Wednesday, January 28, 2015


by Lisa Siefert  

Did you participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? For those of you who are not familiar with it, NaNoWriMo, or as it is sometimes affectionately referred to: NaNo, is the annual event for writers everywhere to band together for the month of November and crank out 50,000 words.  

For most of us, writing output at that level requires intense amounts of sacrifice for anything non-writing related. This list of neglected items could include cooking, laundry, dishes, TV, exercise and even sleep. No task is too small nor too big to go on the do-it-after-NaNo-list.  

For my first NaNo in 2012, I aspired to write like the girl on the right, surrounded by nutritious, low-calorie fruits and snacks, but I ended up with something closer to the girl on the left. The NaNo advice gods preached take-out food and microwavable meals to make it through the month. Another NaNo guru advocated enlisting the help of family members to take over meal preparation. Since the only family member in the Siefert apartment other than myself is Hoppy, my miniature pincher, I interpreted NaNo as the green light I needed to indulge my every fast food, pizza ordering and take-out desire I had.

The end result was reminiscent of the dreaded Freshman 15. To be clear, I didn’t gain the entire 15 pounds in one month but over the course of both November and December. December brought great feelings of pride and accomplishment from winning NaNoWriMo the month prior so I decided to keep the party going with more of the same: lots of sitting around with my laptop, tons of rich, can’t-put-it-down food and little to no sleep. Not only did I feel productive and prolific, I had the word count to prove it. Unfortunately, I also had the extra weight, unbuttonable pants and double chin to show for it.

It took me over a year to take off what only took two months to put on. This is pretty typical of weight gain/loss. If you remember the guy from Super Size Me who gained 20 pounds from eating McDonald’s every day for an entire month, he also had to work for over a year to take off the weight. And that was with the help of his vegan, yoga-loving girlfriend to guide him. It ain’t easy.

If you too suffer from the NaNo 15, the NaNo 5 or some positive numbered derivation thereof, here are some tips to take it off:

1. Get 8 hours of sleep – Lack of sleep increases your cortisol levels, thereby increasing your appetite and encouraging your body to retain fat.

2. Surround your writing area with only fruits + veggies – They pack a lot of nutrients, live enzymes and fiber creating a fuller feeling of satisfaction and take up space that would otherwise have been used for chips, crackers or cookies. And “I can’t stop eating this raw broccoli,” said no one, ever.

3. Invest in access to fun cardio classes – This could be a gym membership, subscription to streaming fitness videos like the Daily Burn, a set of Beachbody DVDs or a fitness app on your phone. Make it easy and make it something you’ll enjoy.

I still love the idea of NaNo but now I’m a reformed NaNo Rebel. Yes, there’s actually a section in the NaNo forums dedicated to those who don said moniker. My new mantra is pretty simple: Fitness first, words second. If I don’t have time to workout and eat right, then I don’t have time to write.

I’m not as prolific as I was before but I’m also much happier and healthier. For more fitness based tips for writers, go to♥

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