Monday, May 21, 2018
Health

Nobody said we have to be perfect

It's been a month since a colleague and I pushed our desk chairs to the side and elevated our computers so we could stand while working.

Yes, we were a little unnerved at all the news about the health hazards of sitting, more of which you'll read about in today's Personal Best. But more than that, we both were feeling achy after hours (and years) of sitting, and figured it was time for a change.

So far, so good. Writing while standing doesn't feel odd at all, and those sitting-related aches are better. I am wearing incredibly sensible shoes, and standing on a soft mat to protect my feet and lower back. At the end of the day, I feel both physically and mentally tired, which is not a bad thing at all.

What has come as more of a surprise, however, are the reactions of our co-workers.

Turns out that standing up at work is a great conversation starter. I'm a social person, so I've enjoyed this. But there's one frequent observation that puzzled me at first:

I don't know how you can stand all day.

My reply: I don't.

Meetings, paperwork, lunch, hunting for something I've dropped under the desk — all are fine occasions to take a break. I just can't sit while I'm using the computer. I estimate that in an eight-hour day, I'm probably standing for about four to six hours, depending on the work flow and my energy level.

But the more I thought about my colleagues' amazement, the more sense it made to me.

After all, we live in a culture that encourages all-or-nothing thinking.

Maybe you start every Monday fully intending to avoid all sugars, trans fats and simple carbs, only to abandon the project the moment a doughnut passes your lips. Or your kid comes home with a strong report card — yet he gets stuck on that one lousy C and opts for easier classes the next semester. Or your mom decides to take up golf, realizes it's harder than she thought, and gives it up rather than waiting to see if even playing poorly might be fun.

How many times do we let perfect be the enemy of good?

Whether the challenge is sitting less, eating more healthfully, or tackling a tougher calculus course, it's a question worth asking. Making a change for the better doesn't have to be accomplished perfectly to be successful.

To paraphrase another famous saying, the road to good is sometimes paved with imperfection.

But that also may be what makes the trip all the more memorable — and possible.

• • •

Speaking of changes for the better, I'm pleased to tell you that Dawn Cate will be joining Personal Best as our news editor, helping me to select topics, work with our writers and oversee production. Dawn, who has been with the Times for 25 years, is not only one of the most meticulous editors I know, she also cares deeply about health and wellness. She doesn't have a stand-up desk, but she's a big inline skater and takes CrossFit classes in addition to keeping up with her teenage twin daughters, so she deserves to take a seat.

Having Dawn in this new role frees me up for a change as well. As senior editor/health and politics, I will continue to oversee the Times' overall medical coverage — and write this column — while also working with our Tallahassee bureau. These days more than ever, health and political news frequently collide. But having spent several years as a Tallahassee bureau reporter myself, I'm excited to again be involved with the full range of news our terrific team uncovers, especially in an election year.

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