On July 1, 2015 I quit my job and began working from home as a full-time freelance writer. I’d never been happier — I woke up looking forward to the day ahead, worked harder and with far more enthusiasm than I’d ever felt at my office job, and could adjust my work day around my lifestyle, rather than the other way around.
In short, I was back in control of my life.
The thing is, I had no idea just how much my 9-5 job was bringing me down until I quit. Waking up every morning knowing that I was (and still am) fully in control of the day ahead was amazingly empowering, and the fact that I didn’t have to suck up to my boss ever again or pretend like I actually cared about all the corporate rubbish that went on around the office sent stress levels plummeting. They say, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” and that certainly applies to quitting your office job… in a very good way!
In hindsight, however, I would have enjoyed many of these same wonderful benefits if my employer had simply let me work from home. Unfortunately, they had a policy dictating that all employees had to spend most of their time in the office, which meant it was either all or nothing for me. I chose nothing, and never looked back!
When I quit my office job, I lost a lot of weight
Interestingly, one of the most surprising things I noticed from working at home was that I lost a lot of weight. I was never large by any means, but like most people, I had a few pounds which didn’t need to be there. I’d spend long hours pounding the pavement or slaving away in the gym to no avail, but now, all of a sudden, simply not having slouch into an office every day had very quickly erased those pounds, and then some!
So if you’re considering the prospect of working from home, or you’re having trouble working up the courage to talk to your boss about it, remember that it’s a decision that will not only affect your state of mind, but also your state of health! Here’s how working from home can help you lose weight, along with heaps of other awesome benefits.
1. Less stress means less weight
Countless studies have explored the strong relationship between stress and weight gain. While short bouts of stress are perfectly normal and an integral part of our evolutionary success, chronic stress is a different matter altogether. Chronic, essentially meaning long-term or continuous, means that stress is a regular, perhaps even constant part of your life. Chronic stress is caused by low-level stressors that have us in a constant state of fight-or-flight, whether we recognize it or not.
And few people would disagree that the workplace is an environment filled with chronic stress. Think, for a minute, about your work day. You’re woken forcefully by an obnoxious alarm, forced to jump out of bed, shower and shovel down some breakfast while your body is still half-asleep, then probably subjected to a long and unenjoyable commute. Back when I worked my 9-5 office job, that commute took anywhere between one and three hours, and always involved me getting riled up at having to sit in traffic or dodge atrocious drivers.
Then you arrive at work and start worrying about all the tasks you have to do, meetings you have to attend, presentations you have to make, and perhaps whether you’ll still have your job this time next week. Then you have to do that same awful commute home again and spend the rest of the evening preparing for the next day!
Chronic stress abounds in the average office job, and working from home offers an escape from that. With lowered stress levels, your adrenal glands will finally get to take a break from their constant production of cortisol, the stress hormone. With less cortisol pumping through your veins, inflammation levels will plummet and your body will finally start to relax. In this stress-less state, your body will get the chance to perform all the functions it was putting on hold while you dealt with that perceived (chronic) stress. The result is invariably a significant weight loss, or a return to a normal weight for those whose bodies went the other direction and lost too much weight.
2. You can move around more
We’ve talked before about how a desk job could literally be killing you, and that was no exaggeration. A study published in the Journal of Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews indicated that time spent sitting is directly related to compromised metabolic health and mortality risk. Another study published last year drew strong links between sedentary behavior and risk of type 2 diabetes, while a third study explored the relationship between time spent sitting in front of screens and obesity.
And just as that desk job is increasing your risk of disease and early death, it’s also increasing your risk of putting on weight. Working from home can help you lose that weight and keep it off by allowing you to move around more. At the office, there are certain unspoken rules that prevent you from moving away from your chair or computer too often — the same can’t be said for working from home.
My average at-home workday involves 15 to 20 minute working periods interspersed with 5 to 10 minutes of movement. That movement is usually either gentle yoga, walking around outside in nature and doing the odd household chore like washing clothes or vacuuming (hey, it’s still exercise). Besides that rough schedule, I make a point of standing or moving around every time I start to feel stiff or my brain starts getting a bit fuzzy — a short bout of walking or yoga not only banishes the stiffness, but also gets my mind back into the right zone.
Move more at home, and you’ll almost certainly lose weight.
3. Eat healthier
You know how it goes: by the time you get home from a long day at work, the last thing you want to do is spend more time in the kitchen preparing a tasty, nutritious lunch for the next day. Most people tend to skip making lunch altogether, or simply throw together a slovenly meal of bread, pasta, processed snacks or a combination of all three. I don’t care if it’s whole grain pasta or wholemeal bread — it’s not good for you!
And for those who skip making lunch and choose to buy it instead, you’ll be hard pressed to find any fast food restaurants or canteens that offer meals that are actually completely healthy. Even salads are often doused in hydrogenated oils and artificially flavored dressings.
When you work from home, it’s easy to eat healthy. Whenever you get hungry, you can stop working, stroll over to the kitchen and make a nutritious, fresh, delicious lunch… and save a whole lot of money in the process! A healthy diet is vital to losing weight, and working from home makes it a whole lot easier to eat better.
— Liivi Hess