Working it at work

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It only took me a year and 3 months, but I finally did it: I took a break and I took a walk. It's such a simple thing, but it's been such an obstacle for me to overcome.

OK, I already know this isn't good or right or whatever, but this is how it is: I rarely take breaks at work, including lunch. I work 9-hour days, so extending that to even 9.5 hours is unappealing to me. My commute isn't bad, about 20 minutes, but I just feel in general that I don't have as much time as I would like during my days.

Anyway, I typically work through my lunches and I don't take any other breaks throughout the day. Occasionally I will chat with someone nearby, but I try to stay on task as much as possible. I have this uneasy feeling that I'm being watched (not totally in a crazy way). I'm a contractor, so the rules already are different for me than they are for regular employees. People here tend to watch others to see what they're doing or not doing, and there's always an undertone of "things could change any minute, so watch out." This worries me; others don't seem so concerned. There's a guy who sits across from me who sleeps at his desk DAILY. He's not a contractor. So... I make sure I'm working as hard as I can at all times, just in case someone is watching. (Paranoid much? Yes. Yes, I am.)

Plus, I was laid off from this job once, and I have this constant fear that it will happen again. So, I work as hard as I can for 9 hours straight. Anyway, sitting at a desk for that long immediately helped me pack on about 20 lbs when I returned to work. I've tried to stay active outside of work hours and that's good, but some days it's painful to sit there for so long. I see other people take breaks and go for walks, climb stairs, etc. But I've been too chicken to do it, too. Until now!

Yesterday, I brought a pair of running shoes in to work and I decided I would quickly walk up and down the stairs for 5 minutes. I felt so guilty being away from my desk for 5 minutes, but it felt SO GOOD! I mean it kicked my boo-tay, but it was liberating and it felt good to get my heart rate up a bit and breathe hard for a few minutes. No one said anything to me about being gone, and I know that 5 minutes is not a big deal. I was just struggling to get over my fear of taking a break.

Today, I was determined to take a walk outside. There's a path that runs around my building and the one next to mine, about a 0.9-mile loop. I've run on that path after work some days, so I knew about how long I'd be gone. The sun was shining and there was a light breeze, a perfect day to get a quick walk in. I planned my walk during the time when most people take their lunch break, just in case. Of course, nothing happened! I don't know what I expect to happen, I've just always been nervous about taking time for me during my workday. I need to learn other people's secrets to doing this! How does it look so easy for them?!

I realize I sound like a crazy person. I kinda can't help that right now. But let's focus on the positive: I got a good walk in, got a little sweaty but not too much, and I feel energized for the rest of the day. I've been doing incline pushups and squats in the bathroom at work for a while, but I'm determined to make walking or climbing stairs a regular part of my day, too. I'm worth 15 minutes!

(me, walking on the path at work)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I get caught up in what there is to do at work, feel extra compelled to pick up the slack when other people are out, or there is high volume, and have difficulty giving myself permission, too. Some days it's not really the if, but when. Our HR monitors our time really closely and we have to clock out at least 30 minutes for lunch, within a certain timeframe, and it's also the law here inCA that we have to have two 10 minute breaks. It's just harder for companies to force people to take those.

    Think about it though-- it's the law because people need *at least* that much of a break during the day- the 30 minutes and the 10 in the am and 10 pm.

    I'm glad you're overcoming this barrier to greater fitness and health. And how wonderful that you wrote about it so openly, echoing the same thoughts the rest of us with exceedingly high self-performance expectations have.

    They do say to increase overall activity. They also say that the real calorie burn isn't that intense workout that creates the deficit, but the business of moving throughout the day after your body has replenished its muscle glucose stores is how the body burns off fat stores, or something like that.

    Excellent tpoints and good for you, Heather! Sounds like the mental refreshment is well worth it, too. Maybe I'll make outlook reminders to take walks, too. I did that all the time, once upon a time. Hmmm.
    1977 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/21/2013 8:13:16 AM
    I need to get up from my desk too at lunch time and do something..right now I don't even eat there, i just answer email and try to get ready for the Geometry class that is headed in in 30 minutes. I keep telling myself to do a 10 minute video but then I feel like you, guilty, or like I have missed getting something done. Wat to god, good for you!
    1980 days ago
  • ABB698
    Go Heather, Go! Whatever was holding you back, you set yourself free and it feels wonderful! Yay! I'm up and down at my desk a lot, but there's a set of stairs near the restrooms, so every time I go down the hall, I always make sure to run the 2 flights of stairs a few times. My heart rate is up and I'm ready to go again. Yay for you taking it outside, lots of beautiful weather to come and make it even more enjoyable! You go, girl!! emoticon
    1981 days ago
    Great job taking time for yourself and your health! Your employer should know that healthy, happy workers are more productive!
    1981 days ago
    Great that you did that! You absolutely need and deserve that break! And you can already see how energized you felt for the rest of the day. I'm sure it helped with your productivity and focus!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

    And keep rocking those wall push ups and squats! Keep up the great work!
    1981 days ago
    I think I'm a lot like you, although not afraid to take a break at work. Just afraid to do something that I know is good for myself at work... I'm too chicken to go for a lunch walk or a quick burst of exercise. I think I'd be that way no matter what fitness stage/weight I was. I'm glad you were able to break through and do it! I can only be for your benefit!
    1981 days ago
    You are ABSOLUTELY worth 15 minutes. I understand how you feel, but you simply must conquer your fear and realize that it's not healthy or sane for you to sit at your desk busting your butt for 9 hours straight. Getting up and moving around for even a few minutes is totally okay!
    1981 days ago
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