Smartphones, laptops, and Wi-Fi allow many Americans to work from home. In fact, some estimate that nearly 3 million professionals never step a foot in the office, and at least 54% of them feel happier as a result. This is because telecommuters can enjoy a more flexible schedule, which enables them to spend more time with family and cut commuting costs.
However, working an at-home job has its setbacks.
As a parent, you might face constant interruptions from young children, all of whom demand your immediate and complete attention. Perhaps you feel the urge to work in your pajamas all day and procrastinate your assignments until the wee hours of the night. Or maybe you finally finished your latest batch of projects, and you reward yourself with food and TV binging.
And all of these setbacks can make it difficult for you to lose weight.
But before you throw in the towel and sign up for a new office job, try these simple changes. You'll be surprised at how much healthier and more productive you'll become.
1. Set an Exercise Schedule and Stick to It
When working from home, you might revel in your schedule's flexibility. If you have a late night with friends, you can sleep in the next morning and wait to type up that latest report until the late afternoon. Or if your favorite show premiers in the evening, you might postpone your usual workout for a few minutes of TV drama.
While this works just fine every once in a while, you might have better success sticking to a strict schedule. Start by setting an alarm, putting on your sneakers, and going for a morning run before you ever boot up your laptop or check your emails.
According to Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist of the American Council on Exercise, "morning exercisers tend to stick with their exercise habit." This schedule allows you to exercise before other distractions interrupt you.
2. Separate Work from Home Life
If you're like many telecommuters, you might overwork. You don't have to worry about a commute, so you can start your workday earlier. And since you don't have co-workers inviting you to lunch, you might work through the day without stopping for a break.
While this intensive schedule may help you feel productive, it can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. The mindless snacking at your desk can pack on the pounds, and the stress can make it difficult to sleep at night.
Rather than working from your bed or your couch, set aside a space in your home that you can designate as an office. Determine which hours you will work, use a timer to track these hours, and then close up shop at the end of the day.
As you set up this office space, consider investing in equipment that will improve your posture and encourage movement. Sitting on an exercise ball, working at a standing desk, or trying a treadmill desk can help you burn a few extra calories as you work.
3. Plan Your Meals and Snacks Carefully
When you work from home, you have immediate access to a fridge full of food. If you feel bored or peckish, you can simply walk a few feet to your pantry and grab a snack. If you feel lonely, you might call up your friend and go out to lunch, simply because you miss the human interaction that an office job once offered.
To keep your calories (and your waistline) in check, stock your fridge and pantry with healthy foods. Rather than eating out of the box or bag, set aside a small portion that you can bring with you to your desk.
If you feel tempted to raid the fridge, pack yourself a lunch the night before, as you would with an in-office job. If you need social interaction, pack up your laptop and head to your local café, coffee shop, or book store that offers a free Wi-Fi. This relocation can give you a good dose of social time while taking you away from the fridge.
4. Build Personal Relationships
Many telecommuters feel lonely without co-workers to help blow off steam. This loneliness can lead to unhealthy habits such as overeating and oversleeping, and if left unchecked, depression.
As you work from home, don't neglect your personal relationships with friends, family, and even clients. Take the time to schedule face-to-face meetings with people, and Skype those who live too far away to see you.
If you know another at-home friend, create a buddy system to keep each other on track. Exercise together during your lunch breaks, or call each other whenever you feel particularly stressed about an assignment.
Need Additional Help?
While these tips can help you keep track of your exercise and eating habits at home, you might still struggle to lose weight. If you find yourself packing on pounds despite your best efforts, talk to the professionals at a weight loss clinic to help you design a program that works with your current schedule.