The Editing Room and the Waistline

15% of kids 6 to 11 are now obese. Yes, you read that right. And a new study says that 60% of overweight incidents in children can be traced to too much time in front of the tube. If that’s true for kids, what about for us? Don’t we log more screen time than an average school kid?

When I taught editing a few years ago I sometimes saw the bodies of students change. Their minds and skill sets expanded — but their bodies did, too. And it isn’t just happening to students. Too often, the job just isn’t good for you.

What are the causes? Too many hours indoors is one problem. Not only does lack of sunlight make you tired and sick-looking, but it influences your mood as well. If you don’t see a half hour of daylight every day you can get what’s called “SAD,” or seasonal affective disorder, which manifests mainly as depression. The cure is sunlight, or artificial light that matches its spectral characteristics.

Posture and repetitive motion disorders are omnipresent, too. I’ll wager that every one of us knows somebody who’s had carpal tunnel symdrome, or something like it.

Not enough sleep is another hazard. So is stress. Here in the US we all make jokes about the French, but a 35 hour work week and 6 weeks of vacation a year go a long way toward making life livable.

And that waistline? A lot of it has to do with the lunches we eat. Take out — the fat and carb express. When you’re under stress you’re genetically programmed to want that stuff and it’s always hard to go for the salad when somebody else is having a cheeseburger and fries.

And, of course, we don’t get enough exercise. You’re supposed to do something physical every day — just a 20 or 30 minute brisk walk does wonders. But when we’re working the hours we do, that isn’t so easy.

Last summer I was able to do something unusual for me — I commuted to work on a bicycle. And the effects of doing that for three months were clearly visible on my body and in my mind. I got to work feeling refreshed, and I looked forward to the trip home every night.

It’s too bad that we can’t find a way to do that kind of thing more regularly. I love the work I do, but I love it even more when it’s part of a balanced life.

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7 Comments on “The Editing Room and the Waistline”

  1. bscenefilms Says:

    I think that Walter Murch has a good approach for this by standing up when he edits. He also runs a number of miles every day. That helps too :)

  2. Shane Ross Says:

    My waistline sure has increased. When I was an Assistant editor a good 5 years back I weighed a normal weight for my height. Now…a good 20 pounds over weight…maybe 25.

    Not sure that standing and editing burns any more calories than sitting does…not enough to be noticed anyway. But just getting out for a walk would be good. Exercise in the morning BEFORE you work to get you pumped up for the day…because AFTER your day is done, the last thing you want to do is go exercise.

  3. Stu Willis Says:

    Stand up desks are fantastic. The ambient exercise is really good for you.

  4. AndrewK Says:

    Distance to work and hours permitting I bike to work when I can and try to take an extended ride on a day off (preferably in the mountains). I also try to eat “less bad” (I don’t have the will power to actually “eat good”). I buy ground turkey instead of ground beef and “diet” chips instead of the regular chips, etc., (and all in moderation). I figure if do a little here, and a little there it will all add up to something sizable in the end.

  5. Steve Says:

    Small, consistent, incremental change is what it’s all about.

  6. William Says:

    Great site Steve. Added you to my blogroll.

    My girlfriend and I needed to make some changes so I hear where you’re coming from.

    More lean meat like turkey. More vegetables in the meals. Fruit is good. Less pasta. Portion control is a big deal, smaller portions. When you snack, snack on nuts like almonds and walnuts instead of peanuts. Fill up on big, low calorie food like potatoes. One potato is like 100 calories, how many potatoes can you really eat? A cup of peanuts is like 850 calories. You’re gonna be pretty hungry after those peanuts.

    Just walking every day makes a difference too.

  7. Steve Says:

    Absolutely. I heard a report recently that said that virtually every type of food you can buy is served or packaged in bigger portions today than it was in the ’70s. We get used to it, and expect it, but our bodies react in predictable ways. And, of course, if you were an editor in the ’70s you were moving constantly. Today, you’re sitting at a desk all day long.

    I like your site, too, William — good job.


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