*UPDATE (12/9 @ 10:22):
Whoa. Three big updates.

First, my lovely editor at KTeen has offered up custom prize packs of books (meaning you get to pick which genre you like) to the winners. Feel free to thank her on Twitter @meganrecords. We’ll be adding to the prize pool this month, and we’ll let you know as we pull things together.

Second, Sarah Nicolas and Gina Rosati are heading this effort up with me, and I’m so terribly glad because every day it’s growing in size. Sarah has even created a website that we’ll tell you about soon, and Gina (who has done a similar challenge before) is going to act as our Game Guru to answer our questions. I’m throwing hearts at both of them.

And finally, drumroll, please…. As of this AM, we are up to 60 players. Yes. 60!!!!

*UPDATE (12/7 @ 10:02):
Guys, you overwhelm me. When I put this out there, I thought maybe I’d get four or five people wanting to play along. Instead, as of right this minute 46 people have signed up. 46. That blows my mind. And makes me feel less alone. Your comments on the sign up form, on Twitter, Facebook and below are wonderfully encouraging and full of relief to not be alone in this. Honestly, I’m humbled by all the positivity. I’m actually thinking that getting healthy might, just maybe, be fun. Who knew?


First, a confession.

Warning: this may be TMI. Since I started taking my writing seriously, I’ve developed some very unhealthy habits. I have a day job and school and my writing and lots of other commitments. To fit all of those things into my life, something had to go. Unfortunately, it was my health. I am currently the heaviest I’ve ever been, and I’m none too happy about it. Aside from the weight gain, I’m dehydrated (unless you count all the coffee I drink), tired (who needs more than 4 hours of sleep?), and sorely lacking in energy (if I see another San Francisco hill, I’m going to throw a rock at it).

In other areas of my life, dreams are coming true, rainbows are popping up, and birds sing as I pass by. As far as my health is concerned, I’m failing. I know it. My body knows it. I’m sick often. My asthma acts up with more frequency. And I can feel the medical history of my family members bearing down on me. Not good.

Second, a realization.

I need to make a change. What I’m doing isn’t working. (Ice cream for dinner? Seriously?) All that time I spend on my rear end at work and while writing isn’t doing me any favors. I need to learn some healthy habits. Even better, I need to stick to them once I’ve learned them. They say it takes 66 days to make something a habit. So, beginning January 1, I’m going to commit to two months of being better to myself, kinder to my body, and hopefully, gaining more energy.

Third, an invitation.

Writers, editors, agents, bloggers – many of us are in the same boat. We work hard. We play hard. We don’t always pay attention to our needs. Here’s what I’m suggesting. Join me in a “Change Write Now” Challenge for the next 66 days. This challenge is inspired by the “Game On” challenge developed by Krista Vernoff (Grey’s Anatomy writer) and Az Ferguson, but is less work. Basically, we will divide into teams to support each other to make some healthy changes. And there is a points system and prizes for the winners if you are inspired by competition. Really, this is about helping each other.

How it works.

Simple. Sign up if you want to join in, and I’ll help to assign people into teams. Each day you get points for adopting healthy habits. Eating good meals, exercising for twenty minutes, giving up one bad habit (like smoking , swearing, or putting yourself down), adopting one healthy habit (like cooking at home or flossing when you’d rather skip it), drinking water, and getting enough sleep. For more info on the rules and how to tally points, see below.

The scoring is done on an honor system and works like this. Each day you tally points for:

  • Eating Healthy –25 points
  • Exercising for at least 20 minutes – 25 points
  • Sleeping at least 6 hours – 10 points
  • Consuming 64 oz of Water – 10 points
  • Checking in with your teammates – 10 points
  • Adopting One Good Habit – 10 points
  • Tossing Out One Bad Habit – 10 points

Each week, everyone will send their score sheets to me (to be provided to participants). I will tally them to determine which team is in the lead. You will NEVER share what your weight is, and I would NEVER, EVER ask you to. Because I won’t ever freaking share my own weight.

What does eating healthy mean?  The original game suggests (and gives points for) eating five small meals a day. They do suggest giving up things that might be hard to give up for some of us. Like fried foods, refined sugars, white flour, butter, whole-fat cheese, or things made with these items. (OMG, cheese! No!) The recommended foods are more along the lines of beans, whole grains, veggies/fruits, low-fat versions of cheese/dairy, and lean meats. If you want to follow these eating guidelines, I suggest buying the book. However, some of you may already have healthy eating guidelines that work for you. This is going to vary by person, since some of you may not want to lose weight. Some people may just be looking to exchange the Doritos and soda for more healthy options. Either way, this works for our version of the game. You know what is best for your body. Did you live on coffee and M&Ms for the day? If the answer is yes, don’t give yourself points.

What constitutes good habits or bad habits?  That will also vary person to person. The Game On book is full of suggestions, or maybe you have your own ideas. For instance, smoking may be a bad habit. Or maybe it’s playing on Twitter when you’re supposed to be writing. Again, ask yourself honestly what you could work on to be more healthy.

What this is not.

I’m not a dietician or a nutritionist or anyone who should be giving out diet/fitness advice. I’m a writer who wants to be healthy. I think doing this challenge with others will help me. BUT this is not about being fat or skinny. It’s not about who will lose the most pounds. That doesn’t interest me. If it did, I’d go join Weight Watchers and you’d never know the difference. No, this is about health. MY health. If I get points for sleeping 6 hours and my team is depending on me, I’m going to try harder to get those 6 hours in. And maybe I’ll have some better habits at the end of the two months. If for any reason you think this may trigger an unhealthy reaction for you, please skip the game or check with a doctor.

Who can play.

Anyone at any weight. There’s no skinny or fat here. I hate those words and nobody should define themselves by either category here. Like I said, this is about health. Getting some exercise, drinking more water, eating better meals, and getting more sleep – these are the goals. You may lose weight, especially if you’re like me and think exercise is a 4-letter word. If you’re already in good shape, you may just find you have more energy when challenged to get the proper amount of sleep. That’s it.

If you are excited and want to blog/tweet/vlog/post about it to get your friends to play along, go for it!

Finally, how do I play?

If after all of that, you want to play, sign up here by December 29. I will assign teams and you will be asked to exchange emails with your teammates to offer each other encouragement. Once we have the teams in place, I’ll provide easy score sheets.

Beginning January 1, 2012, the game is on and will last through the beginning of March. There will be prizes for the winning team members, though I’m still working those kinks out. Some of you may want to share your progress with the world. Some of you won’t. Either way is okay, though I will post each team’s overall score once a week on my blog, so we all know who’s leading the scoreboard.

ETA: Use the #changewritenow hashtag on Twitter if you want to tweet about it!

Here’s to a healthier us!