writing is an unhealthy occupation. when i'm deep in a project i don't eat right or exercise, and now years of neglect are catching up with me. I know a writer who started ordering meals from seattle sutton. he lost weight and felt better. i've also heard of people setting a timer so that they have to get up and move around every hour. anybody else have any tips?

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Like Jack Nicholson said in The Witches Of Eastwick, who wants to die healthy? You'd feel ripped off.

But you might want to watch that bladder...
I know this sounds insane but I work in the middle of the night from 11:30PM until 4:30AM (it works for me, husband snores and gets up early) and my bio-rhythms are noctural too, so I schedule DVD workouts—Pilates, Yoga, weight-lifting three nights a week at about 1:00AM, then I clean up, go back to work or do required reading. The "tapes" I work out to spur me on and I can keep up with the best of them. (I'm lifting 30-pounds in deadlifts and all the rest, lunges, etc., right along with Cathe.) During the daytime, I read e-mail, do promotion from about Noon until 4:30PM, when I get up and walk two miles before making dinner.

In other words, I am exercising my A_ _ off! BUT, (pardon the pun) I do have to say I have more energy and can put in a lot more hours. My posture is much improved and I don't get sick unless it's a virus. I've been wearing the same size jeans for ten years.

This takes commitment and doing it the same time for your schedule. It's not something I ask myself, "Do I want to exercise?" If I asked, I probably wouldn't. I just recognize it's something that makes my life better. I also dress better and have more confidence when I'm out with people. (For me, that makes it worth it.) My mother is 91 and walks a mile every day even though she is legally blind and very hard-of-hearing, but she doesn't take any prescriptions and has never been in the hospital.
Wow - that's an interesting approach. I used to share your preference for nocturnal writing (it's depressing trying to explain to people that you don't feel properly *awake* until mid-afternoon, and can't sleep until the early morning), but just moved-in with my girlfriend, and so am having another shot at beign diurnal.

It's turned me into a highly grumpy individual. Which is sort of a good thing, given the bleed-through into the writing.
I find I write best first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Perhaps I'd be more productive too if I cut out the sleeping bit in the middle and moved it to the daytime.

My day job might suffer a bit though.
Gawd - you all make me feel REALLY lazy. I am out of the house for work weekdays 7am until 7pm and any exercise by the time I get home is pretty much out. I've felt conscious of the fact that the last couple of weekends I've been sitting in front of the computer all day. I did 10,000 words last weekend and 7,000 this weekend. I DO get up occasionally and have a dance around the room as I generally have music on very low while I work. If something by The Ramones or The Clash or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club comes on I will generally turn it up, grab a duster and kill two birds with one stone :o)

I went for a walk in the park Saturday morning and that's about it. I'm not good with treadmills and stuff. I have an exercise bike, but it hasn't seen my bum for months. I do try and make myself do stuff occasionally. Next weekend I am painting a fence for charity all weekend and about 3 weekends after that I am doing a 10K (walking, rather than running though).
Not entirely on-topic, but not too much of a tangent: I think the nature of someone's dayjob can have a major effect on how productive/healthy they feel about writing.

Donna - you're a pension consultant, I see? I'm guessing, but would I be right in thinking that makes it very tricky for you to motivate yourself to do any writing in the evenings after work? You've already spent all day at a desk staring at a screen, so doing it all evening too probably isn't terribly attractive.

Jammy bastard that I am, I'm managing to call myself a full time writer at the moment - though I'm not sure how long I'll sustain that, financially. (Moving to London: biiiiiiig mistake.) But if/when I do feel the need to get a dayjob, I imagine it'll be helpful if it's something that has absolutely NOTHING to do with writing, desks or computers. That way coming home in the evening and starting to write will be like excercising a favourite hobby, rather than just continuing to work.

I know a lot of wouldbe authors who have jobs as journalists, copywriters, etc. Persuading them to write fiction after a hard day at work is like making a shark go veggie.

Still - 10,000 words in a weekend? That's incredible!
i wonder how many people exercised after reading this thread? :D i went for two walks yesterday. of course the nice weather didn't hurt.

norby, glad you mentioned water. that's so important, and something i don't even think much about when the weather is cold. i tend to drink hot tea and nothing else, and that's dehydrating.

tamara, ooh, swimming! and i so admire people who are writing with young kids. i look back and wonder how i ever did that. you really have to multi-task.

andrea, wow. that's an amazing schedule, and i completely get the nocturnal thing. if i have to do anything before noon i may as well stay up all night. :D and i notice the longer i've been working on a project the more nocturnal i become, often staying up until 3:00 am and sleeping until 11:00. part of it is that i become immersed in the story and lose track of what is going on outside the walls of my house. or maybe the walls of my head. i go to bed thinking about the story and get up thinking about it and it's a jolt and an intrusion to bring the logical world of exercise into that mindset.

thanks for all of the ideas and inspiring comments! this feels like the first day of exercise class where i'm hoping to stick to it this time around.

oh, and i want a robot wife too!!
I have an exercise bike that I actually use most days. The trick is figuring out how I can ride the bike, listen to music and play cards all at once. Solved that with a complicated set up that allows me to play on the computer while I am biking. My daughter makes me lift weights and do other exercises so I do get that but sometimes wonder if an hour a day is really enough. Some days it feels like way too much.
An external motivation is the key for me. I sign up for two marathons a year and then build a training schedule that I have to stick to or the marathon would really suck. Even at the most intense part of the schedule the time commitment amounts to only eight hours a week, but without the external goal and the schedule, I'd probably skip it. I post the schedule on the refrigerator so my wife knows where I'll be. That also helps her avoid conflicts with my running. As with writing, it's important to keep the family tuned into your exercise. It took awhile for my family to understand that at certain hours I was writing and was not to be disturbed. Now that I have writing time and running time, both my writing and running have improved. An exercise partner also helps with motivation. When your exercise partner is another writer, as mine is, those hours on the road can be put to very good use.
Anne - all dieting does is lower your metabolism and make you feel deprived. On the other hand, exercising burns fat and increases muscle mass, both of which raise your metabolism. And then you can get away with eating more :)

If you're dealing w/years of neglect, here is the best start-up plan I know:

- Every night before bed, lay out clothes for the next day that you would feel comfortable walking in. Clothes, socks, shoes. Everything right there so when you roll out of bed the next morning, you don't waste mental or physical energy looking for anything.

- Set your alarm for 40 min earlier than usual, and have it go off at that time every morning. When it does, get up, go potty (pardon the lingo - I have many small and verbally-influential children around here), wash the sleep off your face, and get dressed. Do not allow your mind to think during any of this. Cause once you start thinking about what you're doing, you might think yourself right back into bed. So don't think.

- Put on your iPod with music that gets your juices flowing. Wear a watch. Open your front door and start walking at a good pace in one direction for 15 min. Then turn around and walk back home. Again, at a pace that makes you kinda pant.

- That's it. But you have to do this at the same time every day. And yes, I mean EVERY DAY. Even Saturdays and Sundays. Believe me, after you get past the first week, you won't want to miss a single day.

- And once you get into the swing of it, throw in another 30-min walk in the middle of the day when you need to stretch. Or in the evening after dinner. But before opening that bottle of wine...
patti, right away i see a problem:


"Set your alarm for 40 min earlier than usual, and have it go off at that time every morning."

hehe!

but i have no problem with walking at night. i actually love to walk, but since i live in minnesota that rules out several months of the year. and if it gets too late -- like starts getting dark -- the bats come out!!! they are swooping all over hell! i swear to god one night i almost crawled home. so once the weather is warm enough to walk i try to get back before dark.
I thought the "setting alarm early" suggestion wouldn't sit well. Doesn't usually, and the only reason i suggest it is because statistically-speaking, the vast majortiy of people stick with an exercise program if they can "get it over with" first thing in the morning. As the day goes on, excuses to put it off come far too easily.

Also, I didn't take into account where you live. I live in Orange County - S. CA - so weather's not an issue since we really don't, um, have any. But I do need to get out before noon. I run hot anyway, so if I try to go for a run when it's 70 degrees or beyond, I'm not the cheery, happy-go-lucky ladybug you see before you. (Really - there is a smile behind that Darth Vader veneer). Also, bats aren't a problem around here so much as coyotes. And lemme tell ya - they're bold. One came walking across the street towards me a while back and I told it to "get back!" In the voice I use on my kids when I'm at the end of my rope.

You've never seen a coyote run away so fast.

Okay, Anne, my next suggestion is to invest in a really good treadmill. I have one in the gym in our garage for those times I CAN'T get out before noon. Best investment I've ever made. And again, have good music on your iPod, maybe even music set to the pace you're walking. Get on it for a half hour and while you're on it, "write" in your head.

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