Staying Healthy While Writing a Memoir

You know that roll around your middle that won’t go away? It’s from sitting. You say you get out of breath if you try to bound up the stairs? It’s from sitting. The back pain? That’s from sitting, too, but probably in a bad chair or with poor posture. We all sit too much. That little instrument you use for writing is called a “laptop” for a reason: we seem to always have a lap to put it in. As we’re hearing lately, “sitting is the new smoking.”

Now that you’ve committed to writing your memoir, you have many long hours of sitting ahead of you. You can invest in a standing or walking desk, but you’re probably not going to do that. Or you can just stand all day at your kitchen counter and type away, but even standing doesn’t solve the problem. In addition to taking mental breaks from the task of writing, you should take regular physical breaks.

Four goals as verbs: move, lift, stretch, repeat.
Four corresponding goals as nouns: speed, strength, flexibility, stamina.
These are the keys to staying fit; the challenge is to find a method that you can sustain. A lot of people love yoga, which covers three of the four—strength, flexibility and, somewhat, stamina. Some yoga programs also raise your heart rate, so a cardio component is possible. I still think you need to add a walk or run. If, on the other hand, cardio is the part you like best and you also stretch before and after you jog, then don’t forget to lift. It’s great to be lean and flexible, but especially as you get older you need to maintain muscle mass as well. And then there are you dedicated lifters who can bench your body weight but can’t come close to touching your toes without bending your knees. Don’t neglect the stretch, or you’ll tighten up.

If you’re disciplined enough to be making progress on your memoir, you should be able to talk yourself into a modest fitness routine. You can join a gym or prance around your house. Climb stairs every chance you get! Buy a couple of inexpensive free weights. When you’ve finished writing for the day, take a full-body stretch lying on your back, sitting in a straddle and standing up. And that tummy roll you have? If sitting is the new smoking, then planking is the new sit-up. Keep writing, but stay fit!