Expanding Your Network, Not Your Waistline


I have lost 30 pounds in the last year and I am halfway to my goal.  I had more success in the beginning, but backpedaled because I continued get the same results.

Recently, I realized I needed to stop riding the weight loss roller coaster. Working with a personal trainer has helped me focus on lifestyle changes and balance. I enjoy making connections, but want to remain on the right food path in the process.

Tips to socialize without sabotaging weight goals:

Outside the office

Eat in advance (when possible): I bring dinner to the office when I have an after-work commitment. Doing so gives me more control because I know what I am eating and how much of it I am consuming. I feel sustained when I arrive, which makes me less likely to overindulge and more likely to focus on the task at hand.

Placing effort on the meeting’s purpose instead of the food being served allowed me to become more mobile, and engage with more people. In the past, I spent time at the dining tables because I had a plate, which limited my maneuverability. Now, I place the appetizer on a napkin, or skip it all together.

Become a food investigator: My trainer suggested looking the menu ahead of time online.  Most restaurant chains provide nutritional information. I track my food in the MyFitnessPal app (which is available on iPhones and Android phones).  I put the meals in advance to see if the splurge is worth consuming. The CalorieKing app displays the nutrition facts and tells you much exercise you need to burn off the calories you consumed.

 Inside the office

Take the stairs less traveled:  I walk around my building for breaks and sometimes lunch.  I work downtown and take different routes to enjoy different cityscapes.  When the weather is less than favorable, try walking in the garage — the incline is great.

Also, by taking the stairs, instead of the elevator when moving around my department, I have gained invaluable face time with executive leadership. They have commended my efforts for trying to get healthy.

Plan meals:  I invest a little time to save a lot of money. Tupperware containers and mason jars have become my lifeline. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a study in 2014 that found the greater amount of time spent on home food preparation was associated with indicators of higher diet quality.

This plan has become so popular, some of my co-workers stop by my desk to see the meal of the day.  Colleagues have also shared recipes and success stories.

I prefer fruit and vegetables trays. Pre-cut fruit can become a little expensive, depending on the size of the group, but apples and bananas are easy to transport and have a decent shelf life.

Build a support system:  Workplace wellness challenges can boost team morale. Several women in my department had a Weight Watchers group. They enrolled at discount and had a representative come to the office.

Another method us use to fraternize is by taking advantage of a free yoga class in our building.  We’re strengthening our core and our team. We can’t take ourselves too seriously after watching one another  in Warrior II.

Camille Doty is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Francesca El-Attrash

Camille, really glad you wrote this! I love learning more about balancing a healthy lifestyle with leadership in the workplace. Any tips for how to stay healthy during happy hours? It can be so awkward if you’re the only one without a drink, but at the same time, so much networking occurs there.

Camille Doty

Thank you for reading my post, Francesca. I order water with a side of lemon, lime, or orange. You can also get a club soda, which has zero calories, if you want a carbonated drink.

Becky Latka

Stairs! They are always available, but I’ve gotten into lazy habits. Stairs are always there (I’m in a 9-story building) and they are free for use. Good reminder to use them more often!

Gretchen Nero

Thanks Camille! This article is right-on-time for me! I’m working towards getting into “vacation” shape and your article gave me a couple of ideas that I had never thought of before. Specifically, ‘bringing dinner to work’ if I have an after work event. Keep the information coming…it’s brilliant!!!