Could your job be making you pack on the pounds?
Maybe so, according to a new survey from the folks at CareerBuilder.com. The findings not only list the top 10 professions linked to weight gain (hint: it's bad news for attorneys and, surprisingly, physicians), but also pinpoints what the biggest contributing factors are. Another hint: stress and candy jars both play a role.
Fortunately, experts say there are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to fight the ol' work-related weight gain -- and even use your time in the office as an opportunity to promote good health.
"You have to know yourself, and you have to understand your triggers," Samantha Heller, a registered dietitian, told The Huffington Post. "I think when you plan, it's much easier to stick to healthy choices."
Here are the top seven factors the survey participants said contributed to their weight gain, as well as expert-proven strategies to navigate them. Have any other favorite tricks? Let us know!
<a href="http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=6%2f6%2f2012&sc_cmp1=cb_pr699_&siteid=cbpr&id=pr699&ed=12%2f31%2f2012" target="_hplink">According to CareerBuilder,</a> 54 percent of workers chalked their weight gain up to sitting at their desks all day. <br><br> And the fix here, experts say, is straightforward. <br><br> "The simplest thing is to get off your butt," said Heller. She recommended taking a quick five minute break every hour -- and not just for coffee, and <em>certainly</em> not to smoke. Try walking a few flights of stairs or going out into the parking lot to do jumping jacks. The issue with sitting all day, Heller explained, isn't just that you don't burn a lot of calories; it's that it can leave you feeling down and draggy, which is when people are apt to reach for unhealthy treats. <br><br> Other options? Take your calls standing up, said <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cheryl-forberg-rd/" target="_hplink">HuffPost blogger</a> and registered dietitian Cheryl Forberg. Or turn your work area into a mini gym. <br><br> "Leave your dumbbells on the desk, right at eye-level so you don't have to bend over to get them, and when you're on a call or on hold, you can just stand up and pump some iron," she suggested.
#2: Stress Eating
Some 37 percent of the respondents said eating because of stress was a major cause of weight gain. To stave off those stress-related pounds, experts say you've got two main options... <br><br> First, try to get your stress under control. <br><br> "Stress is a very common work-place phenomenon. We can't always change the circumstances that create the stress, but what we can do is alter our response," Heller said. She suggests taking five very deep, very slow breaths. <br><br> Second, it's key to have good options on hand for when you do give into stress eating. <br><br> "Be sure that you keep healthy snacks at your desk, because when you do resort to stress eating -- which we all do now and then -- the only choices you have at your fingertips will be good ones," Forberg said.
#3: Eating Out
<a href="http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=6%2f6%2f2012&sc_cmp1=cb_pr699_&siteid=cbpr&id=pr699&ed=12%2f31%2f2012" target="_hplink">Just over 20 percent</a> of respondents said that regularly eating out contributed to their weight gain. <br><br> If it's the culture of your office to head out for lunch food, then the key is to hit up places where you know there are healthier options, such as fish, grilled chicken or salads, explained Bethany Thayer, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. <br><br> The other question is really what "regularly" means to you. (In this survey, more than half of respondents said they ate out once a week, and nearly a quarter did at least three times a week.) <br><br> In general, Thayer advocates sticking to what she calls the 80/20 rule, which can really make a difference when it comes to eating out. <br><br> "If 80 percent of the time w'ere good about what we're doing in [terms of] healthful eating and exercising, then you've got that 20 percent of the time you can play around with," Thayer said. "If for you, that means you're going to go out once a week and choose whatever you want off the menu, that's fine."
#4: Skipping Meals
<a href="http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=6%2f6%2f2012&sc_cmp1=cb_pr699_&siteid=cbpr&id=pr699&ed=12%2f31%2f2012" target="_hplink">Some 19 percent</a> of workers said they had to skip meals because of time constraints. <br><br> And the message on this one's all about tough love. <br><br> "I don't buy it," Heller said. "No. It's not that difficult to have a yogurt or some trail mix. Or slap together a peanut butter sandwich and stick it in your purse." <br><br> The key, she said, is planning ahead so on those crazy days where you don't have more than a minute to pause and eat, you can still nourish yourself and avoid becoming too hungry and binging later.
Potlucks or birthdays were one of the main culprits according to 18 percent of workers. <br><br> One option, Thayer said, is talking to your co-workers about consolidation, so that the office cake becomes a slightly less common affair. <br><br> "You can proactively talk with your colleagues and say, 'Could we do a birthday month for everyone who has a birthday that month?'" Thayer said. If that's unappealing or not possible because of office size, there should always be a healthy option, she said. Her pick? A mixed fruit bowl.
#6: The Candy Jar
While it might seem like a nice gesture, <a href="http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=6%2f6%2f2012&sc_cmp1=cb_pr699_&siteid=cbpr&id=pr699&ed=12%2f31%2f2012" target="_hplink">16 percent of workers</a> said that the office candy jar was just too much of a temptation for them and contributed to weight gain. <br><br> The experts say that having healthy snacks (like a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit) that you can reach for instead is essential. <br><br> Another option is hydration, Forberg explained. <br><br> "Be sure that you have bottle or even a bigger mug from home and maybe even set a quota for yourself," she said. "Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger." <br><br> Also remember that out of sight is out of mind. <br><br> "Maybe start emailing that person that always has the M&Ms out, or give them a call," she said. "Put a jar on your own desk with healthy trail mix or nuts, and that might encourage people to do the same."
#7: Pressure To Eat Co-workers' Snacks
Again, it may seem like a nice gesture when your cube-mate or boss brings in freshly baked goodies,<a href="http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=6%2f6%2f2012&sc_cmp1=cb_pr699_&siteid=cbpr&id=pr699&ed=12%2f31%2f2012" target="_hplink"> but 10 percent of respondents</a> said they felt pressure to eat those foods -- and that pressure contributed to weight gain. <br><br> "It's a tough one, because you can't control the donuts that land on the desk next to you," admitted Forberg. And your options here, she explained, are pretty clear and straightforward -- there's no magic solution. Make sure you have healthy options you can reach for instead, or if that doesn't work, try having a frank chat with your colleagues about your concerns. <br><br> "If you're really trying to be good to your body, you might need to talk to your co-workers, because some people have never had a weight issue," she said.