Published February 9, 2015 by rochellewisoff

purple swimmer


            A few years ago I made a terrible mistake that ultimately affected my health. I allowed my passion to write to replace exercise, including swimming.  

            One day I went for a routine checkup. My doctor, who had taken care of me through years of anorexia, told me I needed to lose weight.

            “Pre-diabetes and hypertension,” she said, “Rochelle, I know you love to write but get off the chair once in a while.”

            Diabetes runs rampant on both sides of my family. My father died from congestive heart failure as a result and another relative went blind. Neither prospect appealed to me.

            Averse to taking medication I opted, with my doctor’s agreement, to control my sugar with diet and exercise. My elliptical trainer came out of moth balls. I found a pool and religiously counted carbs. My numbers, weight and blood sugar, went down.

            Exercise in no way takes away from my writing time. In fact, the pool is my think tank where more than a few story lines have emerged. There are still sedentary days when I neither swim nor write as I fight my tendency to “awfulize” and tread the waters of self-pity rather than meeting the challenges head on.

            This morning, in the lap lane next to mine, a young swimmer battles the water. I feel a bit winded myself as I watch her. Arms flailing, she works hard to keep her head above water. I wish I could tell her how much easier it would be if she kicked less and let the water carry her.  

            Perhaps one day, I’ll take my own advice.  Copy of Mermaid


    • Dear Chris,

      I can’t say that I experienced a change in my writing. If anything, I think, my head’s been clearer. As for giving up the time, I’m usually up between two and three in the morning to write. This is a habit I developed when an agent asked me to make my manuscript 20,000 words longer. I was going to work at 7:00 in the morning so I adapted. After all that, she turned me down flat.

      Just don’t expect me to be coherent after 7:00 pm. 😉



      Liked by 1 person

  • I can vouch for the “not coherent after 19:00, (7:00 PM)”. LOL. I can also vouch for her dedication to, both writing and healthy eating. She has more discipline than anyone I know.


  • Beautiful post, Rochelle. Swimming is one of my favorite things to do when I need to think (when it’s not too cold, or the pools aren’t too crowded). Maybe it’s the sense of mysticism in the water, or maybe it’s just sensory deprivation, but it always seems to help me clear my head after a few good laps.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing this.


    • Dear P.S.

      Indeed we are kindred water sprites. I couldn’t have worded it any better. There is a mysticism in the water. There’s no place I feel safer…unless, as you say, the pool’s crowded. I try to go in the early hours when most are either in bed or haven’t had their morning caffeine.

      Do you have a favorite stroke? I vary between freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke. I never mastered butterfly. I love flip turning and watching how the water reacts.

      Thank you for swimming by.



      Liked by 1 person

      • Breaststroke is my favorite to do, because of that moment of bliss in between every stroke, where you feel the water moving alongside of you. A well done freestyle or butterfly are my favorite to watch, though I never mastered the latter either.

        Ah, now I wish I was swimming. Soon, I think, the weather will be better.


    • Dear Kbailey,

      I still have to take meds for hypertension but my cholesterol is in great shape. Swimming helps me through anxiety, too. I pray you can find the drive and the support you need. Thank you for your kind comments.



      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Suzanne,

      I have to say I get a charge out of going for my lab work and getting such good reports. My A1C’s (hemoglobin for three months) have remained in the non-diabetic range for at least two years if not three. When I retire in October I hope to swim more often than once or twice a week.




  • I enjoyed this insight into you, the writer as well as you, the…how did you put it?…the awfulizer. I did have a niggling question…what does being a Spanish Dancer have to do with this piece?


  • After nearly a year of gymlessness, Conja and I joined the Matt Ross Community Center a couple weeks ago. It’s been great getting back into the water, and I’ve been doing some gentle yoga and stretching here at home on days that I can’t get into the pool. Glad to hear you are still making the laps. There is nothing like swimming to make me feel safe and free at the same time.

    Marie Gail


    • Dear Marie Gail,

      Joining the fitness center here was about the best thing I’ve done for myself. It doesn’t hurt that it’s less than a mile away either. It’s almost like having my own pool, if you don’t count having to share it with the swim teams and water aerobics classes. Being an early riser helps. 😉

      I’m happy that you and Conja have a place to go. Water is my happy spot. Nice to know it’s something else we share. .




    • Dear Claudia,

      I tend to think with my heart before my head which often gets me in trouble.

      Nope, you’re not the only struggler. Nice to know we’re not alone.

      Thank you for your encouraging words.




  • Yeah, diabetes can get really bad. It’s good to know that exercise improves brain function, especially writing—always beneficial getting out.

    One thing: your elliptical trainer came out of moth balls?


    • Dear Adam,

      Diabetes really is frightening. It doesn’t seem all that serious until you’ve neglected it to the point of having to give yourself shots. A friend’s father lost both of his legs to it.

      Well the elliptical wasn’t exactly stored in literal moth balls. Old expression meaning it was never used–collecting dust. 😉

      Thanks for commenting.



      Liked by 1 person

  • Thank you for sharing that part of yourself, which I imagine was not easy to post publicly. But with enough time and distance, it gets easier to talk about these things and put them into perspective. I think it’s important to hold them up to the light and see them for what they are. And hopefully, in the process there are others who may be inspired and helped along the way.

    God knows, I always need balance in my life. It wasn’t always there.


    • Dear Randy,

      There are quite a few little demons in my past and tendencies that like to come for short visits every now and again, ie my tendency to anticipate the worst or sink into depression.

      If I learned nothing in treatment (alas, more than once) it’s that the more you talk about the demons, the less power they have. Not to mention it’s all grist for the writing mill.

      As they say in AA, it’s about sharing experience, strength and hope.

      It is about balance and I can’t say that I’m always balanced. Those closest to me could probably tell some stories. 😉




      • Yes, they see it all up close and personal, but they are usually kind and tolerant in that they don’t usually hold up the mirror for us to look at ourselves – unless they get really frightened by our imbalances. then they do it for our own good. But do we listen? Ha, that’s what we also strive for – listening to others. God speaks through them, doesn’t she?


    • Dear David,

      One day at a time. And, yes, it is about balance. It’s so easy to get out of balance. I’d been passionate about my exercise, particularly swimming, until I discovered that I could tell a story. My novel took over every waking minute, I wrote before going to work and when I got home. I couldn’t think of anything else. Now I can do both. It’s much nicer. When my doctor told me I needed to lose weight she said it kind of scared her. I was at my top weight ever, including pregnancies. Happy to say, I’ve maintained a healthy weight for three years.
      I guess I tend to the ‘all or nothing’ side of the spectrum. When I was anorexic I would exercise four or five hours a day.

      Well, I didn’t mean to go off on a tangent, but you get what i’m saying. 😉

      Thirty minutes of exercise a day is good for a busy lifestyle.

      Shalom and l’khaim,



  • The one thing that needs to change in our medical system is the weight normative approach. A Health at Every Size approach is far–well–healthier.
    When I was exercising with weight loss as a goal, I invariably ended up giving up on it because it didn’t work. There’s no way I’ll ever be thin. I have the most whacked out endocrine system on the planet. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, type 2 diabetes, PCOS. Fortunately, I discovered the Health at Every Size approach and have been exercising regularly since 2012. I have better range of motion and flexibility. I have no idea what I weigh. I know I’m still considered “obese.” I don’t care.
    I just think that healthier habits are a good “prescription,” so to speak, regardless of whether or not they lead to weight loss. I guess what I’m getting around to is good on you for swimming (that’s what I do too) but feeling better, not weight loss, should be the goal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Cie,

      I can’t disagree with anything. The goal should be health. I found though, that when I focused on my health, I lost weight without trying. I know this isn’t the case for everyone. I’m sure your thyroiditis doesn’t help.

      I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you. I appreciate the read and the comment.




  • Good for you! When I walk my daily mile with my little rescued doggie, I look out at the beautiful bay and open my senses to words and stories. The short, short fiction exercises have tightened even my thoughts about writing. If I were slogging through the water, I’m sure I’d be doing the same, only there’d be a rhythm of sorts to the thoughts. Keep up the good work.


    • Dear Judith,

      I’ve also found that riding on the back of my husband’s Harley on a nice day opens my head as well.

      Good for you on that daily mile. Thanks for walking by, reading and commenting.




  • Much sympathy, getting the balance right is so difficult. I binge at desk-work and then run myself to a frazzle doing DIY or laying paths in the garden. I actually love both these activities very much (and don’t much like my puny twenty lengths a week swim), but I don’t balance them very well. Meditating since last September is helping.


    • Dear Hilary,

      I so appreciate your comments and support. My problem with meditation is my unruly mind goes to other places and hatches snake eggs (negative thoughts).

      I’ve never been much of a gardener I’m afraid.

      Swimming doesn’t seem to be for everyone. Some people look at me like my brain just crawled out of my ear and took a side street when I extol the virtues of my lap swims. 😉

      Thank you for the read and the comment.




  • I could really relate to this post Rochelle! I had a stroke at 32 and my medical chart stated that I was grotesquely obese. The Dr told me I had to change my lifestyle if I wanted live. Congratulations on getting healthier and finding balance in your life. I like how at the end you said to kick less and let the water carry you. That is such a true statement for life.
    I also wanted to Congratulate you on having Friday Fictioneers mentioned in the Daily Post today 🙂


    • Dear Kirsten,

      Wow! You’ve been through a lot. I hope you’re in much better health.

      I’m glad you caught my double meaning in the line to kick less and let the water carry you. I have a lot of trouble with that kicking against life thing.

      The Daily Post was quite a pleasant surprise.

      Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I am in much better health. I too got healthier through proper eating and exercise…also, lots of prayer :-). I still sometimes kick against life, but it never seems to get me anywhere!! Lol
        Have a wonderful day, Rochelle


  • Rochelle, what a bit of tough news. Sometimes, all we need is to hear it. I know how the rhythm of writing and not exercising happens. It’s happening a little bit to me. Or, should I say, I’m going through a period when I haven’t exercised as much, and boy, do I feel it. Way to go to get going and feel better. I bet the lines do come to you in the pool. Sometimes the best lines are when we are not in front of the computer, right? Good to hear you are taking care of yourself! My dad suffers from congestive heart failure too and was in the hospital a few years ago. I understand, and I’ll need to watch it too.


  • Dear Amy,

    Heredity bites sometimes.

    My doctor really freaked out because, as she put it, I’d always been her health nut/exercise-a-holic. But it’s easy to let things get out of balance when you discover a new passion. The pendulum swings madly before finally balancing in the middle.

    Ultimately, the diagnosis was my wake-up call and I’m grateful for it. Thirty minutes a day doesn’t take that much time away from writing. Healthy body = Healthy mind. 😉

    Thanks for commenting.




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