I ran out of excuses to get off my duff

Lesley Toth

With one major holiday down and another just around the corner, the tables stacked to the ceilings with turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, cranberries and all things baked goods, the reminders of how hard it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle are all around us.

Unlike in the days of yore, most of us now toil eight hours or more a day on our duffs. More than 65 percent of Americans are employed at some type of job that requires working on a computer and sitting at a desk. According to the CDC’s latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, only 6.5 percent of U.S. employees meet minimum physical activity guidelines while at work. Additionally, the report found that fewer than 20 percent of jobs offer even “moderate” physical activity, which is down from 50 percent in 1960. This, combined with a processed food supply that greets us where we purchase gas, household goods and even hunting supplies, has contributed to our collectively expanding waistline.

Now that I’m in my 30s and with my metabolism frustratingly even slower than my German/Swedish genes originally gave me, I decided it was time to be proactive about the sedentary lifestyle I’ve been living.

When I traded my waitress’ apron for a reporter’s pad and camera, the daily physical activity I was accustomed to quickly faded into history. At first I was stoked to finally have that “cushy desk job” I had worked so hard in college and at various minimum wage positions, sweating and hoofing-it in kitchens and bars across Central Minnesota to obtain. As the years ticked by, however, I began to notice the difference between working hard and working smart. I even briefly entertained the thought of getting a part-time evening serving job just to stay fit.

Dismissing that possibility, I turned to other options. I wish I was one of those people who can work out at a gym, but the thought of all those bodies sweating on the machinery is a bit too disturbing. I’ve tried the home workout video routine and it’s usually fantastic — for a few months or so until I want to throw the TV out the window. My problem is after the 100th viewing, those home workout personalities transform from enthusiastic motivators to annoying sadists.

I have plenty of excuses as to why I  no longer fit into the jeans I wore my freshmen year in college. (My Tae Bo routines are on VHS; My life is too crazy to get a gym membership; I wore really tight jeans in college, c’mon! And the list goes on.)

Putting the excuses and procrastinating aside, I finally took action. It’s been little more than a month now since I MacGyver-ed an unused filing cabinet in my office into a standing desk, and I’m loving it. At the end of the day, my feet (instead of my duff) hurt. The slight discomfort is a welcomed long-lost companion from my days of serving tables and slinging drinks for tips. Back then, I needed foot rubs every night just to keep the throbbing at bay.

These days I have more energy than I did sitting on my rear all day at the office. I feel I’m more productive and I’m no longer in danger of nodding off after reading pages upon pages of text, emails and stories. I require less coffee, my office now has more room, and I’m beginning to notice another difference — my duff requires slightly less space when I do sit on it.

I’m not sure if my new standing desk is the end-all, be-all to a new, more active lifestyle, but I’m enjoying it so far — and (an unexpected bonus) I’m receiving a whole lot more foot rubs these days.