Easy Tips to Help Writers Stop Weight Gain in its Tracks

Filed in The Healthy Writer by on May 3, 2017 • views: 1149

by Marcia Yudkin

Walk cityWhen I lived in Boston as a work-at-home writer,
I stayed trim and lean despite having no exercise plan.

The Boston Public Library was a 20-minute walk away, and ditto for Star Market, which I’d visit every other day to keep our refrigerator and pantry stocked.

Because some people described our South End neighborhood as dangerous, I went everywhere in a fast, confident stride. We drove so seldom that it took almost a week for us to realize that our car, parked on a nearby dead-end street, had been smashed by an unknown drunk driver.

When we moved to an outlying town, and later to the country, I started putting on weight. Out of the city, I had to set aside time and energy to exercise. Walking continued to be a favorite activity for me, but as Colleen explained in a 2015 Writing and Wellness post, writing at home doesn’t typically lend itself to the 10,000 steps a day that experts recommend for fitness and weight control.

Here are the best ideas I’ve used for writers to fit thousands of steps into their lifestyles every day.

Walk EarphonesRetool Your Learning Time

As a writer, you surely spend time reading—for pleasure, research, knowledge of your audience, and general learning. So instead of reading print or on-screen stuff, see how much of that you can switch to listening.

Podcasts, audio books, audio courses and language lessons can be loaded onto an MP3 player, CDs or a smartphone for listening while you walk.

These have become my prime walking companions in recent years. My current favorites are the podcast “News in Slow Spanish” and college-level lectures from The Great Courses company, but I’ve also consumed numerous audio books (free from the public library) and interviews with famous writers or business leaders.

I’ve worked out shortcuts and back roads so I can listen to audios outdoors with minimal competition or distraction from traffic noise. For me, two hours of walking and listening equal five miles and about 10,000 steps. Whatever the season, I always bring water with me, and a banana for energy replenishment at the halfway point.

Walk Fall LeavesBe Inefficient on Your Errands

Follow the inefficiency principle when you need to go out for practical reasons, like shopping. Park your car a football field away from your destination rather than as close as possible. Inside the supermarket or warehouse store, use an alphabetical or randomly organized shopping list instead of finding items aisle by aisle.

In a warehouse store like Costco or Home Depot, this chaotic shopping method can force you into hundreds, if not thousands, of extra steps. You’ll know you’re on the right track if shopping begins to feel like as tiring as an aerobics class or a game of pickup basketball!

Walk FriendsSocialize Differently

All but the most reclusive writers take time out every week to visit with friends and family. You can transform some of these social periods into opportunities to boost your quantity of steps by inviting friends or relatives to visit with you during walks instead of over meals at home or at restaurants.

I’ve had walking get-togethers with my sister and with several friends. We meet at a bike path, a park or a marked trail in the woods. I’ve even done this with paying clients, calling it a “Walk the Talk” consultation. As long as both people can walk at the same speed, a walking visit is energizing, and it suits both introverts and extroverts.

Walk OfficeGet In More Short Bursts

Still short of 10,000 steps a day? Try creative strategies to inject small chunks of extra steps into your daily routine, such as:

  • Do your thinking on your feet, to and fro in your home office instead of sitting and staring at the wall or out the window. (Clear a path for that first, of course, if you need to.) Novelist Carolyn Chute once said that she acts out everything she is writing, which certainly involves a lot of footwork. When you’re going back through what you’ve previously written, print it out and reread or proof it while you pace. If your work involves making phone calls, that’s another excuse—oops, opportunity—for pacing.
  • Take breaks. Productivity experts advise at least one 10-minute break every 90 minutes. That adds up to at least 30 minutes of “found time” for walking during your workday. If you have stairs in your home or your building, tread up and down them several times during those breaks. Counting steps out loud or in your head while taking a work break adds to the rejuvenating effect of stepping around.
  • Inconvenience yourself. Are there tools and resources you need while writing? If so, place them as far away as possible from your desk so you have to get up and retrieve them instead of simply reaching out for them. Use the most distant bathroom. Force yourself to go out to the car to consult the dictionary.

A Bonus Idea

Although this doesn’t add to your total of steps, you can also burn extra calories during any routine day by eating lunch and/or breakfast standing up instead of sitting.

This is easy and natural to do at the kitchen counter. According to exercise scientists, standing up requires micromovements that burn about 50 calories more an hour than sitting.

Inspired? Add any other walk-more tips for work-at-home writers in the comments.

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MarciaMarketing expert, author, and writing coach Marcia Yudkin is a fierce advocate for introverts, showing them how to claim their talents and strengths while rejecting the culture’s emphasis on hype, manipulation and ego.

She is the author of 6 Steps to Free Publicity, Persuading People to Buy and numerous other books, as well as the ebook, audiobook, and online course “Marketing for Introverts.”

For more information on Marcia and her work, please see her website, or connect with her on Twitter and YouTube.

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  1. Thanks, Marcia!

    I’m a big advocate of frequent breaks. I either set a timer or ask Google to remind me when my time is up. (Search Google for “timer [#] minutes,” where # equals the number of minutes.) When the bleeps sound, I spend two to three minutes exercising. The break and the extra blood flow help spur creativity.