Health & Wellness

The 9-to-5 Survival Guide

Night classes and sleeping in are a thing of the past, graduate. Here’s how your new schedule will affect your weight loss.

You made it — you survived college on Plan. Sure, the late-night study sessions and beer-fueled frat parties might not have been the most healthy college experiences. But you tracked through them and you fit in your activity where you could. Your hectic, every-day-is-different schedule somehow — miraculously — became manageable.

At first glance, adjusting to a more structured life post-college might seem like smooth sailing compared to senior year. But be prepared for some unexpected obstacles: being stationary for longer periods, experiencing work-related stress and always being free for happy hour (yep, that’s an obstacle). With our strategies you’ll enter the workforce armed and ready to stay on Plan — and not let a little thing like the real world get in the way of your weight-loss success.

Take advantage of your newfound structure. “Your days are now less flexible than they were in college — and that’s a good thing,” says Jamie Schneider, a recent Muhlenberg College grad, WW staffer, and member. “Once I had a more-or-less set time to exercise and plan meals, those actions became habits that I didn’t have to think a whole lot about.”

Stock your kitchen. The dining hall is a thing of the past, but don't replace that convenience with the local drive-thru. Stock your pantry with the essentials — and get cooking with some of our healthy recipes. After all, you now have free evenings to grocery shop and prepare your meals. “If you’re a first-time cook, you can learn basic techniques online or even take a cooking class,” says Stephanie Mueller, a Cleveland State University-based Leader. “Cooking is a great way to control your food intake, and now’s the time since you can also bring meals with you to work. Before, you probably didn’t have access to a fridge throughout the day.” If you’ve moved back home after senior year, chat with your parents about your weight-loss goals and encourage them to make healthy family meals — or better yet, offer to cook yourself! 

Move a little more. Chances are, you’re going to be more sedentary at a desk job than when you were running from class to class in college. Take that into account when thinking about your fitness regimen — you may find you need an extra lap around the track or a few more squats per day. You can also incorporate more movement into your everyday activities. “Take the stairs or go to a bathroom on a different floor to get more walking in throughout the day,” says Mueller. “And go have a face-to-face with a co-worker instead of writing an email. The little steps add up.”

Find a buddy. “When I left college I was much less motivated to exercise since I didn’t have people my age around to go to the gym with,” Schneider says. “So I started taking group exercise classes like Zumba to find other people like me.”

Celebrate (responsibly). If you have a steady paycheck coming in, you might be tempted to go out and spend it with friends. Do so wisely. Instead of tacos and margaritas, get manicures or go to a movie. But don’t be unrealistic — happy hours are going to happen. “You’re going to want to be social with new co-workers, but take it slow,” Mueller advises. “Have a glass of water between drinks and have a healthy snack before you go so you’re not tempted by all the heavy bar food.”

Keep on trackin’. The more regular schedule has other perks, as well. Whether it’s on paper or on the WW app, more time in one place means more time to track — or better yet, pre-track — your meals.

Be a weekend warrior. “My senior year I didn’t even know what a weekend was,” recalls Schneider. “Between studying for exams and extracurriculars, I had very little free time.” Now with two full days off, you can devote a small portion of the weekend to staying on Plan: make food to bring to work for the upcoming week, squeeze in an extra workout and catch up on sleep — after four years, you deserve it.