Getting Fit

Gregg’s mom got me a FitBit for Christmas. It hasn’t been off my wrist much since then. I love it. At a glance I can tell how much I’ve been sleeping, how many steps I took for the day, and how active I was all week.

What have I learned? I’ve gotten really lazy, that’s what I’ve learned. And I don’t sleep well. Well, I already knew the second part, but it really does drive the point home by telling me how many times I woke up last night, and how few hours I actually sleep (6 on average).

Does it help me fix all of that? Well, it’s encouraging me to get off my butt and move around a lot more. I’ve also tried tracking what I eat and because of that I pass on a lot of the sugar and pasta that I would usually eat. I also take a second look at the menu for something semi healthy when we go out to eat. I guess that’s a start.

But really, for the sleep all I can do is try to go to bed a little earlier. So far it hasn’t helped since I just end up waking up earlier. Maybe my natural rhythm is to only sleep six hours? Or maybe I need to be more active so my body wants more sleep. I don’t know. Time to experiment.

I do know that I’m averaging about 5000 steps a day. That’s not enough, not if I want to be healthier. So I’ll be trying to increase that as I increase my word count.


Progress and Setbacks

I wrote the other day about my writing progress so today I thought I’d write about the other thing that’s been a big a big concern in my life. My health.

Again, feel free to skip this if you’re not interested.

With the coming of the new year I got something that I hadn’t had in about ten years. Health insurance. Thank you Obamacare, and mainly the state of Washington for doing such a great job of implementing it. I thought since I had this marvelous thing I’d take the opportunity to do what I hadn’t done in almost a decade. I went to the doctor.

Well, first I tried to go to the dentist. That was a pain in the ass and I still haven’t gotten my cavities filled, nor am I likely to for several more months because of the restrictions on dental care via my state health insurance, and the fact that it’s bloody expensive just to get x-rays, let alone treatment, for teeth without insurance.

But I was talking about the other Doctor. The one who sticks you with needles, takes your blood, and runs you through a ringer to see how fit (or unfit) you are.

All the tests came back and I was basically told “eat better and exercise or you’re going to get diabetes, and/or a heart problem.)

I’m 37. I’m too young to have a heart problem. And the thing is I know diabetes runs in my family, and that I was already having issues with my blood sugars. When you get shaky and faint because of certain things you eat you tend to know these things. I also knew my heart wasn’t as strong as it should be. I have a 80 beats per min heart rate when I’m resting, and if I exercise it gets up to 190-200. That’s not good.

Knowing it, and seeing it in black and white might be two different things. Or it could have been the energy drink I had the other day that made me start shaking. Or the dizzy spells that happen when I don’t eat right. Either way, I think it was the kick in my pants I needed to finally do something about it, like seeing the graphs for my writing. I’m not sure. I just know I don’t want to die of a heart attack when I’m 45 because I’m a lazy girl who likes doughnuts and mac n cheese.

So I’ve been exercising, and I’ve been sitting here looking at the candy bar my children eating wishing I could eat it and knowing I shouldn’t. Yay self control!

Eating right isn’t that difficult. I love fruits and veggies. Not big on meat. No problem giving up pasta either.

It’s the exercise. I hate running on treadmills, and using ellipticals. I hate feeling my heart trying to burst. I hate getting hot and sweaty and just gross. I really hate feeling like I’m wasting time in a gym when I could have been writing, or playing a game, or going to a movie.

The only exercise I’ve liked at all was belly dancing, and then it’s mostly my self esteem that gets in the way.

So, for now I’m just trying to get out, on my feet, and doing something more often so that I can try and get a little healthier. Maybe some day I’ll find something physical I enjoy. Till then… still going to do it. It’s better then shooting a needle full of insulin in myself every day.

Distractions and Productivity

There comes a point in every project, be it a corporate portfolio, a painting, song or book, that your mind starts wandering. Everything seems to be distracting you. The rhythm from the song playing, the TV in the next room, the anticipation of a show on TV. The cat rubbing up against your leg.

How do you get through that? For me, I take a break.

When you are getting that many distractions it’s sometimes just your brain saying “Hey, I’m working hard here, I need a break.”

I understand deadlines, and work ethics. You have to work with those, as well as your brains natural tendencies to overload with too much work. I find taking a ten to fifteen minute break is usually enough to get me back on track. (Unless the distraction is something living that is demanding attention, those are harder to ignore, especially children.)

There has actually been research that taking a break is good for productivity. It gives your mind a chance to wander, and then when you get back on task it is more at ease.

My favorite mini breaks are a quick level of one of my puzzle games. I have a lot to choose from. A quick walk around the house, or taking a break to wash some dishes, grab a cup of coffee, and other similar tasks are also on my list.

I have found that after prolonged time in my chair I NEED to get up and walk around. I’m not as young as I use to be, and the fact that sitting a lot causes premature death, I want to get up and walk around more anyway. Or, like today, write at my standing desk.

All of this has gotten me to here… with “Forgotten Ones” just three chapters of editing away from being finished. It feels so good to accomplish something!

Okay, done with the break, time to get back to the grind.


year graph
Half way through March, and I thought I would share my progress.

Now that I am tracking my daily word count I am having a lot fewer days with zero word count. I have had a few days, this month, of less than 200 words, but a lot more of them have been over 500, and I see it growing.

Last night I sat down to write and kept checking my word count after ten minutes or so watching the numbers go up hundreds, not just tens and twenties. I was thrilled! The words are tripping off my fingers with ease now. It isn’t a struggle to sit down and write. It’s more of a demand.

I bought a new game. Tropico 4. Instead of playing it I dangled it as a reward to get myself to write. Now that I’m in the habit of this it is completely natural for me to deny myself something until I write.

I do not yet have a set word count that I need to reach each day, or else. That is my next goal. At the moment I have a monthly goal of 9000 words for March. That’s about 300 words a day. I am just about half way there, so I think I need to increase my expectations.

What I’m learning is that just putting that expectation that I will write, no matter what, each day has been the most effective way of getting the words down on paper. And the more I exerciser the muscle that is my brain, my fingers on the keyboard, my imagination, and my story telling skills… the easier it all comes.

I’d been fretting and lamenting my writers block for all these years. And I am going to give myself a small… I guess it’s an excuse, but I really did have a reason to fall into the trap of writers block. I did not, however, have a reason to STAY in that trap, especially for as long as I did.

I think I’m going to talk about the trap of writers block, and the exercising of the brain like a muscle next blog post. It’s been on my mind a lot lately.

Taking a Stand

One of the problems with writing is the wear and tear on your body. Of course the idea that sitting down at a keyboard and typing is bad for your health is actually counter intuitive.

Now we know about repetitive motion disordercarpel tunnel, and similar issues. We know that slouching can hurt your back, and there are even articles that people who sit down a lot at work die sooner. Diet and exercise?  Sure, in between the 30,000 words I’m trying to crank out just this month.

They have standing desks available, but they cost a $2-300, more if you want something nice. Even worse, you already have a desk that you then have to get rid of. And if you want to stand for some things and sit for others… You can get cheap ones for $30, but the good ones cost more.  The best option, a tred-desk that keeps you walking while you type, can be $3000.

Today my legs were killing me just from sitting down too much over the last few weeks. I’ve been writing a lot (a lot for me, of course) and I don’t have the luxury of a standing desk. I decided to find a solution to it today. Something, anything, free so that I could just stand up while I was editing.

My solution:

I bought an old secretary from the thrift store when I moved into my apartment. The cord on the monitor was the perfect length to put it on top of the desk. Then two boxes to set keyboard and mouse on… simple solution. Free.

My legs don’t hurt as much today. I keep moving, walking back and forth, getting water, or dancing to my favorite song, and it feels so much better after just a day.

And my writing is going so much better because I’m not stopping every few minutes just to get up and stretch. I can just keep going. And I’m not distracted by games, because it wouldn’t be very easy to play them this way. Much easier just to write and edit.

Best of all, when I want to sit down and play a game I just move the boxes and the monitor back in place and get to the games.


So I have a convertible standing desk that makes me feel better, and more productive, which I paid nothing. Ya, Good day.

Objects Smaller Then They Appear

A simple writing exercise.

Look around the room you’re in. Choose an object. Now write about it.

Does it have fantastic powers? Did someone find it in an unusual place? Maybe someone just tripped on it sending them into an unusual situation.

Try another object. Maybe they interact in some way.

The interesting thing about this exercise is that the object can be as simple as a coffee cup, or as unusual as a figurine of a glass dancing bear, shimmering in the morning sunlight.

Random Words

One of my favorite writing exercises is the random word. Several years ago I joined a writers workshop that did Short Story in a Week. Five groups of five random words were given, and participant could use one or all of the lists in a short story exercise.

Random are great ways to generate ideas. Take this generator.
It gave me these words:

The fairy empire is in heated battle with the cheese loving citizens of Wisconsin, and taking to the sky, ready to attack!

A silly sentence, but fun, and able to add more ideas.

Search for random word generators on google. If you have a specific genre you like then add that genre. Try it a few times to get the creative juices flowing.

5 Sentence Fiction

“5 Sentence Fiction” is an exercise to write a short, but complete story in just five sentences. This was a challenge set out by Lillie McFerrin.
Lillie McFerrin Writes

It isn’t the easiest task. You must have a beginning, a middle and an end, all in the space of five sentences. It is a nice little exercise to get the writing flowing, and may even help with writers block. “One a day keeps the Writers Block away”?

This was my first attempt:

The lattice structure lay dormant before him, the sheath of sterile cells impregnating every surface. Stretching, moving and oxygenating the growing flesh had taken months, now it quivered in anticipation. Dr. Haverd held his breath as he sent a shock of electricity through the first man made heart. There was a blip, and he sent another shock. His elation escalated as the heart began a steady bu-dum, bu-dum, in its dish.

For some more examples there is a Reddit post about it. Feel free to drop your 5 sentences in the comments.