The only reason I don’t have a dog yet is the prospect of morning walks in Paris winters. But I’ve survived three of those now, and have decided I’m going to get the dog anyway. So I’ve been trolling local animal shelter sites regularly. I thought […]

addictionThe only reason I don’t have a dog yet is the prospect of morning walks in Paris winters. But I’ve survived three of those now, and have decided I’m going to get the dog anyway. So I’ve been trolling local animal shelter sites regularly. I thought I’d found one last week, but somebody beat me to him. The search goes on.

This is not only about my wanting a dog; it’s more about the lifestyle changes and bad habits that can gradually take hold when you start working from home, if you’re not careful.

Before I started working exclusively from home, I was an in-house tech writer at a software company. I lived in San Diego in a cute little shack, a block from where the San Diego River met the Pacific. There was a paved path along the river I used to rollerblade on. Six miles round trip — perfect for regular decompression and staving off full-body atrophy.

Let me be clear about one thing. I hate exercising. I like to rollerblade because I feel like a kid when I do it. The fact that it’s good exercise is just a fortunate side effect.

But after three years of working from home in Paris — not the most blade-friendly city — I’ve decided I have to make a change that will get me out of my chair more often and get the blood really flowing. I’ve noticed that I have less energy and less stamina than I did only three years ago. I don’t feel nearly as fit as I used to. In the last three years I think my caffeine intake has about tripled, too. I’m sure the two are related.

I find that these days work time at my computer blends much too seamlessly into play time at my computer. I spend far less time doing non-computer things I used to really enjoy, like cooking, and things I didn’t necessarily enjoy but was usually a little more diligent about, like cleaning the house.

Something’s gotta give. And since the cobblestones (and insane drivers) don’t lend themselves to rollerblading, I think the next best thing is walking. A dog. Frequently. Don’t worry, I’m an experienced dog mom, and getting out of the office is not my primary reason for wanting one. That would be wrong. A dog is a being, not a Bowflex.

So the plan is to find the perfect pooch, unplug a few times a day, be in the moment and the sun (at least part of the year), and stretch my lazy legs. Wish me luck.

If working from home led to lifestyle changes that you weren’t too happy about, please let us know what you did to shake things up. I could use the advice. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

Image by flickr user jpmath

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By Pamela Poole

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  1. Things I use to ensure I get some exercise as a web worker:

    Use a pedal exerciser

    Gardening – I absolutely hate it, but it needs to be done regularly to ensure you don’t get a forest. Done properly it can cause quite a sweat.

    Buy a Wii – gaming easily pulls me away from my PC (and keeps me there sometimes). The Wii has some great games that do give you a workout (Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Mario and Sonic Olympics…)

    Change shopping habits – I used to drive to the supermarket once a week and get everything I needed. Now I walk to the shops several times a week. I get exercise and my diet has become more varied.

    Put some weighing scaled next to where you work. Surprisingly you end up using them more often in my experience and it is a reminder of just how pounds you really need to lose.

  2. Thomas Chai Sunday, June 28, 2009

    I’m kinda stuck on my computer every waking hour of my life. I can’t stand to be disconnected. If I don’t have a laptop with me, I will still be connected via my iPhone or Blackberry

  3. I’m a web developer who was in a similar position a couple of years ago. In the two years since I adopted a dog, I’ve lost twenty pounds and gained a hilarious buddy.

  4. I’m on my computer and connected with my community many hours throughout the day, but finding that time to disconnect and do what you wish that doesn’t require a mouse or a keyboard is a balance everyone needs.

    I make sure to hit the gym every morning so my health isn’t at question but to rest myself mentally, I make sure I get out of the house and spend time either on my own or with friends.

    This not only helps me mentally and physically, but it helps re-energize and keep me focused on my work.

  5. Tuesday Brooks Sunday, June 28, 2009

    You are definitely not alone! I’ve had to force myself to the gym a couple days per week, with the nudging (okay, pushing) of my husband who also works from home. I sit glued to my computer (my son whining “I’m hungry” in the background)to the point that my feet swell. So, you have to make walking, exercising or something fitness related a regular part of your lifestyle. Work it in like brushing your teeth! I think the dog is a good idea.

  6. FrenchWebWorker Sunday, June 28, 2009

    If you enjoy rollerblading and live in Paris, you should get some info on the weekly rollerblade get-together there. I think it’s on Friday nights. You’ll see that cobblestones are not a problem when cruising with hundreds of other roller-bladers and a security team to hold off the cars for you. :)

  7. I have a suggestion: instead of trolling the local animal shelter websites, why don’t you go and actually troll the local animal shelters?

  8. Maybe because it’s more convenient to do it from home, and because you can often get more information on a wider variety of dogs that way? This Internet, it’s really something!

  9. As a parisian too I’ve taken three major steps :

    1- quit caffeine. For the last two days I have been drinking a french chicory beverage that looks like coffee and tastes not so bad. I have a headache now; good sign.
    2- take fish oil pills for Omega-3
    3- take the RER C to a place called Dourdan-la-foret : just 100 metres from the station there is a huge forest where I can play and dance and do some tree-hugging. You can walk your dog there, too.

  10. Celes | CelestineChua.com Monday, June 29, 2009

    Pamela, I have a problem where I’m glued to the computer too, working on my personal development business. I’m self-employed and I work at home most often, except from when I’m meeting my coachees. The most effective thing which tears me away from my computer is when I have an appointment. (That, or when I’m really dead tired.) So one of the things I’ve done lately is to sign up for a full kickboxing class. This way, I’m committed to attend the course during that duration.

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