by Zoë Sharp
Monday, I broke a rib – again. Not the same rib as last time, I don’t think, but one a bit lower down. Probably it was the turn of the next one along. There I was, hanging out of a moving car to do some low-angle tracking shots, we hit a bit of an undulation, and I heard it go crack.
Oh … arse.
Last time, it took about three months to mend and, of course, we’re coming into winter, which makes the damn thing ache when I’m outside. I shall have to set out on particularly cold days with a hot water bottle stuffed down the front of my jacket. Not exactly what the fashion mags predicted all the best-dressed people would be wearing this season.
It was my own fault, of course. Not the hanging out of a car bit – that’s considered entirely normal behaviour for me – but the very morning I bust it, Andy and I had been discussing exercise. Tempting fate, you might say.
Well, I’d been promising that I really must build time into the daily schedule over the winter to do some regular exercise again. It’s difficult when you don’t have a routine. We could be at home for days at a time, and then flying all over the country.
And I’m just about to dive into another book, so I know that when the writing’s going well, I won’t want to stop because … the writing’s going well. And if it’s being difficult, I also won’t want to stop because then I’ll feel it’s beaten me, and I want to keep worrying at it until I get it right. So, proper Catch 22.
I used to exercise, of course. A lot. At one point I was going to the gym and working out with weights five days a week, I rode horses, did a lot of aerobics. I’ve also cycled, raced dinghies, and done pilates and yoga, not to mention self-defence and house building. Not a recognised form of exercise, but it would have been very effective had we not largely existed on junk food while we were doing it. The local kebab shop and pizzeria’s profits have fallen dramatically since we completed the build.
But, about eighteen months ago we discovered a – I hesitate to call it a diet – an eating plan that really suits us. It’s called The Abs Diet, but you have to ignore the name. It’s sensible, the recipes are great, and we’ve both lost the best part of a stone (that’s 14lbs or just over 6kg) without trying. And, unlike the Atkins diet, it doesn’t cost you a fortune at the supermarket, either.
So, the next step seemed to be to get back into exercise, and not just for the physical health benefits, but the mental health ones, too. According to a report written by the Mental Health Foundation back in 2005, exercise is extremely effective for treating mild depression, the symptoms of which are:
- less energy than usual
- poor concentration
- difficulty sleeping (problems getting to sleep, waking up unrefreshed from a long sleep, or waking up very early)
- loss of sex drive
- disturbed eating patterns – either loss of appetite or eating too much (comfort eating)
All the symptoms, in fact, of a writer who’s struggling with a book.
The report reckoned that physical activity lasting between 20 and 60 minutes can help to improve a person’s psychological well-being. But even shorter bouts of moderate intensity walking (10 to 15 minutes) can significantly improve their mood. Physical activity increases the amount of hormones (endorphins) in our bodies that help us feel happy.
So, people with depression are recommended to follow a structured and supervised exercise programme of up to three sessions per week (lasting 45 minutes to one hour), for between 10 and 12 weeks.
Not only that, of course, but in the Northern Hemisphere we’re also coming into winter, which means shorter days and less sunlight, and that brings with it the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or winter blues. The symptoms are similar to depression, growing worse over December, January and February, and lifting in the spring, often with a short four-week period of over-activity or hypomania.
One of the most effective ways of treating this is light therapy, or sitting in front of a high-intensity light box for several hours a day. According to the SADA (Seasonal Affective Disorder Association) website:
“Light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85 per cent of diagnosed cases. That is, exposure, for up to four hours per day (average 1-2 hours) to very bright light, at least ten times the intensity of ordinary domestic lighting.
Ordinary light bulbs and fittings are not strong enough. Average domestic or office lighting emits an intensity of 200-500 lux but the minimum dose necessary to treat SAD is 2500 lux, The intensity of a bright summer day can be 100,000 lux.
Light treatment should be used daily in winter (and dull periods in summer) starting in early autumn when the first symptoms appear. It consists of sitting two to three feet away from a specially designed light box, usually on a table, allowing the light to shine directly through the eyes.
The user can carry out normal activity such as reading, working, eating and knitting while stationary in front of the box. It is not necessary to stare at the light although it has been proved safe.
Treatment is usually effective within three or four days and the effect continues provided it is used every day. Tinted lenses, or any device that blocks the light to the retina of the eye, should not be worn.
Some light boxes emit higher intensity of light, up to 10,000 lux, which can cut treatment time down to half an hour a day.”
So, ideal for suffering writers to have near their computer monitor then, thus helping them concentrate on work and combat the disorder at the same time.
Fortunately, I don’t think I suffer from SAD. In fact, I find that the dark winter months are by far the best time for me to write. Perhaps it’s just that I’m not tempted to be outside doing Other Things as much, and the photography tends to be much more intense during the summer anyway. There’s something rather intimate about sitting in a little pool of light from a desk lamp, just you and the world you’re creating, with the darkness forming a barrier between you and the rest of reality. Perhaps that’s why I often work on dramatic scenes late at night. Or maybe I just procrastinate too much to get them done during the normal working day.
But, nevertheless, I promised myself I’d get some exercise done over the winter, and now it’s going to have to be something pretty gentle. There are always long walks, although these are hardly likely to prove gentle in this neck of the woods, where all the sheep have to get two legs shortened so they can lean into the wind.
So, help, ’Rati! I’m open to suggestions. Do you find exercise helps your concentration? If so, what do you do, and would you recommend it to others? How long have you been doing it, how frequently, and what do you like or dislike about your chosen method? And would it be suitable for someone who’s slightly crocked-up at the moment?
This week’s Word of the Week is another from my friend, Kate Kinchen. It’s circumferaneous, meaning going about or abroad; walking or wandering from house to house, or from market to market, as in a vagrant. From the Latin circum, around, and forum, a a forum or marketplace.
Swimming helps me. Not so much the concentration but sleeping.
Hope the rib heals fast.
Poor Zoe! I hope the rib heals incredibly fast.
I’ve been trying to do at least a half hour a day on the elliptical machine in my new building’s gym. Have blown it off for the last four days, but still, it’s making a difference in my mood. Have also discovered a whole bunch of workouts available through my TV, now that I have cable again for the first time in about a decade, so I follow up with some kind of abs routine. The second part would probably be a horrible thing for you to do with the rib.
Wish I had a light box. I’ve never lived so far north before, except for my year in Dublin during which I attempted to treat my S.A.D. with G.U.I.N.N.E.S.S.
I love yoga, and yoga today online has tons of classes for about $10/month. It’s hard to get to a live yoga class but this has been wonderful.
That said, I’m considering joining the gym with pool again – I did that for years and was in really good shape. Then we bought the farm, and you’d think riding and doing barn chores would be enough, but it isn’t.
WRT exercise and mood, I think it absolutely has a positive effect. It’s one of the first thing I recommend to clients who come to me feeling depressed and stuck. Often plugging a healthier diet and regular exercise back in shifts things for them.
I’m so sorry about your rib!! Take care and heal quickly.
Ouch! Sorry to hear about the rib, Zoe. I’ve had a rib broken and I know how painful it can be.
I’d started getting up an hour earlier and taking a long walk with my MP3 player before breakfast. I don’t know if it was the walk or good music or both, but it had been doing wonders for my mood. Then I came down with the flu, which still has its hooks in me and I haven’t done it in about a week. I’ve definitely noticed the difference.
And following up yesterdays’ post on Travis McGee, here’s a quote on exercise I came across while writing it::
"One very sound rule for the body is always keep in mind what it was designed to do. The body was shaped by the need to run long distances on resilient turf, to run very fast for short distances, to climb trees, and to carry loads back to the cave, so any persistent exercises you do which is not a logical part of that ancient series of uses is, in general, bad for the body."
Thanks for a great post. Hope your ribs heal better soon. Your post was incredibly on target for me. Not only am I struggling through not wanting to write (I’m talking complete and total apathy toward my characters) but I’m probably dealing with a little depression. All this as I’ve accomplished so much this year in Iraq. I’ve landed a fab agent, made great revisions to that first book and am getting ready to get home to my kids. So why the depression all of a sudden? We’re talking complete writer’s block. I stare at my computer monitor and nothing comes out. I feel like I’ve given up.
Part of it has to do with being injured. I’ve been either sick or hurt for most of September and I’m sure that’s having an impact. But I’m determined to get back after it. I’ve started working out again doing cardio on a regular basis (at least an hour a day). I also lift weights 4 days a week with my spouse.
The exercise helps my mood in that I’m not as irritable as I was before the work out but as it stands right now, it’s not helping my overall outlook on things. So I’m working through it. I know exercise is important and I do feel better. I get a lot of ideas while I’m working out, so much so that I jot down notes in my ipod touch. I’ll keep after it, even though right now, it’s not helping much.
Hope you feel better soon!
Sorry to hear about your ribs, Zoe. At least you broke them doing something legitimate. I cracked a couple of ribs in my 20s while playing Nerf basketball. (it’s a long story.) My penance was having some trumpet gigs coming up I couldn’t get out of. Fortunately, they didn;t involve much playing, but it was very uncomfortable.
I enjoy walking, with some push-up and crunches thrown in, but I’ve fallen into the trap of letting them go long enough to get out of the habit, and now it’s hell to get back into it. The push-ups and crunches are still in the planning stages. Walking is coming along much better. Unfortunately, my belly still comes along with me.
Did I leave our swimming from my list? I used to dive – not from a board. Scuba. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) I learned to scuba dive before I learned to swim, so I’m now a pretty bad swimmer unless I’m wearing a wetsuit and fins!
The last time I swam was in the hotel pool during the Mayhem in the Midlands convention in Omaha. It was great, and every time I do it, I wonder why I don’t do it more often …
Hi Cornelia. Love your treatment for SAD, although strangely enough it wasn’t mentioned on the SADA website …?
We’re quite a long way north, plus a thousand feet above sea level, which means a lot of the time we seem to be in the clouds, which doesn’t help the mood, I must admit.
Nice to have a gym right there in your building, but I’m sitting not twenty feet from my exercise bicycle, and that hasn’t inspired me to actually climb onto the thing recently, so proximity is not the only answer, I know.
I’m sure a light box would be a legitimate writing expense for you, wouldn’t it?
The only time horses kept me really fit was when I was working (I say ‘working’ – think slave labour) for a yard that kept a dozen big hunting horses. There were two of us looking after them, and trying to get all the yard work done, and keep them all hunting fit, meant we had to really run to get the work done.
Next time we build, though, we’re planning on sticking to our improved eating regime, so we should come out of it a lot better. There’s nothing like having a truck-load of gypsum board (100lbs a sheet) or oak flooring suddenly turn up and need handballing off in a hurry to get the heartrate pumping.
Glad to hear you’ve found exercise really helps. In what capacity do people come to you for help? Is this a professional thing with you, or do you just have a very sympathetic ear? ;-]
Sorry to hear you’ve been under the weather and hope the ‘flu has released its hold on you now. Interesting that you’ve found the combination of music and exercise is the one that works for you.
Love the quote, by the way. And it’s quite right. Climbing trees is something that should be accomplished on a regular basis. Not only does it keep you fit, it keeps you young, too – mentally, at least ;-]
I’m in awe of the fact you manage to get any writing done at all, considering your circumstances, and I’m so sorry to hear that September’s been a bum month for you. Let’s hope, now we’re into October, it’ll prove a kinder month.
I think we all have times when our get-up-and-go has most definitely got-up-and-gone when it comes to writing. I had a long period like that this summer, and getting back into gear has been a long and painful process.
If I can share any of the things that seemed to get me motivated again, please email me ;-]
Erm, legitimate? Hm, I’ll get back to you on that one. I’m sure some people would claim that Nerf basketball (and I have NO CLUE what that is) is no less legitimate than doing silly things like hanging out of cars …
I think the walking thing is going to be my only option for a bit. I tried cycling last time, but as soon as my lungs started having to work hard, my rib really didn’t like it much. But, maybe after Christmas I can get back into something more energetic. I found the pilates instructions for crunches really helped to make them much more effective.
You really should stop injuring yourself, Zoe.
This post was very timely. I find myself with a few of those symptoms listed above. And being BOTH a writer and graphic designer calls for the need of some sort of exercise routine. However, I’ve had eye surgery not too long ago, which really limited the amount of physical activity. I’m now just getting back to some walking and light weights. If I push too hard too soon, there’s the danger of damaging my eye again.
As far as suggestions, I’ve been following the South Beach diet and that seems to have been working. I’ve lost some weight, but it also improved my blood sugar, which is always a huge plus.
So sorry about your rib, Zoe.
Funny that you should blog about exercise today. I had to stop my regular exercise about six months ago when my deadline grew near. I actually DREAMED that I was exercising just last night!
I’m looking forward to turning in my second book, so I can go back to the gym. I’m a lot happier when I’m working out.
Me injuring myself? What about you? You take good care of that eye! Much more scary than a busted rib. Unless I get it cold, most of the time it’s not too bad. Coughing’s not a good idea, though. Or laughing hard. And sneezing doesn’t bear thinking about.
Improving your blood sugar is always good. I think the South Beach must be one of the few I’ve never tried. I’ve been through quite a few of them, from Rosemary Conley (low fat) to Atkins (low carb) and just about everything in between. I even, in the past, tried one of these horrible ones where you substitute shakes for real food and only eat once a day. Yeuch! NOT a good idea in the long run. Or the short run, come to that …
Walking and weights seems to be the way to go for me at the moment, from the comments I’ve had here. I have another four shoots to do over this weekend, but I think I’ll give the low-angle a miss, and may not be jumping off the top of my stepladders with my usual gusto. Mind you, just carting my camera and tripod about can be exercise enough, some days.
Interesting that you canned the exercise because of the impending deadline. With hindsight, do you think that working out, however briefly, would have helped you finish the book faster, or did it really get in the way?
And how much were you doing?
I do short but intense bursts of walking several times a day. As someone who broke a rib (falling in the shower), I can tell you that it leads to very minor amounts of agitation at most. It’s easy for me because I’m a pacer. If I’m working on something tough- math problem, essay, difficult piece of writing, anything that requires thought and answers aren’t forecoming- I’ll get up and do a few laps around the room. My MP3 player is filled with easy-to-ignore-but-fast-paced music for an additional barrier to the world. By the time I’ve gone through three songs (about ten minutes) most of the tension is gone letting me think easier.
My advice for any potential pacers: circles and squares will make you dizzy rather quickly, so do either straight lines, an L shape, a V shape, or three sides of a square; having to retrace your steps prevents the dizziness. For further help, turn left at one end and right at the other end. And try to keep it a minimum of five paces each way.
The main problem is doing it with ohter people around to giggle. Oh well.
I’m so sorry to hear about the rib. That sucks, but I hope it heals quickly.
As far as exercise during the winter months, my wife finally managed to talk me into a Wii. I thought the idea was a little silly, until we got it home and set everything up and tried it. We completely lose track of time now, because we’re bowling, or boxing, or playing baseball, or what have you. For a true video gamer it’s a terrible idea (I stick to the 360 for my gaming fix), but I was and still am amazed at how much fun we have, spending time together, being competitive, and staying healthy. Don’t get me wrong, you probably won’t start melting off the pounds, but for general raised heart rate, endorphin boost, and just good-feeling fun, it’s pretty damn cool.
Ugh, broken rib. Double Ugh, exercising. (Kidding)
I’m a walk kind of girl, though I do like to swim. I’m dabbling in yoga, but haven’t been doing much of any of the above lately. Obviously it’s time for some more discipline!
What a drag to break another rib. I hope it heals quickly and completely.
Exercise? When I’m "being good," I walk about 2-4 miles daily and go to the gym to work with weights a few times a week. When I’m "being bad," I just walk a mile or two. One thing I love to do is put on good music and just dance, by myself, in the house. It always makes me feel so much better about life, about everything.
Thank you for the very precise instructions! We do have a reasonable amount of space to walk about inside, so that might be an option. I can always do laps that take in the stairs, which is doubly good for the legs.
And Andy is far too used to my weird behaviour to giggle … much ;-]
According to some friends of ours who are chiropractors, they noticed a large increase in Wii-related injuries shortly after the Wii Fit first came out, not to mention people accidentally throwing the remote through the TV set.
We had a try with one not too long ago. I beat Andy in the boxing, but he said that was largely because I kept hitting him below the belt. Hey, I was punching as high as I could reach!
I must admit, though, it does appeal to me, because the whole video-game thing passed me by somewhat.
Just remembered that at one point I did some fencing, which was enormous fun and very energetic, and I had a punchbag hanging in the garage, which was not only fun, but theraputic. If you have a bad day, you can go and beat seven bells out of it.
But, for the moment, walking sounds about the most I can manage. It’s annoying that I was thinking it was time for more discipline, on the very morning when things went crunch. Sod’s law, isn’t it?
Anyone who’s seen me dance would do more than giggle, but what a lovely idea for a feel-good form of exercise. When the rib’s a bit less sore, I’ll give it a try!
Heal up quick, Zoe.
I’ve been there with the broken bones thing. Ew. That said, yoga and walking (not together), keep my mind calmer. I sleep better, (loud screaming cat not counted), and don’t mind spin as much. I’d love to get a Wii fitness thing. A woman I know lost 40 pounds just by water walking (through water, not on it.) And she did it with a bum hip.
Zoe, thank God it was the rib and not your head!
I, too recommend walking. Around in circles as you figure out the next scene.
Zoe, I’m sorry to hear about your injury. It sounds as though you’ve done a lot of weight-bearing exercise in your life, but maybe your bones are more fragile? It could be a lack of Vitamin D, especially since you live in such a gloomy climate. You might ask your physician if that would help strengthen your bones a bit. Calcium and magnesium are necessary, and often lacking in our diets, as well.
Love the idea of water walking (although for a moment there I thought it was something you could do on a Wii).
My parents used to have Siamese cats, who tend to be quite vocal, so I sympathese on the screaming cat. Yours, or somebody else’s?
Some would say my head is less useful than my ribs, but that’s another story … ;-]
If I walked round in circles while trying to work out the next scene, I’d get dizzy and fall over. A lot.
The dancing needn’t be for anyone but yourself. . . hence the joy of it. Just gently keep moving for 30 minutes or so and it’s life-affirming exercise. Quite liberating actually.
Interesting point about the vitamin D, calcium and magnesium. I just did a bit of checking and found my diet contains plenty of all three in the amount of spinach, almonds, raisins, oatmeal, brown rice, soy beans, bananas, dairy products and oily fish I eat. This eating plan not only seems to agree with us, but it’s reasonably well-balanced, too.
But, I have to admit that I’m a bit concerned that I’ve cracked my ribs twice in the last couple of years, when I managed to do a large amount of falling off horses as a kid and never broke any bones at all in the process. In fact, probably the worst injury I received there was when my sister stabbed me in the face with a pitchfork.
Eeh, the things you do when you’re young …
Zoë, yikes, so sorry to hear about the rib. Hope you heal up fast and better than new.
I am slowly working my way back into a regular exercise program. I let deadlines, surgery and just life derail me, and I know I feel better when I’m fit. I’m walking again daily, and doing weights and small amounts of toning exercises. Like Pari, I love to put on music and dance.
I’m a long long way from where I’d like to be, fitness-wise. I used to dance so regularly and I worked out for years, that muscle tone is coming back fairly quickly, but I’ve also gotten into really bad junk food habits, which I am trying to cut. My goal is simple–just be more fit. I’m not really caring about the weight because if I’m fit and I feel good, I’ll be happy.
Yes, it would need to be just for myself. I used to do a great aerobics routine to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’. Whenever I hear that album, it just makes me want to get moving ;-]
Glad to hear you’re getting back into it. The problem with having done a lot of exercise, particularly stuff that kept you supple, is that you feel so stiff when you try and get back into it again, I found.
At one point I used to be so bendy I could keep my knees straight and put my elbows on the floor. But you know you’re in trouble when leaning down to put your shoes on makes you go "Oof!"
Thank you to everyone who’s wished me well today. And please excuse me disappearing, but it’s approaching midnight UK time, and we have to be on the road at 6am tomorrow, so I’m going to call it a night. I’ll try to get to any extra comments, but it might take me until tomorrow night.
Thank you again ‘Rati ;-]
Zoe, I should have put it in a clearer context – I’m a psychotherapist specializing in trauma and mood disorders. Recommendations made in that mode!
Sending healing thoughts to you while you sleep. Take it easy, okay? And please try not to be literal tomorrow with that "be on the road" thing.
Sorry about the ribs! That sucks.
Exercise definitely helps me. I sleep better. I’m happier. But I also get ideas when I’m exercising. I’ve lost count of the number of great ideas I’ve had when I’m running. On my last book, I was having a real plot problem. I was lying in savasana in a 105 degree room after Bikram yoga. I didn’t even realize I was thinking about my book. In fact, I don’t think I was. But then I suddenly realized what had to happen. I’ve come to think of exercising as a requirement, not a leisure.
Okay, wait a minute…screw the rib, what’s this about a face meeting a pitchfork????
Even the unpublished among us are writers here, Zoe. You can’t just drop a juicy little bomb like that and just trot along to bed, tra-la-la. C’mon, give….
I have recently taken up Bikram Yoga – or "hot" yoga. Has anyone else tried this form of torture?
Very sorry about the rib though – that is SO painful!
Zoe! Sorry to hear about the rib. Get well!!!
I’m considering joining the gym with pool again – I did that for years and was in really good shape. Then we bought the farm, and you’d think riding and doing barn chores would be enough, but it isn’t.
Ah, all becomes clear. Maybe I should lie down on your couch and tell you all about it … ‘-]
Well, speaking of the ‘on the road’ bit, I did manage to do some more low-angle moving shots today, and didn’t break anything else – or even aggravate the existing injury, so all’s well.
Mind you, I have also spent half the day with a hot water bottle clutched to my ribcage, so maybe that’s helped, too!
I really think that the conscious mind sometimes does its best to interfere and distracting it with something else – like a really demanding workout of whatever type – is extraordinarily helpful to writing.
Which makes it tax deductible, right?
OK, it was an accident. At least, my sister maintains it was an accident, but there have been times I’m not so sure.
We were both forking straw into a wheelbarrow and just got out of sync – I bent down as she straightened up, and one tine of her pitchfork ended up embedded into my left eye socket. Fortunately, the tine of the pitchfork was curved, and my eyeball was round, and the two narrowly avoided each other, although I did need stitches and an anti-tetanus injection!
Apart from you – and Alafair – this is the first time I’ve heard of Bikram yoga. Sounds intriguing and painful, both at the same time ;-]
Why is it, with you, I’m waiting for the punchline …?
Are you related to Billie? Looking after horses is usually enough to keep anyone fit, and any form of additional exercise that keeps you supple is great for improving your riding style.
I guess that to get the personal loans from banks you must present a good motivation. However, once I’ve received a small business loan, just because I wanted to buy a car.
http://www.manelefree.net replica swiss watches
http://www.worldwide-watches.com replica watches
http://www.watches-mens.com mens watches
http://www.watches-mens.com/breitling-navitimer breitling navitimer
http://www.watches-mens.com/rolex-datejust rolex datejust
http://www.worldwide-watches.com/rolex-watches rolex watches
http://www.worldwide-watches.com/bell-ross-watches bell ross watches
http://www.worldwide-watches.com/ferrari-watches ferrari watches
http://www.worldwide-watches.com/bvlgari-watches bvlgari watches
http://www.worldwide-watches.com/rolex-datejust-watches Rolex DateJust
http://www.worldwide-watches.com/burberry-watches Burberry watches
http://www.worldwide-watches.com/breguet-watches Breguet watches
http://www.worldwide-watches.com/chopard-watches-c-24 chopard watches
http://www.worldwide-watches.com/hublot-watches hublot watches
http://www.worldwide-watches.com/u-boat-watches U boat watches
http://www.watches-mens.com/rolex-daytona rolex daytona
http://www.watches-mens.com/iwc iwc watches
http://www.watches-mens.com/panerai-luminor panerai luminor
http://www.watches-mens.com/burberry burberry watches
Я предпочитаю порно мультфильмы форум
Бери здесь… "<b>эротика молодые порно </b>" http://get.sh/TZr
К стате вы зашли с IP адреса <a href=http://get.sh/TZr><IMG>http://2ip.ru/bar/ip14.gif</IMG></a> 🙂