GO GET A FUCKING TREADMILL DESK, ALREADY!
No, I’m serious. Go do it. I’ll wait here.
Okay, so, if you won’t do it, that means I’m not going to sit around listening to you whine about how your neck hurts and your back hurts and now you wake up with a headache and you can’t sleep anymore. You know what I say to that? Wait until you’re my age, dummy! Wait until your body is changing! And no, it’s not exciting this time like it was when you were 12 and couldn’t wait to fuck Daniel Radcliffe with your new body. This time, when a doctor says to you, “Well, your body is changing,” what she really means is that you have to eat nothing but green stuff and drink tons of water and move every second of the day, not because it will make you hot, but because it literally KEEPS YOU FROM FEELING LIKE YOU’RE DYING ALL THE TIME. Basically, if you’re oldish and you don’t want to be depressed and bloated and in serious pain around the clock, you have to pay constant attention to your daily nutritional and exercise requirements.
So I tell all of my oldish friends to go out and get a treadmill desk these days. But no one listens to me. And if someone doesn’t know me that well yet, that person will just assume that I’m one of those weird exercise-fixated overachiever types who spends all her time power-walking around her neighborhood while bellowing into her cell phone about the joys of piping yogurt into her vagina with a turkey baster. That’s not me! I’m the laziest person you’ll ever meet. I once told a boyfriend that I couldn’t see live music anymore because it required standing up for a long time, late at night. I used to only buy furniture that accommodated the most dramatic slouch a human can manage. I once came second in a doughnut-eating contest, and the winner had been in training for weeks. But I had been in training my whole life. And if the doughnuts had been the glazed yeast kind of doughnuts, and not the fucked-up cake kind, I would’ve won, goddamn it.
Do you know what I win at now? Life. Because of my treadmill desk. I’m constantly in motion. Yesterday I wrote an essay and a column and I walked seven miles while I was doing it. My Fitbit, which I got thinking it would single-handedly force me to get off my ass, used to sit there on my wrist like a controlling boyfriend, reminding me what a lazy asshole I was. But now that gigantic number on my wrist is more like an enabling friend, soothing me into believing that I’m not a complete waste of space, at least not in the ever-important old-person realm of locomotion.
I’m worried now that you might think this is a parody of someone else’s obnoxious piece about their treadmill desk. Wrong again, dummy! I write this in earnest! I know you still hate the shit out of me right now, but that’s only because you’re tired and gassy all the time, because you don’t move enough! And if you’re a writer, Jesus. I got to the point where not only did I have neck pain and headaches and achey hips IN SPITE OF regular running and yoga and strength workouts, but I couldn’t think anymore! I’d sit down to write and promptly fall asleep. My brain was changing, and not in a thrilling teenager way where it whispers things like, “You want to have sex with your lab partner on this double-wide desk while everyone here watches!” No. My new brain said things like, “You don’t need to write anything anymore, you just need more naps, and more chocolate-pudding cups.” The naps and the pudding cups, though, were turning me into a grouchy gaseous bridge troll who didn’t want to do anything, ever, including write her column or work on her book or leave the house to see a friend. I was turning into Jabba the Hutt, except meaner with no live frogs to snack on and no easily amused sidekick. (Okay, I do have one of those, but he works during the day.)
Sure, I was skeptical about the treadmill desk at first, just like you are now. It was expensive! ($1,249 for the LifeSpan model I bought on Amazon.) My easily amused sidekick reminded me, very gently and from a safe distance, that this wouldn’t be the first time I bought something and then it sat around, unused, making me feel sick with guilt, until I finally sold it or gave it away. So we went to an exercise store to try out my desk first. I liked it a lot, but I was worried that the ergonomics wouldn’t be quite right, or that I would get motion sick while I was working. (I can get motion sick from gentlest little kid’s rides at Disney. I once got motion sick from a few minutes on a Pilates machine. That’s okay though because I fucking hate Pilates.)
At the beginning, I definitely had to start slow. I’d spend an hour on the desk and then two hours at my normal desk. I also found that if I didn’t force myself to use the desk first thing in the morning, I wouldn’t use it all day. But these days, I can use it for three to four hours if I start first thing in the morning, and about an hour if I start sometime later in the day. It’s harder to want to keep moving after lunch. If you have a laptop, I recommend getting a stand that attaches to the desk and keeps the screen at eye level, and also get a good keyboard to put on the desk itself, so your hands can be closer to your waist when you type. You can also get a wireless mouse but I still use my track pad because I’m too old to change.
The desk is adjustable and I recommend the one with the motorized adjustment. Sometimes you want a higher or lower desk, for whatever reason, and stopping to turn cranks or whatever would make me homicidal.
My treadmill goes up to four miles an hour, which is a slow jog, so sometimes when I’m starting to feel blah (this still happens sometimes, because I am still old!), I put on music and jog or even jog-dance if the music is good enough. Yes, I do think I’ll regret writing those words. Thank you for noticing that. I might have a treadmill desk but that doesn’t mean I’ve kissed my dignity good-bye entirely. It’s only a matter of time, of course.
You can also stand at the desk without walking, obviously, but I don’t love typing while standing up unless I’m walking. What’s weird is that since I got the desk, I find myself standing a lot during the day without thinking about it. I stand and eat my breakfast, for example, which is really not my style. I’ll stand and talk to my husband while we’re in the kitchen and he’s doing something. I also keep the house cleaner than I did before. All of the shit I used to put off seems like less of a big deal now. (Okay, most of it, anyway.) I cook more, possibly because I’m hungry all the time. And I sleep well at night, which — well, ask a 47-year-old woman how she sleeps. Make sure you’re a safe distance away first.
I haven’t lost a ton of weight, possibly because I eat more possibly because I’m hungry all the time, but I do look pretty goddamn fit if I do say so myself. I mean, I don’t look incredible or anything, I just look like someone who doesn’t spend most of the day lying around in an extreme slouch mumbling things like, “I HATE EVERYTHING. I DON’T FEEL LIKE DOING ANYTHING, EVER.” And on bad writing days, I am soothed by the fact that, even though I didn’t manage to write a single word, I did, at the very least, move a lot. Best of all, I don’t feel like I’m dying all the time. That’s called living your best life, folks. Get a fucking treadmill desk already!
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