This year I changed my life – literally. I haven’t always worked at a “desk” job, but it is a lifestyle that I always viewed as desirable. If you had your own office, it was certainly an indication of success. Sitting at a desk all day would mean that your life was much easier than walking around a classroom, or facilitating therapy. I am not sure what I assumed would happen all day while sitting at a desk, but whatever it was, it didn’t involve stress!
Like my 20’s and 30’s, that notion went out the window quickly. The desk: the dreaded place that I was chained to for 10+ hours a day, making placements and running a business. Sometimes that office felt like a dungeon – and I was its prisoner. More times than not, I would be so stiff after sitting all day that I could barely walk around, let alone stand up straight. The many years I spent working out for 2 or 3 hours a day were all but negated by the sedentary nature of my work, the chronic stress, and the neglect of proper nutrition (even though I tried my best to eat right).
I have never been a proponent of weighing myself. Since my high school days, I have always been about the same size. I exercised and lifted weights nearly every day, so I knew I weighed more than others my size. As the years went on, I remained that same size, but my body composition was very different. I still tried to exercise regularly, but the results were less obvious due to the hours sitting behind a desk. I was experiencing back pain, sometimes so excruciating that I couldn’t stand straight or walk. Sitting down was almost unbearable. Something had to change.
I began to research alternatives and realized I wasn’t alone. Almost every major publication, from Forbes to Entrepreneur to The Huffington Post had a wealth of articles revolving around decreased productivity, weight gain, and physical ailments tied to sitting at a desk all day. Many of them pointed to an obvious solution and new trend: the treadmill desk.
I was intrigued – well, more than intrigued. I poured over article after article about the amazing benefits of walking at a treadmill desk rather than sitting. But could I do it? If you have ever had a job that involved standing all day (I have), you would know that standing by itself is exhausting! How could walking for 10 hours be attainable? By November, I was convinced that I had to try it.
I went online and ordered a Lifespan Treadmill desk. I had to rearrange my office a bit, but it was very important that my computer, phone (and everything I needed to work) were set up on the treadmill desk. I did not want to have an excuse to sit down! I kept my traditional desk in my office, but more as an empty furniture piece, than a functional desk. My journey had begun.
Organizing my work space took some trial and error, but I came up with a setup that allowed me to access all of my necessary tools without having to step off the desk. I created a cube for myself because I couldn’t get over the fact that I felt “on display” while standing there with such an open desk. I can easily look over the walls and talk to my co-workers, which was a little comical at first!
I work with a headset, so I have always been used to talking hands free and typing at the same time. Getting used to walking simultaneously took a little getting used to. The first week I walked at a very slow pace (0.5) for the entire day. I was beat. The more I talked on the phone and typed while walking, the easier it became. I only had to pause while typing something that required a great deal of prior thought (and that is probably due to a little bit of ADD rather than the walking)!
As time went on, I increased the speed incrementally. I soon found that I should have started at a faster pace because it is much easier to walk at about 2.0 all day than it is 0.5! My legs were not tired at all and I felt less pressure once I reached my optimal pace. There were times that I would be so busy that I would forget that I had been walking the entire time. It is a fast enough pace to get some decent mileage, but slow enough that I do not break a sweat at any point during the day. That is not to say that I don’t feel warm! While the others in my office are complaining that it is chilly, I have a small personal fan running on my desk!
The weeks turned into months and I noticed a significant change. I had to continually raise my desk – I was standing up straighter and my posture was improving dramatically. I am fairly tall and was starting to hunch my shoulders. This has slowly disappeared. The constant sciatic nerve pain is gone as well! I have even noticed that abdominal exercises are much easier. You don’t realize how much your core is engaged when you have to hold yourself up all day.
The question people always ask me revolves around weight. As I mentioned earlier, I do not weigh myself. I can tell you that my body composition has started to revert back to what it once was and I look much different than I did a year ago (for the better)! I still wear the same size, but I fill my clothes out much differently.
After a year of walking and working, I can tell you that I do not plan to go back! I have found very few negatives to working this way, but it does take a couple of weeks to get used to.
The four significant areas I saw improvement are:
- Increased focus/attentiveness
- Weight redistribution
- Improved posture
- Increase in daily energy level
If you are experiencing some of the physical ailments associated with the “office job” lifestyle, I suggest you give it a try! It is not a miracle weight loss solution, but the overall physical benefits are incredible.