The battle of the bulge – or why history can be bad for your health
Excuses come easily to me, always have. Regardless of any excuses that I might make to justify things to myself, I have come to a definite conclusion – I have let myself get horribly out of shape.
Since beginning of MA in the fall of 2010, I’ve probably put on about 25 extra pounds. While I’d like to imagine that it’s 25 pounds of muscle, recent trips to the gym dissuade me of this notion. Looking back on the past year, 2011 wasn’t a very conducive for exercise. Between moving to a new town, starting (and finishing) an MA program, and a muscle injury resulting from a ill-advised attempt to join an American football team, it’s been a while since I’ve been serious about exercise.
Looking back on the past year, I’ve realized just how harmful grad school can be harmful to an active life. My grad school experience was a perfect anti-exercise storm. I moved to a new town and didn’t know where local gyms were. My university charged students a surprisingly high amount (a membership fee, plus additional charges per visit) to use its meager gym facilities. Changing cities meant losing my friends who I exercised with, and losing the knowledge of where local activities were. And to top it all off, my attempt to join an American football team to impress a girl ended in an injury which I still notice to this day (but it did impress the girl in question).
And then there’s the dissertation. My program gave me roughly 5 months to create an original piece of research which counted for 50% of my final grade. This meant 5 months of sitting in libraries, sitting in coffee shops, sitting in archives, or sitting in my room working on my dissertation. By now you’ve probably realized the common theme of these 5 months – sitting.
But don’t forget eating. Eating and writing seem to go hand in hand. Need a break from writing? Have a snack! Need a longer break? Have a meal! Need an even longer break? Go shopping for more food because you’ve spent all day eating and not writing!
Before too long I was starting to notice shirts feeling a little snug, or pants not buttoning as easily as before. For too long I managed to convince myself that this was all in my imagination. This wonderful delusion ended today when I bought a scale.
I write this post as a way to acknowledge to the world (but more importantly, to myself) that I must make a change. Time to stop with the ex-cuses and start with the ex-ercise.
So I was wondering, how do other students and academics who might be reading this feel about how their work influences their health? How do you manage writing with working out? If you have any thoughts on the matter I’d love to hear them.