Unless you write on a walking treadmill, you probably don’t get enough exercise. These health tips are for writers who know that healthy bodies equal healthy minds…and healthy minds increase creativity, productivity, and overall happiness.
“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d druther not.” ~ Mark Twain.
What I do – but I’d rather not – is 10 or 20 minutes of yoga or pilates every morning. Right after I put the coffee on, I hit the mat before I fully wake up. My favorite DVDs are 10 Minute Solutions Pilates series of DVDs, but I also love Lara Hudson’s yoga 10 Minute Solutions as well. It’s the easiest and best way to stretch out and get my mind focused for the day.
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Exercise Tips for Writers
I gathered these tips from a smattering of freelance writers and health sites — maybe you’ll find yourself quoted here. These tips are mostly about food. If you’re looking for exercise tips, read Healthy Writers Are Happy Writers — it’ll help you get more exercise than you can stand.
View food as fuel for your body – not entertainment. I’ve lost about 25 pounds since Bruce and I married almost six years ago, partly because I’ve adopted his eating habits. He eats until he’s satisfied but not bursting, isn’t ruled by a sweet tooth, and listens to his body’s cues about hunger and satiety – it’s a bit “ho hum” at times, I admit. But his perspective has literally changed my life! Food is fuel to keep my body and brain healthy, so I have lots of energy and feel good about life. Food has a direct effect on your thoughts, emotions, and ability to get stuff done (like writing that book, pitching those ideas, or blogging on schedule!). Sugar, fat, and heavy foods will drag you down, fellow scribes, both literally and figuratively.
Speaking of food, you might be interested in 7 Tips for Living Off the Feast and Famine of Freelance Writing. 🙂
Eat protein (not sugar!!) when your energy is low. What do you eat when you feel tired, uninspired, or depressed about your writing career? I eat granola straight out of the box, and Munchie Mix straight out of the super size bag Bruce always has in stock. It’s no problem for him to have a gunny sack-size bag of chips in the house; he only dips into it once a week. He could take or leave food…which is an attitude I want to adopt! “Eat a healthy snack with protein at your low-energy times – which is 10 am and 2 pm for most people,” says Atlanta-based freelance writer Liora Hess. “Sunflower seeds are perfect!” Also, eat low-fat cheese, cottage cheese, a handful of almonds or soy nuts.
Meditate – it’s almost as good as “real” exercise. This tip for writers who don’t exercise enough is from Savvy Writer Rebecca Sebek: “This is where people groan, “I don’t have time to meditate.” You don’t have to meditate for hours each day…but implementing meditation into your freelance writing schedule could help you become a better freelance writer. Your mind will become clearer and improve your focus. Start meditating for 5 minutes, and increase the time each day. The easiest way to introduce meditation into your busy schedule is to count your breath. Sit up straight, breathe deep, and count your breaths. You could purchase meditation CDs or enroll in a meditation class. It can do wonders for your freelance writing business and life!”
Don’t eat “fast crap” on the run. If you don’t get enough exercise, remember that it takes seconds to consume hundreds of calories, and hours to burn them off. If you don’t have time to burn calories, then eat low-fat, high-protein, fibrous foods (veggies, fruits, lean meats, nuts, etc). “For lunch, I’m having a turkey sandwich instead of waiting until I’m starving and grabbing ‘fast crap’,” says Lynne S. Beach, a part-time pharmacist who is breaking into the writing world – and who is “typing while shoving jelly beans into my pie hole” (not a recommended health tip for writers! But Mark Twain would be proud).
Stand while you write. My biggest complaint about writing is that I don’t get enough exercise — when I was a waitress, I loved coming home physically exhausting, smelling of the tavern, and weighed down with a few hundred bucks in tips (seriously: I once earned my $500 rent in tips in one night). So, to avoid a numb bum while writing, I stand and write all morning. Bruce made a wooden stand that I put my laptop and keyboard on — and I use a different keyboard at my standing desk, to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome that writers may be prone to. While standing isn’t exactly exercise, it’s a lot better than sitting for hours.
Try a treadmill desk (I want one so bad!). Here’s a health tip from Mayo Clinic:
“If you’re ready to take office exercise to the next level, consider a more focused walk-and-work approach. If you can comfortably position your work surface above a treadmill — with a computer screen on a stand, a keyboard on a table or a specialized treadmill-ready vertical desk — you may be able to walk while you work. In fact, Mayo Clinic researchers estimate that overweight office workers who replace sitting computer time with walking computer time by two to three hours a day could lose 44 to 66 pounds (20 to 30 kilograms) in a year. The pace doesn’t need to be brisk, nor do you need to break a sweat. The faster you walk, however, the more calories you’ll burn.” ~ from Office Exercise: How to Burn Calories at Work.
Deal with your writing insecurities, doubts, and fears. I used to get anxious when given a big assignment (if an editor is paying me $2 per word, I want to write it good!). I’d eat and eat and eat some more, to cope with my fear and self-doubt. I’ve learned to find other ways to deal with my writing demons.
What about you — do you use food to avoid writing? Find healthy ways to deal with your fear of writing – it’s a struggle in the short run, and liberating in the long.
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Fellow scribes, if you have any health tips for writers who don’t get enough exercise, please share below…