This Sedentary Life

It snuck up on me. It may be sneaking up on you, glaucoma as you read this.

I sat in front of a computer all day. And all night. It was what we web developers and designers did. We counted the number of hours we worked in a row like they were badges of honour. Only 6 hours sleep over the last 3 days? Awesome! Pulled an all-nighter to get that code out the door. I rule!!

Many of us in this profession got into this industry because we had experience and passion for the web. Our hobby became our job, sale our career, click our calling.

There’s a problem when what you choose to do with your free time is also what you do with your work time. The two blend together seamlessly as though they are one. It leads to 12, 15 or even 20 hour days at the computer. We entertain ourselves with the exact same tools we use to make our living, and that does nothing but encourage inactivity, addiction, and an unhealthy lifestyle.

I know. I was there. Flickr doesn’t lie.

In 2005 I hit an all time high of 215 lbs. I’m only 5 foot 7 inches tall, and I’m pretty sure my ideal weight is somewhere in the 160 lb range. Eep.

Fast forward 5 years to 2010. In a few short weeks, I’ll be competing in my third IronMan triathlon in Lake Placid, USA. I do crazy stuff now that I’d never have thought possible, and certainly wasn’t when I weighed too much and didn’t take care of my health. For me, I started taking care of my body and mind by getting fit through triathlon. I found something significant to do, that was not in front of the computer.

I’m not saying that everyone should become a triathlete. What I’m saying is that if your leisure time and work time are spent doing the same thing, you’re in danger of becoming part of this sedentary life.

Choose to do something other than be in front of your computer. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go for a walk at lunch instead of staying at your desk and working or watching videos. Get out for a run, or a bike ride. Do situps and pushups every day, or regularly take a yoga class. Anything.

You owe it to yourself to start, before your body says stop.

6 thoughts on “This Sedentary Life

  1. Great article. I never got ridiculously overweight but I could tell my body was feeling the pain from my decision to spend night and day behind a computer. Lack of sleep led to a dependency on caffeine which only made things a lot worse.

    I now am working a lot harder to ween myself off caffeine and have been bike riding, rock climbing and playing basketball a lot more. It really does make a huge difference in how productive you are when you are sitting down.

    Moderation is key for a healthy life and it took a breakdown of my body to realize that I needed to make some changes.

  2. Brad – good to hear you’re “working on it.” That’s more than most, and you’ve got some great variety in your life to get you away from the computer. I think that part is one of the most critical.

  3. Huh? Me? Overweight? You must be talking about someone else.

    Seriously though, thanks for the reminder, Derek. I went water skiing over the 4th of July weekend and it was pretty depressing how quickly I got completely exhausted.

    I’ve started doing small things like you suggested: push-ups and sit-ups every morning, bike rides a couple times a week. I’ve thought about biking to work, or joining a gym, etc., but something like that is just too tough to get started. It would demand a lifestyle change and I kept putting it off because I’m too “busy” (or lazy) for that. I decided to just do something now instead of waiting until I got everything lined up.

    Even as little as I’m doing, I’ve already noticed that I feel much better (and feel better about myself). And articles like this get me motivated to keep doing more.

    So thanks for the encouragement :)

  4. Back from the gym right now ;-)

    I think these 24-hour gyms are just perfect for people like us.

    It really doesn’t take that much to add a brief workout to your daily routine and stick with it (setbacks are ok as long as you get back on track every time).

    Switching to Coke Zero and low-fat milk (just to name a few) will also do their part, by the way.

    And as mentioned above, get out of the door as often as you can, especially if you work from home.

    Thanks for sharing, Derek. This should be a wake up call for the whole industry…

  5. Pingback: Motivation. Connection. Action.

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