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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Jan 28, 2020

Try Something New! Turning Work into a Workout

By Shanna O'Mara

In this new column, Managing Editor Shanna O’Mara and Graphic Designer Karen Rockafellow will try out a new activity, trend or challenge each month and share their experiences –good or bad –with readers. How will Shanna, a stubborn introvert, and Karen, an artsy over-thinker, survive all the new experiences? Read on to find out! In an attempt to get healthier during this new year, they invested some money and time into office exercise routines.


The infamous standing desk. Maybe you have one. Maybe you’ve seen one. Maybe you’ve had someone in your office buy one then lecture you on why you should follow suit because of all the amazing health benefits. Don’t worry, there will be no lecture here.

Karen and I purchased our standing desks after The Journal’s business manager, Joann Delfino, began using hers more frequently. We’re both focusing on healthier eating and exercising more in 2020 (who isn’t?), so we figured why not spend our hours in the office doing something beneficial? We had to find a way to be productive while also working to improve our health, so standing desks were a great start.

My mom always says, “I’m thrifty, not cheap.” I applaud her defensive reasoning, but I’m secure enough to admit I’m cheap. So when buying a standing desk, I went to Amazon and filtered by price. I found a simple stand that is basically a table on top of a desk. Knowing I won’t put in the effort to move all my things, lower the legs, put my things back and pray I don’t rip any essential cords out of the wall all just to sit down, I figured a simple table was best for me and will keep me standing for longer. Karen bought a fancier model that folds down when standing just seems like the worst thing to do that day. Looking back with occasionally swollen ankles, I realize perhaps her idea was better. But alas, I refuse to spend more money to fix my problem.

Standing all day is pretty easy. I walk around a lot anyway, and not having a chair to relax in keeps me more energized at work. I recently attended a Colts Neck Business Association meeting during which Dr. Nancy Alario-Beliveau of Colts Neck’s Holistic Healing Center gave an insightful presentation on how regular exercise can make employees more productive and often happier. I definitely have more energy standing all day, and I feel more accomplished knowing I didn’t sit for nine hours when I go home at night, so Dr. Nancy, I’m with you girl.

Although standing at work was a great start, Karen and I wanted to amp up our efforts not only for ourselves but also for our readers to enjoy our progress and pain. I brought a balance board to work and try to spend at least half my day rotating and wobbling on it to increase my leg and core strength. During my first week with it, Marketing Consultant Roseanne Sofia told me to couple balancing with some squats. Thank goodness the wall was a foot behind me and had a ledge to catch me when I fell off. I also began dropping to the floor for 10 rushed push-ups every time Karen steps out of our office. I don’t need her watching my face turn brighter and brighter red every time I shakily descend. Sometimes she walks during lunch breaks, and I give her credit when she bundles up to do a lap around our building. I’m sure those walks are more enjoyable when she is joined by our office dog, Zoey.

We also began eating healthier, often packing salads for lunch and snacking on fruit when the 2 pm stomach growls begin. For added motivation, Karen and I share recipes for healthy dinners and sometimes send photos at night of what we made. All those brown rice, ground turkey, raw broccoli and kale chip photos not only strengthen our friendship but also provide much-needed accountability when we feel weak. We stopped bringing unhealthy snacks to work and resist the urge when one of our coworkers bakes for the staff. We did fail one day, however, when Marketing Consultant Kelly Notine brought in various doughnuts from Doughology in Atlantic Highlands. Karen gave in to the temptation of a lemony coconut doughnut, and I fell at the mercy of an apple pie pastry. Honestly, it was worth it. Plus we did calf raises while eating them, so the calories cancelled out, right?

We have vowed to stick with this fitness initiative long after this column is published, but check back next month to see what we try out next!