Balancing Your Art and Body #6
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Balancing Your Art and Body
Is your life balanced, with equal parts movement, play, rest and work? If you’re a modern person, juggling writing, a day job, and a family, the response is probably, “Balance? What are you talking about?”
I invite you to look at this mix in your life. Most likely, we need to move more, play more and rest more. This article will address the moving part.
A caveat: this an informative article only, not intended to give medical advice. My information comes from my own experience and that of others.
Physical exercise is a wonderful counterbalance to the focused mental work and solitary lifestyle of a writer. Our work as writers needs to be first priority if we want to get our work done. Ironically, however, making time in our schedule to move reminds us that we are more than only the mind. We are most definitely of the body too. Exercise is also a great way to juice up your creativity and change your perspective on your writing. And when a workout is finished, the sense of accomplishment is wonderful, especially when the writing feels unfinished, which it will during most of the process. Exercise doesn’t have to be something you “should” do, but something you like to do.
But how can we make exercise a regular part in our lives, alongside our writing? After nearly four years of exercising regularly, I share my insight from the perspective of someone who had never exercised regularly before. I see exercise as a form of play. Remember when you were a kid and you ran around playing tag or hide-n-go-seek until dusk, and your parents had to call you in, but you didn’t want to go in, even though you could barely see the hand in front of your face? Yeah, that was me. Well, maybe working out hasn’t nearly been as fun as that. What can ever really recapture the carefree nature of childhood? But I assert that the right exercise for you can be that same kind of “in the moment” joy. All you need to do is re-discover the right kind of exercise for you.
Try the suggestions below to let yourself re-discover your passion for physical movement.
The Fun Factor
Find an exercise that you love. Use your childhood passions for inspiration. What kind of outdoor activities did you play? How can you turn one or many of them into something you can do now? Bicycling, walking, swimming, running, yoga, one of the many forms of dance, wall climbing, rowing — the list is endless.
Start out with brief, low-impact classes or short stints outdoors.
To illustrate baby steps, I’ll use walking, because it’s simple, most anyone can do it, and the equipment investment is minimal — it basically requires comfortable clothes and shoes.
On Day One, take yourself to a nice place and walk for ten minutes at your regular pace. Enjoy your surroundings, the creatures and people around. Notice how you feel. Breathe the fresh air. Don’t forget to stretch.
If you’re out of shape, your week one goal is to walk once, preferably twice, for only ten minutes each time. Stick with a regular schedule until you can move the frequency up to three times a week. Then incrementally move up the duration of your walks, going from 10 to 12 minutes, for a few times. Then add a few more minutes and hold at that duration for a few more times, until you’re walking 35-40 minutes three times a week. Now bump up the intensity.
The object of the game here is to always keep it fun and to say, “I can do this!”
Track your routine and your progress. Keep a log of the date, the activity, and its duration on an index card or exercise logbook. Not only will you be able to see your progress over time, it will also help you acknowledge your progress. These same tracking techniques and reasons apply to your writing as well. Every time you show up to the track or the page, work gets done, even if it is a little bit. Acknowledge and congratulate for the work you did today!
Be kind to yourself
Over-high expectations won’t work in this realm of baby steps towards your goal of integrating exercise into your daily life. Be aware of what’s reasonable, in terms of the activity chosen, time allotted, and the expectation that it will change your life and body instantly. In that regard, choose a place to exercise that is between work and home, or easy to get to, like your living room. And use music, if you like, to lift the spirits while you move!
Like anything important, making time for exercise requires giving up something else in your schedule, such as TV, or too many volunteer jobs.
Balance out the intense demands of your writing life with time spent in the body. A calmer and clearer writer’s mind, improved health, more strength, maybe even a better silhouette are part of the rewards from taking the time to exercise.
Happy Exercising Your Body and Mind!
An author too, she’s the author of the 2011 award-winning young adult fantasy novel Henrietta The Dragon Slayer, as well as of the bestselling nonfiction books for authors and aspiring authors.
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