News Flash: It’s Difficult to Lose Weight While Working from Home

04.5.2011 | 2:11 pm

Back in the early days of January of this year, I mentioned that I had taken delivery of a Gary Fisher Trek Superfly 100 — an awesome full-suspension 29′er mountain bike I have wanted ever since I first rode one — but that I would not build or ride this bike until I had gotten my weight down from the 171.4 pounds I weighed at the time to a good race weight of 158 pounds.

Well, I am happy to announce that during the four months that have elapsed since this time, I have lost a staggering 1.2 pounds.

In order to give myself the credit I deserve, I’d like to spell that amount out, and put it in italics: One point two pounds.

Okay, so that equates out to…um, 0.15 ounces lost per day.

So perhaps an explanation is in order.

An Important New Formula

Really, this explanation is sadly simple: I work from home about 90% of the time. And, as I’m discovering, it’s really, really difficult to lose weight when you’re working from home.

Why? Easy: because the kitchen is about 40 feet away. Or really, it’s about seven feet away, if I were to get literal. But since it’s a lot easier to walk up stairs from the basement into the kitchen than it is to drill a hole in the ceiling and climb up a ladder through this newly drilled hole into the kitchen, let’s go with that original figure of 40 feet.

Which is still really, really close, by the way. Some might even say too close. In fact, I’ve come up with formula that describes the difficulty of losing weight working so close to the kitchen:

D = 1/P


D = Difficulty of losing weight, expressed as a percentage.

P = Number of feet one must travel to go from workplace to the kitchen.

So, some examples of what this formula means:

1. Since I work about 40 feet from the kitchen, my D measurement is approximately 2.5%. This may seem like a small number, until you consider that I used to work about 10 miles from my kitchen, which has a D measurement of approximately .0019%. Or, in other words, it’s now about 1315 times more difficult for me to lose weight now, since I work about 1315 times closer to my kitchen.

2. If you work 1 foot from the kitchen, you have a D measurement of 100%, which means the difficulty of losing weight is as hard as it could possibly be. Which sounds about right.

3. If you work in the kitchen, this formula gives you a “divide by 0″ error, which means it would be entirely impossible for you to lose weight. Which also sounds about right.

A Practical Example

To help you understand this formula, I’d like to excerpt several moments from my typical workday for you:

9:30am: It’s been an hour since I finished breakfast and have come downstairs to work. I find myself hungry. Bravely and wisely, I ignore the hunger.

9:35am: Perhaps I could eat a grapefruit. Those have negative calories, if I understand correctly.

9:36am: As long as I’m up here getting grapefruit, I’ll just have a handful of cereal, too. Those Toasted Oatmeal Squares are a crunchy little bit of heaven.

10:20am: What, not lunchtime yet? Maybe one of those little yogurts I keep in my mini-fridge down here. Those only have 70 calories, and they take the edge off the hunger.

10:21am: You know what would go well in this yogurt? A spoonful or two of granola. I’ll just run upstairs and get it.

10:22am: As long as I’m here, there’s no harm in having another handful of the Oatmeal Squares. I probably burned off that many calories going up the stairs anyway.

11:40am: It just occurred to me: I haven’t had any peanut butter at all today. Maybe I’ll run upstairs and have a spoonful. Or maybe I’ll spread it on the heel of a bread loaf. After all, nobody else in the family likes the heel; if I don’t eat them they’ll just go stale and to waste.

11:41am: What’s a slice of bread with peanut butter without honey on it?

11:41:30am: Hey, look — there are two heels that haven’t been used for this loaf. I could make a PBHH2 (Peanut Butter, Honey, Heel x 2) sandwich.

12:30pm: Wow, lunchtime finally. I am starved. I’ll just have the second half of the tuna salad I made for The Runner and me before she took off for work this morning. I’m on a diet, after all.

1:55pm: Time to go up and check on how that Chicken and Tortilla soup I’ve got going in the crockpot is doing — take out the chicken (so it doesn’t overcook), put in some corn tortillas. It smells pretty good!

1:57pm: I really shouldn’t have any more handfuls of cereal today. On the other hand, a handful of cashews would go really well with the Diet Coke I cracked open at lunchtime.

3:15pm: My mind’s fried. I need a break. I think I’ll walk upstairs and grab another handful of those cashews. Those were so good.

3:43pm: Wow, here I am in the pantry again, just staring. How’d I get up here? I don’t even remember walking up the stairs; I must have been totally on autopilot. I’m not hungry; I should just go back downstairs.

3:44pm: Oh well, I may as well get another handful of cashews as long as I’m up here.

4:15pm: Time to put the chicken back in the crockpot, as well as the cheese. The Runner will be home in an hour or so; we’ll want to eat dinner right away since we’re both so hungry from dieting.

4:16pm: Hey, while I’m up here I think I’ll have one handful of cereal. I don’t think I’ve had any cereal today, after all.

5:10pm: “Hi Lisa. How’s it going? Yeah, I’m starved too. This diet is killing me!”

PS: I want to put out a big kudos to NYC Carlos, one of the long-time friends of Fatty as well as an Account Manager at Interclick, which is the company that serves ads for my site. When I emailed him today letting him know I didn’t like having tobacco ads show up on my site, he took care of the problem within about five minutes. That’s awesome service; thanks Carlos!


  1. Comment by Mandy | 04.5.2011 | 2:24 pm

    Ha ha This is hilarious. And 100% me. I work at home and my P=10 feet.

  2. Comment by andy | 04.5.2011 | 2:24 pm

    I know this world you live in. The only solution is to get one of your older bikes and ride that between the peanut butter relapses until the Superfly 100 is within your grasp.

  3. Comment by Mandy | 04.5.2011 | 2:25 pm

    I just realized that sounds like I can pee 10 feet. I can’t.

  4. Comment by andy | 04.5.2011 | 2:25 pm

    Damn missed 1st place…….. Oooops wrong blog, sorry Bike Snob.

  5. Comment by Kevin | 04.5.2011 | 2:31 pm

    Fatty, since you’re not building up the frame, you could rig it as a swinging baby gate (diet gate?) at the top of the stairs. At least then it’ll be put to use, even if it’s just as a shameful reminder.

  6. Comment by Edie | 04.5.2011 | 2:31 pm

    My D equals 15.38. This is so funny, I almost spit out my cheese and crackers while I was reading it.

  7. Comment by fatty | 04.5.2011 | 2:32 pm

    Mandy, meet Andy. Andy, Mandy.

  8. Comment by zach in a cubicle | 04.5.2011 | 2:55 pm

    What if your unemployed does this equation still work?

    Alas, yes. But what are you doing in a cubicle if you’re unemployed? – FC

  9. Comment by Lisa | 04.5.2011 | 3:07 pm

    That pretty much describes me as well. I don’t work from home but I tend to graze like that when I am home. A handful here, a bite here, bored so I grab a snack…then before long I’ve eaten an extra 300+ calories I didn’t need.

    My trick is to plan a lot of things that keep me busy and distracted. Going to the gym. Seeing friends. Going for a hike. I know that doesn’t help you with the working at home bit, but keeping busy keeps me from eating too much.

  10. Comment by JB | 04.5.2011 | 3:22 pm

    Looks like you are super,super busy with work with all the extra time spent eating, planning the eating, traveling back and forth from the eating, and the mind-numbing math you have figured out about the eating!
    Whew….I’m hungry…

  11. Comment by DJ | 04.5.2011 | 3:29 pm

    I am officially NEVER working in the kitchen again. The weight gain since I started working from home is now completely understood… and I thought it was hormones…

  12. Comment by Squirrelhead | 04.5.2011 | 3:38 pm

    This is exactly the reason I am moving farther away from the office. Then I will have a better chance to lose this weight. Stocking your file cabinets full of food doesn’t really count as a kitchen does it. I mean, that is for emergencies and stuff. I should really bring in a couple jars of peanut butter. I would have to be without peanut butter in an emergency.

  13. Comment by Grizzly Adam | 04.5.2011 | 4:14 pm

    I lost weight when I worked from hom because “work from home” meant going on 3 hour rides during the middle of the day. Oh to work from home again!

  14. Comment by Jenni | 04.5.2011 | 4:26 pm

    Ride the darn bike already. If you know one thing, it should be that life is short.

    Ride the bike. If you need help with new ways to torment yourself, we can help you come up with those.

    Also, NYC Carlos is da bomb.

  15. Comment by Dave T | 04.5.2011 | 5:00 pm

    Well we have a kitchen at work stocked with free food and beer approximately 25 feet from my office. I also have a bike in my office that I should be riding a lunch but it seems to be stuck to the floor.

  16. Comment by SDM | 04.5.2011 | 5:02 pm

    …and don’t even get me started on the work-from-home attire…

  17. Comment by Clydesteve | 04.5.2011 | 5:09 pm

    Fatty – Funny post, but your formula, strictly speaking, does not work for me. It gives me a difficuly of 9×10^(-4)%, which really should not be that hard at all.

    Which may say I am a real wimp with negative food self-control, but I prefer to dis your formulas’ accuracy.

    But, on the other hand, your description of a typical day and your weight loss since the early days of January sound eeeeerily familiar.

  18. Comment by Clydesteve | 04.5.2011 | 5:12 pm

    If I could hit a ‘Like’ button for Mandy’s 2nd comment, I would.

    Which probably says way to much about how infantile I am.

  19. Comment by chefrdr | 04.5.2011 | 5:40 pm

    I actually work in a kitchen, well teach in a culinary school. I ride the 31 mile round trip commute a few times week to prevent the math error mentioned regarding being that close to a kitchen.

  20. Comment by bargoSal | 04.5.2011 | 5:46 pm

    OMG I’ve got NO chance, it’s 6 steps to my kitchen AND a straight line of sight! 10 kilos off would make those hills sooo much easier…

  21. Comment by Lins | 04.5.2011 | 6:03 pm

    Put a bike and rollers between desk and kitchen (preferably in front of office door to act as a barrier). Get on it and do 5×30seconds on/30 seconds off then return to desk. Ot Tabata protocol. It’s hard to eat when you feel like spewing.

  22. Comment by Beast Mom | 04.5.2011 | 6:18 pm

    Hee-hee. I find it hard to WORK when I’m working from home.


  23. Comment by Joe L. | 04.5.2011 | 6:27 pm

    hey fatty – have you tried the Withings scale? It’s a scale…. but it’s connected to WiFi! So, it’s like, cooler than other scales. and stuff.

    anyway, if you have $160 to drop of a GD scale, try it out. When you weigh yourself every day, it will automatically update your account on your computer and your iPhone, and you can set it up to automatically tweet/facebook/shout your weight from the rooftops. And it comes with some code where you can embed a little weight tracker into your site.

  24. Comment by Sara Whatmore | 04.5.2011 | 7:12 pm

    PBHH2 is amazing! (add banana) PBBHH2^10

  25. Comment by Michael Regan | 04.5.2011 | 7:30 pm

    Fatty – totally disagree. Working from home allows me to make better choices and prepare better foods. Been using @ferriss ’s 4HB and down 32 pounds since 1/1. No way I could have done it from an office.

  26. Comment by Rie | 04.5.2011 | 7:57 pm

    Totally understand about the Quaker Oatmeal Squares–absolutely my favorite cereal. Purchased 10 boxes on sale last week, so yeah, totally get it.

  27. Comment by Brad | 04.5.2011 | 8:15 pm

    It physically pains me to hear that such a bike is lying around unbuilt and unridden. I’m also pretty sure it’s antithetical to the spirit of this blog (akin to, say, discussing meat-flavored energy products on a vegan blog).

    So what’s the plan to lose that weight and ride that bike?!

  28. Comment by GTM | 04.5.2011 | 8:30 pm

    Suggest the slow carb diet (Tim Ferris). Personally been on it since Mid Feb and have lost 22lbs. After first two weeks of kicking bad carbs energy levels came back up and seem better than normal. Keep lots of protein in the fridge for snacking urge but notice that drops when the carbs have been kicked. Think this is diet Johan mentioned in interview.

  29. Comment by stuckinmypedals | 04.5.2011 | 9:04 pm

    Way to go, NYC Carlos!

  30. Comment by yannb | 04.5.2011 | 10:09 pm

    Great explanation of the weight loss problem. I was laughing so hard at your timeline and the comments. Wish I had that kind of wit.

  31. Comment by hookooekoo | 04.6.2011 | 12:19 am

    Since I want to see you ride that GF err trek Superfly 100 and hear about how wonderful it is. Try The Diet Solution and read the book Eat Fat, Lose Fat.

  32. Comment by bart | 04.6.2011 | 1:31 am

    you had about 15 reasons to walk up to the kitchen and have a snack. What you need is just ONE reason not to. A TREK SUPERFLY 100 ! how’s that for a reason?

  33. Comment by eandjmum | 04.6.2011 | 4:58 am

    I love your posts Fatty! So hilarious! My entire pantry contents are on my dining room table at present so there’s not a chance of finding anything LOL That’s what an earthquake does to you… Come live in Christchurch, New Zealand and you will be so worried about the aftershocks that you will forget to eat!!!!!

  34. Comment by NYCCarlos | 04.6.2011 | 6:39 am

    dude. no worries ;) sorry it even happened!

  35. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 04.6.2011 | 6:44 am

    I don’t even work at home and I sometimes wander into the kitchen at the office without knowing how I got there.

  36. Comment by Becky | 04.6.2011 | 8:39 am

    Get a dog. Preferably a high maintenance one that expects to be exercised and played with a lot. I came to the conclusion that my 4 legged friend would do better with a 3-4 mile walk/jog every day, not just on my not biking days. Yes, I am starting to feel a little used up, but I can eat more and those last few pounds are just melting off. Really.When winter in Michigan rolls around again, I may lose some of my resolve, but they have gear for that and I like to buy stuff.

  37. Comment by Heather | 04.6.2011 | 8:55 am

    I work from home too and I totally get it! I finally have a good routine down though.

    1) I had to break the sneaking to the kitchen habit with chewing gum. It’s a crutch. But it works.

    2) I get up every 45 minutes and do either 20 jumping jacks, 20 push-ups, or jog up and down the stairs a few time.

  38. Comment by Bob Jonese, Esq | 04.6.2011 | 9:19 am

    Put the bike (still in box) in front of the entrance to the kitchen. That way you will trip over it (or at least have to move it) to get in the kitchen. The constant reminder of the bike still boxed up should piss you off enough to quit snacking (so much).

  39. Comment by roan | 04.6.2011 | 9:22 am

    HEY! Fatty, bring the Trek SuperFly to Davis. Then we can trade bikes for the day AND I can promise you will lose some weight.

  40. Comment by Angie | 04.6.2011 | 9:29 am

    Not to derail your diet or anything, but us bike riders have to fuel properly for our intense biking workouts. This means that you have to eat in advance of riding so you have energy. You also have to eat during the ride, so that you can continue to ride. Lastly, you must refuel after the ride, so you can help your muscles rebuild. All this means that you must eat a lot more than non cyclists! Since you ride all the time, you should be eating like this, basically everyday! What a great thing for cyclists who love food!

  41. Comment by Joe | 04.6.2011 | 9:44 am

    I think I would be better off working from home because when I am at work I still find myself grazing but my options for what I can eat are endless piles of unhealthy garbage.

    I think having a kitchen of healthy options 40 feet away would be much better than a bank of six vending machines 40 feet away.

  42. Comment by 3d brian | 04.6.2011 | 10:03 am

    I’ve got an idea for you. If you haven’t lost your weight by June 4 raffle off Motivation to a participant of 100 Miles of Nowhere. Now that would be Motivation :)

  43. Comment by bikemike | 04.6.2011 | 10:06 am

    i can divide by zero, i may be able to help you with your problem.

  44. Comment by Rachel | 04.6.2011 | 10:38 am

    Losing weight (while still working from home) has gotten a lot easier for me since I started logging my calorie intake, and exercise on

    My problem used to be eating way too big of a dinner and then midnight snacks. I don’t bring tortilla chips into the house anymore.

  45. Comment by Joe | 04.6.2011 | 10:56 am

    It has occurred to me that Fatty’s same formula can apply to those of us who work in an office away from home. In my case it’s the distance from a telephone (vs. the distance from the kitchen) that can affect the weight you’re able to lose. This revelation came to me while reading Fatty’s article at my desk as I consumed 3 XL slices of pepperoni pizza (w/ anchovies) that I had earlier ordered over the phone.

  46. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 04.6.2011 | 11:01 am

    bikemike, you’re obviously living in an imaginary world. Or an infinite world. Or an undefined world. Wait, I hit an exception…

  47. Comment by Squirrelhead | 04.6.2011 | 11:29 am

    Of course if you just built the bike you would be so happy to ride it that you would ride more than normal and lose the weight.

  48. Comment by Liz | 04.6.2011 | 11:35 am

    There was a semi-humorous article in our paper recently about a local chef who joined Weight Watchers to lose some weight.

    What I don’t understand about your formula is that I have lost exactly the same amount of weight as you this year, and yet my kitchen is 14 miles from my office. How did this happen?

    I still say just set up the bike and ride it. That will actually help you lose weight. Or at least have some fun.

  49. Comment by MattC | 04.6.2011 | 12:26 pm

    I’m thinking that if you make a post promising that if you HAVEN’T lost said weight by, oh, let’s say, June 1st, then you will put the frame up as a prize to some lucky random Team Fatty member. The very thought of giving the frame away should be some pretty strong motivation. In fact, I think you have WAY too many bikes in your stable anyway, what do you need this one for, really? (that’s just pure jealousy talking now).

    And on a side note, I would LOVE a Superfly 100…what size is the frame btw?

  50. Comment by MattC | 04.6.2011 | 12:30 pm

    Oh, and speaking of Team Fatty, to all you (us) Team Davis folk, we are HALF WAY there already!!! Only 3 months left for fundraising! And Team Beat the Clock is still ahead of us!

  51. Comment by a chris | 04.6.2011 | 2:57 pm

    Brad 8:15pm: Isn’t it more like discussing vegan products on an, um, meat-flavoured blog?

  52. Comment by Matt | 04.6.2011 | 7:26 pm

    Great post! I’ve been working from home (D equaling a staggering 25%) since early January and have lost 13 lbs (from 192 to 179, and I’m 6′2″). I’m compulsive though, and count my calories religiously – making a challenge to stay below certain numbers for the day (2000 cal., for instance).

    Rough, but group rides are SO MUCH EASIER now!!

  53. Comment by Rob M | 04.6.2011 | 7:44 pm

    I suspect the formula is, somehow, incomplete without considering one’s age.

    I have found that the older I get the less I can eat and, somehow, I still gain weight.

  54. Comment by RachelGio | 04.7.2011 | 8:45 am

    Chocolate Mini Wheats Little Bites are almost like grapefruit…so much fiber they are certainly a negative calorie food. That’s why I keep boxes in the car (main office). I burn more calories eating them than they have! ; )

  55. Comment by Grant Bomsta | 04.7.2011 | 8:52 am

    I started loosing wieght the end of January so I could be a more effective rider. I have lost 25 lbs. Riding has been much easier. I of course had a little more weight to loose.

  56. Comment by matt | 04.7.2011 | 10:40 am

    Inspired mostly by this site and the 10-pound challenge back in December (during which I contemplated actually purchasing and using a bathroom scale, I hadn’t been on any kind of scale for years) I got started on the “write down everything you eat and blog it along with your weight” diet back in February. I’m down 18 pounds since I got started, using 7 day averages for my starting and current weight. I’m shooting for 30 pounds by June 1, then the real fun begins!

    I find working at an office to be advantageous, especially since I have developed the willpower to resist ALL office food, especially the little 12-packs of “Super Softee” powdered sugar doughnuts! I bring my own food with me, mostly ride to work, and there is no decent store/deli/anything near enough to my office to get to during a break.

  57. Comment by Eric | 04.7.2011 | 7:11 pm

    Dude you need to ride the new bike.. you will love it SOO much you will do anything to ride it. Aahh that’s better, look at all those nasty pounds disappear into the dust your new Gary Trekker Fish is kicking up. Much better.

  58. Comment by Lancer!! | 04.8.2011 | 5:56 pm

    Great treatise on the dangers of working at home! B-) While I am between job-opportunities I have managed to, along with exercise, develop my OCD to a point where I spend more time glued to the computer (reading the Internet), or glued to the TV, thus fighting back those snack-y tendencies. So far…

  59. Comment by Sean B | 04.11.2011 | 9:09 am

    Fatty, You’d think with all that stair climbing you’d lose more weight. You seem to be making healthy choices with your foods, so I have NO chance of losing weight! Sometimes your blog posts DO make sense! Ha ha!

  60. Comment by muckdog | 04.11.2011 | 7:02 pm

    LOL. Funny.

    I hear you. i really do. But I have the opposite problem in that I can easily lose weight when working at home, but struggle to lose weight at work.

    Between going out for lunch, taking breaks, someone bringing in plates of cookies, donuts, red vines, peanuts…

    At least at home I don’t keep junk food around. My choices are diced up watermelon or a glass of water… Plus, I can go for a bike ride or mow the lawn in the middle of the day.

  61. Comment by Tara | 04.13.2011 | 2:02 pm

    I’ve never commented here before, but, yeah, I’d like that chicken tortilla soup recipe. Please. I’m starving. Thanks!

  62. Comment by @wirelessjake | 05.13.2011 | 6:37 am

    I work at home and have an office basement as well. Somehow I end up working atthe kitchen bar though. Intell myself it’s because I crave te natural light, which is true, but being just feet from the coffee pot and snacks is sooo handy.
    What if you put your superfly on a trainer and before you can enter yhe kitchen for a snack you have to pedal a certain duration?

  63. Comment by fitinthemiddle | 11.2.2011 | 5:57 am

    Discover how your food choices make a difference in your weight, your mood and overall health. Discover the link between nutrition and health. To lose weight, you require burning more calories than you eat every day. provide you the guide in choosing foods that are lesser in calories, fats and sugars etc


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