When work pressures mount and stress levels rise, it's normal to turn to things that can provide comfort, such as empty-calorie snacks or packaged and processed foods in an attempt to alleviate feelings of anxiety.

Weight gain - and the activities that frequently contribute to it at the workplace - is a major concern. Consider these statistics compiled by the Heart and Stroke Foundation:

  • The biggest source of sugar in the average person's diet in Canada derives from sugar-laden drinks.
  • Approximately half of adults' daily calorie consumption comes from highly processed foods.
  • The caloric content from highly processed foods is two times higher today than it was 70 years ago.

No one has a perfect diet, so exercise can compensate. But when responsibilities on the job keep you at the desk for hours on end, it can be difficult to fit in a walk, a bike ride or a jog.

Here are a few things you can do to break the vicious cycle:

1. Recommend a Workplace Wellness Program
The facts are in - workplace wellness programs work. They can increase productivity by diminishing absenteeism when co-workers actively participate in them. They can also save your employer money. Based on a report from the Health Communication Unit at the Centre for Health Promotion that tracked a company's workplace wellness initiatives, for every $1 invested in health-related programs, the business experienced an average of $7 in savings. 

To encourage participation, you may want to develop a healthy living challenge with some incentives for winners and runners-up, advised The Huffington Post Canada.

Man pushing elevator button. Going up? Take the stairs instead of the elevator to the office and make it a routine.

2. Take the Stairs
Sure, it's quicker to take the elevator, but by taking the long way to the office, you'll burn more calories, which add up over time. Stair climbing is one of the more effective ways to get the heart rate elevated and helps improve energy at the same time.  

3. Establish a Routine
We tend to be creatures of habit, utilizing the same desk, lockers or seats everywhere we go. Routines bring a sense of comfort and stability. Develop a routine around your workday so you hit the gym for an hour or two before you head into the office or drive home. It can set the right tone for the day, or help you collect your thoughts as to how you'll tackle an upcoming project.

4. Prepare Your Lunch or Dinner
Regular exercise should be complemented with smart eating habits. This can be difficult on the job because there tends to be lots of "grab-and-go" options. Bringing your lunch doesn't have to be time consuming; it can be as simple as bagging some pre-cut vegetables along with some hummus for dipping. Made up primarily of chickpeas, hummus is loaded with fibre, healthy fats, and protein. It's also great as a sandwich spread.

5. Recruit Friends or Your Spouse
Tasks tend to be easier when we have others there to offer encouragement or support. Talk to co-workers or your significant other to see if they would be up for getting healthier. You could make it a group effort with everyone chipping in $10 or so to see who can lose the most weight. To the victor go the spoils.

Make 2019 the year your biggest weakness becomes your biggest strength. By modifying your work lifestyle, you can!