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7 Healthy Habits to Keep Freelance Writers Slim

Carol Tice

It’s hard to stay thin and fit as a freelance writer. After all, we’ve got all those hours at our desks sitting and writing.

And we’ve all heard the bad news about sitting — it’s the new smoking.

Still, it’s not impossible to stay fit in this line of work. Plus, staying fit can go a long way to keeping your self-employed health insurance costs down!

I’ve been working brutal hours between Freelance Writers Den and my own freelance writing assignments, but I still recently managed to slim down a dress size and get back into the single digits.

Which felt great!

I had a recent physical and my doctor was impressed — apparently my cholesterol levels are great, too.

How did I do it?

Here are my seven fitness tips for freelance writers:

  1. Exercise first thing. My best-case scenario is to go for a one-hour mostly uphill walk before I sit down at my desk. My kids go on early school buses and during the school year I try to walk straight from their bus stop so as to avoid any excuse-making. I’m already out of the house…let’s go! I find having to put on special gear or drive to a gym is time I don’t have, so I just walk, in whatever I’ve got on. The backup plan is to exercise after work, but I find it never ends up being as vigorous or as long as if I can get the workout in at the beginning of the day — and it’s too easy for life to intrude and the workout to get skipped when I wait until after work.
  2. Healthy snacks. I don’t know about you, but when I’m working on a complex writing assignment I’m a bit nervous about, I tend to crave a snack. If you put a bag of Cheetos or cookies in front of me in a scenario like this, I’d probably rip right through the whole bag. That’s why we strive to keep unhealthy snacks out of the house. My best writing snacks are nibble carrots or edible-pod peas. They’ve got nice crunch, healthy fiber, and satisfy my nosh craving without piling on a lot of calories.
  3. Portion control. I try never to bring a whole container of anything to my desk, even something healthy. Instead, pick up the smallest plate or bowl in your house and fill it with your snack item. Return to your desk, and don’t come back into the kitchen again.
  4. Sit on the ball. Speaking of sitting up straight, I sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair. (I gather everyone at Google does it, too.) The ball forces you to sit upright — there’s no chair back to slump against. Also, you have to make constant small adjustments to keep your balance, which tones your abs. Even better, I like to roll back and do mini-crunches while I’m waiting for poky websites to load. Which beats tearing your hair and wishing they would load faster, while you stare hatefully at that stupid beachball graphic. You get a bit more workout, improve your posture, AND reduce stress, all at the same time. It also makes you feel a little more like you’re at play and less like you’re at work.
  5. Free weights. Typing exercises a few weird little muscles in our arms while neglecting the big ones. I counteract that by doing an arm workout while I watch TV with 5-pound free weights. Keep those arms toned, ladies!
  6. Inverted poses. If I’m stuck on a piece of writing or just feeling tired or frustrated, I might do a slow yoga-style headstand. Always energizing and refreshing — and it gets you up and moving.
  7. Weekend exercise blitz. Especially if I haven’t gotten in much exercise time during the week, I try to line up some major outdoor workouts over the weekend to up the total exercise time I’m getting in the week. Favorites include wheelbarrowing loads of dirt around my garden (work on that six-pack!), long bike rides, canoeing, or hikes in the woods. This is your chance to get in longer workouts and build some muscle — so grab it.

I know these tips really work because more recently, I lost my discipline for doing many of these fitness points above…and the weight crept right back on. So it’s time to get that ball back out and get back to exercising early instead of late.

How do you stay fit as a writer? Leave a comment and share your tips.