Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Standing Desk Experiment

I avoid my doctor.

I don't dislike him — he's pleasant, easy to talk to, and shows no egregoius character flaws that might make spending time with him disagreeable. It's just that he's my doctor, and doctors on the whole aren't in the business of telling people how great everything is.

In my case specifically, I don't like visiting him because I already know what he's going to say, and I don't want to have to pay him to say it.

Plus, I don't want to hear it.

But the reappearance of my anxiety problems this fall necessitated a return to the offices of Dr. C. A visit Halloween got me back on an antidepressant (at twice the dosage I had been on a few years ago). Then, last Wednesday, I had a full physical, replete with blood tests, awkward questions, and even more awkward touching.

Considering the intensity and strangeness of my most recent episodes, I honestly expected (and alternately hoped and feared) that the tests would reveal some new, underlying problem — an ulcer, a pituitary malfunction, celiac disease, cancer — something (preferably treatable) that would explain how bad I was feeling. And you know what Dr. C told me?

Exactly what I knew he would, what I didn't want to pay him to say, and what I didn't want to hear: not enough good fat (HDLs), too much bad fat (LDLs), triglycerides through the roof. I need to lose weight and get more exercise.

And nothing else. No medical abnormalities that hadn't been there five years ago, no viruses, no infections, nothing in my blood that shouldn't be there. I was essentially back where I started, still suffering the repercussions of my sedentary life.

But it just happened that a few other bits of information had sunk into my brain in the days prior to my physical. First, there was the December 1 episode of The Office, in which Dwight replaced his usual work desk with a standing desk, silently regretting the absence of a chair just a few hours into his workday but too proud (or too pig-headed) to admit any sort of defeat in front of Jim.

I had heard of the idea of a standing desk before. It made sense, and it sounded like a good idea. At least in theory. And that little seed of a thought rattled around in my head for a while.

Then earlier this week — it might have even been the morning of my physical — someone tweet a link to this infographic about the detrimental effects of sitting for long periods.

You remember sitting, right? The one thing besides breathing that I am always doing while I work, whether I'm editing, writing, drawing, or playing the clarinet.

I've been around long enough not to blindly trust the numbers fed to me in infographics like this. For all the great information on the Internet, there's a lot of horrible, inflated, politically spun misinformation out there, too. But I'm sure there's some truth behind just the idea that sitting all day every day is unhealthy.

Which brings me to the Standing Desk Experiment. I left Dr. C's office the way I usually do, with a renewed focus on living a healthy life. (It usually lasts for a couple weeks before disappearing.)

So the next morning, hopped up on excitement, caffeine, and Zoloft, I set about rearranging the modular pieces of my workspace to create my own standing desk.

I knew from past excruciating experience in retail that I would neither appreciate nor enjoy standing for the entire work day, so I was sure to arrange the space so that I could still work sitting down when I need to. As you can see, I've raised the monitor so I can look down to it while standing and up to it while sitting. The monitor stays there, but the keyboard and mouse can move back and forth.

So far, I've only used this configuration for two days, and I've already started tweaking it. But in that time, I have made three observations that you might find interesting if you're considering your own stand-up workspace:
  1. Standing at a desk + Spotify = More dancing at work.
  2. Those annoying "are you gellin'" commercials suddenly won't seem so annoying.
  3. It's damned hard to fall asleep at your desk when you're standing up.
Anyway, watch this space as I chronicle the saga of the Standing Desk Experiment. I hope that I'll be sharing a thousand little joys and not too many disappointments.

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