It's Good For You
I’ve learned the hard way that I don’t always do what’s good for me—but most of the time I do it. I’ve read enough health books (and even written a best-selling one called First Place) to know the benefits of diet and exercise.
Today I’m returning to more nuggets for writers from Kelly James-Enger’s book, Six Figure Freelancing, The Writer’s Guide to Making More Money (Random House Reference). Whether you want to increase your effectiveness as a writer or make more money, this book is loaded with great information. If you get the chance to meet, Kelly you will see from her slim appearance that diet and exercise are worked into her life. She runs—besides writing about health and fitness for a variety of outlets. It’s no surprise to me that she encourages writers with the benefits of exercise.
She writes, “I’d like to suggest that as you commit to full-time freelancing, you also commit to a regular exercise program. (No groans, please!) Writing is a sedentary business, and working out will reduce stress and help you maintain a healthy weight. Working from home, it’s all too easy to head to the refrigerator for a distraction—and those little snacks can add up. Exercise has proven mood-boosting benefits, and while I can’t cite a study, I’m sure that regular exercise makes you more productive in your writing as well…Yes, exercise—even a quick walk around the block—takes time out of your day. But is more than pays for itself with increased productivity, better mood, and I’d say, more creativity as well…Remember, the biggest asset you have as a writer, besides your time, is your good health. When you feel good, it’s all too easy to take it for granted, but when you feel lousy, it can drag your productivity to a halt…When I’m exercising regularly, my aches and pains are minimal, and I’m able to cope with daily stressors much better. I think you’ll find the same is true as well.” (p. 42–43)
Painful words huh? They ring true for me. Several years ago I was full of excuses about why I couldn’t devote the time to exercise. I had a full-time job. I had a 40–45 minute commute each way. I was writing books on top of that schedule and other things. Exercise slipped as a priority and didn’t fit into my day (at least that’s what I told myself). My wife’s encouragement didn’t seem to boost it on the priority list. My pants kept getting tighter. To solve that situation, I purchased larger pants (several times). One day I looked in the mirror and wasn’t happy with my appearance (at least I crawled out of denial). It wasn’t simply exercise. I needed to combine my exercise with diet. While I love doughnuts and ice cream and great breads, I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t eat much (if any) of such things and still fit into my pants.
For almost two years, I’ve been on a modified version of the South Beach Diet and combined with regular exercise, I’ve lowered my weight over 30 pounds (sometimes it’s been more than this but overall I’ve kept the weight off for two years). I know exercise and eating what’s good for me has built some extra energy into my writing life. And I may groan about doing it—but I’m committed to this discipline—just as much as I’m committed to writing. It’s hard work—for any of us.