Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Four Simple Ways to Become a Healthier Writer

I don't know about you, but when I'm not taking care of my body through health and fitness, my creativity suffers. And a writer's schedule isn't necessarily full of time to spend three hours at the gym every day.

As I've been studying to become a certified fitness instructor, I've realized there are ways we can achieve our health goals AND our writing goals at the same time.

Here are four simple ways:

1) Use a stability ball as your desk chair. It helps strengthen your core (abs and back) and improves your posture. And if you want to take it up a notch, you can lift off the ball every once in a while to work your legs and glutes while you type.

2) Drink while you write. (Water, that is. ;)) If you write in hour-long chunks, make it your goal to finish off a cup or two of water before the hour is up. I'm a big fan of multitasking. :)

3) Set up a laptop stand on your treadmill, like our very own Pepper. This isn't the most practical for typing. But if you need to read through an excerpt or catch up on blogs or read a craft book, this is the perfect solution.

4) Take a recorder with you on a walk and brainstorm ideas. Or better yet, if you've got a writing buddy close by, take brainstorming walks together. (Or if your brainstorming buddies are far away, call them up and pace around your house while you talk. You can burn around 200 calories if it's an hour-long chat!)

Do you have any ideas to add to my list? How much time do you devote to your health each week? What would you do with the extra time you could save by multitasking on these goals?

*Exercise ball photo by John Kasawa /

Sarah Forgrave is a stay-at-home writer-mom who feels blessed to pursue her calling and passion. She writes contemporary romance for the inspirational market and is a contributor to the webzine Ungrind.

To learn more about Sarah, visit her personal blog at:


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

You are so healthy Sarah! When I grow up I want to be just like you!!!! Sigh...I'm such a slug, but I am going to work on drinking more water. Baby steps....

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I tend to get a surge of ideas when I'm running so if I'm on the treadmill I keep a pen and paper there with me.

Love the drinking while I write. I'm trying to do that more...with water that is. ;)
~ Wendy

Heidi Chiavaroli said...

Great ideas, Sarah!

I also get many ideas while I'm running--sometimes I'll go running just to brainstorm.

Thanks for the post!

chihuahuazero said...

Hmm...I have a yoga ball down by the desktop.

How would my family react if I brought it upstairs?

Anonymous said...

Love your ideas, Sarah. I'm not disciplined when it comes to exercise. Amazing that my husband puts up wtih me. :) I am setting a goal to walk 20 minutes per day on the tread mill, but I have yet to meet it. :)

I am going to implement the drinking water one asap. :)

One other thing I do, when it's nice enough outside is to go fo a walk after I finish a scene. This refreshes my mind and gives me an opportunity to enjoy creation all around me.

Nancy Kimball said...

Oh I'm SO going to do the stability ball as a chair. Especially since my computer chair bit the dust two weeks ago and the dining room table has been wheelchair accessible ever since.

Lindsay Harrel said...

Ooo, I love the stability ball idea. they have various sizes? My desk is pretty tall.

And lots of water drinking? Check. I also gets lots of exercise walking to the restroom from all the water I drink. ;) (TMI?)

Julia M. Reffner said...

I love these ideas, Sarah! I must admit though I have terrible coordination. I remember I had one of those balls when I was pregnant, should get one again. I love the idea of walking and talking into a recorder. I walk with the whole family but I force my hubby to help me with ideas every once in a while :). Water, I know I have to do better on. Wow, this post was quite convicting as I know I need to take better care of my body.

Cynthia Herron said...

Sarah, I love your excercise ball idea! I'm not exactly coordinated though--might have to practice not falling off! LOL

I drink a lot of water, too. Sometimes, I slosh when I walk. :)

I like to brainstorm as I walk. I have an indoor track nearby, and when the weather's nice I walk the little country lanes out where we live. Seeing God's creation up close and personal always inspires me. (And I always carry a little notepad and pen in my pocket.)

Unknown said...

I'm great ate drinking while I write...but it's usually coffee and Diet Coke with Lime. Yeah, gotta work on that water thing.

I sit on an exercise ball once in awhile where I work. My coworkers and I have a community exercise ball we take turns using.

Great post! Writing can be such a sedentary thing, so I think takes intentional effort be a healthy writer.

Casey said...

On the three days a week I write and don't have to work at the clinic, I exercise for an hour. Taking a book of course on the stationary bike. ;-) I've often thought about an exercise ball to sit on. It'd be good to not just be tempted to sit and sit all day. ;-)

Keli Gwyn said...

I was forced to embrace a healthier lifestyle recently. At first I balked, but now I'm grateful. I workout three days a week at Curves and walk at least half an hour the other fours days. The benefits are amazing. I feel better than I have in a long time--and my hubby says I look better, too. =)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Hey everyone! Wow, you all have been busy this morning. Hopefully that translates to an uber-productive exercise/writing day! :)

Sherrinda - Baby steps are absolutely key. Otherwise, we get discouraged when we can't do it all. Conquer one thing at a time, and next thing you know, we'll all be chasing after you trying to catch up. :)

Wendy - Exercise has a way of getting the brain moving, doesn't it? And enjoy that drinking. ;)

Heidi - I admire anyone who can run more than a half-mile. Seriously. Running is definitely not my forte. But I can see how all those miles alone would get the creativity flowing. :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

C0 - You never know 'til you try, right? :)

Jeanne - That's a great idea to reward yourself with a walk after you finish a scene! And as for the treadmill, I'm a firm believer that if you're not motivated with your current exercise routine, keep switching it up until you find something you absolutely LOVE. For me, staring at a wall (or TV) while I walk on a machine isn't very motivating. But I know for others, it's the only way they can stick with exercise. Keep at it. It sounds like you're on the right track! :)

Nancy - Perfect timing for the stability ball then! Let me know how you like it.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Lindsay - Yep, stability balls come in all different sizes. And I know exactly what you mean about the exercise back and forth from the ladies' room. ;)

Julia - How awesome that your husband helps with your ideas! That could be a really fun family event. :)

Cynthia - Your sloshing comment cracked me up. :) And I think the stability ball isn't too hard once you get used to it. I fell off one in Pilates class one time, so I'm living proof that it can be conquered, even after a tumble. :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Melissa - LOL, I know all about drinking coffee. In fact, my body is screaming for a cup right now. :) And how cool that your coworkers share a stability ball! Sounds like a fun environment.

Casey - Oh yeah, a stationary bike would be even easier to read on, especially for someone like me who tends to get motion sick. :)

Keli - You know you've achieved success when your hubby notices. :)

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

i use my phone's recorder when i'm in the car to make notes to myself to remember later. even cooler is the free dragon speak app that types while you talk...then i can export it to my email. way cool.

i also use the notepad app to jot things down while i'm in meetings or trainings where i'm supposed to be listening but my story just won't quit. :)

(okay...this is the THIRD time trying to post this darn comment...the new character verification thing for blogger is ridiculous!)

Ruth Douthitt said...

Great advice! I am a runner and train for 1/2 marathons annually and now I am into cycling. So, setting aside time to exercise is a priority for me.

I find I do some of my best thinking on a 10 mi run!

Sitting at a desk/table for hours at a time is bad for the lower back. Great advice in this post. I hope people take it to heart!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Wow, Jeannie, you are the tech queen! I need to take some lessons from you. :) (And I feel your pain with the Blogger verification!)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Hi Ruth, Wow, you keep yourself active! Way to go! :) I've found the more sedentary I am, the less I want to get moving, but that's the exact thing I need to get out of my slump.

Stacy Henrie said...

Great suggestions, Sarah! I have one of those balls - I'll have to try using it at my desk. One thing I've heard is lowering the keyboard to your lap helps with posture and keeping tension out of your neck and shoulders.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Great point about the keyboard, Stacy! I have an ergonomic desk, but I tend to use my laptop wherever it's convenient and then I usually feel it in my wrist later. :/

Pepper said...

Oh Sarah,
I forgot to send you a pic of my treadmill desk.
So sorry!
And I hitched up the desk myself - so it isn't anything fancy, but it works.

What a great post - and one I need to actually execute. Haven't been using my treadmill desk nearly enough lately, but my chocolate chip cookies keep disappearing at the same rate.

New house, new plan? Yeah, here's hopin' :-)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

When my Kindle cover arrives, I plan to take it with me to the gym. I'm not sure if I'll be able to read while on the treadmill, but will give it a try.

I'm also keeping a water bottle handy at work and try to drink most of it before lunch.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Pepper, No problem! It's not like you haven't been busy or anything. ;) And I've got that chocolate chip problem too. :)

Susan, That's a great idea with the Kindle! My cover has an elastic band on it, so that could be a great way to hook it onto things.

Jill Kemerer said...

Love these! I drink a lot of hot tea all day. Antioxidants!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Great idea, Jill! Especially if it's green tea. :)

Karen Nolan Bell said...

I love the idea--BUT--I have medical conditions that keep me from doing the walking and treadmill. Also, if I used the ball and rolled off, I'd have to call 911 to get me up again. Been there, done that, don't want to repeat. I do drink water constantly, generally laced with ice tea (no sugar) that ensures frequent exercise of hobbling to the john. My question is--how can a mobility-challenged person add some of these ideas into their routine without doing more damage than good? I would love to know.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Hi Karen! I'm sorry you have physical restrictions that make this difficult for you. It sounds like you're on the right track with drinking water.

One thing I'd recommend is going to Google and typing "chair exercises". You'll see a myriad of options for the mobility-challenged. In fact, they're also great options for the mobile person who finds themself sitting in a chair all day.

The first step is desire, and it sounds like you want to take care of yourself. So kudos to you, and good luck reaching your goals! :)