Hi guys! One thing I never thought I’d be able to do with my current job is work from home. Yet, here I am, 440+ days in and still primarily teleworking. It’s been an interesting experience for me. One that I’ve been very grateful for but interesting nonetheless. In the beginning, I was hit with more work than I thought I could handle. We were all transitioning to a posture we’d never been in before, and it took some time to figure out what the new routine was going to be. I think we were all pushed to limits we didn’t think we could handle before (in more ways than one!), but all-in-all, I’m happy to say that I’ve been much more productive at home. What I didn’t expect though was the toll it would take on my body.
I’ve always had a lot of meetings to attend. The amount I have to attend now isn’t much different than what the load was before we were sent home, but being virtual, I’m physically moving a LOT less. I had a decent workout routine before the pandemic. Pilates was my exercise of choice. I consistently worked out about 3-4 days a week. Couple that with having to physically get up from my desk, move about a large building and go up and down stairs to get to meetings throughout the day – I was in pretty good shape.
Then, I started working from home.
My meeting load immediately increased by 78% when we first went to a telework posture. My employees had a lot more questions that needed to be answered, and rightfully so. More briefings and reports were added to my plate, and I still had my regular ‘day job’ deadlines to keep up with. So, naturally, my workdays got longer. Not having a daily commute balanced some of it a bit – that’s one of the nice things about working from home. I also ate on a more regular schedule since I was now able to eat behind a turned-off camera during the meetings that would otherwise outweigh a lunch break. I found myself enjoying cooking more was eating more whole foods. But I’d stopped working out almost completely. OK… completely. There was so much work to do now, and household chores were literally staring me in the face all day – reminding me that they still needed to be tackled too. I felt like I was running out of time everyday, even on the weekends. Worst of all, in comparison to the way I moved my body before, I was barely moving at all now. I really underestimated how much I actually moved around in a day and was starting to feel the effects of being glued to my chair for 10 or more hours a day. It also didn’t help that I went from a stand-up desk and ergonomic chair in my office to the kitchen table and a dining chair and home – not exactly the same setup. (Putting together a home office is actually still on my to-do list today, even after all this time. I need to get on that…)
Of course, I gained a little weight. My eating habits thankfully weren’t terrible, so I only gained about 6 pounds over the course of a year and a half. But my body was in pain. I had so many aches. I’d started getting irregular headaches. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was eating great, but barely moving my body took a toll that I’d never expected it would. So, after suffering through it for a while, and with strong encouragement from my doctor, I started working out again.
I wanted to get back into Pilates again, but even the foundation classes were really hard for me. I was WAY out of shape. So, I turned to yoga. I started very slow, mainly just stretching sessions, but it helped me tremendously. I was able to move better and the aches and pain started to go away. Another thing I started to do regularly was walk. Nothing too crazy. I wasn’t going very far, just 20 minutes around the neighborhood. But I became intentional about it and committed to doing it. I started alternating walking and Pilates 6 days a week. That may sound like a lot, but they’re low impact, so I never felt strained. I challenge myself a bit but never push to where it’s painful. About 20 minutes of Pilates one day, about 20 minutes of brisk walking the next day and so on. It’s a good balance for me. I started to move better and in turn started sleeping better. And let me just say, better moods often follow better sleep. 🙂 My energy was up, I was less irritable, and I was focusing better which meant that I was also getting through my work faster – 10+ hour days were becoming 8 or 9 hour days. And dare I say these improvements stemmed from only one change – I started exercising again.
I’m going to try to stick with this routine for the long haul. I don’t know if I’ll be asked to come back onsite everyday or if this telework posture will be permanent for me. Either way, I’ve experienced first-hand what happens when you become sedentary. I never seriously considered the importance of regular exercise before now. I guess I never had a real reason to, or at least just thought I didn’t. I still moved around to clean the house and cook and do the laundry, but I’m forever convinced that those things are not a substitute for intentional regular exercise. Not even close. It was a bit of a hard lesson to learn. No one wants to be in pain, especially not long-term, but it’s a lesson that I’ll never forget. I know I’m better for it, and for that, I’m grateful. This has been my motto for a long time, but it gives a fresh, new meaning now, a more literal one. Everyday, I commit to “just keep moving”.