Stalkers out there: if you are trying to find me from 8:30AM to around 5:00PM, odds are good that you will find me at my desk at work. I’ll be away from my computer for at least a half hour during my lunch break. Stepping away is also required to afford myself the modern luxury of the fax and copy machines. With that noted, my occupation is done primarily seated, with my brain far out-performing the rest of my otherwise sedentary muscles.
In my previous incarnation as a graduate student, those hours also were spent on a computer. Except there my body would become restless and I would pace, or do pushups, or go for a walk, or some other activity which is too socially awkward to do in public. In other ways my lifestyle was more active: I bicycled more extensively, I walked everywhere, groceries came via carrying, and so forth. Then I found a “real” job, and my days became more structured. I work in downtown Seattle, and bicycling as a mode of commuting is thus a bit less appealing to me. Something about “heavy traffic” and “an increased sense of my mortality”. Yeah, yeah, I know that one of my neighbors does it regularly. You know what? I’m just not that cool.
Will and I have optimized our grocery shopping to require minimal travel (of all varieties) and he’s taken more of the share of it. So there is less exercise there. Combine the greater inactivity with the fact that our CSA is now giving us mostly fruit… which if you’re going to bake it, you must take this vitamin-rich nourishment and turn it into cake. Especially when the seasons are chilling and nature says its time to add some personal insulation. Because, you know, that is what you do. My late-20s body is also starting to laugh at me because that super quick metabolism is slowing down, by design, and it occurs to me.
I have become one of THEM.
THEM? Yes, THEM.
People who need to be intentional about their exercise, because their life’s default setting is sedentary.
The image of the business person who leaves work to go to the gym was in my head as a model of someone that I was hoping to avoid becoming. I have to trick myself to exercise. This self-deceit generally was packaged in a car-free active lifestyle in which I rely on my strength to run errands. The times in which I have been most successful in having a healthy body image were the moments that I forgot the image and focused on the productivity: the things I carried and the places my body would take me. I am not running marathons here, but I am in good shape.
Enter: The Desk Job.
Now, I am not knocking my job. I have great co-workers, I work for a non-profit that does great work, and I even like my boss (I mean, come on! THAT makes or breaks a job.) I am not lamenting anything about it. However the conditions of my employment mean that I need to start actually, intentionally, exercising.
So I did it.
I pulled out our “jointly owned” aerobic step (that I had never before used) and decided to attempt it. Will suggested I use a lower setting, on account of my not so towering stature. My only goal was to get my heart rate up, so I consulted Google for a youtube video I could follow, at least just a little bit.
OK, I have aerobic step, youtube video, and cats who are gazing at me disapprovingly. The only thing which remained to be done was to draw all the blinds in my living room. I am exercising here, not publicly announcing my ineptness in coordination to the folks in the Safeway parking lot. Then I created a viewing area by balanced all the CSA boxes which I have forgotten to return, to the dismay of the CSA distributor, into a stack. It was mostly stable. There I positioned the laptop and full screened the youtube video. I ensured that Will was sufficiently enthralled by the James Bond movie to avoid noticing me. I then hit play.
OK. It starts off fairly easy. I can do that. And then you are stepping up. OK. Then you are supposed to wave your arms. It is like boiling a frog in a bath – they very gradually move you from somewhat dignified motion to waving and jumping around like a goof. I pretended to have weights when they called for them, and pretended not to hear the trainer’s repeated calls of “Squeeze!” I was also quite grateful for those blinds.
It was a success, if you define success as “increasing my heart-rate and sweating a bit”. It was also a success defined in terms of “appreciating the bygone aspect of 80′s fashion,” or “making a goofy fool of myself.” It was a dismal failure in “giving a flawless step aerobics performance” or “finishing the video”. I got 26 minutes into the video before I decided that it was too late for such nonsense, and time to write instead.
So, there you have it. My forays into a white collar exercise routine, even if it was the white collar exercise routine of 1988. I do not anticipate that this will be the first of a dramatic lifestyle shift. It is an experimental phase of this transition my life is taking into structure, and the according need to plan and be very intentional about the things I do. May I keep finding the sense of adventure and humor to try new things…. and decent blinds.