There is a truth in physical health and exercise. When we begin a workout program, we typically lose a pound or two right away. We feel good about this and our energy level spikes. After all, our efforts are paying off.
Yet, this two-day high comes crashing down around us when our weight picks back up and our jeans fit more snugly than ever. A bulking up period quickly follows our seemingly overnight exercise success. At the end of week two, we are ready to throw our sneakers in the trash and dive head first into a double layer chocolate cake.
The truth is simple. Well, actually several truths.
- Initial weight loss is typically all water weight. We burn more calories, sweat and forget to replenish our H2O levels. All told, our hydration level dips. We lose a pound or two and rejoice.
- Muscle weighs more than fat. By a lot, actually. The more “fatty” we are, the less we weigh. The more muscle we have, the more we weigh. So, as soon as our bodies kick in gear and we actually start using those long forgotten muscles, we gain weight. This spike can dishearten many budding health enthusiasts. When coupled with the third truth, newbies fall off the exercise wagon in droves.
- Fat is bigger than muscle. While it weighs less, it still takes up more room in our jeans. And since our long-dormant muscles happily respond to our renewed efforts, we build muscle more rapidly than we lose fat. This creates the sudden need for more space in the waistband as we add muscle bulk to existing chub.
Two weeks in to a new exercise routine and we feel lost. We’ve gained both weight and bulk. We are sore and frustrated. This is the time we need to look forward to a leaner future and hold on to the knowledge that physical health is right around the corner.
Truth 4: Muscle burns more calories than fat. The more (heavier) muscle we build, the more efficient our bodies become at burning off our love handles and saddle bags.
We may never actually reach our ideal weight–the one we had in our minds as a goal. Yet our bodies will be healthier, leaner and stronger. Toned, not flabby. Our jeans will fit better and our stamina will increase.
Many newbie writers, like many newbie workout enthusiasts, jump in blind. We don’t realize that writing is a process, not an overnight success. Ironically, writing truths are almost identical to weight loss truths.
CAT’S GUIDE TO A HEALTHY WRITING WEIGHT
We must replenish our writing juices as much as a runner must replenish water levels. Writers need to surround themselves with a support network that quenches their thirst. We fare better with partners who let us carve out writing time, workspaces that encourage our muses and reading material to keep our minds sharp and fresh. We need to live life fully so we have experiences to draw upon for story ideas. We must hydrate our creativity and passion.
As new writers (either new to the biz in general or new to a project), we tend to vomit words onto the page. We meander, over-describe and populate our work with larger-than-large casts of characters. During this time, our writing is bulky and heavy. Run-on sentences run rampant. Redundant phrases endlessly repeat ideas. Purple prose flourishes. But that’s okay. It’s necessary. It is the rough draft. Without this rough draft, we have nothing to edit. If we give up during this bloated stage of our writing process, we will never reach “the end”. And so, I encourage writers to ignore the pains of carrying extra weight. Instead, focus on your ultimate goal: writing a first draft. It doesn’t have to be great. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be good. It just simply needs to be.
Editing is akin to the time when metabolisms reset and we are fat burning machines. The more practice we get writing and the more we hone our craft, the more efficient we become. Our manuscripts lean up as we weigh each word choice. We replace fatty words with more muscular ones.
“But how?” you ask. “How do I become a writing athlete instead of a failed exerciser?”
Practice. Learn. Push yourself. Every serious athlete sticks to a workout regimen. They watch videos and read articles on how to improve their techniques. They set goals. And when they reach those goals, they challenge themselves to do it all again. They practice harder, fine-tune the process and reach for loftier goals.