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Is Your Home Office Making You Fat? Are you twice the entrepreneur you used to be? Here are nine tips to keep the weight off while working at home.

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Question: I love working from home, but I have onecomplaint: I'm snacking my way through the day, and mywaistline is growing. How do I keep myself away from thecupboard?

Answer: While some find it easier to maintain a healthyweight at home, away from vending machines, doughnut pools andheavy power lunches, you're not the only homebased entrepreneurwho has found yourself packing on the pounds when the kitchen isjust down the hall. Here's what we suggest:

1. Take note. Awareness of what and when you'reeating is the first step to breaking a bad snack habit. So keep alog of how often you snack, and pay attention to what and when youeat. Deepak Chopra, physician and author of Ageless Body,Timeless Mind, advises eating only if you're actuallyhungry and never eating mindlessly. Snack consciously instead.

2. Recognize your snack pattern, and find substitutes. Asyou take note of when you want a snack, also note what'smotivating your desire to snack. Some people are stress eaters.Others are boredom eaters. Eating doesn't actually solve eitherof these problems, so you'll quickly become hungry again ifthese are your motivations. The best protection against snackingtoo much is to make sure you enjoy your work to the point that youforget about food until mealtimes. But also find other ways toavoid and reduce stress. Many people discover that taking a walkoutdoors or talking on the phone with a friend are actually moreenergizing and rewarding than eating between meals.

3. Have a plan. What are the parameters you want to setfor snacking? How many snacks make sense? Some people don'tsnack at all. Others like to keep the standard morning andafternoon break pattern of the corporate workplace. Still otherssavor preserving the traditional after-school snack they used tohave around 4 p.m.

4. Rethink your break activities. We tend to think thereare only a few things we have permission to take a break for, andeating is one of them. So take advantage of the fact that you havemore flexibility with your schedule when you work from home, anduse your break time to relax or energize in your favorite ways,whether it's playing with the baby, walking the dog, shootingsome hoops or working in the garden.

5. Keep food out of sight, out of mind. Not only is foodat the desk risky for your electronic desktop, but when it comes tofood, out of sight is out of mind. It's easier to overlook thefact that you've nibbled away a whole bag of potato chips whenyou're working than if you have to go into the kitchen, sitdown at the table and have an official snack. Here are a couple ofother habits some entrepreneurs use to avoid raiding thefridge:

  • To keep from walking in and out of the kitchen all day for acup of coffee, where you may invariably grab a cookie to eat alongwith it, set up a coffee maker in your office. Keep all thenecessary supplies-cups, bottled water, coffee and so on-in a smallcabinet.
  • Close the kitchen door on your way to work, and think of thekitchen as a restaurant. It's only open between noon and one,and after five o'clock.

6. Toss the junk food. Unlike office vending machines,your kitchen cabinets can be filled with whatever you choose. Thisis another plus for working from home. So fill your cabinets andrefrigerator with healthy, low-fat, low-calorie, whole foods. Ifnutrition is what your body is seeking, whole, unprocessed foodslike an apple or a bowl of strawberries with raw nuts is far moresatisfying than a bag of salty chips or sugary cookies. Junk foodnot only packs on the pounds with empty calories, but its salty orsugary nature also leaves us wanting more.

Should you think "I'd rather not eat than havesomething healthy like that," chances are, you aren'treally hungry. You need something other than food. Find out what,and treat yourself to that.

7. Make sure you get enough contact with people youenjoy. However busy you are, make time in your workday for somekind of interpersonal contact. An office with other people providesstimulation, company and colleagues to share problems with. Workingat home can be lonely, but the loneliness doesn't have to leadto overindulgence. Instead of heading for the kitchen, head for thetelephone. Call someone. Schedule lunch with a colleague. Visit aneighbor. Invite someone to come by.

8. Exercise regularly. Working from home is usuallypretty sedentary, and sluggish bodies don't metabolize foodwell. Having more time and flexibility to exercise is yet anotheradvantage of working from home. So discover your favorite forms ofaerobic as well as anaerobic activity. You might choose going tothe gym several times a week, bicycling, jogging, yoga classes,tennis or the classic favorite, golf. Or why not set up a home gym?Step machines, mini-trampolines, treadmills, weight systems, andeven rowing machines come in home-size models.

9. Treat yourself. People often bribe themselves intooverworking by overeating, so instead, schedule a variety ofnonwork activities away from the house each week. They should bethings you can look forward to, such as going to a movie, playingor attending sports activities, doing things with your family,volunteering for community projects or attending culturalevents.

By adopting work-at-home habits like these, chances areyou'll feel better and healthier at home than away. Many peopleactually drop unwanted weight and even reduce their blood pressureby working from home.


Authors and career coaches Paul and Sarah Edwards' newbook is The Best Home Businesses for People 50+. Send themyour questions at www.workingfromhome.com or in care ofEntrepreneur.

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