The Cut’s guide to self-improvement without spending a million dollars.
Welcome to 2016: a new year and thus, a new you, determined to undo the barrage of cookies on constant rotation in the company kitchen. If you’re on a diet or are just trying to eat better in 2016, there are ways to survive everyday office life without sacrificing the smug feeling that comes from the loss of one pound and the extending of one’s lifespan by six full days. You too can live to be the healthy girl in the office who actually forgoes the breakfast pastry because she “already ate egg whites for breakfast.” Or at the very least you can make it until February. Or, man, January 15. After all, you can’t spell willpower without “wow” and “roll.” I promise that pulling off the office diet is not as hard as it looks.
Find a work mom or dad. Everybody is familiar with the work wife: the woman or man in your office who exists to keep you company, gossip, and tell you when your shirt is see-through. The work mom/dad is like that, but mean. Beauty editor Kathleen Hou suggests finding a person who is willing to both straight-talk and side-eye you when you go to grab even the smallest crumb of coffee cake. Your work mom is tasked with yelling sternly, “DON’T EAT THAT OR YOU’LL REGRET IT.” They are brutal but they love you, somewhere inside of their dark hearts.
Get snacks diverted to another area of the office, far, far away from you. When asked how to avoid the inevitable ground zero in the office where all the good snacks get left for free nibbling, one Cut writer explained that at a former job, the snack table was situated close to her desk. How did she handle this constant source of temptation? “I lied and said I’d gotten a request from building management that all snacks had to be kept in the kitchen.” You too can become a liar — for your health.
Locate other dieters and start a shaming Slack/chat channel. Right before the start of the New Year, myself and two of my less-attractive colleagues started a private Slack channel dedicated to our commitments to either “getting skinny” or just not eating like total slobs every day. It’s a good place to shame your colleagues into eating better. When one member of the channel explained that she’d broken her strict wellness plan by “ordering a milkshake,” we both seized the opportunity to boo, heckle, and yell at her until she wimpered. No pain, no gain.
Don’t rely on salad to keep you full. Susan Rinkunas, the Cut’s extremely knowledgeable health writer, advises “eating real meals if you want to avoid the dreaded Magnolia cupcake later,” meaning not the pathetic work salad but not Chipotle either. Hearty grains and proteins and lots of leafy greens. But if you’re craving that Magnolia cupcake (or thousands of them), don’t deny yourself the pleasure. “Go ahead and take a piece of whatever is in the kitchen if you want it and then effing enjoy it,” Rinkunas told me. “Beating yourself up is no good and food guilt/shame can actually lead to weight gain.”
Exercise. You need it. Find a way to be constantly working out at your desk. Twitch incessantly. Tap your toes. Play air drums. Run laps around your cubicle. The more energy you expend, the more calories you can consume. Last I checked, typing is not aerobic exercise but burpees in the office kitchen are.
Unfollow all snack-based Instagrams. Were you salivating at the thought of getting a cake with Drake lyrics on it? Do you often find yourself scrolling mindlessly through SAVEUR’s perfectly curated Instagram page? You’re not doing yourself any favors, just unfollow them all. Alternately, you can pick up some new follows in the way of health and wellness bloggers, but are you really that hard up for new ways to make your eyes roll out of your head? Stick to the good meme accounts and leave it at that.
Quit your job. You never really liked that job anyway and this diet thing is a real drag.
Run away to Guadalajara. You quit your job and stopped dieting, so now you’re going to have a lot of free time. May as well get the hell out of this town of sad dreams and broken promises.
Never come back. You may be in Guadalajara, but you never have to worry about nibbling on raw almonds while Cindy goes on about how far she ran this morning ever again. You love it here. You start a new life. One night you wake up in a sweat having dreamed about promising your work mom that you’d never eat Munchkins again. Look around you: You’re free. Smile. Life is good. Every day’s a cheat day.