By Assunta Ng
Most people say I am skinny, but I consider myself fit.
I wasn’t that skinny and fit a while back, though. And I think it doesn’t matter whether you are skinny or fat, as long as you are healthy and feel energetic.
“What’s the secret?” several friends have asked.
Fitness gurus will say if you want to lose weight, you have to eat less and exercise more.
That’s not the case with me. I eat a lot. I never skip meals. In between my three meals, I treat myself to one or two snacks. I don’t diet. I try to eat healthy foods at home (more veggies and less meat), but my job requires me to participate in numerous social functions each week, which are loaded with unhealthy foods.
But I also walk more than five miles a day. According to my pedometer, I usually log in six to eight miles daily.
TV talk show host Dr. Oz says that people who watch four hours of television each day have a shorter lifespan compared to people who watch only two hours. That same theory will apply to people who sit in front of a computer for hours each day.
You don’t see me playing mahjong because it involves hours of sitting at the mahjong table, which really affects your circulation and undoubtedly increases your belly size.
So how do I avoid sitting for too long?
1. Convenience is the enemy of fitness
A New York Times article said if you have to drive to do anything and everything, you are not able to live a healthy life. If you live far away from work, school, and friends, it might be hard to exercise your body. Your car may be convenient, but you should use it less often. People love to park next to the store. I tend to park away from the store, so I can get a few more steps in each time I shop.
2. No Internet shopping
I am the type of shopper that Amazon hates. I avoid shopping online. I have fun shopping onsite, feeling the items. I enjoy going to grocery stores, squeezing the oranges, picking out the tomatoes, checking food labels, and talking to friends when they pass by. If you are on the computer for 10 hours a day without taking breaks, you are building up toxins in your body. It’s harmful to your back, shoulder, and neck. One day, a relative of mine was unable to get up and move one morning because he was too stationary. The doctor said he had ‘frozen shoulders.’ It took him a long time to recover.
For every hour I work on the computer, I remind myself to get up and wander back and forth in my office.
3. Comfort is the enemy of fitness
When we built the Northwest Asian Weekly building, the architect suggested that I also build a small toilet in my office, so that I didn’t have to walk across the hall to use the rest room. He was being thoughtful.
“The pipes are there,” he said. “All you have to do is OK it.”
But I don’t want to be that lazy. I didn’t want to be tied down all day long. Bathroom breaks force me to get up and stretch my legs. (Incidentally, some people think they are smart in owning an electric mahjong table, so they don’t need to shuffle the mahjong pieces. It really is not a good idea to play mahjong so intensively without ever extending your hands at all.)
Each of us should examine our lifestyle and see if our lives are inundated with too much comfort and too many luxuries.
4. Stand when browsing the Internet
In the morning, I stack boxes on top of each other in my kitchen so I can view my iPad at eye level. Some banks have built stand-up sections for their bankers to do their work. One staff member at the Seattle Chinese Post has also placed her keyboard on top of a plastic container so she can stand while working. Mixing your computer work with sit downs and stand ups will ease your back and make your posture better.
5. How I watch TV
Of course, I watch television, but I don’t glue myself to it. What I usually do is multitask. I listen to it when I am doing something else, like ironing, exercising, or eating dinner. Listening is sometimes even better than watching.
That’s why I refuse to watch TV programs on the Internet, even though it’s free. It demands that someone sit close to the computer. Those free long-distance calls via Skype or video conferencing, I say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Get a cordless phone, so you can move around.
6. Volunteer to walk and stand
When staff needs to deliver an ad proof for customers in the International District, I volunteer because I like taking the 5-minute walk. I grab every opportunity to stay away from the ‘box.’ Middle-aged folks have irremovable fat on their bellies. I don’t have that problem.
I used to go to Uwajimaya once a day to check to see if the Northwest Asian Weekly supply needed to be replenished. Sometimes, I grumbled that I had to do it more than once a day.
Now, I consider it a blessing to go two or three times a day. It just means folks love reading our paper. And I can add mileage onto my pedometer.
When I go to shows or the movies, I actually go and stand to the side or at the back to watch after the first hour. I learned it from my friend Jane, who always stands at the back of the room for many events. It’s just too much time spent confined in a sitting position.
7. Movies are not on my list
My family and I used to be crazy about movies. Now, I’ve cut down. It involves too much sitting, and seeing too many movies is a waste of money. Unless the movie is so great that I can’t resist, I usually wait to see movies on DVD, so I can watch them at home and do other things simultaneously. Also, I can divide the movie into two parts to watch it on two separate days.
8. Say no to meetings
At this time in my life, I am not eager to join any boards. My biggest concern is the meetings. I always say to friends, “Give me a task if you think I can help, but don’t expect me to go to any meetings.” I don’t mind it when meetings are held and end on time. But some meetings linger on some minor issues and personality conflicts.
Besides, a lot of things can be done over e-mail. When I hold meetings, I am very thoughtful. They last only an hour.
9. How I tackle events
If I count the number of events I have to attend during the year, it’s more than 100. Luckily, I have my camera, which gives me an excuse to travel all over the room and chat with people. If no pictures are needed, I follow Jane’s example. I hop to the back of the room and stand.
The Northwest Asian Weekly organizes several events during the year, and we are aware of not making the same mistakes other event organizers make. Be respectful of guests’ time and remember that sitting too long is bad for our bodies. We are proud to say that our last five events ended ahead of schedule. Both the Pioneers Dinner and Top Contributors Dinner programs finished in 45 minutes, done by 8:15 p.m. The Women of Color Empowered lunches are one hour, done by 1 p.m. The Children’s Lunar New Year Parade was done in 20 minutes. (end)