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I’m a Standing-Desk Failure

Photo by Edith Young.

I realized I was failing at my standing desk when someone pitched a story about failing at a standing desk and our Editorial Director looked me straight in the eye as if to say: “Want to take this, Haley?”

“EXCUSE ME,” I replied, brows raised, “BUT I’M UNQUALIFIED TO WRITE SUCH A STORY.”

That was just my pride/brows talking, though. I am very much qualified. In fact, I’m sitting right now!

Remember a few years ago when every media outlet broke the news that sitting was killing us? That was fun. Under the headline, “Sitting is the New Smoking: Ways a Sedentary Lifestyle is Killing You,” the Huffington Post wrote, “From the driver’s seat to the office chair and then the couch at home, Americans are spending more time seated than ever, and researchers say it’s wreaking havoc on our bodies.” That was September 2014. I read it in my cushy office chair, spine curled ever-so-gently in the shape of a large serving spoon.

“People who sit too much every day are at an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and shorter life spans, even if they exercise, a new study finds,” wrote LiveScience a couple months later. Around the same time, CNN reported that sitting for eight to 12 hours a day increased your risk of getting type 2 diabetes by, wait for it, 90%. The World Health Organization cites physical inactivity as the fourth-leading risk factor for death, by the way. DEATH.

(I’m sorry if you’re sitting right now. I hope you’re okay.)

Suddenly, the benefits of standing desks were touted ad nauseam. All the cool kids were standing. Or maybe it was the nerdy kids. I can’t responsibly say, because I was one of them. I stood almost every day at my last job. I felt very important and healthy. But as soon as I left the San Francisco tech bubble, the whole thing went to pot. In New York, I became a sentient chair, writing until the wee hours of the morning as my body sank deeper into my living room couch. I was transforming into Gollum.

Shockingly, my back starting giving me trouble. I knew I ought to start standing again. A quick Google of “cardboard standing desk” turned up one by Oristand that was super chic and only $29 + shipping. Click!

“I’m buying this standing desk,” I wrote in our team Slack channel around two months ago. “Let me know if you want in.” Five people jumped and two minutes later, I placed a group order for $150. We all held our chins a little higher that day, already looking down on our lowly, seat-bound colleagues.

When the desks arrived, I was giddy. I deposited them around the office like a smug Santa. I then set my own up — it only took a minute! this is not sponsored! — and was flying high. By day two, though, I was already justifying spurts of sitting. I’d once heard you were supposed to alternate between sitting and standing anyway. Good for the veins! At least that’s what I told my coworkers/self whenever I sheepishly broke the desk down. That breakdown process, by the way, was at times more than my lazy ass could handle. Sometimes I’d sit down while the desk was still erected.

Standing desk hack. Yw @harlingross

A post shared by Haley Nahman (@halemur) on

I mean, it is a hack.

At some point, my desk grew a little messy. No room for the box. Then I got busy. No time to put it up! I was a barrel of excuses. At least I wasn’t alone, though. I watched as my compatriots’ standing desks became cardboard bookshelves or under-desk junk or aisle blockers. I think we all hoped no one noticed. The only person who kept hers up was Leslie, our Editorial Director. Which brings me to that look she gave me earlier this week vis-à-vis the pitch for this very story: “Want to take this, Haley?”

So fine. It’s true. I suppose I’m a standing-desk failure. But I haven’t given up hope. I will not become Gollum. I’m going to stand. Just as soon as I’m done sitting.

Have you failed a standing desk lately?

Haley Nahman

Haley Nahman

Haley Nahman is the Features Director at Man Repeller.

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