it’s not about the exercise

Two weeks ago, the lovely Vilma of Free But Fun sent me an email, asking if I would join in on a giant chain letter blog hop focused on writing process. My initial response was, hell to the n-o, primarily because I wasn’t sure I even had a writing process. Then I asked myself, really, how bad could it go?…

So, Vilma, if the answer to the above is …VERY, well, clearly there is no one to blame but you. 🙂

Side note: Do y’all know Vilma? If not, check out her blog where she writes about great fun (and free!) things to do in her native Finland.

I hope she doesn’t get in trouble for inviting me to this party.

And, off we go.

What am I working on? Right now, I’m mostly procrastinating, so the better question is, ‘what am I not working on now?” I’ve been talking about writing a book, based on my 2013 Year of Sweat project. That’s just it though; it’s all talk. It’s not as simple as just assembling all my old blog posts, playing with formatting and publishing. I want to use the posts as a jumping off point, but then add in the colour that hindsight allows for. I want to explore the emotions I was dealing with at various points in the journey. I want to reflect on the ah-ha moments, and then consider how I’ve incorporated those breakthroughs into my life. In short, I know what I want to do with a book, but I have yet to take even a single step in that direction.

How does my work differ from others in its genre? Hmm… my writing may be different from other weight loss blogs because I don’t stop at the exercise. Sure, I have spent a lot of time writing about things that make me sweaty, in fact the basis of this blog is don’t starve yourself, just move more. But it’s not about the exercise. I think that what separates my blog from the others is that I explore the psychological side of the journey too. When I hit a wall physically: whether it’s not believing I’m capable of running, or those moments when I’m paralyzed with fear on the side of a mountain, I dig deep to understand why. The breakthroughs come when I am able to sort through which are mental blockers versus real physical limitations. It’s this process of self-exploration that I think makes my writing different. Also, prolific use of the f-word. That makes it different, too.

Why do I write what I do? I write for me. And also because it helps me to feel connected to you. Confession time: Pretty much everyone who knows me would characterize me as a textbook extrovert. In actuality, I’m probably equal parts extrovert and introvert. I have a hard time opening up to people, beyond the superficial. Writing gives me the opportunity to throw scattered thoughts down, then to sift through them as I look for answers to my many questions, and finally, when I hit publish, it allows me to expose my vulnerability to the world.

Knowing that this process will yield a rich conversation with my readers makes it worth every ounce of angst. This is why I write… because I love, and learn so much from, the conversations that follow.

How does my writing process work? At the risk of coming off totally schizophrenic, my writing process is…scattered. Some posts are planned well in advance. I pick a topic that I want to explore and then start my research. Next I put together a rough outline, set a date for publication, and then work against that self-imposed deadline as I flesh out the article and go through revisions and edits.

Other posts are more mechanical (like the weekly workout summaries). They are published at the same day/time each week, and are a set format, so it is easy to be very systematic. I set up a template on the first day of the week, keeping it in draft mode as I update it daily with the specifics of my workouts. By the end of the week, the post has pretty much written itself.

And finally, some topics are total hot buttons for me. I might see something that makes me laugh, or cry, or so mad I could spit. When that happens, I sit down and just start writing. – Rant on… Rant off – . Those posts come out fast and furious because they’re fueled by emotion.

There you have it. This is what I do, how I do it and why I do it.

And now it’s time to pass the baton.

I approached the wonderful, amazing and endlessly entertaining Linda O’Grady a few days ago. The email exchange went something like this:

636x460design_01me: Psst… Hey Linda, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours…

Linda: GAH! No! Go away you freak!

me: Okay, so then just join the blog hop, okay?

Linda: …Okay, fine.

Linda is not only a blogger friend, but has crossed over into friend-friend territory by stalking me friending me on Facebook. She is one cool-ass chick, an Irish gal living in Latvia, and fighting daily peer pressure to adopt more leopard-print into her wardrobe. Her blog, Expat Eye on Latvia, is made up of hilarious stories about life in her adopted home. I can’t wait to read her answers to the above questions! Stay tuned, her post will go up Monday, July 14th. Don’t miss it!

Keep moving,

xoxo nancy


88 thoughts on “it’s not about the exercise

  1. I was talking to a friend of mine at the weekend about making my 365 year blog posts into a book. I had vaguely had the thought, and then she suggested it and now I am vaguely having the thought again but I am not sure if people would want to read it…
    I would want to read yours though…definite;y 😀

    • I think to be more readable, it’s got to be more than just the blog posts assembled as a book. At least that’s my gut feel. A few readers had asked me about turning the story into a book during 2013, and more as I wrapped up the 365. I even blogged about how I wanted to (I think the post was titled, This one is for the dreamers”). Anyway, it’s been on my mind for a year now, but it will take significant work to turn what is just a bunch of blog posts into a cohesive story – and I need to either carve out the time to make that happen, or let it go. I’ll decide soon, one way or another.

  2. Super-honoured and flattered! And that’s pretty much how I remember our conversation going – I had been drinking at the time though 😉
    Very interesting to hear about your ‘process’ – now I just need to figure out what the hell mine is. (Insert copious f-words) 🙂 Great post! And thank you again!

    • Thank you for accepting. To have said no would have meant 67 years of bad luck and the curse of a leopard-print filled wardrobe, as is the case when anyone breaks a giant chain letter. 🙂

      can’t wait to read yours next week.

  3. *HUGE smile* … introverted is not a word I would have associated with you based on your blog posts. If you eventually write that book, I’m confident it will be very successful!

    • Nobody would, Joanne. After doing some personality testing for work, it seems I am very good at masking the introversion. In reading about the natural tendencies of an introvert, it completely changed my preconceived notions. I thought introvert = shy, socially awkward, etc. Not so. They abhor small talk (I do too). They would rather go deep with a small number of friends than have hundreds of acquaintances. (me too) They prefer intimate gatherings to large group activities. (yep). Reading up on the indicators was a real eye opener for me, and explained a lot of things. (For instance, why I feel so drained after big social events. i.e. Wearing the mask for so many hours + being “on” is exhausting.)

      thank you for your kind words about the book idea. I think it could be good – but it would be a lot of work, and I’m not sure I am prepared to carve out the time necessary at this point, but who knows, I might just hunker down and get it done. jury is out.

      • Reading the book Quiet was a real eye-opener for me too. I always knew I was introverted – even in the stereotypical sense of the word – but Quiet gave me a lot of meat to chew on and made me feel a lot better about who I was. I wish I had read a book like that many years ago in my teens. It would have made life a lot easier.
        Son #2 is even more introverted than I am – if that’s even possible. Or maybe he just lacks the experience ‘wearing the mask’ as you say. The book has had a huge effect on him. He’s absolutely embraced who he is instead of feeling like he’s defective.

      • I really need to read the book too. I’ve seen excerpts, but haven’t actually read it. I love that it has helped so many introverts feel so much better about who they are. Personally, I’d rather connect deeply with someone of substance than be surrounded by a room filled with the superficial. So glad to hear the book had such a positive impact on your son. Looking forward to discussing this more when we meet up. The last blogger I met nearly fell of his chair (along with his wife who had joined us) when I said I identify strongly as an introvert. 🙂

      • I know it elicited a huge grin from me because your blog and the comments you write with other bloggers masks it very well. Maybe that’s why blogging is so popular with introverts. It gives us some control over the interaction in a way that live chatting doesn’t. I should have guessed you were when you said you didn’t like talking on the phone. It’s normally a huge tell.
        I’m looking forward to meeting you this week 🙂

      • Talking on the phone is my least favourite thing to do. I hate not being able to see someone’s face when I’m speaking with them. Ranks right up there with trying to have a conversation in a loud bar or restaurant.

  4. In some ways, writing a book is waaaaaaaaaay easier than blogging. 🙂 I think this book would be a great addition to what’s available out there, because you’re a real person who made big changes mid-life.

  5. I saw this on the reader and thought the image looked familiar but couldn’t remember where I saw it. Then I saw the photo credit nyahahahahaha.
    I am with you on procrastinating. My blog is gathering dust and I’m letting it till I figure out what I wanna do with it LMAO.
    Your writing process, keep it up, this is one fitness blog that I enjoy reading and I have NO PLANS of getting healthy. Not for now, at least because I am LAZY.
    Linda is one of my favorite bloggers! She is freaking hilarious and I like her bangs.

  6. Well, you’re writing process is a heck of a lot more organized than mine. I’m always shooting from the hip. Keep those stories and F bombs coming 🙂

    • Ha! I’m glad it came off as organized. Most of the time it feels like I’m scrambling like a chicken with my head cut to get a post published before the scheduled day/time. 🙂

  7. Great job on the Blog Hop, NT. I cracked up at the way you passed the baton to Linda.

    Re: your 8:58 am comment to Joanne . . . ME TOO! Most people would guess “extrovert” if they saw me at social gatherings because I’m not shy or retiring.

    * They abhor small talk (I do too). ~> ditto

    * They would rather go deep with a small number of friends than have hundreds of acquaintances. (me too) ~> ditto

    * They prefer intimate gatherings to large group activities. (yep). ~> ditto

    And, like you, I am drained after big social events ~> being extroverted for hours is exhausting.

    “I’m not an extrovert, but I play one on T.V. (and at parties).”

    • “I’m not an extrovert, but I play one on T.V. (and at parties).” <– Absolutely! People in my work life would gasp to hear me describe myself as anything but an extrovert. Whenever I was asked to do some public speaking events, people would jokingly refer to me as putting on "the Nancy show". 🙂

      I actually do really enjoy public speaking, probably because it's just me telling a story, delivering a sales pitch, or what have you, without having to engage in superficial small talk. Whoa – I just re-read that and it sounds very self-absorbed. i.e. I like to hear myself speak. 🙂 Not the way I intended it at all.

  8. An introvert? Hmmm. I found out pretty quickly your unusual way of consuming coffee. Not saying that it’s bad, just that you shared with me. I like that. 🙂

    • Didn’t say I was an introvert; rather that I’m much more a mix of extrovert/introvert than what people would assume of me.

      Here is an excellent TED Talk from the author of the book, Quiet, which explains things really well. Apparently there is a term for someone like me, “ambivert”, which she describes at around the 8 minute mark. Who knew.

      • Very interesting. I think that most of the time, I’m an introvert, although sometimes the terms introvert and introspective become blurry for me.

      • I’ve only read excerpts of the book, but it’s been hugely enlightening for me. It really helped me understand why certain social situations were so draining for me. Never having self-identified with any aspect of introversion (because of what I understood it to mean), it was hugely eye opening. I def plan to read the book as I now understand that I exhibit many of the qualities typically attributed to introverts. It’s fascinating stuff, Rob.

      • Maybe I should have read it before going to this weekends reception. I really need to be more tolerant at social events. 🙂

      • Nah – don’t change who you are to just to conform. The great thing about this book is it really helps introverts to realize that they’re not broken, from what I understand. In the TED Talk she describes specifically the difference between the introvert and extrovert being how they respond to different social settings. When I watched that bit it was like a lightbulb went on for me. Everything suddenly made perfect sense. Of course people who meet me in a small group setting think I’m 100% extrovert – because I thrive in small settings. Especially with people I connect with. In that light, no one would ever guess any introvert tendencies. 🙂

      • That’s similar to the way that I feel. I like small gatherings, but tend to not do well in larger gatherings. I thought that’s what Shiraz was for. To help me do better in larger gatherings. 🙂

      • Oh, this guy would have made your ears bleed. I’m posting a follow-up in a few minutes…

      • My normal reaction would be to call him out on his douchebaggery, but since I know it was your wife’s boss’ husband, I can see how that would be a problem. so I would have done what you did – get up and leave.

  9. We are the lucky ones that get the reap the benefits of your hilarious, inspiring, informational and f-bomb filled posts! I always need a Nancy-fix. My writing style is schizophrenic as well, so I feel better that I am not alone. 🙂

    Now, if you’ll F’n excuse me, I need to go check out Linda’s blog. 🙂

  10. Lovely Vilma is very happy she invited you to join the party, and I’m sure many others are too ;). And fun to read others are like “what writing process” too! Good thinking inviting Linda to join too!

  11. It certainly sounds like you’ve got it all together, Nancy–the health, the mindset, the emotional release of writing, the sharing of your hard-earned knowledge, and I think most importantly, the gift of giving friendship. I truly enjoy reading your posts–they’re inspiring and always a great giggle. I look forward to the memoir, but in the meantime, it’s all right here in black and white.

    • The rants tend to write themselves, and – often times – those are the ones that I might have some personal connection to, so the learnings can be pretty profound.

      Looking forward to reading yours, Rach!

  12. I love this post, Nancy and am happy your braved the midnight hour to write it! Please, please, please find time one day to write your book, there are so many people out there who don’t know they aren’t alone in their fitness challenges and your voice is the perfect blend of honesty and humor. 🙂

  13. Great post Nancy! Fun to read and very well written, in Nancy style. I was kind of happy to see that I know you a little bit 😉

  14. Yes yes yes to the book idea! I love it! I love your blog and your style specifically because you delve deeper into life while still focusing on the daily things we all struggle with, aka exercise. Go for your idea, it’s great. Xo

  15. Pingback: Pinning down my ‘process’ | Expat Eye on Latvia

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