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Posted on Jul 19, 2012 in Dear Diary | 21 comments

Office Gut

Happy Thursday, amigos! Just one more day until the weekend. I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.

So! As most of you are already aware, blogging about the Hunger Games-like trials and tribulations of weight loss (ha!) is not actually my full-time gig. Though believe me, if someone were to offer me a livable salary to take photos of my dogs and write about how frustrating it is to lose the libbies, I would most certainly NOT turn them down! Alas, however, as that is not the case, I have to have a little thing called a day job. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the concept.

My particular breed of day job involves working for a government contractor in our nation’s capital. It is just as interesting and invigorating as it sounds. I spend the majority of my day glued to my desk, staring blankly at my computer monitor. And between my actual job, blogging, being part of the iPhone generation in general, and taking up the hobby of writing a book in my spare time, I’m finding that I’m spending more time than ever seated. And, y’know, computer…ing.

Sure, it’s great that I’ve replaced hours upon hours of TV and gaming time with something productive (ish) like writing, but it’s still time I’m spending literally resting on my laurels. I’m still making it to the gym 2 to 3 times a week, and often oing workout stuff at home in between, but I’m finding that my efforts there still aren’t really enough to fully counteract the 10+ hours a day I spend on my butt. I think I first saw this infographic (fair warning, it’s really long, so feel free to scroll on through although it is fascinating) on Mary’s blog like, forever ago:

Sitting is Killing You
Via: Medical Billing And Coding

I’m pretty sure that after I saw this making the rounds for the first time, I quickly proceeded to ignore it and crawl into a state of denial about my habits. But not anymore! Consider this my official declaration of making an active effort not to spend all my young life in a seated position. As such, I’ve already implemented the following habits:

1. Taking the stairs

Okay, well, this needs a caveat. I work on the 10th floor of my building, so let’s not get crazy: I’m not taking ALL the stairs. But I *am* taking the stairs to and from the parking garage up to the main lobby, and that’s three flights up and three flights down each day. Certainly not groundbreaking, but it’s a start! Maybe one day I’ll start getting brave and tackle the actual stairs up to my office. I’m sure it would give me coworkers great pleasure to see me red-faced and sweaty at 8 AM. 😉

2. Walk through the office

One of the worst things I’m finding is that my efforts to slim down and save money by bringing in my lunches has actually proven detrimental to this whole sitting-all-day-thing. When I bring my lunch, it’s often salads and sandwiches and stuff that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or heated up (or that I’m too lazy to heat up. Oops.) and thus, I just end up spending more time at my desk. I’ve started to force myself to walk back through the office more often, often just to do things like go talk to a coworker about something face-to-face instead of just calling them. Basically, I’m just trying to counteract my natural laziness.

I’m also trying to refocus on my hydration efforts so that I’m more motivated to walk back to the kitchen to get water, which is obviously a healthy effort for multiple reasons.

3. A moderate amount of office-appropriate exercise

At one point, I was really motivated to try and turn my time spent working into time spent working OUT as well. So I tried to turn my desk into a standing desk, and at one point began doing lunges down rows of empty cubicles. In a dress. (It was kind of fun.) Neither turned out to be particularly sustainable, however, since my desk is at the front of our office, and I have high-visibility. Whenever I did need to sit down to work on something, nobody could see me tucked behind my little nook (arguably this wasn’t a bad thing, but you know, the job is as the job does.)

As for the office lunges, well, as amazed as you may be to hear it, even I have a threshold for humiliation. So instead of that, I’m trying to work in movements at my desk that are slightly less attention-drawing, like stretching. It may not be burpees, but it still helps get the blood flowing and that’s something. Before it got ridiculously, outlandishly hot, I was taking fairly frequent walking breaks outside as well, although it’s not particularly motivating to do so with current weather conditions. I know, I know, excuses, excuses. I’m working on it!

So there you have it. Sitting = the enemy. Well, one of the enemies of our computer-driven lives, that is. I’m pretty sure all this typing and computer-based activity is also giving me carpal tunnel, but that’s another whale to tackle at another time, eh? Hahaha… ha.

Anywho, I’d LOVE to hear what you guys to do maintain your sanity and stability while whittling away at your day jobs. One thing I’m sure may occur to you, and that I’ve already thought about, is going to the gym in the AM. I know that if I went and worked out every morning BEFORE work that I’d probably feel less guilty about sitting at my desk all day, but… c’mon. We all know that just won’t happen. It was enough of a struggle just to get myself into the habit of going to the gym AT ALL, and sleeping is just too good, mes amis.

Hopefully these efforts (among others that I will hopefully pick up from you?) will help continue to keep the office gut at bay while I figure out what I’m doing… both with my weight loss, and with my life. You know, until my novel is a national bestseller or something, and then I can pay someone else to figure it out for me. 😉

What are your tips for staying loose and getting some non-sitting movement in at work?

21 Comments

  1. My office is actually on this health and wellness kick this year (which is great!) and they’ve implemented a few things such as a 15 minute yoga stretch twice a week (a yoga instructor actually comes in), lunch time walks outside (which are great!) and we have a small running group that runs twice a week after work.

    They’ve also paid the entry fees for a few races and encourage us to come up with other wellness ideas to implement. It’s pretty nice 🙂

    • That is AWESOME. I need to try suggesting something like that, how great!

      • Being the office social guru that you are, I would totally buy into some friendly fitness throwdown that you suggest. And you/we could start with schlepping up the stairs. All 10 floors. Use pedometers. Group 1-5k walks. Pass boxes of printer paper around. Scavenger hunt around the Mall. Many, many options! And what incentives would you suggest? We all probably have enough water bottles and URS/Apptis detritus. Happy hour gift cards?

  2. I volunteer as an excuse to take your lunches elsewhere (and by elsewhere I mean to me and/or the Mall) and take a walk. We could have a picnic. I read an article a while a go that suggested eating lunch outside, or somewhere away from your desk.

    Maybe you could take the 10 flights down to the lobby after work. Elevator up in the morning and stairs down.

    Using a resistance band at your desk.

  3. Wearing a pedometer every day has REALLY opened my eyes to how little I was walking during a normal work day. Now I make sure to get up every hour and walk the halls or in the parking lot for five minutes.

    Yes, I get weird looks…oh well! 😉

    Great post!

  4. Hey! I’m not sure what your office set up is like, but I work on a high floor as well (I once tried to give up the elevator completely… you can imagine how long that lasted) and when I have to go to the bathroom I’ll go to another floor so I have to walk up/down the stairs to get there. It’s not much, but adds a little more movement in.

  5. WOW! Some of those facts are SCARY!!! Thankfully I’m a teacher so I stand up for all of my classes but I am pretty much on my butt all night because I am so tired-yikes!!! You’ve officially scared me into trying to think of some ways to be more up and around after work/workout! : )

  6. I have being focusing on this lately, too, because I sit all day at work. I have done two things to up my movement. Since I already walk or bike to work most days, and I always take the stairs, I decided to incorporate two more things to my daily routine:
    1. I set a timer for 30 minutes. When it goes off, I have to stop what I’m doing, get up and do something away from my desk for about 5 minutes. When I get back to my desk, I reset the timer.
    2. Every time my phone rings, I stand up to answer it and talk while standing.

    I’ve noticed a lot more movement since I’ve started doing these two things.

    • That second tip in particular is really useful, and one I had never thought of before! I will definitely start doing that.

  7. While I completely agree that there is a link between leading a sedentary lifestyle and obesity, my skepticism-meter starting going off like crazy when reading some of these statistics. Being a Psych grad student, I have had it DRILLED into my brain that lots of these handy little facts that you see in magazines and Pinterest really skew the data to make it look like there is a causal relationship, when really it’s a correlational one. I won’t get crazy into it, but, basically, it’s super tough to prove causation.

    For example, saying that “Sitting Makes Us Fat,” is sort of inflammatory. It’s entirely possible that being obese makes people want to sit more (AKA, the obesity caused the increase in sitting, not the other way around). I’m certainly not advocating we all just sit around because it’s totally not bad for us, but I think it’s important to take information with a grain of salt.

    • No, you have a completely valid point. Obviously, infographics like this are always spun with quite a bit of sensationalism. If they weren’t going for shock factor, they wouldn’t have named it something like “Sitting is Killing You!” after all. That said, more often than not it takes a degree of ludicridity (that’s not a word, but I’m rolling with it hahaha) when it comes to reporting the “facts” in order to get most people to take action. If the infographic used qualifiers like “probably” or “likely” or “may” to describe the effects that a sedentary lifestyle has on a person, I imagine it would be less effective in terms of motivating people to take action, right?

      I can’t say I like it any more than you do, but I can’t ignore the fact that in a society where someone can pleasantly sit for 2 hours each night watching “The Biggest Loser” without actually doing anything for their own health, sometimes we do need that shock factor.

    • I am also a bit sceptic when the newspapers have their take on scientific research. I read about the research and to me it seemed they found that there were a correlation between a very still sitting life and the risk of getting lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease etc, but no direct link. By all means, the study is good and probably done thoroughly, we should move more. I just get a bit fed up by the news when the headlines in papers are, sitting will kill you

      Sorry for any spelling mistakes, I am Norwegian!

  8. I’m going to second the “walk somewhere else” to eat your lunch idea. Not only does it get you moving, it’s nice to have an excuse to get out of your office, which I’m sure gets stuffy every so often. I know DC summers are scorching, but I’m sure you can find a park with shade somewhere!

  9. Yikes! That infographic is scary! And motivates me even more to move more and sit less.
    Actually, I can’t remember the last time I took an elevator. My office is on the third floor, so is my condo, that means I walk up and down lots of stairs each day. I also like to walk or run during lunch break, but I’ll try to make it a daily habit. And stand up every hour, to do some calf raises, squats, or lunges.
    Oh yes! Let’s do this!

  10. Coincidentally, I heard a radio piece while I was at my physiotherapist’s office. They said that sitting for extended periods of time makes you stupider. Apparently there was a scientific test where they measured people’s brainwaves and such to compare the activity between sitting, standing, and walking. They saw an increase in response, speed, and activity in all of their subjects when standing, even better results while the subjects were walking. Sitting was the lowest by quite a bit.
    I wish this was news to all office bosses. Maybe then they would have a mandatory walk around the office every hour for 15 minutes. Their employees would be smarter and more efficient.

  11. I’m pretty active at work for someone with a desk job. I’ve always tried to get up and move around at work but I really increased my activity a few years ago after wearing a pedometer for a few months to find ways to increase my activity.

    ~I drink 70-100 ounces of water per day! Not only do I have to get up to refill my water bottle 4-5 times a day, I also have to use the ladies room that often.

    ~I fill my water bottle in the kitchen downstairs instead of at the coffee station upstairs. Sometimes I use the restroom downstairs, too.

    ~I take the front stairs crossing through the lobby to the kitchen when it’s time to fill my water instead of taking the back stairs.

    ~I have an Outlook reminder to take a morning break every day. During my morning break I take a walk outside.

    ~I have another Outlook reminder to take an afternoon break every day. During my afternoon break I get up from my chair and do some simple stretches.

    All of this results in getting up from my desk at least once or twice an hour. I swear I do get work done! In fact, I’m often more productive after my morning and afternoon breaks.

    I go home for lunch, though it sounds like that’s probably not a reality for you. At past jobs where I was stuck at work over lunch I made sure to go for a walk during lunch.

    • I am totally setting daily outlook reminders now. Great tips!! Unfortunately going home for lunch definitely isn’t an option for me (getting there and back would use up the entire time!) but I will definitely start being more proactive about not just eating at my desk.

  12. Great post! I worry about sitting down all day too- I try to fidget as much as I can, which stops my legs getting too stiff. I am lucky enough to have a tiny office to myself so can do tricep dips if I’m feeling adventurous, or lunges, with minimal embarrassment. Minimal as I’m sure the people in the building across the road can probably see in my window! Best of luck with your continuing weight loss and writing career- your blog is so well written, interesting and inspirational- thank you!

    • Thanks Becky! And I’m sure if anyone across the street DID see you, they’d only be motivated to do the same. 😀

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