Guest post by G. Allen Wilbanks
Too often we see only the best on social media. People share cropped and photoshopped pics from the best angles with flattering filters. Will it surprise you to know authors do the same?
No, I don’t mean our author photos or social media feed. I’m talking about Mary Sue/ Marty Stu characters. These flawless characters are rarely appreciated by readers. As a bookworm myself, I often find myself liking the villains (yes, I have blogged about that). Villains have flaws and fail and that makes it easier to relate to them.
While I try to avoid such characters, putting a fictional spin on real-life does change things. My warriors eat chocolate quite often and only rarely comment on worrying about their weight. Health issues in real life can be a much harder struggle. In the guest post below, an author friend delves into that very subject with an honest and personal touch!
Please keep reading and check out his bio and links at the end!
It’s All About Diet and Exercise
By G. Allen Wilbanks
I am trying to lose weight and improve my overall fitness. This isn’t a terribly high bar to traverse as my starting point is somewhere between dangerously unhealthy and actively self-destructive.
I knew that my days of limited activity and eating whatever I wanted were coming to a close the last time I visited the eye doctor. Before the doctor even came into the room, his assistant placed an elastic cuff on my arm and told me she was just going to do a routine blood pressure check before the eye exam began. My blood pressure has always been pretty good, so I wasn’t unduly alarmed until I heard the technician ask, “Do you need to lie down?”
I told her that I felt fine.
She said, “No really, I think you should lie down. Like, on a gurney. Inside an ambulance.”
Okay, now I was getting a little concerned. I decided that day, when I got home, that I would make an appointment with my doctor to get my blood pressure checked and see if I needed any follow-up treatment.
A few days later, I was in my doctor’s office and he confirmed that my blood pressure was up into levels that he found “concerning” but not yet “life threatening.”
“It’s all about diet and exercise,” he told me.
Well, thank you, Dr. Einstein. Two thousand years of medical science research and discovery at his fingertips, and he tells me I’m sick because I’m fat.
I could have figured that one out without the $30 medical co-pay.
“How much do you eat during the day,” he asked me.
I told him that I eat like a hummingbird. And by that, I meant that I consume about eight times my own body weight in calories every day. I had to admit to being slightly less active than a hummingbird, however. Frequent trips from my writing desk to the kitchen pantry don’t really count as aerobic exercise.
I wasn’t always in such poor shape. In my previous life as a police officer, I kept myself in pretty good physical fitness. After work every day, I went to the gym and worked out for an hour or two. In addition to my workout schedule, I taught martial arts three nights each week, and played tennis on my weekends. I still ate a lot of junk food, but I burned off the calories as quickly as I took them in. My body weight stayed at a point that I could jump in the air and not worry too seriously about breaking an ankle on the way back down.
That all changed when I retired from law enforcement and took up writing full time.
While I am happier and certainly much more relaxed about life now, my activity levels have taken a nosedive. My gym membership lapsed. I closed the karate studio. And, while I still own a tennis racquet, it hasn’t moved from the closet in three years. My current idea of exercise is getting the mail every day and dragging garbage cans to the curb once a week.
Seriously, we have a really long driveway so I think it should count.
Which brings us to today. When you continue to eat the same amount of food, but your activity level tapers off to that of a bear hibernating through the winter, there are going to be some consequences. In my case, thirty pounds of extra weight, and a blood pressure that is “not yet life-threatening.”
The doctor told me that my high blood pressure is environmental (meaning that I did it to myself) rather than internal; another bit of expensive wisdom I could have figured out all on my own with little more than a glance into my bathroom mirror or a quick rummage through the fast food wrappers on the floorboards of my car. He said he wanted to give me a chance to fix the problem on my own, but he also didn’t want to make me think there was absolutely nothing to worry about and go back to my old unhealthy lifestyle.
He gave me a month to change my eating habits and start exercising more seriously to see if I could lose a bit of weight and bring my blood pressure down to safer numbers. If I couldn’t do that, then we would need to start discussing various medications I could take to control my blood pressure. I really hate taking medication. I don’t know why, but I just hate taking pills. I have ever since I was little.
But a month isn’t a lot of time. It took me three years to create this problem. Shouldn’t I get another three years to try to fix it? Or at least let me start this experiment in January, rather than adding the additional torture of dieting through the holiday seasons. Halloween is just around the corner and all of my favorite candies are just now hitting the supermarket shelves.
But no. This Halloween, I will be handing out entire candies rather than apologizing to costumed children about the bowl full of empty wrappers. This Thanksgiving, I will be giving thanks that I can still smell the turkey while I am eating my bowl of tofu and kale. This Christmas, I will watch the rest of my family eat chocolates and candy canes, cookies and pies, while I bask in the joy of knowing that I will live long enough to do the whole crappy routine over again next year.
It’s pretty depressing to think about.
Maybe I should give this whole medication thing another chance.
Below you’ll find bio and a few links to make stalking a little easier!
G. Allen Wilbanks is a retired police officer living in Northern California. For twenty-five years he wrote collision and crime reports during the day to pay the bills, and short fiction during his off-time to stay sane. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and has published over 80 short stories in Daily Science Fiction, Deep Magic, and many other magazines and online venues. His stories have also featured in several internationally, best-selling anthologies. He has published two short story collections of his own, and the novel, When Darkness Comes.
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/G-Allen-Wilbanks/e/B07GM6C9KD
When Darkness Comes: https://www.amazon.com/When-Darkness-Comes-Allen-Wilbanks-ebook/dp/B076W273P1
Thirteen Rooms: https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Rooms-G-Allen-Wilbanks-ebook/dp/B01HUI4QH2
Not for Bedtime Stories: https://www.amazon.com/Not-Bedtime-Stories-Allen-Wilbanks-ebook/dp/B01ATQK3UQ