Freelancing is Making Me Fat

Freelancing is Making Me Fat - picture of woman's feet on a digital scale

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Yesterday, I wrote about how our May spending was out of control.  A convergence of excess social encounters and unrestrained grocery spending pushed our budget to its breaking point.  We crossed the threshold back into our old spending habits and we are working on reigning it back in.  Truthfully, I’m probably being a little hard on myself.  People go over their budget all the time, right?  In fact, the comments were filled with similar stories of booze filled weekends and overflowing grocery carts.  So, anyway.  I’m going to stop giving myself a hard time about it.  I’m determined to move on to June which will hopefully by kick-ass in terms of income and spending.

Still, I’m a little unnerved about another new development.  In addition to going over our budget by $400 last month, I gained 4 pounds. That’s one pound per week!  It probably doesn’t sound like a lot but I have a small frame.  Couple that with the fact that my weight hasn’t changed much in the past ten years.  I’ve lingered at around 130 pounds for as long as I can remember, and the only time I’ve put any excess weight on was when Greg knocked me up.  As Greg will attest, I spent the majority of my pregnancies crying, eating, and blaming Greg for various things.  Luckily, that’s behind us and I’ve successfully transitioned from young wife to MILF.

In an effort to retain my MILF status, I’ve been trying to understand why I’ve been gaining weight.  Since I quit my job and started freelancing, I’ve been eating extremely healthy.  In fact, working from home has allowed me extra time to properly prepare real meals for lunch.  I’m a very reasonable eater!  I’m also probably the only person I know who actually eats all of the recommended fruit and vegetable servings on a regular basis.

So, why am I gaining weight?

After being frustrated with my four pound gain, I started trying to figure out the reason for the sudden plump up.  It’s not like I’m throwing back Little Debbies all day or drinking Mountain Dew like it’s water.  So, here’s what I came up with.

Reason #1

One night we made a late night visit to Steak-n-Shake after going to a friend’s barbecue.  To my complete surprise, they had a veggie sandwich on the menu.  I ordered it and patiently waited to see what would be on this thing.  Basically, it was a wickedly delicious grilled cheese with lettuce, tomato, and portabella mushrooms on it.  I hope to God that nobody watched me eat that thing because I was slightly intoxicated and I’m pretty sure I inhaled it with wild abandon.  I don’t think I even chewed, let alone  displayed any sort of  proper etiquette.

Ever since then, Greg’s been trying to recreate that ooey gooey goodness.  Late night veggie melts have become commonplace in our house, and I think they may be playing a part in my recent chunk-up.  To put a stop to the madness, the days of the late night snacking must end.  From now on, the consumption of delicious grilled cheese sandwiches must take place during normal daytime hours and will preferably be in the form of an actual meal…not just a snack.

Reason #2

I’ve recently realized something about working from home.  I don’t f%&cking move!  For hours!  I literally sit in the same place without moving for hours on end.  I’m probably burning something like 14 calories a day!  And despite the fact that I’m exercising fairly regularly, I have a feeling that the fact that I’m sedentary is part of the problem.  Luckily, I have a solution to this dilemma.  My kitchen counter is the perfect height to allow me to stand as I type and I’ve started doing that a few hours a day.  It probably doesn’t sound like it would make a big difference but it really does!  I’m also trying to exercise twice a day – once in the afternoon and once in the evening.

Essentially, I just need to increase my exercise and decrease my mouth-watering grilled vegetable sandwiches.  I have basically been at my high school weight for the past ten years and I’m not going to let it all go to hell this late in the game!

So, how about you guys?  Any hot tips for avoiding delicious late night foods or burning extra calories without any effort would be appreciated.

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  1. I can’t say that I have been successful at it, but when it does work I tend to get more sleep and eat foods that are more satisfying (fruits, vegetables, oats, etc).

  2. Haha I don’t know about “without any effort” but I try to take some time out in the middle of the day to work out. Recently I’ve been spending that time blogging and I can feel the difference…a hard workout a few times a week can make a huge difference. And I don’t even eat that healthy.

    1. I agree with DC, harder is another word for increase the intensity Holly. I also think switching up the workouts does the body good as well. Variation plus intensity will equal great results.

  3. Good luck with the 4lb weight loss! Sounds like you found the culprit ; ) I would like to thank you for now making me crave cheese….

      1. Yeah, me too. I noticed I could see the lining of my pockets in the front of my pants yesterday, so I don’t need the grilled cheese.

        The trick, which I don’t always abide by myself, it to go for a walk every day. Not a short walk, but one that lasts a bit. It tends to help you move around for the rest of the day, too.

  4. I used to try and get out at lunchtimes for a walk but rarely succeeded! Could you try that perhaps – getting moving a bit more often?

    1. I’ve been exercising twice a day- once in the afternoon and usually once in the evening.

    1. Nice! I’m totally going to try electrocuting myself with junk food.

  5. it´s like reading about my last month! I´ve been sitting still for sooo many hours for soooo many days in a row (about 4-5 weeks) AND I´ve been having a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches too.. And I gained 4 pounds! I´ve cut off all grilled cheese, and I´ve started to be more active, so I´m hoping things will get back to normal soon!
    For late night snacks how about carrot sticks with a tzatziki dipping? Or a healthy frozen yoghurt made by plain sugarfree yoghurt and frozen berries?
    try some exercise videos, or something as easy as jumping jacks and a jumping rope? 10 -15 minutes of each, every day, will quickly affect your weight!

    1. I never used to be a snacker so I hope to just stop snacking altogether!

  6. If I could find a way to make people burn extra calories with out any effort I wouldn’t give it away for free on the interwebs… I would sell it on a stupid informercial and get Vince Offer(used to be Schlomi) to pitch it.

    Really the only way to stop eating late night snacks is to just not do it, or to substitute something that is filling but low on calories like lettuce and other leafy greens. As far as buring extra calories you may just have to go for a daily walk during “lunch” or taking up 4:30 am running sessions (they suck at first but then they feel great!)

    1. Maybe I’ll get one of those ab belts featured on infomercials. Then I can work on getting rock solid abs all day as I type!

  7. I’ve been trying to buy less easy-to-make meals. And then buying more fruits and vegetables for my snacks. It has worked so far!

  8. Sounds like you’ve figured out the calories in < calories out equation, now you just have to successfully put it into practice! I've cut down on my evening snacking as well, I find that just having three meals per day instead of three meals + a ton of snacks has made a big difference with my weight. My trick is to make a wicked breakfast every morning, so that when I'm hungry at 11pm, I know that I can not indulge, because I've got an awesome breakfast waiting for me when I wake up.

  9. Best to get up and have a regular routine when working from home. I find if I take a shower get dressed take breaks and go outside for a walk for lunch I am more active. Then there are the days I wake up early and bust out all my work so I can then do things I couldn’t when I worked like hit the gym or beach. That grill cheese just looks like weight gain!

  10. Holly, one of the things I do during non gardening months is to watch how often I get up and absentmindedly head straight to the kitchen. Now, when I get up I allow myself to either just get water or I clean. I set my timer for 15 minutes and I clean or do laundry or take the dogs out.

    This is gardening season, so I usually don’t put on weight….but with 50+ hours each week of sedentary freelance work I don’t lose much either. I’m going to try the typing at the kitchen counter thing.

  11. I do pre allocated servin sizes when I work from home, which helps the mindless snacking. I also like to get in extra workouts in the morning and afternoon, figuring since I’m not wasting time commuting I should do 20 minutes of exercise around the neighborhood instead.

  12. It’s funny because I gained like 20 lbs when I started in an office job. I lost around 15 of them, but still. I try to make it a habit to get up and walk around, or stretch, even once an hour.

    1. I did fine at my old office job because I was always running around everywhere.

    2. I did fine at my old job because I was constantly moving around everywhere.

  13. I feel your pain Holly. We have run into the same thing ourselves and we don’t eat that bad really, but the being sedentary all day can be a killer. I’ve tried walking in the morning, but that is prime time working time for me as the kiddos are not up yet. I try and throw in a walk around lunchtime or we go on a family walk after dinner.

    1. That’s what we’ve been doing. My kids love being pulled around the neighborhood in their wagon after dinner.

    1. I can totally relate. We try not to buy junk food- makes things easier!

  14. I had the opposite problem, I put on weight when I started my first full-time job after law school. Coworkers were constantly bringing in baked goods, and I was too tired/lazy to exercise after working a full day.

    When I’m at home, I get rid of temptations by not storing junk food in the house and try not to eat after dinner because that’s when I crave snacky foods. I stash a resistance band next to the computer so I can do some curls with one arm while the other is surfing the net, lol.

    1. People always brought in food at my old job too! Cheese balls and crackers, brownies, cookies, pizza. I never had a problem with it at the time.

  15. I also sit all day at work (I have a long commute driving too) and I’ve been reading and hearing that a sedentary lifestyle is very unhealthy…even if you do exercise. So I’ve been trying to get up at least every hour from my desk to move around and do something, and during lunch I go for a walk. You can also try standing rather than sitting while you work. I thought about that but my co-workers might think I’m wierd…if they already don’t think that.

    1. I’m standing as I type this. It’s not that bad. It definitely requires more effort.

  16. What about walking Pablo the dog genius during your lunch break? I’m sure he would appreciate it.

    1. I have been every day. He loves it! He thinks he’s the king of the neighborhood!

  17. Snacking on fruits and vegetables whenever you feel the need to eat outside of regular meal hours has really helped me.

    1. Definitely preferable to snacking on greasy grilled cheese.

  18. You are on the right track by standing while typing. A lot of my coworkers have been doing it; they read an article about how it’s healthier. I’ve also heard of people getting treadmill desks, but they are expensive! Being sedentary is definitely not good for you. I hate sitting all day at my office job, I feel so lazy!

    Since you’re already exercising, the only other advice I would offer is to try and go for walks often, and to stop buying unhealthy snacks/ingredients. When I don’t have crap to eat, I don’t have a choice in the matter, and I am not about to waste gas/time traveling to the grocery store for a chocolate bar. Eliminate the temptations, and you will adjust.

    1. Treadmill desks? That sounds crazy. I can type and stand but I don’t think I could type and walk! =)

  19. Oh my, that cheese sandwich looks so delicious! I like working out first thing in the morning – I think it helps me make better food decisions most of the time (though definitely not all of the time). I also try hard to not snack about 3-4 hours before bedtime – it’s worked for me, though I don’t know if there’s any scientific evidence behind it. I just figured eat then use the calories when I’m up and active!

  20. Wow that sandwich sounds amazeballs! Can’t say I blame you. I’ve recently tried to reel in my snacking/portion sizes too so I use myfitnesspal occasionally to see how all that mindless eating really ads up. It helps me get back on track a bit. Make sure you drink enough water too because dehydration makes you feel hungrier than you already are. Good luck!

  21. I don’t gain weight. I have a CRAZY metabolism, so I’ve always been the skinny guy. So, to answer you question, no, I don’t have any helpful tips, lol.

  22. I don’t know how much help I can be since I’m a broke college kid who doesn’t ever eat right BUT I’m sure you’ll think of something! I didn’t know MILF was a status moms actually knew about and wanted to attain…I think I like where this is going lol

  23. It can be tough to get dedicated exercise time while working from home, but you need to get out once in a while and walk or run or cycle or whatever, to make up for the workout you did at work. I take 30 min in the morning and 30min at night to go out and swim or run and it helps wash off the work day too.

  24. My favorite lunch of choice was a quesadilla until I noticed I was gaining weight. This occurred despite my exercise program. I was riding my bicycle 90 minutes a day 7 days a week. For me, the exercise is my time to think. I get great ideas riding, but I wish I could write them down. 🙂

  25. I know if I ever start working from home full time, I will make bad eating decisions. Now, I have a packed lunch all ready to go. If I was home, I would rummage for bad things more than likely.

    As for weight loss – I work out on my lunch hour now, so I suspect I would do the same. You could drink lots of water. That would hopefully help you feel more full and force you to get up from the computer to hit the restroom :).

  26. Snacking can make things difficult. You have to keep enough healthy stuff around to make sure that you only have good options.

  27. I’ve noticed since I changed my sleeping schedule and am getting up much earlier to run (usually 4:00 – 5:00 am), I am ready for bed at about 9:00. That is only about 3 hours removed from dinner, so I’m not real hungry in the evening. Going to bed with an empty stomach is a big deal when it comes to maintaining or losing weight.

  28. One thing that I make sure I do is go for a walk everyday. I sit all day long and it is imperative that I get out and walk. I also don’t eat that many grilled cheeses, though delicious, cheese is never that good for you.

  29. Not exactly freelancing, but I know what you mean about the change in habits when you start sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day. Definitely way to much sitting for me so I tend to get up all the time and walk around. I’ve heard, even if you exercise daily it doesn’t really reverse the effects of sitting all day.
    Also late night snacks are killer.

  30. I thought a lot about what kinds of things I would have to incorporate into my lifestyle if I worked from home. First, I would still be an early riser, for the pure fact that I feel like I get so much more done and feel a heck of a lot more productive during the day.

    Second, I would work a morning fitness routine into my mornings as well. The early part of the day is when you are the most productive and have the most energy so I would start with a workout or jogging. I’m actually trying incorporate this one into my lifestyle now so when I do go full time it’s already being done.

    Third, I would limit what I drink and eat during a day. I would stick to water and coffee for drinks except during dinner. As for food I would eat lite and no junk food during the day.

    Hope this helps Holly.

  31. I had a similar issue where I felt I was eating better and exercising but not losing any weight. I used My Fitness Pal to track it and then realized that I was consuming more calories than I thought. It definitely helped me figure out the problem.

  32. It’s not just freelancing it’s anyone who works at a job where they are not moving. It’s important to not only eat healthy and drink lots of water but to get up and stretch every once in a while. If one has a desk job than consider going for a walk, jog or doing some form of activity every single day to keep the body fit. I pretty much do a workout every single day coupled with healthy eating with a cheat day, loads of water and vitamins. I’m sure you will have the 4lbs gone in no time. P.S Our budget for May and June is blown out of the water… pet almost $2k at the vet alone!!! I’m sure I’ll be updating all about it. It’s hard but the money was saved for these times even if they cause setbacks in our goals.

  33. Spouse is a tiny, little thing – but she eats like she’s an nfl linebacker. It’s her metabolism. We joke that she should really weigh about 350 lbs. She goes to business lunches (mostly with men) orders way more than they do, they kind of giggle/joke and then place bets that she won’t eat a fraction of it. When she polishes it ALL off, they’re aghast. I ask her what her secret is and she says it’s just the metabolism she was born with. Sometimes I think you ought to just let your body do what it feels the need to do. Harmony = Happiness.

    Lighten up on yourself. You’ve just gone thru a very stressful transition (and still are). Give yourself a break. Quit thinking about it so much and everything will even out. Best of luck.

  34. Girl, I’m sure you’ll be back to your old weight in no time! Grilled cheese sounds amaze-balls though.

    I humbly request a post on your new daily schedule! 🙂

  35. Mr. Bonner says:

    I like the inverse relationship between personal finance and fitness. PF benefits when you spend less than you earn while your health benefits when you spend more than you take in.

    Sounds like you need a fitness spreadsheet! Track your estimated caloric intake and how much you’re burning. There are a ton of fitness and nutrition apps that can help with those estimates. Good luck!

  36. In my first two years of working from home, I ended up gaining a bit over 20 lbs and today, two years more after the shock I had when I checked out my weight, I am still over the ideal weight. So yes, this is a real problem, but it’s good that you have it figured out and will do your best to fix it.

    And regarding the kitchen counter – that is an amazing idea! I have been trying to find a way to write while standing (I have no kitchen counter to fit the description), I am sure that would help a lot, also with the back pain that follows such a long period of sitting.

  37. Yum! That grilled cheese looks so enticing I wanna make one for my right now. Even though I’m busy, I try to find time to jog or go to the gym.

  38. Okay wow… that grilled cheese sandwich looks divine. I have to make one now!

    Um, I mean good luck in your weight loss and all Holly – don’t want to in any way make the matters worse by re-enforcing the deliciousness of the food you’re trying to resist, but c’mon, that just looks heavenly.

    I shall be back in about… 10 minutes. Making a grilled cheese :)!

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