I've seen many men and women who were extremely talented, well-paid, and promotable. But they understood that they could go even farther in their careers if they were more "presentable." Many of my patientsboth men and womentell me that once they lost weight, they were suddenly treated differently at work.
One woman who holds a very high position at a global firm estimates that being severely overweight has probably cost her several million dollars in lost compensation. Men are beginning to realize that the same may be true for thembut having been less sensitive about weight, some have been slower to understand the professional and economic cost of being overweight. When they come to the door of my office, however, they're prepared to make some weight-loss choices that they feel will keep their options open.
As you begin using the information here, you may be facing similar issues in your professional life.
Meet Your Challenges
Over the course of my career, having interviewed thousands of people who are concerned with weight loss, I have discovered that each individual faces different challenges. But many are in similar situations in terms of their lifestyles and schedules. Here are the four lifestyle situations that seem to pose the most problems.
- Tied to a desk. Let's face it: Many people who spend a lot of time in the office have fairly sedentary lifestyles. Lunch may be catch-as-catch-can from a vending machine, the office cafeteria, the local sandwich shop, or some other source. Often, food choices are limited, and snacks are all too availableno farther away than the desk drawer or office refrigerator.
If you're in this situation, you may find that you have a low-energy period in the late afternoon. The temptation is to remedy the problem with a "sugar fix." And, of course, if you're in an office all day, your responsibilities don't end there. Pressured by family demands or other obligations, you may be tempted to pick up convenience foods for breakfast or dinner. Again, your options may be limited because you need to act fast to get food on the table.
- Home with the family. Stay-at-home moms (and dads) often have big snacking problems. When kids leave food on their plates, parents naturally hate to see it go to waste. So they take a bite here, a bite there, and it all adds up.
Also, in many families with children, it's likely there will be more junk food around. Chips and cookies find their way in, and when you have easy access, that's another problem. When you're spending a lot of time near "kid food," it's all too easy to grab a handful while you're taking care of the family.
- Eating on the run. Young, single students are typical on-the-run eaters. But you may have the same eating pattern if you're so busy that you rarely cook. If you have little time to eat, you may be picking up practically all your meals. You get breakfast from a deli or coffee shop. Lunch may be fast food or whatever the nearest street vendor has to offer. Dinner ends up being takeout. It's not uncommon to skip a meal or two, then eat as much as necessary to fill yourself up.
Often, this eating style is driven by necessity, and in some professions, nearly everyone eats this way. Police officers, for instance, rarely have time for sit-down meals, except when they're off duty. Department store clerks and other retail personnel have irregular breaks, so they can't count on fixed schedules. In fact, anyone who has to eat out most of the week is likely to have an eating-on-the-run lifestyle.
- Wined and dined around the clock. Executives who spend a lot of time doing business in social situations are likely to eat well but rarely on the same schedule. They may start their days with a "power breakfast," hold a meeting at lunch, and go to a social event for dinner. If your lifestyle is like this, you're probably traveling a great deal, often grabbing a bite while you're on the road, in an airport, on a plane, or in a hotel.
Each one of these lifestyle situations makes different kinds of demands on us, and in each case, your food choices vary. That's why I do food demonstrations with so many different kinds of foodsnot just things that you'll find in the cupboard or refrigerator but also with fast foods, street-vendor foods, take-out and restaurant foods, and common snacks.
Reprinted from Dr. Shapiro's Picture Perfect Weight Loss: The Visual Program for Permanent Weight Loss by Dr. Howard M. Shapiro, Copyright 2000. Permission granted by Rodale, Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling (800)848-4735 or visit Rodale's website at www.rodalestore.com.