Blog Post

Are You Too Glued to Your Computer, Too?

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

22 Responses to “Are You Too Glued to Your Computer, Too?”

  1. I agree with him. Sometimes is terrible and sooo difficult to get out of the computer because you can work in it, you can have fun, you can watch tv, you can even have an online pet. And with social communities you can make friends.

    But I’m trying to stop doing this to my self, I’m trying to walk my dog more, ride horses, and play some guitar. But everything ends in my computer. oh god!

  2. You don’t just want to take Omega 3s you also want to get your 6s and 9s. A great supplement (one of the best I hear) is Nordic Naturals 369. I’ve been using it for some time now and can truly feel a difference in the way I feel.

    Tip: You can take more than 2 a day (as noted on the bottle)

    Most people are 369 + Magnesium deficient.

  3. Tibor

    @ Pam : only one cup of café per day allowed, enough to beat Alzheimer’s disease. Too much coffee kills coffee, as Nietsche would have said. :/ As for Omega-3 I feel a huge improvement, I procrastinated only 80% of my time today. Talk about ADD. And I’ll check moxxor, the pill from down under green-lipped-mussels (erk) : apparently it’s even better, but they don’t deliver to France. Maybe it will finally unglue me.

    @ Jermaine : wow : LandRollers rock. I wonder if I can buy a pair in Paris…

  4. Getting out of the house has been a huge issue for myself as well. The easiest way for me to get out of the house and exercise was to find a partner, especially someone that will hold you accountable when you’re trying to skip out.

    I love rollerblading as well and you may want to look into LandRoller’s. I do not own a pair but some friends do and they love them –

  5. psychologyofsuccess

    I feel the same way. I like to be active but I don’t like boring exercises. I’ve always been the type of person who wants to build a skill or have fun while moving. I prefer exercise to happen as a result of my lifestyle and not as something I have to make time for in my day.

  6. @Matthew, @Sonny Gill – Thanks for sharing your tips!

    @Thomas Chai – I know what you mean about unplugging! It gets to be very hard after a while. But since I just inherited hubby’s 2G iPhone when he got a 3GS, I can always stay plugged in if I really need to.

    @Matt – I’m so happy for you! And so glad to hear that my plan is viable.

    @Tuesday Brooks – What a pretty name you have. I signed up for yoga a couple years ago and still couldn’t motivate myself to get out after a few weeks of it. I guess I need another creature’s needs to compel me because I can easily ignore my own or rationalize my way out of doing something… ;-)

    @FrenchWebWorker – Bonjour ! I know about that and it sounds awesome. I will do it one of these days. It starts at 10:00 pm and goes till 1:00 am, and I’m a morning person, normally. But It’s on my list of things to do! (Here’s the link if anyone’s interested, and note that there’s an English version:

    @Suzanne – I would go to the shelters except that because Paris is dense and real estate is expensive, the shelters are well outside of the city. Like most Parisians, I don’t have a car, and it involves a train trip… So the websites were a first step.

    @Tibor – You quit caffeine! Wow. I adore French coffee. Never drank the stuff till I moved here! I will definitely check out Dourdan-la-foret for dog play and tree hugs. And thanks for the tip on Omega 3.

    @Celes – My sister-in-law did kick-boxing and loved it. Sounds like fun!

    @Sharper Image Review – Hey, whatever works. Another sister-in-law is having real results with the WiiFit. I could only do it with the sound off though, if I could make myself do it at all!

    I got a dog on Sunday! At a shelter that was 40 minutes away by train. I love the Internet! His name is Wiley and he’s about 15 pounds of lovable mutt.

    Thanks for all your comments!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. Suzanne

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

  11. FrenchWebWorker

    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. :)

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. Matthew

    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.