Is Your Work Killing Your Workout ?


When your work is ruining your workout. 

I coach group training at a local training center called Impact Fitness and Health, it keeps my personal training spirit excited.  It’s good for a person like myself who has done mostly private training because I get the chance to interact with a really wide variety of people and issues. It also gives me lots of material to write about.

Last week during one of our more intense group classes, I watched one of our members just giving it her all and smiling through the pain. This woman literally grins and bears it! I admire her determination and her consistency with workouts, she truly has made tremendous progress. So, in between sets I asked her how she was doing with her fitness goals and eating. Thus the topic for this blog.

Turns out her work is ruining her workouts, for every day she is busting her ass in the gym there is a day when the call of the treats in the office is ruining her nutrition.  It’s a fairly common problem and I have had the same conversation with other clients and members. They go to work, it’s stressful, they are bored…and in the office like a golden lamb is coffee cake whispering sweet nothings…eat me…let me soothe your nerves. What’s one little bite…except it’s usually more like one little chunk eaten so quick your brain barely gets a chance to say, “ thanks for the glucose”.

I am pretty sure just about every reader including myself can relate. The free lunch from KFC, the free cookies, the free donuts, the free pasta from Olive Garden…on and on it goes. There just is something about free that gives everyone a pass, why is that? Well, for one thing we like it when we get rewarded at work, almost like when we reward our pets with treats. Which is kinda sad to think we are all trick ponies looking for a nibble at work.

Here are some depressing statistics, a study of 1,947 women found the average female worker consumes 1/3 of her daily calories snaking. Over half (51%) confessed to eating a whopping 750 calories worth of junk, and squirreling treats away in drawers, file cabinets and tree holes. Over half of these women admitted it was simple boredom that inspired them to graze at the office. I doubt any of us is shocked to hear this most of the excess calories we consume is not due to hunger but boredom or just plain absence of giving damn.

So what’s the solution? According to all the fitness magazines all you have to do is say no. Just say NO…, which is silly. It’s not a question of saying no to bad things. We all saw how the “ Just say NO to drugs “ worked. That’s not much of a strategy. Willpower in situations where you are stressed, lonely, depressed, tired and bored is an iffy solution to depend on. I went online to read what “solutions” were being offered up and I disagreed with most of them. But, for the sake of sharing here goes:

1. Eat breakfast so you are not hungry. Why I disagree. 

Most people are not eating donuts in the lunchroom at 10am because they are starving they are eating donuts because they are there. Period.

2. Just take a few bites. Why I disagree. 

Ironically, just take a few bites IS one of my strategies for holiday eating and parties. However, when you are in a stressful and/or bored job, taking a few bites has really big chances of just eat the whole thing or going back and back and back and now you’ve eaten the whole thing! It’s one thing to take a sampling and know you’ve got distractions to keep you from going back to the feed table, it’s an entire different ballgame when your there for 8 hours.

3. Bring healthy snacks to work and eat those instead. Why I disagree.

It’s not a question of you eating a snack it’s a question of a snack attack which means weapons of self destruction (wings and chips) will crush the friendly fire of an apple. Do I think having healthy alternatives at work is a great idea…yes I do! Do I think it’s a solution…no I don’t.  Your at work with 2 different socks on because you had a terrible nights sleep, the boss just told you that he needs you to come in on Saturday…Hey! It’s an apple !!!! Uhmmmmm…no.

The PT solution, researched exclusively on myself. And since I am both the researcher and subject I can make up my own statistics, so I am going to say my success rate is about 90% with a standard deviation of 0.5.

So… as many of my readers know I have been in fitness a really long time. Which means I have spent many years managing my nutrition and exercise through good times and bad times….lot’s of bad times. In my younger years, it wasn’t much of a big deal. One donut or crispy fried chicken wing wasn’t going to do much, I had youthful metabolism on my side. As the years crept up so did my weight, which is what happens when you get cocky with your own diet and fitness. I had to develop some type of strategy to end my self-sabotage, I am supposed to walk the talk and you can’t do that with a cinnamon roll in your back pocket.


  1. Remind yourself how many hours you spent exercising and running, and then ask yourself if that donut was worth an hour of running. Basically you need to take what you’re eating and put it into hours spent at the gym. Those 4 cookies are ½ hour of group training, chicken alfredo is 2 DAYS of group training. Most people underestimate calories and you would be shocked to learn that you cannot actually out train a bad diet. Calories do not even out like you had hoped. If your working out to eat, you’re probably eating more than the training can get rid of.
  2. Goal food…at some point during the week I am saving myself for that something special treat. It’s much like a budget you only have so many dollars to spend on shoes. Are you going to spend your hard earned money on several pairs of un-amazing shoes, or are you going to save up for that special pair of FABULOUS shoes? I am saving up for fabulous, that’s what I’m saying
  3. The walk away, which might be like “just say no “except it’s a silent reproach. I see you little coffee cake, I find you unimportant…now be gone.

Ultimately we all have to develop our own systems to protect our health, manage our weight and stay sane. Basically it all comes down to what you allow in and what you don’t. Do you allow people to ruin your hard work at the gym or do you protect it? Do you tell yourself little white lies about why it’s okay to sabotage yourself? Are you going for the 3 minutes of happiness eating free food or would you rather have a lifetime of feeling good about yourself, your efforts and your appearance?

Stay strong …Don’t let work ruin your workout! PT






About PT

Patricia Tremblay B.S., NSCA-CPT owner/ operator of Physiques By PT a personal training and consulting company. My focus is functional training that is compatible with your life and goals for a healthy active life, and a little fun tossed in for good measure.
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One Response to Is Your Work Killing Your Workout ?

  1. Pam says:

    Thanks Patty! I needed to read that. That has been me these past 5 months!! And to make it worse ..working crazy hours and from home with no time or energy to workout.

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