Former desk jockey turned online fitness coach here. I know how hard it can be to lose weight working a desk job, and the cubical walls start closing in.
But I’m here to tell you it’s possible, because I’ve done it.
And I’m going to tell you how to lose weight working a 9-5 desk job too.
In the picture on the left, I was going out to lunch basically every day.
Sometimes it’d be a liquid lunch with a few pints of beer, and other times, straight up McDonald’s.
As the stress of the job piled on, so did the pounds.
And then I said enough is enough, so I learned how to lose weight working a desk job.
And I executed on it.
Not only did I do it for myself, I helped my online coaching clients do it too.
Like Christine, who works both from home and in an office setting.
Or Heidi, who lost 40 pounds working with me, and working behind a desk.
And they all did it by sticking to a few basic principles.
Which I am going to outline for you below.
If you want to learn to lose weight while reading e-mails that say things like “let’s touch base”, or “the ball is in your court”.
Then read on.
All I ask is for you to read every single word, and every single Michael Scott reference.
Don’t skim it, like you do to the e-mails from your boss.
I don’t want to have to send you an e-mail that starts with “Per my last e-mail…”
Let’s Lose Weight Working A Desk Job
How Does Weight Loss Happen?
If you want to learn how to lose weight working a desk job, you’ll have to understand how weight loss works.
I know Cathy in accounting might tell you all about how cutting carbohydrates made her niece lose 150 pounds in a week.
And Vicky from HR swears by the ketogenic diet.
But these people work in accounting and HR, and are not qualified to give out nutrition advice.
Weight loss happens when you eat fewer calories than your body burns.
This is called being in a calorie deficit.
I won’t touch too much on what a calorie deficit is, but if you don’t know, you can find out right here.
The important part you need to know, is that your body loses fat if and only if you are in a calorie deficit.
No calorie deficit, no fat loss.
We can create a calorie deficit by taking in less calories than we put out.
So what are some simple ways to do that?
How to manage calories in for weight loss at your desk job
The easiest way to create a calorie deficit is by focusing on the calories you are taking in.
Which can be quite a struggle while working a desk job.
So let’s highlight a few simple strategies to balance calorie intake.
Strategy #1: Start your day with a big breakfast
At first glance this may seem counterintuitive.
In a world where health and fitness magazines tell us we should be eating 1,200 calories every single day, eating a large meal seems like it would be a bad strategy.
First and foremost, I want to tell you that you should not eat 1,200 calories unless you happen to be a 50 pound labradoodle. And here’s why.
When you start your day with a big breakfast, you help fill yourself up with lots of nutrients to have the energy to take on the day, and whatever crap your boss is about to give you in a harshly worded e-mail.
This is also going to keep you full throughout the day.
Later on, we will get into some other morning strategies, but starting your day off on the right foot is going to be crucial to your success.
Because it sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Imagine yourself skipping breakfast. Then you sit around starving, staring at the clock over the water cooler waiting for it to hit 12:00.
Since you’re so hungry, you’ll go out to lunch and overeat.
Then you’ll probably go home and do the same, since you’re not well fed enough.
You want to avoid this scenario at all costs, because it’s the easiest way to fall off track, by starting your day off on the wrong foot.
Something like oatmeal or eggs go a long way in the morning. They keep you full for quite some time.
You’ll definitely want to be eating foods that Keep You Full In A Calorie Deficit.
Strategy #2: Bring lunch with you
Starting this section off with a warning.
Don’t you dare put fish in the office microwave.
Now that that’s out of the way.
Bringing lunch to work with you is a great way to help you cut back on unnecessary calories that you might get from going out.
It’s also going to save you a lot of money.
I’m not telling you to bring chicken broccoli and rice to work every single day.
I’m telling you to bring a nutritious meal, that’s going to make you feel good for the rest of your workday.
Something that’s going to be a bit more nutritious than the pastrami on rye that you’re ordering from the sandwich shop next door.
I’m also not telling you to bring an entire family size chicken pot pie to work.
But something that’s going to fill you up for the rest of your day, ideally has some vegetables in there, and is something you actually enjoy.
Strategy #3: Keep track of your calorie intake
This one can seem daunting.
It’s a skill that takes just a little bit of practice.
To do it, pull out your phone and download an app called MyFitnessPal.
First and foremost, do not use the calorie range it gives you, since it was probably 1,200. We already talked about why not to do that.
What I want you to do instead is grab this free fat loss calorie calculator, and use that number for your calorie intake.
Use this and keep track of everything that goes into your mouth.
Everything you have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Every snack. Every piece of candy Gail, the office manager brings in.
If you’re new to calorie tracking, you can use this free resource to help get started
How to manage calories out for weight loss at your desk job.
Strategy #1: Exercise before work.
Get your workout done before your work day starts.
I’m not saying you have to get up at 4 AM, and be the first one in the gym.
But before your work day starts, go get into the gym, lift some weights, and start your day on that positive note.
This one isn’t a “non-negotiable”, if you really can’t get into the gym before your work day, that’s fine.
There’s no wrong time to work out. The right time to work out is the time you can be most consistent with.
However, before work is probably that time for most people.
What happens when you save your workout for after work?
You dread it the whole day, and as you’re dreading it throughout your work day, your brain will find hundreds and thousands of excuses to not go.
The old “Oh, I’m too tired from the work day now.” Or “Wellll I have to cook dinner, and then go to the post office and then bathe my parakeet.”
Your parakeet is fine. Go to the gym.
Seriously though, things come up throughout the day, and they actually become valid excuses.
When you go in the morning, it’s out of the way early.
You don’t have time to build up the excuses, no time for dread, and no time for anything to come up that will prevent you from getting it done.
The world isn’t awake yet, it’s just you vs. the gym.
The e-mails haven’t rolled in yet, and your annoying co-worker who talks too loudly on the phone isn’t there to distract you.
You go in, you feel like a badass, get a nice little endorphin rush before work starts.
Now, in order to get up a little earlier, you’re going to have to go to bed a little earlier.
If you want to get up for 6:30, get in the gym by 7, get out by 8 and at work to 9 (holy crap that was a lot of numbers), you’ll have to go to bed by 10:30.
I certainly don’t want you staying up until 1AM, getting up at 6, and running off of 5 hours of sleep.
That’s not going to do anything positive for your fat loss or your career.
Don’t burn yourself out.
I also want to state that you don’t have to go to the gym every single day.
3-4 days a week of strength training is going to be massively beneficial for your fat loss, your health, and your posture.
If you’re not sure where to start on strength training, you can grab my Free Beginner’s Guide.
Strategy #2: Take a short walk every couple hours
If you’re getting 2,000 steps a day because you’re glued to your desk, it’s going to make things a lot harder.
Getting up and moving more, is not only going to be beneficial for your weight loss, but for your overall health.
First I want to discuss why walking is so important for losing weight working a desk job.
And to do that I’m going to give you a quick lesson on metabolism.
Metabolism is a very misunderstood process.
I’ll break it down nice and simple.
Your metabolism is the rate that your body burns calories to keep you alive.
Above is an image of how your metabolism is split up.
This is a picture of your total daily energy expenditure.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to know all of this, we are only going to discuss the first two, BMR and NEAT.
BMR stands for Basal Metabolic Rate, which is a fancy way of saying the rate your body burns calories just to keep your body functioning. This is through the processes that keep your brain functioning, your heart beating, your lungs contracting, etc. And it accounts for 70% of calorie burn.
This number is directly linked to how much lean muscle mass you have. Remember earlier when I talked about strength training? This is why.
The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns just by doing basically nothing. Which is important, because while you are at your desk all day, you want to be burning more calories.
The next is NEAT, which stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Which is a fancy way of saying how many calories your body burns moving around naturally.
This is why walking is going to be so important for you. It’s one of the easiest and most accessible ways to burn a few extra calories.
I want to stress here, I’m not asking you to go walk for your entire work day, and I’m not asking you to ditch meetings to go for a walk.
But what you can do, is step away from your desk for 10 minutes every few hours or so.
Get outside, get some sunlight, get away from your desk and take a little walk.
This is going to help improve your metabolic rate, help you get a little more movement in, and rejuvenate you to carry on with the rest of the day.
For me, I’m a person who’s very much into my work, and once I get going, it’s hard to pull me out of this.
So when I first tried to implement this strategy, I was skeptical.
But actually stepping away for a bit, and taking a small break really refreshed me to continue on with the rest of my day, and avoid that 3:00 slump.
Final Thoughts On How To Lose Weight At Your Desk Job
So there you have it.
You did a great job not skimming this, and I don’t need to send you an angry follow up e-mail.
You now have a few solid action items to implement into your life to help you lose weight right from your desk.
Except it won’t all be from your desk, because you’re going to get up and move a bit more.
But you might be having a few extra from your desk lunches. Which is okay, because they’re going to be nice and nutritious and even have some vegetables in there.
I hope this has helped you understand what exactly it is you need to do.
But if it hasn’t, and you still have uncertainties. E-mail me, [email protected], and I will be more than happy to help you.
this is such a helpful read I can’t wait to try this
i actually lol’d at the parakeet thing