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Work-from-Home Demands Better, Life-at-Home Behaviors [metabolism] Part 1

It would be stupid to start this discussion by complaining about what the pandemic has done to our lives. This problem is not going anywhere, not for some time at least. Instead of concentrating on the obvious and sounding cynical, I am trying to talk about the things that can be done, in a way that is both practical and effective. The emphasis is not on the usual like what are the top easy ways to boost your metabolism, simply because these are not easy times. Neither does this discussion put the premium on the top 10 ways to rev up your metabolism because here, the goal is to ensure that with the limited means available and the limitations of a life-at-home ecosystem, how can you speed up your metabolism, or at least prevent it from slowing down considerably. Read ahead for some easy tips:

The big change I am talking about? Kick the tendency to stay still!

Lying or sitting in one position is becoming a chronic problem as we spend more house indoors, more time within the living room, or the bed, procrastinating the smallest tasks. Just run a Google search on the dangers of sitting. There is a well-researched piece at the top, by some Australian government organization and at one glance you will understand that the mere act of sitting for too long is highly detrimental. Now, these researched articles were published during the pre-Covid era! This means researchers were warning us against the downside of sitting for too long at the workplace and when we got just about 12 hours away from the workplace. If sitting for longer hours was already so harmful to our health, the work-from-home lifestyle has only worsened it, multiplied the risks. The easiest way to avoid this is:


Set up a collaboration with someone at home, someone who constantly reminds you that you have been seated for too long in a spot. Reciprocate the gesture and this partnership should ensure that neither of you remains seated for too long in the couch or desk position. At first, the reminders will irritate you. It will seem like the other person is interfering in your personal space. Give it at least 10 days before this prompting starts to shape up and look like a mutually beneficial relationship. This dynamic is easily said than done. For couples, cooped up inside, this can lead to arguments too. But honestly, this is rather important as self-discipline can take a beating as we try to stick to better living habits and inculcate small changes in our everyday lifestyle.   


Move around for things that can be done without being seated properly. This includes attending phone calls, especially the ones that don't need the laptop data to be examined, and the smaller, odd tasks like whisking the coffee ground. For ages, I have been the person for whom things are easily fetched. From the morning cup of tea to unceremonious demands at the oddest times, I have taken too many liberties. Right now, I am understanding that there was nothing so royal about it. My new rule for myself - stop calling out for assistance. The smallest things that we often demand from someone moving around, from fetching the remote and passing the pillow to getting a bottle refill, contribute to slowing down the metabolism. Ditch the habit of always asking. This is like a humbling experience and now, I have started to like it. Sweeping the plant-heavy balconies and taking the onus to assemble, clean up, or get things is helping me stay more mobile during the course of the day. Yes, lazy pangs do hit hard at times but largely, the earlier version of me, half lying down at most times and demanding things to be handed over is fading away...rather quickly.


Set up a standing workstation. This is a lot easier than it sounds. Even checking the workplace mails and answering to office conversations on Skype can be done when you are standing. Take out the luxury of having a chair all the time. Use a chair only when you really need to sit down and do some serious work. I now have two workstations. One is the proper desk and chair arrangement. The other one is the standing type with no stool or chair near it. I use the latter for repeatedly checking mails and sending out small messages. All the things you read about bad posture when working on your laptop? It does not apply when you do it for a maximum of 5 minutes at a stretch. Please don't try this if you already have a history of spondylosis or some medical condition.


Don't stay seated post meals. This is not a revolutionary bit of advice. Health bloggers have been advocating this for ages. You have to avoid lying down at any cost after you have wrapped up a meal. During the pandemic era, meal-time leisure is getting reckless. The tendency to laze around after a good lunch or supper is at an all-time high. Swap this with making that crucial call that could affect your KPI for the month. Even better, take upon a regular task that you do only after lunch or dinner, like taking down dried clothing from the balcony, collecting the litter kids leave behind in the living room, or even better...doing the dishes. Personally, I am cutting down on taking the time to savor the special things Moha cooks along with a piece of post-meal chocolate.


Covid lifestyle is teaching us that staying healthy is perhaps going to become the biggest global challenge, more serious than world peace. Until 18 months back, it was common practice to watch marathon OTT series on Netflix or Amazon. Now, you have to rethink how this is affecting your waistline and your overall health. You have to develop a strategy - I suggest not being seated at all times when catching up with the next episode of Kingdom or Marianne. You have to develop the habit of mixing it up. Stand up for a few minutes. Volunteer to pause for a few minutes and make tea for yourself and for someone else. Essentially, you have to fight off the natural behavior of staying glued to a lying down or seated position that usually happens when watching your favorite TV shows, irrespective of the genre or how Ryan Gosling is looking these days.


I have been hearing how my friends and colleagues have started rediscovering the luxury of time that they haven't had for more than a decade. Enter, the tendency to spend time with your thoughts often dubbed as ideating or conceptualizing, with a cup of tea or coffee, lazying during the late afternoon hours. Until recently, this 'thinking time' was relegated to a few days in a year or it was entirely absent. There is nothing wrong with it. I support the cause of reconnecting with what you want in life and taking the time to process the moments, even get a bit poetic about it. But many times, the thinking hours are simply about planning the day, a quick visit to the mall for supplies, or organizing a week that is going to witness meeting the parents, or hosting a house party. Here, sitting back and hacking out the plan is a luxury we really don't need. I have started planning the workweek during the 30-minute exercise session and when I have some idling time, tending to the balcony garden. 

The idea is not to challenge conventional wisdom...

There is plenty of advice on how to stay active at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the usual advice is about how to plan your workouts and do more household chores. This discussion is aimed at what can be done besides these tips. Not that they are not helpful - some of the advice online is absolutely great. But even if you do work it out daily and then spend considerable time seated or lying down, on your favorite couch or the bedside corner, chances are that your health will suffer. This is because the bump-up in metabolism that comes around with physical tasks also gets flat-lined when we are idling. I will follow up on this discussion with other lifestyle-related countermeasures for the challenges COVID lifestyle is unleashing...

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