[Mild trigger warning for discussion of exercise and weight loss/gain] I will readily admit that for the first 30 or so years of my life, I was super lazy. When I was 16, working my first job, my 50-something regional manager, an avid runner, would complain that she used to be able to run two miles a few times a week to stay in shape; now she had to run ten to get the same results. My teenage brain translated this into, “If you start working out now, you’re only going to screw yourself later.”
Rational? No. But internalize it I did. And for the first 30 years of my life, I was pretty lucky. I have a decent relationship with food; I eat when I’m hungry, I stop when I’m full, and I somehow, against all genetic odds, had a pretty decent metabolism. I am active enough throughout the day that I stayed in decent shape, but I was most definitely not athletic. About six months before my wedding two years ago, my previously awesome metabolism just up and quit on me. Nothing else about my habits changed, but the weight started piling on. A month before the wedding, I realized my dress didn’t fit anymore. Luckily, a wonderful seamstress made it work, but I realized I needed to make some changes.
I sit at my desk, like many of us do, for hours every single day. Lately, the stories have been rolling in by the truckload about how this is killing us all. Seriously, look at this horrifying infographic: Sitting is Killing You. Could they have made it any more terrifying? I know sitting on my ass all day isn’t the best thing in the world, but I had no idea that the shadowy demons from the movie Ghost were basically hovering over me, ready to consume my body and soul. While I began working out regularly after the wedding – kind of going against stereotypes of the pre-wedding bride workouts – these studies all say it isn’t enough. You have to get your booty up often throughout the day or the world will come to an end. Okay, maybe that is a bit hyperbolic, but did you see that infographic? It’s terrifying.
I have already implemented some strategies around my office, and am planning on adding more. In an effort to keep all my lovely Persephoneers from perishing, too, I offer these quick and easy tips to increase your life span by getting your rumps out of those death traps.
Set a Timer
Get a cheap kitchen timer, set an alarm on your phone, or have an obnoxious office manager like me that runs around the office every 45 minutes making everybody stand up. Seriously, at least once an hour, I make a lap of the office telling people to stand up. Some people ignore me, but others do, grudgingly maybe, but they do it. It is possible to type and stand at the same time, as well as many other tasks. Just stand up for a few minutes every hour.
Get a Pedometer
I am competitive. I don’t like to lose. Many of my coworkers feel the same way, which works out to my benefit when I am trying to help them get healthier. I am getting the staff pedometers to see who can walk the most amount of steps per week. There will be silly prizes for the winners. But prizes or not, trying to take more steps every day is a good thing. Getting to the gym is not easy or possible for many people. Walking a lap around the office is. I think sometimes we all put way too much pressure on ourselves to meet these lofty goals, and when we fall short, we feel like we have failed. I say BAH to lofty goals. Start small. The first day of wearing the pedometer, see how many steps you take on average. Try to bump it up by 100 steps the next day, 100 more the day after that. Some say we should take 10,000 steps per day; I say see how many you actually take and make a deal with yourself to strive for more, no matter what “they” say.
Work That Ass
On one of those standing up breaks, try this exercise- move your chair away, then pretend to sit where it was. Like this-
You don’t need the weights, unless you want to. Try to do a few every time you take a standing break. Try to work up to doing 30 a day. Your ass and thighs will thank you. Keep your back straight, hold in your core muscles, and sit back with your butt, making sure your knees don’t go over your toes.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
These few things are not miracle workers. They are just little changes to a sedentary routine that may help lead to healthier habits. We all know these things; we all know that being active is good for us. Unfortunately, many of us are also stuck behind a desk all day, slaving away for the benefit of others while our bodies rot away. Now that I am more active, I feel better, I am healthier, and I get much better sleep, but making it a priority is incredibly hard some days. Starting a fitness routine is daunting and many people give up before they ever get started. Maybe, hopefully, incorporating these few little pieces can help get someone started. Because seriously, you don’t want the scary Ghost demons coming after you, do you? Those things gave me nightmares for years.
Does anybody work at a company that has healthy living programs? Any little exercises you do at your desks during the day? Tips for others on starting a new routine? Please share below!