Samantha Bluemel is a personal trainer and nutritionist. She aims to inspire the happiest, healthiest and most positive state of living.

Samantha Bluemel: 5 ways to avoid gaining weight at work

Get out of the office at lunch time, the fresh air and movement will do wonders for productivity.
Photo / Garth Badger
Get out of the office at lunch time, the fresh air and movement will do wonders for productivity. Photo / Garth Badger

The 8 till 6 workplace - I'm the first to agree with clients who say this one of the major issues preventing them from achieving their fitness and nutrition goals. But being hindered by work commitments highlights the need to create habits, subconscious eating patterns and everyday movement that you can easily maintain.

There are of course the obvious habits to ditch - snacking on vending machine goodies, using energy drinks to help you 'focus', caving at badly catered meetings, Friday night pizza and beers, fast food lunches and the whole sitting down, staring at a computer screen all day problem. These are all very common and very real issues that will seriously prevent weight loss or the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle, particularly since so much of our time is spent in the workplace.

But turning any of these negative habits into positive ones is far from impossible, and will make a massive difference in the way you feel every single day.

The first step is to recognise where you are going wrong. Take a few days to really notice everything you put into your mouth or the times that you feel yourself struggling. Most of us are creatures of habit and you'll be doing a lot of these things without even noticing.

Next, tackle each issue one at a time, being a aware of the changes you make and allowing a couple of weeks for your mindset to adjust. Don't expect improvements overnight, but do expect yourself to follow through with a statement of intention for creating a healthier lifestyle. Remember to allow yourself some treats once a week, balance is key.

Here are a few examples of how to make small and positive changes to your current workplace habits. See which ones apply to you and tackle each one week by week:

1. Standing desks
This one may be one of the hardest to implement at your workplace, but is easily the most beneficial. Currently viewed as one of the worst modern culprits of bad health, sitting down all day can significantly increase the chances of cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well as cause major back problems through bad postural alignment. Standing desks make huge improvements on these risk factors and churn through a pile more kilojoules - just for doing your job. It's worth talking to your boss about the benefits for the entire office or even investing in your own desk to be installed at work.

Photo / Thinkstock

2. Snack well
How often do you find yourself heading to the nearest café to grab a quick scone or pastry when you feel hungry? Or snacking subconsciously on whatever happens to be floating around the office? Taking a supply of healthy snacks to work and keeping them in your drawer for hungry or even bored eating moments is essential for creating a healthy lifestyle. Try stocking up on a week's worth of nuts and dried fruit every Monday, having a ready supply of sliced veggies with hummus or pesto-like dips and keeping small amounts of fruit on hand for when those sweet cravings hit.

Photo / Thinkstock

3. Stay hydrated
Drinking water, and plenty of it, is going to keep you alert, your brain functioning optimally, your skin healthy and cells replenished (particularly beneficial if you work in air conditioning every day). It will also ensure you don't mistake thirst for hunger; a common problem that often leads to unnecessary snacking. Switch out the energy drinks, juice and extra coffees for water or green tea, and guzzle it continuously all day long. Ideally you will be drinking at least 2L a day.

Photo / Thinkstock

4. Lunchtime exercise
Getting your body moving and some fresh oxygen circulating at lunchtime is going to do wonders for your productivity and even happiness levels, something your boss and colleagues will all thank you for. Lunchtime can be the ideal time to get your workout in as it doesn't extend your day past finish time or have you waking up an hour earlier each morning. If getting sweaty in the middle of the day isn't an option for you then consider heading outside for a half hour walk around the block, even this is enough to get the blood pumping and muscles working. You'll return to your desk feeling refreshed and energised.

Photo / Thinkstock

5. BYO lunch:
Preparing your own lunch at home instead of getting the nearest fast food is the only way to ensure you're getting nutritious meals every day. Unfortunately there are hardly any options for a healthy lunch on the go particularly if you work in major city centers. Being organised enough to plan ahead will enable you to fuel up on nutrient dense options that you actually enjoy. They don't all have to be salads with a can of tuna, you don't want to get bored. The best idea is to cook enough dinner for leftover lunch, saving you time, money and weight gain.


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Samantha Bluemel is a personal trainer and nutritionist. She aims to inspire the happiest, healthiest and most positive state of living.

Constantly active and forever chasing the next cornerstone of green smoothie creation, personal trainer Samantha writes on all things fitness to motivate you out the door and into your trainers, stat. Starting her career in modeling before realising that years of midnight Macca’s and Red Bull had begun to take their toll, Samantha has since been travelling down the road of health and wellness, learning, growing and sharing her knowledge along the way. First and foremost a personal trainer, her love for physical health through exercise has taken her from a corporate gym setting to creating her own business in personal and group training, always believing in the power of movement as a catalyst for positive lifestyle change. The ultimate goal is a life lived in absolute happiness and body loving appreciation – and as she says, sometimes that means getting a cheeseburger along the way! You can read more from Sam in her fortnightly column for New Idea magazine, or by heading to her blog at

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