I’d like to talk about how my health has impacted my reading over the years and how improving my health has improved my reading. For many years I was obese with serious back issues. I struggled with sciatica pain to the point where I couldn’t walk a block without excruciating pain and my leg going numb. I developed this back issue because of the many years I sat at my computer screen for countless hours playing video games. My posture was terrible(still isn’t the best, but I’m working on it, as I sit up straighter typing this) and to make matters worse I have a blood disorder that requires me to get up and move at least once an hour. My back got so bad that I couldn’t sit at the computer any longer for long periods of time and I had to lay in bed. This is when I started to fall in love with reading again. I took almost 10 years off of reading heavily to play computer games and I regret that decision every day. Now that I couldn’t physically sit at a computer, reading became my new escape, and seriously, all of my hobbies became escapes because I was depressed. I knew that my health was one of the main reasons for my depression but also I valued myself based off of the opinions of others. Through reading a lot of self-help books and falling in love with reading again, I realized that I was responsible for my own happiness. I finally went to physical therapy and started to fix the issue with my spine. Through countless days of stretching and strengthing, my sciatica finally went away and I was able to walk normally again.
At this point in my life, I was able to walk but I was still pretty obese. I started to do something that completely changed my life, I started to listen to audiobooks. Audiobooks made walking fun. Audiobooks made me look forward to moving around. I soon joined a gym and started to take my health more seriously. At this point though, I thought I could walk and lift away my lbs without changing my diet. I was so incredibly wrong and I struggled with back injuries because I just wasn’t losing weight yet I was putting my body through the rigor. About a year ago, after being semi-successful with losing weight, I decided that living life in pain is going to be a thing of the past for me. I’ve changed my diet, love working out, and of course am still in love with audiobooks.
Now, I am still considered obese, but -70lbs lighter, things have really improved for me. Being able to read more and better was a goal I knew would come about from the weight loss. One day, when I was still extremely obese, I realized that if I didn’t do something about my weight, I was going to die much earlier in life. Maybe I would have been about 50 or so when I died. If at a healthy weight, I could live to 70(hopefully more), that is 20 whole years of reading that I could gain just by losing weight. I read about 100 books a year, so that would be 2000 extra books read in my lifetime! This was such a motivating factor for me to losing the lbs.
Another benefit of losing the weight had on my reading is that I can focus a lot easier now. I no longer use chemicals to wake myself up(caffeine) in order to read. I have a very stable sleep schedule now where before I really struggled to maintain any type of sleep schedule. I’m not going to lie to you and say I don’t fall asleep still while reading, I do, but by and large, I’m able to keep focusing on my book for longer periods of time. If I do end up falling asleep, it is usually just a 30-minute nap(as opposed to me sleeping 1+hr naps before), and I am super energized to read after I get up from that nap. I’m able to read more every day because I’m awake more every day. I used to not read at certain times at night because I just was too tired. With everything I try to do in a day, I still get super tired at night, but now I just go to bed, wake up early, and get things done.
I can now read in basically any position I want to. I stand up and read sometimes, use a chair, lay down, use a bench, read at a restaurant, and many other positions where before my back’s pain would distract me from my reading. When I was a kid, I used to always read on my stomach. I can’t quite do it yet for a long period of time but I can do it for a few minutes again.
I’m a moody reader and when you are a moody reader you can hate what you’re reading without the book even being bad. When I was depressed, I struggled to read at times. Some of the books I didn’t like may have been because of my mood and my mood may have been influenced by my self-worth that was harmed because of my weight. When you aren’t happy with yourself, it is so easy to take your frustration out at that stupid book you are reading. When you don’t feel well, it is so easy to get annoyed with other book reviewers and social media. Social media used to bother me to the point where when I would pick up a book all I would think about is that tweet so-and-so said. Now that I am happier with myself, these small annoyances barely bother me. and I seek out so much less validation from the internet than I used to.
My reading speed has increased from about 30 pages an hour to about 40 pages an hour. This might not seem like a huge deal to some of you but this is a HUGE deal to me. I’ve always wanted to read faster and I’m seeing a slight improvement in reading faster. I don’t know if this is just a natural improvement because I read a lot or if it is because of my improved health, but whichever it is, I am so excited about it.
I still have a long ways to go with my health and I still struggle every single day with my reading focus but I am making some serious improvement. I am adding years of extra reading onto my life. I am not the fastest reader so allowing myself to have a few more years of reading is paramount. Someone figured out how long it would take Brandon Sanderson to finish up his Stormlight Archive books and it was over 20 years. I saw that and asked myself when I was obese, at my current health do I think I’m going to be able to finish The Stormlight Archive? I had to be honest with myself and say that I didn’t know. Yes, we never know when we are going to die, and the fittest person in the world may drop dead tomorrow, but I wanted to improve my odds, and hopefully add many years of reading onto my life.