Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Cubicle Is Trying To Kill Me

I’ve been on vacation for four days in Chicago and I have not been counting calories, or censoring my intake in any way. I get to Chicago once per year and I have every intention of enjoying every single last bite I take. So I did. Deep dish at Gino’s East, polish sausage at Portillo’s (even though we have one in Phoenix now),  hot dogs at the Cub’s game, mind blowing Thai food, steak, desserts, ice cream the list goes on and on. You’d think I came home to a disastrous morning on the scale.
You’d be wrong.

In the most astounding weigh in ever, I ate my way through Chicago and I managed to lose 2 pounds. Not that two pounds is staggering weight loss, but it’s still a loss! How was this possible? Hold on to your hats kids, because this is mind blowing: I walked. A lot.

My mode of transportation for four days was primarily my feet and the good help of the CTA. We walked all over the place, to breakfast, to lunch, to the L station… I got more walking done in four days than I do in two weeks at work. I have the luxury of sitting in an air conditioned office while I work, but the sedentary life I lead as a result of that is threatening to hurt my body and health long term.

I can’t tell you how many studies have been published on this subject, but studies tend to make my eyes glaze over and pretty soon my brain wanders and I’m on my next mental vacation. Let’s forget about studies for a few minutes, and let’s take a look at what I have experienced lately.

In May when I had my accident and I dislocated my leg, I was pretty much immobile for 2-3 weeks, after which walking was still a challenge. Over the course of May and June I gained 10 pounds even though my daily food intake wasn’t increased. My movement was greatly decreased. Come July, we went on vacation to Europe and spent almost three weeks eating our way through vacation. But we walked a lot every day, we swam, we were far more active with every day activity than our usual daily grind. I lost all ten pounds that I had previously gained. Boom! And again with this Chicago trip. Four days of walking and two more pounds gone. Disclaimer: no I don’t believe that you can eat your way through your daily life and just work out a bunch and you will lose weight. Healthy meal choices need to occur in order to live a healthy and balanced life. But one thing is for sure: daily life has become so easy from a physical labor point of view, that it is threatening the lives of millions of people who are chained to their computers and desks on a daily basis.

The real question then is what do we do about this?

My short term answer is this: I have started another experiment. I am standing at my desk for chunks of time, I’m even using the stop watch on my phone to try to get  a feel for how much time a day I can stand… we’ll see how this goes. I’ve started to make my desk a little more flexible by stacking some trays and propping my keyboard up so that I can stand and type and help clients. Adding flexibility and movement to your day doesn’t mean you have to add a full workout on your lunch break. But in addition to taking stairs, how about you stand a little? Maybe you walk over to someone’s desk instead of sending them a quick email. It may end up providing a physical and mental break as well as strengthening your work relationships with good old fashioned human contact. (The kind your HR department won’t frown on.)

I wrote this post while standing, and while this experiment is in its infancy, I’m considering it yet another step in the right direction. FYI, it might be weirding out a few people around here. I’m ok with that.




P.S. This post is dedicated to Erin C. who gave me a not so subtle reminder that she wanted more. Thanks Erin, love you!

P.P.S. Up to an hour standing so far today. And I was right, editing had to happen while sitting.

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