Standing Up for Myself

Hannah, one of the awesome coaches at my CrossFit gym, wrote on the gym’s blog about how “excessive sitting is bad for your health because of increased risk of disease as well as shortening of important muscles in your body”.

ergoInspired by her post, I decided to take action this summer by standing more while at the office. At first, I cobbled together a stand-up desk with supplies that were readily available. While I was able to lift my laptop up, I learned a quick valuable lesson: The height of your desk should allow you to maintain the best posture possible.

Despite being raised, my laptop was still too low and I was straining my neck looking down at the screen. Ideally, your elbows should be at a 90 degree angle. In addition, the top of your monitor should stand at about the same height as the top of your head thus putting your eye-level at about 3 inches down from the top of the monitor.

To fix the problem, I consulted with some friends, did some more research on the interwebs and ran to a few stores to look for a better stand-up desk. Amazingly, Staples nor Office Depot offered any cheap easy solutions. Instead, I ended up buying a 16-inch wire metal rack from the Container Store that only cost $20. I combined it with a keyboard wrist rest that has a mouse pad. It is light-weight but sturdy so I can easily move it within my cubicle based on whether I need to sit or stand.

HowStuffWorks explains that, “habits are easier to make than they are to break. If you repeat a behavior often enough, those synaptic pathways are going to get worn in.” With that in mind, I try to start each day standing when I first get into the office. I also am making an effort to stand up after lunch.

I typically work a minimum 40 hour work week and it is incredible the benefit that get be gained by simply standing up for 2 hours per day. By the sheer nature of now having a standing desk option, I went from sitting all day to standing up at least 25% of my work week.

Coach Hannah explains that “being in a seated, motionless position for a large chunk of the day is keeping our bodies from functioning well.” As training starts to ramp up, I believe these types of little changes in my daily life are going to make a world of difference.

# of days until Freeze Fest: 113

Five Daily Habits

“An unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.” – W. Somerset Maugham

good-habits-bad-habitsMy habits have evolved a great deal over the past 2+ years since starting CrossFit. Much of this is due to the fact that I have learned what I do outside of the gym is just as important as what I do in the gym. While this might be obvious to  most, it was not something I ever gave much thought to.

When I swam competitively in high school, I did very little outside of practice that would benefit me in the pool. No strength and condition work. No ab exercises. No special diet.

And when I lived in Manhattan, I would (sometimes) run on the treadmill after work and immediately afterwards get take-out or go meet friends for pizza and beer. Going to the gym two or three times per week did very little to combat the constant happy hours and greasy food.

The fact is I was never going to run or swim faster without changing my daily habits. Likewise, I cannot expect to improve at CrossFit and properly train for a competition if I do little outside of the gym to help my overall health and wellness.

With that said, here are the five basic habits that I try to keep on a daily basis:

1.) Go to sleep on time. And by on time, I mean ideally at 10pm. According to James B. Maas, author of “Sleep to Win, “Sleep is food for the brain, sleep is fuel for exercise. Sleep is simply not valued in our 24/7 society. We treat it as a luxury and it’s a necessity. If you sleep longer and better, you can be a better athlete overnight.”

2.) Drink lots of water. I am fortunate that I don’t like coffee or soda, so there really is no alternative at the office or at home in terms of what to drink. (And no, I don’t consider wine and beer an alternative.) My default is already water, but I try to make sure I am drinking more than enough to keep properly hydrated.

3.) Stand more at work. I have a corporate job, which means I spend the majority of my work week sitting at my desk or sitting in meetings. But as I am sure you have hear, sitting is the new smoking. Sitting too much increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and death. If I want my body to function well, I need to stretch my legs and stand up.

4.) Make my own lunch. If I make my own lunch, I am going to make healthy choices in terms of my eating. Whereas, if I go buy lunch from the cafeteria at work or somewhere nearby, I am more than likely to let myself off the hook and grab a sandwich with the extra mayo that comes with a bag of chips and treat myself to a big cookie.

5.) Stretch. Of the five, I am the worst about stretching. Thankfully, the coaches at my gym are extremely good at incorporating mobility work into every class. But outside of class, I know I need to being stretching on a daily basis. It helps increase circulation, flexibility and range of motion. There is no reason not to, I just need to make it more of a priority.

These five habits all all easier said than done but I know they will be extremely beneficial in the long run. I’ll explore all of these habits in more detail in the coming weeks.

 # of day until Freeze Fest: 121