weight gain behind a desk

I am not a dietician, a nutritionist, a doctor, a trainer, etc. Please consult a doctor before beginning any diet program.

photo credit: swruler9284

As promised, a continuation on my story of woe. Once I graduated from college, I got a job with a Big 4 (Big 6 at the time) firm. A job at the Big 4 is a little different from typical desk jobs. You move from client to client every few weeks. As you progress upwards, you may have more clients and so begin to go to one on Monday and another one on Tuesday. By the time I finished my career in the Big 4 I had eight clients (seven small to medium and one massive, year-round monster client). Then I switched to internal auditing which was much the same, only within a single company. So from 1994 to 2000 a typical day for me involved several very negative factors for fitness and only one good one:

  • Long hours. During busy season I would work 80 hours without thinking much of it. I once worked 110 hours during a week, including two days staying in the office until 4 AM. During “slow season” I would still probably put in 50 hours a week or so.
  • Random food intake. Part of the long and very hectic hours was a tendency to do one of two things for meals: either zip off to a restaurant for a long “working” meal with colleagues and try to unwind over rich food, or eating a hurried lunch designed to tide me over until I could “eat properly.” A joke explains it perfectly: “How do you know you work in public accounting? If in the last week you ate at least one meal at a five-star restaurant and at least one meal from a vending machine.”
  • No exercise routine. I never exercised. To put this in perspective: if you work an eighty hour week, your weekdays are probably about 12-13 hours each and your weekends are probably something like 10 hours on Saturday and 6 hours on Sunday.  To put that in further perspective, if you have a 30 minute commute (and I seldom have had one that short) if you leave home at 8:30 am on a weekday morning, you will typically return to your home at 9 or 10 pm.  Tell me where you jam exercise into that schedule, plus do the wash, pay the bills, etc. It’s just not happening.  I joined a gym from time to time, but my main use of the gym was to go sit in the sauna on weekends.
  • Stress, stress, stress. I was stressed almost all the time. Stress causes weight gain.
  • Caffeine. I kept inhaling diet Cokes during this time, and no matter what you may read on the bottle or hear from the company, I don’t think you can drink 10 of them per day and not gain weight.
  • The only good aspect was walking. I did have to walk a lot – back and forth from my desk to the client’s desk, between different clients, to the office, up and down stairs if we were on different floors from the client and often in Russia back and forth to the subway. Walking did not help as much as you would think, unfortunately.
  • So what was the result of this lifestyle? While in the States, immediately after college, slow weight gain. While in Russia, I started piling on the weight. After I returned to the States and started traveling frequently for business (lots of rich paid-for-by-the-company food) I hit my maximum of almost 315 pounds. At that point I was eating out of control and had almost no physical exercise.
    In August 2000 I was walking up a single flight of stairs from the New York subway when I had to pause and catch my breath once I reached the sidewalk. I realized at that point something had to change, and it did…