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Thursday, May 5, 2011

The story of Mel going insane

As most deceptively complicated things go, it all started rather simply.

It started with eating “real” food. As in, food that doesn’t have bar codes, or is a direct animal/plant product with minimal processing.

That led to me learning how to listen to my body better. Or maybe it led to my body being able to communicate better.

Which ever it was, one day at work, I realized I no longer liked sitting down.

I’m not sure what it was about sitting down specifically, but I felt like I was turning into a shapeless lump. I couldn’t think of any activity that had my body in a chair position for long lengths of time. Lounging, reclining, straddling, sitting on the floor, yes – chair position, no. After weekends spent backpacking, I felt so GOOD, so EVEN, and really quite wonderful. Maybe…because I wasn’t sitting. So, as I sat at my desk, I couldn’t figure out a good reason that I should be sitting so much – in fact, sitting started to seem….unnatural.

Being the inventive person I am I set up a standing work station. Using cardboard boxes. Everyone thought I was weird. I thought I was weird. I made up excuses. “My back hurts” is a good one – common, not easily verifiable.

For every hour I sat, I stood for an hour. The first day, I was sitting to rest from standing. After 5 days I was standing 4-5 hours at a time at my work station without noticing. After 2 weeks I could easily be on my feet at my desk for 8-10 hours. I found that I was standing to take a break from sitting.

I still considered myself in the realm of “normal” and even mentioned in my blog about my new found emphasis on real food, and how I ditched the chair. But there was something else.

As I stood at my desk, I found myself continually kicking off my shoes. I couldn’t stand still in shoes and I was constantly shifting or rolling my ankles. I had a foot injury that wouldn’t heal (some sort of soft tissue ligament thingy on the side of my foot) and I decided that 6 weeks of shoes and taking it easy didn’t help, and my body was trying to say SOMETHING about the whole barefoot thing while standing… I ditched the shoes.

Making excuses to stand instead of sit - normal. Going barefoot? --I'm joining the fringes.

While standing at my desk I started paying attention to my feet. They liked being barefoot. At first just being able to stand at my work station barefoot was enough. But then I started walking around. For a couple of weeks I wandered around the office in my stockings, putting my shoes on when I needed to venture afar. Then something weird happened.

From past physical therapy I know that my left side compensates for my right quite a bit. After a week of doing a standing work station barefoot, I noticed that I seemed to be “tipped” to the right when walking. Then I realized that I wasn’t tipped!!!!! I was straight!!!!! What I couldn’t do through PT or through conscious thought was being solved all it’s own.

Then my nagging foot issue I’ve had since 20 MT (Feb) went away.

At this point, I’m convinced. My body LIKES barefoot. When I’m barefoot, my feet don’t hurt when I stand around all day. When I’m barefoot, I’m even and straight. When I’m barefoot my ankles are stronger.

BUT, I’m not convinced that the corporate world is going to be as understanding.

So the insnity continues. The hunt for barefoot attire starts. I finally found my ugly a$$ shoes – also known as “RunaMocs” from Soft star. They aren’t noticeable when I wear them with slacks and jeans and they are easy to take on and off, BUT they don’t come off – even when running. Nobody comments on them and they look like shoes……but I’m in barefoot comfort and wiggling my toes. My secret is safe.

I of course, am not willing to admit I’ve crossed over to the “crazies” side and admit that I’m converted to the barefoot way. After all, I'm just standing there....and then I'm just taking a walk....and then....

The key to (in my case reverting back to) being barefoot is to transition gradually. I progress from standing on my desk, to walks. At the end of 2 weeks I could walk unlimited in them, so tried some jogging... Now, I have to admit that I have good biomechanics so it isn’t farfetched that I can run barefoot, and I’m not going barefoot to solve any running injuries (of which I are few and far between for me – but unfortunately the ones I have I ignored for 10 years……). I’m not running long distances and it isn’t inconceivable that I shouldn’t be able to run a couple of miles on grass, just for fun.

And then comes the ½ marathon. I’m not an idiot – I reached for my trusty Wave Rider shoes. Real shoes. I’ve never had issues with them, and really, how much could my running and walking REALLY could have changed in 4 weeks?

Well, enough to give me a HUGE blister on my big toe. On the side to the outside.


There were all sorts of differences. From how much more efficient my push off was, to how much I used my toes, to how equal the work was between my right and left sides, to how even my stride and cadence was, and a whole host of other things.

So now, I’m ready to admit. I’m one of the barefoot freaks. I'm going public.

Much like my barefoot horse, the transition period was critical, and the results were readily apparent.

Is my lifestyle (no sitting in chairs and barefoot) practical for everyone? No.

Is it practical for me all the time? Nope.

I won’t be running any ½ marathons without my running shoes soon. Some days I dress up in heels and a skirt. Just like an occasional foray into processed foods or a recliner to watch a movie isn't a death knell, I think that running shoes still have a place in my life…..BUT I don’t think it’s a bad thing for me to evaluate items in my life and ask the question – “would life be better if I did this another way?”

As always, it’s an experiment of one. Even now, I feel a little stupid standing here barefoot typing on the computer…..but here’s the funny thing. Once I decided to stand, I started seeing articles being passed around on how bad sitting is for you. The jury is still out about barefoot, but as it seems to be working out for me at LEAST as well as standing, so I’ll listen to my body for now on both issues.

And that is the story of how Melinda, once a perfectly normal person (redgirl – stop cackling) turned absolutely insane.


  1. I love my yoga ball instead of a chair. keeps me sane. Also: clogs (easy to take off under the desk...)

  2. Our news just had a segment on this tonight:

    Your no bar coades on food kind of made me think it might be something for you to read. ;-)

  3. Hee Hee Hee! Yes, read the article, Mel. No, I don't think you have the disorder (I've seen what you can tuck away when your guard is down and your appetite is up) but with your touch of OCD (sorry, I'm sure it came from me, not Dad) it should make you squirm a little.

  4. Bwhahaha! I spent 2 and a half years with a standing work station! hard at first but it gets kinda comfy, eh?


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