I Gave Up Sitting Too Long for a Month (and Failed)

I gave up sitting too long - The Hot Mess Press

In the last few years, studies have shown that sitting for too many hours of the day can detrimentally affect your health. It’s like sitting is the new smoking (no word yet on what the “new sitting” will be, but I’m taking bets on it being social media). Apparently, getting enough movement in your day lowers your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. None of those sound fun. To that end, I decided to incorporate this in my year-long, changing-by-the-month give-stuff-up challenge. So, I gave up sitting too long for a month. And I failed, miserably.

If you don’t stand for something…

When I assigned myself this challenge, I didn’t think it’d be too difficult. All I had to do was get up and move around every hour or so. Maybe I’d make more of an effort to get outdoors. Maybe I’d improve my posture. Perhaps this was the secret key to world peace all those Instagram influencers seem to be hiding. I figured I’d allow myself some grace – you can’t really just get up at a crowded theatre and go for a stroll, for example. But I could certainly make a point to stand up at my desk every half hour or so. Easy peasy!

And then it happened…CORONAVIRUS.

In truth, my husband and I were already in voluntary quarantine at the start of April, when our state, Georgia, officially declared everyone should do so. But still – the pandemic threw our world for a loop. My husband is asthmatic, and therefore high-risk. So we were contending with a “new normal” the way everyone was doing and trying to make sure he stayed healthy. Suddenly, a “sitting too long” challenge didn’t just seem difficult. It was not a priority at all.

What I learned by failing

I did so well with my previous challenges and I’m a perfectionist, so not completing this one was a gut-punch to my ego. Fortunately, I have taken the lessons from NOT succeeding and am already learning from them. The first lesson was that I didn’t define this challenge clearly enough. I half-assed it. I could have said “I’ll set a timer on my phone for every hour to remind me to get up for at least five minutes, and only stay seated if I am at some type of function where I cannot get up.” I didn’t do that at all. Goals take dedication and planning of some sort. Even if you want you goal to be framed with more positivity – like “I will stand for my health at least once an hour” – you need to give yourself some clear guidance. 

Second, I learned that it is okay to be gentle with yourself in times of crisis. Once the initial scare of the pandemic faded, my anxiety did as well. But honestly, in the beginning, I did not handle it well. I searched for ways to build equipment that would allow me to revive a revenue stream I used to have, I considered selling my car, and I actually dropped out of a class I was taking. (A day or two later when I realized the mistake I made, they mercifully let me return, as it had moved online.) Very quickly, I realized that there are times when it is okay to not be okay. I took a step back, took things a day at a time, and stopped worrying about “challenges”. I just did what was in front of me. And that’s okay.

What now?

It’s May, and I’ve moved on to a new challenge that is going well. It is very easy to define and execute, so it’s actually not felt like a hardship. I may try this past month’s challenge again sometime this year. Maybe then I’ll be able to say that I gave up sitting too long for one month, and failed to fail!

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