The only thing that should be fat on your job is your paycheck.
There is a “huge” worldwide obesity problem. While fads and quick-fix diets abound, they fail to address an important question in weight gain today: is your job making you fat? The answer is “Yes.”
This bold assertion is based on a great deal of global research that continues to confirm a compelling relationship between working and weight gain. The powerful link between the workplace and the waistline is due to numerous factors, including the sedentary nature of today’s jobs, the onslaught of unhealthy foods that are constantly foisted upon employees, higher levels of job stress, longer and more demanding work hours, peer pressure, new and unconventional jobs, and even more. Put it all together and you have the perfect storm for weight gain.
Is Your Job Making You Fat? not only identifies and analyzes all of the central sources of weight gain associated with work, but also provides highly effective steps to control this ever-expanding problem and help you lose weight. Authors Ken and Stacey Lloyd offer a new approach where you apply your businesslike mindset and skill-set to weight management. After all, at work, you have a plan that includes objectives, benchmark dates, strategies, priorities, deadlines, and measurable results. This book shows you how to use this same methodology to take charge of your weight.
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About the Author
Ken Lloyd, PhD is a nationally-recognized management consultant, author, speaker, and newspaper columnist.
Stacey Laura Lloyd is an author and social media consultant.
Read an Excerpt
Is Your Job Making You Fat
By Ken Lloyd, Stacey Laura Lloyd
Skyhorse PublishingCopyright © 2016 Skyhorse Publishing
All rights reserved.
The Corporate Foodscape
If you look around most workplaces today, you're likely to find a vast array of food that's strategically spread out from one end of a company to the other, all tempting the taste buds of unsuspecting staffers who can't help but grab a bit of this, a bite of that, a handful of those, and a plate of something else. Foods of every heart-stopping variety line the hallways, break rooms, coffee stations, coffee tables, end tables, and desks, enticing each passerby with tantalizing morsels of fat and calories. And there's no need for a special event, milestone, or accomplishment for the food to flow across organizations. The food just appears all over the place, in portions ranging from small to large. Employees readily indulge, only to find that they too have morphed from small to large.
Interestingly, one of the more common terms used across many different organizations is "cube farm," an expression that quaintly describes the acres of cubicles that now populate many corporate landscapes. While use of the word "cube" is indeed an accurate depiction of the shape of each inhabitant's habitat, the idea of a "farm" is even more telling. The reason why today's workplaces are veritable farms is that employees are constantly pigging out on more varieties of crops and crap than one could ever imagine.
THE HANDY CANDY BOWL
While employees may or may not know much about locating some fairly important destinations in their workplace, such as the lost-and-found, the nearest exit, the defibrillator, or the fire extinguishers, they all know the precise locations of every bowl of candy. Once you're in their vicinity, they're impossible to miss. The bowls are brimming with colorful delights, striking a stark and eye-catching contrast with the mundane items surrounding them. And once these caloric containers have set their roots into the workplace, it doesn't take long for them to multiply like sugar- flavored rabbits and spread across the entire company.
You walk up to the front desk, and there's a candy bowl. You stop by the coffee station, and there's another. You step into your manager's office, and there's one on her desk. And while walking around may be good for you, the junk you ingest will quickly render all of those footsteps useless. The candy contents of these bowls stick to a common theme, as well as to your fingers and later to your thighs. The treats may be mini-sized, but they'll make you anything but.
The evolution of the candy bowl in most organizations starts out innocently enough. Typically, an HR staffer or manager thinks it would be sweet to have a candy bowl in the reception area, perhaps as a way to send an inviting message to visitors. For those employees who prefer to grab a handful of candy instead of dropping eighty-five cents in the vending machine down the hall, this kind of dispensary is a nice little perk. Speaking of perks, many employees will readily devour these sugary offerings because of a deep-seated belief that such consumption will perk them up and keep them energized throughout the day. Instead of dispensing candy, it's time to dispense with that myth right now. Yes, sugar can give you a brief rush of energy. However, this is soon followed by what nutritionists refer to as a "sugar crash," as sleepiness along with markedly delayed reflexes and reactions set in. Sugar's burst of energy is a bust.
Is there a candy bowl at the front desk in your company? How about at your workstation? Many managers place a bowl on their desk in order to send a message of friendliness, collaboration, and accessibility to the employees who enter their lair. For some managers, the hope is that the candy bowl will increase employee visits, while also encouraging these employees to like the managers themselves. However, if you're a manager and this is part of your strategy to build positive attitudes toward you, here's a cheery thought — research has found that managers who place an emphasis on being liked actually tend to be viewed as weak, marginally competent, dependent, and insecure. Employees would rather have managers who know their stuff, rather than managers who stuff their employees. Treating employees with respect and trust will go a lot further than treating them with treats.
It's not surprising that candy bowls that are strategically located throughout an organization have also become today's water coolers. They're magnetic congregating venues where employees stop by to chitchat and literally chew the fat. One key problem is that it's extremely difficult for even the most determined, disciplined, and diet-devoted employee to refrain from partaking when chatting with chomping coworkers at this modern day cracker barrel. After all, if you just stand there and watch your peers munch and crunch, you're likely to feel out of place, sense discomfort, and even submit yourself to some less-than-saccharine ridicule.
Succumbing to Sugar
What happens if you decide to take one little, tiny taste? You'll probably end up taking one more. And then another ... and another ... and another. How many times has this happened to you? The candy is practically addicting. It affects the pleasure pathways in your brain, and it's difficult to stop eating it once you start. In fact, many researchers contend that sugar is an addictive drug just like tobacco and alcohol. That's no sweet deal.
PUTTING THE KIBOSH ON THE CANDY BOWL
Before the candy bowl puts the bite on you, or vice versa, the key foundational concept is to approach this situation and the entire issue of weight gain on the job by establishing weight loss goals. The idea is to apply the same business mindset and skills that you use in goal-setting for any other major project at work. And this means setting real goals — not fools' goals. While it may sound convincing to say that your goal is to lose weight or even indicate that you want to lose a specific number of pounds, such statements are not goals. Rather, they're wishes and dreams. While it's nice to have them, they're not going to get you where you want to be. For goals to be effective, they need to be clear, specific, measurable, realistic, and backed up with an action plan that spells out how you're going to achieve them. This plan should include monitoring your performance along the way, benchmark dates and deadlines, strategies for making course corrections as needed, steps for accessing needed resources, and techniques for measuring how you've done. When you set objectives in the weight-loss arena — arguably the most important arena in your life — it's serious business that calls for goal-setting strategies suitable for your most serious business projects.
In supporting your efforts to get to your goal, there are several steps you can take in dealing with the candy bowl to put the lid on this matter. In the first place, the bowls don't need to be terminated — it's just their candy contents that need to be fired. One strategy is to speak with whoever replenishes these canisters and suggest a change to more figure-friendly offerings. This means taking out the sugary and fatty trash and putting in snacks that are appealing to your palate, but far less appalling to your waistline, cholesterol count, blood sugar, and caloric intake. Such offerings include low-calorie packs of dried fruits and nuts as well as low-calorie bars. All it takes to introduce them into your organization is a quick online search followed by a short email to the person filling the bowls in your company. But if you encounter resistance from your candy-committed coworkers, there are also sugar-free candies that make a tasty compromise.
At the same time, take a closer look at the contents of the candy bowl, specifically in terms of unpackaged items. Some companies offer treats that are devoid of any wrappers at all, and there's usually a spoon or ladle for dipping in and digging out a serving. However, you obviously know that when no one is looking, some of your associates are just sticking their fingers right in the bowl and pulling out a handful of sweets, quickly tossing their quarry into their mouths, perhaps licking a finger or two, and diving in again for a second helping. In the process, the only pieces they leave behind are the families of bacteria that ride on their fingers. The next time you're tempted to pick up the ladle and take out a spoonful of those unwrapped delicacies, just remember that you're not really dealing with a candy bowl. Rather, it's a finger bowl. And if children happen to visit your workplace and want a little treat, how many are going to use the ladle? How many even know what a ladle is? When kiddies are taking goodies out of the candy bowl, it becomes more like a dish — a Petri dish.
Looks Can Be Deceiving
However, even if the contents are wrapped, and even if they appear to be on the healthier side, that doesn't mean that you should instantly ingest. Rather, your next step is to take a second and more detailed look at whatever the offerings may be and determine how they align with your weight loss objectives — especially in terms of calories, carbohydrates, sugar, and fat. That way, you can grab an item from the candy bowl if you truly want it without abandoning your goals. Just like projects on the job, you'd monitor your progress and make sure that you're gathering all of the information you need along the way. And whether it's managing your work or your weight, some of the most powerful strategies today are technology based. Consider your smartphone your new dining advisor. There are apps that help you track your food and exercise as well as give you personalized information on how many calories to take in per day to help you manage your weight. There are also apps that let you scan the bar code of items in order to see the nutritional information and rating for a specific food. Spoiler alert — sometimes after reading the ingredients and seeing the garbage that many foods contain, you may lose your appetite altogether.
Want another way to survive the candy bowl blues? Listen to your gut reaction. You're always able and allowed to have a piece of candy, so these foods don't have to seem so exciting and forbidden. If your grumbling stomach is leading you to the bowl of chocolates like a voracious vulture, predetermine the item or amount you'll be taking before you get there. You'll be surprised that when you slow down, pay attention to your hunger, and stick to your planned allocation, you'll have much more control and restraint in making your selection.
Interestingly from the standpoint of listening to your stomach, research has consistently proven that many great decisions in business are made on the basis of gut feel. Use your viscera to enhance your judgment and not your waistline.
Since the candy bowls often morph into social centers that include ingesting whatever the offerings may be, another approach is to find other venues in your organization that are free of edibles but can serve as meeting places. If you get together with colleagues in an area that's void of food, the odds of seeking out a snack diminish significantly. From the standpoint of thinking outside of the box — of candy — such a meeting place could be the parking lot or hallways where you and your associates can take a brief walk while catching up on the latest news. Instead of consuming calories, you'll be burning them. Instead of engorging your body, you'll be toning it. Instead of chewing junk, you'll be eschewing it.
There are further preemptive steps that you can take to prevent the ballooning problems that emanate from the infamous bowl. One way to help yourself refrain from engaging in a candy bowl binge is to write a contract with yourself. Research has found that this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to introduce a behavioral change, break a habit, and improve performance on the job. Similarly, these contracts can be equally efficacious in helping you control your weight. And they can be even more powerful if you write them out by hand. A contract can be as basic as, "I won't eat any more of the free candy that's provided. If I want candy, I'm going to buy it." Doing some actual writing engages different muscles and brain activity when compared with punching out a few words on your keyboard. As a result, these actions have an increased likelihood of sticking with you and impacting your future behavior.
Also, by committing to buy such foods with your own money rather than consuming them because they're free, you're engaging in two additional strategies that help curtail this self-destructive behavior. First, there's some pain associated with spending money when you know you can obtain the offerings at no cost. By committing to only acquire candy by expending your personal funds, you're associating the painful activity of spending your own money with the acquisition of the candy, and that can help you refrain from making the purchase. On a more subtle level, eating this type of junk is literally and figuratively going to cost you. That little message can also help introduce more restraint into your thinking. Instead of a candy bowl on your desk, keep a money bowl and deposit your unused vending machine change in there. By the end of the month or months, you can see how much you saved not only in cash, but in calories as well. Plus, you can take this money and use it to buy something that helps your body instead of harms it — such as an article of clothing in a smaller size.
And speaking of contracts, there are even websites that en-able you to take this concept to the next level by engaging your friends and relatives to support you. On some of these websites, you can establish work-related contracts that focus on streamlining various aspects of your job, meeting a particular sales goal, or gaining an additional certification in your area of expertise. Similarly, you can make weight-related contracts that focus on exercising daily, refraining from eating out of the candy bowl, or obtaining specific weight-loss results.
If you're thinking about having a candy bowl on your desk, regardless of its contents, here's an idea. Don't! If it's on your desk, it's within arm's reach — and guess who's going to be doing most of the eating? Plus, if you're working while sticking your hand into a bowl of food throughout the day, it's almost impossible to keep track of how much you're actually eating. You don't need food of any kind to be constantly staring at you in the face, daring you to resist the seductively sweet or savory goodness that's just one bite away. Besides, if this tub of temptation weren't on your desk, you wouldn't necessarily be having this mental joust in the first place. By keeping these containers of candy at a distance, the desire to indulge will drop — and your weight is more likely to follow suit.
COUNTERS FILLED WITH CRAP
In addition to the countless candy bowls strewn from one corner table of an organization to the other, there are also baked, boiled, broiled, steamed, stewed, and deep-fried concoctions engaged in heated or unheated competition with them. As in the case of candy bowls, these offerings celebrate nothing. Not a birthday. Not an achievement. Not a landmark. Not a special event. Rather, they simply appear. And then they simply disappear, but not from your waistline.
One of the most popular items put out for employees is the platter of bagels. A bagel may look harmless, but don't be fooled. The fact that bagels are shaped like zeros says it all, and yet their calories and carb count are anything but zero. A bagel is essentially four pieces of bread — bread that's low in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It typically contains at least fifty grams of carbohydrates, and as soon as they hit your system, they quickly morph into their evil twin — sugar. And here's the topper. When employees select a topping for their bagel, they usually smear even more fat and calories by adding cream cheese or butter. Then, as if this concoction isn't sufficiently damaging to the waistline, the final ingredient, jelly, gets slopped on top — adding at least fifty more calories and ten more grams of carbohydrates, and that's if you only add a tablespoon. But, be serious. Can you even measure a tablespoon- sized serving of this sugar-gel with a knife? So you simply slop on an amount that looks right to you. But take a real good look at the round and doughy shape of a bagel. The more you consume, the more bagel-like you'll become. You are what you eat.
Excerpted from Is Your Job Making You Fat by Ken Lloyd, Stacey Laura Lloyd. Copyright © 2016 Skyhorse Publishing. Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
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