Thursday, November 02, 2006

Writers and their health

Okay, very boring subject today, but mucho on my mind. I sold my first book 3 years ago. I quit my day job two and a half years ago. Writing and being a published author has always been my dream. I worked toward it for over 20 years, getting financially secure, making the contact, hmm, and actually writing the books, too. So here I am!!! And what happens? My body starts to fall apart on me. I have a hard time typing on the computer all day and I lay awake in pain at night. For a while, I hurt so badly that I couldn’t even hold a book to read. Thank God THAT’S gotten better. I’m doing physical therapy now. I’ve got what’s called “multiple crush.” In other words, I’ve been staring at my computer screen day in and day out on a chair that wasn’t ergonomic using a laptop where I couldn’t get the screen and the keyboard in the right place, hence, I jutted my head forward to see it and ended up screwing up the nerves going down my arms. Okay, took a while to get myself into this place, and it will take awhile to get myself back out, but I do have a point, I swear it!

Writers have a sedentary job. I don’t even go to meetings or rush down the hall to the copy machine or printer or over to MIS or Customer Service, or maybe out to the factory floor to count some inventory. No, I sit in front of the computer until my butt ACHES! I wonder how many of us do that. I’m pretty sure those of us with new babies don’t! But what about the rest when we’re on deadline? Now that I’ve reached my goal, made my dream come true, I don’t want to lose it all to a broken-down body. So here are some of the things I’m doing to keep myself in good writing shape.

First, I go for my daily speed walk. I think I do about 3 ½ miles. I have a timer on my computer now to remind me to get up every half hour, if for nothing else than to walk about my office and stretch a bit. I bought an external keyboard for my laptop so that I can have my eyes and my arms in the right place! I do a series of exercise to help my posture. I take my vitamins to help keep osteoporosis and arthritis at bay. And don’t forget the fish oil, which is good for lots of things. I practice breathing from my belly instead of my chest (you know, that’s really hard to do!). And I get a monthly deep tissue massage. Hmm, that’s actually a bonus.

I’d love to hear what all of you do to keep yourselves in tip-top shape. I might just have to incorporate it into my routine!

Jasmine Haynes
http://www.skullybuzz.com

Comments:
I think this is something we all have to learn the hard way. I do fifty situps a day and lift weights a couple times a day, just to get my heart pumping. I walk a mile a day (except today because it's raining like crazy out there!) and since I have a third floor office I'm up and down stairs all day long. I also write while sitting in my grandmother's old oak rocker with my feet up on a footstool and the laptop perfectly set in my lap so everything feels just right. The PC was killing me. Sitting at a desk is a slow death, but right now I'm here in my rocking chair in the office next to a big window with a veiw of the rain falling through the pines. The ground is littered with gold and yellow oak leaves, and a small herd of deer just wandered by outside. I never feel guilty dreaming out the window, and I get up and move as much as I can. I also drink a lot of water and always keep a huge glass of ice water by my chair. It's really easy to dehydrate when writing, especially if you drink a lot of coffe in the morning like I do. You've got to keep the machinery in top working order--the body and brain need to be maintained on a regular basis!
 
Great topic, Jasmine! I have a 17 month old, so sitting in front of the computer all day is still somewhat of a luxury. But I think it's so important to stay in shape, active, and healthy, especially because writing is so sedentary (as are most of the office jobs we've all had!). In addition to chasing the monster, I run 3 miles or go to the gym 5 or 6 days a week. I used to do yoga (sadly, little monster has curtailed my yoga practice) - Jasmine, I would highly recommend it as all of the down dogs and pushups you do really help to strengthen your wrists and stave off carpel tunnel. As far as food, I'm not very strict about my diet, but I don't like to eat a whole lot of packaged or heavily processed foods, and almost never eat fast food. My cousin has a good mantra that has stuck with me - if a food is chemically engineered by man, your body would probably be better off without it. Kate - great point about staying hydrated I read a snippet of a study lately that when you're feeling low energy, a big glass of ice water can help perk you up.
 
I walk every day and pretend I'm working with weights every other day.
I go up and down stairs several times a day for coffee and let my dogs out.
 
I've never really intentionally exercised, but at 32 it's starting to catch up with me, so I joined a yoga class a few weeks ago. I'm not sure it's doing much, but it is relaxing and I can almost do a head stand without the wall. I'm lousy at sitting still, though. And I tend to sit cross-leggged (Indian style! :-) ) in my chair, so it's not exactly ergonomic. Probably should change that.
 
Jasmine, this is so timely for me. Seems I've developed asthma from two back to back pregnancies and the doctor said to me that full-on excercise will do 100 times more for my health than any drug he can prescribe. I just finished a 1 hour workout this morning and from now on excercise is my number 1 priority--like it used to be before mother hood and authorhood.
;-) bella
 
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