The mystery of the standing desk.

Around Christmas time, I converted my desk to a standing desk.  I’d like to say that I did this for worthy reasons connected to reading up on the latest health news and deciding to up-level my life and increase my productivity. This would not be true. I did it (TMI warning, skip to the end of the sentence to avoid) because I had piles and it was not pleasant to sit down. I also had the feeling that it was too much sitting down which had got me into this situation in the first place.

At any rate, I grabbed a pair of speakers we had lying around from a now redundant hifi, laid them end to end on top of my desk and put my keyboard and mouse pad on them, like this:


I then had to raise my monitor on a pile of books, which is not entirely satisfactory, and it’s nowhere near eye level, but it’s not too bad.

A little while after I did this, I came across various posts from other people who were also converting their desks to standing desks, except that they were doing it for more impressively rational health reasons. I have to say that I scoffed at the idea.

My experience of working at a standing desk is that I tend to avoid starting big tasks, I walk off more often, and I can’t spend more than an hour in front of it without suffering from foot, knee and lower back pain. I have also been far more consistently tired for the last three months than ever when I was sitting down to work.

However, I recently noticed a funny thing. You know I’m on the Slimming World eating plan? I’ve been at my target weight for almost two years now, but I still go to get weighed every week so I can keep track of it and keep it under control. Before Christmas, I was having a terrible time staying in my target zone. I was sticking very strictly to my diet, not allowing myself anything at all in terms of treats – no chocolate, no bread, no alcohol etc, and I was barely holding on. If I slipped even by one chocolate biscuit in a week, I put on a pound.

Over Christmas, I ate like everyone does at Christmas and put on 5lb. Then I went back on the diet and I instituted the standing desk and I lost those 5lb in two weeks. Ever since then, I’ve been losing weight so easily there were times I was struggling to stay on target from the other direction – I had to make myself eat chocolate to avoid losing too much.

The mystery in the blog title comes from the fact that I can’t be sure this is the doing of the standing desk. At Christmas my husband lost his job and suddenly there was no money coming into the household except what I earned from writing. This undoubtedly put me under quite a bit of stress. So the stress might have caused the weight loss.

Except that normally stress causes me to comfort eat and put on weight, and I have in fact been mainlining chocolate biscuits for the last three months, which would normally result in weight gain. I’ve had stress before and it hasn’t ever caused me to lose weight before.

I have also, since Christmas, been going for a daily walk. This might be the cause of the weight loss, except that again, it doesn’t normally work that way. Normally if I exercise I immediately get extra hungry, eat all the food and put on weight.

Basically, I wouldn’t need to go to Slimming World if I wasn’t the kind of person who reacts to any and all situations by putting on weight.

So I don’t know… the one thing that’s different in all this from every time before is the standing desk. And the articles do say that among the benefits of the standing desk are an improved metabolism and a better ability to process fats and sugars. So who knows. It could be that it’s this standing up lark which is allowing me to reintroduce beer and chocolate into my life. In which case it’s well worth the foot, back, knee ache and exhaustion.

Has anyone else tried standing at their desk? How did it work for you?

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Anne Lyle
11 years ago

I’ve been considering it, but put off by the prospect of leg and back pain that I know I get when standing around for a long time. But maybe that will be a temporary thing if I spend more time on my feet?

I might give it a try at home, though – my day-job is certainly open to the idea, but you have to get a replacement desk and budgets are tight.

Char Newcomb
11 years ago

I just bought an adjustable laptop desk – – and have it positioned on a counter as a standing desk. I haven’t had a desktop computer in years and apparently, using a laptop on your lap is bad for your posture. Can you say ‘ruptured cervical disc’? That’s me. I had to curtail my laptop use significantly the last 4 weeks. I now go back and forth from sofa to standing and would love to see some weight loss but like you, I get back, knee, and foot pain when standing too long. Will keep you posted.

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