Sunday, May 30, 2010

Health and Writing

Being an author is a very sedentary job, but there are other jobs that require sitting for hours.  How many do you spend at the computer every day?  I got the idea to offer some tips for testing your health from the new issue of Reader's Digest.  Don't groan, just go with me for a minute.

I have to be honest.  Once I finished, I considered titling this post, "It's been nice to know you," but I'm going to try to force myself to limit my sitting time and add in some activities, even if it's walking around my condo complex.  You might decide to make some changes, too.

In an attempt to meet deadlines, keep up with my blog, attend chats, etc, I often skimp on good meals and go for the easy snacks that I can stuff myself with at my desk.  I know that habit is not good for me OR my computer.  Potato chip crumbs make keys stick, and when you spill a glass of sweet tea on your keyboard, that's a nightmare.  Can you say "sticky?"  It's so much easier to grab something bad than to prepare something good, but as with all bad habits, there are consequences.

Iron deficiency is a common ailment among those who don't eat properly, but I had no idea that the clue is in your hand.  According to RD, "Iron is your body's energy mineral, grabbing and delivering it to cells throughout your body.  If you don't have enough, you can develop bone-weary fatigue, concentration loss, even shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat."  Here's a quick way to check your own iron level.  Spread your palm wide and check the creases.  Pale lines are generally an indication of reduced circulation near the surface due to low iron.  Gums and the insides of your eyelids are also determining factors.  See your doctor for a hemoglobin or hemocrit test if you detect a problem.

How, I can relate to this one!  Off-rhythm heartbeats.  I recently was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) and it's scary.  Did you know that it's responsible for up to 140,000 strokes each year in the US?   Many people who have this disorder don't even realize it. Boy, I did.  My heart was beating over 150 times a minute and in no particular tune. A night in the hospital and meds I'll take for the rest of my life resulted from one attack. It's not pleasant, but necessary and I prefer the inconvenience to the alternative.  A-Fib isn't just about an occasional missed beat, rather extremely irregular rhythms.  The onset is caused when the upper chamber of the heart quivers and throws off the beating chambers as they try to keep up with the irregularity.  The danger is not so much in the beat but the pooling of blood this causes which leads to clots.  How do you know if you have a problem?  RD suggests "toe tapping."  Find your pulse on your neck or wrist and tap your toe in sync with it for a minute.  If you find it difficult or feel you have uneven beats, mention it to your doctor.

Do you creak?  I'm usually a stiff mess when I finally decide to heft my butt out of this chair, so this one really hit home.  Healthy blood vessels are flexible, and widen and narrow as needed throughout the day.  When arteries stiffen: aging, extra pounds, plaque on artery walls, sedentary lifestyle or diabetes, you put yourself at risk for fatal strokes and heart attacks.  Great...I fit most of the criteria except for diabetes.  To judge how supply your own arteries are, try this:  Sit on the floor with legs straight out, toes pointed toward the ceiling.  Bend forward from your hips and stretch your arms toward your feet.  Try to touch your toes.  NEWS FLASH:  I can do it.  My fingers even surpassed my toes a bit, but the problem I had was getting up again.
If you find you can't, then add some stretching exercises to your daily routine and limber up a bit.

Oh Lord...the Measure your Middle test.  Those with an oversize waist risk early death, even if you aren't overweight.  Well, I qualify, and I am overweight.  I promised myself I'd never weight this much again, but I'm stuck between a rock in a hard place after having stomach stapling nineteen years ago.  But, on with the test.  A bulging middle is caused by 'visveral' fat, a thick, yellow fat in the abdomen that pumps fatty acids and inflammation causing chemicals into the blood.  The risk of premature death is 79% for woman and double that for men.  A big middle is hard on the heart, so what do we do?

The next time you are naked, stand in front of a mirror (oh yuk), circle your waist with a tape measure (I don't own one so I tried the one in my husband's tool chest...don't do it, it won't work and it hurts when it flings back into the case).  Move the tape down until the bottom rests at the top of your hip bones (I can't find mine).  Don't hold your breath or cinch the tape too tight.  Write down the number.  For men, a measurement of 40 and up is considered high risk.  For women, 32 is the danger threshold and 35 is high-risk.  Oh me!!!

The goods news, if you can find any in this topic, is  visceral fat is more metabolically active than fat elsewhere on your body so exercise and plenty of produce, grains, fish and mono-saturated fat from olive oil and nuts will help rid you of the inner tube around your middle.

I'm skipping their two-second depression quiz, because all of the above sent me spiraling into the depths. Sorry if I've ruined your day, too, but these are all things we need to know or be reminded of. I thank Reader's Digest for stimulating me to consider I need to make some changes if I want to hang around and see my Spencer grow up.

I recently ordered RD in the large print, and I so love it.  Yes, it's a sign of aging, but even my husband who is Dyslexic says the larger print helps him read better.  Happy stretching, my friends.


Marie Higgins said...

I hate reading stuff like this. Especially when I sit at a computer for my day job (10 hrs a day, Mon-Thurs), then when I'm at home I'm usually sitting at the computer writing. Thankfully I don't eat while I'm at the computer, but I really need to take out at least 30 mins a day to exercise. Maybe then it won't be so bad to sit at the computer all day.


Rhobin said...

Good advice. I know I spend too much time at the keyboard.

Author Mary C said...

Interesting. I believe my butt is getting bigger the more I sit at the computer. Surprise...not.

I didn't know about the iron. Of course, I have thin blood anyway, so chocolate Ensure is an everyday drink for me.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Well, I knew I was already in trouble, this just confirms it. Thanks for the hints and plain talk!

MAGGI said...

Back to the exercise bike, groan!

Latesha said...

*sigh* No wonder I can't lose any weight. I guess I better start getting up early to combat the spread.

Mary McCall said...

Wonderful post, Ginger. I'm big on PT since my wreck. My biggest problem is forgetting to eat and getting just plain sick of the computer. But I've now lost 172 pounds and weigh less than what I lost... It was part of a five year self-improvement plan.

Cheryl said...

I sit a lot, but I'm determined to get better about it. When my lower back starts aching that means it's time to take more breaks during the day.

Thanks for the not so gentle reminder to take care of my health as well as I take care of my clients.


Maryann Miller said...

Ginger. Just this morning I was thinking what a slug I have been and how much I need to exercise more. Then I came in my office and sat down at my computer. LOL

So I guess after reading this, I need to go for a walk. Bye.

Christine London said...

If we could all use the daily walk like a scheduled doctor's appoinment, we wouldn't have to see the doc quite so much. Writing and sedentary computer time should be a reward for getting the blood flowing. Your brain will work better too to create the stuff you need to whilst doing all this sitting.
I have found that portion control is the real key to keeping the middle from growing too large. You can't do enough exercise in one day to work off what most Americans eat in a day. (Unless you are a farm hand working the fields from sun up to sun down.)
So mon amis, move first---then sit and enjoy the fruits of your imaginings. You body will indeed thank you as will the product of your keyboarding.
Great reminders, Ginger. Thanks!

Christine London

Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Manic Readers

Manic Readers

She Writes

Historical Fiction Books

Readers and Writers of Distinctive Fiction