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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The timer thing works pretty good. I set the alarm on my cell phone to remind me to get up and stretch every half hour to forty-five minutes. Otherwise I just don't move from the computer. Also, I schedule in play activities (emphasis on the active). Again, if I don't plan it and stick to the plan, I never leave the keyboard.

During my last round o' writing madness, I gained...well, I'm not gonna tell you how much weight I gained. I don't cook when I'm writing & tend to crave all sorts of not-good-for-ya stuff like...cake, pie, microwave burritos. You know, the kind of thing I wouldn't even think about when in my right mind. My write mind (and stomach) has a very unhealthy vision of nutrition. If it's not full of sugar and/or caffeine, and lots o' artificial crap, I don't wanna eat it. Sick.
Butt ups. While sitting, tighten those butt cheeks, up down, up down. And then, if you're as lucky as I am and have a cat that insists on sitting on your lap while you're writing, you have to stretch for the keyboard.

Plus, if you put your dictionary on one side of the chair and your thesaurus on the other, you can do side stretches when you need to reach them.

And on the serious side, sometimes I've had an elevated desk and worked standing. I'll do basic standing exercises while working. I used to type on my laptop in the kitchen, using the kitchen counter. Unfortunately our present home isn't conducive to that, and Rebus's whiny pestering for my lap complicates things - if I don't sit I end up having him try to lie on my shoulder and that gets painful.

Right now he's flaked out with his head on my arm, sound asleep, but leaning over him is helping me tighten the tummy muscles.
My significant 'nother, Ruth---won't let me get away without a walk daily. I mean, six freaking days a week we walk a brisk 3-4 miles. Plus, I wear an odometer, I have to log 14,000 steps per day.

And diet is important. I still write a few items monthly about health related issues and for the pocket change. I weigh more than I did when I started writing 30 plus years ago, but me thinks it's only ten pounds or so.

Veterans Park, Jim? I live three block away...---It has to be a different park, huh?
My recent health crisis was related exactly to the habits you describe, Anne. That was enough to scare me off the Coca-Cola and up onto my pricey treadmill, which until that moment had been serving as a free-form Art Deco clothes hanger. I already ate an organic, balanced diet, and stayed away from junk food (except for the sodas) so that wasn't the problem. I was just a completely sedentary lump in front of my computer all day, and most of the night, seven days a week.

Three weeks later, I feel better than I have in years, have more energy, sleep better, and have lost five pounds. 40 more to go but I feel like I will actually make that goal in about a year's time or so just by keeping on with the new regimen of exercise, no soda, and going to bed at a reasonable hour. Oh, and remembering to take my blood pressure medicine. That helps, too.
I'm lucky enough to live near the ocean, so I walk along the strand for 20-30 minutes every morning, after doing a couple of hours of work. I find I look forward to the stroll as much for my state of mind as for my aerobic well-being, but both benefit!

This is an important thread, as I smoke also, and when writing i'm pretty much on the damned chair, especially seeing the recent spate of writers passing away, Kurt Vonnegut et. al. does worry me.

I joined a gym [again] and go for a swim a couple of times a week, and a walk every so often, but I just don't do as much exercise as I should - just need to motivate I guess.

Worrying I agree

I recently invested in one of those "posture" chairs, to spare my spine. I'm pretty sure the bloody things work by being so fecking uncomfortable you have to stand up every five minutes anyway.

One thing that might be worth investigating: have you ever tried writing longhand? I wrote my first novel on the computer and was miserable: effectively chained to the desk/computer. Plus I found that I was typing faster than my brain could keep-up, so I was filling pages with random ramble which wound-up getting deleted later.

The second novel, I'm writing all in longhand (and typing-up as and when the opportunity arises). This means I'm free to wander about, work in coffee shops or pubs, sit in parks, change seats, etc. And it means I write just that little bit slower, so every word is chosen with care. It saves time in the long run. Plus there simply something *organic* about applying pen to paper.

Worth a squirt?
Heh. I'm so ancient I've written in longhand and with a typewriter before computers became inexpensive enough for me to have one at home. Once I discovered the magic of thoughts appearing on a screen before my eyes almost as soon as they arrive in my head, I've been hooked on the computer. My first novel was published in the 80s, so you see I've been doing this for a long time. Yet you've never heard of me, right? That's the way it goes and I'm not complaining.

I would probably be the shape I am and the condition I'm in no matter what my profession, but I do second the walking idea, whether you do it on a treadmill or by the ocean or in a park or wherever. I used to live near the ocean and I must say I did more walking there than anyplace else. Now I'm thinking about a treadmill, but the truth is I've retired to a small place and haven't the room, so I don't know what I'll do. Probably I'll accept the fact that I sit a lot and am what I am....
Here's my one-word tip: dog. My dog needs a long walk first thing in the morning, and another before dinner. Miscellaneous jaunts throughout the day, as well as a last chance to pee just before bedtime.

Don't feel like getting up? The dog won't let you get away with that. If I'm in bed, he'll put his paws up on the mattress next to me and start sniffing. If I'm at the computer, he'll come and lay his head in my lap. You want exercise? Get a dog.
I make working out my first chore of the day. And sometimes it does feel like a chore, especially when I'm on a hot streak with my book and all I can think about is how I'd rather be writing than jogging on the treadmill. However, there are times when the treadmill is my friend because it allows me to let my mind wander and work out plot kinks.
I've put a lot of time on my TM, but I've put it to good use.
As an RN, I'd like to remind everyone about the benefits of exercise. If nothing else, it increases circulation and that brings oxygen to our lethargic brains. You'll be able to think better. Honestly, it gives me an energy boost for the day.
Think of exercise as a writing necessity. Quit laughing. I'm serious. We take time out for promotion and research, and shopping for things like ink and paper. Exercise is just one more tool we need to utilize in order to get the job done.
It works for me!
wow, so many great replies!
one thing I'm planning to do is set the timer. never tried that, but i'm hoping it helps. this falls under TMI, but i think some recent bladder infections were the result of my not leaving the computer when i had to pee. :O
sandra, i also stand a lot. i'm standing right now. i put my laptop on a buffet, which is higher than a kitchen counter. still a bit short, but not bad. that way i'm always walking around. walk away, come back, walk away. but i don't usually stand when i'm trying to get in my daily five pages.

just the other day a writer was telling me about how his dog gets him out of the house and away from the computer.

and as far as smoking goes... i imagine quitting is especially hard for a writer because you have that association every time you sit down.

living near the ocean -- that sounds wonderful.
simon, i would go crazy if i wrote everything out by hand, but i certainly know what you mean. and there's something about putting the words on paper that really helps solidify my thoughts and ideas.

scarlett -- loved your comment about exercise being a writing necessity!
I wanna live near the ocean. I know i need to get out and exercise more. I think about it, and then I look at my to do list. But really, I need to put exercise at the top of the to do list. When I do get for even just a walk, I feel so much better.


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