Don’t Take Author Obesity Sitting Down

Muscular male torso

Provocations in Poundage

Yeah, I know. Better I make fun of about 10 religious faiths at once, right?

We’re not supposed to mention the other f-word, it’s not PC at all. (I’ll just spell it so we don’t scare the chubby children: f-a-t.)

Somehow in the States, it’s considered better to “not say anything.” Rather than embarrass someone or “hurt their feelings,” we’re encouraged to allow our friends and loved ones to eat themselves to death. I’m still searching for the kindness in that. I mean is, “Darling, you look 15 pounds heavier than you did the last time I saw you” really that horrendous to say to someone you care about? Apparently.

Do I have statistical renderings here to demonstrate to you that, as a group, the writerly congregation may be pressuring the pews more this year than last? Are you kidding? We can’t even get an ISBN on every book out there.

But I’m at these conferences a lot, you know. Well, of course you know. And for a while I thought the meeting rooms were getting smaller. Then I figured it out. We’re getting bigger. We the People. We, the Writers Unweighed.

I had a particularly busy round of conference events in the first six months of this year, lots of time on the road, and found myself part of our expansionist movement. My exercise routine went south, young man, not west, and I’m now enjoying the special pleasures of reducing my weightier contributions to the field. And I couldn’t help but notice that I was hardly alone.

Do I have statistical renderings here to demonstrate to you that, as a group, the writerly congregation may be pressuring the pews more this year than last? Are you kidding? We can’t even get an ISBN on every book out there.

But I’ve got eyes, as my maternal grandmother used to say. (She did indeed have two of them, she was unassailable on the point.) And nobody knows the truckloads I’ve seen of what does not look like muscular development among our bookish brethren. Male and female, mind you, the scales jump for the just and the unjust.

I’m concerned about the issue on the wider range, meaning beyond publishing and in terms of our American experiment — which was not intended by the Founding People to be about face-stuffing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (yes, “Centers,” plural) can sober you right up with their Obesity and Overweight collection of facts and figures. Pear-shaped figures, as it were.

Among US adults 20 and older:

  • 35.1 percent are obese
  • 69 percent are rated as overweight

I’ll bet my Omron pocket pedometer that the writerly sector trends heavy. So I want you to at least think about it with me. Might burn a calorie or two in the cogitation. Even in this summer of our discontent (boy are we hearing from some hotter heads), let’s look at the pale and paleo realities, and think together about what we could do to avoid collapsing those podiums when we pick up our literary awards.

I’m going to give you one alternative and then I want you to share your best idea with us.

“We have to sit to do our jobs, Porter, so shut up.”

No, we don’t have to sit. 

Provocations graphic by Liam Walsh
Provocations graphic by Liam Walsh

You might remember that during the spring, there were reports about the dangers of sitting. As Kathleen Doheny at WebMD wrote it up in April in Sitting Too Much: How Bad Is It?:

Just since January, researchers have reported that sitting for long hours is linked to:

  • Worse mental health
  • A higher risk of death from heart disease and other causes
  • A higher risk of being disabled

The new studies add even more weight to earlier research suggesting that too much sitting is bad — even if you get regular exercise.

And about getting fat?

You might think that sitting would make you less hungry. Braun’s research has found it is not true. [This is Barry Braun, PhD, director of the Energy Metabolism Lab at University of Massachusetts/Amherst she’s drawing from.] His team assigned people to sit a lot one day and to stand a lot on another day. Each time, the researchers studied how it affected their appetite. ”Going from active to sitting doesn’t lower your appetite or your energy intake,” he says. Prolonged sitting, he says, may trigger us to eat more than we should, leading to weight gain.

As it happens, a few years ago, I tried standing up at my desk for the first time. It was a revelation.

My back felt better. And I was more alert. When I walked away to get coffee, I still had my train of thought when I got back to the desk — because I hadn’t had to perform that getting-up-out-of-a-chair and sitting-back-down-in-a-chair thing.

I find that getting my routine at the gym in place first helps me get my routine at the desk in place, not vice-versa. So which comes first for you? The chicken or the chocolate?

I started standing in the CNN.com Live control room on my supervisory shifts. Much to the consternation of some of my colleagues, I kept what one called my “stand-y uppy desk” over in a corner and just put it into place when we were on the air. Did the same at my desk in the newsroom. Where I confess, I enjoyed towering over my seated cohorts. (There’s a reason the bridge of a ship is up high, O captain, my captain…never mind.)

Should you like to try this, and before you shell out for one of the remarkably comely creations at StandUpDesks.com (no, I get no commission but I’d like one), I recommend an inexpensive, trial period to see if it works at all for you:

  • Find a low bookcase or box you can put onto  your existing desk.
  • You want the surface on which your keyboard will sit to be at about the height of your elbow when you stand.
  • Make it easy to put this desk-booster up and take it back down. I can change my desk from sitting to standing in about two minutes. Same for returning to sitting mode. Anything more is too complicated and you’ll talk yourself out of it.
  • You may get tired from standing, yep. I find that about eight or nine hours is it for me. Then I’m ready to sit. Some folks stand exclusively, which is great. But I’d guess that — just as when we’re on the balance beam and sticking our landings off the high bar of literary genius — it’s a little tiring, especially when you’re getting used to it. So take it in small periods first. Thirty minutes. An hour. See how you feel.
  • Some folks like using treadmills under their desks, too. They’re not only standing but also walking. Our WU colleague Jane Friedman (“Porter’s brain”) has done it and lived to write about it right here.

And I’m standing right now as I write this. I’ve found standing at my desk to be the single most effective thing I can do.

So there you go. Now, you tell me.

What are you doing to be sure that we word masters are the best-looking bunch of literate souls around? I find that getting my routine at the gym in place first helps me get my routine at the desk in place, not vice-versa. So which comes first for you? The chicken or the chocolate? Your turn. And we’ll weigh your every suggestion with gratitude.

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About Porter Anderson

@Porter_Anderson, BA, MA, MFA, is a journalist, critic, and speaker specializing in publishing. A Fellow with the National Critics Institute, Anderson's "Porter Anderson Meets" live Twitter interviews are conducted weekly with the hashtag #PorterMeets on Mondays and run in London's The Bookseller magazine on Fridays. He is also The Bookseller's Associate Editor for The FutureBook, a sister site focused on developments in digital publishing, with #FutureChat live Twitter discussions on Fridays. Anderson works with BookExpo America (BEA) to program the uPublishU Author Hub, which had its debut at the 2014 BEA. And he is working with the Frankfurt Book Fair on special programming for its new Business Club suite of events and facilities, a first in the 2014 Buchmesse. More: PorterAndersonMedia.com | Google+

Comments

  1. says

    I threw my back out a week before attending a convention. I’d been considering a standing desk for some time and the painful weekend spend hobbling around the hotel and convention Centre gave me the push I needed. Plus, my tax refund came in. So I ordered not a standing desk, but an adjustable one. Love it. Have also started yoga. Nothing’s happened with the weight yet, but my RT says she notices the difference. I’m standing for a few hours at a time (at home). At work, I’m still sitting most of the time, but I have applied for an ergonomic assessment and will try to make my case. Can I quote you, Porter?

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    • says

      Hey, Melanie!

      Yes, indeed, feel free to quote me. :) And I’m glad you’ve found standing to have benefits, too. I do find that when my back is difficult (an injury), I may have to sit for a bit. But when the back is good, standing really helps me keep it that way much longer. I found it relatively easy, btw, to get a stand-up option at the workplace. Lots of paperwork but no pushback. Hope it goes well for you, too!

      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  2. says

    Porter, good advice. For those whose work space or firmly-held convictions make using a standing desk impractical, I’d suggest setting a timer and getting up from the computer on a regular basis, even if it’s only to walk to the coffee pot or bathroom.
    Hey, if Jerry Lee Lewis can play the piano while standing, surely we can compose the great American novel.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  3. says

    Porter, I love this idea of changing writing positions. I take mini walking breaks and it always refreshes me creatively. One thing I do is not answer my phone at my desk. I go to another room to answer it and chat standing up. And sometimes I write in a notepad at the kitchen counter but usually it’s just a paragraph or two. Since I do editing in my home office, alternating my writing and editing time is key. Doing work in different places, near a window or even sitting in the car helps to present a clean perspective on the page. Reconfiguring your desk to standing is a big deal if you have a small congested work space. I work on a large screen desk top. This will take some serious thought. Thanks for a great post.

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    • says

      Hey, Paula!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Love how you’re dividing the writing and editing, very smart to have that psychological change backed by a physical reflection.

      It’s definitely tougher with a desktop, agree. I use my laptop attached to a second screen, a big one, so I raise the laptop but am able to just tilt the screen to make it viewable while standing.

      Thanks again, bests with it,
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  4. says

    Get a dog. Seriously. The daily walks keep us both healthy. And in the winter, I can bury my feet in her fur. She also listens to my stories with rapt attention. Great for the ego.

    In the past year, with my daughter making delicious desserts I have gained another 10 lbs. Alas, it boils down to simple math, walk more, eat less. But life is short, and who doesn’t like whipped cream on their lemon tart?

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    • says

      Totally agree with this, Vijaya! My writing partner for my first ten years at this was Belle (a 75 pound black lab). She not only kept me company and listened attentively to my story musings, she got me up and out to start AND to end the day. Not to mention periodic standing and sitting to let dog out, let dog in, let dog out, let… (you get the picture). I’m honestly going to include her in the acknowledgments. I have a new partner-in-training right now, so still have a mandatory walking routine, but at four months, Gidget’s not quite there yet when it comes to the rapt attention thing. She’ll get there. Gives me something else to aspire to.

      I stand and salute you, Sir Porter of House Anderson. Seriously, a sensitive subject handled with class. And a good easy first step for many of us to try.

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      • says

        Hey, Vaughn, thanks much,

        And Cooper the Literary Beagle could do with a little bit more interest in the work, I must say lol. He mostly contributes by sleeping heavily except when we go out for walks, but those walks do add up (as both my FitBit and Omron confirm), and I’m a big believer in augmenting the standup desk with the walkout dog, lol.

        Many thanks for the kind words and keep Gidget on her feet. :)

        -p.

        On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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    • says

      Vijaya!

      Cooper the Literary Beagle agrees with you completely!

      And your best course may well be to get your daughter busy walking your dog so she’ll stop making those delicious desserts. :)

      Seriously, good advice. I find that my godbeagle and I do about 5,000 steps per day of my 15,000-step goal. Totally helpful to have the unavoidable requirement of walking a creature, I quite agree. And maybe step it up with your dog to a gentle jog. Might take care of that whipped cream.

      Thanks much!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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      • Lynn says

        Porter,

        Your comment on number of steps got me thinking. So, I looked up number of steps in a mile. It’s only about 1500. Ow! I was proud of walking 2 miles (=3000) when I need to be a lot nearer 10,000! Thanks for the prod.

        BTW, a few years back there was a joke about the “Amish diet.” You could eat anything you wanted as long as you walked 10,000 steps a day. Probably would work. That’s 6.67 miles.

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        • says

          Hey, Lynn,

          Just remember that how many steps make a mile for you will be different from the number for someone else. When you get an Omron pedometer, for example, the first thing you do is measure your stride (it’s easy) and set it so that you’re getting an accurate reading on how far you’ve gone.

          So just check out your stride to be sure you have a sense for how far you want to go daily. In ANY case, the going rule of thumb is to try to hit 10,000 steps a day. For each person, whatever their stride means in terms of miles, this seems to be a good number to use as a goal.

          Thanks again!
          -p.

          On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  5. Laverne says

    Thank you for the post. You can stand on your feet for 8 straight hours? I salute you. Unfortunately I have a medical condition which makes standing in one place for any length of time a very risky proposition. Whenever I’ve tried I always pass out and wake up on the floor. Instead of a stand-up desk I use a timer. I set it for an hour, two at the most, and then I get up and walk or do whatever I need to do. Sitting for long periods of time isn’t good either; if I do that I always develop stiffness. Writers have to find a balance and discover what works well for them.

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    • says

      Hey, Laverne,

      Please don’t try all this standing with a condition that makes it dangerous! Sounds to me as if you’ve got a good approach with your breaks to move you around. And any special circumstance such as you have is extremely important when evaluating these things. We want you healthy, not the alternative.

      Thanks for reading and joining in, good to hear from you,
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  6. says

    Funny that this should come up. On thread in FB in another writing group, I mentioned how I need to lose weight because I knew it was affecting my health, especially when I saw my waist measurement. I plainly stated I was FAT. For the most part in the 70 plus comments, every one chimed in about stress eating, cutting sugar, what activities they enjoyed and so on. It was a lively conversation and everyone who was overweight described themselves as fat. And then it all came to a halt when someone said that the thread wasn’t an appropriate topic for a writing forum. The said offendee went on to state that I was body shaming because I used the term fat. If any body shaming was going on it was directed at myself. And quite honestly, if I have to hide from what I am by using a different term so another person doesn’t feel bad about herself then we’ve carried this whole PC use of language to the point of absurdity.

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    • says

      Hey, Rebeca –

      Boy, I’m with you. These folks who have so much trouble with plain talk on these issues can really make it difficult to have some extremely important conversations.

      Sounds to me as if you were doing the right thing by putting it out there and leading such a good discussion. I wouldn’t be afraid to cordially explain to anyone who comes by with that attitude that especially when the CDC is telling us we’re looking at crisis-level stuff in many instances, it’s time to clarify simply that there’s no blame to be worried about — only forward efforts to make things better — and that direct, conversational speech is always the most authentic and effective.

      Sounds to me as if your “fat refusenik,” lol, was in the minority and I wouldn’t be averse to pointing that out, either. Again, cordially but firmly.

      It’s a very tough thing for many to talk openly about, which is one reason obesity is becoming such a problem — all the more reason to talk it up and freely.

      “PC to the point of absurdity.” Exactly. You keep right on. :)
      Tell them I sent you. :)
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  7. says

    Occasionally, Porter, we are forced into action.

    Last November, I had an unexpected recurrence of post-concussive symptoms that forced me to not only slow down to a halt, but re-evaluate my working routine.

    I had to completely re-do my filing system, which until then had served me well. I’m still adjusting to it, but come tax time – not to mention next month when I start on the next book – it will be a huge improvement.

    A large part of the changes I made were to my actual research/writing routine. The wonderful therapist I saw at Rehab Institute of Chicago (the only medical facility I actually enjoyed walking into) put me on a 30/5 schedule: work 30 minutes, take a 5 minute break. It was what helped me regain my focus and energy. My iced tea (not sweet tea) is in a different room. My phone is next to me, but on silent; I’m not available to talk unless it’s an emergency. During that break I decide if I’m going to work another 30 minutes or do something else. My low-energy time of day is 2-4pm, so that’s when I do other things that don’t involve sitting (like laundry, errands), unless I’m on my recumbent bike in the basement.

    During my 5 minute breaks I get up, get a drink, return phone calls if I feel like it. This works, too, if I’m writing at Panera or my favorite coffeehouse. If I’m really motivated I walk half a mile to the closest Starbucks and work there.

    Your points are important, Porter, because we do tend to be sedentary. I’m still trying to figure out how to do a standing desk in my home office. Maybe when the re-organizing is finally done this weekend, I can do that.

    No change in the weight yet, sadly, because of the meds I was on. But that’s coming slowly but surely. I assume walking around NYC and London will help a lot. :)

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    • says

      Hey, Viki –

      Thanks for this interesting comment, which supports an early trend I’m seeing in many comments here today — the idea of breaking up work with breaks for physical action. So many people are mentioning this, whether it’s using a dog to get that to happen or a timer or, as you have, a 30/5 program.

      In fact your system reminds me of the Pomodoro method http://bit.ly/19z3mfN which uses 25-minute sessions and five-minute breaks.

      And I’m envious of your new filing system. I’ve actually got a new cabinet, myself, for just that, and need to put it together.

      For now, let the weight reduction wait. When you’re on medication for a given condition, that’s the priority. Once you’re cleared, then you can get a regular regimen in place. That’s how you reduce — on a system. I’m always amazed at how well my body responds to a dependable routine.

      Cheers!
      -p.

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  8. says

    Dear Porter–
    Thank you for being a stand-up guy on a very weighty subject. I know Hemingway did a lot of writing standing up, but that’s because during the war he’d taken something like 200 pieces of shrapnel in his back. Otherwise, I don’t associate stand-and-deliver with the creative process. I mean creative writing. Otherwise, yes, lots of creative types do their work standing. On point for ballerinas, running around throwing paint for abstract expressionist painters, etc.
    I’m sure you’re familiar with the term “ageism” (you seem to be familiar with everything else, why not this?), the idea of privilege for the young just for being young and rejection of the old just for being old. On this basis, I assume there’s also weightism, or anti-blubber bias, etc. But you have to admit, an awful lot of the time and attention given to weight “issues” is driven by commerce. Making people self-conscious about saddle bags, love handles, etc., translates into big bucks.
    So, even though I’m sure you’re right to encourage writers to burn a few more calories, the whole weight-management industry makes me skeptical. All those actors and actresses in lab coats, intense rows of young people running in place and throwing punches.
    Besides, in your post you fail to identify the real reason why so many writers these days are competitors in the Mister Creosote Competition ( a Monty Python reference for Those Too Young).
    It’s this: The End of Smoking as We Know It.
    Yes, when we learned we were puffing ourselves to death, and with great sadness said goodbye to tobacco, we began to balloon. You spend a lot of time at writers conferences. Are you old enough to remember the Good/Bad Old Days? I remember them well. Every workshop looked like LA before the Clean Air Act. After the day’s efforts, staff and students herded around the drinks table and made the place into a passive-smoker’s dream. These days, you can see all the way to the end of the conference table. And with the end of tobacco, people are drinking a lot less, too. But snacking more, of course. Usually, on carrot sticks.
    Opinions differ, and some brain-dead doctors insist there’s no connection between nicotine and metabolism. But anyone–standing, sitting, reclining– who used to cohabit with tobacco and broke up with his lover knows the truth of what I’m saying.
    All such writers have had to compensate for their basic oral personality. Eating is certainly one approach, but as you point out, not really workable in the long term. My own solution was to get a dog. Instead of standing for six or eight hours, I am now summoned several times a day to walk Fido. It’s his own version of smoking, the monkey on his back–going for walks. On these outings, we pass people huddled in entryways, or even outside their own, smoke-free homes. Hunched and looking sullen, they eye our passing as they suck on the delivery system.
    This symbiosis–me and my dog–has done a lot for me, and I recommend it.
    But I would advise writers to avoid Labrador retrievers. All labs have just one idea–“Throw it!” Once you give in and start feeding his habit, the odds of getting back to work can thin out to next to nothing.

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    • says

      Hey, Barry,

      Whatever the commercial capitalization on the country’s weight problem might be — and i’m sure it’s huge — I think the problem is even bigger, and I don’t think for a minute that it’s a creation of a Madison Avenue campaign. Sure, a sensible person has to avoid a lot of ridiculously over-promising diet programs, but scams are everywhere in everything … and this is a bona fide issue, a real and present health emergency that we’re not treating as such (in the wider society, I mean now) because we don’t like to talk about it. (See Rebeca Schiller’s good comment about being basically shouted down on Facebook by a writing group member who thought it was inappropriate to have an honest discussion about weight problems.)

      Not sure I follow you on the ageist element? I do know that I’m really unimpressed when I see fat parents with fat children. It’s one thing if the parents want to screw up their own health but entirely another if they want to damage their kids (which they will do) by allowing or even encouraging those children to overeat. So many of the diet habits and self-image concepts people have come from their childhoods with their families.

      One of the biggest problems, as a matter of fact, is that while we’ve placed loads of emphasis on the health dangers to girls who are made to feel they need to look like lithe models, we’re not helping boys who are programmed to believe they need to look like Men’s Journal guys. As in the reading problem, we seem to be placing a lot more emphasis on helping young women than on helping young men.

      Dogs all around – maybe that’s the answer. Thanks again,
      -p.

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      • says

        Porter–Please forgive my efforts to be funny about the issue at hand. Jokes aside, you are right about its seriousness. I, too, get depressed when I see obese children with obese parents. In fact, I tend to associate obesity with self-indulgence and a lack of discipline. I know this is by no means true of all fat people, but when you see an enormous person pitching a yawing his way to a seat at McDonald’s, with a tray heavy laden with fries and Big Macs, well… Then again, it’s fair to ask me what I’m doing there.

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  9. says

    Great post. Thanks for taking on this awkward topic. Weight and food, which serves as so much more than physical sustenance, are such personal issues; and, as writers, it can be too easy to feel that exercise competes with writing, when, as you suggest, more often it nourishes creative activity more so than the cherished chocolate boost. I threw my back off earlier this month, unthinkingly glued to my laptop, up too late to complete a funding application. A standing desk, and more consistent mindfulness of the mind-body relationship, should be preferable to more chiropractic visits. And so often the best revelations and breakthroughs arrive while walking or running. Thanks for these great reminders, and your attention to the bigger picture, personal and cultural.

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    • says

      Hey, Kara!

      Thanks for the great note, and for reading the piece, as well.

      As with the take-a-break rule I’m seeing as a trend in so many comments, your note about throwing out your back — sadly! — is one I’m reading a lot, too. My own back troubles from an injury (just before Christmas, as a matter of fact) have made me all the more grateful for this standup habit I’m into with the desk.

      And in case it’s of use, Liz Davidson at the Facebook WU group, has reminded us of an article about using some inexpensive Ikea pieces to set up a standup desk for yourself, perhaps of use:

      http://iamnotaprogrammer.com/Ikea-Standing-desk-for-22-dollars.html

      All the best and thanks again!
      -p.

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  10. says

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    I’ve been a very fit, active person my entire life–even after both children I lost the baby weight and ran road races. And then I dove into the publishing industry, and wrote novels, and blogged, and sat, and sat, and sat some more. I also happen to be an extrovert, so I get bored all alone at my desk. So I get up and get a snack, or go to Starbucks to work…where I get a snack. Next thing you know, I’ve gained my book baby weight and I don’t even recognize myself.

    But now that I have a handle on my new schedule and who I am in this industry and where I’m going, I’m fighting back! My husband is building me a stand-up desk at this very moment, and I’ve made it mandatory to exercise every morning. EVEN if I’m stressed about deadlines and EVEN if I’m exhausted. I am now scheduling exercise like it’s an appointment that can’t be broken. As you said, it ultimately gives me energy and focus and the fortitude to keep using my brain the many many hours I need to concentrate. Not to mention? I don’t feel like having a heart attack any time soon and I miss my Calvin Klein jeans.

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    • says

      Right you are, Heather – the Calvins first of all. :)

      Seriously, sounds like you have your head very together on all this, and congratulations!

      It’s pretty interesting how my own response to exercise goes. I actually find it impossible to do a stable, productive writing schedule if I haven’t put in the equivalent in terms of a gym schedule. Something makes it seem wrong to me to do long stretches of writing without having first set up a plan for exercise. Very odd — I’m not sure where this comes from. But it’s almost like arranging for protection against what you’re talking about (the sitting and sitting and sitting … or even standing for me).

      And how cool that Mr. Heather can build you a standup desk! If he’d like to start a concession on those things, I think he’d find a lot of takers here at WU. :)

      Cheers, and thanks for the great note, you’re on all kinds of right tracks with this!
      -p.

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  11. Denise Willson says

    Ha! Porter, you made me laugh this morning, thank you.

    I use a yoga ball at my desk and drag my sorry ass to pilates twice a week for an hour. Religiously. Of course, it mainly washes away the guilt accompanying the chocolate (my biggest vise) but we all have our sweet demons. :)

    My key to living healthy: lots of sleep, eat good stuff, forego the drugs, and keep stimulated. We humans get large when we mess with Mother Nature.

    Denise Willson
    Author of A Keeper’s Truth and GOT

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    • says

      Hey, Denise!

      I think the yoga ball is a good idea, though I’ve never been able to sit on one at a desk for long — I use them for abs work, but those things distract me too much when I’m trying to work. Congrats on pulling that off.

      Your formula is right. Watch that chocolate. :)

      -p.

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  12. Denise Willson says

    Oh, gotta say, I’m lovin’ the picture! If that doesn’t get us (females) moving, nothing will!

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  13. says

    Hi Porter,
    Interesting and provocative as always! :-) In answer to your question, I have one word for you: Spanx. I hang out with Boomers, many of whom are writers but also those from a wide cross section of other professions. Observation tells me that past a certain age people come in two types: 1) stringy and prune-like or 2) plump and fluffy. I tend to the plump and fluffy, so good foundation garments are a must. You guys don’t have the advantages offered by good suck it in and hold it undergarments, but they work wonders.

    As to exercise, I recommend firing your housekeeper, yardman, and pool service. It’s hard to mop the floors, weed the flowerbeds, and scrub the gunite while sitting down. If you live in an immaculate home with stunning gardens that you maintain yourself, I promise having to create ways to exercise will not be an issue. An added benefit is seeing immediate results, at least with the floors, yard , and pool. Now I’m not saying that my place looks as I’ve described, but I’m working on it, one patch of algae and muddy footprint at a time.

    Regarding the growing writerly bulge you are seeing, and I have no doubt you are correct in your observation, is it a function of overeating or of an aging population or both? I suspect both is the truth.

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    • says

      Hey, Linda,

      With all respect for your high regard for Spanx, lol, good foundation garments won’t do much for your health. :) I do love the idea of doing all that yard work and pool cleaning, though — especially if you’re the one doing it. :)

      To your last point, I don’t think it’s a matter of aging except in those who are indeed aging. The sad thing is that I’m meeting a lot of young (20s and 30s) writers at conferences who already are on their way to stretch mark hell. Particularly in younger people, it’s distressing to see all this extra weight being dragged around the hotel ballrooms. These may be the most important colleagues for us to speak to about it — they have the longest to go, after all.

      Thanks and good to hear from you, as always,
      -p.

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      • says

        Hey Porter,
        I’m sure you realized that much of what I said, while true, was also tongue-in-cheek. You are absolutely right about the problem being the bulging of America, especially where the young are concerned. But this isn’t limited to writers. In my other life as a school administrator, I see all too many young teachers who are overweight, which is a real puzzle, since teaching is supposed to be done on the feet, not on the seat. Seven hours walking a classroom with concrete floors should be enough exercise for anyone, but apparently it no longer is or more sitting than ever is going on where it shouldn’t be. The weight issue isn’t one that can legally be addressed, but too much sitting is. I’m not sure what can be done about young writers. Perhaps others have some ideas. Keep up the good provocation!

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        • says

          Very odd about the teachers, I agree, and I’ve seen this in some I know, too, though I’m not in a school setting and don’t see a lot of classrooms these days. My mother was a teacher for decades and she and her cohorts tended to eat a lot at night, I know, not least because they were tired from being on their feet all day — this might be the problem, though I’m speculating: over-compensatory eating.

          Thanks again, Linda!
          -p.

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    • says

      Thanks, Liz, this is indeed a great way to try out a standing desk arrangement with inexpensive Ikea pieces. I just saw the most gorgeous standup desk (the kind that electrically raises and lowers, which I covet, for a mere $1,849.00. LOL http://www.carettaworkspace.com/products/desks/stand-up-desk-type-22-62-x-32

      And loads of articles and suggestions for them on the Net, just by searching “standup desk.”

      The super Ergotech Sit Stand Desk (one touch, electric) rig here in video goes on top of your existing desk http://youtu.be/YqZaw3zqIbo

      Such as this set of 5 looks from LifeHacker http://lifehacker.com/five-best-standing-desks-1528244287

      Clearly, a whole marketplace of manufacturers awaits, and there’s even a Wikipedia entry for “Standing Desk” with lots of info. (Standing may burn 50 calories more per hour, for example … and might also increase the incidence of varicose veins!)

      Nothing like the American market, is there? You think of a niche product, and suddenly the niche is the size of Wyoming. :)

      Thanks!
      -p.

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  14. says

    Porter, serendipity: the word of the day from the Vocabula Review is quatopygia (kwah-tah-PIJ-ee-ah) n. the shaking of the buttocks while walking. You shook us all with your post. The Bentley family has skinny genes, so I can still fit in skinny jeans (but avoid that faux pas, since I’m now one of the ancients).

    With gravity now working against me, my luck is is that I love to exercise, and combining that with working at home, can go out daily for walks, bike rides, can shoot hoop in my driveway, or chase phantasms. And a great writerly consequence is that these aerobic jaunts often open a word-gate so that my mind is flooded with considerations on whatever work in progress is progressing.

    Right now I’m house-sitting in San Miguel de Allende (magical city!), high above the city center, and have been wobbling down the cobblestone streets once and sometimes twice a day—the legs and the imagination take flight in a place like this. I’m eager to walk around a place where almost every bright, flower-adored doorway and garden courtyard looks like an invitation into fantasyland. The whole place is like a giant art gallery, so walking is rewarded.

    Oh, and my girlfriend has been working at one of those adjustable standing desks for a year or so; she says she’ll never go back.

    PS Exercise and good health to all (but man, I still love to hit the cocktails and the chocolate).

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    • says

      So you are in SMdA. and I am here.
      (1) Who let this happen? I’m sure I was supposed to be the one in SMdA.
      (2) Cobblestones: When I lived in Rome, I had the calves of a gladiator. Walking true cobblestones all day will make you massively sore and give you the legs of your life, especially up and down hills. Rome provided me with seven.
      (3) You’re house-standing, not house-sitting, please.
      (4) Your girlfriend is very smart.
      (5) You’re forgiven the cocktails if you’ll just get off the chocolate.
      I raise my Campari to you.
      -p.

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  15. says

    Post and comments so apt!
    Empty nester, reworked my writing space to accomodate standing and sitting situations. Also, added a stationery bike which gets my daily use. Along with taking the pup for a walk and other daily sprints, have upped the walking/ moving patterns of the day. Baby steps working!

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    • says

      Hey, Patricia!

      Jump onto Amazon or another favorite emporium and get yourself an Omron pocket pedometer. Amazing thing. In your pocket or a bag, it counts your steps all day. Your goal is 10,000 daily. Incredibly easy to use (also incredibly easy to put into the washer and have to replace, I’m on my third, be careful, lol) and it helps you know just how much movement you’re actually getting each day. The feedback is fabulous, I find.

      Sounds like you’re doing loads right, congrats!!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  16. says

    Not too long ago, I heard that research showed standing while working keeps your faculties and wit sharp, helps you think on your feet (ha) because it stimulates a primitive instinct: we did everything on our feet as recently evolved bipeds. And now we constantly slouch, sit on our asses, and get foggy all the while. I became aware then of my back and rear hurting from sitting too long and I figured it couldn’t hurt to give the ole standing desk idea a try. I started lifting my keyboard and mouse at work and standing there. It helped me to maintain a better mood, deal with complaints and problems more effectively, and just think clearer. And it WAS to everyone’s consternation–how funny. You do something for yourself and people become worried that you’re jeopardizing their way of life, how they’ve always been comfortable. But when I took this change home, and got a medium sized bookshelf that came up to my elbows in height, I could stand for 5-6 hours and be more productive than I ever had, AND work problems out in my novel that I didn’t even see while sitting. This simple idea has been kind of life-altering for me. And while I understand it’s probably difficult for many people to stand for long periods of time, whether from past injuries or worn knees, it is worth a try. Even a little time off your rump could make all the difference :)

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    • says

      Ashley!!

      RIGHT on the money. I’ve got a tweet coming with your line about seeing things in your novel you can’t even SEE sitting down. I almost made a reference to this in my piece and decided I’d sound even more deranged than usual.

      It’s actually true, at least in my experience. (And if two of us say this, it must be correct, right? LOL) I can spot things — in my articles, in my creative work, even in my Vast Tweeterie while standing that I won’t see sitting down. I catch more typos, think of more good phrases, churn more ideas…it really does help.

      And what you’re describing about the physical differences, at least per the theory, is not unlike a paleo diet — you’re getting at the fact that as creatures we weren’t really designed by Nature to sit in chairs. Chairs weren’t around when our model was produced. We could slouch in caves and hang out on ledges but for the most part we were expected to be scooting around the veldt looking svelt and not hunkering in things with armrests. I saw a writer describe himself as “a chair-shaped person” the other day, lol, which is pretty much what’s happening to us as a result of modern furniture. So yeah, everything you’re saying is exactly right, at least per the people who are studying and promoting this anti-sitting business. Which I guess now includes me, lol.

      And oh, the consternation!

      Isn’t it amazing? People in the newsroom were AGHAST that I would want to stand. Everybody had to come ask about it, the first assumption apparently being that I was spying on them all, lol. Eventually, of course, others started asking how to talk to HR about requisitioning their own standup desk because their backs were giving them trouble…and we ended up with a number of standers. Never fails. First they try to kill you, then they try to emulate you, lol.

      Glad you’re on your feet. Amazing difference, huh? I’ve decided that the reason I can get through the mid-afternoon awake — when I typically get insanely sleepy — is that if I’m on my feet I know I’ll fall on my ass if I nod off, LOL. So right there, I’m already ahead.

      Thanks for the upright comment, much appreciated!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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      • says

        I am still laughing about your coworkers thinking you were spying on them!!!

        And it is so strange how standing, which you think would tire you out, helps refresh you and keep you alert. I think it really goes back to that instinct of fighting for your life, foraging and hunting, all which you did on your feet; we damn well better be alert for those activities. And lo and behold, Nature designed us that way, so let’s use it.

        Good call on this post, Porter. We don’t see enough discussion regarding our health in a largely sedentary occupation–sure, we get plenty WU articles on maintaining our sanity ;)

        And thank you for the tweet!

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  17. says

    Good morning Porter! What a timely post. I’ve been more and more conscious lately of that of which you write. I looked at the number of times ‘I used to’ cropped up in my conversations with friends on the subject of weight or exercise, as in I used to play badminton, horse ride, swim, go to yoga, walk my dogs. Sadly, my dogs are gone and my life at the moment is not conducive to replacing them. However, walking is free and can be done anywhere as can yoga. If you can’t get to a class find one on Youtube and practise at home. I haven’t thought of a standing desk, but am going to try that. I’m senior and years ago was told ‘grans are meant to be roundy’, however, I don’t entirely agree with that. What I do agree with is your statement about fat.

    While I have no wish to be stick-thin and love my chocolate and wine, there is such a thing as moderation. A LITTLE of what you fancy does you good as it were. Little being the operative word. Yes, I carry more weight than I did when I was younger, in truth I am fat but I try to manage it and my writing career effectively. For as much time as I spend sitting at my computer I now try to spend at least 50% of that time being active. Cutting the grass with a reel mower works just fine! Of course, being retired from a 9-5 grind helps me optimize my time to my best advantage. And now after sitting for nearly an hour I’m off for a 30 minute walk.

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    • says

      DON’T GIVE UP THE WINE!

      :)

      Good morning, Victoria, a day later — sorry, I’ve got so many wonderful comments here that I’m still working my way through them all.

      Everything you’re saying here makes excellent sense. And I’m a firm believer, by the way, in not jettisoning every pleasure of life (especially the wine … and for me, the Campari!).

      Here’s what I recommend in addition to standing (very easy to do a trial run with a little shelf or box or something, don’t spend anything — I’ve seen people turn a laundry basket upside down and put that on their desks with their computer on top — voila, a standup desk).

      Then go to Amazon or somewhere you prefer to shop and get an Omron pocket pedometer. Takes just a little setup (easy instructions) and then you’ve got this small gizmo you drop in a pocket or a purse and it tracks all your steps all day. Your goal is 10,000 steps a day. I find that if I do almost nothing, I get 3,000 steps automatically. Since I use the gym, I’m actually doing 15,000 per day, but 10,000 is a fantastic number of steps. And seeing the number each day as you go not only encourages you but will also help you do that MOST important thing: make it daily, dependable, regular. What I find your body wants most is to get the same amount of movement DAILY. (So the lawn mowing is super, but probably doesn’t happen every day, right? Then on non-mowing days…more walking of some kind.) One way or another, if you can hit a goodly amount of movement on a REGULAR basis, then you actually will NOT have to be roundy at all, believe me. It’s astonishing how well our physiques respond to daily, regular, dependable movement.

      Many other pedometers out there, by the way. I just find the Omrons to be very nice, totally easy — I’m never without one, and I actually wear a FitBit, too (overpriced, to my mind) just so I can compare the stats they’re showing me and get more data.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, and keep at it, you’ve got all the right ideas!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  18. says

    I was inspired to create a make-do lectern: a small stool on my desk, topped with a book, my slanted cooling pad and the laptop. My back is shouting, “Thank you, thank you!”

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  19. says

    Two words: yoga ball.

    I use it instead of a chair. My posture has improved. I can bounce to expend energy and nervous fidgets. (I’ve noticed that when I’m really working out an issue I bounce like a 5-year-old.) And when I feel myself being unproductive, I do crunches. If I take an internet break, I make myself do an exercise. Yes, I go to the gym, and over the years I’ve learned dozens of easy exercises to do via the ball (seriously easy–leg lifts–one leg at a time–can work your core). It’s not running a marathon, but it’s something. I also keep my set of hand weights next to my computer. Every now and then I do a set of curls or something. Try it. If you’re reading an article (writing related, of course) you can work your triceps instead of grabbing a bag of chips. Every little bit counts.

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    • says

      Hey, Kerry Ann,

      I wish I were better with the yoga ball. I have a great one, lovely silver with EVERLAST on the side — I’ve just never gotten the hang of using these things well because I find I can’t concentrate on a specific area when I use them. So much ancillary moving around (which is the idea, the added work for balancing, I realize) that it’s counter-productive for my purposes. But really glad to hear it’s so useful for you (a couple of others are mentioning this to in our comments here).

      And I really like your “every little bit helps” philosophy with the hand weights and other things. That’s exactly right. The more you can substitute eating with something that gets a muscle group or two moving, the better you’re doing.

      So more power to you and thanks for the input!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  20. says

    Porter-

    I am staring at the bagel before me, my eyes shifting to my computer screen and back to the bagel. Uh-oh.

    What’s worse, I just came from my annual physical. The blood work is due back next week. Double uh-oh. (In my defense, I had to fast before the blood was drawn, hence the bagel.)

    And, hey, I must also point out that I’ve kept my college weight most of my adult life. Was doing great, in fact, until last fall when my wife began culinary school, but even so the damage isn’t too bad.

    So here is the root of the problem: I was feeling fine until I read your post. Now I’m stressed out. My blood pressure is up. I’m so worried I forgot about my kick-boxing class. This. Is. Not. Helping.

    LOL

    Okay, kidding aside, it’s good to remind ourselves to stay healthy. Stand to write, ride bikes, walk the dog…whatever works. We need stories and to get those we need storytellers–alive, not dead.

    Now, as a writer I face the next question: where can I get a drink?

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    • says

      Well, Don,

      You don’t think I wrote this thing without my trusty Campari at my side, do you? :)

      In fact, I may have written “don’t give up the wine!” in all caps to one of our associates here who’d left a comment talking about abandoning both chocolate ane wine. (Those all caps were just the Campari talking, of course, I’d never use so gauche an emphasis.)

      Actually, and all kidding aside, when I saw you in May at BEA, you looked very college weight to me, I’d say you’re doing extremely well, nothing to worry about except jealous Writers Unweighed lunging at you from dark corners of Salem during the Un-Con.

      Whatever you’re doing is working damned well. I’ll have what you’re having, and thanks for the note!

      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  21. J.F. says

    I like your post, Porter, but I can’t stand at my desk and I can’t put a box on top of it. I also can’t afford a new desk. I’ve already read all this stuff on sitting, and evaluated my budget-and-desk-constrained situation. The standing desk will have to come later when there’s some cash.

    Meanwhile, I have a gym in my house (cycle and free weights), and I have a reminder that pops up on my Outlook every few minutes that tells me to get up off my backside and walk around (seriously – it says that). Usually, I stand up and dance around. So, while I am sitting to work, I don’t sit for long.

    Years ago when I worked at The Big Law Firm in Dallas I did stand up and work and I loved it. So, as soon as I have said money and I can re-invest in a large standing desk (has to be large because I spread material across my desk when I work), then I will have a standing desk.

    In the meantime, it’s looking like time to hit the weight room followed by some seriously intense pedaling on the bike – and another day of dancing through the house between writing sets. :)

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    • says

      JF,

      You have it all figured out, obviously. And yes, when your ship comes in, I’m convinced there will be any number of standup desk manufacturers quite ready to relieve you of that cash. I’m finding a huge number of models and variations out there now. (Also a wide range of prices, actually.) Clearly the idea is catching on in many places, and I’m glad you had a good experience in Dallas where I spent three of the stranger years of my life… the 114-degree summer days were very compelling, as were all those U-turn lanes on the highways. The Meyerson Symphony Center made up for many over-uses of mesquite.

      Keep dancing through the house, and thanks for the comment!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  22. says

    There must be something in the air…. Last week I started experimenting with writing standing up. When I sit, I sit on a Pilates ‘cushion’ as I like to move a lot (for extra stimulation, try sitting on the knobbly side!!)

    There are ways of moving that feed directly into experimenting with writing. Earlier this morning I posted “Moving to Write” on my blog, an exploration of two types of flow in movement and writing. As an ex-dancer and creative movement teacher I like to find ways of looking at writing through movement – both come from the body. http://susilovell.com/2014/07/18/moving-to-write-exploring-flow/

    Of course all the other totally unrelated ways of moving are invaluable for those unexpected images and ideas. Einstein walked…

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    • says

      Hey, Susi!

      How cool that you, too, have been working on standup writing — did I mention that here in the Tropic of Porter, standup paddle boards are now all the rage? lol.

      As a former modern dancer, myself (I’m not kidding — trained with Myra Kinch in Graham technique), I love what you’re saying about flow in your piece, thanks for the link. Painting the air is awfully good. Reminds me of Anna Sokolow’s arm work.

      I’d say, in fact, that the only worrisome element I’m picking up in so many great comments here are in the number of folks who talk of doing what I’d call ancillary movement — dancing through the house, mowing a lawn, walking our editor-dogs — but not in dedicated, raise-your-heart-rate, sustained, daily exercise.

      What I fear is that folks might think that a few thousand strolling steps a day will do it. Alas — and as you know as a fellow dancer — nope. My guess is that you’re in pretty good shape, as is. Dancers are like that. (Myra could kick over her head at age 80.)

      But for our truly fat colleagues who really need to get serious, I’m hoping to press home the idea that once they’re on their feet, they’re going to need to stay there and really do something for a sustained period of actual exercise. (Elliptical machines are fabulous for this kind of cardio because they take away the impact that you and I though tongue-and-groove floors would save us from , right? lol)

      Love what your’e doing and keep it up!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  23. says

    I’ve had a stand-up desk at my day job for years because sitting all day was killing my hips. I love it. I keep a decent stool-height chair nearby for when I get tired of standing, so I’m up and down all day. I’d never go back to sitting exclusively.

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    • says

      Hey, Sharry,

      Glad you’ve found the standup so useful, too, and I love a tall chair, too — at times, I’ve used a high bar-chair to sit for brief periods at the standup height, then got back onto my feet.

      Same way, would never go back. Thanks for the note!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  24. says

    Standing up is great. When I broke my back coming off a horse, that was pretty much the only advice I got.

    I decided to lose weight this past winter. Mostly because I knew I didn’t feel good and also because I planned to take my young mare to her first endurance rides and she’s little. Not fair for me to ask her to carry unnecessary weight.

    I started watching calories, hoping that would shame me into eating less or better. Didn’t work, especially since I didn’t count the ones I didn’t know for sure.

    Then I heard a news story that recommended only eating twice a day. I already knew this worked well for me, but I’d been pounded into believing you must eat breakfast and I just couldn’t skip lunch or dinner. So I started skipping breakfast and this sooo works for ME.

    I’m much more alert when I’m not full, I’m not thinking about food when I’m hungry, but about how good it feels not to feel sluggish. I eat whatever I want for lunch and dinner although I try to make one of those meals be a salad (I make a killer salad).

    I am exercising more. I got a recumbent stationary bike which I did religiously during the winter. Now it’s too hot to sit and sweat. I also got a Tony Little Gazelle which is totally non-impact to joints. I have way better things for my joints to hold up for than jogging or biking! I still do that thing 10 minutes a day and now I can jog for miles on the flat.

    And the kicker – I’ve lost 19 pounds and it felt effortless.
    Marlene at On Writing and Riding

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  25. says

    Standing up is great. When I broke my back coming off a horse, that was pretty much the only advice I got.

    I decided to lose weight this past winter. Mostly because I knew I didn’t feel good and also because I planned to take my young mare to her first endurance rides and she’s little. Not fair for me to ask her to carry unnecessary weight.

    I started watching calories, hoping that would shame me into eating less or better. Didn’t work, especially since I didn’t count the ones I didn’t know for sure.

    Then I heard a news story that recommended only eating twice a day. I already knew this worked well for me, but I’d been pounded into believing you must eat breakfast and I just couldn’t skip lunch or dinner. So I started skipping breakfast and this sooo works for ME.

    I’m much more alert when I’m not full, I’m not thinking about food when I’m hungry, but about how good it feels not to feel sluggish. I eat whatever I want for lunch and dinner although I try to make one of those meals be a salad (I make a killer salad).

    I am exercising more. I got a recumbent stationary bike which I did religiously during the winter. Now it’s too hot to sit and sweat. I also got a Tony Little Gazelle which is totally non-impact to joints. I have way better things for my joints to hold up for than jogging or biking! I still do that thing 10 minutes a day and now I can jog for miles on the flat.

    And the kicker – I’ve lost 19 pounds and it felt effortless.

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    • says

      Hey, Marlene,

      Congratulations on the 19 pounds!

      That’s fantastic. I use an elliptical a lot for cardio, as a matter of fact, saving those joints for better things, as you put it.

      And I’m fully with you on the meals regimen. It’s a social affectation, this idea of three meals a day. Totally made up, long ago, by the dieticians of the middle of the last century when everything was being codified in the post-War world. I skip breakfast always. In fact, I eat only one meal a day. I’ve sworn by it for more than 30 years. Works great for me. In business settings and on travel assignments, in fact, one of the reasons I don’t do as well is that I’m suddenly required to eat these other “normal” meals with everybody.

      Crazy how we start to think that Jesus, himself, ordained things like three meals a day, isn’t it? Our creature-originators out on the veldt weren’t doing three meals a day, lol. They ate big when the food came by.

      Keep it up, sounds right to me!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  26. says

    It’s the judgment that makes this such a tough subject.

    My wife has been working on this with our young daughter – teaching her that eating poorly and being inactive makes you fat. No judgment, just objective truth. Cause and effect. Our grandparents would openly acknowledge it and they turned out more physically fit than we are, so why not give it a try?

    All that said, I admit that I binge on her goldfish crackers during my late night writing sessions, spent sitting on the couch with my laptop propped on my legs.

    And as I put on my favorite jeans this morning, I did think to myself that maybe, just maybe, the Costco-sized box is not such a good idea.

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  27. says

    I’ve definitely been craving a standing desk. In the meantime, I use a high plant stand in my office, which allows me to use a laptop (standing) for email and reading blog posts — and then I sit down for writing time.

    Like Denise and Kerry, I have used a stability ball — actually it’s a stability ball chair (not quite as roll-y) and it came with great strength/stretching exercises that you can do every hour to get the blood flowing and work the rest of your body. (And if I were to actually do these exercises, how good that would be… :) )

    The ball/ball chair works well for using leg/core muscles while sitting, but I suggest breaking it in gradually. If your leg/core muscles are not strong, even an hour on this will give you a seated workout. Eight hours straight will make you sore, until you build up stamina.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking blog post. You’ve inspired me to pull that ball chair out of the closet and sit on it today while I write. Maybe I’ll even do an exercise or two. Thanks also for the reminder to remember good health!

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  28. Tina Goodman says

    Thanks for the post!
    I am not sure of the intentions of the Founding Fathers, but I have read that they were pudgy-chubby-overweight. (Just wanted to point that out.)

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    • says

      Tina,

      I think you’re right. From the paintings we have — oh, for a camera back then! — it would seem that we had some Founding Fatties in the bunch. :) What I’m saying is that while “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” were integral to their ideas of the American experiment, feeding our faces in the kind of excess that, alas, seems endemic in the US diet for some (not all) of our citizens? — likely wasn’t part of what those 18th Century swells had in mind.

      But you now what? I could be wrong. :)

      Thanks for reading and dropping a note, too!

      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  29. says

    Last winter I bought bungee cords and a pre-cut shelf–about $20. I secured the shelf to the side handle bars of my treadmill with the cords to make my own treadmill desk. Then I walk SLOWLY while I read blogs on my laptop. I can type, too. I just don’t have room to have papers and books spread out. I use a stack of books to get my laptop high enough to not bother my neck, so this might not work for a tall person.

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  30. Lynn says

    Porter’s comments are right on the money. The equation that nutritionists keep on coming back to is if you take in more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. The trendy stuff doesn’t matter. Each of us has to find out what works in either increasing the calories burned or decreasing the calories consumed or both. If I don’t like an exercise or a change in diet, I won’t stay with it. I have to find what works. I will give Porter’s suggestion of stand-up writing a try. Anything to burn a few more calories. But, I like what I already do.

    Every morning I walk 2 miles on a nearby rail trail. (That’s up from a 1.5 miles and may climb some more.) It’s good for stress relief, the setting is beautiful and uncrowded, and it consumes about 215 calories. The time allows my mind to wander in a less stressful setting. The ideas that come to me out there are often the right ones for my writing and my other job, which also involves writing.

    I also have to consider “stress eating.” When I sit a lot, my blood sugar drops and my body thinks I should get something to eat, even when I don’t need it. I find drinking lots of filtered water or African Honeybush tea (nice flavor, no caffeine, no calories) actually helps to keep my stomach full and not complaining that I should put some sweet thing in it. It also makes me go to the bathroom which makes me move around a little. When I do get hungry, usually about an hour before meals, I try to eat healthy things, like baby carrots, or do something to distract myself before I sit down to work again.

    Recently, I went on vacation with two old college roomies. We always eat as thought every meal was a celebration. I need to consider that vacations (and conferences) getting together with people, should not always equal eating more and drinking more wine and doing less. I’m just now taking off the pounds I put on.

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    • says

      Good input, Lynn,

      Thanks for all the info and experience, and keep doing what’s working for you. If standing appears to assist in getting more calories burned, terrific. If not, dump it for something else.

      It’s case by case for all of us, as you say. The best thing is to keep experimenting and find the right formula for your system.

      Cheers,
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  31. says

    I’m a full time writer and switched to a standing desk a few years ago. I dropped a heap of weight, and my productivity improved threefold. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

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  32. says

    I’m a wellness nurse practitioner and fiction writer and think this is a great article!

    I’ve stood and I’ve sat. I find standing hurts my legs. In fact, I
    developed a bad habit of putting my left foot on top of my right foot and eventually hurt my right knee. I was doing this unconsciously for quite a while, but then I tried to stop doing it, but kept doing it anyway.

    Now, I set my timer for twenty minutes and get up when it rings, do stretches, or something physical, and then return to my computer.

    Remember, people who stand all day are more apt to have varicose veins, slouching, postural muscle fatigue and joint compression. So, if you’re going to stand, build in some full body stretches every 20 minutes or so.

    Thanks for bringing up this topic!

    All Best,

    Carolyn Chambers Clark, RN, ARNP, MS, EdD
    http://www.carolynchambersclark.com

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  33. says

    I purchased a Fit Desk a couple years ago. fitdesk.com. It’s a desk combined with a stationary bicycle. So far I’ve put at least a thousand miles on it while working on my book.
    I think sitting is one of the worst things we can do to ourselves.

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  34. says

    Don’t let my profile picture fool you, Porter.

    I’m a former marathon runner. I’m happy to say that I’m hotter than that man in your article’s picture (so I’m told).

    For all the time I sit and write and edit manuscripts, I make sure I go running and do my bout of calisthenics.

    I want to live and write stories for another eighty years at least, and I’m not going to let a heart attack stop me.

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    • says

      Hey, I’m impressed, John –

      And if you’re looking like our guy in the main image here, I’d say change that avatar of yours at once. :)

      Marathoners have an edge on all of us in that running becomes a way of life for you guys, incredibly enviable. Don’t lose that edge. Stay up with it, level up on the calisthenics and you’ll have time for every masterpiece in you to get written and published AND made into a film. :)

      Good stuff, thanks for the comment!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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      • says

        Thanks Porter, though I enjoy my Tolstoy effigy and will keep it up for a bit longer.

        I love running – in fact I’m heading out for one right now. I’ve been writing since noon, so this will be a great break (and a chance to think about the plot some more).

        Cheers!

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  35. says

    I stand at my job. Eight hours of standing every day year after year leads to low back pain, foot pain, and arthritis in the major joints. I sit for hours at a time when I write and this leads to bad posture and low back pain, not to mention tendonitis in the wrists. I think the key here is to alternate between sitting and standing and take frequent breaks—as long as the breaks don’t involve coffee loaded with caramel creamer and chips and salsa. Not that I do that, mind you. Okay I do. And yeah, I need to take off a few pounds too. I don’t call myself fat in public though, because people go a little crazy and think you’re putting yourself down rather than just being honest, and have to go on and on about it. “Oh don’t be silly, you’re not fat Honey.” When it comes to that particular F word people get emotional and overreact.

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    • says

      Hey, Tammy!

      You’re right in line with what Teri is saying in the comment below — and I agree. The changing-up can be very important. I think I stand for the long periods I do because I’ve been building for years on this. As Teri points out in her experience with a treadmill desk, it’s easy to overdo it at first, too, thinking you’re doing just find and standing too long. (Originally, I found that some leg cramps at night generally tipped me off when I’d stood for too long before I was ready.)

      It’s different for each of us and variety is probably the one thing good for all of us, so I’m right with you.

      And yes, Lord, the overreactions to that “f-word!” I actually try to avoid saying it about myself, too, though — at least in my mind — I’m fat at times and working to reduce.

      I had the experience of being actually fat as a child, from ages 14 to 17. Took a lot of ridicule and imagined a lot more. When all that weight suddenly dropped away at 18 and I looked amazing almost overnight? It left an indelible image on my mind. And now, even mild weight gains to me read as “whoa, I’m fat.” My actual weight for my height and age is not too much over what’s recommended. But I’m driven to work on it all the time because I’ve learned how great fitness is (in every way) in my life, and because I still have that 18-year-old’s awestruck moment when I could first see a young man in the mirror who was NOT fat.

      It’s given me the advantage (albeit maybe a slightly neurotic one!) of never believing the people you’re talking about who always, always say, “Oh don’t be silly, you’re not fat, Honey.”

      Why do we say those things? “You’re just pleasingly plump, darling.”

      Awful. I’m trying to train myself to say, “Well, now that you mention it, dropping a few pounds might be a great idea.”

      Talking around the f-word but getting the message across might be the way, ultimately. God help us, we love our euphemisms, LOL.

      Thanks, Tammy!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  36. says

    I have a regular desk and a standing “desk”–a 40″ tall table that, when paired with my laptop, provides the perfect ergonomic fit–elbows at 90 degrees when my hands are over the keyboard. I love it. I use it more frequently and my standard desk less every month. Though I’ve become more tolerant of many-hours standing as time goes on, I still need balance; stand for several hours, then sit a bit, stand again, continue.

    My treadmill also sports a new addition: a desktop. I’ve used this a few times since installation but burned myself out the first time, walking and working for half a day without a break. Again, balance is key. But I know if I keep using it, I’ll be able to work on the treadmill desk more often and for longer stretches of time.

    It’s definitely worth the adjustment. Sitting is the worst part of this gig, with all of the increased health risks. Not just obesity but deep vein thrombosis, sudden death. It isn’t coincidence that many writers and bloggers die young. We were born to move. It’s nice that there are ways now that we can be up and moving, and writing at the same time.

    Thanks for talking about this, Porter. Important topic.

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    • says

      Hey, Teri!

      You’re putting your finger on it with the no-one-thing approach, I think. Which is why I’ve always used adjustable desks, not all-sitting or all-standing.

      Eventually, I hope to get one of these really magnificent kinds that electrically raise and lower for you. We had those in the offices I was in in Copenhagen, and they were wonderful. Interestingly, until I got there, no one had thought of running theirs up to standing height. They assumed the adjustment was just for an inch or two up or down. But when they saw me push the chair away and take the whole thing up and stand, they all did it, lol.

      I’d love that treadmill desk. Thinking of getting one of the flat treadmills made to slide under a desk, myself.

      You’re right about thrombosis, too — so much of our culture now is set up to keep us FROM moving! Crazy! Just the little shifting around you do on your feet while standing can be helpful.

      And what a super response from the mighty WU community, too, huh? thoroughly great comments.

      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  37. says

    If I may make another observation–after a lot of years of typing, I developed arthritis in the base of both thumbs. I couldn’t operate scissors, turn doorknobs, brake a bike. I also needed to lose weight.

    So, in desperation, I joined a gym and for the last 3.5 years, have been dancing 3-4 days a week. I go at 6 am, it’s the only time I can make sure I get it done.

    I can make a fool of myself at Zumba and no body cares. I love the movement, feel better and MY HANDS DO NOT HURT ANYMORE!

    If you’ve got other issues besides the weight, consider dancing or swimming–it must be the blood flow that makes the difference.

    And, I’ve gotten a lot of great writing ideas while I dance. :-)

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    • says

      Super news, Michelle,

      It’s great to know that you’ve found such a response in your arthritis to the movement you’re doing. Amazing how these things happen sometimes. Not sure I’ve experienced something that dramatic before but what good news. (And what a perfect prompt to keep getting to those dance classes, too, even at 6a, huh?)

      Congratulations and thanks for the comment, great to hear from you!

      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  38. says

    Porter this was so timely for me. I was just musing this week about whether the “Sophomore 15″ was a known thing—now that I’m writing on deadline for the first time it seems like I caffeinate and eat, sit for 15 hours, drink a glass of something too caloric to calm down a bit, repeat. I seem to have left my body behind somewhere and it is failing to tend to itself. As a former dancer, this pains me to no end.

    So just wanted you to know that I’m typing this comment while standing at my desktop. My screen is tilted up and my keyboard rests on a nice sturdy box that my new wineglasses came in (a full circle kind of post).

    And not to brag or anything, but last night I kayaked a slalom course of islands, then swam around one of them, then took a shower. Pretty sure that makes me a triathlete. ;)

    Thanks for the great post.

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    • says

      Whoa, Kathryn,

      You are indeed a triathlete in my book! Totally impressed with the kayaking and swimming!

      And it’s super that you’re standing AND using that wineglass box for the purpose! (Don’t fail to put those wineglasses to good use, by the way, some things you don’t give up. :)

      Congrats on all this and your standup comment looks great.

      Thanks for reading and dropping a note!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  39. Exploding Mary says

    First of all, yes, not sitting all the time is good. I’m not going to argue that writers especially need to find a variety of ways in which to keep their blood pumping to their brains and so on. But there’s a way you have dropped the ball, and I’m not going to ignore it:

    “Somehow in the States, it’s considered better to “not say anything.” Rather than embarrass someone or “hurt their feelings,” we’re encouraged to allow our friends and loved ones to eat themselves to death. I’m still searching for the kindness in that. I mean is, “Darling, you look 15 pounds heavier than you did the last time I saw you” really that horrendous to say to someone you care about? Apparently.”

    Yes, Porter, it damn well is. It’s narrow and condescending and sounds bigoted and superficial. Anyone intelligent enough to be a writer is also intelligent enough to know how to access the same health info you do. And how would you know whether they are ”stuffing themselves” or just less active for some reason you’re not aware of? Chances are, you won’t, ever, because after you judge them on their appearance, they’re not going to want to hang out with you anymore. Or me anymore, if I said it. And they’d be right.

    The last thing we need is the Health Police. People are allowed to do what they want, and that is called bodily freedom, something women in this country are desperately fighting for on many fronts. Don’t think this isn’t one of them.

    The truth is, most people that aren’t religiously fixated on thinness become overweight at some point in their lives. It’s a phase you can pass in and out of; but please give other writers the credit for knowing their own bodies well enough NOT to need that little confidence killer of a friend saying, “Hey, you gained weight.” If someone does that at a conference, I’d say they better refund their friend’s ticket purchase, because they will have ruined the event for them.

    Where is the kindness? The kindness is in assuming they have brains sufficient to understand why they had to buy that last pair of slacks in a bigger size. The kindness is in caring more about their mental and moral qualities, about their overall personhood, than in that one aspect– you wouldn’t go up to them and say, “Hey! You haven’t donated as much as I have to charity this year,” no matter how immediately obvious it was, would you?

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    • says

      Gosh, Exploding Mary,

      Your name alone is alarming, but so is your comment here. Nevertheless, I thank you for it.

      Yours is almost the 50th comment here from others (excluding my own comments in the count, of course) and you’re the first person who has seemed to have a problem with the idea that we need to talk to people we care about who have weight problems — not avoid it because it’s “not nice” to speak up.

      You’re certainly right that the highly literate, smart souls we’re talking about should be able to understand their own weight issues. What we know of human nature, however, tells us that we all — even the wisest and most gifted among us — can do an awful lot of rationalizing of things such as weight control, money management, alcohol and other drugs, sexual addictions, over-dependency on relationships, and much more.

      I regret especially that you seem to have felt the need to try to turn this into something that runs counter to support for women’s bodily freedom. No such content or intent is here.

      Had you asked instead of making an assumption, in fact, you’d find that I’m interested in both men and women having complete bodily freedom and cultivating it. Men and boys undergo enormous pressure in this culture to look like Madison Avenue’s models — just as women and girls do — and yet they get far less support and are frequently turning to steroids, which will damage them for life. How to find the beauty of their masculinities safely and without social stigma? — this is a tremendously difficult thing, and many if not most men are left confused and sometimes harmed in precisely this area of life. The smartest men and women support women’s and men’s rights to manage their own reproductive systems, their self-image development, their understandings of their sexualities, and more. And nowhere in my article was there a gender-loaded implication. That’s yours.

      Let me add that I haven’t advocated “Health Police.” That, too, is yours. How 1984!

      While I respect your right to avoid speaking to overweight colleagues or friends you care about because you feel that “it’s narrow and condescending and sounds bigoted and superficial,” others will continue to do so. We’re talking about a social emergency. The healthcare fallout of the tons of excess weight the Baby Boomers are bringing to our medical system is now coming into view. Myriad medical conditions are based in or exacerbated by obesity. When more than two-thirds of this nation’s adult population is overweight?– we do need to talk about it.

      I’m heartened that so many of our Writer Unboxed readers haven’t had the problems you seem to be having with my positioning of this issue. At the risk of making you even more unhappy with me, I’ll say that if my column struck such a painful a nerve for you, then there is something here for you to think about.

      Yell at me all you like. I probably won’t answer again, but thrashing around can help us exhaust our resistances and finally be able to face what’s behind them. Tire yourself out here if that helps. It’s fine.

      I’m glad that you’ve exposed yourself to what you’d rather not have read. That takes courage. I urge you to take pride in that courage and move forward to look at the upset this has caused you. It doesn’t matter if you think I’m wrong or right. It matters that you take care of yourself. If you can find that sort of movement for yourself on this, Mary, many of us, I’m sure, will be cheering you on.

      All the best,
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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      • Exploding Mary says

        Porter–

        Putting you on notice that you had touched on an issue that is more than related to women’s freedoms isn’t a dig, it’s an alert. Your not-so-subtle suggestion that I’m angry because I must have some issue I’m not facing is mistaken. I’m defending others here. I live a healthy low-fat cooked-from-scratch vegetarian lifestyle, and shouldn’t have to offer my health credentials to make the point anyhow.

        Your could have just written about healthy habits for writers, but you chose to offer a prescription of misguided action along with it, and that is what I’m arguing against.

        As for the numbers on your side of this issue, well, might doesn’t make right. 4 million people believing in something, doesn’t make that something true.

        Peace, Mari

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  40. says

    The suggestions about what a person can do to take of themselves are great. Thanks for those.

    At the beginning you wonder why we can’t say something directly to people about weight gain. Generally because it’s mean, smug, or condescending. I’ve a friend who is a recovering bulimic. If someone she worked with said anything about her weight, it would be damaging. (It happens a lot, actually, and she struggles to deal with comments and her weight). I’ve been thin all my life, but now I’m on anti-cancer meds and one side effect is weight gain. If someone said something to me abut gaining a few pounds, I would ask if they’d rather my cancer return so that I can be socially acceptably thin. So, there are valid reasons why we don’t say things about people’s weight. We don’t know their stories. We don’t have any right to say anything.

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    • says

      Hi, Marta,

      Thanks for your input here.

      Of course you’re right that there can be circumstances we may not know about in someone’s situation. That’s why what I’m suggesting in terms of saying something — supportive — has to do with people you care about, whether colleagues or friends or family.

      I’m not recommending that you dash over to every stranger you see with a weight problem and announce to them that they’re fat. I’m talking about people we’re close to — those are the ones to whom (in my opinion) we have a responsibility to discuss things with, by way of helping, not hurting.

      Hope that clarifies things a bit, and thanks for your concern.
      Cheers,
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  41. says

    Well…you convinced me. I’ve been planning to get a standing desk from a colleague of my husband’s…one she doesn’t use (silly lady). I just told my husband to tell her to put a “sold” sign on it and to get it to me pronto.

    I sit for 9-12 hours per day if not more, and I think my circulation has suffered as well as my back. I won’t talk about my general shape or weight. LOL Exercise more often than not falls by the wayside.

    My husband now has a standing desk in his office and rarely sits. He bought really nice cushy sandals and puts those one when he gets to work so his feet don’t hurt.

    I plan to stand intermittently…sit for a while…stand for a while. I’ll see how it goes. I live in N. CA where the weather is good and I’m getting a standy uppy desk with wheels that I can pull around even out onto the deck. When I sit out there or in the living room I knock my back out every time. So I’ll see if I can spend more time out in nature without suffering bodily harm, enjoy the beautiful weather (get my dose of Vitamin D) and maybe do my body some good…and lose a few pounds at the same time. I may even do a few knee bends and such to strengthen my legs, who knows!

    I do have a pilates ball, by the way, and I “sometimes” sit on that. That can be a bit better than your cushy chair when working long hours. It requires a bit of core strength and you can bounce up and down a bit, which is also supposed to be good for you.

    Thanks for this great article, Porter, and wake up call. See you in two weeks in NYC. Don’t, however, expect me to be any thinner or in better shape by then!

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    • says

      Hey, Nina!

      See you soon at Writer’s Digest, and really glad to hear that this is striking a chord for you!

      Sounds as if your husband has a great “personal tradition” already under way as far as standing at work, and how lucky you are to have access to that incoming standup desk! Glad you’re going for it.

      Your idea to take it in stages is just right. You want to do only short bursts at first of standing so that you don’t tire too much right away and work up to it gradually. The ability to get outdoors with your standy uppy desk, even better! That’s a fantastic thing. Among my many standy uppy things, lol, I have a rolling standup “podium” desk (something like what the TSA people use to check your passport for international flights) and it’s delightful to be able to move around with it, you’ll love that.

      Don’t worry, I won’t put you on the scales at #WDC14! :) See you there, and thanks again!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  42. says

    Oh…forgot to say…when I do exercise (and I’m really trying to get back in the habit), I do so in the late afternoon, which is NOT working for me because it gets too late and doesn’t happen. I used to do it first thing in the morning, like you, and that was better. However, I’m constantly waiting for the warmth and sun here in foggy, cold N.CA. I think I need to give that up and just go, or find a specific time, like 11 after a few hours of work.

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    • says

      Oddly, I find late afternoon a good moment because I get so sleepy then, that exercise keeps me awake and productive.

      I often do the gym in the evening, however, say 8p or 9p — helps me shake off the tensions of the day (and the gym is much less crowded).

      Funny how many approaches there are. When I worked CNN International and was on the job all night (for the European and Middle East audience), I’d do the gym at as early as 5 a.m., then go to sleep as the sun came up.

      We are much more adjustable creatures than we think! :)
      -p.,

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  43. says

    Thanks for this timely reminder. I’m lucky to have been raised by a mother who discouraged unhealthy lifestyle – and led by example when it came to eating right and moving constantly. Even so, I’d been postponing getting a standing desk, despite knowing the hazards of sitting for long.

    As soon as I read this post, I dashed into the basement, selected a piece of thermocol, and fashioned it into a makeshift desk-prop. I can carry it from room to room, and even at my outdoor table.

    Sometimes we all need a bit of a nudge in the right direction. Thanks for providing it without worrying about meaningless political correctness.

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    • says

      Hi, Swati, and thanks for the note!

      You’re very smart to strike while the iron is hot — I find that many healthy habits are formed best if I start them almost on a whim, a sort of “Oh, I’ll just try this once and see how it goes” thing.

      Your dashing to the basement is just that kind of smart reaction — as soon as you felt the inspiration, you jumped on it.

      With luck, this interest will stay with you (especially with a healthy family background, so helpful), and you can really get things set for a fitness-and-creativity combo, I find they really do go together.

      All the best, and thanks again!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  44. says

    After a second spinal fusion (adding up to a total of four back surgeries), I gained at least 20 lbs. from the inactivity before surgery, during my recovery and rehab, and while waiting for the words “you can return to normal activity.” Well, I didn’t. I still sport those 20 lbs. Why? Because in those intervening months, I began to write more than usual and because I really like writing, I’m still sitting more than usual.

    Today, BEFORE reading your post, I committed to exercising at least 30 mins./day to start, standing alternating hours if I’m working straight through, and adjusting my diet for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is weight loss.

    I want to live to see my book published! I want to live to read Porter Anderson another day (did I say that?)! I want to attend more conferences and workshops. I want to grow old with my husband, and there’s so much more!

    Good for you, Porter, for calling us to task!

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    • says

      Great minds thinking alike, Sherrey!

      (Or great numbers on the scales inspiring similar efforts, lol.)

      Terrific initiative you’re taking, and I’m delighted to hear of this great timing with your own decision to start “working it down some” on the weight.

      I’ve had much milder experiences than what you’ve been through and found them very hard to handle. I had a back injury (at the gym, in fact, doing something stupid) just before Christmas so part of my “spring expansion” was my own inability to do as much exercise as I needed, even before the heavy travel schedule set in.

      So yes, you can really get behind the curve when unable to “resume normal activity” and your effort to reverse things now is fantastic.

      I have something you might want to look into. It’s an Omron body compostion monitor. http://amzn.to/1tCsfSM — works like a bathroom scale but also gives you your fat ratio, BMI, visceral fat reading, muscle component, etc. — lots of different metrics which can be more revealing than just weight. (Because, for example, if you gain a pound but the Omron shows you that it’s muscle, and your fat is going down, then you’ve got the right kind of gain that’s going to help you take more off.)

      All the best with your new program. Just remember the old Body by Jake slogan, still a classic: “Don’t quit.” lol

      Cheers,
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  45. Hilary says

    If you want a cheap, fold-away, adjustable height, standy-uppy desk that’s the perfect size for a computer keyboard plus mouse – you’ve probably already got one.

    An ironing board.

    Well, it works for me.

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    • Lynn says

      Brilliant! Also, because I am not tall, the kitchen counters work pretty well, too.

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      • says

        My husband actually extended the legs on his mother’s kitchen table (nice walnut!) which makes it kitchen counter height. Initially, the extension was for my quilting and sewing projects, which have now been replaced with writing. The table works great!!!

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        • says

          Sounds like a very useful husband, Sherrey, lol.

          And a great way to go. A tall work table is so useful in lots of ways, not just as a desk. I have a huge dining table I’ve raised on blocks so I can do more at it standing as a work center, really works out very well.

          Funniest thing was when I lived in Denmark and was standing there, most of the furniture is so LOW to the ground — the famous Scandinavian design trends are for very low seating and tables — that I appeared to be really towering over everybody when, in fact, the Danes are quite tall (good Viking stock). I used to tell them that the only way I could feel their equals was by standing while they sat, lol.

          Thanks again,
          -p.

          On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  46. says

    Finally, an article we can live (longer) with! Yes, Porter, like you, I need to get my sweat on before I begin writing. Cardio, weights, and stretch five to six days a week seems to be my mantra. Though I can no longer write while sitting for more than four hours at a time, I do notice that when I get up every hour and move about, my writing remains fresh…as does my coffee!

    I have often wondered about standing up while working. Only thing I’d like to add: If you have vericose veins, or if you don’t want them in the future, wear support hose! They aren’t sexy, and they are a pain to put on. But they work. Standing for long periods of time can be as harmful as sitting, though in different ways. It’s all about moderation. Some sitting, some standing, some stretching, some eating, some writing…

    But I do agree with you that yes, the body is not designed to sit all day. It is designed to move. So thanks for the reminder. You may have saved a life or two! (P.S. I wrote this while sitting. Sigh.)

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    • says

      Right, Leslie,

      There are indeed problems that an be associated with too much standing as well as too much sitting. As I’ve been telling folks, my long stints of 8 or 9 hours of standing are something I worked up to slowly and I still do sit down, too — I do an extremely long day (some of my biggest clients are in Europe, 5 or 6 hours ahead of me, so I start a early as 3:30a at my desk), hence I can do a 9-hour stand and still have a lot more hours to go sitting.

      I also find, humorously, some things I’d rather do sitting. A conference call, for example — I can feel sort of silly standing. But if I’m on the phone interviewing somebody for a story, standing is just great and I don’t feel silly. Crazy, huh?

      I also have a very strange need (this has to be quite neurotic), to feel physically elevated when writing. I need to sit or stand on a floor higher than ground floor, for example. And in one condo — which was on ground floor — I built a writing platform so I could get a little height, and that made it much easier to write. Standing helps with this feeling of “being up high,” of course. But don’t ASK me why I’ve got this bizarre need to “be high” — not in the drugged sense, LOL — to write. Craziest thing, huh?

      Thanks again, great input!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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  47. says

    I’m coming very late to the conversation, Porter, but you’re talking my language.

    I’d only add two brief comments/suggestions:
    1. It’s impossible to exercise yourself out of a poor diet, so while we’re looking at being more active, it’s important not to neglect that other cornerstone of health.

    2. At the same time, exercise is one of the keystone activities that makes it easier to change the other unhealthy aspects of our life by helping to shape our brain. If we want to learn our craft, it behooves us to move more. (This article might interest your commenters: http://nutritionstudies.org/getting-jump-plant-based-journey-two-ways-exercise-speeds-successful-transition/ )

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    • says

      Hey, Jan!

      You’re not late, I’m still trying to get back to everybody from this amazing round of fine comments!

      I really like this article from Lani Muelrath you dropped here, some tweeterie from it to follow.

      And yeah, I didn’t meant to suggest for a minute that diet isn’t important. One of the things that you and Lani are saying, though, that I really like is how much of a help exercise is in choosing to eat better. I actually find that I can be thinking of “treating myself” to something I shouldn’t eat before getting to the gym. And by the time I’m done, I’m ready to come back and eat more healthily. It’s a crazy thing, but in a way, I think that’s related to what I’ve always found was the main inspiration for working out for me: seeing results. If you can hang on just long enough to see a change, something in your mind clicks and — at least, in my experience — those chemical changes going on help you to glom onto that little bit of progress and try to make more of it.

      Really good input, thanks so much!
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

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