Liz Welch at Inc. Magazine interviewed me in 2010 as part of her regular “The Way I Work” series. I had just moved to Seattle as part of my overall goal of (occasionally) detaching myself Silicon Valley.
In the article I talk about my erratic sleep patterns and my overall weight gain – some 50 pounds since I started TechCrunch in 2005.
In the year since I visited a sleep center and began focusing on getting enough sleep at regular hours. After a year of that my life has changed dramatically for the better. But the weight just kept creeping up. In the late summer 2011 I was a good 70 pounds heavier than I was when I started TechCrunch. And probably 90 pounds over my ideal weight.
Basically, I’m fat.
Being fat sucks. I’m not talking about the way I look. I’ve always been fairly comfortable in my own skin. But there are a whole bevy of health issues that fat people have to deal with. You don’t live as long as you should, and your quality of life is diminished substantially.
I’m trying to take control of this issue in my own way, and for the last several weeks I’ve been experimenting with a complete shift in lifestyle. So far, so good. And since a lot of people in our world deal are dealing with weight gain and health issues resulting from sitting in front of a computer for 16 hours a day, I thought I’d share.
The lightbulb went off in my head as I was reading Neal Stephenson’s new book Reamde (buy it here). In the book a character works at his computer from a treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical machine.
That prompted me to research “treadmill desks” and read about people’s experiences with them. Some people can’t stick with it, but a lot do. And the benefits are staggering. You’ll burn an extra 150 calories or so per hour. Most people say that they’re significantly more alert during the day, and they sleep much better at night.
So I jumped in. I elected not to buy a $5,000 unit (there are a couple out there), and building one myself seemed like too much trouble. Instead I bought a “TrekDesk” on Amazon and a cheap treadmill. I’ve been walking at 1.5 mph for 7-8 hours a day on average over the last few weeks. Some days I’m logging over 15 miles walking.
That’s not all though. I’m also using a Withings wifi scale to track my weight, and I’ve shared it with friends so they can keep an eye on it. The scale itself works great. The software is terrible but it does the job.
The final product I’m using is a Jawbone Up device. It’s a pedometer (very handy), it tracks sleep and it has a vibrating alarm feature to wake me up – much like the Lark device that I love so much. The only complaint I have about the Jawbone Up is that it doesn’t track steps very well on a treadmill with my hands up at a keyboard. But from what I can tell all pedometers seem to have this problem.
Things are just getting started. But the fact that I’m sleeping properly and have revamped my diet with my doctor, combined with actually walking miles and miles a day, has already had a profoundly positive effect on me.
I’ll update in a couple of months with any progress. If all goes well, in a year or two my body may have forgiven me for the TechCrunch years. We’ll see.