Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Too Much and Too Little

There is a Line To Walk Between the Two…

I got a great question the other day about what I have been trying to do with my exercise and losing weight. And I realized the question also applied to my getting back solidly to writing.

The question was: “Why are you pushing so hard to get back to exercise and running?”

As those who follow here regularly know, since I got to Vegas in August, I have been working to add distance to my walking and running while at the same time losing weight. Two weeks ago, in a 5K run, I was down 20 pounds and had gained lung and strength in my legs after the three months of training. That night I was running nicely and feeling great. At least for an old guy of 68 years of age.

Then I fell.

Cracked my left shoulder, cracked some ribs, knocked my back out of whack, and damaged my left hip, plus some bleeding wounds on my knee, hand, and elbow. I finished the race with a slow walk. (Then went to a very painful dinner at a nearby restaurant that I really wanted to try after the run. Food was great. Standing up from the table not so much. (grin))

Then the next evening I went out and did a half-marathon (13.1 miles… Actually I did 18.2 miles (37,350 steps on my FitBit) with getting to the course and then back to my car). I have to admit those 18 miles caused more injuries on my already very damaged old body, but I finished that as well, as was on the plan that I had been trying to get to for three years.

(Picture is of me at the ten mile mark of the run taken by Kris near our condo.)

Then I dropped back into sanity and the last two weeks I have been careful, only done two 5K walk/runs, and mostly just rested everything (and tried not to ever cough or sneeze). At 68, things don’t heal as quickly. And I know that and I know I had to spend two or three weeks just to get back to feeling all right.

I had been doing great right up to the fall, then pushed too hard to hit a goal, then cut back to get well. And it is working and with every day now I feel better. And next week I hope to get back to actually working on the running again. In other words, back to where I was pre-fall.

So why am I working so hard to get back to the exercise? That was the question. The answer is simple but comes in multiple parts.

First, I feel a ton better when I exercise.

Second, I have 30 more pounds to lose and I find losing weight a ton easier when not only watching what I am eating, but exercising.

Third, I want to live for a bunch more decades to keep writing. To have a chance at doing that I have to not be overweight or have high blood pressure. Exercise and low weight pretty much clean our high blood pressure and a ton of other problems.

And besides, next year I want to run the full Marathon here in Vegas the first week of November. And I want to run it and compete in my age group.

A goal. A Challenge.

How does that question apply to writing?

So this year Kris and I had a life roll that caused us to make a sudden move to Las Vegas and left me with 23 years of living in a big house to clean up over a five month period while Kris was here getting healthy. To say the least, my focus was not on writing. (I still managed 30 stories in 30 days just to remind myself.)

And when I got here in August, I was spending all my time still in move mode. So after a month I figured I could push the writing back into existence with a challenge. Writing at Pulp Speed Five challenge. (Like running a marathon goal.)

The first part of that failed completely. My mind and every day was filled with business, the move, and focusing on the exercise to get healthy. It was too early to push on the writing.

So I dropped back to November 1st restart on the writing challenge and again didn’t do much. Finished a novella, did a few other things, but certainly not Pulp Speed Five.

But just as I did at the gym every day, each day I am getting stronger, more focused on the writing. And on the goal of doing the 10 novels in 100 days challenge.

So I answered why I am focused on the exercise and returning from my first major injuries. (I am sure there will be more.)

Why I am focused on this writing challenge, even though I am sputtering in the starts, is because it will get the writing back into complete focus for me.

So starting on December 1st I get back into positive exercising and I get focused on the writing. Third start is the winner this time.  And this week I will be doing a short story and working on another novel that seems to want to be written as a ramp-up to December 1st.

I might fail regularly, and fall down at times, but I never give up.

Stay tuned.


  • Linda Maye Adams

    At Chessiecon, on the time management panel I was on, we all said the same thing: If you don’t have good health, writing’s not going to happen. I put health FIRST, above writing.

    I came out of the Army loathing it. The Army hits exercise with a battering ram and treats everyone as if they were cut from the same everything. I have flat feet, which did very weird things when I ran. I got lectured on slacking off because I couldn’t keep up with a 6′ 4″ guy with legs like storks. So I was really sick of it. But back about 2014, I was starting to have weird back aches and it seemed associated with sitting. I got up every hour and started moving around, and it got better. Then I saw an old Jack La Lanne video on MeTV—and it looked like fun! It also helped that was I was approaching the age when my mother died of cancer (following diabetes, gall stones, and being overweight).

    So I started exercising. I moved on from the JLL videos and started going to the gym. I did WellBeats (a video class), and I’ve been taking some classes at the hospital now (since they understand their audience isn’t 20 and extremely fit already). I really look for things that are fun and vary it a lot so I don’t get bored. That’s really key with exercise, because it’s often treated as something you “have to do”–not something you have fun with. What followed next was cleaning up my eating (no gluten, no sugar, no dairy, and no processed foods)–and that cleaned up the six month a year allergy problems that kept me from writing.

    It really does make a huge difference to get out and move!

    • dwsmith

      Linda, both environment and food are critical, as we discovered with Kris just this last year. So many people remain sick because they simply can’t figure out a way to move out of the environment that is keeping them sick. Really ugly cycle.

      And dairy might be one of the worst mostly unknown problems there is. Folks, just try going completely dairy-free for a month or two. You will be stunned at how much better you feel. I don’t have a dairy allergy to speak of, but when I started eating the same as Kris most of the time and she is dairy free, I started feeing so much better. It is a stunner.

      • Linda Maye Adams

        I didn’t mention food, but about a year after I started exercising again, I went off dairy and then a year after that, gluten, sugar, and processed food. Night and day with how I feel. I used to get sick six months out of the year and run tired all the time. That’s now gone. I even got through pollen season without any allergy medicine. Terribly hard to eat out anywhere though. People still think of it as a fad. Even my own doctor seemed puzzled by it.

        • dwsmith

          I had doctors tell me I was starting into arthritis in my hands and feet, mostly because of all the years of sports. Then I dropped gluten and every bit of the swelling went away. A miracle cure for arthritis. Who knew. (Grin) I sure didn’t know that gluten caused swelling in joints and the doctor sure didn’t seem to know either. Food is critical.

  • Ashley R Pollard

    I hope that the weight loss target is based on some solid health/medical advice and not purely driven by some ideal target. I only say this as a someone who has worked with dieticians. Remember, after a certain age one’s body finds it harder to add weight, so a small reserve is actually good if you’re over 65ish.

    • dwsmith

      Just based on conversations with my doctor and what I should weigh for my height. Ideally I should be at 170. I am just under 200. And at my heaviest I was 267. My doctor’s only worry is the transition from a slight blood pressure medication to no medication as I lose the weight and get in still better shape. So thanks for the concern. It is valid, but covered here. (grin)

  • J.R. Murdock

    Glad you’re on the mend. Injury can really derail plans. Take care of yourself.

    I’m also on my get healthy plan. I know I have better focus when I’m in better shape. I just feel better when I sit and write and my brain cooperates.

    Can’t wait to see you start up the 10 in 100 challenge again. YOU CAN DO IT!

  • Rob Vagle

    Yay Dean!

    I was never an athlete in my teens and young adult years. But when I started doing things for myself (improvement) like using the Bowflex and biking, improvements went beyond physical. And I truly believe taking the physical activity into the older adult years is beneficial without a doubt. Keep active. And you have great goals!

  • Phillip McCollum

    I’m a big believer in sound body, sound mind. A person may be able to do a lot without being physically active, but it’s not sustainable and they would likely be able to accomplish so much more if they were healthier.

    So, good on you Dean. It’s so inspirational how you take these life challenges head on and refuse to let the critical brain boss you around, no matter what you’re tackling. ?

  • Robert J. McCarter


    Getting back up after that fall and doing a half marathon… amazing! I think there is a big clue there as to why you’ve done so well for so long in the writing business (or whatever you’ve applied yourself to).

    On another note, I am finding how upfront you are being about these restarts to be so very helpful. The attitude is just amazing: So what if a challenge fizzles our you don’t quite make it? Reset. Restart. Have fun!

    • dwsmith

      Can’t see a reason to do anything else, Robert. Writing is fun and I love to be challenged and I really wanted to ramp the writing up after this last life roll year, so why not. And honestly, I expected a few false starts. Which no one will remember unless I remind them when I actually do hit the 10 novels in 100 days. (Grin) But in the book I will talk about the false starts as part of the process.