The Two “Treadmill Desk” Office Update #2

DSC01977 The treadmill has been assembled, the desk has been partially constructed, and wonderfully, almost everything is going according to plan for the second treadmill desk project.

With regard to the desk, this is the part of the plan that I have changed. Originally I intended to use chrome shelving, but after measuring the treadmill and determining the position of the control panel and hand rails, which the user of the treadmill desk does not want to reposition at this time, the intention is to use a similar desk construction to the one I have on my treadmill. I am using the cheaper, though less sturdy plastic pipes and particleboard shelves, self-assembly shelving units from “Real Organized” that can be purchased at Lowes.

I will have to modify the lower part of the desk to make it fit snugly around the treadmill handrails and the heart rate monitoring handgrips. Other than that minor modification, which should not take more than 20 minutes with a band saw and a wood rasp, everything else worked out just great.

I would link to the parts that I used for the desk but unfortunately the Lowe’s website does not list the items. All I can do is give you the part numbers from the boxes and direct you to visit the nearest store, if you are interested in assembling a similar desk.

The parts that make up the desk portion of the treadmill desk, are:

  • 2x (Item #253664) Pack of [Feet and tops] – You will need six feet and six tops.
  • 3x (Item #253660) Pack of XL (16”) Tube Legs
  • 1x (Item #253656) Pack of L (12”) Tube Legs
  • 1x (Item #253654) Pack of S (8”) Tube Legs
  • 1x or 2x 48”x16” Wood shelf
  • 1x 48”x16” Glass shelf – This allows you to see the treadmill console below the 2nd-tier of your desk.

If you have a narrow treadmill and do not require a wide desk, the 36” shelves would also work. I just happen to like lots of desk space to spread my work out on.

Total cost for the Real Organized desk parts should be between $50 and $90 depending on your desk and the city you purchase them in.

You require this many parts because if you are making desks like I have at the office, which are two-tiered, you will require six legs total.

The Real Organized free-standing shelving units are designed to have multiple shelves and this is how the legs of the unit maintains rigidity and strength. Unfortunately, unless you disassemble your treadmill, removing the upright arms that support the console and remove the handrails, you cannot put extra shelves in. My solution to this problem is to add in supports between the legs by taking a few pieces of wood and drilling them with holes the same size as the holes in the Real Organized shelves.

With that said, for the extra supports, you will also need: 3x 48” x 3” x ¾” pine and 2x 16” x 3” x ¾” pine, drilled at the appropriate locations to accommodate the legs of the desk. These pieces of wood will strengthen and stiffen the desk legs. You can drill these holes with a wood spade drill bit which can also be purchased at Lowe’s. You will need a ¾” drill bit such as the one found in this package.

The two treadmill desks that are in current use at the office are slightly different from each other because the treadmills are different models. For your own treadmill desk, I recommend purchasing the plastic shelving parts and just two shelves at first, construct the desk, and then determine what other wood will be require to strengthen the legs. If you buy too many legs or shelves, you can always return them directly to Lowes once your treadmill desk construction project is complete.

Total construction time for the first treadmill desk was about 2 hours, for the second treadmill desk, it was 20 minutes. The first desk I had to experiment with and figure out what wooden supports needed to go where. With the second treadmill desk, it was just a matter of measuring, cutting and drilling the extra support.

You may need to cut small corners out of one part of your desk, on the shelf that holds the keyboard and mouse. This necessity will be dictated by your particular style of treadmill.

On my Nordic Track Solaris I had to cut out a long hole in the middle of the keyboard shelf (shown in the picture before sanding and painting) to accommodate the heart rate monitoring bar.


I could have raised up the desk height by 1” which would have solved this problem, but then I would not be able to determine my heart rate without an external heart rate monitor.

This is now a moot point, the shelf cut out and treadmill heart rate handgrip bar are now obsolete as I use an external heart rate monitor. The handgrip bar is no longer used and I will be removing it in the next week or two as it just takes up desk space.

Italian Cooking Improvement Sprint

sensecam_080821_022050_01911 It looks like I will be pushing off my micro-goal of creating a truckload of desserts for another month or two. I am dedicating the month of June to cooking at least 20 Italian dishes, at least half of which I want to be new and original recipes.

Obviously, with Italian food there is going to be a lot of pasta involved and with that in mind, all of the pasta I create will be fresh and made by hand to be as authentic as possible. I am staying with a family right now that has a strong Italian heritage so the matriarch of the family will be showing me many of her cooking tricks, which I am really looking forward too.

Again, I am not working from a pre-determined meal plan, deciding on the day what I will be cooking for lunch or dinner. I will pick up any ingredients I need in the morning on the way to the office, and then begin cooking at around 5PM in the kitchen there.

This time I will be experimenting with photographing the food as it is prepared and once more when the dish is finished, as I would like to start compiling my recipes in to something more presentable and usable than a Microsoft OneNote notebook. Who knows, maybe one day I will release a cookbook of my original recipes. :)

So twenty fresh and exciting Italian meals, hand-made pasta, nothing out of a packet or a box as far as I can manage it, only the freshest and best organic ingredients I can purchase and a varied menu, that is the goal, so let’s see how closely I can stick to it.

It should prove to be an interesting journey. I am just glad I am back working at my treadmill desk so that I will be losing weight as fast as I am gaining it (hopefully). 😉 I will of course be continuing with my treadmill desk “improvement sprint” for the foreseeable future, or at least, until one of our clients has a crisis project that needs to be saved.

I will post regular weekly updates on the more noteworthy meals I cook, along with any new tricks I have picked up.

Weight Loss With A Treadmill Desk Improvement Sprint Update #2

DSC01988Now that I am all set up on my treadmill desk, I am off to a great start.

No weight loss to speak of yet, but that is what I was expecting. Every log I have of weight loss for exercising on the treadmill desk shows improvement after the first month rather than in the first month. When I first set up a treadmill desk, almost a decade ago, the improvements in health came in spurts as I reached each new plateau and that is what I expect to see again after a year away from regular use.

Right now, I am intending to keep the speed below my usual treadmill desk walking speed of 3.5MPH and aiming low on the hours too. I have been keeping a regularly consistent 2MPH for two hours a day, and I will continue with this programme until I have gotten back into my groove. I am not expecting to see any dramatic weight loss until my speed and endurance begins to creep up in month two.

I am expecting to keep my current speed and duration for at least another two weeks, and I am keeping my hands well away from the “increase incline” button for at least two months. I want my legs to survive, and I can already feel the new exercise working on my knees and ankles when I go to bed each night with them slightly aching and tired, but I am oh so satisfied with myself.

I played World of Warcraft for two hours the other day, playing healer and hunter in a quick Nexus dungeon run, and did pretty well with it. I will get back to five manning the place on a multi-boxing setup sometime next week when I have the time to practice. Five months away from World of Warcraft and multi-boxing, and a year away from the treadmill desk has made me rusty.

Overall, my weight has remained almost constant, and any weight loss I can attribute to water loss rather than burning off fat.

Since getting back on my treadmill desk, I have walked a total of 58 miles in 32 hours, burnt almost 7,000 calories and jogged my way through three dungeons. 😉 This is my treadmill desk log for up to the 20th of May.

Why Improvement Sprints Will Push You Far Beyond Your Current Limitations

Unlike 30-day trials or micro-goals, improvement sprints focus all of your attention on to one of your current skills.

An improvement sprint passes that skill and the knowledge that goes with it, through a concentrating lens to improve an area you are already adept at. You use one of your strengths to push far beyond your current ability level into new and uncharted territory.

The intent is not for you to adopt new and possibly uncomfortable thought patterns or habits, but to concentrate on getting better at something you already do.

Improvement sprints have an effect on a life change whereas 30-day trials affect a life change.

Instead of attempting to create a new habit or adopt a new way of life, as you would with a trial and that you may or may not continue beyond the trial period, by sprinting you are attempting to advance your ability and push forward through any limiting barriers of a current ability, solely for a fixed duration.

Sprinting dictates that you increase the number of times you perform a particular habit, you increase the duration, you lift more weight, you improve flexibility, you change your technique, you tweak an already established habit. An improvement sprint takes one characteristic of an activity that you already do, and do more of it or do whatever it is with a slight but meaningfully significant change in the method that moves you beyond your current plateau of achievement.

sensecam_080824_232342_03131To extract the most from an improvement sprint you must focus on the process, not the results. The process is the “how” rather than the “what.” How you go about improving, instead of what your results will be. Each step, and only the steps, in an improvement sprint, are important. Ignore how far you can go, concentrate only on how far you have come since the start of the sprint, because that act of looking behind will tell you whether your improvement sprints are helping or hindering your advancement.

An example of an improvement sprint for me during the month of April has been cooking new and interesting meals, and adding more self-discovered recipes to my recipe book. I wanted to cook a certain number of meals, but I was not too concerned if I actually hit that number. I wanted to improve my desserts and pastries, but did not overly care if I created other types of dishes too. It was the steps I went through to improve my culinary skills, “the how,” rather than the number and types of dishes I prepared and cooked, “the what.”

An improvement sprint, just like a trial or micro-goal, permits you to time box your focus so that it does not overwhelm other areas of your life and personal development. By knowing that you only have to concentrate on something for a short duration, a week, a fortnight, a month, you are more readily able to mentally commit to the dedication and extra work needed.

You can use improvement sprints when your energy is at its peak. Everybody gets down-time, where energy is low and you lack any kind of motivation, you simply fall off the personal development wagon, but by sprinting for short bursts, you do not have to concern yourself too much with the motivational dip you might face.

I recommend never sprinting for less than seven days, anything below that number confers little benefit, does not build a motivational habit and falls just beyond the “initial motivation” period, right in the motivational dip, that people have, but not so far out that you have to get over the persistence hurdle that most fail at. Longer sprints of a fortnight or a month are better of course, but not everyone can dedicate extra time to managing their sprint.

My recommendation, when sprinting the first few times, is to find where your motivational dip is for taking on something new and putting your sprint just beyond that. Later, when you are more adept at undertaking improvement sprints, you can attempt the full 30-days. I really do recommend that if you are not a regular sprinter, trialer or micro-goal achiever, you keep back from the 30-days time box, at least initially, so that you are not de-motivated by continuous failure.

It takes a strong will of character and well-honed self-discipline to push through repeated failure when it comes to our own personal development.

How you find your motivational dip is an article for another time, unfortunately. All I can say right now, is look at your past trials and goals, and see how long you have stuck at them. Somewhere between day 5 and day 14 is where your motivation dwindles and your procrastination techniques kick in to drive you off course from your goals.

Sprinting will reinforce the routines and habits you already have, by causing you to focus on one particular activity. When you reach the end of your improvement sprint, and I recommend you do end it at the appointed time, you may feel a sudden loss of direction for a day or two as your routine returns to normal. If you were spending a little extra time at an activity and now you are quitting earlier, it will feel weird.

Odd that people never experience this effect when they take on something new, but only when it goes away. If you were sprinting by changing up the routine or injecting new ways of doing something, that sudden change back to how it used to be, assuming you do change back, can be jarring to your senses.

Once you are done with your improvement sprint, analyse whether the changes you made lifted you up or held you back. Not all change is beneficial and some changes may have taken you off in a direction that is opposite to your goals or beliefs. If you find that the changes brought about by your sprint are desirable and you wish to keep them, a new evaluation of your goals would be necessary to find whether they are still congruent with the direction you have chosen for your life.

When trying to decide whether to choose a trial, micro-goal or improvement sprint for a particular month, ask whether you:

  • “want to get better at something” — an improvement sprint
  • “learn or try something completely new” — a trial
  • “achieve your next target” – a micro-goal.

Improvement sprints should be used regularly, from weekly to monthly, are a relatively easy technique to employ, and you should utilise them far more than your trials or micro-goals. Our greatest achievements and gains mostly come from our strengths, not our weaknesses. Putting most concentration in to a strength, that 80/20 rule again, is an ideal way to grow quickly with strong, forceful bursts of energy and achievement.