I confess that I’m not the healthiest person on the planet. But I also believe that makes me “uniquely qualified” to speak about wellness for other writers. Because we all can look at some of those fitness gurus and shake our heads, thinking, “Yeah, okay, but what about the rest of us?” When I look for wellness habits, I’m looking for things to incorporate or change about my current lifestyle, not things that will force me to completely change my lifestyle in one fell swoop.
The thing I’m noticing about my body as I become more vintage (I am not “getting old” I am “becoming vintage”) is that I am definitely moving into the “use it or lose it” phase of my physical health. After taking a break from a pretty aggressive exercise regimen (a break due to the “aggressive” part being a little too aggressive on one knee and my lower back), I thought my body would be rested, refresh, and ready to re-enter that same regimen. This proved to be untrue. As my knee was healing and my lower back no longer entering hourly spasms, the rest of my body became more, not less, inclined to protest and I learned through the language of aches and pains that I would have to work up to returning to an exercise regimen that I was formerly able to jump right into.
A Screeching Halt
I haven’t been happy about this. I may not exercise regularly or be the most fit woman on the planet, but I am a mom who slung babies the way white-hatted western sherriffs slung six-shooters–one on either hip and ready to draw between heartbeats. My endurance and strength have always been a source of pride for me–I will lift the couch with one hand and vacuum under it with the other I have that much gristle underneath my fluffiness.
But my chiropractor (who shares info more because we’re doing the same exercise program) remarked one day that the reason I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted was because there is, in fact, a benefit to gradually working your body up to an aggressive exercise regimen, and that not all exercise programs are intended to produce the same set of results.
Now being a woman who is a writer, and wants to be thinking about writing for more of the day than I think about exercise (and who also doesn’t necessarily have room in her brain to think about exercise plus all the tasks, errands, chores, due dates, and faces of casual acquaintances whose names I’m slower to remember these days), I hadn’t given it much thought. But instead of starting back up on my hardcore extreme exercise program, I’ve begun more slowly. Doing so has kept my knees in mild whining mode rather than full-on, sit-in-the-street protest (although when I do attend a sit in the street protest, my knees will now be protesting right along with me. Solidarity with your joints, FTW!).
Cruising Has Its Benefits
Going more slowly has also given me an undocumented side feature. Instead of the hardcore workouts I’m moving more in the form of walking, not-running (in a sort of bouncy, half-hearted jog that lasts for 30-second spurts until something protests), and biking. During these sessions, I’m taking along my Android and podcasts of Mur Lafferty’s “I Should Be Writing” podcast, and Christiana Ellis’ podio book of “Nina Kimberly the Merciless” (which is made all the more awesome by the voices she does. I admit, being the weird and quirky person I am…I’m totally a Francis fangirl). I’m also educating myself on the wonderful resources Joanna Penn’s collected in her “The Creative Penn” poddies, and have sampled many others. And sometimes, I just listen to a playlist of my current WIP (which I can’t seem to ever do while I’m writing because I end up singing along) or just the noises of the morning while thinking about my WIP.
Going slower has given me, believe it or not, time to think, while still being productive in a manner. I’ve dropped a few pounds that didn’t want to seem to leave before, in spite of all the weight lifting and pull-ups. I’ve finally found an effective way–for me–to incorporate something writing-related (the most sedentary activity ever, it seems) into exercise. WINNING!
The point of all this is that moving moves more than your body. Moving helps your mind move better, too. Lubricate your mind while you’re lubricating your joints. And you don’t even need to go all hardcore. So if your story isn’t moving, get yourself out there and move your body. Your mind just might tag along to see what’s interesting.
Links for Movers and Shakers
Gaiam’s 8-minute balance ball workout: I sit on a balance ball as part of the back therapy, and this little 8-minute workout is one I’m trying to incorporate into days when I’m especially tied to the desk. It’s just enough time to get your muscles warm, your heart pumping, and your limbs stretchy, and then you can go right back to work.