The Homebody Diaries: Moving More

9 July 2012

When you work in an office, you move. You move quite a bit. You get coffee. You do Starbucks runs. You pack up and walk to meeting rooms. You walk to go grab lunch. You grab something from the printer. You at least walk from your car to the building, and you may walk from a metro or train station. You get up and you pester people while your server is building.

When you work from home, you don't move. My coffee station is three steps from my desk. Same with my printer. I have the space on my desk to move them even closer if I wanted. My lunch? Twenty-two steps from my desk. I don't do Starbucks runs, and even if I did, I'd have to drive. My meetings are all held at my desk. There is no one else to pester. There is no commute.

I'm not moving at all. And I feel it.

Attempt one: Walking

My first thought was to start walking. I live in a shady neighborhood with respectable paths and some nice hills. I see people walking all the time! I could do this over my lunch break: put some podcasts on the headphones, head out, walk for fifteen minutes, turn around, and walk back.

I even had the equipment already. I walked for exercise quite a bit at my old job, so I had some nice walking shoes and good socks. I set out.

For a few weeks, it was great. The weather was nice and I got caught up on my podcasts. Then, disaster struck.


When I speak of summer in DC, I affectionately compare it to spelunking in a hobo's a-hole (you don't want to know what I call it when I'm angry). We're built on a swamp. The heat here is oppressive. I've seen it melt Texans. I'm already a delicate Southern flower.

How did I do it at the old job? Simple: they had an underground system of hallways that made it possible to walk several miles and never go outside. I'd retreat to those after the temps went over 90 degrees. I had no such luxury in the burbs. I'd have to figure something else out.

Attempt two: Standing

Standing desks are all the rage at the moment, and they appealed to me. I liked the idea of having fitness seamlessly worked into my day. Also, the testimonies were pretty impressive: less back pain, lost weight, better posture, better concentration.

Problem: I really like my desk, and it's not a standing desk. I like my storage cubbies, I like how it fits into the space we have, and its color really helps disguise what a klutz I am with my coffee. Also, I don't want to spend $900 on something that I may not end up liking.

I looked into systems for 'converting' a desk, but they all seemed to be expensive, not work with my current set-up, or be big steaming piles of one-star reviews. I ended up stealing one of my daughter's play stools and putting my laptop on it.

Upside: It was the perfect height! And free!

Downside: I seriously feared for my life when she realized I was repurposing her stuff.

Standing went well for the first few days. I wore nice shoes, and would stand for an hour at a time. If I was in the middle of a crunch, though, I realized I couldn't stand. I had to have my butt in a chair. Maybe with time I would be able to stand and deal with a fix that had to be out in the next thirty minutes, but that day wasn't today.

I needed to supplement.

Attempt three: The Gym

When I worked in the city, I went to the gym. I'm one of those rare birds that loves the gym. I love running on the treadmill and watching crap daytime TV, especially if the captions are off, so I can make up my own plots. I love the machines. I love taking notes about how much I lifted last week versus this week.

At my old job, we worked right above a gym, go I could easily go over on my lunch break, and still get in a shower afterwards. There are a number of gyms in my area. Why not go to one of them?

I took a hard look at myself. How likely was I to actually leave the house and go to the gym? At the office, I looked forward to getting away from my desk. At home... well, leaving required pants. And leaving the very functional AC. And my comfy chair. I could barely drag myself out of the house to drop the kids off at the sitter, much less anything else more ambitious.

I had to be honest: A gym membership was going to be a waste of money.

Attempt four: Wii Fit

I gave in. However I moved more, it was going to be in my house. Not wanting to spend money, I drug out my Wii Fit. I had gotten it when it first came out, and actually liked it quite a bit at the time. I tried to remember why I had stopped using it. I popped in the disc and started it up.

And I remembered why I stopped using it.

In theory, I like the idea of a Wii Fit. I liked the fitness game, especially after they released an improved version. But a few things got to me:

  • It's slow. It's so slow. You start it up, the little balance board dude has to talk to you. It has to calibrate between each exercise. The exercise lady has to talk you through each exercise. When you're done with each exercise, it has to congratulate you and tell you how much awesomer your life will be now that you did the tree pose for two minutes. There are no transitions, just lots of starting and stopping.
  • What the hell do you do with the controller? You always need to have it close at hand to confirm things, but you also need room to do the exercise. If you keep it on your wrist, you take out your kneecaps.
  • It doesn't autocorrect. Start a bit off balance (because you were putting your controller on the floor), and you're boned.
  • It yells at you for not being perfectly balanced. Yes, I know I'm a bit shaky. I'm working on it, okay?!
  • It yells at you for not showing up every day. Why do Nintendo games do this? What the hell?
  • It's big on the fat shaming. A bit overweight? It makes your Mii fat. Doesn't that make you feel better?

After getting mad at the game and realizing that I was STILL only getting fifteen minutes of movement for every thirty put in, the Wii Fit got put away again.

Attempt five: The Kinect

My son got an XBox with a Kinect for his birthday. The Kinect wasn't my idea. My mother wanted wanted to get him something, and I wanted the XBox with the bigger hard drive, which was paired with the Kinect. Seemed like a fit.

Jake was more excited about playing his NHL games again than the Kinect. In fact, I don't think he's used the Kinect once.

I'd seen some workout games for the Kinect, and decided to look some of them up. To my surprise, some of them were not only highly rated, but had inspired people to write crazy detailed reviews. I found one that offered a demo (Your Shape: Fitness Evolved) and downloaded it.

Fifteen minutes later, I couldn't get my credit card out fast enough to buy it.

Everything that annoyed me about the Wii Fit is fixed. The set-up time is nil, and you never need to touch a controller to get everything set up. It groups expercises so that you move smoothly from one to the next. It doesn't yell at you. It doesn't call you fat. It doesn't guilt you into playing the game.

These days, I generally do a half-hour of yoga at lunch, and I've found it really helps me break out of the afternoon blahs. I thought I would get bored with it, four weeks in, but I'm still entertained by doing the exercises every day. I'll probably get the 2012 version of the game as well.

Oh, Kinect: I'm sorry for every snarky thing I ever said about you.


Related tags: remote


1 Arlen Cuss says...

Attempt one, attempt two, attempt three, … attempt three … attempt three …

Posted at 9:03 a.m. on July 9, 2012

2 Katie says...

@ Arlen

ARGH! I need to edit these when I'm actually awake.


Posted at 9:26 a.m. on July 9, 2012

3 Barbara says...

Finally, someone who understands what I go through! :) We got a Kinect last year - I feel like just about every Kinect game is good for movement. The problem is that our living room isn't quite wide enough. To get the required 6 feet of space, I have to move furniture, and I don't have time to do that every day. I lucked out though - we have a gym that's about 5 minutes walking distance from home, so I just go there after work whenever I can (because if I don't have pants on by that point in the day, I've got bigger problems).

Posted at 1:39 p.m. on July 9, 2012

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