How to Stay Healthy as a Writer Living a Sedentary Life
When I was in high school, I was an athlete. I don't mean that modestly either - tennis was my life. During the school year I trained everyday at a local tennis academy after school and played tournaments on the weekend. During the summer I bumped my two hour days to six and eight hour days to truly dedicate myself to becoming a higher ranked player. At this time in my life I could get home and drink chocolate milk and have three slices of pizza and chips and salsa and still lose weight - and no wonder why! I was often burning double if not triple daily my daily calorie intake everyday.
If there's anything this has taught me, it's that dedication is in my blood, no matter what aspect of my life. I don't regret giving up my time to develop my storytelling skills to tennis back then because the sport taught me so much about mental strength and perseverance and especially loss. But now I'm in a new part of my life, the part where I chase my dreams to become a renowned storyteller, and the sport is gone from my life.
And so is the exercise.
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In truth, despite my dedication to a sport, I never have enjoyed working out. Tennis was always fun, though sometimes heartbreaking or aggravating, but it was never boring. So when I got to college and the tennis matches slowly dwindled to a standstill, I became less healthy. Luckily, unlike most students, I put off the freshmen fifteen for quite some time - until I was a senior in fact - but when my favorite jeans became a bit too tight, I realized it: I'm not the athlete I used to be.
Perhaps had I had another dream job, this weight may never have come. I'm not the healthiest eater, but I "eat like a bird" according to my mother and never am one to overindulge - except on pizza. But I want to be a writer, and there's one thing writer's do a lot of besides writing - sitting.
Likely you already are dedicating so much time to writing that the idea of having something else to worry about like staying fit just isn't at the top of your totem pole. You're trying to achieve a very difficult dream - being a storyteller! There's no light at the end of the tunnel promising you a high salary and easy lifestyle with other jobs, so you can only hope that if you give yourself completely to your craft you can one day achieve your dreams. It's with this mindset that I have listed out the best ways to take care of yourself as a person dedicated to storytelling. With a few lifestyle changes you can really make a difference!
Ways to Stay Healthy As A Storyteller
Go For Walks
As a storyteller, walks are a great way not only to get exercise but also brainstorm ideas and think about your story. In fact, Charles Dickens was a notorious walker and often used to go for twenty mile walks at times. Even just making a point to take a walk around your neighborhood block from time to time serves as a great way to refresh your mind after a long day in front of the screen. You can even incorporate exercise into your writer's ritual by going for a walk before or after writing, or you could listen to audiobooks to get more story time in!
As storytellers, any activities involved with storytelling, be it telling our own stories or consuming others, all involve sitting. I don't want to scare you, but sitting too much can be very unhealthy - sometimes even deadly - and by getting a watch that reminds you to stand up and move every hour will not only help you stay healthy, but also serve as another way to change your perspective - literally! I highly recommend getting a FitBit or any other sort of fitness watch that alerts you to stand or move every hour. Usually these watches keep track of calories burned and steps taken too, so that you can easily keep track of everything listed in this blog post!
This is one thing I pride myself on immensely - I never skip breakfast. Ever. For the longest time I had a very simple breakfast of cereal and coffee, but recently I've transitioned to smoothie bowls and I must say those have completely changed how I experience my morning! They energize me immensely and ensure I get lots of fruits and veggies to start the day. Even if you don't have time to make yourself a fancy smoothie bowl in the morning, you should still eat something to start your day right. See it as a fuel to power yourself through your day of writing ahead of you. The more nourishing food you provide yourself, the more you can write. Maybe you have to force yourself to eat breakfast the first few days, but you'll notice over time how much energy eating a hearty breakfast can give you!
Cut Down Snacking
A year ago I lived in Spain. There I had wine and an entire baguette every day with my lunch. Yet despite this, I lost a ton of weight. While in some ways I attribute it to all the walking I did, I also think it was because even though I ate a ton for lunch, my other meals were small and I no longer snacked. Believe it or not, even the smallest snacks start to add up! If you sit around all day like many writers do, these snacks come at a price over time, and its best to just cut these habits completely and make yourself wait it out for the next meal. Not sure you can do it? Next time you feel a craving, try having a cup of green tea or cup of coffee. Additionally, I've recently come to love sparkling water as a way to wane off mindless snacking. It may make me feel bloated, but it also makes me really full, comes in a ton of flavors and keeps me hydrated!
Buy Healthy Foods
This is perhaps the most difficult aspect for me, mostly because I don't love vegetables. However, I have found that by loading your kitchen with healthy stuff, you are literally forced to eat what's at home. Which reminds me - eat at home. You'll save money and eat better by cooking for yourself because you can control what goes in your meals. All that being said, also buy a few treats so you don't overindulge. If you can find it nearby, I love Halo Top ice cream for that because I can guiltlessly have a few bites of ice cream without gaining a ton of weight. My favorite flavor is the mint chocolate chip! It tastes just like the more calorie-dense options I've loved since childhood.
Keep Track of What You Eat
Especially if you hate workouts like me, it's important to monitor how much you eat every day if you don't plan to be burning calories through workouts or walks. Sometimes this is hard, especially if you go out to eat. Because of that, when I try to make healthy changes I usually try and stick to places like Trader Joe's that provide all the calories and health information I need on the back of every item of food. Even after doing this for just a week I guarantee you'll be shocked to find out how many calories are in some of your favorite meals and will be better able to track where any unhealthy weight gains may be coming from.
While there are lots of other ways to live a healthier lifestyle, those often involve big changes in your life that maybe you just aren't ready to make yet. Though I don't endorse living a sedentary lifestyle, I believe it's worth acknowledging that as storytellers this is almost inevitable. After all, we do plenty to exercise our minds and keep them fresh, so let's treat out bodies the same way so we can live a long and fulfilling life, brimming with many stories!
What do you do to stay healthy as a storyteller? Comment below with your ideas and own stories about the struggle of being a sedentary storyteller!