09 January 2014

Keep it Moving

Sitting at a desk all day, every day, I've started to think a lot about moving. Staying active and healthy is a high priority for me right now, so I find myself getting very antsy staring at a computer for 8 hours. And studies show that even if you're active at other times, sitting for long periods can do serious damage to your health. Wanting to do something about this, I've done a little research on how to combat inactivity and here's what I do to keep it moving:

1. I drink A LOT of water. I have a 24oz. tumbler that Mommy gave me and I refill it 2+ times/day. This gets me out of  my chair for every refill and every bathroom trip (there are lots). I've also read things about people doing sit-ups or push-ups with every bathroom break, but that's a little too expert-level for me yet.

2. Rather than send an email or make a phone call, I get up and go ask. Often my faculty aren't in their office, but even if they aren't, I still got up and walked somewhere.

3. I never take the elevator down. I work on the third floor and no matter where I'm going, I take the stairs down. Sure, I usually take the elevator up, but never down. Down is easy enough and gets my blood flowing.

4. The vending machines here are in the basement and the cafe is on the first floor, so whenever I go get a treat (which is about once a week) I compromise by taking the stairs back up to the third floor. I still get my treat, but I've at least worked off some of the calories.

5. The copy center is also in the basement and I always check "Hold for Pick-up" rather than having the copies delivered to my desk. Great chance to get up and take the stairs.

6. I don't lump together my errands. If I have a fax to send, I won't wait until I also have a letter to take to the mail room. Each errand is it's own opportunity for movement.

7. I set a timer on my phone for 40 mins and get up and walk whenever it goes off. Usually I just do a lap around the floor, but sometimes I take the stairs down to a different floor and do a lap there. Once I get back to my desk, I reset the timer.

8. I try my hardest to go outside every day (though I've gotten pretty terrible at it in this cold). I've let my faculty know that I love running errands around campus, so I often get to do that. If I don't bring my lunch to work, I try to avoid the cafe in the building and go outside to get food. Or, I'll just take a walk to the park near my office and spend about 5 mins hanging out before heading back to my desk.

9. I haven't tried this yet, but I saw the suggestion of using a bathroom on a different floor. This would offer a little more walking and a chance to take the stairs.

10. As often as I can, I use the walking desk. Yes, Penn Nursing is super-fancy and we have two walking desks. It's a desk (with a computer) at a treadmill. Pretty ingenious, huh? The treadmill is programmed not to go very fast and I love it for when I'm doing mindless, repetitive stuff.

I know it must sound like I'm up and down all day, but it really doesn't feel that way. Each time I get up, I'm only up for, at most, 5 minutes (except for going outside). If you have an office job, I hope you're inspired by something here. And I'd love other ideas! Leave suggestions in the comments.

06 January 2014

On Resolving

I, like pretty much everyone else I know, spends the sum total of an hour at some point in late December deciding what they resolve to do over the course of the following year. For most people, this is just so that they have an answer when people ask them their resolutions and others are serious about working toward accomplishing those goals. Resolutions are often very specific tasks to be completed at a specific intervals (work out three times a week/clean the house twice a month/eat more vegetables every day).

I chose a different tack last year: I resolved to be better. I didn't have rules or parameters for what that looked like, I just wanted to look back on 2013 and know that I was better at the end than the beginning. I didn't resolve to quit smoking cigarettes or to severely cut back on drinking alcohol or to adopt a gluten-free diet or to start exercising regularly for the first time in my life - but I accomplished all of those things. I didn't berate myself for not reaching goals or pressure myself into doing things I didn't want to. All I really did was make my health and happiness my number one priority. I chose me.

I've also learned that positive always trumps negative. It's so much easier to do something than to not do something. When I quit gluten, I was choosing a healthier GI tract and way less pain. When I quit smoking and drinking, I was choosing feeling healthy over feeling like crap. When I resolve not to do something, it's because I'm choosing a better alternative.

In that spirit, I have vague ideas of what I think would make me happiest and healthiest in 2014 and so I'm resolving to prioritize them. In no particular order:

Save Money
This is not just choosing against dropping $50 on a pair of shoes. This is choosing to invest in my future. This is choosing to never have to feel that sense of dread when an unexpected bill comes my way. This is choosing freedom.

Keep Working Out
The last three months are literally the first time in my life that I have exercised because I wanted to, not because I was being graded. I wanna keep it up. I want to choose that awesome feeling I get when I'm up early and headed to the gym. I choose feeling energized and capable.

Get Healthy
I finally have these fabled Penn health benefits, time to start utilizing them. I resolve to see ALL the doctors: optometrist, gynecologist, dentist, family doctor, dermatologist and whoever else they send me to. If I'm sick of being called a "young invincible" by the media, then I better stop acting like it.

Put My Ideas in Writing
Basically, I want to blog more. But, more than that, I want to articulate myself on issues that don't just come up everyday. I want to use the ever-atrophying academic part of my brain. I want to think critically and write about it.

Keep Choosing Healthy
Stay away from cigarettes, booze and gluten. Remember how you used to feel then and how you feel now.

Invest in the Therapeutic Process
It's pricey and some weeks feels pointless, but never forget that therapy is what showed me the way out of the hole I found myself in in the fall of 2012. I'm accomplishing something there that is absolutely worth the investment.

Keep Choosing Me
I'm sure I'll discover new and exciting ways to be and do better in 2014. I resolve to keep myself open to the knowledge that there is always room for improvement. I am nothing but possibilities.

Even if I don't improve in all of these arenas, if I keep choosing my own health and happiness, I'm on the right path.