Voiceover is making me fat.
Add this to the long list of things to be aware of before starting to pursue voiceover as a career: voiceover can make you fat. It is in fact making me fat, to which my straining buttons and protesting office chair can attest.
Now, don’t jump to conclusions that I am going to blame my expanding girth on somehow being forced against my will to eat unhealthy food, even though there is a new McDonald’s a quarter mile from my house which I have to drive past every day and their insidious smartphone app bombards me with irresistible deals—with pictures!—multiple times a day. No, that would be silly. My theory of how this came about is backed by science.
My doctor and I recently had a little chat about how all the good foods that bring joy to life are causing me to slowly die, after which she put me on a cholesterol medication. I followed up this visit by doing some research about dietary changes I need to (begrudgingly) make. Not just to reduce cholesterol, but also to lose
an extra person, I mean extra weight.
Reading an article from a major medical university, I learned that cortisol is a naturally occurring hormone which the body needs, especially when dealing with stress. However, if found in chronically elevated levels, cortisol triggers fat hoarding, especially in the belly area. Ergo, excess cortisol = excess fat.
So, I hear you asking about the causes of excess cortisol, and coincidentally, I just happen to have a super-simplified answer available to share. However, keep in mind that I am not a doctor nor have I ever played one on TV, although I have “played doctor” before in a different context. *ahem* The top two causes they mention are stress, and lack of sleep. Causes for excess cortisol that is, not playing doctor.
The truth is that since beginning voiceover, I have never had such a prolonged period of stress and lack of sleep. Can you relate?
Don’t get me wrong, I love voiceover. I love the training, the creative process, my colleagues and working collaboratively with my clients, but I’m being realistic here. Especially when starting out, this gig takes a lot of time and can cause a lot of stress. If like many people you are simultaneously working a full time job and/or caring for a family, your available time will probably be early morning, late night, or both. Or neither. Stress is in abundance and sleep can be hard to find.
Coincidentally, the health app on my phone informed me this morning that I am averaging 5.38 hours of sleep a night. That includes weekends when I sleep in. Studies show that most people need at least 7 hours a night, and some people need more (I am one of those). It isn’t sustainable.
So, lack of sleep and excess stress causes elevated levels of cortisol. Excess cortisol causes fat hoarding. Ergo, voiceover makes me fat. It’s science!
I was both thrilled and distressed to make these connections. Thrilled because someone else figured this all out so I wouldn’t have to hurt my few brain cells trying to do a lot of math like I did in my previous post.
Thrilled because I now had an excuse to use “ergo” multiple times in a blog post. Before starting a blog, experts will encourage you to write down your intent and set goals. They don’t say what those goals should be, so… using “ergo” was one of mine, right along with getting a subscriber list of at least ten people—and I’m almost there!
Coincidentally, and most importantly thrilled because I now had something other than my laziness and poor eating choices to blame for something that I would otherwise be forced to admit is my own fault. Excess cortisol can make you fat. Excess cortisol is caused by stress and lack of sleep which is the normal state for many (especially beginning) voice actors and is certainly the case in my life. Ergo, voiceover is making me fat, ergo, my looking like a close relative to The Blob isn’t my fault. Whoo-hoo! I feel so much better. Blame shifting can be very therapeutic.
Distressed, because unless the Voiceover Fairy deems me worthy enough to dump a truckload of money on, the stress and lack of sleep are likely to continue. Ergo, I need to make choices that offset those negative effects. Almost as hard as choosing not to use the words coincidentally or ergo one more time in this blog, is making the decision to forego an audition or two so I can get into bed earlier. Or maybe skip a day of getting up at 5:30am to allow myself a little more sleep in the morning. For the sake of my health, I am making those choices more often than before. I am making better eating choices. I am trying to push myself to get more activity and exercise each day.
Distressed because my track record when trying to do all of those things has been abysmal.
Also coincidentally (oops!) distressed because I want to eat Lucky Charms right now and I know I shouldn’t. But I want to. But I shouldn’t, ergo (oops again!), I want to eat them even more. But… excuse me for a moment while I absolutely do NOT go to the kitchen for cereal.
Thank you for waiting. I am back now from NOT eating Lucky Charms. I want you to know I planted my feet in solid resolve, stood my ground and made the hard choice to not eat them despite wanting to so very badly. Coincidentally (damn!), we are out of Lucky Charms.
The point is, I need to make good choices concerning my health, and that includes reducing stress and getting more sleep.
It isn’t as easy as all that, is it? There is a quote taped to the front of the speaker stand on my editing desk. It reads, “If you’re not willing to sacrifice for your dreams, your dreams become the sacrifice”. This sounds great as a motivational trope, but where is the balance?
I knew going into this that sacrifice was necessary. The trick is finding a healthy balance between what the dream demands, what my body demands, and what the other people and responsibilities in my life demand. I am, as always, a work in progress.
The end result of this struggle for balance has to be that I come to grips with the fact that things may go at a slower pace for me than I would like. I am (trying to be) okay with that. It is inescapable that pushing myself too far and demanding too much for too long will likely end in disaster for my body, my relationships, and my dreams.
And so, the scientific fact remains that despite my feeble attempts to the contrary, voiceover is making me fat. However, I would ask that when you see me, please remind yourself that my appearance is not a record of the copious amounts of fast food and sweets I have foolishly eaten at a very sedentary time in my life. It is, rather, a reflection of the amount of stress I have been under and lack of sleep due to sacrificing for my business.
Wow. Sometimes I amaze myself with my ability to avoid personal responsibility. But before you judge me too harshly, let me point this out: The Blob got his own movie, so it worked out for him.
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Thanks for reading.