Losing Weight with Librarians

Losing weight is one of the most popular resolutions each year. And it has been on my list more years than I would like to admit. As a researcher by nature, I’ve tried to find the various weight-loss secrets. Unfortunately,I have not found the secret to eating as much ice cream and cake as you want while still dropping the pounds. I think in the end that there may not actually be any secrets, just three basic common-sense rules that none of us particularly want to follow. Here they are:

Eat fewer ‘bad’ foods. Now, according to some diet experts, there are no bad foods. These people have not worked in our library. Perhaps a cookie on its own is not evil, but when is the last time anyone has simply brought in one cookie and put it on your desk? At any given time, there are cookies, candies, breads, chips, donuts, and/or cakes on our back counter. Some of them have been given to us. (Like the kid in old cereal commercial, the library staff has the reputation of ‘they’ll eat anything.’) But most of the damage, we do to ourselves and to each other. Did I receive a box of candy for my birthday and have eaten enough to make me sick? Well, let me put it out so that others can be sick with me. Or maybe I’ll be ‘thoughtful’ and get an extra order of fries when I run by the drive-through. Someone will want them. You get the picture.

It is simply unrealistic to think that our library is ever going to become a place of clean eating. Therefore, our best bet is to reduce our own bad choices. And we all have our own ways of doing so:

      • Emily has a basic formula. For each food, she asks the simple question, “Is the pleasure worth the calories?” She answers no to whole categories of food.
      • Some of the staff who work in the back simply don’t go to the back counter in the other part of the library. Out of sight, out of mind.
      • Colette indulges in sweets, but because she brings her lunch and has the rest of her diet in hand, it’s not a huge deal. 
      • For me, the Jolly Librarian, I try to delay the first snack as long as possible. I know if I eat a donut, I’ll want another one. But if I wait, there’s a good chance there’ll only be one or none left.

Eat more ‘good’ foods. These would be low-calorie, low-saturated fat choices. Now it seems that the easiest way to do this is to make lunches on the weekend and bring them to work each day. No matter how determined I am to buy a salad at the nearby drive-through, by the time I make my order, I always seem to be ordering some French fries, or a burger, or a milkshake. So it’s better just not to go there. Also, if there are some snacks waiting on the back counter, the total damage is less if I’ve had a salad for lunch than if I’ve consumed Combo Number 5.

The main thing for me is convenience. So if I can make having a salad with chicken as easy to grab at work as a hamburger, then there’s a chance I’ll do it.

Move more. I am writing this at 3 p.m. A quick glance at the pedometer tells me that, although I went upstairs and did an hour of shifting books this morning, I have walked a meager 3291 steps, far from the suggested goal of 10,000. Librarian work tends to be sedentary, despite the cute videos of librarians chasing down bad guys or dancing to “Gangnam Style.”

So we have to make an effort to get some movement in every day. Here’s how we do it:

  • Emily, Colette, and Terry all have dogs that need walking.
  • Colette set a goal to run/walk a 5K race each month this year.
  • Sally rides her bike to and from work each day.
  • Andrew walks to and from work.
  • I keep my pedometer on and try to make sure I get those 10,000 steps, even if it’s walking around my bedroom at 11 p.m.


Now, it’s obvious we’re never going to be awarded the “Library with the Healthiest Habits.” However, we must be doing something semi-right. After all, they’re not having to cut out the walls to let us out to our cars at night.



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