Tag Archive for: fitness

3 Lessons Learned about Fitness from a Recent Novel

By AB Plum
On my January 5th
morning walk, I dodged an oncoming car. I banged into a cement barrier, broke 4
toes, sprained my ankle, and bruised a tendon. During the slow recovery—no
weight-bearing exercise—I read a lot. The book I was looking forward to the
most proved the most disappointing.
Maybe I was grumpy from
being confined to a wheelchair for a month and wanted some vicarious exercise.
I could’ve chosen from an array of main female characters who swim, row, box,
jog, hike, climb rock walls, practice Tai’chi, and a myriad of other physical
Instead, I selected a
bestseller in which one of the main characters exercised by eating too many
potato chips and pizza.  She played
basketball as a teenager, but Life 101 intervened and    . . .
okay, I got it. I was, after all,  reading her story because of Life 101.
But here’s one lesson I
learned:  Authors should avoid putting a
woman with the fitness level of 0 in a series of scenes where she’s drugged,
kept in a car trunk unconscious, breaks her collarbone, fights mano a mano with
the bad guy, and wins. Compared to this character, I’d suffered no physical
impairment—yet I could barely walk after weeks of taking care of my
injuries.  Did the Author really want me
to suspend logic?
Yes, adrenaline propels
us to lift cars and other Herculean feats in emergencies, but c’mon.
Second lesson
learned:  Authors lose the hard-earned
loyalty of their fans with this kind of character portrayal.  I’ve read everything this author has
published, but I’ll think twice about buying her next book.
There’s at least one
other lesson here:  The big-time critics
gave this book rave reviews. Across the board. I should’ve read the reader
reviews.  No matter what, we writers
cannot fool our audience.
By the way, I think the
same lessons apply to male characters who somehow morph into Superman. I just
didn’t read any of those while waiting to begin my morning walks again.
What about you? Are you
more forgiving of an author’s over-the-top characterization for the sake of
entertainment? Do you have favorite heroines who exercise regularly?

AB Plum writes psychological suspense about jealousy, revenge, and murder. Her newest novella, The MisFit, is coming soon.

Surviving Fitness Stuff


This month, Bethany challenged all of the members of the Stiletto Gang to think about and possibly write a post revealing our thoughts on “Author Fitness.” She specifically asked: “What do you do to keep yourself in shape for writing?  Anything physical (running, meditation, secret wrist stretches) or mental (journaling, daily free writes, writing by hand) that you do weekly or daily to keep you on your writing game.”

Because Linda has been ill with a nasty bug this past week, I’m posting for her.  I think it is a safe bet to say none of the above would be Linda’s response this week. Consequently, before I write my response, join me in wishing Linda a speedy recovery by leaving a comment.

My answer also is nothing.  It’s not that I haven’t tried.  I tried water aerobics with a trainer a few years ago.  When she said, “Raise your right arm,” I complied. Although I felt a sharp pain, I attributed it to being out of shape not to having just torn my rotator cuff. I pressed on with exercising for several weeks before an examination revealed a tear necessitating surgery.  Perhaps the morphine helped my creative thinking at that point in time.

Earlier this year, I signed up for a F.I.T. class.  Let me give you the entire perspective of this class.  It

was taken at a new gym that my husband and I recently had joined.  Previously, we were members at two different gyms, so we thought it would be nice to consolidate and actually go to the same place when we exercised.  Two of our friends accompanied us to the try-out afternoon.  As she and I were ambling on two of the many treadmills, my friend leaned over and whispered, “I don’t see our kind of people here.” She was right.  Everyone in our line of sight was buff, handsome, beautiful, and able to wear spandex without it clinging to their bodies.  Still, my husband and I joined and I even coughed up extra for the F.I.T. class.  When I arrived at my first session, I looked around at the other women and realized “I had found my people.” Even with their comfort and support, I washed out after a few months when I got dizzy jumping from pushups on the floor to jumping jacks and then dropping for ten more. 

Next, I tried a personal trainer.  He was kind, he was smart, and he quickly realized I wasn’t going to be one of those people who strives for a marathon or high intensity exercise level. I was assuring him my goal was merely to be healthy by losing some weight when I did a sit-up and something in my back popped.  Between epidurals, physical therapy, and plain old doctor visits, I didn’t have time (or permission) to exercise. 

Now, I’m back in the pool, but with my signing schedule for Should Have Played Poker being so crazy, who knows what calamity exercise might induce?  I’m not sure, but I’m not going to take any chances.

Personal Fitness

by Bethany Maines

I’m going to let you in on a secret – writing is not for
wussies.  It’s for old people.
Or at least it makes you feel old. Carpal tunnel. Eye
twitches and strains. Aching neck, sore back. The human body was not designed to
spend hours sitting at a computer, and the hours compound into stiff muscles
that have forgotten how to move.  Walking into the kitchen after a prolonged bout of editing, I look like I’ve escaped from the neighborhood old-person jail… er… assisted living facility.  I
imagine that back when writers were churning out novels by quill and
candlelight that it wasn’t any better. 
But at least back then we were likely to die by forty anyway and
probably needed to worry more about childbirth and dental hygiene than whether
or not our wrists were a tad achy.
I could trot out some line about suffering for my art, but
the truth is, I do many things to combat the muscular stress of sitting and
writing.  First of all, I got married and
had a kid.  Although, maybe that wasn’t
quite my intended outcome when I started down the aisle, it has to be said that
nothing curtails long hours at a computer like a toddler. However, the things I
intentionally do to keep myself from becoming Quasimodo include walking / jogging,
stretching and keeping up on my martial arts training.  And then I whine and complain until my
husband gives me a neck rub.  And then
when all else fails I break down and pay for a massage.

Below are the most common stretches I do for my wrists.  These drawings were actually produced
by one of my former employers – Visual Health Information.  They produce drawings for physical therapists
and others to give to patients.  I have
found all of these to be very helpful for my extended typing lifestyle.
Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie
Mae Mysteries
, Tales from the City of
and An Unseen Current.
You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video
or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Writing Fitness

January, I wrote a blog about “Resolution as Metaphor” where I spoke about my
two New Year’s resolutions (to carry less in my purse and drink more water) and
wondered what those resolutions said about me. I decided, “Lightness and water
are two ideas associated with movement and flow. They enable the journey and
keep the adventurer fueled to seek new possibilities.”

I’ve been reading Jordan Rosenfeld’s A
Writer’s Guide to Persistence
(Writer’s Digest Books 2015). Most of the
chapters conclude with two sections, a “Work It” segment that provides ideas to
consider about your writing practice and routines, and a “Move It” segment that
offers suggestions for adding movement to a writer’s sedentary lifestyle. In her
first “Move It” segment (p.10), Rosenfeld points out, “Any time you’ve been
sitting for an hour or more, your body makes preparations to go into ‘shutdown’
mode—essentially it’s preparing for death. Yikes!”


online article from Women’s Health
discussed how the “sitting disease” can lead to heart disease and obesity and
perhaps shorten your life. The article indicated that long periods of sitting
may (1) cause fluid buildup in your legs leading to sleep apnea; (2) encourage
fat cells in your body to create twice as much fat; (3) cause blood sugar to
spike after meals; (4) decrease brain activity, giving you more senior moments;
and (5) make blood flow more sluggish, increasing the possibility of developing
blood clots in the lungs. (See The Risks of a
Sedentary Lifestyle: Stand Up for Your Health
by Tracy Erb Middleton,
published August 6, 2012.) The article suggested: “The key to fighting sitting
disease lies in augmenting your routine with something called NEAT, or
nonexercise activity thermogenesis. Translation: low-impact movements that keep
your metabolism humming and your circulation flowing.”

Writing fitness was addressed recently in a guest
on Lois Winston’s Anastasia Pollock blog by Kay C. Burns, a
registered nurse who writes suspense mystery. Kay also mentioned that writing
for long periods without breaks can lead to backache, eye strain, wrist strain,
general weakness, headache, fatigue, isolation, and depression. She recommended
that writers get sufficient sleep, stay hydrated, eat healthy, stay active, control
weight, and manage stress. She quoted author C. Hope Clark, who in her book The Shy Author Reborn and an
online post
for Colleen M. Story’s blog Writing
and Wellness
emphasized that keeping healthy was essential to good writing.
Hope’s routine included getting plenty of sleep, drinking lots of liquids,
gentle exercise, and socializing

Hemingway, Thomas Jefferson, and Winston Churchill all were supposed to have
written while standing. In his letters, Kurt Vonnegut mentioned that he walked,
swam, and did push ups and sit ups.

In a
2006 online article titled “Exercises for Writers and Other Desk Slaves,” Elsa
O’Neal suggests some gentle movements based on yoga poses to help vary the
position of tired eyes, necks, wrists, fingers, stomachs, legs, and feet. These
exercises can be done while seated at a desk, so there’s no excuse not to stop
briefly, stretch, and vary position before plunging forward with a writing project.
If time is a factor, take a look at Colleen M. Story’s message on Writing and
Wellness for “How to Boost Your Health in Less Than a Minute a Day.” She recommends
not only exercise and fluids, but also chocolate and laughter. Surely, those
are reasons to give yourself a writing break to improve your productivity!

do you do to safeguard your health and enhance your writing?


legislative attorney and former law librarian, Paula Gail Benson’s short
stories have appeared in Kings River
, the Bethlehem Writers
, Mystery Times Ten 2013
(Buddhapuss Ink), A Tall Ship, a Star,
and Plunder
(Dark Oak Press and Media 2014), A Shaker of Margaritas: That Mysterious Woman (Mozark Press 2014),
and Fish or Cut Bait: a Guppy Anthology (Wildside
Press 2015). She regularly blogs with others about writing mysteries at the
Stiletto Gang and Writers Who Kill.
Her personal blog is Little Sources of
Joy and her website is http://paulagailbenson.com.