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Get Up and Get Moving

I’m a perfect example of how working from home can greatly affect your health if you are not careful.  For the last few years I’ve been working from home and attending college online. I finally graduated with my MBA in June 2013 after attending school for 5 years. During that time I also completed my BA, taking a mere 6 weeks off before starting my MBA. I’ve been tied to the desk and my home office for hours and hours reading, researching, and writing. Once school was done I would write more for client work.

It looks good on the surface. But the damage to my body is something that should be addressed.

I suffer from degenerative disc disease, which I was diagnosed around 2006. A few years ago I found out I have osteoarthritis in my hips. The DDD caused severe sciatica pain and to overcome that pain while sitting for long periods of time I started to lean and shift. During this time I damaged my left clavicle and I am convinced that never healed correctly. I tried ergonomic chairs and all the tools of the trade for my desk but it did not seem to help.  All of these battles eventually caused my body to shift.

It’s easy to hide in clothing. When I am standing people don’t seem to notice too much. But I know it’s there and I know the pain I feel when I do walk. A few years ago I wrote a post about it when I really started to notice it. There are pictures, so fair warning. (I’m in the process of merging my old health site with this one, so pardon the dust.)

My right shoulder has dropped 4 inches (at last measure) most likely because of the way I started to shift and sit in order to keep the sciatica pain at pay. My right leg was already shorter to begin with because of the DDD that had developed and even worse as the osteoarthritis set in.

While visiting my favorite work from home forum, Work Place Like Home, I came across a post for “If Your Work or Home Life Involves Sitting, You Really Should Watch A 3-Minute Clip About… Well, Sitting!” from Upworthy. The short video is about the basics of good posture and the dangers of sitting.

This was really an eye opener for me. Over the years I tried so many different things. Sitting on an exercise ball. Setting up an alarm system to take breaks and do little desk and office exercises. A $300 ergonomic chair with special lumbar support.

For whatever reason (mostly the deadline for a research paper) would cause me to turn off the alerts and get rid of the ball.

Now my body has formed this C shape because of the shoulder drop and slouch. I tried using a back brace but I think maybe I need to be fitted professionally because after a while it no longer seemed to fit right.

My doctor and chiropractor have basically told me to lose weight and strengthen my core. I guess the crookedness will just work itself out. Right?

I’m going to be 39 this year and I’ve become extremely depressed about how my body looks and wondering if my work at home lifestyle contributed to some of it. I’ve been battling it unsuccessfully for a few years now. I’m hoping that by opening up to the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle when battling PCOS, DDD, and osteoarthritis I will find others with the same battle or at the very least, help someone along the way.

So follow me as  embark on my journey to clean up my work from home lifestyle and be “best by 40.”

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  1. I worked in retail through high school and my associated degree. Then, came the office jobs and other training and certifications. I lost a lot of weight and began running while working an office job but degenerative disc disease set in right about the time I switched careers/jobs. Trying to learn a new job that was much further from home put a damper on my eating and working out. Now I work from home and live in a rural area and I just don't have the time, money, or patience to join a gym. I have plenty of workouts and equipment to use here at home. My problem is I don't schedule time for myself to do them. I need to stop doing that and stick to my schedule. Working from home also makes it easy to drop by the kitchen for a snack.

    Thanks for stopping by Rabia, it is very nice to meet you.

  2. I have worked in an office for the past two and a half years. Before that I taught school for 8 years. The teaching was much easier on my body. I was on my feet walking around all day; moving constantly. Now, however, I sit at a desk most of the day and rarely make the effort to get up and move. I've gained weight and I feel less healthy. I really need to make a better plan for myself!

    I'm looking forward to getting to know you this week as part of the SITS tribe building challenge.

  3. I'm sure all my past jobs have something to do with the way my body is now. It just seems that during school and working from home, with all the constant sitting, all hell broke lose.

    I have the instructions and exercises from my original chiro when I was first diagnosed with the degenerative disc. I need to start using those again.

    Also, I have a Back2Life machine that my mother purchased for me 2 Christmas's ago : http://www.getback2life.com/, So I should start using that on a more conistent basis.

    Right now I can't afford the 2-3X a week PT co-pay. Hopefully that will change when husband graduates and starts working full-time.

    I'm having troubles with my weight again. I just can't seem to get that part of my life under control.

  4. Considering the damage I did working in an office I suspect you can do harm to yourself regardless of where you work, it is more how you work. The reality is because you are at home, you do have the advantage of changing your work environment. When I did office work, I got what I got and was told to deal with it. Taking breaks was not highly encouraged even when my work was finished.

    My point is I wouldn't beat yourself up. Even people who do the right stuff find themselves with back problems. Sometimes it is just the equipment you are born with and you have to manage with it. You can't beat yourself up over it.

    You are working on your weight and that has been clear for a while now. I would also find out from the chiro and doctors what kinds of PT and PT exercises could help the situation. Additionally a PT might be able to direct you to what kinds of core strengthening exercises are appropriate for someone with your physical challenges.

    General suggestions are all fine and good, but practical application is what makes it real.

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