Stand Up. Do Something.

standupWhat do most people do? They of course, wait for the New Year to come along. Then on Jan 1st, they want to change everything. Yes they are Superman, and they are confident they can change it all at once. They sign up for the premium gym membership (with personal training) and they clear everything from their kitchen cupboards & refrigerators (only green stuff left in the house). And expensive workout gear from Lululemon (You have to get it from Lululemon to prove that you are working out, right?).  The excitement, motivation is all there. Then what happens. Few weeks later, enthusiasm wanes and things are back to normal. If you don’t trust me, go to your gym during February. Actually things are not back to normal, they have got a little worse – you are still out-of-shape, but now you also feel like a failure.*

Stand Up; Do Something. Yes. Both figuratively, let’s say for post election or other doldrums – and, literally, for each and every one of us and our health. Stand Up; Do Something. Let’s take literally first.

To be clear, actually sitting for too long is no good for us even if we think we are doing something laudable while sitting: working, reading, writing, watching PBS… And, just in case you wondered (I did), lying down for too long is no better – except for during those 7-8 hours of precious and necessary sleep time. The reason is that the 3.8% of all deaths, due to our spending more than 3 hours/day sitting, is at root due to the inactivity of our legs, whether sitting or lying down.

Death due to more than 3 hours sitting? Yikes. I can and do top that regularly. So recently I bought a standing desk below and, although it does everything it is supposed to do, I still prefer to sit.

For one thing, sitting keeps me a better still point for my clients.** I tried a standing video conference with a client once and was fidgeting all over the place. That is, of course, why standing is good, to keep us moving, but not when and where I am meant to be still. And, truth be told, the other reason I prefer to sit is that I prefer to sit. But it’s no good. For one thing, when our “big [leg] muscles are slack…levels of blood sugar and cholesterol rise,” with deleterious effects on our metabolic processes and overall health – diabetes, cancer, heart disease, you name it.

And just in case you are wondering this too (I was), going to the gym does not erase the effects of too much sitting. Yes, it is good to exercise, and lack of exercise contributes also to our deaths. We know this about exercise. But it’s not just how long we move but how often we move as well. So, if we didn’t know before, we do know now that excess sitting is really bad for our health. The trick, however, is to know this when we need it in the moment so we can actually Stand Up; Do Something with those legs. Like what? Here are some tips adapted from the Money Crashers website:

  1. Standing desk or exercise ball chair to keep you moving throughout the day.
  1. Small drinking cups so you have to get up more often.
  1. Get up and move every 15-20 minutes or every hour on the hour for 5-10 minutes or so, walk when you are on the phone, go (walk) somewhere besides your desk for lunch.
  1. Walking meetings when possible.
  1. TV breaks, walking during commercials or doing something instead of TV altogether, like clean the house. We can also do squats and stuff while watching TV.
  1. Doing things the harder, old-fashioned way, like taking the steps instead of the elevator everyday.

Okay, well, that’s a lot of life change all at once. Enter a much more user-friendly approach: The One Degree Shift. We all know how easy it is to make life change resolutions and how hard it is to stick with them. The one degree shift is a paradigm shift on how we approach making change in our lives. The idea is basically, little by little, one baby step at a time. Thanks to our ancestors, we are all wired up to survive and to thrive. We are all wired up for the quest. The bird wants to fly. The tree wants to grow. And so do we. So anytime we find or accomplish some new opportunity or goal, we feel a surge of feel good dopamine that activates our brain’s reward system and energizes us for more. Doesn’t have to be big, one good thing leads to another, one step at a time. And doesn’t matter where you start. So, for example, to overcome the no-good metabolic “chair effect,” any one of steps 1-6 in the tips above, or some other idea of your own, is an excellent place to start.

Which brings us now to Stand Up; Do Something in the figurative sense. If things outside of your own control have gotten you down, stand up, do something, anything, take control however you can. Let’s say it’s election related or something else entirely, what is one small thing, no matter how small that you can do today to get the ball rolling in some constructive way. Some people** I know are taking one small step at a time aimed directly at curing the social injustice they see. “All I can think about now is what I can do,” said one woman whose voice lifted as she declared her intent. Others are taking steps aimed directly at addressing the personal impact of forces outside of their control. As only one example, a perhaps long overdue rethink of where to live and what work to do next. One door closes; another door opens, if we make that so. One step at a time. One thing we can do to motivate us, to move us forward, each and every day. One step at a time over time. Practice, practice, practice…and see what happens.

To work on this or something else, would love to hear from you:

Email:  Madelaine Weiss

* The One Degree Shift, Nissar Ahmed,

**Examples and illustrations are fictional composites inspired by but not depicting nor referring to any actual specific person in my practice or life experience.

Copyright © 2017. Madelaine Claire Weiss. All rights reserved.



  1. glad to see this

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