Five women share what happened when they completely stopped watching TV

What happens when you stop watching television?

By Sarah Marinos
The average New Zealander owns between six and seven devices – from televisions and tablets to smartphones.
Together these allow us to consume a never-ending diet of programs.
Nielsen's 2016 New Zealand multiscreen report found that Kiwis watch more than 23 hours of television a week, 90 per cent of which is viewed live. And that doesn't take into account the time spent watching on devices…
Too much TV viewing has been linked to a range of poor health issues – primarily due to the fact that watching TV usually means spending hours sitting down. And this has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and colorectal cancer.
Researchers at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia have also made a link between the amount of time spent sitting in front of the telly and increased risk of inflammatory-related diseases.
Meanwhile, US researchers say spending more than six hours a day watching TV and using a computer screen can increase the risk of depression.
So how does life change when you give up TV? We asked five women who have made the change.

Lizzy Williamson gave up TV to write a book

Lizzy Williamson, 41, is a personal trainer. She gave up TV in 2015 to help achieve her dream of writing a book.
"I wanted to write a book about how I had postnatal depression and hit rock bottom. I was in a very dark place and ended up doing little bits of exercise to help myself. I wanted to share what I'd learned, but I had a full-time job and two kids and thought, 'How can I find the time?'
"But one evening I was about to sit down and watch TV after my children went to bed and something said to me, 'Now would be a good time to work on that book.'
"If I used an hour every night to write instead of watch TV, I'd gain seven hours a week.
"Watching TV in the evening was my time. I just crashed. I'd watch Netflix mostly – I'd find a series and work my way through the episodes.
"But when I gave it up, I started getting up at 5am and going for a walk. During that time I'd record material for my book. In the evening, when I didn't have as much mental energy, I'd transcribe everything.
"It was a challenge for a couple of months – I was often tired and wanted to switch off, and I'd looked forward to that hour of 'me-time'.
"But I stuck to my plan for a year and ended up with a completed manuscript and a publisher.
"I still rarely watch TV during the week – crashing in front of the TV is no longer part of my evening. I prefer to read a book and save TV for the weekend."

Giving up TV made Katinda Ndola more positive

Katinda Ndola, 45, is a personal development coach. Giving up TV has helped her see the world in a more positive light.
"I gave up TV four years ago when I was writing a book. I met a publisher at a seminar and he talked about how people waste so much time watching TV, it's not productive, and it makes people depressed because a lot of what they see is so negative.
"As I listened to him I thought, 'Well, I spend a lot of time watching TV'. I watched about 10 hours of TV a week – mostly during evenings and weekends.
"It was a habit, a routine. Because the TV was there, I'd switch it on. I stopped watching TV after having that discussion.
"I still have a TV for my son, but I read, study, and spend that time creating new workshops for my business. I feel happier.
"I used to think the world was more dangerous than it really was because I'd watch things on TV and think, 'Am I safe to go out?' It creates fear in your life.
"If you want a meaningful life, the TV is not the place to find it.
"It also stops you having conversations with people because instead of talking, everyone stares at the screen. And think about how much time you will have spent watching TV in the next five or 10 years – that's time you won't get back."

Emma and Carlas Pappas started their own business after they gave up TV

Emma Pappas, 31, runs a health coaching business with her sister, Carla, 28. Emma stopped watching television nearly six years ago.
"Carla and I were at a conference and one of the speakers was discussing the importance of looking at where you focus your energy.
"At the time, we were working in government jobs that we didn't really like. In our spare time we blogged about health and how people can bring more happiness into their life and we wanted to turn that into a business.
"But we'd get home from work, blog part-time and, like most people, we watched television. I watched morning TV while I got ready for work and again in the evening – it was always in the background.
"But the speaker at the conference said if you watch two-and-a-half hours of TV every day, by the time you reach the age of 80 you will spend eight years of your life watching television.
"That statistic shocked me. It seemed like such a waste and so Carla and I stopped watching TV that day.
"If we hadn't made that decision, I don't think we would have started our business as Pilates/yoga teachers and health coaches. It's been our full-time job for the past five years now.
"When we moved into a new home, my sister and I didn't bring our TV. That was a talking point when people visited! Most of them had never been to a house without a TV.
"We listened to more music, read books and listened to business podcasts. I started going to yoga in the evening and learned to meditate.
"I don't care that I don't know what is happening in the latest reality TV show."

Giving up TV helped Lisa Ienco lose 112 kilos

When her TV blew up, Lisa Ienco, 45, began exercising instead.
"I used to be obsessed with TV reality shows. I'd throw Big Brother parties or if there was something like a Michael Jackson special on TV, I'd throw a party around that theme.
"In the morning, I'd watch breakfast television and put the TV on again as soon as I came home from work. I'd watch three or four shows in a row. I worked eight hours a day and probably watched TV for the same amount of time – although I'd never think about it.
"TV definitely contributed to me gaining weight because I'd order in food while I watched my shows. I ate a lot of high-calorie foods and had a lot of soft drink and it was mindless eating.
"I wasn't aware of how much I ate and when I was full. I weighed over 200 kilos at that time.
"Now I sit at a table and eat with my partner and see food as fuel for my next walk or exercise session.
"In 2015, I gradually stopped watching television. Initially it was because a lot of the programs I watched were taken off air and I struggled to find anything that interested me. Then my television died, and my boyfriend and I decided not to replace it. We bought a dishwasher instead!
"Giving up television made a dramatic difference. I started going out and moving more.
"I started doing sit-ups and going for walks around the block. I also studied personal training so I could help myself get fitter. I went to the gym three evenings a week and on Saturday to study and work out – instead of watching TV.
"When I gave up TV, so many possibilities in my life opened up."

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