Friday, September 30, 2011

Some of My Favorite Things

by Barbara Early

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens… or so the song goes. Julie Andrews sang about her favorite things in a delightful little song-and-dance number. When I think of my favorite things, certainly curling up in an overstuffed chair--reading, of course--ranks right up there. I also enjoy writing, spending time on Facebook, playing Scrabble online, and watching good movies--especially old musicals. And I sing along--loudly.

Notice anything these activities have in common? 

They're all pretty much sedentary. Pair that with some unhealthy affections for food (and some affection for unhealthy food) and I'll be the first to admit, it's become a serious problem. 


And yes, it's been a life-long struggle.

But one thing about a struggle--it's better to keep on struggling, than to give in. So off I go on another attempt to battle this issue of weight and exercise.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, Philippians 3:13

The latest front in the battle? 

Trying to find a way to keep moving while doing these sedentary things. And I'll give you a hint--this is not the way:

One pleasant discovery, made about a month ago, was that my new, thinner laptop fits securely in the book rack of my recumbent exercise bike.  While absorbed in a bit of editing the other day, I pedaled for what I thought was about fifteen minutes.  I was disappointed that my legs would be tired after so little time. A look at the clock revealed I had actually pedaled away for over an hour while absorbed in what I was working on.

And then I looked wistfully at the treadmill. (And it's not often that I look wistfully at the treadmill) I'd heard of treadmill desks before, and even Googled them. And while their promise of taking off pounds while walking slowly (less than 1 mph) while working appealed to me, I found the price tag (often running in the hundreds or thousands) to be prohibitive.

And then I remembered--I have a degree in engineering. Duh!

So I took a look at the treadmill, and then a trip to the hardware store. And here's what I came up with:

Want detailed plans and pictures? You can find them on my personal blog here: Treadmill Desk.

Question. What are some of your favorite things? How can you incorporate more exercise into them?

Barbara Early grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and facebook scrabble. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, but her penchant for the creative caused her to run away screaming from the pocket-protector set. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy and sometimes a splash of romance. Her holiday novella, Gold, Frankincense, and Murder will be released from White Rose Publishing in time for the holiday season. You can learn more about her writing on her personal blog: or see what's for dinner on her recipe blog:


  1. That's awesome, Barb. I've jerry rigged stuff like that, but never so professional.

    Of course, two of my favorite things are walking and biking outdoors anyway.

  2. Thanks, Dina--

    It seems to be working out well so far.

    I wish I could honestly say I enjoyed those outdoor activities. And I do, to some extent--but when a large part of the year is so snowy, it can be hard to get in the regular habit of doing those things.

  3. Oh, Barb, thanks for the early-morning case of the giggles. You are one clever cookie. That's pretty amazing.
    I get dizzy on the treadmill for some odd reason, so I'm not sure I'd be able to use the treadmill desk for anything other than slumping over. But it's a great idea.

    Color me impressed!

  4. Yeah, Suzie, I guess the treadmill is not a place you want to be when you're dizzy.

    I'm assuming the giggles came from the video. I had to include it. It made my morning.

  5. ROFL! Combine that Hawaiian chair with a couple of those "shake weights" and you'd have a full body workout! As would all the people watching and laughing.

    That is so cool you were able to come up with a way to create your own treadmill desk! I think Robin Lee Hatcher did something similar recently. It's a great idea. My challenge is that my exercise routines are all on DVD. That can get a bit dull after a while. I've taken to propping my Kindle up on my dresser and trying to read while I work out. Kids think I'm crazy.

    Seriously, praying for you to find that sweet spot of grace for eating and exercising! I need to get back to mine... my grandson has gained 8 pounds since his birth in April, and so have I. Uh-oh...

  6. Niki--

    Shake weights--LOL. I saw a guy with one of those in a McDonald's once, and it scared a friend of mine. I don't know what she thought it was, but...

    I like the text to speech feature on the Kindle, when I'm trying to do something else. I've yet to try to strap it to myself and use it as an Ipod. But you can see, I've thought of it. I might have to devise some kind of pouch.

    And I appreciate the prayers. :)

  7. That video skit slays me. I remember when I first saw the commercial for that chair and thought, W-O-W.

    You are so creative, Barb! I love your chair!

    It's not easy for me to accomplish some of my hobbies while exercising, but I *can* walk/run (using a treadmill or wii fit) while watching TV. Not as good as being outside but I have been known to do it. :)

  8. Susanne--


    You know, I used to be able to walk on the treadmill and watch TV, but after time, I think I lost interest in TV.

    The desk is easily removable, though, so I can still do that if I find something worth watching.

  9. That chair on the video isn't for it?

  10. Real life is often stranger than fiction. Not only is it real, but there are several companies making them. There's one on Amazon called the Hula chair.

    But when you think of it, is it any odder than those belted machines or sweat suits from the past?

  11. Well, in that case, it actually looked kind of fun.

  12. I was wondering that as well, Dina. It sure seems like fun. :D

    Fun post, Barb. And great idea for your treadmill.

    I'm like Suzie and get dizzy on treadmills. Going down stairs and escalators have the same effect.

    However, I love my rowing machine and bowflex. I can't do anything else on my bowflex because I'm counting, but one of these days I'm going to rig something up for my rower. I'm not on it long enough yet, though because it's at the end of my 1-1.5 hr bowflex routine and by that time I do a 100 strokes and rest.

    I love walking and listening to audiobooks, too.

    Anita Mae.

  13. Barb, I'm amazed you can walk and read at the same time. I've tried. But my brain gets so engrossed in what I'm reading that I forget to walk.

    Kudos to the multi-taskers in the world!!!

    Although, I haven't tried walking and listening to an audio book. Hmmm. Must see if I can upload one onto my faux-pod.

  14. Dina--

    Yeah, fun. At least Ellen had fun with it. Just not sure it's 300 or so dollars worth of fun. And I'm on the cheap side.

    And not sure how effective it would be--of if you could get anything else done while sitting in it.

  15. Anita Mae--

    My college roommate used to have a rowing machine. It always looked fun when she used it. I can't recall if I ever even tried it.

    But if I were to add anything to our home gym, that would probably be the thing.

  16. Gina--I think I do better reading and peddling at the same time.

    The treadmill desk is something that you use at a very slow speed--less than one mile per hour. It doesn't burn a whole lot of calories, and it's certainly not cardio. But it burns more calories than sitting on the couch. For me, I think it will work well.

  17. Great post!

    I used to have a Nordic Track, and it was great for using while watching TV. I'd literally forget I was doing it.

    But the stupid thing broke down and I've never replaced it. Don't have a good place for it anymore either. :(

    I just don't do outside (see my "That's Cool!" post) because it's so darn HOT here eight or nine months of the year.

    That's probably why I look like Jabba the Hutt though. ;)

  18. DeAnna, I would give my eyeteeth to live somewhere that is HOT. Honestly, I think I might be more willing to go outdoors... or not.

  19. And, see, I love the cold weather.

    Probably because I don't have to live in it six or eight months out of the year.

    Grass is always greener . . . ;)

  20. But when you can't see the grass because of the snow...

    I don't know what I like anymore. In terms of exercising outside, it's hard to walk in the snow--and a little dangerous too, considering my street doesn't have sidewalks.

    But I can't tolerate heat well either. So I spend half the summer inside in the air conditioning.

    I guess I like spring and fall.

  21. Barb,

    Will there be a Vlog showing how you actively engage in this new contraption of yours?

    P.S. Great post, as usual.

  22. Shelley--

    Thanks. No plans on any video at any time in the near future. I recorded a brief piece using my webcam, just to make sure it works--and it's got me thinking a nice strip of tape across the top of my laptop might be a good thing.

  23. I agree with Gina. Good reading would make me stop. Not good on the treadmill...

    I've been sitting for 7 hrs tonight alone. These computer hours really add up. Writing is so sedentary. yikes.

  24. Deb--or should I say Safe Water Ghana--or the Inky formerly known as Deb-- :D

    I don't know--I've only been using the treadmill desk for writing so far, but it seems to be working well. It is a tad distracting at first, but before long, moving your feet just gets to be habit--and I find it is limiting my other distractions a bit. But only time will tell.


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