THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Govern yourself: Streamline work, lose weight

Recently I needed to lose 10 pounds. I did it by changing how I do my job.

Here are three changes I made in how I work that changed how much I weigh:

1. I stopped letting work slip until the last minute.

Some people think they're creative under pressure; in fact, time pressure stifles creativity. I realized this when I started blogging. The immediate feedback from a blog taught me the direct relationship between how much pressure I felt while writing and how successful the post was. And when I felt pressured to write quickly, I ate to cope. Once I stopped writing late at night under intense pressure, I ate much less.

2. I stopped checking email when I was with my kids.

I work seven days a week 8am-2pm. I'm with my kids 2-8pm, and I work after they go to bed. But I was checking email all day– sometimes because I needed to, but mostly as a break. Kids are hard. Email is easy. It's more fun to check if something great came in than to watch kids at the park.

The worst part about checking email when I'm with kids is that I feel bad ignoring them. The second worst part is that I check out when I check email, and once I check out, my junk-food guard is down, and I find myself watching kids and checking email and eating Cheetos at the same time. (I instituted the no-checking email so that I could be more present with my kids. But the benefit was no more junk food.)

3. I stopped working late at night.

In the first meeting I had with my publisher, he said he stays up late working, but he never gets anything done except eating. He thought he should just go to bed.

Me too. Research says people who do not get enough sleep risk getting fat.

Recently, I vowed to get six or seven hours of sleep a night. I had to get used to not working as much. I had to decide not to do some of my work. But the life benefits have been worth it– including giving up the extra meal that slips in between dinner and bed.


So that's how I lost the weight. And it's been very easy to keep off because I did exactly what you're supposed to do to lose weight: I changed how I live my life rather than how I eat my meals.

But here's what really gets me excited: I learned about self-discipline. Research shows if you add self-discipline to your life in one area, it seeps into other areas. Psychologists say that self-discipline is key to making ourselves happier.

I always want more self-discipline. And I found that when I became more disciplined about how I deal with sleeping and eating, I became more disciplined about working out. For the last year I've had clear goals for regular running, weights, and yoga. But I've failed at achieving the goals on a regular basis. Something always interferes.

Over the past two weeks, however, when I've been conscious of changing how I conduct myself during the day at work, my exercise regimen has improved.

So here's my pitch to you to try something new. Try being just a little more conscious. If you become more conscious in one part of your life, you'll be able to effect positive, conscious change in many parts of your life with relative ease.