June 1, 2009

THE WAY OF THE WRITER: The Weight of the Writer

Full disclosure: I'm way overweight.

I'm going to lay it all out, here. I'm 5'10". And I'm almost 300 lbs. And it's not good.

So I'm doing something about it.

Let's face it, this is NOT a problem that only writers face. Indeed, it is something that many people in our society have. Input exceeds output, so the pounds pile on. Being in any sedentary job will do that to you.

One reason I'm laying this out there like this is to encourage fellow writers to do the same. That's the purpose of the "Way of the Writer".

I'm not sure when I first decided to make a change. It may have been that day I had pain near my heart and got real scared . . . only to be told my heart was fine, the problem was that I slouched when I sat at my ddesk. It may have been when my other daughter asked me when I was going to have MY baby. (My wife was a few months pregnant at the time.) It may have been the day that my daughter brought a doll over to me while I was wearing no shirt and tried to let the doll breastfeed. (We had just had our last child.) It may have been when I found out that my family has a history of diabetes. Doesn't matter when it happened, one day I realized that I was going nowhere but down. Er, growing nowhere but out.

So, because of my lifestyle, changes had to be made. I made an appointment with my doctor, got his advice (and some blood work done), and now I'm changing my diet.

Note: I am not dieting, I'm am changing my diet.

And it's not easy. But I've let myself get some pretty bad habits, and these things must be overcome and taken care of.

I want to play with my kids and not run out of breath. They're small now, but soon they'll be hard to keep up with.

I want to fit into some of my cool XL t-shirts that I've kept because they're cool even though I don't fit into them.

I want to not be a stereo-typical comic book guy.

I want to begin treating my body like the temple it is . . . not as a dumping ground for excess.

It's a spiritual thing, not just a physical one. Making these right choices is not easy, and finding the self-control to overcome those seratonin chemicals in my brain that get released when I eat a nice, warm piece of pizza is not just a matter of the flesh. Although I'm understanding more and more that adage "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak". We use food as a drug: to pick us up when we are down, and to celebrate when things are good. I want to get beyond that.

If writing is holistic -- a mind, body, and soul thing -- as I've said before, then the physical state of your body cannot be neglected. While to me the body is a vessel carrying a mind and a soul, and to other people the body is just a bundle of water and dust and electrical impulses, no matter what the shape of your body will hold influence over the quality of your life.

So here's my changes: to make sure my INPUT (the food I eat) outweighs the OUTPUT (the energy burned). My doctor showed me what I think are some baby steps to start with. Keep my caloric input down (he gave me a number based on my age and height) and bring my active energy up (again, based on my age and height, he showed me how to make sure I was getting a cardio workout, which is the way you burn fat). I continue to go on my usual walks, but in doing so I keep track of my heart rate and push myself accordingly, instead of just listening to a radio drama as I stroll along.

It's not easy. But it is necessary.

I will be coming back to this topic, with updates about my weight and health. I thought about taking picture of my belly and doing a time lapse of it getting smaller . . . or putting a number at the end of each post that woud be my weight . . . but I decided I'm not going to lay it all out THAT much.

And I, again, want to encourage all you to do the same. It's not about lengthening your lifespan, it's about increasing the quality of that lifespan, for you and the ones you love.

The Way of the Writer is this: take care of your body and it will take care of you; or, a healthy body is a healthy mind. Yeah, yeah, yeah -- cliched beyond belief. But it's true.

~ Ben


Pamm said...

You're awesome.

John said...

I agree with Pamm, man. You've got the attitude in place and that's the first step to making a change. You've got the support of your family and friends and that's number two. The rest should be easy, right? I'll be praying for you, my friend.