This is a question that most people have asked themselves after they have reached the age of 40.  Well, I am past that milestone.  I don’t really ask that question, but my wife has the odd desire for me to live a long life, with her.  So I have to address this question just like everyone else.  The answer is simple and I have been told this by many professionals in both the physical fitness arena and the health care arena.  If you really want to lose weight, eat less and exercise more.  It is that simple.  If you just diet, you will lose some weight, but will plateau, and everyone cheats.  If you just increase your exercise, you will increase your calorie intake as well.

My efforts since my 40th birthday have been to reduce to single helpings, mostly for thing I really like, such as pasta, eliminate empty calories, specifically carbonated beverages (alcohol and non-alcohol) and walking, at least walking to work (I only live 2.2 miles from my work).  Walking does not seem like much, but it does add up.  Except for last fall and winter when I went on several business trips, I had been gradually losing weight (272 pounds down to 249).  I regained all that I had lost in those 5 years plus gained more on those trips.  This gain was due to deviating from the three actions I was taking; I stopped walking to work, the facilities I visited were much smaller than my normal work site, and I ate way too much including the liquid candy.

I took a new job last September which is the reason for the business travel, but it also has resulted in a significant increase of hours at work.  When I get home, I do very little around the house and have found myself on line, playing or reading.  This inactivity coupled with the poor habits I am living have really made it hard to drop significant weight.  I have lost some (5 pounds) but this does not even get me back to my 40th birthday weight.

My wife has proposed a solution (okay, she has proposed a lot of solutions, but this is one I think I can act upon).  This solution does not include me accompanying her to the gym every day, and one that will not prohibit my wind down activities when I finally get home.  The solution is a treadmill desk (http://www.treadmill-desk.com/).  The idea is to use that treadmill that has been sitting in the corner or basement while doing quiet activities.  We have a slightly used treadmill.  I have actually used it during football season while I am watching the games on TV, especially when the weather prohibits walking to work.  The idea is to set up a desk at the treadmill, put your computer on the desk, and walk at a slow pace as you surf or play.

As an engineer, I cannot see spending the money the equipment advertised on the page noted above.  I also have to invent my own solution to the desk compared to the $39 solution linked to that site as well.  I plan on constructing a desk out of inexpensive material (assuming that I have the computer and treadmill).  I will post those plans (I assume no liability if you copy me and something bad happens).  And I plan on attempting the walk across America documented on the site.

Again, as an engineer, I will track different things.  I will track an actual road path (starting at the customs loop outside on Houlton International Airport in Maine on I95, switching to I80 just outside of New York City, and travelling all the way to San Francisco California, maybe taking side trips to visit points of interest along the way which could give me extra fodder for writing) with specific stopping points annotated (we will have to see if it will be weekly or monthly).  I will track miles covered, calories burned, and current weight.  Although this will be embarrassing (at least the weight portion will be), I will release this information periodically.  There will have to be lots of graphs, tables and maps (and maybe some pictures).  I will only count time and distance on the actual treadmill desk, so walking to work and treadmill work at the gym or on travel will not count.

I don’t want this project to supplant my weekly submissions to the Casual Observer, rather I want it to be a supplement.  I fully intend to use some of my treadmill time to write this column and work on my next book.  I might even try the short stories that Kosmo has suggested.  By setting aside time every night, I have no excuse to avoid writing.  On line games will be rather difficult since they require a lot of mouse work.  Typing is much easier than controlling a mouse while walking.

Wish me luck, or better yet, join me on this trip.  Based on the pictures I have seen, there are other columnists at the Casual Observer who could benefit from this activity (not Kosmo).

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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