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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2009-06-03 04:54
Subject: [personal] On exercise
Security: Public
Tags:health, personal
wishwords asked me in comments how I motivated myself to exercise. I liked my answer enough to promote it to a blog post of its own.

First, calling it "body movement" instead of "exercise" took a lot of the emotional freight out of the situation. I went to elementary school and junior high in the 1970s, where the typical gym teacher motivational strategy was to goat the hell out of one kid to motivate all the others. I was almost always the goat. That kind of persistent victimization leaves a mark. By the time I was 14, I was violently allergic to exercise and anyone who practiced it. So changing terms -- reframing, in Lakoffian dialectic -- helped me a lot.

Second, public reporting of my activity. I'm accountable to the world. Not that anyone's keeping score (that I know of). It just means if I miss or slough off a day, I can't rationalize it away or "forget". I have to admit it, in print, in public. For me, that works well. For some, that would probably be a horror show.

Third, I convinced myself that body movement was and is an essential component of my writing strategy. If I don't get out and move around, my energy levels are lower, I'm logier, I don't have as much energy and focus to write. Once I was able to accept it as a writing-related program activity, just as important as story marketing, reading or research, then it became a lot easier to adapt my behavior.

Your thoughts?

Originally published at jlake.com.

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lauriemann
User: lauriemann
Date: 2009-06-03 13:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I hate to exercise to (for many of the same reasons you mention, though, in girl's gym, it's more your classmates goading you than the teacher).

However, I always have loved to walk and go for at least a mile a day. I garden, I mow the lawn, clear the leaves away in the fall, shovel in the winter, et.c. I find I need a reason to have activity. I bought an exercise bike but rarely used it. Later I bought a treadmill. Ditto.

Recently, a local research group was looking for overweight women to participate in a study about their activity levels. They failed me on the phone - I was too active to be in their study.
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misofuhni: Magic--Fifth position en pointe
User: misofuhni
Date: 2009-06-03 13:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Magic--Fifth position en pointe
Hear's to the goat! I was one of them, too. The horror stories, the scarring....

The public reporting thing is an excellent motivator. It also works wonders with calorie intake. Even if you don't share the information, it gets you looking at labels and taking note of what you're putting into your mouth. Then again, you are putting yourself in the scapegoat position; if being publically accountable for your physical activity would be a 'horror show for some', then it becomes a matter of doing something so that you don't feel bad the next time you look at that entry.

I'm off now to do DDR on my GameCube.
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misofuhni: oxford comma
User: misofuhni
Date: 2009-06-03 13:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:oxford comma
NOTE TO SELF: Do not LJ before you finish your tea. Here's, not 'Hear's'.
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Rafe
User: etcet
Date: 2009-06-03 14:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This stuff, right here, is why, even though I'm currently a gym rat, I'm contributing to http://www.shrinkgeek.com (hope the shameless plug isn't frowned upon too vigorously) -- to help folks who want to get healthier do so without that stereotypical pressure or meat-head mentality (heck, -I'm- the token meathead *grin*).

Journaling food and movement on a day-to-day basis is one of the tried-and-true facets of what sets a more successful person apart from someone who doesn't. No, it's not glamorous, but it's out there, and keeps us accountable to ourselves, if nobody else.

Watching your daily numbers creep downward from over here on the sidelines has actually been pretty cool.
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spinflight
User: spinflight
Date: 2009-06-03 14:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Movement stimulates blood circulation including, of course, to the brain. I think a lot better and come up with lots of ideas when walking around. Plus, sweating out toxins is always a good idea. :) I like doing fun "body movement" like playing frisbee.
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houseboatonstyx
User: houseboatonstyx
Date: 2009-06-03 17:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Unfortunately this won't help motivate people to 'exercise', but I find the same effect from lying down a few minutes: better blood flow to the brain > more ideas.

Freud talked about 'bath, bus, and bed' as being places where people got good ideas.

Maybe the best of both worlds for lazy people like me is to do exercises lying down, such as putting the legs in the air and 'bicycling' or doing the similar yoga pose 'sarvangasana'. (The yogi says full headstands are bad for the brain: too much blood.)
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The Queen of Spades: Silent Hill
User: steppinrazor
Date: 2009-06-03 15:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Silent Hill
It really does help to switch perspective. I just look at it as playtime. I'm fortunately not one of the folks who just dislike all activity (I've tried to give some advice to people in the past who flat-out said "I don't like dancing or any sports or anything at all like that"). I have a hard time believing it's good for humans to run on hamster wheels all their lives. I joined a gym, and hated it. I much prefer to do crazy things in my own home, then go out with my insanely active friends and just play around - but it helps that we're a bunch of dumb adult kids. I've got a lot of weight to lose and I'm fairly unfit, but having people around me who make me want to run and flail and generally be a fool helps. I'm enjoying "exercise" with the end goal of "be able to keep up" as opposed to "lose x amount of pounds by y", and not looking at it as a chore.
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Kenneth Mark Hoover
User: kmarkhoover
Date: 2009-06-03 16:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've also found when my exercise levels are up so are my writing levels.
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madrobins
User: madrobins
Date: 2009-06-03 16:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have had a couple of injuries that stopped me from exercising (and the fact that I have no car right now has made it really difficult to get to the gym, but I do an hour and a half of brisk dog-walking/ball throwing daily, which is at least keeping me in the game until the situation changes).

I have to say that if I had to report my exercise--or writing, or anything else--to the world, I would stop at once. I am contrarian enough that being "accountable to the world" would make me more likely to fall off the wagon fast than almost anything else. And yet, I know in this I am peculiar. I'm delighted this works for you (the photos I've seen of you lately are almost terrifyingly svelte).
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calendula_witch: SF
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2009-06-03 17:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:SF
On point three: As we've discussed a lot, for me at least, body movement does more than just clear the head and get the energy moving--it is actually a fundamentally important part of my writing. And thinking. When the body is busy but the brain is not super engaged in the activity (walking or yoga, for me; any familiar physical activity, I think), the brain gets a bit bored and wanders off to do its own thing. Like, figuring out plot snarls, or unpacking life issues, or whatever. And whatever part of the brain it is that does this seems to be a whole lot smarter than the conscious brain up front here.

Once I realized this was happening accidentally, I was able to use it--to ask the undermind a question, then go to yoga or out for a walk. It doesn't *always* provide an answer, but it does often enough that it works for me.

Then, also for me, I'd add a point four: the sheer addictive quality. Once you get past the motivation issues and get the body used to its daily dose of endorphins, it feels far worse to not exercise than to get out there and do it. :-)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-06-03 19:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Point four, very solid...
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Rhonda Parrish
User: rhondaparrish
Date: 2009-06-03 18:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Maybe that's what I need to do, connect exercise in my brain to my writing. Right now I really, really struggle with 'working out'. I do well for a little bit, then I just lose the willpower and slide backward, losing whatever benefits I'd gained. I think part of the problem is that I'm taking time out of my day to do 'workouts' (DVD workouts mostly) rather than integrating more activity into my life in general.

My point is, like you, I think I just need to reframe it.

We'll see how that goes.

The public accountability thing might help too...hmmm....

Wow. Am I narcissistic much? Me, me, me, me. Enough about me, what do you think about me? *sigh*

In other, less self-centered news, my copy of Mainspring just arrived via Amazon today. I'm really looking forward to reading it. Especially since I hear it's lowbrow and all ;)
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Jay Lake: writing-Mainspring
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-06-03 19:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:writing-Mainspring
Me me me!

All good. Besides, I did ask you what you thought...

And enjoy Mainspring!
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manmela
User: manmela
Date: 2009-06-03 19:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I don't exercise.

I have been known to go on a 131 cache, 32 mile geocache hunt on foot on the odd occasion though
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russ
User: goulo
Date: 2009-06-03 20:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think a lot of people get intimidated by trying to get started with too ambitious an exercise program. Baby steps are a useful technique (in trying to start any new habit, not just exercise). Even if you just do 3 minutes of exercise a day or some other seemingly trivial amount, that's still better than nothing, and better than most people.

It also seems useful to know other people who are exercising so you can encourage each other, talk about exercise, exercise together, etc. Make it something that is on your radar and not just some alien habit you try to focus on once a day.

Walking and biking instead of driving a car are good, as well as ecological and money-saving.

Being focused on personal development in a broad sense also encouraged me to be more serious about exercise in particular. I just finished reading Steve Pavlina's book and found it useful and inspiring.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-06-03 20:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I started with literally five minutes a day...
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Pam
User: musingaloud
Date: 2009-06-03 21:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I too am an exercise-phobe. Was never good at sports. After my kids were born, I started taking them in walks in the stroller to get out of the house and much to my own surprise, a walking enthusiast was born. Now my boys are 28 and 30 and I've been walking with the same friend every morning (unless one of us is out of town or sick to the point of death) for 17 years. And I find that no matter how down and crummy I'm feeling, I *always always always* feel better after a walk. And there's truly nothing better for depression than physical exercise -- errr, excuse me -- MOVEMENT!
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wild_patience
User: wild_patience
Date: 2009-06-04 00:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think a lot of us were ruined by P.E. classes when we were kids. I was a fat kid and rode my bike a lot -- it was fun and it was the only way I could get somewhere I wanted to go since my parents both worked.

I still ride my bike, considering it a way to get in touch with my inner child in addition to having fun, saving money on gas, and getting exercise. Exercise (or body movement) is good for relief of depression and as a way to set off the creative spark.

I'm tracking my mileage, a la the Eowyn challenge. I'm halfway between Rivendell and Lothlorien. In real world mileage, I would have crossed the border into Washington state, riding from the SF Bay Area.
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mcjulie
User: mcjulie
Date: 2009-06-04 20:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The whole geeks-vs-jocks thing in our society leads a lot of people to think of the body and the brain as somehow disconnected or even at odds with each other.

The brain is a physical organ. It functions better in a healthy organism.

Exercise is absolutely an essential tool for people who like to think.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-06-04 21:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I had to sort this out with myself less than two years ago. I used to be one of those people whose body primarily existed as a way to carry his head to meetings. Now I live much more in my whole, physical self. And frankly, I'm a lot happier for it.
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Leah Cutter: Workout
User: lrcutter
Date: 2009-06-04 22:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Workout
I find it interesting that I use some of the same word play -- I don't call it exercise, it's activity, it's walking, it's yoga. I go to the gym, but I don't exercise, I work out.

One of the things that helps make me *much* more active are the "break" programs I have on both my PC and my Mac -- www.workrave.org and the timeout program on the mac. I have them set so I work 55 minutes, then I have to take a break for 5 minutes. The game I play with myself is that I can't sit down for those 5 minutes. So I clean out the cat box, or walk around the block, or take the garbage out, or something that involves a lot of movement.

Though it's only 5 minutes every hour, for some odd reason or another, I am not as tired at the end of a long day. I have more energy. It's funny how such a little thing can be life changing, but it is.

I won't be at JayCon this weekend -- my life's too crazy right now. But I've been thinking about you a lot, and wishing the best for you.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-06-04 22:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sorry you won't be there! Hope it's good crazy, or at least crazy which is on the way to working itself out.
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