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August 29, 2023

Practical Ways to Lose Weight Working from Home 

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How to Lose Weight Working from Home

We know that staying active is good for our health in so many ways, from keeping our weight in a healthy range and cardiovascular health to immunity and mental health. The World Health Organization recommends 150-300 minutes of physical activity a week to maintain general health and prevent weight gain. Some organizations recommend at least 420 minutes of activity to lose weight and prevent weight regain. In an era where remote work has become the norm, the boundary between personal and professional life has blurred like never before. As we settle into the comfort of our home offices, the convenience of telecommuting brings with it a unique set of challenges, particularly when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. However, it’s important to recognize that working from home doesn’t have to be synonymous with weight gain. By implementing mindful strategies and making intentional choices, you can turn your home office into a hub of holistic well-being. In this article, we’ll explore a range of effective and practical ways to shed those extra pounds and cultivate a healthier lifestyle while embracing the work-from-home ethos.

How Physical Activity Can Lead to Weight Loss

Engaging in regular physical activity is a cornerstone of successful weight loss, offering a multifaceted approach that extends beyond simply burning calories. When you engage in exercises like cardio workouts, strength training, or even low-impact activities like yoga, your energy expenditure increases, leading to a calorie deficit that promotes weight loss. Moreover, consistent physical activity boosts metabolism, enhancing the body’s ability to burn calories even when at rest. Beyond its immediate effects, exercise also contributes to the development of lean muscle mass, which further elevates metabolic rate and aids in weight management. Additionally, physical activity helps regulate hormones that govern appetite and satiety, potentially curbing overeating tendencies.

Maintaining a healthy weight is important regardless of where you work, but it can be particularly challenging when working from home due to various factors. Here are some reasons why maintaining a healthy weight is especially important while working from home:

  • Reduced Physical Activity: When you work from home, you might not be moving around as much as you would in a traditional office setting. The lack of a commute, walking to meetings, and other daily activities can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle, which in turn can contribute to weight gain.
  • Proximity to Food: Working from home can provide easy access to the kitchen and snacks throughout the day. This can lead to mindless eating and grazing, which can contribute to consuming more calories than you burn.
  • Altered Routine: The lack of a structured workday and the freedom to set your own schedule might lead to irregular eating patterns. Skipping meals or eating at irregular times can impact your metabolism and hunger cues.
  • Stress and Emotional Eating: Remote work can come with its own set of stressors, such as increased workload, technical issues, or isolation. Stress and emotions can lead to emotional eating or reaching for comfort foods, which are often high in calories and low in nutritional value.
  • Limited Social Interaction: The lack of social interactions that you would have in a workplace setting can lead to feelings of isolation and boredom. These emotions can sometimes trigger eating as a way to cope.
  • Lack of Accountability: When you’re working from home, there might be less external accountability for your habits and behaviors. You might be less conscious of making healthy choices when there’s no one around to observe.
  • Inconsistent Exercise Routine: Access to gym facilities might be limited, and the motivation to exercise at home could be lower. This can result in reduced physical activity.

7 Ways to Stay Physically Active at Home

Staying physically active while working from home requires a conscious effort to integrate movement into your daily routine. To maintain a healthy weight while working from home, consider implementing these strategies:

  1. While working at home, pace while on phone calls or use a standing desk to complete emails and other work on the computer.
  2. Consider getting a pair of hand weights and doing simple toning exercises while talking on the phone or reading for work.
  3. Take movement breaks throughout the day. It may be helpful to set an alarm on your phone or computer reminding you to take a movement break that might include doing a few simple stretches or something more rigorous like a set of push-ups or sit-ups. If it is nice outside, and local social distancing guidelines allow for it, take a walk around the neighborhood, taking care to maintain a 6-foot distance from others. Taking a short walk outdoors will get some movement in your day and break up your workday with a true break which may increase your productivity. A walk at the end of your work day could substitute for your typical commute, help clear your mind, and let you transition into non-work mode. If multiple people are working or educating from home this can also act as a time to reconnect with your family and discuss the day, as could a walk after dinner.
  4. If you are helping to educate your child at home, remember to give them recess throughout the day and take the opportunity to move yourself as well. You could put on music and dance with your child, play Twister, go outside and play a game, play catch, or lead them through some calisthenics. Use those active video games that they have at home to shake things up. These active breaks will help your child get out some pent-up energy, stay physically healthy, and refresh both of your focus to continue the academic work.
  5. If you have a pet, this is also a great time to get outside with them and take a walk or even throw the ball around the backyard. They will be grateful for the time outside with you. Remember, many household chores are naturally active in nature, so make vacuuming, dusting, and yard maintenance work for you. Making more intentional and vigorous movements could be helpful — try doing lunges when vacuuming or sweeping. Consider washing the car by hand, doing your own landscaping, and using a push lawn mower rather than a power mower. If you are looking for intentional exercise you can still exercise outside by bike riding, inline skating, walking, running, playing tennis (just be careful not to touch your face after touching the ball), and hiking, as allowed by local guidelines.
  6. Many online websites and apps are offering free workouts, as are many gyms in support of their patrons. You can also find workouts on Amazon Prime that include cardiovascular workouts, strength training, and mind-body workouts like yoga. If you have weights at home, you could find an online routine to follow while watching TV or a movie. If you don’t have weights, you could use items from around the house as substitutes, common options include bottles of water, canned food, and hardback books. Additionally, you can do bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, planks, and push-ups.
  7. Consider using a standing desk or improvising one with a high table or stacked books. Alternating between sitting and standing can reduce sedentary time.

Remember that consistency is key. Remember to find activities you enjoy and mix them up to prevent boredom. Ultimately, the goal is to create a balanced routine that supports work productivity and physical health.

Set Physical Activity Goals While Working from Home

Your mindset will be the most important thing to maintain during this time. Setting physical activity goals for the day may be helpful. Sharing those goals with someone else may help increase accountability for both of you and give some much-needed social connection. This may be a time to join an online group or create a group with your friends and challenge and support each other to meet activity goals. It may be frustrating that you can’t do your normal exercise routine at the gym or take your favorite group fitness class, but you can shift your perspective and look at this as a time to explore new activities such as online dance cardio classes, yoga or even an outdoor activity like hiking. You may just find something that you really enjoy and want to incorporate into your routine even after our days of social distancing are over.

Healthy Diet Tips for Working from Home

Diet can also play a significant role in helping people lose weight while working from home. The convenience of being at home can make it easier to control your food environment and make mindful choices.

The importance of drinking enough water:

Staying hydrated by drinking water is crucial for effective weight loss while working from home. Adequate water intake not only supports mental clarity and focus but it also sustains energy levels, regulates appetite, and promotes overall well-being, enabling you to navigate your remote tasks with efficiency and vitality. Proper hydration supports metabolism, reduces the risk of mistaking thirst for hunger, and helps control appetite, ensuring that you make mindful food choices and maintain the energy needed for physical activity throughout the day.

Foods that remote workers should include in their diet

Remote workers aiming for weight loss should prioritize nutrient-dense foods in their diet. Incorporating lean proteins like chicken, fish, and legumes, along with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats such as avocados and nuts, can provide sustained energy, promote fullness, and support metabolism, helping them achieve their weight loss goals effectively while working from home.

When and where people should eat while working from home

While working from home and aiming for weight loss, it’s important to establish regular meal times and designated eating spaces. Plan to eat meals and snacks on a consistent schedule to avoid impulsive eating. Create a designated eating area away from your workspace to minimize distractions, allowing you to focus on mindful eating and better recognize hunger and fullness cues.

Snacking while working from home

Having healthier snack options readily available at home encourages you to make nutritious choices between meals. Smart snacking can prevent energy crashes, keep hunger at bay, and support a steady weight loss journey.

Maintaining an active lifestyle while working from home is not only achievable but essential for our overall well-being. By embracing a range of strategies, from incorporating short movement breaks and home workouts to practicing mindfulness and choosing active alternatives, we can counteract the sedentary nature of remote work. Our health, productivity, and mental clarity all benefit when we prioritize physical activity.

Physical activity, nutrition, and behavior are three of OMA’s four pillars. Learn more about the four pillars of obesity management and treatment.

Article written by:

Headshot of Nicole Garber, MD wearing a blue shirt with fall trees in the background

Nicole Garber, MD

Nicole Garber, MD completed her general psychiatric residency at Emory School of Medicine and her child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine. She is double board certified. In addition, she has completed advanced training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), psychodynamic therapy, mentalization-based therapy, and Acceptance Commitment Therapy.

She began her career at the Menninger Clinic, where in addition to being a psychiatrist on a unit for young adults where she provided comprehensive treatment, she also developed the adolescent eating disorder track. She is the former chief of the pediatric and adolescent eating disorder program at Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders. She is currently the Chief of Psychiatry at The Meadows Ranch.