Does working from home make you gain weight?
Well, you don’t need an official memo from Captain Obvious to tell you the answer.
The answer is, “Yes.”
Yes, working a desk job will make you fat – especially when your desk job consists of working at home as opposed to working in a traditional office setting.
Working at Home Vs Working at the Office
While every person is unique and not everyone who works at home will instantly morph into a blowfish, it doesn’t take a genius to know that sitting all day at your desk burns less calories than other jobs where you are up on your feet and moving around for eight hours a day.
Your metabolism just slows down.
But that’s not all.
When I had an office job away from home, at least I would get a few thousand steps walking to and from my car and heading out to a nearby fast food joint or to the employee cafeteria or break room on my lunch break.
But when working at my desk all day at home, I rarely get more than 1,000 steps on my step counter for the entire day. In fact, unless I make an effort to leave the house, I might not even hit 500 steps.
This can make a big difference in how many calories you burn throughout the day.
And if you’re like most work-at home freelancers and remote employees, you are more likely to get up and head to the kitchen more often than you would doing the exact same work in an office environment while on the clock and taking only scheduled breaks. I know I do.
So it’s not just the sedentary nature of the work that makes you more likely to gain weight. It’s the home office work environment itself:
- No time clock dictating your break times.
- No supervisor looking over your shoulder.
- No accountability.
- The kitchen is just a few steps away.
- You don’t have to wait until “lunchtime”.
- You don’t have to get permission to stop working for a few minutes and go grab a snack.
- There’s nobody to stop you from eating Lunch #2 barely an hour after eating Lunch #1.
Working at home is a perfect storm for gaining weight, especially if you’re a stress eater like me.
Some of My Unhealthy Work-From-Home Habits
I’ve actually struggled with obesity for pretty much my entire life, as far back as I can remember.
And I picked up a bunch of unhealthy routines and fat habits over the years. But things really went downhill once I started working at home as a writer and content creator in 2012.
I probably have more unhealthy weight gain habits to list here, including many that I’m not even consciously aware of. But here are a few of the ones that I picked up since running my home-based business.
1. Eating Meals and Snacks at My Desk All Day Long
I talked about this one in my recent blog post about some of my habits that are making me fat. But I figured it bears repeating here since this blog post is specifically about work at home habits that make you fat, and eating at my desk might be at the top of the list.
Most experts recommend that you separate your personal space from your work space for a variety of reasons including productivity, mental health and work/life balance. And now you can add weight gain as another reason to avoid eating at your desk at home.
It’s just so easy to slip into the habit of munching at your desk. Once you start down that slippery slope, things pick up speed real quick.
Next thing you know, you’re keeping snacks right there at your desk and don’t even need to get up and walk to the kitchen.
Soon, you’re snacking every other hour.
Then you’re eating almost non-stop.
I know because I been there done that – and I have the pounds to prove it.
2. Drinking Alcohol at My Desk
I don’t know about you, but I started drinking way more alcohol when this pandemic started in 2020. I bet I’ve consumed more in the past 18 months than I did in the previous decade.
I’m still a lightweight when it comes to getting my drank on, but the craziness on planet Earth in recent times has not done me any favors.
I don’t drink every day, but I often leave a big ass bottle of booze right here on my desk 24/7! I don’t even bother to put that sucker away in the kitchen anymore.
And it easily leads to embarrassing drunk podcasts like this one…
But while I recognize that getting drunk in my home workspace probably undermines overall productivity and makes me fatter, I don’t plan on giving this one up just yet.
Maybe when I get my AC fixed, clear the clutter from the living room and get an actual couch where I can chill – maybe then I’ll take my drunk podcasts and pity parties out of my home office and into the living room.
But for now, when it’s 100+ degrees outside and 80+ degrees in the rest of the house, I think I’ll keep partaking here in my office where it’s cooler.
3. Doing Non-Work Tasks at My Desk
Using my workspace for both work and play – and meals too – is probably also a bad idea. During this past year, just about everyone was stuck in lockdown for several weeks or even months at a time. My life already resembled lockdown anyway, but with the added stress of EVERYTHING GOING ON, I put on a lot of weight quickly.
Then the vaccines arrived and many restrictions were lifted. Yet many of us continued to just chill at home because we got used to it. It’s like our world just caved in on us.
For work-at-home types like me, that world shrunk even further. Today, my whole world consists of a desk and a chair. I was even considering getting one of those mini fridges and putting it next to my desk.
To save time?
I do just about everything here at my desk now. I’ve just gotten used to it.
With streaming services at my fingertips, I don’t even need to move to the living room to watch TV. I just click open a new tab on my laptop when I feel like taking a break, and now I’m watching a movie or show on Hulu or Disney+.
Just like that.
Step count: 0
4. Skipping the Gym Before or After Work
When I worked a regular day job, I would sometimes leave for work a little early and hit the gym first. Or else I would sometimes stop by the gym after work for a quick workout before heading home. It wasn’t that hard. I was already in the car and driving past the gym anyway.
Of course, I still skipped it plenty of times. But the point is that since I was already outside my home and in my car driving near the gym, it didn’t take too much additional effort to take a quick detour and go work out.
A lot of people go to the gym on the way to work or on the way home after work. It’s a good habit.
But when you work at home, going to the gym is now a totally separate activity. It’s not as easy to just squeeze it into your day like an extension of your daily commute. Now you have to break up your pattern – interrupt your flow – to leave your house and drive to the gym.
Granted, it doesn’t sound like a huge difference, and it isn’t. But it really is THAT MUCH EASIER to just blow off the gym entirely when you work at home. Ask any WAH veteran. The difference is tangible.
So anyway, those are just a few of the reasons why working at home makes it easy to gain weight without even trying. Obesity is such a huge problem for people in the modern world, and now that work life is evolving further, it’s even easier to fall into unhealthy habits, skip the gym, overeat and put on some extra pounds.
If you don’t have a plan to prevent weight gain and aren’t already committed to keeping weight gain in check, it will creep up on you before you realize what’s happening.
So if you’re planning on working at home, or if you already work as a remote employee, freelancer or digital nomad, don’t think that it won’t happen to you. Take steps to incorporate exercise and healthy eating habits into your daily lifestyle so that you don’t get fat working from home.