Sunday, August 31, 2008

Activity, and the Slug Effect

This afternoon I was sitting on the couch with my laptop, perusing weight loss blogs and answering emails. My son walked in the room and sat down. He looked at me and said, "Mom, can I ask you a question?" and without waiting for my response, he asked, "How can you sit around all day and do nothing?"

...

My first thought was, "WTF?!?!? I work my butt off around here!" My second thought was, "Oh, CRAP. He is right. I sit around too much. My kids are going to grow up thinking their mother is a slug who sits and does nothing all freaking day."

I know what he meant, and he meant no harm. He is a kid who is all kinds of active: skateboarding, climbing trees, building stuff, always on the go. He cannot STAND to sit around and do nothing. Even when he sits for awhile and plays video games, he gets totally sick of it and NEEDS to get up and run around for the rest of the day. So what he meant was, how could I stand to sit down as much as I do?

As much as I didn't want to hear that, it's probably the wake-up call I needed. Sure, I can make a list of things I do every day, and it's a lot of stuff. Mostly the same old boring chores or dishes, laundry, and other housework. Lots of child-care related tasks. Cooking, shopping, weeding. In my defense, I DO do 90% of the housework (my kids have a few chores to help) and I also do all the yard work except my kids mow the lawn. I do almost all the child care and shopping. I do all the doctor visits, scheduling, medicating, and travel (and some of my kids have medical conditions). And, of course, I blog.

But my activity level is crap. I do sit a lot! In fact, there is a freakin' butt print in the sofa on the cushion I usually claim as "my spot." Ugh... he IS right. I DO sit too much.

I didn't use to be so inactive. I remember when my kids were all little. I weighed about 168 pounds and I was on my feet most of the day. We were always doing something. Going somewhere. And, uh, I didn't have a computer. The only sitting I did was to rock a baby or to work on the photo albums. Otherwise I was doing stuff, or sleeping.

Then I moved here. It's been over a decade, but I never made really close friends to hang out with. And I got a computer. That's what really started my bad "sitting" habit. I was fascinated by the whole new world I found online. I would sit on the computer for a couple hours while the kids were in school, and then get on there after they went to bed, late into the night. Yeah, that is about the time my butt started getting huge. When I got the computer.

After I gained 100+ pounds, my knees gave out and I could no longer walk any distance. I could barely go up and down the stairs. I was stuck inside for the most part. When I was in college (yes I got my degrees as an adult), I sat all day in classes and came home and sat all night doing homework and typing papers on the computer. Five years of sitting almost all day. It took a toll.

Then I had my daughter. She was very sick. She came home from the hospital hooked to several monitors with cords that reached about 8 feet. She was always "plugged in" and she was very fussy and needed to be held. I was stuck in the living room, 8 feet from her heavy equipment, all day long. I barely left the living room for her first entire year, except to go to the doctor or take a shower. I barely moved. I just sat and held her, read to her, or sat on the floor and played with her as she got older. She was too sick to take out AT ALL until she was about 8 months old. Just doctor visits, and oh yes, a daring trip or two in the stroller WITH her heavy equipment to two fall festivals. Other than that, I just sat in the house with her for almost a year. I think that is where I first got my "couch spot." Holding the baby.

Well, she is 3 now, and she is doing pretty well. We can go out anywhere we want. And we do. We go to the park, to the library, and to her gymnastics classes. But when we come home, I sit... a lot. She plays, I read to her, we do puzzles. But mostly I sit.

Now I have this bad habit. I never even NOTICED it until he said that today. I am sitting in the same freaking spot in my living room almost ALL DAY. Sure, I get up and cook, but then I sit back down in my "spot." I get up and do dishes and clean the bathrooms and then plop down in my spot. It's really disconcerting to think about how much time I spend in this one seat... watching TV, reading, going online, blogging. I must sit in this spot for upwards of 8 hours on some days (not all at once, and mostly at night). YIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am feeling more and more ashamed of this as I type. I should not be so inactive, I really shouldn't. I don't think I am lazy... I work hard when I get off my behind. But whenever I am not working, I plop here. I want to change that. I want to be more active. But where to start?? How to break this habit?

For one, I think I will limit my online time. I probably spend too much time *thinking* and *reading* and not enough time *doing.* If I can limit my computer time to certain times of the day, that will help. Second, I need to sit in other places to break this habit. Maybe sit in the dining room when I eat instead of plopping here. Sit outside on the porch swing. But mostly I need to stop sitting so much. My knees hurt, so this may be an issue, but I am sure I can do more than I have been doing. I can be up and active in my life instead of being a bystander.

I am going to make this happen. I am tired of being a fixture. And I never want to hear my kid ask me that again. I want him to say, "Wow Mom, how do you get everything done? You're amazing!"

Maybe someday.

13 comments:

Alexia@theonelastthing.com said...

Ooh, ooh! Once again, yes, I relate. Here's something that helped me -- I replaced my desks at work and at home with a Salli saddle chair and desk and I basically work standing up or propped on one of these chairs. They are amazingly comfortable and it's easier to be active. There's one annoying thing -- you can't slouch. Sometimes you just want to slouch and you just can't. A mom must have invented these.

Maybe the treadmill workstation is next...

Alexia@theonelastthing.com said...

Oh, my full discloser didn't post -- I do sometimes (like right now) post while laid out on the recliner with my laptop on my lap. But not as often!

Bethany said...

Hooo boy, is that ever me. I know I am so sedentary. I sit like all the time. "My" chair has a cushion that is squashed down to half its original size. Kudos to you for trying to do something about it! I need to do the same...
~Bethany

Karyn said...

Oh my goodness....you are speaking exactly my problem! I, too, spend most of my life on my butt.

My butt time started when I began to homeschool my kids. It was mostly neccessary, but added to my already sedentary interests (reading and crafting) it meant that I had no time to establish any kind of active lifestyle (outside of housework and chasing kids around to ballgames, etc)

If you can figure out how to become an active person at this stage of the game, let me know, PLEASE!

Dottie said...

Great post. I have noticed that my photography hobby has gotten me out of the house more. This summer I've not had too much computer time outside of work. I noticed today while I took my kids school shopping that I have more stamina now. I didn't feel a need to cut the trip short and I didn't break out in a huge sweat right away. I've got a super long way to go...but I felt good about that. Kudos to you for admitting the slug effect. Time to get moving one step at a time. Replacing some of that computer time with something more active is a great idea!

spunkysuzi said...

Once again you've hit the nail on the head ;) My biggest time on my butt is in front of the computer! I really have to figure a way to cut down on that.

Chellie has Issues said...

The computer (and blogging) can becoming addicting. Reading posts can give you an overall good feeling, kind of like those french bread pizzas you blogged about used to. Keeping busy by taking samll walks throughout the day might help you to cut down on the time without going through puter withdrawals. Also, you could by an excersise ball to sit on while you watch or blog. Sitting on one of these blogs helps you core muscles. You can sit, bounch, or workout on it while watching tv! It's great.

Becky said...

I work online. I'm CONSTANTLY sitting on the computer. I try really hard to break it up. Every 15 to 30 minutes I'm working, I'll get up and start doing something else (while STANDING and MOVING). Sometimes it's only for 5 to 10 minutes, but other times I've gotten away from the electronic devil for an hour or more.

Hanlie said...

Me too! I am really the worst!

Lynne said...

I have a lot of skinny mom aquaintances and I've watched them while our kids were having playdates together. They are standing, they are pushing kids on swings, they are standing in the street while the kids ride bikes, they are throwing a ball, or walking to the farm to see the horses, or pushing a stroller to pick up their kids from school. Stand more... and move your seat? Is that their secret? Who knows? A change is good...

new*me said...

My kids set my online time :) I try to get up a bit earlier than them so I can have 30 min with coffee! I also like to spend half of naptime at the computer.....it's my "me" time. I probably would sit more often but the age the twins are require that I be present all the time or disasters occur! I do think the internet age is contributing to the obesity epidemic but it can also be used for good purposes....like motivating good health and weight loss!!!!!!! So, strike a healthy balance. Do muscle toning or even fidgeting while at the computer....make it work for you.

themarlatts said...

Again, we are in the same boat! I do think babies get you on the road to sitting, especially in your situation.

I agree with Lynne who noticed skinny people standing. I'm always observing other mom's when I'm out and about and she's right - they are ALWAYS standing. Maybe that's the secret to getting started. I will find a spot to sit down just about anywhere.

Wow. I never really thought about it like this!

Tiffany said...

May I gently suggest a pedometer, if you haven't tried one yet? This Omron is the best! It's a great design, very sturdy, counts every step. You can put it in your pocket or clip it. I like the pocket, myself. It's been a way to keep walking(ugh) from becoming so boring. You can check your step count for the last seven days, so it keeps it fun to keep doing better. I think your boy would love one , too! Then you can race each other every day to see who has the most steps. The goal is 10,000 a day. Here's the link to several on line store. Love your blog!
http://health-beauty.pricegrabber.com/pedometers/m/2412817/