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7 Ways to Win the Desk Diet

Desk-job dieters have a common concern: How am I supposed to lose weight when I'm sitting in front of a computer all day? It's a good question, says Melinda Hemmelgarn, MS, RD, nutritionist at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. After all, "weight control is simply a mathematical equation - in order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you take in." Sitting at a desk, you're sedentary and more likely to snack, so the equation you're shooting for can be thrown off-kilter.

The answer, then, is to make the most of your desk's diet potential. We surveyed weight loss experts and dieters who've done it. Here are the tricks they believe work best.

Snack wisely.
"A lot of people snack while they sit at the computer," says Hemmelgarn. If you're one of them, be prepared. Keep healthy options handy so you don't rush off for an emergency visit to the vending machine. We saw one dieter's smart suggestion on the message boards, too: Keep snacks not at your desk, but stowed away in a file cabinet. Out of sight, out of mind.

Drink up.
In the same way, if water is in sight, you'll easily drink your six 8-ounces glasses by the end of the day. Keep a bottle or glass full of fresh water next to your computer at all times.

Plan lunch.
"I eat half of my lunch at 11:30; then, when the mid-afternoon munchies hit, I eat the other half," wrote another dieter on the message boards. Scheduling your lunch to protect against cravings is smart. Also, suggests, Hemmelgarn, it's best to bring your lunch from home.

"Even if it's just 10 minutes of exercise at a time," says Leanne Wagner, a certified personal trainer based in Los Angeles, "get up and move whenever possible." Try: Eating your lunch at a park a few blocks away, and walking there instead of driving. Walking to a colleague's desk rather than e-mailing or calling. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Parking as far away from the front door as possible. Including exercise breaks in your calendar. Treat them just as you would any other appointment - you have to be there! Place your wastepaper basket far away from your desk so you'll have to move to throw away garbage. Place your phone out of reach so you'll have to stretch or even get up to answer it.

Exercise during off hours.
Get in exercise before and after work to make up movement lost to your computer. "If you don't live too far, think about walking to work," suggests Wagner. "And if that's not possible, instead of spending an extra hour sitting in traffic, find a gym near your office and go there instead. Once you're done exercising, rush hour will be over and you'll still be home at the same time."

Find help with friends.
Get your co-workers in on the weight loss game. That way, you can encourage each other throughout the day, have healthy lunches together and exercise together on breaks. "I'm in a Weight Watchers At Work plan," wrote a member on the message boards, "so I have a fairly strong network of fellow [dieters] here on the job. I think that has been a huge help."

Use your tools.
With's online weight-loss tools, your computer can become an essential part of your plan. Use free time at your desk to log foods into your journal, plan your meals, research exercise options, get encouragement and advice in the Community, and more! Click here to find the online weight-loss plan that works best for you.

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