The workplace is not your friend. There’s many reasons why that is true for most people. It’s true for me because we are loaded with junk food in the office break room.
I like to keep my day job, and my ONYXedge Studios Podcasting Superhero job separate as much as possible. In this day and age, you never know what someone may see in the vast workings of the Interwebs that will lead you to sitting in a room with someone telling you to “pack your desk and GTFO!”
But this isn’t just my day job. It’s probably yours, too. Especially if you are in an office tech job and are reading this when you should be working. Hell, I’m writing this on my phone during my lunch hour.
A lot of internet start-ups, design agencies, and places like that try to appeal to the “rebellious professional” as I like to call them. Companies that make you slap on the business socks are dinosaurs to us now. Gone is the day of covering your tattoos, taking out your piercings, and being restricted in your hair color and style. At least at places that want to attract new blood and stay relevant. Two jobs ago, I couldn’t have facial hair, and had to wear khakis and a collared shirt… at an office location that had no executives or clients coming through it. Today, I’m wearing jeans, a Spiderman t-shirt, and I have a a beard that belongs on a man north of The Wall.
Sounds great, right? It is. Here’s the #firstworldproblem:
The break room is fucking loaded with free snacks. There’s a fridge just for soda, or pop, or if you are from the areas of the south that refer to everything as ‘coke’ because you never really learned how to read… we have various Cokes and non-Coke cokes. I’m a big fan of Dr. Pepper coke myself. We’ve got chips galore, a big bowl of fun size candy bars, and more peanut M&Ms than you have cells in your body.
As I said, this isn’t just my workplace, it’s many offices in this field. Places that have break rooms like mine, will frequently mention the free candy and drinks in the break room as a perk. It will be mentioned by headhunters, you may even see it under the job description of an open position on Monster.
It may very well be a perk. I certainly thought it was. But if you are looking to improve your health and fitness, it’s the Witch’s Cottage in the concrete forest that is our day-to-day. Even the healthy options are processed and packaged. Pretty little hidden calorie wrenches that you are throwing into the gears that make you move.
The worst part is, we know that’s what it is. How many of you have tried losing weight, had some success, and then gained a most of it back? I did. It’s pretty easy to say don’t eat the sugar. It’s harder to do it. Years of the typical American diet has wired your brain to crave it.
Sure, there may be a bowl of fresh fruit in your office. There’s also some kind of strawberry flavored substance in that Pop-Tart, and you love Pop Tarts. You can have one Pop Tart, right? You went to the gym. You brought a salad for lunch. What’s one Pop Tart, really? Oh. There’s two Pop Tarts in a pack? Well, you don’t want to be wasteful. There’s starving people out there, you can’t just throw perfectly good food away.
And the rest of the excuses you and I use to justify the fact that the real problem is that we aren’t working our willpower muscle as much as we are working our biceps.
Now your company may not be fattening you up to eat you, and you aren’t about to throw your boss in an oven and run home to your father, so the comparison isn’t exactly one-to-one. But we are gluttonous children who have a hard time saying “no” to the promise of sweet treats. Meanwhile, the witch, who is also hungry, isn’t eating all the candy. She’s going for the protein.
The witch has been around. She knows her nutrition. Granted, she never learned that she should never turn her back on a German kid, but no one is perfect. We all have a lot to learn still.
I need to learn to stop making bad analogies, but fuck it. When I walk into the break room and see the box of cookies I’m still going to tell myself:
“Don’t be a Hansel.”