Take A Stand About How You Sit

This past summer I made the decision to move to Brooklyn, New York from my home in Columbia, Missouri. I was two years out of college and looking for a new adventure. You’ve heard the plot line: ambitious millennial struggling to find what to be ambitious about. So I made New York my adventure, the huge city full of millions of other people struggling to find their niche.

I was very fortunate to be unemployed for only a brief (but scary) couple of weeks before I got hired at an e-commerce company. Finally, a big kid job! Regular work hours! Health benefits! Paid time off! Snacks!

I had never had a desk job before and I was actually excited to try it out. All of my previous positions required me to stand for the majority of the day with very little sitting. Working in salons and in retail, I would walk and stand throughout my shift. I didn’t realize how active my life was until my new job forced me to be inactive. It has been 6 months at a desk, and I already feel like my body has aged 6 years.

I have never been one to overeat, but when there is a constant supply of snacks at work it’s hard not to overindulge. If the day is dragging, I feel bored, or if I just need to get up and move, one of the few places to wander to is the kitchen. Not only have my eating habits gotten worse, but I have never felt so tight and inflexible. I didn’t realize how much I had been relying on my daily work routine to remain healthy and energetic.

Being the new kid at work, I didn’t feel comfortable complaining about the fact that my task chair was adding to my discomfort and inactivity. Other employees in the office had standing desks, but I wasn’t sure what the protocol was for getting one. Did I have to buy it? Was there a seniority requirement? No one told me when I started and, for some reason, I was nervous to ask.

I worked up the nerve and approached my manager. She simply said, “Oh, just email the Office Manager and she’ll put you on the wait list.” All it took was asking. Of course, our Office Manager was happy to add me to the list. Believe it or not, employers care about their employee satisfaction. If improving your work environment improves your productivity, why shouldn’t they support it?

After two long months of waiting, I finally got my Varidesk adjustable standing desk. It was such a nice change. I can now go up and down throughout the day and I can really see an improvement in my energy and focus — when I’m standing. When I’m sitting, however, it’s right back to feeling unmotivated and sedentary. And, standing all day is almost as harmful as sitting all day.

I realized something was still missing, and that was my Soul Seat. For those who are not aware, the Soul Seat is an ergonomic chair that turns the time sitting at your desk into time strengthening and stretching your body. Rather than being stuck in one position, the Soul Seat allows you to switch from several yoga positions throughout the day. When I sit on my Soul Seat at home I can feel my body getting stronger. I can feel my spine aligning naturally, my core getting stronger, and my hips becoming more flexible.

A couple of weeks ago I worked up the nerve again to ask another question. I asked our Office Manager if I could bring in my own chair (my Soul Seat). She said, “Absolutely! Just make sure it’s black so it fits in with the rest of the office.” Wow! I could have asked my first day on the job. I have gone five months without my favorite seat, and my body has paid for it.

It never ceases to amaze me how far we can get with a simple request. My fears of asking for a better work environment hindered my ability to stay active and healthy. It kept me from taking the necessary steps toward being a more energetic and productive employee.

If you are struggling to stay focused at work, and if you feel like your job habits are a detriment to your health and fitness, then ask to make a change with the way you choose to sit or stand at your workstation. Let that be the first step you take towards working for more than your company while at work. Stay tuned for the next chapter: How do I keep my coworkers from stealing my super cool amazing new chair?