Office diet clubs and groups

by Ali on November 24, 2008

Wish you didn’t have the day job? Convinced you’d do better if you could just get away from the pressures of work? Think again! You can make office life a positive influence when it comes to eating healthily and losing weight by joining – or starting – a workplace slimming group.

Here in the UK, Weight Watchers has announced a scheme to start clubs in workplaces, called, imaginatively enough “At Work”. (In the US, this has been going for a while.)

Advantages to an office diet group

The office can be full of temptations and pitfalls for the unwary dieter. Whether it’s the buffet at a meeting, the colleagues who (unwittingly or otherwise) sabotage your diet, or the effects of stress, it’s easy to pile on the pounds whilst at work.

Being part of a diet, health or weight-watching group, then, could make all the difference. Having the support and encouragement of workmates who share your goals can be a huge boost to motivation – very much needed when it comes to turning down a cookie during that mid-afternoon energy slump. And the occasional element of competition might not go amiss either; if you know you’re having a weigh-in on Monday, your office diet club might boost your self control even when you’re not at work over the weekend…

Some dieting groups like to use slimming as a way to donate to charity, perhaps with each member giving $1 or £1 each week that they lose weight, and paying a “penalty” of $2 or £2 for no loss or a gain.

As well as the support of colleagues, the plans used for work-based clubs are more likely to fit into your lifestyle — and the meetings can be easily arranged during a lunch-hour or straight after work.

The Weight Watchers AT WORK program is a group participation program designed to support the special weight loss needs and concerns of working people.
- UFC – Classes – Healthy Living

Weight Watchers at Work is a respected, popular, successful campus program. Hundreds of UVM employees have successfully lost weight and reached their goals since the Weight Watchers at Work started five years ago. The convenience of having the weekly meetings on campus has enabled busy employees to take advantage of this successful program.
- Weight Watchers at Work, The University of Vermont

(Possible) Disadvantages to an office diet group

So what are the drawbacks to dieting along with your office-mates? Usually, all will go well, but you might want to be prepared to deal with any problems that do arise. These might be:

  • Some people getting too competitive and being insensitive towards members of the group who haven’t lose weight.
  • Coworkers who are overweight but not in the group getting pressured to join. (They may have health issues that mean they can’t diet, or they may simply be happy with their size – either way, it’s not fair for an overzealous diet group to make them feel uncomfortable.)
  • Dieting talk taking over the office, and boring everyone else to tears!

In general, so long as the group members are sensitive towards one another and to other colleagues, it’s likely that an office diet group will be a supportive, fun and motivational experience for all involved. Many office dieters have commented that sharing something personal like weight concerns is a good way to feel closer to colleagues and to get to “really know” people.

Talk your boss into it

Could you get your employer on board, either with Weight Watchers or with a similar club-based plan? The Daily Telegraph (a national UK newspaper) notes that:

With 18 million working days lost annually to weight-related illnesses, there is an incentive for companies to join the NHS in tackling the obesity crisis.

The work-based weight loss clubs which require a fee (such as Weight Watchers) are great ones to encourage your boss to pay part or all of the costs for! If you do decide to go for this route, try getting together a few like-minded colleagues who can help you persuade the management team that healthier, fitter employees are happier and harder-working.

And if you do start a group, make sure you get all the others to bookmark The Office Diet. You can even sign up to free RSS updates and/or email updates (pop your address in the top right corner).

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