I often like to dedicate Fridays to talking about the writer as a person—time management, character, attitude, health, and all the more “human” components that affect how well we perform in our craft. Top athletes do mental exercises, watch nutrition, make certain to get enough rest to ensure they are running at peak performance. Why shouldn’t we?
I am not going to claim to be an expert at writer wellness, but today I am going to give you my two cents about a simple change that can help you operate at a higher level of efficiency and make you feel like a race car on rocket fuel. Just so you know, my advice and $2.75 can get you a grande coffee at Starbucks, so take it for what it is…my opinion. I will tell you that Who Dares Wins Publishing, the vanguard of excellence in the new publishing paradigm, has just launched Writer Wellness by Joy Held, and she is a real expert. So I highly, highly recommend that you get a copy of her book and check out her web site the first chance you get.
Back to my opinion :D…
Our work is a product of us, and if we are chaotic, unhealthy and strung out, it is going to negatively affect our writing. Too many of you are not sleeping well. You’re tired and wonder what happened to all of your energy. It might be hard to focus and you just don’t feel good in your skin. You want to be best-selling authors, but might wonder how on earth you will ever have the energy to do all that needs to be done. Today I would like to share some of my story in hopes that it might benefit many of you reading.
I have a tremendous amount of natural energy and I rarely drink more than one cup of coffee a day. I sleep eight hours with no trouble and am rarely ever sick. This wasn’t always the case. I still remember the day I had gained so much weight that I was officially in the plus sizes, a land of zebra stripes and rayon where polyester stretch pants go to die. I huddled in a corner and cried. What moron did they put in charge of designing plus sizes? Oh, yeah, a line of cheetahs across my a$$ really made it look smaller.
No matter what I did, my weight kept climbing. I was exhausted all the time, had terrible stomach problems, and I was always sick with something. I actually did exercise. All the time. But, no matter how much I worked out, my weight just kept climbing. My thyroid was fine and most of the doctors just rolled their eyes when I told them that I was eating healthy and working out.
Long story short, after some horrific health problems, I finally found the real culprit behind my weight gain and health problems. I had a massive wheat and dairy intolerance. See, I was eating “healthy.” I did the Special K challenge and added more whole wheat and skim milk…and just got sicker and heavier. Plain fact was that my body didn’t know what the heck to do with the wheat and dairy, so it just stored it as fat. Also, because I was eating so much stuff I was allergic to, my immune system was in a constant state of agitation causing all kinds of problems—eczema, allergies, stomach upset, joint pain, mood swings, etc. We can also assume that I was suffering chronic malnutrition because my body couldn’t use what I was giving it.
Gluten intolerances are often hard to spot because a gluten reaction is not a histamine response like when someone eats shellfish or strawberries. It is an autoimmune response. The body senses the gluten as an invader, and the immune system starts attacking everything in its line of sight. The symptoms can vary from person to person. My mother gets asthma attacks. I get a severely stomach upset, joint pain, and my heart rate (and weight) shoots up. It also makes me exhausted. I’d eat pasta and the only thing I wanted was sleep.
I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but all the sudden gluten-free is popping up everywhere. See, in my layman’s opinion, the food industry has created a massive health problem. Gluten enhances flavor. It stimulates the same dopamine response centers as cigarettes, sex, drugs and alcohol. It’s called “comfort food” for a reason. The gluten protein is very difficult for humans to digest, but it does make food extra yummy and even addictive. Think of gluten as the nicotine of the food industry.
Gluten stimulates appetite. Food manufacturers started adding it to everything—salad dressing, soy sauce, hot dogs, lunch meat, chips, etc. Eat a regular corn chip. Then try and eat one Dorito. It’s tough. We have a hard time staying out of the bag. The reason? Gluten is an appetite stimulant that makes us eat more food so we buy more. Problem is, the food industry added a substance that had a potential to be an allergen to everything! Think if they suddenly started adding peanut oil to everything. How would the peanut allergy rates rise due to overexposure? That is what they did with wheat.
Back before the 50s, the only time you ate wheat was if you ate bread, pastry, cake, or something fried. It was easy to tell when you were having wheat. You could see it. Now? The food manufacturers have subtly slipped this ingredient into virtually everything. So, as a society, we have been overexposed and, as a result, many people are walking around with an intolerance that is wrecking their lives and their waistlines as it once did mine.
I now eat clean, and what a difference. I have plenty of energy and am blessed with excellent health. Yes, it requires extra effort, but it is worth it for the way I feel. If some of you out there are struggling with weight, body pain, constant fatigue, try pulling gluten out of your diet (Casein—dairy—is similar to gluten so that might have to go, too). It takes three days to get the offender out of your system, and it will be very easy to tell if you cannot tolerate it. You will feel as if you’ve been hit by a wrecking ball the next time you eat it. People think I have this amazing self-discipline, but I really don’t. I just know how horrible I feel eating that stuff, and I prefer feeling great.
I say it’s like putting molasses in the gas tank of a Ferrari vs. putting in high-octane fuel. What a difference in performance!
As writers, we are often multi-tasking. We regularly work a regular day job on top of our writing. Two jobs! Spouses, kids, pets and dust bunnies don’t disappear all because we want to be a novelist. We need all the energy and focus we can get. If you’re in a slump, try taking out the gluten. Even if you aren’t allergic or intolerant it will make you eat healthier and the weight will fall off. Gluten is tough to digest, so it can make even people who aren’t intolerant feel sluggish. There are other grains that are less taking on the system. The first four months I cut out wheat I dropped 30 pounds (much of the weight was edema caused by the allergy).
I now have energy like I did when I was a kid, and that makes a huge difference when it comes to my profession. Thanks for indulging my segue, and I hope it blesses you with good health. Make sure to pick up a copy of Joy’s book. She is the expert, and she has many tips, tools and tactics to help you guys be productive, healthy and more creative.
What are some tips you guys would like to add? How to you stay fit and healthy? What are your challenges?
Until next time…..
Give yourself the gift of success so you can ROCK 2011. My best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.
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