Sunday, July 20, 2008

more on the commuter weight

I saw the movie WALL-E last night. I loved it, but of course was clobbered with the none-too-subtle message that our consumerist culture has made us fat, disconnected, and unhappy. (Because the movie so rightly criticizes the way we are burying ourselves in unnecessary junk and drinking billions of calories, it seems especially ironic that you can buy a plastic WALL-E cup with a built-in straw.) The movie takes place in the far-off future, but it's easy to see echoes of our modern commuter lifestyle.

I really noticed a big change in my life when I started commuting a long distance to work by car. I had been spoiled by living within walking distance to work for a long time. Once I started getting into that car every day, I put on weight quickly. I didn't even pick up the worst commuter habits: I never hit the drive-through on my way to or from work, I didn't usually eat at my desk, and I didn't start loading up on fancy coffee drinks. Our office rarely had food-related celebrations. I tried to get a walk in at lunchtime, even if it was to lunch and back. The biggest bad habit I picked up was eating lunch out most days. I also found it hard to find the time or energy to hit the gym. Plus, I was traveling a lot and had very little control over the food available to me at events. So, in less than a year, I put on 10 pounds of commuter weight to go with the 10 extra pounds I was already struggling with. I won't say that I left that job only because of the weight concerns, but it was one of the symptoms that I wasn't living the kind of life I wanted.

I am not sure how people who do this for long periods of time -- some do it their whole working lives -- don't pile on megapounds. There do seem to be some people who manage it. The only thing I can guess at is that they keep their diet very strictly regimented, and that they go to the gym every day, maybe on their lunch hours. Anyway, I give them a lot of credit, because it must be very difficult.


  1. I'm very lucky that I wanted to establish good habits as soon as I began working - going to the gym directly after or before work, and incorporating runs, swims and the occasional gym visit at lunchtime (the gym isn't close to the office, so it's not feasible to go there everyday as to facilitate a one-day-a-week-lunchtime-trip, I need to trim 15 minutes off two of my other lunches.)

    As for the eating lunch at the desk thing?

    *looks right*

    *looks left*

    Everyone in my office does that. In fact, I eat breakfast at my desk too. Who say's it's a bad thing? :-D

  2. Good for you for leaving an unhealthy work environment! Are you working somewhere more condusive to healthier practices? I have a job that requires what I consider to be a long commute, too. I drive at least an hour everyday. It's frustrating and I wish I lived somewhere where I could walk to do anything! Thanks for the post!

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  4. I had a similar situation happen when I moved from NYC to L.A. -- in NYC I got TONS of inadvertent exercise (including living in a 6th floor walk-up). When I moved to L.A. and got a car, I gained...a lot. Funny considering how people think L.A. is oh-so-healthy. ;-) And we are, but I have had to make getting exercise something I actually pay attention to rather than getting it inadvertently (although, God knows, I was far from thin in NYC!).


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07