Friday, February 17, 2012

Treadmill Desk Update: 1 Month

I'm actually a week late with this, so we're just going to pretend I wrote this a week ago.  Good?  Good.

Well, let's start with the good part.  One reason I'm doing this is to lose weight.  So, am I?


Why yes, yes I am.  Obviously it goes up and down a bit, but the overall trend is unquestionably in the right direction.  And most of the jumps back up correspond to a meal the night before, which is why there is a drop the next day.

Speaking of meals, I have not made significant changes to my diet.  There are really only two changes: 1) When I do get a carbonated beverage, I choose diet, 2) I've replaced my snack bars (of the SlimFast variety, not candy bars) with apples.  That's it.  Otherwise, we eat out on a relatively normal schedule, and I eat as much as I normally would have.  If I was to get really serious about managing what I eat, I'm sure the weight loss would be tremendous, but I just really don't want to eat that way.

The other reason for the treadmill is general physical activity.  I can either sit at my desk like a bump on a log, or I can walk a few miles a day.  Here are my statistics thus far:

  • Hours: 137
  • Hours/Day: 5
  • Steps: 522247
  • Steps/Day: 18652
  • Calories: 37304
  • Calories/Day: 1332
  • Calories/Hr: 271
  • Miles: 174.2
  • Miles/Day: 6.2

So far my daily max has been 7.5 hours with a distance of 11.6 miles.  I tend to only get in a couple hours per day on weekends, so that's why the average isn't higher.  The calories per day is a useful number.  I've read that there are 3500 calories in a pound.  At this rate, I'm burning off a pound roughly every 3 days, or approximately 2 pounds per week.  This is more or less consistent with what the graph above shows, and is a rate I'm happy with.

It's not all roses

I'd be lying if I said this was easy.  My feet are quite sore, and I have to take many breaks over the course of a day.  The longest consecutive period I've walked so far is 2 hours.  Most of the time it is roughly 1 hour with a 20-ish minute break in between.

That said, things are getting better.  The first couple of days in general were pretty brutal.  These days the first hour or two of walking don't even phase me.  However, by the time I get to hour 4 or 5, I'm really hurting, and really having to fight through pain to finish out a day.  I'd like to get to a point where 8 hours is easy, and maybe I'm stretching to 10 or 12.  That's still a ways off.

When reading reviews from other people about their treadmill desk experiences, 2 consistent themes emerge: they feel like they have more energy, and they feel more focused.  I have found neither to be true for me.  I don't feel like my energy levels are any different, and I can waste just as much time as I did before the treadmill.  Even more actually, considering the breaks I'm taking.  So for me, a magic bullet it is not.

In many ways, it is very similar to my effort to stand at my desk last year.  Yes, it has to be better than just sitting there.  Yes, my feet really hurt.  But the difference this time around is: results.  I stood at my desk for 6 weeks last year and didn't lose a single pound.  All pain, no gain (er, loss).  This time, I'm clearly losing weight.  That is very motivating.  And then I read stories from other people who have lost 20 or 30 pounds in a similar time frame.  This motivates me to increase my walking speed and push for more hours.  I've had the speed up as high as 1.5 over an entire day, and have had 2000+ calorie days several times.  And while I do hurt, it's not as bad as when I was just standing.  I tend to stiffen up after sitting, so my first few steps after getting up will be awkward and painful.  But after that, I generally move around just fine.  When I was standing, I hurt all of the time, and it never really stopped.  Also, the pain seems to be limited just to my feet.  The rest of my body is fine.  My wife even pointed out that I hadn't complained of any back pain recently, which is a good change.

The other shoe drops

A couple weeks in, I started getting this weird sensation in my right foot.  It was hard to describe, but imagine that you are standing on a small rock.  It's not really painful to do so, but you clearly feel it, and you'd rather not stand on it.  My shoes were about due for replacement, so I initially thought the padding was falling apart.  But occasionally I would feel it when I wasn't wearing those shoes, and sometimes without shoes at all.  Nevertheless I bought new shoes anyway, hoping that would address it.  It didn't, and eventually the sensation spread to my left foot as well, and there was no mistaking that I was feeling it all of the time.  In my bare feet, it felt like I was standing on a quarter.  Again not painful, but not pleasant either, and definitely not normal.  It was uncomfortable to walk on, and I was contorting my feet in odd ways in order to minimize discomfort while walking, which of course wasn't comfortable either.

So at the beginning of this week, I made the executive decision to take a break from the treadmill.  I wound up not using it for 3 days, doing my best to stay off my feet entirely.  By the 4th day, there was improvement, but not much, and I was worried about resuming walking again, expecting the sensation to only get worse.  I went to the doctor, and the diagnosis is plantar fasciitis.  It's apparently a common thing amongst distance runners, and, well, I'm putting in a lot of distance.

The doc has given me some stretching exercises to do, and recommends that I ice my feet down on a regular basis.  She also wants me to limit my walking sessions to 1 hour at a time, which isn't a big sacrifice since that's roughly what I was doing anyway.  So now when I'm resting, I'm icing.  Doc says if there isn't improvement within 2-6 weeks, the next step is physical therapy.  Although, people are coming out of the woodworks telling me that they've dealt with it for years.

I spent too much money on this desk, and am too encouraged by the initial weight loss results, to give up easily.  As long as my feet remain in the discomfort zone (rather than outright pain), I'm just going to have to play through, and I will.  The icing does seem to be helping, although I've dropped speed and distance so it's hard to say which is having more of an affect.

However, even with 3 days of little movement, and then a reduced regimen for the remainder of the week, I did lose another pound this week.  Hopefully I will continue to have good results over the coming weeks, and maybe as more weight comes off, the walking will get easier, too.


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1 comment:

Kevin De Smet said...

Definitely, the act of working at a desk and the way we choose to do it (sitting, standing or walking) is a problem that is yet unsolved.