The Standing Desk – A Revelation in Health?

Looks comfy, hmm? And that great view...

Looks comfy, hmm? And that great view…

Ladies and gentlemen, a small but significant development in the offices of Highheelsandpinkglitter has taken place in the last week or so – I have been experimenting with the standing desk.

Throughout my working life, which now spans more years than the years I spent not working (why, why, why?) the bulk of my time has been spent stationary in front of a PC/iMac/laptop. Hence, according to experts who know stuff about the human body, my hamstrings have seized up and my glucose levels are in a permanent state of elevation. Boo.

Last week, I decided to embark on a standing desk experiment. Now, one can buy desks that are specially adapted to standing – fancy bits and pieces you can juggle around to hold your keyboard and monitor at precisely the right angle for your upright position, but I decided to go for the more basic, no-cost version.

I fetched two file folders from upstairs, positioned them on the kitchen counter and propped the laptop on top.

So, my wrists are in freefall  – I am not sure if this has long-term health implications for them, but heck standing does feel a lot more comfortable than sitting all day. Particularly as I, ahem, had elected to do so at the dining table sat on a dining chair and not one of those proper back support computer chairs.

I started a discussion on LinkedIn – does anyone else use a standing desk? A lot of people replied; yes, they do, yes they prefer it. A lot of them included useful links to sites which outlined the virtues of standing rather than sitting, or lists of famous authors who have done so (and when they died – now, not all of them reached a grand old age).

Anyway, here are the reasons why you should ensure that you’re not sitting down for the majority of your day:

Sitting for too many hours a day is harmful to health. It increases your risk of cardio vascular disease and cancer, and offsetting this with exercise (two and half hours in the gym a week) doesn’t seem to counter the risk.

Certain studies have shown that it is better for your health to be active all day – stand as much as you can, walk around, take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, do household chores, get off the bus one stop early etc – than sitting all day and then going to the gym for an hour. I know what I’d rather do…

Whole body muscular inactivity – or sitting for long period – can also increase the risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors – high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides, Low HDL (or good) cholesterol that increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Sitting all day causes weakness in the gluteus maximus (I’ve always loved the Latin name for one’s bottom), which results in lower back pain. It also causes poor posture because of poor alignment of the neck, shoulder and back, fatigue in the limbs, painful leg cramps and clots.

And finally, standing burns roughly 50 calories an hour more than sitting. Now that figure stacks up and anything that increase my calorie count over the day is good with me.

For further reading, there’s an interesting account of a standing desk experiment here, and for a great infographic, see this one on mashable. And finally, if you do elect to stand for your working day, it feels like the most incredible luxury to finally sit down at the end of the day… (Promise).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones

Don't throw away your chicken bones folks...

Don’t throw away your chicken bones folks…

I am taking my new-found conversion to carnivore very seriously indeed: today found me creating bone broth having read so many people enthusing about it online.

Basically, it’s stock – the long, slow cooking of bones and vegetables until you have a densely flavoured liquid you can use either as a flavouring for gravies, risottos, soups or drink it as it is. Enthusiasts claim all kinds of marvellous qualities for broth – immune system bolstering, hair, skin and nail improving, cellulite curing and gut healing.

Sadly, no-one said: “Actually, this truly amazing broth also turns you into THE most skilled writer, capable of rattling off 20,000 witty words a week that everyone wants to read. AND it kills off any desire to drink red wine.”

Still, worth a try for the qualities quoted in the second para if not the third hmm? As is my wont, I researched recipes online and then cobbled something together of my very own, using the world’s most marvellous culinary creation – the slow cooker.

Bone Broth AKA Chicken Stock:

  • 500g (roughly) chicken bones*
  • 2tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots,, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 8-10 black peppercorns, ground in a pestle and mortar (optional, I put these in because I like heat)
  • Handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Handful fresh sage leaves

Put all of the ingredients into your slow cooker and cover with cold water. Place on a low setting and cook for roughly 4-18 hours (the longer you leave it, the more mineral content you get out of the bones). You may need to top the water levels up from time to time. Strain once finished and use the liquid for stock or add a little sea salt to taste and drink as a broth.

 

 

*You can store chicken bones in the freezer until you’ve built up enough of a quantity.

 

 

5:2 Sticking with the Eating/Starving Thing?

I’ve blogged a couple of times about the 5:2 diet… Being something of an internet research nerd (a fun way to pass a few hours when you’re bored), I’d noted mention of this diet online several weeks ago and investigated.

The basic premise is – for two, non-consecutive days a week, you eat a mere 500 calories a day (600 if you’re a bloke) and then eat normally for the rest of the week. Et voila – weight loss! Improved health! Decreased risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s!

I could pretend I did it for the slightly nobler improved health, lowering the risk of contracting nasty illnesses reasons, but that would be a lie. The promise of weight loss lured me in and I tried the plan for three weeks.

Pluses – I lost five pounds and my stomach feels a lot flatter.

Minuses – those two days are MURDEROUSLY hard… Funnily enough, as the day goes on it seems to get easier, but first thing in the morning the thought of not eating very much all day feels like the most enormous hurdle to get over. And that is why I’m not doing it anymore.

Short term, I’ll probably try it again (shock news revelation, bride-to-be tries extreme diet ahead of wedding), but in the long term, I’m taking my chances with dementia and the Big C.

Together Forever… Whatever?

In precisely eight months’ time, I get to stand up in front of beloved family and friends and say: “I do.” (Should Mama Nature spare us and providing neither of us decide there is a better other half out there – y’know I can’t predict the future.)

Neither of us are religious: I am an out and out non believer and my fiancé describes his religious beliefs as “weak and conventional”. So, we have chosen a registrar wedding rather than a religious service.

The privilege of this is that one does get a say on one’s vows. My fiancé is pretty excited about this. He reckons he can work in something which results in me vowing to be his lawfully wedded wench, possibly also resurrecting the obey bit (as if!) whilst I am wondering about a long term promise, via wedding vows, to always fetch me wine when I ask, and forgive me my grumpiness as I forgive those who grumpy against me.

I’m very fond of my engagement ring…

One wedding vow I have been mulling over is the “in sickness and health bit”. Thanks to having relatives that lived to very old age (the magnificent Granny B lived to 101) and perhaps through a heightened awareness of the issue because of the organisation I work for, this one’s a bit of a clincher…

Some 17 years ago, my fiancé had a bad motorbike accident; unconscious for a long time, blood transfusion, permanent disfigurement etc. His future is likely to include a walking stick at the very least. I myself have a chronic condition which means cataracts may blind me, dialysis is a possibility and heart disease four times more likely. The ‘in sickness’ bit is just that bit much more likely to happen.

Projections for the future estimate that three in five of us will end up in an unpaid caring role. That brings with it all sorts of challenges – a relationship changing, the loss of independence, equality, finances and savings, not to mention loneliness, isolation and resentment.

Fate works in its own wee way. And there are plenty of self help tomes which will recommend that you always live in the present.

In sickness and in health… With the intelligent bit of ourselves, we can work out that the ‘in sickness’ bit is much more probable. Does that put me off? Not a chance!

 

Eat salmon and lose wrinkles?

Can you believe it – two close friends are getting married this Saturday and, short of the ability to split in two, we can only attend one.

So, Pam and Keith’s it is. I can’t wait as Pam is a dear family friend so the wedding is also an opportunity to catch up with family and lots of wonderful people.

I’m also experimenting… I first read about the Facelift Diet in 2004; created by Dr Perricone, basically it involves eating salmon two or three times a day, no processed foods, lots of green veg and water, and a little bit of fruit for three days straight.

So, in the interests of proper science, I took a picture of my face this morning (sans make-up! Honestly, I put make-up on to put the bins out) and will compare and contrast on Thursday, by which time I’m guessing I’ll probably not want to eat salmon again for a long, long time…