Posted by: Trisha Leigh | November 15, 2010

My Discipline is Squishy – Like My Thighs

I’ve been counting calories since Memorial Day, on a weight loss quest that’s down to its last 3.5 measly pounds. I’ve been stuck with 3.5 pounds to go for quite some time. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed myself during these past months. I’ve gone out of town pretty regularly, and when I do I never stress about the calories I’m eating (or more often, drinking) or that I can’t work out. I’ve done a pretty good job when I’m home sticking to my exercise routine and diet. It’s not that fun, mostly because I like eating things that are terrible for me and I hate exercising unless it’s in the form of a game, but hey – I’m getting older.

Then I got revisions back from my agent, started graduate school, and guess what? I quit working out. No time. I haven’t gained anything since I’ve still been careful about calories, but those last 3.5 pounds aren’t going anywhere unless I move my ass. Also, I may not have gotten fatter but I have noticed a little…squishiness to my muscles.

Getting back into working out after taking such a long break is hard. The first two weeks are the worst. I have no motivation, it hurts like the dickens during and after, and I’m not seeing any results. Also, I resent losing “my” time, which I’d rather spend on something else.

You know what else is hard? Getting back into writing after a similar break. I haven’t worked on a first draft since September, and it’s been even longer since I knew I had the time to work on one. Sure, school plays a part. I spend a lot of time reading textbooks, researching, and drafting papers for my history classes. Also, a rewrite of the novel that’s with my agent took up several weeks of my time (but will hopefully be worth it).

This week I will turn in 40 pages worth of research papers and be pretty much done with my semester. I’ve started two new first drafts and am ready to pick one and run with it, but I find myself feeling out of shape and leery of diving back in.

Writing exercises my mind, and I’m guessing it’s going to feel like going back to the gym. A little uncertain, a little hard, but in the end – something I just have to do. After all, I can’t NOT write. It’s time to shake the dust off my fingers and those dormant pieces of my brain and pound out a new story. They’re plenty more waiting (not so) patiently in line.

What about you? Do you find it more difficult to get back into the swing of things the longer breaks you take?

What I’m watching right this second: Practical Magic. Uber guilty pleasure, typical Sandra Bullock fun.



  1. I absolutely find it difficult to get started again after I’ve taken a break. I almost have to make yourself do it until I like it again. But if I don’t do it, my head will explode.

    I don’t know how that translates to working out. Yes, I have to make myself excercise until I like it again (b/c I really do like the way it makes me feel afterward) but my muscles don’t explode if I stop. Hrm.

    We can work out together in 6 days. I do yoga. We can get all bendy.

    • I’ve never done yoga but I am very bendy. I freaked my roommate out the other night when I put my feet behind my head. True story.

  2. Oh, absolutely. It’s depressing how much “use it or lose it” applies to all aspects of my life. Ugh.

    The b!tch of it is, I KNOW how much better I feel when I keep up with the exercise, and ditto the writing. And yet slacker-dom lurks around every corner, waiting to ambush me. Granted, I’m a lot more like to slack on the exercise than the writing…

    • My legs ache. So does my brain. I vow to remember this the next time I think about taking a break. (yeah, right)

  3. Yes! I know what you mean. I guess every part of the writing process is different. I’m editing my book for structure now, which for me also means writing some new scenes. It’s like cold water in the face! Bracing. Splutter.

    • I wrote the second chapter in a new WIP the other day. It felt…good, after a few hundred words.

  4. God, yes! It’s so challenging to make something good a habit after a long break. I like this part of Nano; you MUST write daily, even if you don’t feel like it.

    I am the same way with working out; I’ve been trying to lose weight all year and I play with the same few pounds. Calories – I’m good for a week or two and then cave when I am near chocolate, undoing my hard work.

    I have a gym at work and I use it during my lunch breaks. Mondays are dance class. The rest of the week, I alternate between elliptical machines and weight training.

    I haven’t seen a damn difference yet. But I feel it! The little aches and pains from writing all day disappear, my body is more flexible and faster when I am religious about working out.

    But I still hate it.

    • I hate it too. I keep hoping that one day I will wake up and be one of those people who loves working out. I get to the point where I don’t HATE it after a month or two, but I never look forward to it. Le sigh.

  5. I like the exercise-as-necessity method. I ride my bike to work, which saves money on gas, gets me healthy, and only adds about 15-20 minutes to my commute. The drawback is I get famished at about 10 am, after eating breakfast at 6:30 then exercising.

    And I don’t know if I’ve taken a break from writing at all since I started again a year and a half ago. I’ll have to get back to you after I do that. (Wait…tweets and blog comments count as writing, right? Yeah. I think so.)

    • Well in that case, I haven’t really taken a writing break – after all I’ve been editing, blogging, and writing grad school essays!

  6. Oh yes, breaks are the toughest, both with exercise and with writing. I find I have to trick myself into doing both sometimes. “You’re not exercising, you’re taking the dog for a long hike. You’re not writing, you’re just revising that one scene, and then if you happen to keep going…”


    • I did that today. I said, you’re not getting on the elliptical for an hour, you’re just reading a book on your iPhone. Yeah…

  7. Absolutely agree that getting back into the swing of things after a break — whether it’s writing, working out, or anything, really — is TOUGH. I guess it’s the whole “we’re creatures of habit” thing. We get into (or out of) a certain routine, and dadgum if we don’t want to change that routine — mentally, physically, and emotionally.

    But it sounds like you have a great attitude about the whole thing, which is the most important step, I think. I can totally empathize with what you’re going through. Between working, my last semester of grad school, all my writerly tasks, trying to find my first “real” job, and getting ready to move, I barely have time or sanity left at the end of the day to do more than collapse in bed, much less exercise or do something for myself. It can be really hard to make the effort to change and make time for the things you know are important (in the midst of all the other things that are important).

    So, good luck to you, and thanks for being an inspiration. I feel better about all my crap after reading this post. I hope everything goes well for you as the semester winds down. 🙂

    • Yeah, it’s grad school that’s pushing me over the edge. Glad to know there are people out there who’ve done it. Congrats on being in your last semester, that’s great!

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