So, here I am on my nifty treadmill, working on the treadmill desk my dad jury rigged for me. I am writing this blog post even as I walk, wearing grubby denim and no makeup. The Professional Geek in its lair!

The other day, I read yet another article about the dangers of sitting down on the job for hours at a time. Apparently, this is supremely bad for you, even if you follow a fitness program. This article at the New York Times has details, and suggested a number of products you can buy to turn your treadmill into a handy, dandy fitness/work station. Or you can just pay well over $1000 and buy a new treadmill with a desk affixed to it.

No, thanks.

Insidious Creep is as bad for you as sitting on your butt, for it is the Insidious Creep that turned me into a human pudding. Just five years ago, I was a size 0-2, worked out two hours a day, and watched every bite of food I ate. Then I woke up one day to find myself a web-addicted pudding woman. This made for hours of joyless self flagellation, followed by more hours of not doing much about it.

There’s no excuse for it. Even though I live on a farm and do a good deal of field work, that’s sporadic labor and it doesn’t make one as fit as one would like. It’s also hard on the back, which is just what I need, since I already spend hours at a computer and at a drawing board, morphing into the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

A few years ago, I got really sick, stopped working out, and never got back to my fitness program. I went from web surf to web tsunami, finding a million ways to fritter away time on the net. It wasn’t just bad for my job, it was bad for my health, and I couldn’t seem to break my new bad habits, which is especially funny, because people actually pay me money to write stuff about time management for freelancers. That goal of two hours a day of working out seemed so hard to reach again. Working out had been replaced with the web tsunami. I hardly even watch television any more, for crying out loud. The internet ate my brain. The web tsunami problem got so bad, I had my family come in and take my ethernet cord away from me to force me to sit down and meet my deadlines.

I loved all the cool treadmill desks I saw on the web, but they were either overkill or overpriced. So, I asked my dad to come up with something that would meet my needs, and he did it with nothing but scraps from the garage.

As you can see, the desk is perched right on top of the handlebars of my treadmill. Some people’s treadmills have sensors in them, but since mine doesn’t, it was easy to drill holes in the bars and attach a wooden tray to the treadmill.

These pins attach the desk through the bars of the treadmill and can be removed easily.

Here’s me Da doing the deed.

A closer look at the tray, showing the pins attached to the bars.

The lap desk that sits on top of the treadmill desk tray was a gift from nice Mr J Michael Straczynski, who once spent an afternoon watching me draw, puzzling at what pretzels I could wrap myself into when trying to make comics in an uncomfortable chair without a nice lap desk like this one. I can easily pick it up and move it any time I like, and use it elsewhere.

The lip on the tray, which my dad made for me also, keeps the lap desk from sliding off, and the lap desk brings my laptop to eye level. If you are taller, you’ll need to add more height. I’ve seen people add height using stacks of wood or styrofoam, but I think a nice desktop printer stand would be more practical and attractive. Something like this?

There are used office supply stores all over the place where you can get items like this for chump change.

Anyway, here it is in my office, all set up, not taking up any more room than the treadmill did before.

It has completely changed my work habits, cut down on my web surfing by half, and in the very first week of using it, I lost two pounds.

I can read and write on it, but drawing is a no-go. This is fine. I still do my finances, and digital art on my 23″ screen Mac. But for emails, reading manuscripts, and writing blog posts like this one, I now do it on my treadmill desk. And I burn about 600 calories per day on it.

It’s also forced me to cut way back on web surfing. Now I am acutely aware of how much time I put in on this thing, because I feel it with every step. It’s easy for my family to catch me goofing off, too.

I keep a daily log of my time, calories burnt, and distance. I intended to make no changes in my diet to see just how much I could lose simply by walking. But as I’ve found before, when you get more exercise, you crave less junk food.

While writing this blog post, I had the treadmill turned up to the highest incline setting, walked a modest 1.3 miles in 58 minutes and burned 300 calories.

Which is better than sitting on my ass.

And now I am too tired to do this anymore, so I’m going to sit down and draw a comic book.