Get Up and Move!

Christmas 007

My dog Lou

My dog Lou is almost eleven years old. I didn’t realize how grey she was getting until I looked at some old pictures of her and saw how dark her muzzle used to be. This past winter we noticed that she limped occasionally, especially first thing in the morning. I can sympathize as I feel pretty stiff when I get out of bed too.

It sucks getting old.

But things got so bad that by the beginning of June she was limping on three legs, not able to put any weight at all on her front right paw. Alarmed, I took her to the vet who said she somehow wrenched her right shoulder, and it was probably made worse by arthritis. She prescribed some anti-inflammatory/pain-killers for her and advised that we should curtail her walks for a few weeks until she’s feeling better. She also said that Lou had to lose some weight, since her weight probably exacerbated her shoulder injury.

Let me tell you something about my dog. She never met a meal she didn’t like. She eats everything; fruits, vegetables, scraps off the table, human junk food, any and all dog food. We never have to worry about cleaning the kitchen floor because Lou will lick up anything that spills. She also begs constantly for food. Getting this dog’s weight down is not easy.

I’ve heard an old adage: Show me a fat dog and I’ll show you a fat owner. Confession time. I need to lose weight too. My weight rose this past fall and winter when an injury kept me from the gym. When I was finally able to return, I found it hard to get back into the rhythm of a regular exercise schedule. And I have to admit, I love food almost as much as my dog does.

Perhaps if I had a different occupation, I would burn up more calories.  But as a writer, I need to spend a lot of time sitting in front of my computer, working on my writing projects. After all, isn’t the battle cry of the productive writer “BICHOK (Butt in chair, hands on keyboard)? I need to move, to exercise more in order to lose weight, but I also need time to write. How do I reconcile these two needs?

I’m still trying to figure that out, but in an effort for both the dog and I to lose a few pounds this summer, we have to employ a few strategies:

  1. Portion control – Both of us need to cut back. I’ve heard using smaller plates helps. I just have to remember not to fill mine up more than once. In Lou’s case, I have to be more careful with her portions. I measure her meals with a 1/3 cup scoop, but I know I’ve been guilty of giving her a rounded scoop from time to time. For her own good, that has to stop.
  2. Bait and switch – I’m going to try to keep healthy snacks, like fresh baby carrots in the fridge for those times when I get the munchies. Lou probably likes them more than I do, but hopefully, they’ll keep both of us from eating higher calorie treats.
  3. Get the whole family on board – My husband is notorious for bringing treats into the house that I can’t keep my hands off. I’ll need to convince him that I’m too weak to be in the same vicinity as Doritos and Lays chips. Actually, I think he already knows that. It goes without saying that Lou does not get any of these treats. Unless they fall on the floor.
  4. Make time to exercise – I have to schedule time for exercise and fit it in as if it was an appointment, like going to the dentist (and almost as much fun). This is going to be tough; I find it very easy to slack off. Once Lou gets the okay from her vet, we’ll both have to walk more.
  5. Power writing – I read an interesting article by fellow Carina writer Susan Edwards who talks about increasing her word count through power writing. She has to commit at least one hour a day to writing. Just writing. No stopping to look for the perfect word, to research, or check emails. Just writing. Susan makes herself accountable by working with a group. I have a bad habit of thinking I need a big chunk of time before I can sit down to write something new. So I might go for days without writing anything, while I wait for several precious, uninterrupted hours to materialize. But if I can write at least one hour a day, every day, it will not only keep me more connected to my story and hopefully increase the word count, it will allow me to schedule time for exercise.  Writing hour first, then the gym. Lou, on the other hand, gets a pass on the writing. Her only occupation is eating, sleeping and looking cute.

I have no idea if I can stick to these strategies but I need to try. All my too-tight clothing is telling me it’s time. And Lou needs me to be strong for her as well. I foresee a lot of begging and crying. From both of us.

How do you make time for exercise in your busy schedule?  If you’re a writer, do you find it hard to be a productive writer and stay healthy?


Get Up and Move! — 13 Comments

  1. I’ve been walking the greenways immediately after dropping my son off at the bus stop a few days a week and I love it. It’s been raining all week so I’m going to go to our community gym this week. One thing that helps me is I have a friend who lives elsewhere, but we often walk and talk together. Or at least I will text her to tell her what I’ve done for exercise and ask what she’s done. That appeals to my slightly competitive streak.

    • When it comes to exercise, it really helps to have a buddy to keep you motivated. I know what you mean about the competitive streak . You’d hate for your friend to lose weight if you didn’t!

  2. Despite the most asthmatic, runty, gym-skipping youth imaginable, as an adult I’ve grown to think of myself as fairly sporty (pause for bite of Toblerone), all thanks to signing up for a company-sponsored 5K about seven years ago. Now I LOVE to run, and it’s one of my favorite ways to solve sticky plot problems.

    The best part? The two work symbiotically. If I’m banging my head on a narrative brick wall, I go for a run. And if I’m having a hard run and want to give up, I try to focus on my current WIP to distract myself from the pain. I almost (almost!) always come away feeling reinvigorated physically and mentally.

    Of course, running is what works for me, but everyone’s different. I think the goal is to make exercise and writing work for one another, as silly as that sounds, and to find the activity that works your body while freeing your brain. Personally my new thing is mud/obstacle runs, but I’m still figuring out how to think through characterizations while commando-crawling through ice cubes!

    • Wow, Rebecca, I’m impressed! I don’t think I could run around the block, let alone 5k. Good for you! I too find that going for a walk will help me to work out potential plot kinks. For some reason I also find that my best ideas come to me in the shower!

      Seriously, the better I feel physically, the easier it is to write. If I want to be a productive writer, I need to look after myself.

    • Good for you, Rebecca! I want to do a 5K (walking). That’s my goal for the fall or next spring. I love the way working out brings me clarity that improves my writing. But I’m usually listening to music while walking and had never thought of using that time to hash out my WIP.

    • I’ve been really good about sweets, but today I stopped at a new local bakery. I figured I needed a little motivation to power through my revisions. I tend to get hungry, too, whenever I’m supposed to be writing. I do the same thing Jana does. I’ve stocked up on baby carrots, fruit, and other healthy treats. I also drink a lot more water than I did before and that curbs my hunger.

      • I’m trying to be good, Reese, but sometimes I backslide. I guess the important thing to do when I indulge a little too much is not to quit or beat myself, but to just start all over again. Good luck!

    • I know what you mean. I get the munchies, too. I don’t think I’m hungry; it’s more like an excuse. If I get up and eat, I don’t have to sit down and do the work!

  3. I love your post. It’s so funny how even though I hate and dread exercise and the time it takes, right now I can’t because of some weird physical stuff going on. So all I want to DO is walk–I don’t CARE how long it takes. :-) The older we get, though, the more important it is.

    • It really is important, especially when you get to be, let’s say, of a certain age. I also do yoga and Pilates, and I find that if miss a class or two, I feel less flexible, and a lot more stiff and sore. I hate the time it takes too, but it’s definitely a necessary evil!

  4. Walking in the woods with my dog is my thinking time where I plot my stories and get invigorated when I’m feeling stale. Try exercising outdoors instead of in the gym. I swear you’ll be more motivated.

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