Habits: Be Less Sedentary at Work

It’s been two weeks since I decided to stop bringing my computer to bed with me; one week since I (re)committed to flossing; there are 11 days until Thanksgiving; and I’m too lazy to count how many days there are between now and Christmas. There’s probably an app for that.

So far, I’ve been successful with both habits (and been able to maintain my new skincare routine). This week, I want to challenge myself to something that I think will be even harder: I want to be less sedentary at work by using my stand-up desk more.

Changing habits | how to be less sedentary at work | setting goals | using a stand-up desk

In the last few years, studies showing that sitting is basically killing us have gained a lot of attention, particularly given the sedentary nature of our society’s work culture. My department was given the option to purchase stand-up/sit-down desks last spring, and I jumped at the chance. But I’ve been slow to commit to standing up. Some days I do it; some days I don’t. I think that more consistency will help with some stiffness and neck pain I’ve been having recently, so maybe the Internet can hold me to it.

I’m a pretty big fan of starting small, so I’m going to commit to standing 30 minutes a day during work. Maybe that won’t combat the myriad problems I’m causing myself by sitting at a desk all day, but that’s 30 minutes that I wasn’t standing before.

Changing Habits: Another Challenge

Last week, I challenged myself to stop bringing my electronics to bed with me. I’m glad to say that so far, I’ve been successful. While I have noticed that I’m staying up a little later because I feel compelled to finish one last thing, I do think that I’m actually doing something semi-productive on the computer when I’m not in my bedroom versus reading gossip blogs. That said, I am really behind on celebrity gossip.

Changing Habits

Since this little experiment has been successful, I’ve decided to add a new habit this week—flossing. Since I’ve started this little blog and been juggling freelance clients, I’ve had to cut corners somewhere, and those corners are primarily cut in the category of self-care. Specifically, at the end of the day, I just cannot fathom taking three extra minutes to floss my teeth (much less wash my face). It sounds dumb when I write it down, but it’s the truth.

This wasn’t always the case. I’ve never been the best flosser, but it was part of my routine, and I would manage to do it about five days out of the week. I’d say I’ve been out of the habit for about three months, but when I had my dentist appointment a few weeks ago, the hygienist referred to me as a “non-flosser.”

Frankly, I felt ashamed. In addition to the fact that this is just basic self-care, my family’s dental history is not fantastic, and my teeth could really benefit from being vigilant in this area. So for the rest of the month, I’m going to adding “floss before bed” to my to-do list, and hopefully this, like the electronics in bed ban, will stick.


That Time I Quit Smoking

Once upon a time nearly a decade ago, it was summer in Chicago, and I was 25. I had graduated with my master’s degree six months earlier, and moved to the city to begin a life as a minion in a PR agency and not much else. I was basically a living, breathing episode of Sex and the City. Sounds fantastic, right?

How I Quit Smoking for Good

If we’re going to be honest with one another, you should know this: Graduate school was not the most amazing time in my life. It was a huge adjustment for me, possibly due to leaving my home state for the first time and moving 300 miles away to a North Shore suburb of Chicago where I knew exactly no one and choosing a marketing program that mostly helped me realize that I didn’t want to be in marketing.

Needless to say, the first few months living on my own in Chicago post-graduate school were also not the best. While I had a few friends, it became clear to me that those people would be transient in my life. The people who would end up being the fabric of my Chicago community wouldn’t start to appear for another nine or so months.

That summer, a women I sometimes hung out with dated an Irish guy for a hot minute. He was an athlete. He was doing the Chicago Accenture Triathlon that summer. He was an ex-smoker. He was kind of hard to understand.

One day, this woman, this guy, his friend, and I were sitting on the patio at a bar in Lincoln Park, drinking in the sun, and me, smoking cigarettes because I was having a beverage, and you could still do that back then.

So this guy, the one with the Irish accent, says to me (get the accent ready in your head)…

Irish guy: Why do you smoke?

Me: Because what else am I going to do with my other hand while I’m drinking?

(OK. I don’t actually know what I said.)

Irish guy: I quit smoking.

Me: Good for you. Do you want a cookie?

(I didn’t say that.)

Irish guy: You should read The Easy Way to Stop Smoking. That’s how I quit.

Me: Really? Maybe I’ll check it out… never.”

(These made-up responses sound angry, yes?)

I didn’t quit smoking. Not then. But a few months later, long after his brief romantic encounter with my friend had ended, I remembered what he said, bought the book, and quit.

It doesn’t seem a big thing, I imagine, to the I’ve-never-had-a-cigarette-in-my-life types or even to fair-weather “social smokers” who are able to drop the habit easily. But, for me, quitting smoking meant rearranging my life and my routines, and grappling with who I believed I was. It was the first step on a path that led me to running, to my friends and eventually my husband, and maybe (just maybe) to the place I am now, shedding other bad habits and preparing for more major changes.

But back to the Irish guy: Back then, I gave him credit for being the catalyst—the force that knocked over that first domino. And I don’t doubt that, in the briefest of moments, he said something very important to me. I am forever grateful to him for delivering a message. But as I think about it now, I realize I need to give myself credit for choosing to listen, taking action, and moving my life in a different direction. The truth is, I was always capable, and I still am.