I wrote a blog yesterday about how social work has made me fat.
I pined about how I used to be slender, moaned about my four stone weight gain and dreamed about quitting my child protection job for the sake of my health.
I then proceeded to forget all about last night’s promises I made to myself, that this week at work would be the one where I finally kick my arse into shape…ate lunch at my desk, ignored my Apple Watch reminders to ‘stand’ and came home to treat myself to a half Easter egg filled with Oreo cheesecake from my local bakery (trust me, they are just as good as they sound).
With my Oreo Easter egg cheesecake induced food coma (honestly, you need to try one) rendering me unable to write about the impact of toxic colleagues on workplace stress levels just yet, I’m going to follow up on yesterday’s blog with the 6 reasons why social work has made us all fat.
(Just to repeat the point I made yesterday: If you are happy with your weight, then I am happy for you. I’m not here to body shame anybody or tell people how they should look, act or think. How you live your life and what you do with your body is totally your business. I have no quarrel with anybody who believes that BMI is BS or is living their best life however they damn well please. The only person I have an issue with is myself. Because I am most definitely not happy or healthy being the weight I am. What follows is a sign of how I feel about myself, not how I feel about others)
Gym routines are just that, they are routines. Fitness class schedules are also just that, they are schedules.
Routines and schedules are things that are both incompatible with demanding social work jobs.
Okay… well you might be able to manage a 7am spinning class if you don’t have kids. But if you’ve got children you need to get up and ready for school, the fabled early morning ‘shower and get ready for work after a workout at the gym’ is out the window.
Even if (and it’s a big if) I could squeeze in an hour after my daughter is dropped off at nursery, what about all the days I have 9am meetings or need to be in the office for duty at 8:30am?
And after work… come on, who the hell is routinely getting out the office at 5pm?
Again, you might be able to stick to a routine if you’ve got no kids (or they’re grown up) but there’s little to no chance of getting to the gym regularly if you’re a full-time social working parent.
The best and I mean THE VERY BEST catering facilities I’ve ever had in a social work office were two microwaves. Everywhere else it’s been a one microwave maximum rule.
Sure, this office had two microwaves to service around 150 employees that all shared the same floor… but at least there were two, right?
Seriously though, catering facilities in social work offices are a total joke. Discounting my two microwave heyday, the standard issue is one microwave and a kettle. That’s it. Then there’s a fridge that is filled with sour milk and mouldy leftovers.
Those of us who’ve had on-site canteens are usually served up standard council fare that makes your school dinners look like clean eating.
It’s not good.
I don’t know about you guys, but my job is so busy that I hardly get time for lunch at all.
In the best case scenario I get 20 minutes at my desk. In the worst, it’s fast food in the car as I drive between appointments.
More often than not, it’s the fast food option.
It’s counter-productive of course. The build up of stress-induced cortisol coupled with junk food is a recipe for ill-health and lethargy.
Would it be too much to actually expect the proper lunch break that we are legally entitled to?
At least 90% of my working day is spent sitting down. Whether at my desk, driving my car, or in meetings, 90% of my time is spent sat on my (increasingly fat) arse.
The only moving parts of my body are my hands (10 mph) my mouth (20 mph) and my mind (500 mph).
With increasing evidence showing we need to spend less time sitting down and that a sedentary lifestyle is damaging our health, our employees really need to get us off our backsides and moving.
Imagine if that meant being given the time to take children to parks, teach people budget skills by going to the shops with them and joining our elderly clients for long walks in the countryside.
No… stop imagining that and get back to you desk. Your case notes are late.
Like seriously, the first thing I do when I’m stressed out is eat something bad for me.
Worried about looming deadlines = cake.
Your visits flagged up late for everyone to see = cake.
Someone told you to f**k off and die because you were simply doing your job = cake.
Cake solves our problems. Okay, so it also stores them for us in an increasingly expanding mass around our stomachs and thighs. But is also solves them… temporarily at least.
Owing to a combination of the above five points, there are always cakes and sweets in social work offices.
In my office there’s an empty desk that is solely for chocolate, cake and sweets.
That’s it. That is all the desk is for.
And every day we take it in turns to replenish that desk.
Honestly, I could take no lunch into work with me and eat 5000 calories a day from what my colleagues bring in alone.
That desk is the most important fixture in the office. There’s a mini roll on there that is the longest serving member of the team.
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