Desk Chair Jockey: Adding Fitness to Fight Fatigue at Work

Exercise has always been my Achilles’ heel.  I chalk it up to the fact that in High School the only reason I ever exercised was because my basketball coach was screaming, “push yourself, run faster, time’s almost up!”  Now that ten years and three babies have elapsed, I have to find intrinsic motivation to get the workout done.  I no longer stand all day taking money from people as my job, so I also have the disadvantage of a job that keeps me on my butt most of the day long.  While researching ways to fight fatigue, as I sit on my rear, I came across some advice and hints on making the most of the desk job day, in which I could stretch and burn some calories as well.

In an article on Mayo Clinic’s website, I found that one of the single greatest things to fight fatigue besides getting extra sleep at night is to stay hydrated.  Drinking water is a healthy way to perk your alertness and has the additional benefit of keeping you focused, helping you do your job better.  While caffeine is my usual go-to (at least three cups in the morning), water helps you better battle your day instead of leaving you dragging after your squirrel-on-drugs moment of instant effectiveness.  In fact, as I write this, I have already taken my own instruction and drank several Styrofoam gulps of water to improve my advice.

The website also offers some great examples of stretching that can be done at your desk or in your workspace.  My favorites are the “not-so-obvious-because-I-work-at-a-school-and-don’t-need-people-to-look-at-me-like-I’m-a-fool” stretches.  The first is the shoulder stretch.  This stretch also works well as a cool down after a strenuous exercise.

A) Lifting your arm at the elbow, pull your arm across your chest and hold for fifteen to thirty seconds.

B) Tension should be felt through the back of your shoulder.

C) Upon completion, switch to your other arm and repeat the stretch.  Do as many as you feel adequately gets  you  relaxed.

The second stretch is called a “chin tuck.”  This type of stretch is simple enough to incorporate during the day; however, I don’t recommend doing them while your boss is around because he or she might suspect that you are sleeping.

A) Facing straight ahead, lower your chin to the chest and hold for fifteen to thirty seconds.

B) Relax and bring your head back to the starting position.  Repeat, again, as often as you feel warrants it.

If you think you’ll just never make it to the gym, or are like me and enjoy your afternoon snack too much, there are even ways to burn calories at your desk.

A)  Standing, amazingly, is one of these ways.  Take opportunities to stand and walk, like delivering a message by   hand instead of through text or e-mail, and you will burn as you go.

B)  If you’d like something more productive, exchanging your desk chair for a fitness ball will promote core strengthening, as well as a little bounce in your day!

C) You could also keep fitness equipment nearby.  Using small hand weights to do bicep curls as you work on a project can help you strengthen and shred.

D)  Taking up meetings on the go is another way to incorporate brisk walking – and the faster the pace, the more calories you cut.

If you are less inhibited by the type of exercise you do in public, then the Abdominal Crunch Desk Exercise is for you.  In his article “5 Desk Exercises for Your Busy Office” on, Joshua Riddle describes a core strengthening and better posture promoting exercise that is as fun as it is effective.  The more people you can get involved, the more laughter you encourage in your workplace, which we know leads to a happier mood as well.  I would guess that the two o’clock slump is the best time to try this exercise.

A)           Sit on the edge of a seat.

B)            Lean back from your waist, keeping your back straight.

C)            Hold the seat of the chair with both hands.

D)           Lift both legs up, keeping your knees bent while tightening your abdominal muscles.

E)            Straighten your legs, holding your heels a few inches off the floor.

F)            Repeat steps D and E until you’ve done ten repetitions.

For more ideas and articles related to improving your health during your tied-to-the-desk days, check out the above links.  Happy Exercising!


My Love-Hate Relationship with the Streets of Longview, Texas


Since being transplanted from the highways and interstates that crisscrossed Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Longview, Texas nearly nine years ago, I have grown to have a love-hate relationship with the streets and country roads of this smaller metropolitan area.  In my daily commute I’ve noticed streets I fancy and those I loathe – both of which I’ll go out of my way to traverse or avoid.  The following are examples of my favorites and most hated.

If I am in a Starbucks mood, I travel on Hawkins.  I currently live outside the city limits, so Hawkins is my way to get to everything that I find enjoyable.  It not only provides easy access to one Starbucks, but two palaces of caffiene explosions to help me get through my day.  My first favorite hot spot on Hawkins is going East, just after Bill Owens Parkway.  Here there is a little place I call the “Weee” spot.  It is at the entrance of Ben Hogan Drive and as you come over the road there is a little rolling hill that your right tires glide over and for a moment, you feel like you are flying.  When I have my children with me, they say “Weee” with me.  I pray that the City of Longview never destroys my “Weee” spot.


On my way home, I also come back using Hawkins in order to pick up my daughter from day care in Spring Hill.  Going west, just after Bill Owens and between Gilmer Road there is a byway that saves me a couple of red lights.  It’s Heritage Boulevard, a road splitting several developed neighborhoods, so it’s easy on the eyes too.  It is also fun to take, because you don’t have to stop for a sharp curve to the right, but instead, as if you were on a on-ramp, you smoothly speed on by, no right turn signal needed.  You live in Longview, Texas long enough and you too will get excited about pseudo on-ramps.


Now Hawkins does have one drawback, but usually not big enough for me to bypass it completely.  If you are coming north on 4th street, in attempt to turn right on Hawkins to get to a) the other Starbucks on your work’s side of town or b) movies, shopping, and yummy eateries, you have to traverse the seemingly infinite stopping zone on 4th between Loop 281 and Hawkins.

Let’s say you want to turn right on Hawkins.  There isn’t really that much room to zoom past the car in front of you in the left hand passing lane, without invariably having to screech your brakes at the F250 trying to turn left to go into Lowes.  Your best bet to successfully make the right turn is to stay in the right lane.  However, there are eleven right turns before the one you want to make at Hawkins.  Why eleven you ask?  Their names are Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Chick-Fil-A, and Taco Bueno.  There has to be plenty of ins and outs to those major Longview markets.

Fourth Street also leads to some more loved-hated places.  One of the biggest time wasters for a yield sign is towards downtown Longview at the intersection of 4th   Street and 6th Street.  Of the 78,038 population in Longview, I believe 100 of us know that it is a triangle that says “YIELD” and not an octagon that says “STOP”.  There is even a road it gives us to yield in, but 77, 938 people are blind to this fact.  I don’t know how to re-educate all these people that supposedly passed their driver’s tests.  If you have suggestions, please give.

If I continue going on 4th street towards my daughter’s day care, I choose to turn left on Pegues Place towards Judson Road.  About a year ago, this street was a hated way because of widening construction on the curbs.  However, it has once again been endeared to my heart because I find the homes along this street gorgeous.  For the thirty seconds it takes me to drive through this area, I feel transported to Rice Village in Houston, where my sister lived while in college.  Driving Pegues Place reminds me of the grandeur of homes found in Houston, and how much I need to see my sister.

One last hated place remains – at least of what I can think of currently, I’m sure more will inspire me to blog again.  I hate, hate, hate driving south of Cotton Street.  Why the City of Longview spends so much developing the northern area and not trying to improve the southern area, I will never know.  However, if you are going to attend LeTourneau University, going south on Mobberly Avenue and driving by yuck is about the best way to get there.   When you finally reach LETU, there is nothing in the vicinity to entice college bound students except for the Bodacious BBQ across the street.  However, with its ultra conservative reputation, maybe LETU likes it that way.

To end on a happy, warm-feeling, note, I will describe not one, but two loved drive-bys.  These are definitely not places for drive-by shootings, but for drive-by “photo-op”ings.  I love taking a leisurely drive on H.G. Mosley Parkway from Judson Road all the way to Loop 281.  The stretch on this way between Fairmont and Highway 80 used to be so ugly with overgrown trees, weeds, and bushes, but recent development makes the Pine Tree District appealing to live in.  From Highway 80 to Cotton Street, you get to take a nice curve around that almost makes you feel like you are in a convertible, hugging a mountain with a beautiful seaside retreat in the distance, with all the aura of a commercial – even when in actuality you are in a junky Mitsubishi Montero sport with the windows rolled down because your air conditioner goes out in the summer months.  Everyone say it with me, “Ahhhhhh!”

I also love driving on Fairmont.  It starts out kind of junky from Gilmer Road, but I love passing Pine Tree High School.  This bit is nostalgic for me.  No, I didn’t go there and graduate from there, but I definitely still learned a lot about life, teaching, and me.  I completed my student teaching there and was hired upon completion of my post-baccalaureate teaching certification.

My first year I made truckloads of mistakes.  I didn’t receive much guidance from the then principal – had he observed me my first year, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gotten to teach the other two that I was there.  I had some great guidance from two seasoned teachers that first year however.  I had some great students too.  Some helped me; some helped me learn that I was not cut out for teaching.  I persevered, hoping it would get easier through the years.  It didn’t.  I was the type of person that thought if they really liked me, then they would learn!  Needless to say, that philosophy didn’t pan out and I was canned after my third year.  The students might not have learned how to write properly, but I sure hope they learned something about life.  Maybe it was the simple fact that I cared, or that they learned how to further manipulate to get their way.  While I hope it wasn’t the latter, I hope I mattered in some way to each of them.  They mattered to me.

I find it hard to drive byPine Tree High School.

Fairmont is a favored street, but it is a hard street.  I have to face my failure when I think about driving down that road.  It is bittersweet, a definite love-hate relationship.