Friday, September 16, 2016

A healthy author is a happy author

So last week, I mentioned that I've been working through several changes the last few months. I thought it might be interesting for you guys to see what I've been up to. It's also good for me to put these changes out there so I can see my own progress.

Today I want to talk about changes I've made for my health.

I was not a healthy author, but I had convinced myself I was fine. Oh, the lies we tell ourselves are always the easiest to swallow.


It was easy to pretend I was fine because I'm a naturally small person (please don't throw tomatoes at me). It's all genetics and mostly due to the fact that I'm so ridiculously short (4'10" in case you didn't know). So I told myself that since I still looked okay in the mirror, all was well.

But it wasn't.

I wasn't eating well, my sleep schedule was a hot mess and exercise was pretty much non-existent.

And while my sloth-like lifestyle wasn't showing up in the mirror, it was hitting me where it counts...rather where the words count. My writing was slow and tedious. Just like me.

So, I decided to make a change.

Now, just let me be clear about a few things. This is not one of those blog posts where I share my amazing 300 calorie a day banana diet and talk about the marathon I ran last month. I'm an author, but even I don't write fiction that unbelievable.

I didn't go hog wild. I made some simple changes that I hope are improving my health and that I think most of us can incorporate without turning our current lifestyle on its head. Here are the little things I'm doing different:

1. Breakfast

So, I never use to eat breakfast, unless you count coffee, which you shouldn't. I'm generally not hungry when I first wake up in the morning so I would just skip it until I started feeling dizzy around 3pm at which point I would shove whatever was quick and easy into my pie-hole. This was usually an assortment of my kids leftover mac n cheese from lunch, cookies, chips and random items from the cupboard. Hardly healthy.

So now I actually have breakfast, like a real one. Today I had an egg and sausage burrito. You'll note that my breakfast is not half a grapefruit and some unidentifiable grain with chia seeds on top. Maybe at some point in the future I'll want to try chia seeds, but that day is not today. Instead, I'm focusing on getting a hearty meal in that gives me the energy I need and keeps me from reaching for the crap food.

2.Vitamins

So, I'm doing better with breakfast, but I'm not a saint. I still work from home where I am surrounded by cookies, chips and all the junk food my taste buds could desire. And while I try to plan well-balanced meals for my family, I don't always hit the mark. So I've incorporated some multi-vitamins into my day so I can make sure that I'm getting all the proper minerals and such.

This may seem trivial, but I really have noticed a difference. By making sure I'm getting the right ingredients into my body, I've found that my concentration is better through the day and I don't have the 3pm energy meltdown that I used to experience. I've completely eliminated the need for an afternoon coffee. I might still have one if I'm in the mood. But I don't have to have it. If you're interested in what I'm taking, it's a pill and a liquid which you can find here and here.

3. Exercise

Ah, this was the demon. An author life is a sedentary life. We work on our computers most of the day. How many times have you heard the phrase "butt in chair" to signify and author getting their work done? Yeah, lots. And when we aren't writing, we're still on our computers with marketing efforts, or reading to stay current on our markets. Lots of sitting.

So I discovered that my phone comes with a built in pedometer. Nothing fancy and it's probably not the most accurate (a fitbit is now on my Christmas list), but it's there. I use it to gauge how much I'm moving in any given day and seeing that number really keeps my motivated. I now walk a minimum of 10K steps a day. I do this by walking my kids to and from school and walking on a trail behind my house. It's the first thing I do every day (which lets me build up an appetite for my breakfast).

Not only is the walking good for my ticker, I use that time to listen to several of my favorite podcasts so I can stay on top of what's happening in the industry and get tips for improving my own writing and author career. Two bird, one stone and all that.

4. Chiropractor

Before I started going, I never would have told you I had back pain. And yet there were times when I would stand up from a long spell of sitting at my desk and have to stretch and move to work out kinks in my back. And I often found myself sore getting up in the morning.

Now I go for an adjustment once a month and I can't possibly recommend it more. If you spend hours at your desk, writing or otherwise, your back is going to take the brunt of that sedentary lifestyle. Since I've started I don't have anymore morning pain and I don't have the same issues when I stand up after long periods of time. My legs don't fall asleep as often and I just feel better. If you only pick one change form this post to work on, start with this one.

5. Morning person

This was probably my biggest and hardest change, and honestly, it probably needs its own blog post. For those of you who've been around a while, you know that I was previously a hardcore night owl. I'm talking up until 3 or 4am every night. The schedule worked...technically, but it was starting to really wear on my body. Apparently I'm not 20 anymore.

I found myself exhausted at night, but staying awake anyway in order to get work done.  Then my wired brain would fall into bed exhausted and think about all the tasks I didn't get done. When I finally dragged myself out of bed in the morning I was basically useless for the first two hours of consciousness. It was kinda awful.

Now I wake up at 6:30am. I'm not thrilled with getting up before the sun, but I know I'm a healthier person because I can go to bed at a decent hour and get the sleep I need.

Now that I'm paying more attention to my health, I've found that my productivity has gone way up. I mean way up. Just this month I've written over 23K words. That's not an earth-shattering feat, but it's a far cry from what I wrote this summer (cough, nothing, cough).

Being an author is a brain game, but our brains don't exist in some ethereal plain. They are attached to bodies that we have to care for. I for one, am planning on this body holding it together so I can write books for a long time to come.

1 comment:

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