Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Gospel of Treadmill

Since the treadmill desk experiment I've been engaged in isn't directly related to iPhone Development, I've been trying not to fill up this blog with posts about it, but it has now been several months and I thought one last post on the subject was in order.

I'm still extremely happy with using a treadmill desk and will never willingly go back to full-time sitting. I still sit a few hours a day: I treadmill for about eight hours, six days a week, averaging just under three miles per hour. However, my work days are almost always longer than eight hours, so after that, I switch to sitting. Although my rate of weight loss has slowed (partially attributable to spending a month away from my desk: two weeks in Europe for conferences and two weeks on vacation), my weight is still going in a fairly steady downward motion. The first two months, I averaged between ten and fifteen pounds a month of weight loss. Now, it's closer to eight pounds a month on average (plus I gained a few back while traveling). At this pace, it'll take me a while to get my weight where I want it (in other words, if you're at WWDC and want to find me, you still need to look for a fat guy), but that's okay, because I don't have to think about losing weight. I just go to work. I don't have to remember to go to the gym or to go for a run and I don't have to make time in my day for it. I just go to work, which I have to do anyway and actually enjoy doing.

More important than the number on the scale, though, is how I feel, and I certainly feel better than I did when I was at this same weight on the way up. In fact, physically, I feel better than I have in a decade, despite the fact that I still have a fair bit of weight to lose. For years, I've had pretty serious back problems that trace to an injury I sustained in 1997. Since then, almost any time I've had to do significant lifting or heavy physical labor, I've ended up in agony for a few days, sometimes to the point of not being able to walk; sometimes to the point where the twenty steps from my bed to the bathroom were nearly unbearable.

Last weekend I dug a drainage ditch and lugged about twenty fifty-pound bags of gravel around my property. Six months ago, that effort would've bought me at least a day or two of agony. I woke up last Monday morning feeling fine. No back pain, no soreness, and I haven't been doing any physical exercise except what I do at my treadmill desk. I don't know whether that's because I'm strengthening my back while walking or simply allowing it to heal by not being hunched in a chair all day (or both), but whatever it is, I like it.

But there's one thing that's even better than the way that I'm feeling now: The fact that the success of my experiment has caused a number of other people to join me. I haven't taken a census of who has picked up treadmill desk-ing since I started, but I can think of close to a dozen offhand and several more who I know are contemplating it. Although they deserve the credit for taking the initiative and putting in the work, it's still really gratifying to have been some small factor in other people making the decision to start. And I'm not the only one spreading the Gospel of Treadmill in our community these days. In fact, Dan's tale is awfully similar to mine, except that I never worked at NASA and my weight numbers are a lot higher than his.

If you have questions about treadmill desk-ing, feel free to hit me up on e-mail or on twitter. I'm @jeff_lamarche on Twitter and you can reach me by e-mail at my twitter handle at mac dot com.