Active Jobs and Weight Loss Maintenance

I had a fairly productive day today!

Kris and I have been practicing getting up early because… I start a new job next week! I’ll need to be there at 8 am everyday, and while I’m used to getting up to take Kris to work by 8:30, I’m not quite used to getting up early enough to get both of us ready and out the door half an hour earlier! The good news is that the weather is warming up so we should both be able to bike to work, cutting down on the inconvenience that will arise from having 1 car and slightly different hours. Today getting up early was necessary, because Kris had a doctor’s appointment in another town at 8:30. No worries, just some boring (because they were normal) bloodwork results.

After we got home, I had to really motivate myself to go for my run (the rest of this post will get more into why I was so demotivated), but I went out and got in 4 miles before our “100% chance of rain” weather started around lunchtime. Then, after I got home, I set to work making a lunchbox for my bike that I adapted from this tutorial (I lined mine and put in insulation so that I can keep things cold with an icepack). I have panniers, but liked the idea of a bag I could attach somewhere else if I needed more room in the panniers or if it was a more casual day and all I needed to bring along was my purse and a lunch! While constructing it went very well (I made Kris one for Christmas so I was practiced at all of the quirks of the project), I did run into a couple of obstacles:

Misty trying to help. She also tried to climb into my sewing machine case! Oh, and that cute shoe fabric is the lining.

The bag is bigger than the triangle below my top tube 😦 I told Kris I’ll just have to buy a second bike so that I can use the lunchbox 😉

After all of that I even made a “nice” dinner of lentil curry for us. Now I’m sitting at Panera Bread relaxing. Warning: they somehow put twice as many calories into their baked goods as other businesses. The carrot cake muffin I had was almost worth it, though. The cinnamon crunch bagel (which I should have had instead) is more than worth it.


Now, on to the topic of this day’s post. When I started working as a server, I knew it would be a more active job and was glad that might help to burn off some of my winter fluffiness I’d packed on. I soon realized, though, that I was insatiably hungry all of the time and regularly going over my calorie limits – and still going to bed hungry! I felt very guilty about all of the breadsticks, mozzarella sticks, and wings I was devouring at work on top of all of my other food, and, as I mentioned a couple weeks ago when I set myself some short-term goals for the month, was guessing rather than losing weight I had probably gained it.

When I weighed myself at the beginning of March, though, I hadn’t gained a pound – I had to ask myself “why?”

When I began to think about it more seriously, I considered the fact that most calorie counters have an adjustment for how active your job is. I’ve always put in “sedentary” even though my jobs (teacher, retail) could probably be classified as closer to “lightly active” because I did not believe that I was burning the 200 extra calories that MyFitnessPal claimed per day at those jobs – I figured an extra active day was just an added bonus.

When I began working at the pizza place, I operated under the same assumption: perhaps I’d burn a few extra calories, but I’d just consider it an added bonus. When I realized that I was maintaining my weight pretty well despite my terrible diet, I looked to see what MFP thought I should be eating in my new occupation, which it classifies as “active” and was at first surprised to see it was 400 calories! But then I thought about it – I burn about 60 calories on a 20 minute (1 mile) walk. If I am walking for, say, 3 hours out of my shift, that would be over 500 calories burned – plus I am usually carrying heavy things around while doing it! I haven’t made it a habit to add 400 extra calories in a day, but I’ve felt WAY less guilty about munching on a breadstick if I am truly hungry since making that realization.

I would say that there are cons to having a more active job, though. If one’s active job is at a restaurant or retail store (well, one were food will be available), the temptation to eat food that is “bad” for you will be high once the insatiable hunger hits. Now, a breadstick isn’t inherently “bad,” but it isn’t very filling so if I eat that instead of a more filling snack, I am more likely to be hungry and eat even more calories later. I am also more likely to eat things that are calorie bombs, sending me well over my calorie limit even with the extra calories I burnt at my job, such as multiple slices of deep dish pizza (that I don’t even like! I’m just starving!).

If one doesn’t work at a restaurant, I’m guessing the opposite problem occurs – you are starving, but are too busy at work to get food, and are therefore under-fueled, irritable, and likely to grab fast food on the way home. I’m guessing in either scenario you are also more likely to want to come home and relax with a glass (or two) of wine/beer! I am guessing that you can connect many of the goals I have set myself for March with these particular problems that arise from working an active job at a restaurant, such as allowing fewer calories to be “empty” calories and trying to eliminate eating without purpose while at work.

My main approaches to combating this have been to bring healthy snacks along with me and to make sure that if I have a calorie bomb at work, I use it to replace my dinner (usually it turns out I’m not hungry after eating something like half a stromboli and 4 mozzarella sticks anyway).

Another problem I have found is that burning all of those calories at work is physically exhausting. Often, when I head out for a run, my legs are tired, stiff, and painful the whole time. The tiredness in my legs really slows me down – on days they are fresher, I am much much closer to my old paces; days like yesterday and today, I’m struggling to stay under 10 minutes per mile. My legs aren’t the only part of me that is sore, either – I’ve found that simple workouts with 3 lb weights as part of workout videos are more difficult now, even though I’m stronger, because my arms are always worn out! In general, I think that trying to work out 6 days per week AND work such an active job has really taken a toll on me – I don’t get any “real” rest days, so I always feel a bit run down. My run yesterday was miserable – my legs were in pain the whole time, and I felt sick to my stomach, which made it hard to motivate myself today. I felt a bit better today, but my legs still felt like crap, so I might give myself some “rest” tomorrow (I have an 8 hour shift) by skipping my 45 minute home workout I had planned to see if that helps at all.

Now, the fun part of all of this reflection will be that I’m moving to what is going to be, at least in comparison, a very sedentary job next week. Don’t worry, I have some plans for that I am working on to stay active and healthy 🙂

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