By November 5, 2012 Read More →

How to lose weight when you work from home

Have you put on weight since you started to work from home?

Work from Home Wisdom - how to lose weight when you work from homeRecently I wrote about the benefits of intermittent fasting when you work from home, both to lose weight and reduce the risk of serious disease.

Gardening blogger Michelle Chapman got in touch to tell me that having put on weight since she started to work from home, she has lost a stone through intermittent fasting much less painfully than any other diet she’s tried. I wanted to hear more:

Lots of people fear they will put on weight if they work from home because the kitchen is within such easy reach. What’s your view on that?
I’m the embodiment of that fear. I’ve been working from home for more than three years now and put on 2 stones during that time. And I wasn’t exactly svelte at the start either.

What do you think are the major food traps for people starting to work from home?
When you love your work it’s all too easy to get engrossed in what you’re doing and then reach for a very quick snack of the worst kind when your brain finally realises the rest of you is very hungry. For me it wasn’t just that though. When I commuted to work, I could easily build in exercise as part of my daily routine. It’s a 25 minute walk to the station in Chippenham, so I walked to catch my train every day. It was good exercise without having to think about it.

Have you found any ways to overcome them?

I give my husband the shopping list and he does the weekly shop on his way back from swimming training on a Saturday morning. Needless to say, I’ve taken off most of the bad foods on that list apart from the occasional treat. He’s much better than I am at not giving in to temptation when out shopping.

Do you ever get cravings, and if so, how do you deal with them?
Not really. I used to get more cravings when I worked in an office. That was because I was unhappy or stressed (often both) and it was all too easy to buy chocolate or crisps on the way home.

What have been the main benefits of intermittent fasting?
Since August I’ve lost a stone in weight and my mind is much sharper, especially on the fast days. I’ve lost count of the ‘talkings to’ I’ve given myself over the years about the need to lose the weight, but I couldn’t bear the thought of having to more or less permanently give up things I like to eat. For me, fasting works because I can tell myself I can have what I like the day after. I don’t usually, but it’s the ‘permission’ that I can which works for me.
I also have a history of alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease in the family, so the thought that I’m doing something about lessening the risks of those for myself is important. I also like that our weekly food bill is a lot cheaper!

If you were to advise a home worker to change one thing about their eating habits today, what would it be?
Choose something that is achievable and suits you, no matter what the ‘experts’ say you should do. It has to fit in with your lifestyle and mindset for it to work. It doesn’t have to be drastic like my solution might seem – for you one small step at a time might be easier to do. My husband started with eating an apple a day and that worked for him. My next goal is to get exercise into my daily routine again, so I do it without having to think about it.

Michelle is a freelance writer and copywriter, and writes mainly about gardening and vegetables, for the BBC and Guardian Gardening Blogs, amongst others. Her own blog is Veg Plotting, a handy read if you want to eat healthily. Michelle also provided the beautiful photo above of her apple harvest this year.

Photo credit: Michelle Chapman, Veg Plotting

Posted in: Food

12 Comments on "How to lose weight when you work from home"

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  1. Sharon says:

    Thanks for this Michelle, I am trying to eat better and, while I don’t work near my kitchen so am not as tempted, I sit on my backside a lot so need to watch my eating. And I do love chocolate, plus it’s mince pie season!

    It’s great to hear ‘real’ people discuss fasting as I know I’ve been advised to try it but not really had a good go. I’m going to make plans and try it for a month or so to see how it works 🙂

    • Judy says:

      So pleased you like the post, Sharon. Like you I prefer to hear real life experiences and Michelle is an inspiring example. I did the fasting for 8 weeks, lost a few pounds – enough to look and feel different – and then decided to give it a break. Glad I did, my body is definitely requiring more food and comfort food now it’s colder. I’m going to start again in the spring. You can’t fight nature and the seasons, at least I’m not prepared to 🙂

  2. My partner does it. I can’t as I rebel against not being able to eat very much. Having said that, I probably do it as I have my own set of rules.

    A decent breakfast is a must, no cereal for example as by 10am I’m wanting chocolate. I drink a lot throughout the day, only have tea and coffee during breaks and plan meals on a Sunday. I know if I start on the biscuits it’s because I haven’t been eating enough.

    Dates and figs are good as one or two are such a lovely sugar rush without a crash, and they’re so nutritious and high in fibre.

    PS. I can send clients a healthier baked motivation treat, if they don’t want a brownie 😉

  3. VP says:

    Hi Sharon – I’ve been surprised at how much the Horizon programme resonated with lots of people who are now trying it. You’re quite right in thinking about seeing how it goes over a month. The first day is definitely the worst and it gets much easier after that.

    Rosie – everyone I’ve spoken to manages their fast days in different ways. I’m definitely with you re having breakfast. I have a bowl of porridge with some of those pictured apples chopped up in it – they’re the equivalent of the dates and figs you mentioned 🙂 I find that takes me well past lunchtime. A couple of my friends who are doing it are the opposite – they like to save their calories for a really nice evening meal together. Others split the allowance down the middle and have 2 meals. It’s really up to you.

  4. Apologies for not changing my name when I commented above. VP is really me 😉

  5. I did the intermittent fasting diet after the Horizon programme.

    I did it for 4 weeks, and it was the first time I had ever dieted. I lost 5 lb, and nearly 2% body fat. I went from size 10-12 to size 8-10 I think the biggest benefits were it let me relearn how much food I actually needed. I actively now practice portion control. For example, I have had a very large lunch. But had a light breakfast and a snack for my evening meal.

    2 months since doing the ADF diet, I have lost another quarter of a stone, and another 2% body fat. I have done this by still actively practising portion control (but not depriving myself, just listening for when my brain says I am full). The extra body fat has been lost by starting a programme of exercise, above and beyond the 30 mins of brisk walking I do normally 5+ days a week. The extra exercise is either 30 mins of abs exercises or 30 mins of free weights, and I do this daily.

    • Judy says:

      That’s very impressive, Heather. We stopped the intermittent fasting after 8 weeks, which happened to coincide with a change in the weather and the days getting shorter. I soon noticed I was craving not only more food but comfort food, and I didn’t resist! However, we’re still eating very simple food like dahl and vegetable-based sauces at least twice a week and I was surprised that a friend I hadn’t seen for a few months commented last week I had lost weight. So I hope this simple eating regime will keep me trimmer than usual over the winter and then I intend to start the fasting again in the spring.
      I do the exercises Tim Ferriss recommends in The 4 Hour Body – they are very quick to do and amazing for keeping you toned.
      Good luck with your exercise and healthy eating over the winter!

      • I up the amount of food we eat when the clocks go back. We have a whole plate full of food, mostly vegetables. It tricks one’s brain into thinking you’ve stuffed yourself.

  6. Sharon says:

    Thanks for the link Helen, I read your blog over the weekend which was very helpful.

  7. Ryan Gibson says:

    Congratulations on the weight loss Michelle 🙂 Stunning progress.

    It’s strange though I have actually found that working from home has actually improved my diet and led me to be healthier, fitter and stronger. I can buy all the ‘right’ foods and due to the loss of commute I have time to prepare great food. Cook up a batch of brown rice to last a few days or make sure I have lean meats for Lunch.

    I think the best advice is to use your lunch break as an exercise ‘period’ and make sure you stick to it. You can make the hours up by not having to commute to work and sit in unnecessary meetings like you had to do when you were a corporate drone.

    Happy to offer advice where required?



  8. Heather – I’m definitely finding I ‘need’ smaller portion sizes now. Sounds like you’re doing well!

    Ryan – I started walking at lunch times in the New Year. I need to take it up again. My main sport is swimming and one of the company’s I work with is planning a major swimming challenge for charity next year. I’ll probably be joining in that as well 🙂