Staying fit and healthy doesn’t have to be hard just because you work at a desk all day.You probably already know that sitting and staring at a computer for long periods of time isn’t exactly the healthiest lifestyle habit. But when your job requires you to work in an office environment, you often have no choice but to suck it up and try to implement as many healthy habits as you can to help counteract the effects of prolonged office work. If you spend any significant amount of time working at a desk, either at home or at your workplace, you probably know exactly what it’s like to deal with some of these problems:
- The seemingly impossible feat of having to plan convenient, portable meals and snacks to eat at work (that actually taste good)
- Tempting foods and beverages from your beloved Starbucks, the break room, or the processed food aisles of the grocery store
- No time or motivation to get to the gym before or after work
- That “midday slump” that causes brain fog, mental sluggishness, and difficulty focusing on tasks
- Bodily aches and pains from sitting and working for too long
- Zapped energy by the end of the day and Netflix (and a glass of wine) calling your name
- Anxiety about your never ending to-do list of tasks that need to get done
- Trouble sleeping at night because you can’t seem to shut off your mind
Who is the Healthy Desk Dweller?
I’m Elise, a desk dwelling freelance writer, self-published author, and entrepreneur who absolutely loves her job! (See my professional writer website here.)
I’ve been freelance writing since 2011 and struggled for years just to make a living from it.
It’s been a long and hard journey, but in 2017 and my 30th year, I earned six figures as a writer with just a desk, a laptop, and an internet connection (not to mention a handful of incredibly awesome clients).
Spending so much time sitting and writing and running your own business comes at a cost, though. It becomes way too easy to prioritize work and success over health.As someone who’s personally struggled with diet, fitness, and mental health since her teens, I know exactly what it’s like to try healthy habit after healthy habit—only to fall off the wagon days, weeks, or months later. Working at a desk all day brings a whole new set of challenges to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When your work is primarily done at a desk, you don’t get to move quite as much or as frequently as teachers, nurses, plumbers, retail associates, massage therapists, constructions workers or anyone who works in a more traditional profession. What’s more, the work of a desk dweller is almost entirely reliant on your mind, making mental health just as important (if not more) as physical health. So join me as I embark on this journey toward helping fellow desk dwellers adopt practical healthy habits they can actually stick to over the long run. This is the type of stuff that will improve your work productivity, your overall health, and your quality of life!
Keep scrolling if you want to know more about me.
I struggle just as much as anybody else to consistently eat healthy, stay fit, and avoid succumbing to stress with a full-time, desk-bound writing job.
My ultimate goal with this blog is to help myself by helping others find practical ways to balance desk work with healthy habits.
It’s far too easy to let my health fall by the wayside when I get so sucked into a new writing project.
I begin to work more and exercise less.
Healthy meal prep becomes a thing of the past as I find myself storming into the kitchen and grabbing a box of crackers or something else that’s probably processed and readily available.
Anxiety starts taking its toll, leaving me with a restless mind, decreased self-control, and insomnia at night.
By making the development and growth of this blog a new priority in my life, not only do I get the pleasure of working on something that combines two of my personal passions (writing and health), but also the opportunity help other people like you figure out the best way to go about reaching your health goals while also working at a sedentary desk job.
I’ve spent years trying to figure it all out.
Healthy living is so simple, yet so complex.
It’s taken me years of trying and failing over and over again, spending lots of money on books and programs, and learning how to master the brutally raw and real psychological side of lifelong, good physical health.
The mind-body connection is really something that fascinates me the most.
What I’ve learned along the way is that what’s good for the mind is also good for the body, and vice versa.
I work from home as a writer and I love it, but sometimes I lose my grip over the serious health risks associated with it.
Working from from has its advantages and disadvantages, just like everything does.
I personally love that I don’t have to waste time commuting anywhere and that I have full control over my schedule. And as an extreme introvert who just wants to let her creative juices flow, I find it pretty fantastic that I never have to deal with catering to the general public or be forced to work with coworkers I don’t get along with very well.
On the flip side, my job is isolating as heck. It makes my brain hurt. It makes me forget that I even have legs.
When was the last time I left the condo? Who even knows!
You’ll find me in my home office the majority of the day.
My workspace is far from perfect, but I try.
I currently have a bunch of file folders attached to the window where my desk sits with painter’s tape, because after five gruelling months of a full condo gut and renovation, I can’t even be bothered to look for ONE MORE THING (a.k.a. blinds) to finish the place off.
To make work-at-home life even more interesting, my boyfriend (who also runs his own business) spends several hours of the day working at his own desk a mere two feet away from me in our cramped little home office.
Most of the time it’s a lot of fun because it makes my writing job a whole lot less lonesome, but occasionally it’s distracting, it’s cramped, and it fills the space with DOUBLE the amount of tense, mental and emotional energy.
I don’t follow any fad diets, or restrict entire food groups or certain foods.
Minimizing emotional eating is HARD when you’re a writer, let me tell you.
I’ve always found that when I try to follow a particular eating plan too strictly or deprive myself of certain foods I love (like carbs), my emotions have a way of winning me over, and at some point I find myself uncontrollably eating them anyway.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people who follow keto, paleo, Whole30, low-carb, vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, or any other kind of diet—if they like it and it works for them.
Everyone’s body responds to certain foods differently, and everybody has differen tastes in foods. What works for one person might not work for another.
I also enjoy incoroporating recipes that follow certain diets into my own eating habits.
Keto energy balls? Show me the recipe! Vegan tacos? Let me have it!
As such, my best success has come from mindful eating for portion control while following an 80/20 rule for nutrition (80% healthy whole foods and 20% indulgence).
This way I get to enjoy pretty much everything, I don’t fret about counting this or that, and it actually feels really natural (which it’s supposed to).
One of my most favourite things to do is try new recipes I find online.
I despised cooking in my 20s. But in my 30s?
Cooking is a new creative outlet for me. It’s totally therapeutic after a long day or week of writing, and it’s sure as heck rewarding when you find a real winner that’s worth making again and again.
My boyfriend is in the high-end kitchen design and installation business, so I was recently spoiled with a new kitchen that (I think) is to die for.
This past winter, I spent most evenings and weekends prancing around my new kitchen, glass of red wine in hand, cooking up a storm while following some too-good-to-be-true recipe I found on Pinterest.
(I’m on a bit of a wine hiatus now for the spring and summer thanks to the waistline-expanding effects of drinking it a little too frequently over the winter.)
I’m a huge yoga enthusiast.
I used to roll my eyes and grunt at the modern yoga trend, but since embarking on my own yoga journey years ago, I’ve discovered that it’s probably my favourite type of movement—both for physical exercise and mental/emotional contemplation.
I love that you can practice in ways that make it a serious workout or in ways that tone it down to focus more on flexibility, recovery, or meditation.
I also love that it involves using your body weight to work various muscles in a seemingly endless variety of creative sequences. Thanks to flowing through thousands of vinyasas and practicing countless arm balances, my upper body strength has never been better.
Unlike traditional weight lifting (which I also love to do), yoga feels more like a fun and fluid kind of dance that has less of a “gym rat” feel to it with greater emphasis on holistic wellbeing.
I love to get outside and make it a priority.
I can never underestimate the power of the outdoors on my mind and body. If you work at a desk too, you might know what I mean.
Even a short, 10-minute walk around the neighbourhood can enough. I’m lucky enough to live in a booming, trendy town right between Ontario’s Blue Mountains and Wasaga Beach, which has all sorts of great trails and views.
Let’s work together to beat this thing called sedentary work.
Given the fact that more modern jobs are requiring more time spent sitting and glued to our computers / smartphones / tablets / whatever, I’d say that making the conscious decision—EVERY DAY—to unplug and get active outside of our homes, offices, and urban environments is as important as ever.
My hope is that by sharing what I’ve learned and experienced for myself through this blog, you’ll be inspired enough to adopt good healthy habits that work for your lifestyle too.
A desk job doesn’t have to be a death sentence. And it really shouldn’t be.
We all have everything we need to offset the negative of effects of sedentary, high-stress work. The question that remains is whether or not we’re willing to put in the effort to do it—and continue doing it to maintain it over the long run.