Review of Get Up Book

By Johnny B. Truant

Bored writer

I am recording this today standing up, which may seem like why would I care, why would I care that you’re standing up?

(If you prefer audio, you can listen to this episode on the Smarter Artist Podcast)

The answer is that because today I want to just do a book recommendation, kind of a review for a book called Get Up by James Levine.

This is a book that Sean read a while ago and recommended to me, which I then got on audiobook and read. Side note – he also recommended a book called Move Your DNA, which is some of the same ground, which I haven’t read yet.

I’ve been listening to this book, Get Up, and the tag line is Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It.

The book boils down to get up. That’s the message of the book is to stand up.

We as artists, and in case you’re wondering why I’m talking about any of this, we are primarily writers at this point. I think we will definitely diversify into other forms of art and you might be a concert guitarist, in which case you stand up all the time.

But we sit all day. And most of our audience sits all day.

I start work at 6:00 a.m. and I typically put in four, maybe five hours of writing, then I do edits, then I’m on podcasts and I just sit that entire day.

Reading a book like this runs home an obvious point that if we sit for long periods of time, that’s just not good. Our metabolisms slow, we gain weight, we get unhealthy, there’s a bunch of muscle reasons not to do it too.

Your hip flexors, which are basically what bends you forward at the waist shorten, because you’re in that curved position all the time, and that leads to a bunch of problems like tipping your pelvis in one direction or another which throws off your whole alignment. You get sore and all this stuff.

This is basically complicated ways of saying we know the answer. We know that human beings weren’t meant to sit all day long. We know that human beings are meant to be active, but what I really enjoyed about this book is reading through it and having a lot of the background.

A lot of his focus initially in the books is on weight loss and weight management.

I don’t have a weight problem, but a lot of people do and there are other reasons he gets into later  having to do with health.

But just from that very simple accessible easy to understand perspective, the non-exercise activity thermo-genesis, what they call meat, is a large component of how many calories you burn in a day, and the differences between somebody who’s sort  mildly active, meaning they’re just kind of up and around, versus somebody who’s sitting, can be a 1,000-2,000 calories per day.

It’s not surprising that people can gain weight if they sit all day.

The solution that we’ve tried to take on at Sterling and Stone, and actually all three of us have begun doing this sort of thing, is the first step seems to be standing desks.

I don’t think any of us actually have a standing desk yet. We have modified our desks a little bit so that we can do at least some of our work standing.

I still do all of my writing sitting down, but podcasts are an excellent example of this.

ActorWhen we do our video podcasts, the Self Publishing Podcast and Worst Show Ever are both video, they have a YouTube component, I was real reluctant to stand up in the way that I’m recording this, because then the camera is basically looking up my nose and I would be looking down at the screen and it just looked funny.

What we want ultimately, are desks that can raise or lower, where everything comes up, and my monitor comes up, and my camera comes up so I’m able to look forward.

But this weekend I decided to cobble together what I think of as a poor man’s standing desk. It really does look very ghetto as well.

If you’ve ever seen banker’s boxes, they’re like if you want archival files storage, and your tax returns for the past ten years need to go into a box and go into the basement. They are those cardboard boxes you can get at office supply stores and flatten out.

I put two of them, one on top of the other, and duct taped them together. Yes, duct tape, thus making it look that much less unprofessional.

I set the two boxes on my desk that are taped together, and I put my monitor on top of it, and that is actually the perfect height where I’m looking at my screen and my camera is looking at me in such a way that I can do my podcast standing up.

Two boxes and some duct tape and I moved my monitor up a few feet, suddenly allowed me to have several more hours each week that I’m able to stand up in the time that I was just sitting.

Simple little changes like that.

As I record this, on the last Self Publishing Podcast, Dave who is the last among us typically to embark on physical activities like this, was standing. And Sean and I were sitting and that’s actually what prompted me.

I said if Dave’s doing it, then I want to do it too.

I’m reviewing ideas in the book, and I suggest that you read the book.

Before Sean had read it, he and I just started taking our meetings walking. I still live in Ohio. I will move in the next few months down to Austin and I will actually be very near Sean.

But he lives in Austin, Texas and I live up near Cleveland, Ohio and we used to meet on Google Hangouts, where we’d be face-to-face virtually, like a Skype session.

What we ended up doing about a year ago, and we’ve really kept it up, is we meet on the phone and we both walk.

That’s much more healthy to do.

What we ended up doing about a year ago, and we’ve really kept it up, is we meet on the phone and we both walk. That’s much more healthy. Click To Tweet

We have these meetings, they go for an hour and a half or two hours and I’m walking that whole time.

Now with this ghetto standing desk, I’m going to be standing probably in the afternoons when I’m doing activities that are more amenable to standing than my first draft writing, which I still want to do sitting down.

That’s a lot of what you’ll find in this book. I don’t know if you’re like me, but when you hear things or you read things that are reiterating concepts that you probably already understood, but that now somebody else is saying it and spending a lot of time convincing you of it.

It rings a new bell.

That’s what did this for me. I said okay. I want a simple solution where I can just stand up more often. Maybe I’ll get a little treadmill and try the treadmill desk thing, which I’ve tried before.

blessingsJust do something so that you can incorporate more activity.

You don’t need to go and join a gym and work really hard for short periods of time. The idea behind NEAT, which is the non-exercise activity is that it’s just sort of casual. You’re walking, you’re standing up, and all of that is burning more calories.

All of that is putting your body in a position that it’s more meant to be in.

As people who sit down all day, these are things that I know I want to think about, and that everybody at Sterling and Stone wants to think about, and if you’re like us, you might want to think about more.

The book is Get Up by James Levine. I would highly recommend it and even if you don’t read it, just get up more.


Johnny B. Truant is the author of the Fat Vampire series and The Bialy Pimps, in addition to everything he has written with Sean at Realm & Sands.

Johnny and his family live in Austin, Texas (after several years of planning to move and complaining about life in northern Ohio).

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