Thursday, August 23, 2012

Working Exercise Into Your Writing Life

In 2010, I took a break from the 9 to 5 to write.  I figured it was now or never and, with careful planning, I could make it work.  So far, it's going well.  I've put out one novel, I have another on the way and I should soon finish a non-fiction work which has truly been a labour of love.  I've been quite the busy bee.  Whereas before I used to put a book out every three or four years, I've whittled that down significantly but I've noticed that the whittling down in one area has contributed to an expansion in another.  What on earth am I on about?  Well, to be blunt, my waistline is not now what it was three years ago.  It takes more of the measuring tape to go around me.  Yep, the hours of sitting before my computer pounding out stories or editing stories have taken a toll on my weight.

Now, you might think that this has really nothing to do with writing but I'd beg to differ and this is an interesting take on the connection between fitness and creativity.  The fact that as writers we often sit hunched over our computers, tapping away, can also take a toll on bodies.

Writing is a sedentary profession.  Perhaps the most sedentary.  At five a.m. I get up and go jogging for about twenty minutes then walk for a further twenty-five or thirty.  I have breakfast at seven and by eight I'm responding to mail, checking Facebook, etc..  By nine I've begun to work on whichever manuscript is taking my attention.  I stop for lunch at about twelve and then I'm back at the computer a half-hour or so later.  I continue working until about five or six.  (This is the summer schedule - from September I'll be stopping at around mid-day to home-school my daughter.  There isn't much activity involved in home-schooling either.)  This means that I've gained a few pounds, I won't say how many but it does mean that I'm not quite the same dress size I was just a few, short years ago.

So far, I've managed to avoid some of the health issues like diabetes and hypertension that have affected certain family members but I can't count on luck to keep on dodging the bullet of ill health.  Clearly, a burst of activity once a day isn't enough to keep the weight down so now I'm trying to incorporate brief periods of activity into my whole writing day.  Two or three times a day I log on to YouTube and dance along to a few zumba clips.  I've also bought a stepper and use it whenever I'm on the phone.  Twice a week or so, I skip for about ten minutes.  These are all in addition to the morning exercise. 

I don't have to walk to my car or walk from my car to my office building to reach my work.  Neither do I live in a mansion; it takes me less than a minute to walk from my bed to my computer.  Working at home has meant that I've got to work harder and more consciously at building exercise into my my daily life but I'm trying.  Any tips would be appreciated!


Jewel Amethyst said...

A little less than 3 yrs ago, after having two children in two years I ballooned beyond comprehension. Having two babies, a full time job (at that time) and a writing career, meant the gym was not an option. So I bought a thread mill.

I can hear the groan. You know people who bought exercise equipment and use them as clothes hangers. Because the naysayers said that would happen, I set out to prove them wrong. I used it at least 3 times a week. I also changed my eating habit.

As a result I lost 40 lbs, looked in the mirror and hated that I lost my prized assets and tried to gain back 10 but am now pushing 15 (unfortunately). I began with 3 miles, now I'm up to six.

The point is, the thread mill at home makes it accessible and I dedicate at least an hour per day for rigorous exercise. I also do the WII Zumba and pilates all in the comfort of my home.

Jewel Amethyst said...

BTW, my sisters and I have recently entered into a pedometer competition to see who takes the most steps within a 4 week period. I am telling you, it is inspiring both of us to increase our movement. Running behind two little kids certainly helps to increase my step count.

Liane Spicer said...

As someone who can stand to lose (more than) a few I shouldn't be giving tips, but it seems to me you're doing a fair amount of exercise. Maybe a change in diet will rev things up and make the difference.

My problem is for a fitness program to work, it must be at the front of my focus all the time, every day, every meal... I tend to start off well but when other stuff is consuming me fitness and diet concerns fade into oblivion. So, any tips on keeping fitness foremost in the consciousness?

Jewel, you are an inspiration. As for losing your prized assets - why does the weight always drop from the WRONG places? :(

Eugenia O'Neal said...

Jewel, sounds like you're doing all the right things. Liane, with me it's definitely the food - I could stand to eat more fruits and veggies and less starches, for sure. The pedometer thing sounds like a good idea but I absolutely have no room for a treadmill - wish I did!

I think keeping a diet and exercise diary helps enormously - at least, it did a year or so ago when I kept one and I must get back to it. It kept me on track and I knew if I overdid the patties one day, then the next I must cut back or increase the exercise. Also, weighing myself every day helps me to remember my goals.

G. B. Miller said...

Usually the most exercise that I'll do while writing is walk. I can't sit for any lengthy period of time, so I often get up and walk around the yard and do odds and ends (in the summer that is) to get the circulation flowing.

Also in the summer, between bouts of writing, I'll do biking, usually about three to five miles a day. Winter I'll do walking, about three to five miles a day.