Wednesday, October 12, 2005

When you need to get your butt out of the chair

Usually it's a fight to make yourself sit long enough to get some writing done, but sometimes you just need to get up and shake out those muscles--something writers are lax about.

I don't know many writers who like to exercise. In my Southern California neighborhood, I certainly know a fair number of people who like to exercise, who go to the gym or work out with a trainer or run, and love it. I always look at these people with a bit of amazement. That anyone would love to exercise is beyond me. It's an admirable trait, one that I don't possess.

Maybe it's genetic. No one in my family has been an exerciser. My Aunt Teresa used to walk a ton (which may be why she lived to be in her late 80s, for the most part all healthy years).

But I went for my annual the other week and my doctor ran blood tests--the usual ones--and they came back pretty okay except for my cholesterol, which was a bit elevated. Not much, but enough for me to remember my mother had high cholesterol and my grandmother had some strokes, and maybe it was time to pay attention to such things.

I worked on my diet a bit, which is not all that bad; I gave up meat more than 20 years ago. So I cut out some butter, some cheese, ice cream. But exercise was the thing I really needed to work on. I walk now and then, but when I had a dog I walked a ton. No longer.

A friend told me about a Pilates DVD--Gaiam's Pilates for Weight Loss. The narrator doesn't baby talk to you and the beachy setting is gorgeous. So I started doing the 30 minute workout.

Then I made another discovery, something that is so motivating, to this writer, anyway: Books on tape (or CD). Now it's fun to go on Long Walks, because I get to listen to a book. It makes me want to walk longer, take the long route, circle the block to get to the end of a chapter. I listened to Anne Tyler's A Patchwork Planet and John LaCarre's The Constant Gardener this way, and now I'm listening to Ian McEwan's Saturday.

So if you have trouble getting out of the chair, stock up on some books on tape, lace on those tennis shoes, and take to the streets. Not only will you be healthier, you'll have more energy for writing. (I sound like a regular cheerleader, but I swear, I was never one in high school....)


Keris said...

It's funny, since I gave up work to write I've been struggling. I end up procrastinating all day.

Monday I gave in, made a cup of tea, and sat and watched Relocation, Relocation (a great show about home moving). Then I headed back to the office and got tons of work done!

So it's now part of my 'writing routine'!

I can't exercise on writing days - if I leave the house I'll never come back - but since I got an iPod I've been listening to audiobooks and they're great. I haven't been listening to much fiction though so any more recommendations would be gratefully received.

I *did* listen to Word by Word, a recording of an Anne Lamott lecture, which was totally inspiring and almost counts as working, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Well, listening is good, and yes, inspiring, but perhaps counting it almost as writing is stretching it a bit far. ; }