Avoid the Professional Version of the “Freshman 15”

When many of us take our first jobs, they come with a lot of perks we’ve not yet experienced – an expense account, regular happy hours, etc. I experienced this first hand…and gained a solid 15 pounds over my first year of employment. For my 5’1 frame, it was a super shocking, but the scale doesn’t lie. Looking back, I bypassed all the signs, one pound at a time.

Here are five steps you can take to avoid major weigh gain during your first year on the job:

1. Take Your Lunch

This one was hard for me, since my department went out for lunch consistently. Whether it be with each other, our supervisors, clients or colleagues within the community – lunch dates had a spot on our Outlook calendars daily. It was also challenging because my office was within walking distance of so many yummy choices – upscale Mexican and Chinese, burgers – even a steakhouse.

If you have a lot of temptations too, know that you can make a difference in your group. When one person begins to bring their lunch, even if it’s only twice a week, the effect can rub off on coworkers. Whether you claim it be for health reasons, or to save a few bucks, almost everyone can get behind that.

Also, pack something that you look forward to – don’t make it the same ham and cheese sandwich with a side of cottage cheese – you’ll just be tempted to join your coworkers. Start a Pinterest board with healthy lunch options and plan out your week the Sunday before.

2. Don’t Count Calories

I’ve been a notorious calorie counter since college, which some may say is a good thing. My calorie counting, however, got to a point where it became pointless. I was so worried about eating the right amount of calories, that I was eating the wrong kind of food. When I began letting my calorie counting go by the wayside and focusing on eating “real” food, natural and clean(er) food, I began seeing the weight that I had gained drop naturally.

3. Choose Booze or Coffee (Plus water, water, water)

A daily latte from Starbucks, plus a few martinis at happy hour can really add up (in more ways than one). Decide beforehand whether your day will be a coffee day or an alcohol day and replace the other drink with lemon water or green tea. If you screw up one day and have both, skip both the next day! By cutting your liquid calories down to approximately 150 a day, you’ll save room to fill up on calories that are much more beneficial.

4. Establish a Manageable Exercise Routine

I LOVE the idea of being a morning exerciser. And I was one at one time in my life. During my last semester of college I was working full time and had just gotten engaged. Getting in shape was important to me and the only time I could find to do this was every morning at 6:30 a.m. So I would set my alarm for 6 a.m., get to the gym for an hour or hour or so, run home to shower and get in to work around 9 a.m.

When I began working at my corporate job, rolling in around 9 a.m. was not encouraged, so I tried to set my alarm for 5 a.m. and waking up was just not happening. Now that I work from home, I feel the same way. I’m just not going to force myself out of the house without the deadline of a meeting or someone waiting for me, so I’ve set a new rule for myself: By lunch time, my work out has to be complete. I know I don’t do well with the post-work crowd either, so I had to find something that was manageable for me. And for those jam-packed days that I DO have to leave the house before the sun comes up? I get an accountability buddy.

5. Envision Your Desired Lifestyle

You know that girl you see in your head (or more realistic, on Pinterest) that you know you want to be? Write down what is it that makes her so attractive to you and go be her. Is it the girl who cooks healthy meals? The one who goes to spin class every Tuesday and Thursday? The one that spends her weekend hiking? Get out there and make it happen. Life is too short not to be proud of the person you push yourself to be.

Most importantly, listen to your body and be mindful of your habits. Extra pounds creep on quickly, but melt off slowly and we know you, Ms. Career Girl, want to be your fit, best self while tackling the problems of the world!


Audra Dinell

Audra Dinell is an Account Manager for Mantooth Marketing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado. Starting her career off in a prosperous, yet unfulfilling field pushed her to continue to take risks until she found the right fit. Audra is a big believer in doing what you love and loving what you do. Outside of work you can find her traveling, reading and planning a week's worth of outfits in one hour.