Writing makes you fat.
Yes, it’s true. Fat. Corpulent. Flabby. Or rather, it can, unless you take steps to prevent or remedy the situation. Think about it. If you write during your free time, or full-time, your butt is parked in front of a computer for most of the day, right? Add a sedentary job to that, if you haven’t reached the full-time Nirvana, and you’re probably not getting a whole lot of exercise.
Everyone knows the basics of keeping healthy. We’re writers; we can read, and we know how to look up information in the library, on the Internet, etc. That doesn’t mean we do. It doesn’t mean we take the advice we read, whether it’s about how to edit a paragraph or stay in shape.
Here are some ways writing can add bulk to your bod:
- You’re sitting. The only things moving are your fingers and your brain, and that doesn’t burn a whole lot of calories, even though it can take a colossal amount of energy. I spent an entire day on the couch writing the very end of the first draft of my book and believe me, I was exhausted.
- Sometimes people nosh when they write. Even if you don’t write, if you spent any time in school cramming for an exam, you’re familiar with marathon study sessions accompanied by mounds of snacks. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t apt to eat a salad when I studied. It was usually chips, pizza, sandwiches and sweets I could munch with one hand while I turned pages with the other. Add a study buddy and the potential for fast food consumption rises exponentially. Also, it’s easy to grab something junky if you’re anxious to get back to a chapter, instead of taking time to fix a healthy meal.
- It does take energy to create. When you get up after a long writing session, your bones creak, your muscles are stiff and you’re probably going to be tired. The last thing you’ll feel like doing is exercising. It’s much easier to not do it, so people don’t.
See how it’s easy for the pounds to pile up?
Hazards of being overweight include:
- Low energy
- A higher risk of disease such as heart problems and diabetes
- Risk of blood clots from inactivity (I’ve had one, from a medication problem; believe me, you don’t want this. It can kill you quickly. Besides, it hurts like hell.)
- Decreased mobility
- Shorter lifespan
- Breathing difficulties
Obesity is a huge problem in this country. I’m not on a soapbox here, however. I just want you to remember that not moving isn’t going to do you any good.
How can you counteract this?
- If you have a regular exercise routine, good for you. Don’t abandon it if you get deep into a project. Exercise is great for thinking; Beethoven used to ramble for hours in the woods around Vienna, Austria, and he often said he was inspired by his long walks and the time spent communing with nature. He certainly produced some of the world’s best music, so I’m inclined to listen to him.
- If you start a routine, begin slowly. You should always see a doctor before starting a fitness regimen, to make sure you aren’t overexerting yourself. If you can only walk for fifteen minutes, or do a few reps of an exercise, that’s fine for a start. Build up gradually. You’ll get there if you just keep at it.
- Get rid of the junk food. Keep plenty of fruit and / or cut-up veggies (watch the dip!) around to munch. If you have kids and you’re in the habit of making these for them, simply prepare extra for yourself. When you break for lunch or dinner, have fish, lean meat or poultry, veggies, whole grains and drink your milk and water.
- Eat regularly. Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast! People who eat breakfast jumpstart their metabolism in the morning and this helps them stay thinner than those who don’t. It also helps you stay away from the crap food before lunch. Three meals and two healthy snacks should suffice.
- While you’re writing, get up and stretch every once in a while. A good time to do this is when you take a bathroom break. Take a few moments to reach for the ceiling, touch your toes, do a few jumping jacks or go outside for a moment. Get the circulation moving and blood will not settle and clot. Your brain and heart will thank you. It will keep you awake too, if you’re working on something less than exciting.
- Get plenty of sleep. Learn to structure your time so you can fit a bit of writing into your day if it’s very full, or use your time wisely if it’s not. Recent studies have shown a link between lack of sleep and weight gain, and it’s much harder both to exercise and think if you are tired.
All of the above applies to studying too, so if you’re a college student, remember to take frequent breaks, eat healthy snacks, and get plenty of rest.
If anyone has any tips on staying healthy for writers, please share them in the comments.