Friday, April 26, 2013

Combating the Dreaded Writer's Butt and Other Curses

Once upon a time, I was a young mom who spent most of her time chasing kids, playing soccer in the backyard, and desperately trying to find bits of time to write. Now that all my munchkins are in school, I spend the majority of my day at the computer editing for clients, organizing writing events and working on my own manuscripts. The problem with this is that I would much rather be working at my computer than doing that dreaded other thing - exercising. But (maybe that should be "butt") that combination has taken its toll on both my body and my health.

The solution: Kick the exercise-is-yucky attitude to the curb.


I started with purchasing a FitBit. Actually, my hubby and I both got some and challenge encourage each other to meet our personal goals. I decided to get a baseline count of "normal" life, so I hooked it on and ignored it for the first three days. Holy mackerel was I shocked! I averaged less than 2,000 steps per day. Per day! On the good side, the cold hard numbers were enough to boost my determination to set achievable goals and work to meet them. Here are some examples of what I have done to make my life healthier.

Walking

I schedule 1 or 2 longer walks (30-45 minutes) during the day. If it's not raining, hailing or tornado sirens blaring, then I try to walk my son to school and take a longer route home. I don't plan an actual mileage count. I just walk until I feel like I'm done. Not exhausted, mind you. Just happily done. It started out at being about a half mile. Now I tend to do more like 1 1/2 to 2 miles. I take different routes each day to make it interesting. I also have a walking playlist on my cell phone with songs that have beats to match my walking stride. A few examples are One Directions "What Makes You Beautiful" and Colbie Caillat's "Brighter Than the Sun." If my day goes well (or if I don't lose track of time while writing), my second walk of the day is to pick up my son from school with a slight detour on the way. Not as long as the first walk of the day though. When Mother Nature intervenes, then I do one afternoon walk at the local mall after I drop my daughter off at afternoon Kindergarten. My step counts now fluctuate between 5K to 12K per day. It's a big fluctuation, I know. My goal is to healthier, but I also refuse to stress out about meeting a specific number each day.

10 Minute Breaks

Scattering ten minute breaks throughout the work day is one of the best things I added to my day. I generally either crank up the music and dance in my kitchen, do a series of stretches (check out my post on Monday for more details), fold a load of laundry while standing, do some squats (so good for your butt and legs), or go for a short walk around the block. My goal is to have three breaks in the morning and another two or three in the afternoon. Ten minutes goes a long way to giving your body a much needed break from sitting. The best part is doing something different helps rejuvenate my brain. I usually come up with great ideas for my plot or have a renewed energy to meet my next editing goal.

Easily Accessible Drinks

Drinking enough water is so, so hard for me, and diving into my own stories or someone else's makes it even harder to remember my body's needs. I've tried a lot of different strategies and finally realized I just need to schedule drinking breaks. Sad, but true. I love travel mugs for their *mostly* spill proof qualities - and shopping for cute ones helped me commit to this essential part of living healthy. I keep one at my desk all the time filled with either water, diet citrus green tea or cranberry juice. Sorry, friends, no soda, coffee or margaritas at this desk. How do I schedule drinking breaks? It's quite simple, really. I have a wind-up kitchen timer on my desk. I set it for 30 minutes. When it dings, I drink a few sips, reset the timer and move on. The interruption is less than a minute, so it doesn't interfere with my creative flow.

Healthier Snacks and Rewards

Munchy, munch, munch. There's a reason why I don't keep potato chips or chocolate in my house. I'm a mega snacker. Can't resist the temptation. Instead, I have snack baggies filled with 1/4 cup servings of mixed nuts, trail mix or Honey-Nut Cheerios. Other healthy snacks I indulge in include Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and all natural popcorn. I also keep a Rewards Jar on my desk. When I reach my daily goals, I get to choose a sweet treat--usually a Sugar Free Werther's Original candy (caramel apple or cinnamon are my favorite flavors).


It's so easy to get caught up in our character's stories or be so focused on a looming deadline, that we forget to take care of ourselves. The key to success is making your health a priority. Figure out what your needs are (moving around, eating, drinking, etc), then look at your daily routine and find ways to work those needs in. Don't just say "oh this would be nice" though or you'll never accomplish it. Which, in my case, would add more guilt to my shoulders. No guilt! Make changes that will work for your lifestyle and in a way you will actually follow through.


What tips can you share to conquer the dreaded writer's butt?




11 comments:

cheminant said...

I stand. I work in an office and have seen the, um, spread that happens when you sit in a chair for eight hours a day, five days a week for 30 years. I have a standing desk. You could use a stool to help transition. Standing burns twice as many calories as sitting, doesn't compress muscles on the back of the thighs, and doesn't put pressure on your rear, which will cause your hips to widen and compress flesh outward as well.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

The RWA magazine recently had an article about standing desks and also walking desks. I totally want to look into them. Do you wear sneakers to work? My only worry was how my feet would handle all the standing. Does it bother you to stand still like that or do you move around a lot more?

Donna K. Weaver said...

Lots of great advice here. I put a board across the arms of my treadmill and have my laptop there. I don't walk quite as fast as I would normally, but I do a 3. I can check my email, edit, write blog posts, etc. All things I need to do but would normally pull me away from exercising.

Heather Justesen said...

I've been trying to eat a little better (some days are more successful than others), and walk places more. When I do deposits, I walk them to the bank (right through the block--which is a park, so that's nice). I'll walk errands that are within a couple of blocks of my office and *plan* to take a quick walking break around the block a couple of times per day Now would be good while I'm between projects, actually). You're right, little, simple steps make all of the difference.

kbrebes said...

Great post, Danyelle. Here's how I do my water: 1 glass upon rising, then I immediately fill a two-cup mug with water, a bit of honey, and my favorite licorice tea. When that's gone, I go back and drink another cup of water (which is about 10am). Then at each meal and snack I add another cup, so lunch, fruit snack, dinner, fruit snack. Wallah! That's 8 cups! Easy-peasy. : )

kbrebes said...

ps Would you please email me and tell me which FitBit you got? I checked them out and they look wonderful. Thanks!

Danyelle Ferguson said...

I love everyone's feedback!

Donna - I love that idea! I'm not wishing I had a treadmill to try it out and even debating about where I could put one in my house. Hmmm . . .

Heather - yes, every step counts. It's been raining all day today. I just looked at my FitBit and saw I've only gotten in 1700ish steps. Gasp! Must get out the Just Dance or a Walk at Home video and get some steps in tonight!

Kathleen - I got the FitBit Zip. I absolutely love it! It syncs up with the app on my phone and to my computer. I love the the phone app too. I totally wanted an awesome color, like pink or green. But since hubby and I purchased a 2-pack, the colors were pre-chosen (black and navy). Sigh. That's seriously the only negative thing I can think to say. Everything else about it I've loved.

Shirley Bahlmann said...

You don't need to buy a fancy standing desk. I stand at my piano with a cardboard box on top of it to make my laptop the right height. Then I step in place on a memory foam mat while I write. if I find that I'm so caught up in writing that I've stopped stepping, I just start up again. It hurts so good! (It doesn't really hurt, I just had to say that.) If my legs get tired, I can sit for awhile, and then stand again. It's lovely.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

I love the creativity, Shirley. I need to look around my house and see how I can try that too. Then if I love it enough, maybe I might graduate to trying the treadmill desk.

keliwright said...

So good to read this. I was doing great on the fitness thing last year, but my butt is telling me I've been slacking. Funny thing--As I was reading this, I got antsy and stood up, flipped my laptop screen back, and kept reading. Now I'm writing comments standing up, and I find my arms are just the right length--I mean the table is just the right height--for this to be effective. I wonder if the change in angle will also help my carpal tunnel? Anyway, works for the moment...

sally Johnson said...

I started doing three songs on the Wii Just Dance. It takes about 15 minutes and it gets my heartrate up. Three times a day is my goal. But it's more fun than dreaded exercise.
I just started eating Greek Yogurt and it was not love at first bite. Chiobanni has a Key Lime Pie flavor that you mix in white chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs and it is so good it's like dessert!

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