Blogging can be bad for your health. This revelation came to me a year ago, as I stood in my closet, trying on clothes, searching for something to wear to Northern Voice 2006. The black skirt I bought for Bloggercon II, the first blogging conference I attended in 2004 did not fit, two years and many conferences later, vivid and tangible evidence I could no longer deny as I tried to button the band around my waist. Somehow during the years I had been posting and presenting intensely I had also been gaining weight at steady rate: it wasn’t a coincidence.
My weight gain from 2004 to 2006 can’t be blamed on blogging alone. Certainly typing must burn some calories. And I can’t blame blogging for my own bad choices.
However, the hours I poured into posting converted into pounds on the scale. As I focussed on blogging, I developed a lifestyle and habits that were not healthy. Often I stayed awake long past midnight, reading, writing and linking, sedentary in a chair, rising too late to fit effective exercise into my morning routine. Caffeine disguised as chocolate and delivered in the shape of cookies also contributed, as I snacked on sweets to fuel my fingers.
Blogging can be good for your health
While blogging can be bad for your health, blogging can also be good for it too. Through the past year, many bloggers inspired me as I’ve tried to make better changes and choices in my lifestyle, results reflected in my new wardrobe.
Today, a year after my desperate search for a conference outfit, I can wear my Bloggercon skirt. In contrast, the pants I wore to Northern Voice a year ago are no longer hanging in my closet, too loose to be comfortable. I am at the lowest weight I’ve been in seven or eight years, and certainly in the best shape I’ve been in for a while, perhaps since my days of competitive running in high school.
Running again has helped me meet my goals, and I am finishing week 3 of an 18 week marathon training plan. Who knows if I’ll actually run the 26 mile race: my previous attempt at training last fall resulted in injury after only 4 miles, accompanied by a detour through the world of physical therapy and podiatry. But so far, complete with new orthotics, I’m up to 7+ miles this time and feeling strong. After taking nearly ten years off from intense running (initially intentionally due to infertility) I’d forgotten how good physical fitness feels.
I want to acknowledge and thank a number of bloggers, in no particular order, who have encouraged me by their examples, lives and posts. Thank you for helping me become healthier. I want to give credit where credit is due (forgive me please if I’ve missed you).
Chris Pirillo and Fatblasters
Four books in particular have helped me. From Dadtalk – and his example – I found The Okinawa Diet Plan. From mipmup’s post on the Blogher blog I discovered The Great American Detox Diet by Alex Jamieson (fiancee of Super Size Me’s Morgan Spurlock) whose recipes have become part of our family’s diet. Somewhere I also found The China Study, and although I can’t recall the first source (was it here?), I know Joi Ito has been referring to it in his recent changes. Lisa Williams recommended Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Health Eating.
I’ve been interested in going vegan for a while and although I can’t say I am quite there yet, I am enjoying a low-gluten, low sugar, low fat, low sodium, low yeast and low animal-product diet. My exceptions are chocolate chip cookies, salmon, and social situations. For two meals a day I prepare three different options at each meal (one for Ted who likes meat but can’t have dairy, one for our three girls and a vegan one for me) but sometimes at dinner I eat what the rest of the family is having, for simplicity’s sake (and, I confess, I still crave meat or eggs every so often). Fat Free Vegan Kitchen blog has been a wonderful resource, with savory photos and recipes. Brown rice has become one of my favorite foods – breakfast, lunch or dinner – as well as millet, spelt, fruit and beans.
Kathy Sierra continually inspires me, and if she tries something, it’s probably worth trying. However, despite her endorsement of the Shangri-La Diet, I found it didn’t work for me. Shangri-La certainly has its devotees who have discovered how to make it work for their bodies. After a few attempts, I soon realized that I would need to ingest multiple tablespoons of oil a day in order for the benefits to kick in for my body. I also didn’t like watching the clock and adding more things I had to remember to my schedule. At the time I was undergoing some medical care and I couldn’t see myself trying to explain to the doctor why I was swallowing tablespoons of oil a day. Shangri-La also requires its share of discipline and patience, and for those who are willing to go the distance, I imagine it may be worthwhile.
What worked for me
What worked for me, though were the basics. Exercise and diet. I’d also make these recommendations.
1. See a doctor. Medical care played a big part in my return to health.
2. Try fasting occasionally. Do this with #1 above – only fast if it is something you can do medically. Fasting helped me realize that I felt better when I didn’t eat certain foods. I started fasting for spiritual reasons but I believe there are also physical benefits. I like the simplicity and clarity of a short (1 – 3 days) fast. Plus it is a great way to contemplate life, develop discipline and mental strength.
3. Keep at it. Push through the days when the exercise is difficult or when the sweets seem tempting. Set a goal you want to meet.
4. Find some encouragement and support for the journey. That may include finding some blogs to read to put some motivational posts into your RSS feed. Blogging can be good for your health!