.
1. Put a scale under your desk. If you’re trying to lose weight, step on the scale before you reach for the brownie or second piece of four-meat, extra cheese pizza. It will remind you of how much weight you need to lose or inspire you because you’ve been sticking to your diet and seeing some results.
2. Repeat a skinny mantra. When I was at Weight Watchers, the leader suggested we repeat the phrase “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels” when we were tempted to stray from the program. Or “A minute on the lips, a year on the hips” is another good one. Think up your own, and repeat it several times before you take a bite.
3. Who are you feeding? Is it the little boy or girl who couldn’t resist his mom’s chocolate chip cookies? Or the sad, lonely teenager who missed the prom and spent the night with her favorite dates, Ben and Jerry? Certain foods take us back to a happy place in life or fall into a past sad one. Be in the moment, and ask yourself if you really want that second hoagie.
4. Who are you pleasing? Sue brings in a treat every Friday and is insulted if you don’t take some. Or, everyone is having a piece of George’s retirement double fudge cake with caramel sauce and whipped cream. The people you think will be hurt if you don’t indulge really don’t care. You’re the one who will carry the burden of those extra calories and disappointment that you couldn’t stand your ground. Just politely say, “None for me, thank you.”
5. “Don’t Feed the _____.” Put a sign on your door or cubicle, or wear a name tag that says “Don’t feed the (your title).” Instead of fighting the food pushers, ask for their help.
6. Change direction. It’s tough to resist the bowl of M&M’s on the receptionist’s desk or the vending machines with all the delicious, trans-fat laden treats begging to be released from the glass cage. Take a different route as you navigate the workplace so you don’t have to pass by the temptations.
A few changes in behavior, routine and assertiveness will help keep you fit and trim. You may just start a new trend with less junk food and some healthy replacements.