Battle of the Bulge

Back in the spring when winter’s cold faded and it was time to break out my shorts, I realized that wearing yoga pants and T-shirts for four months straight was a comfortable, but poor choice. Why? Because my shorts had actual waistbands. Let’s just say, things were not good.

I was (am) under the deadline gun and was spending every spare moment with my butt in my computer chair. This led to other problems besides an expanding backside…my sciatica started acting up and I’m not *that* old, for the love of Pete!

My husband and I had been talking about purchasing a piece of exercise equipment we could both use, and I talked him into a treadmill. I knew of other authors using a treadmill desk while writing, and something had to change in my routine, because I also knew of other authors who’d battled serious health issues due to the “writing lifestyle” which (surprise!) isn’t sitting around eating bon-bons in fuzzy kitten heels.

Finding a treadmill turned out to be easy. Go search Craig’s List or your local swap-and-shop or Play It Again Sports. Treadmills are one of those items that people purchase, use a hand-full of times before turning into a giant clothes hanger or dust receptacle. I casually mentioned my plan to a friend, and he offered up the treadmill that had been taking up a corner of his garage for a solid year. It’s not as nice as the ones found in your local gyms, but it’s electronic and better than a base model.

The only requirement is to find a treadmill with longish, straight handles for your “desk.”


Once we got the treadmill up the stairs to our playroom (which was the hardest part of the deal), I scavenged our garage and found a piece of leftover plywood. (My hubby offered to cut it off straight, and I could probably pretty it up…but do you know me? I really don’t care what it looks like:)

I initially slapped my laptop on the plywood and went to town. After a week of writing, I discovered that the solution was almost worse than the fix. I’m tall (~5ft 9in) and the plywood was too low. I was having to look down to see the monitor, and my neck and shoulders were killing me after a few hours. Plus, my old nemesis, carpal tunnel kicked in, especially my right wrist since I was using a full-size mouse.

I came up with a not very pretty but very effective solution. Two plastic bins—a bigger one for the laptop and smaller one for the mouse.

IMG_1697Yes, I am from the South, why do you ask? Does it look like the redneck treadmill desk version of a car up on jacks in the yard?

The results have been fabulous! Not only does the treadmill keep me focused, but I walk 4.5-7 miles a day when I’m writing on it (depends on how fast I reach my word count goal.) I’ve been using it regularly since the first of September. Have I lost weight? I haven’t checked, to be honest, but I feel way better. No sciatica pain and great word output.

The deets: The consensus is a 2 mph pace works well. Like I said, I’m tall and actually found myself bumping into the desk because of my long stride, but any faster jostled me too much. I compromised by raising my incline. I vary the incline from 3-6% depending on how tired my legs are. This pace/incline works great for me. I work up a sweat, but my breathing isn’t affected. Best of all, drinking coffee isn’t a problem. I can do a regular mug, but usually use the travel variety. As a side note, while I’m not particularly athletic, I am coordinated when walking. That’s what being in the marching band does for you!

The only downside is the extra typos. I don’t know whether it’s the laptop keyboard or the movement, but I definitely make more. I do all my drafting on the treadmill, but when I reach my final editing pass or when I’m doing page proofs, I sit and use my regular computer. Plus, I have a dual monitor set-up that works well when incorporating changes or referring to on-line resources like a thesaurus.

I’ve been super happy and hope I’ve inspired some of you to give the treadmill desk a shot!

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