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Thursday, April 25, 2013

This Writer's Life

As a writer, I tend to spend a large amount of my time firmly seated in a chair. After all, it's kind of difficult to get Words On the Page (WOP) if I don't have my Butt In the Chair (BIC) (thank you, Nora Roberts).

Yeah, there are such things as treadmill desks, crazy contraptions designed to allow the average person stuck behind a computer all day to move as they work. But I am not that coordinated, and things like that seem certain to cause me to break a limb or two, along with the treadmill desk and my computer.

For me, it's much safer to try to get my work in while I'm seated and strapped in. (Actually, I've never tried strapping in. Maybe I'd get more work done that way? Not sure.) (Do they even make straps to keep you tied to your desk? Someone get me one.)

That isn't very conducive to staying fit and healthy, though. (Or, in my case, getting fit and healthy...) You might recall this post from over a year ago, where I admitted how unhealthy I am and vowed to change it. Well, here it is more than a year later, and not a lot has changed...only everything has changed.

I'm still pretty much as fat now as I was then. I tried losing weight, making smarter choices, etc. It would work for a bit, and then more stress would hit, and I'd fall back into my old habits. It seemed as long as I stayed where I was, I couldn't get out of that stress cycle.

Then it only compounded again, and instead of getting healthier, I got worse. I gained weight. I ballooned up to a bigger size than I'd ever been in my life.

So then I decided I needed to move--as in physically move to somewhere other than where I was. As much as I love my family, they are a huge cause of stress in my life...and with them all surrounding me, I couldn't escape the madness. So I moved. To another state. I put half the country between me and them.

In the short term, that move caused more stress. (See this post for proof.)

But after I got settled in and situated, slowly, the stress started to melt away.

Sure enough, after I eliminated the major sources of stress from my life, it got easier to make changes. Over the last few months, without really trying, I dropped about ten pounds. Then I decided it was really time to make a decided effort toward my health. I've changed the way I'm eating, and from that, I found I have a lot more energy. So I'm using that energy to exercise. No, I'm still not using a treadmill desk (Ack!), but I'm getting myself moving in the mornings, since I don't really write in the mornings anyway, and then settling in to work in the afternoons.

Guess what? It's working. I've dropped another thirteen pounds, lots of inches, and I'm discovering that I actually enjoy exercise for the first time in my life. Sure, I'm not ready for some of it. But I'm getting there. I've got more energy, my clothes are fitting better, and my blood pressure is down. I feel better every day.

Just don't ask me to walk and write at the same time.

Have you made any changes to better yourself lately? What sort of things are standing in the way of achieving your dreams? Any suggestions for how to exercise and write that don't involve potential loss of limb?

38 comments:

  1. Congrats on reducing your stress and being able to make the changes you want. I am probably in the worst shape than I have ever been. As soon as the weather decides to be nice I am going to take up walking again and and have thought about dictating as thoughts hit. Heaven knows some of the best dialogue pops into my head when I am far away from my computer and lost by the time I am sitting in the chair again.

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    1. I love the idea of you walking around your neighborhood, seemingly talking to yourself. :) Go for it! LOL.

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  2. Yay, you! You are an inspiration in so many ways, Catherine!

    I'm going to follow you and get back into a workout routine. I miss it!

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    1. You should try to join us on Thursdays for walking and writing, when you can. And I plan to go to the pool at least some while we're at RT. Bring a swim suit. :)

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  3. Yay!!! I'm so happy for you, Catherine! It's not easy making changes, and putting on weight seems to be a job hazard. I'm with Deb. I need to get back into a workout routine. It has been hit and miss over the winter. I think you're doing the right thing by exercising in the morning and then writing. When I did that, I was more productive, so now I need to get my butt in gear! :)

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    1. There's no day like today to start, Samantha! I find that I'm thinking more clearly when I sit down to write this way, too. I get a lot of plot problems and the like worked out while I walk or go to the pool, that sort of thing.

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  4. Way to go Catherine! If I could just get out of Montana I think I would feel so much better. However, I started to swim which has helped a lot. I was in a slump since I got here. It must be the weather or something.

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    1. I wish you could get out of Montana, too! But I'm proud of you getting into the pool to go swimming. Every little bit helps a lot. :)

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  5. You are doing so great, Catherine - I'm so proud of you! I love seeing how much energy and stamina you have now when we do our mall-walking. Wow - that totally just made us sound like a pair of 70 year olds, lol ;)

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    1. LOL! You should have seen me doing the stairs today at the mall, Erin. Mari noticed a difference going up. The big thing I noticed was the lack of pain in my knee when we went back down. HUGE progress. :)

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  6. I'm so fricking proud of you. I love seeing how happy you are now, even though you had to move further away. ;) It definitely shows, even through the computer screen.

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    1. And that has been the most astounding thing to me. :) So yay! But I miss you and Sydney.

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  7. Awesome job, Catherine! I am so proud of you! I have been dieting and lost 12 pounds so far (I've been on a committed, hard-core diet for about 6 weeks now). And I am trying to move more, but I find that part harder than eating well. Like you, I spend all day in a chair, but I am trying to do all the little things that add up (taking the stairs, parking far away, etc). Keep up the awesome work!

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    1. You know, Lily, I have tried this so many times in the past and it never worked...at least not long term. I could get myself on a program where I was eating better, but I couldn't seem to find the energy/motivation to get up and move. Or I could get myself going to the gym a few days a week, but I would still be eating the same junk that caused the problems in the first place. I've never been able to do them both at once before.

      I started on Jenny Craig about a month ago, and the difference in how I feel, energy-wise, happened within days. I'm getting the right fuel in, and so I can get the right output. I think the biggest thing that has helped me with that is eating enough fruits and vegetables. It seems like a lot at first, but that's what I crave now more than anything, because of how good it makes me feel.

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  8. I love that you recognized your stress and the source of it and made steps to correct/address it. Often we have to hit "rock bottom" to actually be motivated to act, which sucks but sometimes turns out to be a good thing. Very proud of you! Keep it up!

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    1. Thanks, Hanna! I've seen that cycle happen many times in my life. With the people I love, it's been with addictions. For me, it was my health. I'm just glad it is happening now, and that I've got the support system in place to help keep me motivated.

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  9. That's amazing results! Recognizing your source of triggers is a major part of starting the weight loss journey. It is a whole change of life style. Congratulations!

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    1. Thanks, Nancy. The hardest part over the years has been that I knew the problem...I knew I needed to get away. But sometimes, the means to do so just aren't there.

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  10. Yay for making healthy choices! I'm also the heaviest I've ever been and it's soooo hard to make the right choices. Especially when you're exhausted at the end of the day and the last you want to do is cook something nutritious or exercise. Ack! Makes me hostile just thinking about it. ;]
    So glad your move has lessened all that stress. It really pulls you down physically and mentally. Glad you're doing so much better here with us!

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    1. Me too, Andris! I'll recommend to you what I said to Lily above--try snacking on fruit and veggies. Keep fruit cups around, baby carrots, that sort of thing. Eat a salad with your lunch every day. Make some steamed broccoli to go with dinner. You'll start to notice you have more energy after a few days or so, hopefully.

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  11. Congratulations on making the really big move to put distance between you and the big stresses in your life. I have put on weight in the last few years too. I used to never have to concern myself with it until my thyroid decided to crap out. Even with taking medication for it, the weight does not want to go away. I don’t feel as though I overeat and my hubby and I walk around our neighborhood every morning, however, the weight comes right back home with me. It’s a frustrating thing, but happiness is the most important thing ever. Getting rid of stress and getting happy are key! Congratulations on your weight loss!

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    1. Thanks so much, Connie! Thyroid problems are awful. They are so hard to really find the right balance of medication...just a tiny change can make a huge difference sometimes. Good luck with getting that sorted out.

      One thing I've found is that being diligent about tracking everything I eat and drink, right down to a slice of pickle or a teaspoon of vinegar. I use Sparkpeople.com for that, which is free and has an app for my phone. It's been great for seeing where I'm actually eating things that fuel my body, versus things that just make me feel better for a little bit. You might think about trying something like that. My Fitness Pal is another similar program, if you find you don't like Sparkpeople. Good luck, and I hope you find the right balance!

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  12. My feet are standing in my way, but they've been better lately, so we'll see.

    But you're doing great! You look great, and I love having a buddy to swim with (and write with) sometimes. Now if only our Starbucks had more healthy food options, we'd both be set!

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    1. So true. At least we can get skim milk and sugar-free sweeteners, though. That makes me feel a lot less guilty about having as much coffee as I've been having lately, especially if we head to the pool that day. :)

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  13. Go, Catherine, GO!!!! I'm so proud of you. It can be such a PITA to change habits, or at least it is for me, because I'm so flippin habitual. ;)

    You're looking great and I especially like the outfit you wore last night at Lady Janes (meant to tell you, then forgot).

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    1. Thanks, Marquita! I love that dress, but I hadn't been able to fit in it for several months. I was THRILLED when I could get into it again. What's even better is that means all the conference clothes I wore last spring fit me again now, too. I was worried that I'd have to buy a new wardrobe before going to RT, but that is not the case.

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    2. Ack! Hit reply before I was done. LOL.

      I'm a very habitual person in some ways, too. I am not really fond of spontaneity too often. I want to know my plans for the weekend before the weekend arrives. I want to know what I'll be making for dinner when I'm preparing my breakfast. I plan everything, almost. So yeah, changing these routines is not easy. It's been difficult in some ways, but the results are helping to keep me motivated and moving forward.

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  14. C-Gayle, I am SOOOO happy for you and so, so proud of you for being courageous enough to make these changes in your life. You look great and, more importantly, you seem SO happy.

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    1. Thanks, JKC! I don't just seem happy. I AM happy. I feel like I've already lost about 100 pounds of stress, so now losing the fat is going to be a breeze. I'm glad I got to spend some time with you the last few days, and I can't wait until the next time.

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  15. Congrats, C-Gayle! That is such awesome news. :)

    I'm in that stressful hectic part of my own life right now. I keep saying "If I can just make it 'til June." A lot is going on, with a lot of people. One day at a time. That's all I can do right now.

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    1. Ava, I know a bit about your stressful, hectic life. LOL. I don't envy you. Try not to worry about getting to June. Like you said...one day at a time. Get through today, and tomorrow worry about tomorrow. It's good that you recognize you can only do so much. Try to remind yourself of that every now and then. Love ya!

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  16. I'm so proud of you C-Gayle (I want the story about THAT, by the way). What you've accomplished is so darn difficult, especially when there's a hight level of stress in our lives. You're an inspiration for me, especially as my stress level has been increasing by the minute lately...and I've been turning to a diet of chocolate and wine.

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    1. L.j.! C-Gayle, E-Knightley, and O-Kell were born last night when we filmed Romance Ramblings with Ava and Jerrica. You'll have to check that out. Since you know most (all?) of us, you'll probably get a few laughs...which will burn some calories and give your abs a good workout. LOL.

      Allow yourself a glass of wine and a piece of chocolate. But try not to drink the whole bottle of wine and eat the whole bag of chocolate. If the cravings don't go away, try eating something else healthy until you've killed the craving. My go-to lately has been pickles. Sometimes it takes 5 or 6 pickle spears, but they have very few calories so I don't worry about it. :)

      Can't wait to see you in KC! We'll talk more there.

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  17. Great post, Catherine! I'm struggling with the high blood pressure now. After trying six or seven different meds, each with side effects worse than the last, I am determined to make the lifestyle changes I've been promising myself for years. Congrats on making the move toward a healthier, more stress-free life!

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    1. Oh, Reese. I feel for you with the high blood pressure meds. High blood pressure runs on both sides of my family, so they've been monitoring mine pretty closely for years. For the last two or three years, mine has been borderline high--not really high enough that they want to treat it with medication, but high enough that it is a concern. I've been amazed with how quickly the changes have happened with mine. It's been in a healthy range for a couple of weeks each time I've checked it, and one day it was as low as I can ever recall seeing it in my entire life. That was a great feeling. Start with baby steps. Since the weather is nice, go out for a ten minute walk in your neighborhood. Then do it again tomorrow. Every little bit helps, and soon, you'll probably start to see improvements in more than just the numbers on the blood pressure cuff.

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  18. Oh Catherine,
    I can connect and relate on SO many levels with this! And I think many of us do. There is so much stress in life and what I admire is that you have taken control of your life, identified the stress, and taken ownership to make change. That is truly inspirational! I've pledged to be healthier. Not just to lose weight because that is important too. (My family has a history of diabetes and I had gestational diabetes)...but I want to eat healthy because I feel like it connects to my overall health and energy levels. And I've also begun to do things in my life that bring me calm such as acupuncture and massage. Great post!

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    1. I haven't tried acupuncture, Christi. I'm a chicken when it comes to needles (says the girl with two huge tattoos on her calves), so it intimidates me so much I don't know if I could handle it. LOL.

      Diabetes and heart disease are both problems in my family. My mother had gestational diabetes when I was born, and I was tested for it not only as soon as I came out of the womb, but several more times before I hit puberty. I continue to get tested with regularity, because I'm terrified that I'm going to end up with it at some point. That is one of the main things driving me right now. Good luck with your changes, and check in every now and then. It's hard to do it alone. Much easier when you've got a great support network like I've found here.

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