As writers, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with our WIPs, Facebook likes, reviews, blog tours, or a hundred other things that can consume our time. Add to that list the real-life responsibilities of family, homes, and jobs, and you quickly realize you don’t even have time to brush your teeth, let alone establish and maintain healthy habits. But I’m here to tell you that making time for good health will pay off in the end (and I’m not just talking about the money saved in blood pressure medication).
First of all, what is good health? It is not paying for the gym membership, tugging on the Spandex, and vowing never to eat anything unless it’s leafy and green for the rest of our lives—nobody wants to be caught chomping leaves in Spandex.
The basics of good health:
#1 – Adequate sleep: 7-9 hours per night. (Can be tough if you have little ones. Believe me, I haven’t slept well in over fourteen years.)
#2 – Healthy diet: Moderation in all things. I love the 80/20 rule. 80% of your diet should be comprised of healthy, whole, unprocessed foods. 20% can be those extras that you really, truly enjoy. My 20% is all chocolate (I’m eating ice cream with hot fudge as I write this). I love chocolate. It keeps me sane. I try to choose wisely my 20% of “unhealthy foods.” I’m not going to waste calories on pumpkin pie, but offer me chocolate and we’ll be friends for life.
#3 – Moderate amount of physical activity: Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of activity most days of the week. The activity should be something you enjoy and something you can make a part of your life. Go on a bike ride with your family, lift weights or use exercise bands while you watch Duck Dynasty (that show seriously cracks me up), use a walk as a way to clear your mind, park farther from the grocery store, play tennis on your Saturday night date, run down the stairs to talk with your children instead of yelling down them (yelling never works for me anyway—my boys have trained their ears not to hear my voice). The list could go on, but you basically want to find something that fits with your lifestyle and that isn’t drudgery.
So how can being healthy make us more successful and able to reach our goals?
#1 – Increased productivity: Exercise makes you more alert by increasing blood flow to the brain and helping you to accomplish any task easier. Good nutrition and getting enough sleep also boost your energy levels, which helps when trying to accomplish a huge task.
#2 – Stress relief: Exercise releases serotonin, which stimulates mood and emotion and helps you handle stress better (maybe I just need more exercise to deal cheerfully with my 2yo).
#3 – Less illness: Being in good health will decrease not only your number of sick days, but minimize the chances of getting diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and dementia.
#4 - Optimizes your brain’s learning capacity: Being healthy really does make you smarter. I need all the help I can get on this one, as my boys tease me about what an airhead I am!
#5 – Improves your skin, hair, and posture. When you look and feel better, it helps you to succeed.
#6 – Exercise makes you happy, improving mood and self-confidence.
#7 – No more fuzziness. When I eat crappy, I get fuzzy in the head (am I a weirdo like that?) but a good meal helps me think more clearly. Exercise also helps me have a clear mind. I love going on a walk or run and having all kinds of ideas come for dialogue or action scenes.
The bottom line is that being healthy really will make you feel better and increase the amount of work you can accomplish. I know it’s hard to carve out time to exercise, cook healthy food, or get enough sleep, but give it a try and you’ll be surprised how much better you feel. Take it a bit at a time. I recommend baby steps. Focus on one health improvement each month, just one little goal like drinking more water or using some exercise bands. The next month, make another goal, and so on until you’ve gradually made lifestyle changes that will add up to huge results in good health and the other benefits that will result. Good luck!
“Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity.” Mayo Clinic, July 23, 2011, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/HQ01676
“How does exercise improve work productivity?” by Julie Boehlke, April 17, 2011, http://livestrong.com