Friday, August 01, 2008

Sedentary Seduction

One of the things that hit me at the conferences I’ve attended is the issue of writers’ fitness. Everywhere I looked I saw plump middles and “secretary spread”. Since I’m doing the Biggest Loser challenge at my local gym (and starting another Monday at my FT job) I decided to make that my topic for today. Well not those extra love handles or jiggly bits, but easy ways to firm them up :0)

The simplest change would be to use an exercise ball as a chair. Sure you can’t do this for eight hours, but you can swap out each hour or two. (It’s a widely shared tip that office workers should get up from their desks to stretch their legs/arms and de-stress every hour.) When choosing an exercise ball, make sure to get one that is appropriate for your height! You also don’t want to be too low or too high in relation to your keyboard. So how does this help you? Using the ball can strengthen your core muscles, since you have to use them and your legs to balance yourself. (You’ll also have to use those core muscles to keep your posture straight.) This won’t burn a lot of calories, but it will help that saggy middle not to get saggier. For added benefit, during your hour stretch you can also do side to side twists (keeping your back straight) that will work your waistline and obliques. If you write for five hours and do ten reps per side in five minutes, that’s 100 extra exercises in the space of 25 minutes! And if you have extra time in those few minutes, you can also do crunches/sit-ups on your ball ;0)

If you have to get up for a water run, snack raiding excursion, or potty break use the opportunity to do some chair squats. Pretend you’re sitting in a chair with your hips back, back straight, and without your knees jutting in front of your ankles. The lower you go the more you’ll work your hamstring and gluts.

Stuck at a plot point? Why not get some extra energy to break through by doing tricep extensions or bicep curls? You can use things in your office like a set of RITAs, reference books, or the usual hand weights (free weights). Just be careful that you don’t try to lift too many pounds at once. 3 to 5 pounds is a good starting point. For the tricep extensions, bend over at a 45% angle with your back straight and place your weight just in front of your arm pit. Then extend your arm backwards in a full extension, then bring it back to the starting position. A good rule of thumb is 10-12 per arm and you can work both arms at once or individually. To do bicep curls, start with the back of your hand resting against your thigh and curl up, squeezing at the top. You don’t have to touch your shoulder with the weight. As long as you feel your bicep contract as you curl, you’re okay! Also, a good rule of thumb is not to rest your elbows on your hips, because it defeats the purpose. See you could fit 50 to 60 of these in within five hours.

Used to pacing as you plot? Why not change that to side steps or a grapevine? For side steps simply step back and forth from left to right. For more benefit you can also use a stretchy band to add resistance. This will work your inner and outer thigh as well as your gluts. Hold one end of the stretchy band (or handles) in each hand, then step onto the middle of the band and place your hands on your hips. Then simply step side to side while keeping the band taunt beneath your feet as you move. A grapevine will give you a little cardio as well as helping your coordination. Simply put your right foot over your left, then your left foot over your right. Just like the dance! :0) Do either of these for minute intervals each hour (or 3 sets at a time) and you’ll have burn extra calories by the time you’ve finished your daily word count!

My favorite new fitness site is with advice from Bob Harper. There’s one about a writer, but so far I think this video tip is the best:

With these tips you can stop the seduction of being sedentary. Yes, it may take trial and error plus a mindset switch, but if you want to change you can. As my sister who’s lost over 100 pounds says, “If you believe it, you can achieve it!”
Another way to curb spread is paying attention to what you put in your mouth. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I keep a food journal to track what I eat. Healthier ways to snack or feed that frustration are 100 calorie packs as well as low fat/low sugar alternatives. A new personal fave is Hershey’s Dark Chocolate sticks. They’re 60 calories each plus they have antioxidants! It’s so bad to indulge, but oh so good to give in without guilt!

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Savanna Kougar said...

Skylar, you're a far, far better woman than I...on the whole 'saggy' front.
I've always wanted an exercise ball that was actually big enough and strong enough. They are so fun to sit on...
The one I bought lots o' years ago, just isn't up to the job. And I due to tons of good reasons I've never purchased another one.

Skylar Masey said...


I wish I could use a ball at work, since I'm usually at my desk 8-9 hours, before I even being writing. Just imagine how much stronger my middle would be :0)

As for the exercise balls, you can get them at most department stores in two sizes. I think 55 and 65. There are also specialty sites that my chiropractor mentioned that sell better quality balls that are more "pop" resistant.

But the way I see it any movement is good movement, except for popping to many Hershey's kisses. Lol!

Savanna Kougar said...

Hey Skylar, I'm going to have to invest in a 'pop' resistant one.
Too bad you can't use one at work. It used to drive me crazy, sitting for too long.
For me it's the Hershey Special Dark Chocolate chips.