To be healthy that is.

I have mentioned multiple times how saggy my butt has got over the last year. When I wrote the 1 year anniversary post, I also calculated how exactly active I was back in Hawaii:
– 1.5 hour of walking every day (to classes, to work, to my car),
– surfing 2 times/week (and carrying my big board up and down a cliff),
– jumping into the ocean at least 2 times/week,
– dancing 3 hours/week, and
– camping and hiking trips here and there.

And here now? I hop on my scooter to go to the market, to drop off packets at the post office, to swing by a coffee shop to see friends. I sit then hunch and slouch in front of my computer reading endless wikipedia entries and reddit posts. (Full disclosure: I’m a news and mildly interesting facts junkie). My occasional exercises come from walking a few flights of stairs, standing to wait for the bus, bumping my ass up and down on the scooter over potholes. Although I’m in no way a health fanatics, I am health conscious. I can recite that it is recommended to take 10,000 steps a day (roughly 8km), to exercise moderately 30 mins 5 days a week, and to not sit for more than 20 minutes without getting up and stretching. I failed on all counts.

Even without all the science, I already realized the harm I was doing to myself. My eyes were dry from looking at the screen. All my muscles were restless from being neglected. My mom noticed too. She squeezed my butt and said it was softer than hers.

The single biggest way to eliminate ass-time is not to sit when I use my computer. I’d heard of standing desk before and decided to put  it into my lifestyle. No way would I go out to buy or comission one, but I came up with a quick fix which involves stools and a carton box.

(PSA; If you care about yourself, google “sitting 20130824_153108health effects” right now!) The desk is not perfect because the screen is actually too low for my eyes, but it’s a good first step. I have strong leg muscles so it doesn’t bother me too much standing up a few hours a day. Of course I do not stand still like a shaolin monk. I twitch and fidget, raise my calves, kick my heels back, swing my hips, etc… which is even better.

Next, I needed something to remind me to break both my hands and my eyes form the computer. There is truly a program for every need. I found Workrave and set a mini-break of 30s for every 5 minutes of continuous use, and a work rest of 10 minutes for every 45 minutes. It makes me realize how deceptive time is when I’m engaged at the computer. For the mini-break, I walk around my apartment, stand by my window to watch traffic, pick up a glass of water, and the 30s is still not up. And yet the 5 minutes feel to be pass by in a fraction. It can be annoying at first as the workflow is interrupted, but I soon realized that I am never doing anything so urgent that it cannot wait 30s.

The scooter is much more difficult to replace. It’s just so damned convenient. If I lived more permanently in one place, I’d definitely get a bike for shorter trips. For now, my compromise is to go to the beach later in the day so that it’s enjoyable to walk there. The roundtrip is only 3 kms, still way short of the recommended 8kms, but my body already feels much better. I’m reaching my arm back to pat my shoulder.