Losing weight is hard. Maintaining that weight loss is even harder. And working a full time job, trying to lose weight and maintain that weight loss, while predominantly sat at your desk, can pretty much feel impossible at times. The best workout plan is the one you can stick to, which involves setting a realistic plan, with workouts that are not too intense that it wipes you out for days, and that have the right amount of frequency for your busy schedule. Away from the workout plan, there is another form of exercise that can be hugely beneficial to weight loss which I'll come to in a bit.
Before we get started though it’s important to note one thing concerning weight loss; regardless of any fad diets or extreme fitness classes, weight loss comes down to a very simple equation; if you burn more calories than you consume (eat) you’ll lose weight, conversely if you consume more calories than you burn then you’ll put on weight. Our bodies burn energy even at rest, when we’re lying in bed watching Netflix. But this energy burn can be amplified in a few ways, one of which is exercise and directly linked to this is replacing fat with muscle on the body (muscle requires more energy to function and so burns more calories just to survive compared to fat, another reason to add some resistance training into your routine).
One of the other ways to increase energy expenditure is kind of NEAT. Literally. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (N.E.A.T.) is all the energy we get through doing stuff that isn’t exercise. Walking to work, cleaning up after your disgusting housemates at home, walking up and down the stairs, fidgeting at your desk, altering your posture, hiding under your desk from your boss, doing some gardening, these all count towards your NEAT expenditure every day. These movements all burn calories and may seem like small things but when they all get added up they’ve been shown to help significantly towards your daily calorie burn. Interestingly it’s also been shown that if NEAT is persistently suppressed, i.e. you are mainly sedentary and don’t move around much, it may contribute to weight re-gain post diet. Food for thought for those that have suffered with Yo-Yo dieting in the past. In short exercise routines are great for weight loss, but sometimes life can get in the way of your best intentions. So move more, get up and away from the desk where possible and kick start your weight loss.
Way’s to increase your NEAT burn:
- Get off 1 stop early from the tube/bus and walk the rest of the way to work. This gets the morning off to a great start and you can stride into work feeling like a champ, arms swinging by your side Conor McGregor style (NB this option is not based on current English weather conditions)
- Once you get to work skip the queue for the lift and instead take the stairs. Each time you need a toilet break or fancy a cup of tea take the stairs to the floor above. Not only will this burn you some extra calories but you're more likely to bump into colleagues you might not usually interact with and that's when beautiful things happen! Further to this a recent study from the University of Georgia has also shown that taking the stairs in the morning can actually be more energising than your morning cup of coffee!
- Move more! Whether that’s putting on your headset for the afternoon conference call and simply standing up and walking around rather than sitting, or consciously making time to get up from your desk and take a 5- minute stroll around the office, these small acts of movement all add up. We aren't designed to sit all day long.
- Only got a short lunch break today and no time for the gym but heading out tonight? Pop on your favourite podcast or that album you’ve been wanting to listen to for ages and go for a 20 minute walk at lunch rather the trawling through The Daily Mail online. Again.
- If you’re heading out for some post work cocktails, why not start the night off with a few extra calories burnt by enlisting our good friend Boris the Bike. You’ll get to avoid the Central Line Sweat-fest, take in some of London’s finest sights and turn up to the bar looking badass pulling a wheelie (is how I envisage myself turning up, but in more likelihood I’d stack said wheelie and cause a scene.)
In summary - move more. Especially if you work in central London, often you will find walking is only 10 or 20 minutes more than the tube. Use that time to call your Mum, listen to a podcast, or just take in the sights.