Like many geeks out there, Kotaku writer and game player Kirk Hamilton found that working at a desk all day was making him sit a lot. In the year since he started as a full-time employee, he estimates that between working and playing games at home after work, he went from being pretty active to sitting 12 hours a day. Or more.
He also noticed that he was generally feeling worse and worse the more he sat. Then he started reading articles like this one about how bad sitting all day is for your body, so he decided to try making a DIY standing desk to see if it that could help him out:
I started homemade; I took a shelf off the bookshelf in my kitchen and placed it on two coffee cans, upon which I placed my monitor. I put another piece of wood on top of two cardboard boxes, and put my keyboard on that. Before long, I had a desk at which I could stand and work.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that, yes, this was something I was interested in. After a couple of days working while standing up (only working, mind you – playing video games didn’t come until later), I already felt better, stronger, and healthier. My legs were sore (in a good way), my posture was good all day, and I felt more focused as I worked. I decided to invest in a standing desk.
It wasn’t long before he went from using a DIY standing desk to this Ergotron model (that’s it in the picture above) and added gaming into the equation . Not only did he find it was easy to do, he realized it actually made playing games better:
Saturday morning, I got up, logged on, and started playing. Standing. And it was great. A lot of times MMO-style PC games can make me tune out a bit after a while—it’s probably due to years of console controller usage, but I don’t always feel as engaged at the mouse and keyboard as I did when I was a kid. The moment I stood up, that went away entirely. I felt present and connected to the game in a way I hadn’t in a while, alert and easily able to manipulate the game to do my bidding.
Now he’s a total convert and suggests that other gamers and desk jockeys try a standing desk. And I agree. In fact, I’m writing this post at a standing desk, and of course I’ve also gone further by creating a treadmill desk too. So, weighthackers, if you like playing games, give standing a try. I think you’ll like it.
When I decided to really* lose weight, I started by looking at all the things I knew I should already be doing but wasn’t. One of those things was exercise. When I was motivated, I could get myself to the gym 5 days a week. But I couldn’t sustain it. Pretty soon I’d be down to 1 day a week. Or 1 day a month. Or never.
So rather than beating myself up about it (my previous approach), this time I asked myself why I didn’t go more often? I mean, I was always happy to have gone to the gym. And I felt great when I did go. Then there’s all that pesky research that shows how exercise helps you lose weight, feel better, live longer, etc. There’s really no downside to it.
Except I hate it.
Okay, so why? For me, there were three main factors: 1) It’s inconvenient to go to a gym 2) I didn’t have time for it** 3) It’s B-O-R-I-N-G.
Being a reasonably smart geek, I decided that if I put my mind to it, I should be able to solve these problems. I figured out the solution 1) Needed to bring the gym to Craig instead of bringing Craig to the gym 2) Had to combine whatever this home gym activity would be with something else I was already doing 3) Had to be entertaining.
Since I spend approximately 1,000 hours a day on a computer, that seemed the most likely idea. I did briefly consider focusing my efforts on the TV, but since I work in the TV business I tend not to watch too much at home. And I can watch TV on the computer via Netflix, Hulu and those kinds of things, so the computer would be a two-for-one deal.
Once I decided that my home gym activity had to be built around using the computer, I looked at either using a stationary bike or a treadmill. Both had their pluses and minuses, but I thought walking would be easier. Plus I make sure to walk 10,000 steps a day, so a treadmill would fit in with an activity I was already working on.
If you do some Googling, you’ll find ways to make a treadmill desk for $39 and treadmill desks that cost more than $4,000. I worried that if i tried to do it myself, the project would get bogged down forever in some halfway-completed state, so that wasn’t an option. But I’m too much of a cheapinsky to spend $4,000 on a desk if I don’t have to.
I settled for something in the middle of the price range and only partly DIY. I bought a tread from TreadDesk, which was a steep $840 with another $150 for shipping. I bought a small GeekDesk frame for $525, which let’s me move the desk from a standing to a sitting position. And I found a local woodworker, Benton Custom, to make a custom wood top for me. That was just over $1,000, which frankly was a lot more than I intended to spend.
justified reasoned that if I spent invested that much money on a desk, I’d be more inclined to use it. And by making it really, really nice, I’d be doubly more inclined. You can see the end result in the pictures, and I absolutely love it.
I use the desk constantly, and far more than I thought I would. I started out with a goal of exercising on it 3 days a week, but I usually end up doing 5-7 days. I figured I’d walk for 30-60 minutes at a pace of 1-2mph, and instead I’m on it 45-90 minutes at 3-3.5mph. My goal of 10,000 steps a day often ends up turning into 15,000-20,000. And I’m never B-O-R-E-D!
The best part about using my treadmill desk is that it never feels like a chore, and it never feels like exercise. Most days I’ll get on and a half hour whizzes by before I’m done checking and e-mail and twitter. (You can follow me at @weighthacker and @craigengler by the way.) If I end up on a Reddit or BuzzFeed spree, it will all but guarantee a 60-minute or longer session.
Yes, it was hellishly expensive, but there are ways to do it pretty cheaply. And let’s be honest, I’ve probably spent more than that on unused gym memberships, and at least this actually works.
* By “really” I mean, I focused my time and resources on losing weight, I didn’t just go for a quick fix or a fad diet. I realized to lose weight I had to permanently change my life, not just hope I could magically drop all my extra pounds with some temporary change and then go back to the same way I’d be doing things.
**How did I ever “not have the time” to be healthy?!? What convenience is worth being overweight, being more likely to have chronic health problems and having a shortened life span?
Also check out: 11 gadgets that can help any geek lose weight