Writing is a double edged sword for several reasons. In fact even if that of writer can be a gratifying profession, there will always be some writers complaining about how difficult and mind-wrecking writing can be.
Indeed, as a bunch, writers tend to suffer from formidable bouts of procrastination — that illness of the mind that makes you prefer scrubbing clean the kitchen floor to sitting at your desk and writing.
In addition, it’s all but a rare occurrence that of a writer lost in those interior waste lands where next to no new ideas grow, and those few that do never find their way into a finished work.
However, while it’s certainly true that writing can be a complex task, it’s also true there are plenty of difficult and complex jobs in the wide world — many of which are also way more dangerous than sitting at a desk glaring balefully at a screen.
Feedback the magic word
Fact is, in general, writers tend to live a bit too much in their heads. This is to be expected, otherwise they wouldn’t be writers to start with. However they should bear in mind that their brain, as important as it is, is just a part of their body, and that the feedback loop between body and brain works both ways. This means that, just like the brain can affect parts of the body, also the body can affect the brain.
As a result of this two-way model, a brain that sits in a body that is appropriately toned up and in good shape will undoubtedly perform better than a brain sitting in a neglected body.
Proof of this is how intelligence can be thwarted in children if they are malnourished. How their intelligence can be stifled if they grow up in dull, impoverished environments. How lack of physical movement can be detrimental to the intelligence of children and adults alike.
Before you start…
Luckily to keep in shape you don’t need to turn into a gym nut or any other kind of keep-fit freak. But if you’re serious about your health you’d better keep in mind a few essential points.
1) Especially at the beginning, what you do matters less than whether or not you do something at all. In fact your first goal should be that of doing something, anything, rather than nothing. Even a daily walk around the block is better than nothing. Besides, you may meet someone, or notice something interesting. Something able to spark some creative ideas…
2) Ideally you should exercise a bit every day. However, instead of setting for yourself an unrealistic goal and then fail to make it, you’d better come up with something less grandiose but attainable. In this way you’re going to prevent early burn out, injuries, and any feeling of inadequacy.
I mean if you set out to run five miles and then you stop after one, chances are you think you’ve failed. Instead if you set out to run half a mile and then you stop after one your attitude would be completely different. I know, it seems like a cheap trick. But it’s an effective trick. So use it.
3) You should start exercising in a very gradual manner, especially if it’s been years since you last exercised. Sure, if you’re young you can press on the accelerator a bit. But even so, you’d better be patient. In fact, untrained muscles and ligaments require more time to recover after a training session than trained ones. You know the proverb, slow and steady wins the race.
4) You should aim for a balanced program. One aimed both at increasing your strength, your cardiovascular fitness, and also your flexibility. However, remember that after the first couple of months, the sport you choose will determine how you train.
For example, for a runner excessive flexibility is generally counterproductive. In fact you need your joints to keep together pretty firmly if you want to run fast and efficiently. And if you’re super flexible this isn’t going to happen.
5) You should understand from the get go that exercising isn’t a way to keep your weight under control. In fact, even if you ran at a good clip for an hour every day you would burn around 800 calories. Instead by choosing wisely what you put into your mouth you can control every calorie you eat.
6) You should also understand that exercising isn’t a way to help you get rid of your sense of guilt for your terrible eating habits. If you want to develop it into a habit you can’t consider training a sort of atonement. Exercising isn’t a way to help you get rid of your sense of inadequacy or anything else either. Exercising is about taking care of yourself, and filing to understand this can have dire consequences (consider this is a pretty old article and I don’t agree with everything it says — for a more balanced view head over here)
7) You should understand that exercising isn’t something you do for some time and then never again. Exercising is something that should become a forma mentis — a mindset, a way of living.
8) Before you start training it’s always better to go and see your doctor for a check up, even if you feel perfectly well. As the saying goes, better safe than sorry.
9) Don’t be fooled by all those
idiots gurus who want you to buy a ton of gear. The truth is that what you need to keep in shape is a pair of shoes, of shorts, and a tee-shirt. Sure… also a good bra.
10) Of course, if the sport you’ve chosen requires more gear, for example a bicycle, remember that unless you’re a natural (the infamous one in a million lucky bastard) or are deadly serious about becoming a champion, basic gear will do. For instance, I have a friend who uses skis that are old and relatively cheap, but when he zips down a slope no one can keep up with him. The truth is that training is about you, not about your gear.
11) Obviously, if one day you decided to enroll in a race things might change a bit. But probably not. After all you can enroll in a race for many different reasons — to meet with friends for example. Besides, if you’re not a champion when you train you’re not going to become one just because you’ve enrolled in a race.
A last word
When they train, some people listen to music or some podcast. This is perfectly fine, provided you do this keeping a reasonable volume, so as to be always aware of your surroundings. However, when I go for a run, even one of two or three hours, I never listen to anything. I just focus on my surroundings, on my body. I do this because for me training is also a form of meditation.
In addition, after a while I’m running (not too hard), ideas begin popping into my mind. And even if I never stop to write them down, the good ones stick around long enough for me to get back home and put them on a piece of paper.
So, all considered, I would say keeping in shape is a bargain from every perspective. What are you waiting for? Just give it a try!