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Practical Advice for Working Women

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I am a 50-year-old, self-employed woman. I am often at work early and stay after hours; I could work 24/7 and still not get everything done! I need to incorporate exercise into my life but I honestly don’t know how! Help!

This is a common challenge. For weight control, physical health issues such as osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes and stroke, and possibly most importantly stress management, mood management and prevention of cognitive decline and memory issues, exercise is not an option but a necessity!

My first suggestion is to invest in a step tracker device and track for 2 days the number of steps you achieve in a 24-hour period. Once you get your baseline, take on the project of increasing daily steps by 2,000 per day with the long-term goal of achieving 12,000 steps per day. Research has shown that getting in a minimum of 10,000 steps a day is equivalent in calorie burn to an hour of hard labor in a gym! Stand up and walk around your desk while on the phone. Go to the bathroom five floors up in the building and take the stairs. Add a ten-minute walk around the building before work. Take a walk during your break and/or lunch. You’ll be surprised how quickly the steps add up when you track them.

Walking sets the foundation for advancing to investing in a Peloton bike to ride while streaming remote spin classes or a home cardio machine that you can add to your routine first out of bed in your pajamas or after you are home in your underwear! But you have to walk before you run, so take on the step project and see how much better you feel and look!

I am a working woman who has a desk job. Over the past five years I have gained 25 pounds. What is causing this weight gain and what can I do about it?

I ask all my female corporate workers who come to me for weight loss, “Why do you think you have gained weight?” Most state they are gaining weight due to work stress, sedentary lifestyle and not having energy to cook healthy meals.

From extensive assessment interviews as part of my Nutrition Start Up Program, average working women fall into a specific behavioral pattern with eating. Due to work pressure, they tend to eat fewer meals per day and the meals they do eat include larger portions. Snacks tend to be refined carbohydrates often paired with fat. And eating flood gates seem to open from 4:00 p.m. till bedtime, because eating less during the day and the pressure of the day have diminished will power. That state coupled with being over-hungry makes it difficult to control your consumption.

The solution depends on the woman’s individual circumstances, but here are two strategies. 

One, take advantage of one of the food services in our area. There’s a growing number of suppliers of ready-made, cooked, farm-to-table, healthy and tasty food who will deliver to your office or home on a regular basis. Order five or more meals ahead so that when you walk in your house at night, starving and exhausted, you have a portion-controlled meal that can be heated in the microwave.

Two, take an hour to outline a breakfast, lunch and a mid-afternoon snack that are portioned to be about 300 calories and have protein, carb and fat included. For instance, breakfast could be 1 egg and 3 ounces of egg whites scrambled, mixed with 2 ounces of guacamole and put into a sprouted corn wrap with a handful of baby spinach. Once you have outlined your meals on paper, pick a day to shop and stock up on what you need for a week. Then every day have the same breakfast, lunch and snack and let variation happen with dinner. Research shows that people who succeed at weight loss and maintenance tend to eat the same meals consistently with some variation. Then get in the habit of taking your daily meals to work.  

The idea is to standardize, habituate and create consistency on work days. This reduces stress, minimizes the chance of weight gain, increases productivity at work and gives you a sense of control.

Written by: Judy Torel

Judy Torel, owner of Judy Torel Fitness, is degreed, certified and credentialed in every discipline involved in changing habits that result in body changes. She holds certification through ACSM as an Exercise Specialist, nutrition certification through HealthExcel and a master’s degree from UAlbany in counseling psychology with a specialty in addictive behaviors. Judy is also a certified yoga instructor through Yoga Alliance and teaches meditation, breathing and physical yoga practice for stress and anxiety management. As a seven-time Ironman triathlete, she has dedicated her life to sharing the knowledge she has ascertained through her own experiences. Visit or call 518-469-0815 for more information about classes and her studio.