Tips for Being a Healthy Writer

 

Is this what your insides look like? (photo courtesy of magicpoolservices.com )

Writers are not exactly the poster children for health and wellness. We are known for overindulgence, whether that is coffee, alcohol, nicotine or even self-pity. Too many of us are cramped and huddled over a keyboard, multi-tasking a bazillion things at one time. We edit our WIP while our child uses our knee for a chew toy. We balance the phone against our ear to pay the bills while we try to cull through the 369 e-mails that magically appeared in our In Box while we slept. We seem to always be going full steam and in a thousand directions.

The problem is that this is not a good way for anyone to live, particularly creative people.  Our best work will come when we are centered, fit, and healthy.

I used to do an hour of yoga a day. Hey, I was single with no children and all I did was edit manuscripts and write copy for a living. My time was my own.  Of course, yoga was likely the only thing I did that was healthy. I had a long list of really unhealthy habits including too much coffee and wine and too little sleep. I burned the candle at both ends and ate like hell. In the end, that poor living left me a neurotic and unproductive mess.

I seem to have this penchant for learning by doing everything wrong, but, hey, at least I am good for something. So, today I will give you guys a handful of tips to help you guys remain fit, centered, and healthy. I learned all this stuff the hard way so you don’t have to.

Learn to Limit Caffeine and Sugar

I used to be the poster child for energy drinks. What those companies don’t tell you, though, is that guarana, ginsing and ginkoba can give you anxiety, depression and mood swings. Sure they help us feel perky and the brain feels clearer, but if we come to rely on those kinds of drinks, we tax our adrenal system. These herbs can stay in the system and interfere with getting restful sleep. Sugar is highly corrosive to the body and can cause all kinds of disease and premature aging. We can have sugar, but living off it is a bad plan.

I drink two cups of coffee a day, but my last cup is no later than noon. I used to suffer terribly from insomnia, and this practice of limiting caffeine and sugar has helped tremendously.

Exercise

Oh, I’m such a nag! Yes, and eat your vegetables and wear clean underwear, too. Here’s the deal. Our body is mostly water. Ever seen an abandoned swimming pool that’s been sitting in the sun? It’s all slimy with green goo floating on the surface pocked with mosquito eggs. The water is like a hot zone, full of bacteria and leeches and all things yucky. The water is a dark greenish-yellowish-brown.

That is the picture of a body that doesn’t move.

Our lymphatic system is the filter for our body, and it only works if we move. Motion pumps fluid through the lymphatic system to filter all the yucky stuff that causes disease, depression and cancer. We don’t have to work out like world athletes, but 30 minutes of activity a day can do wonders.

Oh, I can’t seem to make my word count. Blech. (photo courtesy of housingbath.com)

Water

Continuing the pool analogy, what would happen if you filled your pool with Coke, coffee, or tea? We are a hydroelectric system and we need water. Not only does exercise get the pumps working, but we need fresh water to replace the old yucky stuff. Our body cannot clean itself properly with soda. All nerve firing happens by conducting pulses of electricity across a hydroelectric grid of sorts. When we don’t have enough water, we misfire… a lot. Braid foggy? Feeling tired? Having a hard time focusing? Try a glass of water before reaching for an energy drink. Think of a plant withering from lack of water. This is your brain. Don’t water the plants (brain) with Dr. Pepper.

Stretching

Writers need to stretch or we risk all kinds of joint and back problems. If we are going to do this writing thing for a career, then we need to take care of our equipment. Yoga can serve as the exercise I mentioned earlier. Yoga is wonderful for getting the blood out of our feet and back in our brain. Yoga also strengthens the core muscles which are vital for a healthy back. Back surgery is a surefire way to stop a writing career dead in its tracks.

Eat Good Food

I have a rule. If an eight year old can’t read the ingredients, I don’t eat it. Avoid processed foods. Who knows what kind of effect all those chemicals have short-term or even long-term? Back in the 90s I ate olive oil, but my sister-in-law swore by the spreadable junk that came in a tub because it was low in fat and olives were just loaded in fat. I countered with, “Yeah, but even the roaches won’t eat your ‘butter.’ That can’t be good.” So, if the roaches turn their nose up at your favorite snack? That can’t be good brain food. Writers need their brains in top form. Feed it good stuff.

Get Enough Sleep

Actually, if we follow these tips, often we will find we get far better sleep. Exercise helps us work off anxiety and stress hormones. Water flushes the nasty byproducts out of the system. Stretching releases serotonin and relaxes us. When we limit caffeine, we aren’t working our adrenal glands into the ground. Good food is just great building material for a healthy body and mind, which are both vital to be a successful writer. Sleep allows our bodies and minds to recharge. A rested writer is a focused, more productive writer.

I included my favorite video, called “Be Careful what You Eat.” It’s hysterical. I hope it gives you guys a laugh. And make sure you pick up a copy of Joy Held’s Writer Wellness for even more tips to be healthy and productive.

So what tips can you guys share? What problems do you have with maintaining a healthy lifestyle? HAve you mended your ways and now enjoy more energy? Share your success.

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of June I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

Last Week’s Winner of 5 page critique is J. Thomas Ross. Please send 1250 word Word document to kristen at kristen lamb dot org.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

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  1. #1 by amber on July 8, 2011 - 3:31 pm

    Who gave you a photo of my childhood pool?!

    Practical advice all around. I’d add that for your mental health, get out once in a while. Some writers seem to get so obsessed with meeting word count goals that they never leave “the cave”.

    Go to a museum, bookstore, coffee shop (maybe order the decaf), or even shopping. Interact, even just a little, with people. That two minute conversation with the barista is good for you. 🙂

    • #2 by malindalou on July 8, 2011 - 3:41 pm

      I totally agree! I volunteer at my local hospital and sing in my church’s choir for that exact reason. If all I did was stay at home with the cat and write, my words would become dull and flat (insert droning voice here).

      Creativity never happens in a vacuum. Without new experiences, I’d very soon have nothing left to write about.

  2. #3 by Anne-Mhairi Simpson on July 8, 2011 - 3:31 pm

    You’re so right. I’m really feeling my unhealthiness today. Not sure unhealthiness is a word, but oh well. So yes, I drink plenty of water. I think that’s about the only thing I do right. I live on chocolate and water, with the occasional salad and pack of parma ham thrown in. Just can’t seem to care about what I eat unless I’m cooking for someone else.

  3. #4 by Patricia Yager Delagrange on July 8, 2011 - 3:32 pm

    I’m definitely a yoga person and try to do that as often each week as I can, as well as ride my bicycle for at least 30 minutes a day. Great advice!
    Patti

  4. #5 by Marcy Kennedy on July 8, 2011 - 3:39 pm

    Oh so true. I used to be good about all of that. Then my career took off and I got married (who knew men wouldn’t think a salad is enough lunch and would want to keep more junk food around the house :P), and it all fell apart for awhile. Now my husband and I are working together to get things back on track.

    I’d add “get a pet” to the list. It’s no coincidence that people will pets live longer. I currently share my house with three cats and a 95 lbs Great Dane puppy. They make me laugh, force me to get off my chair at regular intervals, and cuddling with them is a less fattening pick-me-up then eating a bag of jelly beans and an entire tub of whip cream.

  5. #6 by Brooke on July 8, 2011 - 3:39 pm

    I feel really great after reading this post. My only unhealthy habit is staying inside my office and refusing to step outside. Granted, it’s REALLY hot outside.

    I have cut caffeine and *most* sugar out of my diet. When I can, I use Splenda in place of sugar, except in baked goods, because Splenda does something to the chemistry. I don’t drink caffeinated sodas and my sweet tea is decaffeinated and sugar-free. I don’t eat processed foods, only whole items. We grow our own tomatoes, peppers, and squash.

    I do yoga everyday for 20-30 minutes, and I LOVE it. By the end of each session, I feel like Buddha under the Bodhi tree–as serene and clear-headed as all get out. It’s really weird too, considering how much of a busy-body I am. I usually have a lot more energy afterward, which is very nice.

    I get eight to nine hours of sleep each night — no kids — so I think I have that bit covered.😉

    So, seems like my lifestyle is a good one. I suppose I just need to get out and enjoy the sun every once in a while.

  6. #7 by KM Huber on July 8, 2011 - 3:40 pm

    Have always loved the taste of coffee but not the jangle of caffeine after the first cup. Began drinking decaffeinated coffee–yes, the taste is different–that is processed using a Swiss water filter system. For me, it’s better than going without.

  7. #8 by Brett Minor on July 8, 2011 - 3:43 pm

    Taking care of myself is something I have only recently begun to care about. Turning 40, running out of energy and my expanding waist size has shown me that this body will not last forever.

  8. #9 by malindalou on July 8, 2011 - 3:47 pm

    I find that doing 20 minutes of relaxation hypnosis once a week helps me keep my brain calm and focused and has cured my occasional bouts of caffeine induced insomnia.

  9. #10 by Angela Wallace on July 8, 2011 - 3:47 pm

    Hehe, I’m hunched over my keyboard as I read this. I don’t drink coffee at all, and after 24 years I have finally given up chocolate. I do have a problem with exercise. I just don’t like it. This week, though, I’ve been trying to start up Tai Chi again. I know my quality of life will be so much better with exercise, so why does it have to feel like pulling teeth to get myself to do it? *sigh*

    Oh, and I second the pet thing! Emotional health helps with physical health.

  10. #11 by hawleywood40 on July 8, 2011 - 3:47 pm

    So timely for me. I’m a “day-jobbing” writer who gave up exercise for a while when I started writing again seriously. I figured I couldn’t work the 10 hours a day I must, write 2-3 hours daily, exercise AND have a life. After about 6 months of this, I felt like hell. I’ve just gotten back into working out 5-6 days per week and am already feeling 10X better. While it does make getting my daily writing time in harder, I’m balancing that by using my time in the gym to read (I’m one of those lucky people who can read on a fairly fast-moving treadmill without getting motion sickness, especially with my Kindle), or just let ideas flow through my head while I do weight training.

    • #12 by Jess Witkins on July 9, 2011 - 2:52 am

      I love your idea hawley! I may get audio books and download them onto my sandisk and take that to the gym, then I’ll be getting two things at once. I share your long day work schedule and I agree, exercise was cut out at the exact time I started writing, and I’ve been really stiff and achy since. Thanks for these suggestions to show me how they can work together.

  11. #13 by Avery Michaels on July 8, 2011 - 3:50 pm

    Great post! And stress is definitely something to avoid or at least have a handle on!
    Avery

  12. #14 by Becka (StickyNoteStories) on July 8, 2011 - 3:58 pm

    I’ve finally got the eating right down pat. No processed sugar – no processed foods in fact. As much local produce and happy-raised meats as I can get (and we use our meat as a side dish and our veggies as the main course instead of eating a hunk of meat and a few veggies). I don’t drink soda, I don’t drink juice that’s loaded with sugar (which means I don’t really drink juice anymore, unfortunately). Grapes and apples and other fruits for dessert

    I’m still working on cutting down on the wine, but I usually only have one coffee a day now🙂

    As for exercise, I do walk the dogs every day, but I could get back into Yoga. I had to stop because an old injury made my neck go out and it was a year before I had full range of motion back. But now that it’s back I need to start building up that muscle strength again so it won’t go back out!

    Getting a little healthier every day🙂

  13. #15 by toniahouston on July 8, 2011 - 4:18 pm

    Thank you, Kristen! I always add your blogs to my “favorites”! You are more like a big sister, than a mom! LOL! I’m a long, slow distance runner…running helps me shake off stress, doldrums, and gets my creative synapses firing! I think distance running is a lot like working on a ms, both require a load of self-motivation.I think I’ll add yoga to my cross-training routine…!

  14. #16 by kaleba on July 8, 2011 - 4:19 pm

    Is it a fad? Or is there credence to the contention that sitting too long is bad for the body? Either way, I’ve been trying to get up every hour or so and move around. (Which is easy to do because I drink a ton of water during the day and what goes in must come out.) I’ve also tried writing standing up– which is hard on a body that’s used to sitting. But I figure five minutes of standing and writing is better than no standing and writing. I think if I practice this I’ll eventually stretch that out to a longer time period.

    • #17 by Siri Paulson on July 8, 2011 - 4:37 pm

      Oooh, good points. I used to stay at my desk at lunch; now I get up, go down to the cafeteria with my editing notes or planning notebook, and *stand* at a counter. I usually end up sitting down on the stool at some point, but I try to remember to stand up again for a while at the tail end of lunch hour before heading back to my desk. (This also forces a computer break, which is good for the upper back and wrists too.)

  15. #18 by Siri Paulson on July 8, 2011 - 4:32 pm

    I’m working on most of these! I do yoga once or twice a week, which isn’t really enough stretching, but it’s better than no yoga. I don’t do too badly on the water, food, or caffeine, and this week I started cutting way back on my sugar intake. (Hmm, I wonder if it’s a coincidence that I’ve felt like I’ve been fighting a cold all week?)

    My biggest challenge is getting enough sleep. I don’t have kids, but I do have a dayjob and it’s tough to squeeze writing and living and relaxing into the evening, so I always try to stretch it out just a little longer…

    Tip on exercise: Find something you love. I keep buying gym memberships and not using them — knowing that resistance training is important is not enough to overcome my hatred of the gym. But I walk through green space at least a mile most days (usually as part of my commute to/from work, but hey, it’s still walking), I do yoga, and I do contradance a couple of times a month — and I exercise way harder/longer when I’m dancing than I ever would on a treadmill. I also tally up my walking miles for the Walk to Rivendell (yes, I’m a geek), which is good for motivation.

    Other tip on health: I used to have problems with wrist pain and was headed for carpal tunnel. I did a couple of things that got rid of it: (1) buy an ergonomic (split) keyboard; when that wasn’t sufficient, (2) switch to Dvorak layout instead of QWERTY (I use a regular keyboard, just change the language settings). It wasn’t easy re-learning to type, but after a couple of months I could type as fast as I ever did in QWERTY, and the lack of wrist pain was so worth it!

  16. #19 by accidentalstepmom on July 8, 2011 - 4:34 pm

    Fantastic post. That swimming pool pic is hot. Thinking about a healthy lifestyle in terms of being a more effective writer is something I can get behind. I started exercising again regularly because it made me less crazy. Just “being fit” wasn’t enough of a motivation for me, but “not being nuts” was. Running, weight lifting, and Bikram yoga are the activities I’m doing now. To your list I will add meditation. Again, makes me less crazy. I have a CD that uses sine waves to create specific brain wave patterns in meditation and I find that on sleep deprived days (I have 5 kids but work nights) it’s tremendously restorative.

  17. #20 by Anne R. Allen on July 8, 2011 - 4:36 pm

    Such important advice. Have just tweeted it.

    Here’s another: my chiropractor says if you work in a chair, you should get up at least once every 30 minutes and move around. Yeah, I know it’s hard when you’re on a writing roll, but sitting still just isn’t that good for us. I have the lower back problems to prove it. Set a timer and get up for another glass of water. You’ll thank me when you’re old.

    • #21 by carrie m on July 9, 2011 - 12:24 am

      I totally agree, Anne! If I’m at my desk all day, I try to get up for breaks at the very least once per hour. Even better, I bought a standing desk a few weeks ago, so I try to stand for at least half of my day now. It has made a HUGE difference!

      Kristen, thanks for a fantastic post – I needed a reminder!

  18. #22 by Catherine Johnson on July 8, 2011 - 4:38 pm

    I’ve just swapped a coffee for a green tea with passion fruit and mango🙂 Great advice. Train your kids too sleep would be another tip I haven’t mastered yet.

    • #23 by Catherine Johnson on July 8, 2011 - 4:40 pm

      …to…

  19. #24 by Shelly Brown on July 8, 2011 - 4:40 pm

    I❤ Animaniacs. My kids sing this song all the time! The CD version ends with "We like sweets a lot but they make your insides rot, so remember it's your body and the only one you got!"
    I like that ending better.

  20. #25 by Lisey on July 8, 2011 - 4:54 pm

    Very impressed with this blog entry! Took a class in my graduate psych program about stress management, which was mostly about crisis intervention but we took a couple days for healthy living and talked a lot about it on a biochemical level. The prof said EVERYTHING you said, especially about the negative effects of caffeine and energy drinks…I’m still an avid caffeine drinker though.>:D

  21. #26 by Christine Ashworth on July 8, 2011 - 4:55 pm

    I’m working on this. Cut WAY back on the alcohol, and am going to the gym at least 5x a week. Still working on the too-much-coffee thing…

  22. #27 by Angelina C. Hansen on July 8, 2011 - 5:03 pm

    In the past ten years, I have leaned to embrace these tips with my whole heart! I have no choice. I have to live by these six healthy principles or I become a crazy woman.

    *Sugar, caffeine, and other stimulants= mood swings
    *Exercise is my downfall, but I’ve started taking “plot walks” which benefit both body and story
    *Dehydration=fatigue
    *Stretching reduces tension headaches
    *Good food keeps the creativity flowing
    *Sleep promotes positivityand problem-solving

  23. #28 by Leanne D. Baldwin on July 8, 2011 - 5:05 pm

    I don’t drink coffee (love the smell, hate the taste, go figure), so I drink green tea instead. It doesn’t seem to interfere with my sleep pattern, since there’s not that much caffeine involved. I do need to get more exercise, but I have recently resumed a regime of stretching every day, which has really helped with my current Big Bad, migraines.

    Thanks to the shifting of my hormonal tectonic plates, I was getting migraines as often as 4-5 days a week. Try getting anything accomplished under those circumstances! For added fun, the migraines had reached a point where they didn’t respond to any of the meds.

    Since I’ve been doing a stretching routine every day, the frequency of the attacks has been cut by 50-85%, and the ones I do get are once again being properly cowed by the medications. I also feel more relaxed just generally healthier and more energetic. This tells me that stretching does some pretty vital things to one’s body and for one’s overall health.

  24. #29 by Shéa MacLeod on July 8, 2011 - 5:24 pm

    Lately it’s too little sleep. Not on purpose. Just a lot going on. A lot of stress. A lot of excitement. It’s definitely effecting my writing, but I’m not sure what to do about it. I’ve been told meditation. Um, yeah, YOU try meditation when you’ve got other people living in your head! lol (Um, I meant that in a writer way. Not a crazy way.)

  25. #30 by Les Howard on July 8, 2011 - 5:33 pm

    I have a 4 year old golden retriever and an annual pass to the local conservation area a few minutes from home where we go for a 1-2 hour walk every day rain or shine, sleet or snow. That’s us in my Twitter avatar. He loves to play fetch especially when it involves swimming 30 yards out into the lake to retrieve the stick. It’s good exercise for both of us.

  26. #31 by nrhatch on July 8, 2011 - 5:42 pm

    Perfect post . . . from beginning to end. Loved the video too. You rock!

  27. #32 by Jennie on July 8, 2011 - 5:42 pm

    Definitely! I think one of the things that helped me get back into fiction writing 18 months ago was lots and lots of yoga. There’s something about exercise that just gets the blood – and the brain cells flowing. If I get stuck, I’ll got for a walk. If I get tired, I’ll flip myself upside down to recharge my brain. I don’t stick to all of these goals as much as I would like, but the more I do, the more active my plot bunnies are when I sit down at the keyboard.

  28. #33 by Jennifer K. Hale on July 8, 2011 - 5:50 pm

    Who doesn’t love Animaniacs for their words of wisdom?😉 I used songs from the show when I taught high school history!

  29. #34 by Tiffany A White on July 8, 2011 - 6:31 pm

    I have a VERY hard time giving up my coffee….but, to counter, I have started going to the gym and getting in at least 45 minutes of cardio 3X a week. Oddly enough, I’m exhausted and ready for bed early on those days – but I’ve had some great writing ideas while on that treadmill. Now, if only I could walk & write at the same time. 🙂

    • #35 by Jenny Hansen on July 8, 2011 - 8:48 pm

      Tiffany,

      My critique partner Laura Drake keeps her mini-recorder attached to her while she exercises (for this exact reason). She dictates while she’s on the bike or the treadmill. With all the people that chat on the phone at the gym, you won’t look as out of place as you think you will by doing this. Though I do recommend that you try to get the bike or eliptical on the END of the row.

      • #36 by Darlene Steelman on July 9, 2011 - 1:58 am

        Jenny, you just cracked me up. Thank you! 🙂 I never thought to do that. I would totally be the person in the middle of the row that everyone slowly moves away from.

  30. #37 by Lissa on July 8, 2011 - 6:35 pm

    I have actually started employing all of these things recently. Walking. I have some yoga and pilates dvds which I love. I’ve found some 20-min strengthening exercises online that I use every other day. Drinking LOADS of water (80-100oz a day). I am known as a coffee addict, but I don’t drink more than one 12oz cup a day. If I have coffee more than that, it’s because I’ve had 2 6oz cups. Cutting out processed foods is my new challenge. It’s a slow process, but a beneficial one. I’m finding that I don’t eat as much/as often because the whole foods are more filling, that along with the water. I’ve taken to shopping at Trader Joe’s and a local farm store, more than anywhere else for foods. I am looking to try some health food/natural food stores too, but honestly, they’re on the other side of town, like 30 min drive on a good day, other side of town. That ends up being an entire afternoon. I do try for more organic and homemade foods now, too. Limiting the number of ingredients and doing the ‘cannot pronounce’ test as well.

    Sleep is something I’m working on. At least 6 solid hours a night. I’d love to sleep 8 hours but, anything over 7 hours for me is groggy town all day for me.

    All the things you said in this post are good tips and ideas and things to build into our lives, writers or not. These are good things for everyone to do.

    Great topic!

  31. #38 by alicamckennajohnsonAlica on July 8, 2011 - 7:17 pm

    Again you’re psychic! I can easily get into a funk which will tun into mild depression and getting no work done if I don’t take care of myself, and all of the things you mentioned are things I need to do! Thank you for the reminder and help getting focused. I think it might be easier to say- I need to do this so I can be a healthy writer- instead of hey Alica how about you get your lazy butt off the chair and do some down dog?

  32. #39 by educlaytion on July 8, 2011 - 7:31 pm

    I love the Animaniacs! Your list is solid. I was tracking with you thinking I might escape a lightsaber tap on the wrist until you said to sleep right. Drats. Also rats. I struggle in this area. Another thing on my list would be not so much about what kind of food to eat but the fact that I need to actually eat food. I often get to 2 or 3 in the afternoon and realize I’ve had two bites of a muffin or something. Not good. I’m going to drink water and do yoga now.

    • #40 by Jess Witkins on July 9, 2011 - 2:56 am

      You have long days too. I actually got protein mixes from my chiropractor for this reason. On long days, if I can’t break right around lunch time, I mix those with some water to get me by. And I buy organic good granola bars. Like Luna bars and Cliff bars, they seem to last me longer than a simple Quaker one.

  33. #41 by David N. Walker on July 8, 2011 - 8:01 pm

    Another good blog with valuable information, Kristen.

  34. #42 by roxanneskelly on July 8, 2011 - 8:28 pm

    Here’s what I learned from various folk as far as diet and such.
    * B vitamins are good for maintaining mood.
    * folate (folic acid) regulates seratonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which helps with mood regulation and memory.
    * Ya need your vitamin D. Especially where I am in Seattle…we get no sun in the winter.

    I’ve also basically been sitting at my desk for mumble-mumble (a lot of) years, as I do that computer thing. I absolutely need to get up at least every two hours, take a walk, eat lunch, grab a coffee or whatever. Basically get out where I can move around, focus my eyes far, and so on.
    More often, a quick walk around the house, office or to the bathroom or whatever is good.

    I try to set my office up ergonomically. Good posture, monitor at a sufficient height to reduce neck strain, monitor sufficiently far away to reduce eye strain.

    Seattle is probably the world capital for Seasonal Affective Disorder. People go crazy in the winter. So, I try to seek out any sun that I can. I’ve been known to spend 5 minutes in a tanning bed just to get a bit of a charge.

    I do bellydance for exercise, and I do it with other people. Social, exercise, all good.

    I do not, however, get enough sleep. I need eight, I get six or seven during the week. Ugh.

    And you will have to drag my coffee from my cold, dead hands. If you cut me, I bleed espresso. I’ll never give it up, I tell you. Fortunately, fancy coffee is expensive, so I do have financial limitations on my caffein intake.

  35. #43 by Jenny Hansen on July 8, 2011 - 8:55 pm

    Kristen,

    I needed this post today when I had a headache that was partly from screaming baby and partly from not taking proper care of myself. I’ve had migraines since I was 5…I know better! Here’s what I did yesterday that was out of the norm:

    Like Clay said that he often does, I waited until about 2 pm to get a proper meal. Mind you, the baby had a walk-through and watering of the garden, a bath, a nap and a trip to the farmers market, but mommy had a big fat nothing. I know as a headache sufferer that regular meals and limited sugar are the key to a healthy head and I just didn’t take the time.

    I also didn’t drink enough water yesterday and dehydration is a leading cause of headaches.

    I don’t know if I’ll be able to get enough regular sleep for the foreseeable future but I can work on the rest.

    One of my health tips is to keep a garden if you can – growing your own veggies encourages you to eat them.🙂

    Thanks for the reminder!

    • #44 by K.B. Owen on July 9, 2011 - 1:16 am

      Aw, Jenny, poor gal – it’s so typical for moms to neglect themselves while taking spectacular care of their kids. My oldest has suffered from migraines since he was 11, and lack of sleep was his big trigger. I’m glad you’re going to pay better attention to your triggers!

  36. #45 by Kristen Fairgrieve on July 8, 2011 - 9:38 pm

    great post. i was eating non-fat greek yogurt with blueberry acai And drinking water while i read this. but now i’m really in the mood for some Ruffles. Of Course i’m totally kidding. i am Not heading to the cupboard to grab the Ruffles…. [you can’t see me, can you?]

  37. #46 by Kate Larkindale on July 8, 2011 - 11:13 pm

    I struggle with all those things! As someone who works full time and has two young kids, the only way I can write is to do it before they get up and after they go to bed. Which leads to very little sleeping time. Which in turn leads to an over indulgence in coffee. Which leads to needing a glass or two of wine to get to sleep eventually, for those 4 or 5 available hours.

    But I do eat as healthily as possible, and I exercise 4 or 5 times a week, so at least I have some of the bases covered, right???

  38. #47 by Charles Bivona on July 8, 2011 - 11:45 pm

    I know. I know. I know. Ok! I’ll try! Good post.

  39. #48 by Phantomimic on July 9, 2011 - 12:45 am

  40. #50 by K.B. Owen on July 9, 2011 - 1:24 am

    Ok, I’m putting down my Tastykake chocolate cupcake to type this (sadly, this is true). I tried a yoga class way back before I had kids, and I’m about as flexible as a slab of concrete, so all I remember is PAIN. Sigh. But I see the need for exercise, though it’s SO hard because it feels like work time bites the dust.

    I’m also OLD – you young’ins enjoy your healthiness! For me, it will be progress to get enough sleep and take a gentle walk on a regular basis, LOL.

  41. #51 by tomwisk on July 9, 2011 - 1:24 am

    I find that a semi-long walk when your brain clogs helps to get the process started. I start around nine in the morning but at two thirty I take a break to do the Washington Post crossword, Crickler, Word Crunch and the on-line puzzzles from the local papers. As far as diet goes light and in small portions is a good rule to follow.

  42. #52 by Darlene Steelman on July 9, 2011 - 1:47 am

    Hmm… all the things I used to do before I started to take my writing seriously… and I totally love the Animaniacs!
    I totally have to quit smoking (again). Oh, and I have to get back to the gym.
    One thing I haven’t had in ages is fast food and I just won’t. So maybe I get a point for that? (quivering sad lip!)

    Thanks for a great post Kristen.. Oh, and I will.. never.. give.. up.. coffee!
    .
    Darlene

  43. #53 by Sonia G Medeiros on July 9, 2011 - 2:06 am

    Omigosh! You really got me with the nasty pool analogy. I promise to keep up my exercise goals and my water intake!

  44. #54 by Maryann Miller on July 9, 2011 - 2:59 am

    I think the dirty pool was a wake-up call for a lot of us. I used to be much better about caring for my back, and I need to start doing the exercises regularly again. I do make myself get up from my computer after an hour or so and walk around my house for about five minutes and do a bit of stretching before I sit back down.

  45. #55 by Jess Witkins on July 9, 2011 - 3:02 am

    What a healthy post! So many good reminders on how to eat right and stay healthy while getting writing done. I appreciate everyone sharing their feedback! My new thing for eating is buying only organic fiber rich granola bars (cause they remain my fast breakfast on the go) and actually putting the grocery list and recipes for the week on the fridge to remind me to take time and make the good food so I don’t get sucked into a bag of cheetos again.

  46. #56 by Evergreena on July 9, 2011 - 3:37 am

    I’ve been avoiding the “exercise” topic for months, but starting last Monday I decided it was TIME to get going on that. I got an audiobook on my iPod, and made a solemn vow: I can’t listen to the book unless I’m exercising. *meep* I have to know what happens next! So maybe I’ll take another bike ride around the block. Maybe I’ll keep doing those sit-ups, just until the end of the chapter…

    It works. It really does. Even for someone who hates sweating as much as I do.

    I don’t drink caffeine, because I don’t like pop and I don’t like coffee and I can’t afford to spend money on those expensive energy drinks! I drink lots of water.😀

    I don’t like those icky packaged foods with tons of artificial coloring and preservatives and sodium. Blech. I avoid them as much as possible (though I’m limited when I’m not the one who does the shopping!)

    I have a pretty healthy lifestyle, but my sleep is still a problem. I’m an extreme Night Person. My creative juices are at their juiciest around midnight. I try to fall asleep, but instead I think of the perfect witty comeback for my character, or a brilliant plot twist pops into my head. I keep a notepad by my pillow to catch all these late-night flashes of genius. But after turning my light on and off several times, it gets kind of annoying not to be able to fall asleep. And then in the morning, I’m a groggy zombie until lunch. And all this without a drop of caffeine. Ugh. Any suggestions?

    • #57 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 9, 2011 - 11:06 pm

      If you have a Vitamin Shoppe nearby, get Snooze Right and the 3mg Melatonin. All herbs that relax and calm you so when you sleep it counts and no hangover.

  47. #58 by KIM MULLICAN on July 9, 2011 - 11:26 am

    Like Evergreena I find that late night does add to my creativity. But I think it’s just because the chaos that is my day is finally calming down.

    But, I’m just…hanging my head in shame! Yikes! I do every unhealthy thing on this list… I think women may be in the pressure cooker a bit too much anyway. My house contains the Brady Bunch but Alice took a hike. No maid here except the one typing this message. Top that with 11 hour days at work and I drink a TON of coffee, no water and… please don’t shoot me … I still haven’t been able to quit smoking. Talk about crazy – Chantix made me a lunatic.

    So, thank you Kristen. I’m adding water today. I already walk a ton at work, but obviously, there are some healthy changes I need to make.

    Something struck me though. I have a pool, and it looked a lot like to pics above. It took a ton of chemicals to fix it and I remember joking that I was giving the pool Chemo…not so funny now!

    • #59 by Gene Lempp on July 9, 2011 - 1:49 pm

      I used Chantix at one time as well. Very bad side effects to this medication. If I didn’t each a couple pounds of food before taking a pill I’d have unstoppable nausea for an hour. The worst part though were the night terrors. I still shudder when I think of those, similar to a PTSD impact. I would never suggest this medication to anyone for any reason.

      Water and baby carrots are great for cutting down on smoking. The water cleans your system and the baby carrots give you something healthy to eat and “play with”. Part of the smoking process is holding something in your hand, just hold the carrot the same as you would a cigarette.

      • #60 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 9, 2011 - 10:59 pm

        Oh, quitting smoking was such a nightmare. I blame it for the pack a day gum habit I now have😛.

    • #61 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 9, 2011 - 11:04 pm

      OMG…funny in a morbid way. I feel ya on the smoking. I was a smoker for five years. I started when I broke my foot and yeah…too much anxiety and free time is never good. But I quit two years ago and every time I get stressed it is the first thing I want. And I probably always will. I now just chew a lot of gum. A lot. as in if I get hit by a bus Stride will have a record drop in their stock value. Just take it a day at a time, like everything else😀.

      • #62 by KIM MULLICAN on July 11, 2011 - 12:26 am

        I think if I keep trying I will one day be a nonsmoker…then I can complain about it like my husband a.k.a the smoking nazi does!

        It’s a nasty habit and for pete’s sake they use it to help people get off of heroine! I mean really – how nasty is this stuff?

        Thanks for the reply

  48. #63 by Gene Lempp on July 9, 2011 - 1:45 pm

    *finishes stretching*. Being a tall person, stretching is one of those things you learn early. I’m right with you on caffeine, especially the type that cohabits with sugar. No soda in my diet and no coffee after noon are good options to live by.

    I try to exercise at least 3 times a week but do something physical every day, just not always aerobic in nature. The exercise helps remind me to drink water since it is running all over me in its salty version after a decent work out.

    Other suggestions, just one. Limit alcohol intake. Yes, I drink (like many) but doing so in moderation not only preserves our physical systems it also helps with getting solid sleep. Too much of anything is bad, moderation is good.

    Great post Kristen, thanks for looking out for us once again. Those pool pics are nasty awesome, by the way🙂

  49. #64 by Elen on July 9, 2011 - 6:30 pm

    You must have been looking over the fence at me, Kristen. Ah, the difference between knowing and doing. Great post. Okay. I did link back to your blog from my blog, and I did mention your book. Cheers!

  50. #65 by Barbara on July 10, 2011 - 3:51 am

    Great tips! You are dead-on and I can give positive testimony on all but the sleeping. I changed my diet and started exercising a year and a half ago (including cutting down the caffeine and doing yoga). Lost a little over 40 lbs. and had a total 360 on my mood, energy level, writing productivity, etc. I drink water about 90% of the time and love walking on the treadmil reading my Kindle.

    I struggle with sleep issues in part from energy of being a night person and dealing with chronic pain from a neck injury. I’m going to check out melatonin. My tip to add would be making sure to do due diligence on herbs to know the pluses and side effects. As you mentioned, some will do a doozy on your system or even not mix well with other medicines.

  51. #66 by dianamurdock on July 10, 2011 - 6:02 am

    Great words of wisdom, Kristen. Whether or not we have healthy lifestyle habits is a conscious decision we all need to make on a daily basis. It’s not always easy. My “day job” has me at the computer nine hours a day, seven days a week. I am learning Italian, have a WIP, am taking workshops, and nurturing friendships, Being a single mom, the financial and parenting responsibilities are square on my shoulders, and yeah, I’m tired. But I still choose to take the steps necessary to stay healthy. I run five miles five days a week, meditate every morning, take power naps daily, and drinks lots of water. It works for me….for now. Just have to find more hours in the day to sleep….🙂

  52. #67 by Elena Aitken on July 10, 2011 - 4:10 pm

    Excellent advice, Kristen.
    For me, the added benefit of exercise, besides all the ‘official ones’ is that when I go out for a run or a bike ride, my brain clears and I can break through any plot problems or character blocks I’m having. The only trouble with this is that my training partner often thinks I’m crazy when I start talking about how ‘Becca is going to leave her family.’ or how ‘The step mom should really die.’

    Oh, and classic video!🙂

  53. #68 by katmagendie on July 10, 2011 - 6:13 pm

    I was a personal trainer for about five years and enjoyed it – was quite good at it in fact. I didn’t even start that ‘career’ until my forties – didn’t have my first book pub’d until I was 51 or 2 – so, it’s never to late to do things you’ve dreamed or thought about.

    And eating healthy and exercising is an important part of my life – I sit a lot while writing, so I work harder at staying fit – running/skipping on the treadmill, walking regularly, yoga/pilates, weight/resistance training. I like the feeling of a strong body – I like walking across a room and knowing I am strong, feeling the muscles.

    It keeps me alert and happy and at 54 I am aware of the women my age and older who are beginning to walk bent or are stiff or lack in energy or etc etc – I like a proud posture😀

    . . . and! if I want to eat a piece of cheesecake or some cookies or candy, I do it and don’t worry about it.

    But one of the biggies with exercise, particularly the running, is I can escape. The ipod is turned loud, my body is pushing itself, my brain is focused on body alignment and etc etc etc and all the stress falls away, pours out of my body with the sweat.

  54. #69 by CMSmith on July 10, 2011 - 8:15 pm

    Good advice Kristen. Unfortunately I know most of the “should dos.” What I don’t know is how to quit doing the “don’t dos” and turn my life around. You can dig yourself into a big pit with stress.

  55. #70 by Gilliad Stern on July 10, 2011 - 11:26 pm

    I heartily agree with everything that you said. However, like most other things, it is something that I need to work on. Being healthy can help cut down on stress, and I can always use that help. Thanks for the info!

  56. #71 by Marilag Lubag on July 11, 2011 - 5:06 am

    I have a bad habit (or is it good, I don’t know?) of exercising at night. Frankly, it’s the only time I find myself exercising (starting around 8-10 and finishing around 11-1 then showers when people are supposed to be sleeping before conking out at around 1). It’s one of those things that I try to do but won’t budge on doing because I get lazy. Now it’s perfect since I’ll be starting work tomorrow. I try to adjust my body clock so that I could do everything at night while sleeping in late in the morning. Thank goodness, my job starts at 10 am.

    A little indulgence is fine. However, if your diet consists of mostly unhealthy things, it’s time to evaluate on what you’re putting in your body. Maybe the reason why you’re tired all the time is because of your unhealthy diet. Bonus of eating healthy: getting more energy.

  57. #72 by Lesley Galston on July 11, 2011 - 11:51 am

    Kristen, another excellant post, but I am writing this as I took your advice of a few weeks ago, stopped writing blog post just about writing. I needed to expand my readership. I revamped to Lesley’s Passions and now blog 3 times a week apart from last week when power cuts and pc problems prevented it. It seems to be going well and I know I need to be dedicated to it for a long time to show real results. Thank you for the tips.

  58. #73 by Jenni Holbrook-Talty on July 11, 2011 - 2:21 pm

    Who Dares Wins Publishing published a really great book titled Writer Wellness by Joy E. Held on this very topic.

    • #74 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 11, 2011 - 2:30 pm

      I know. I linked to her book and gave her a shout out😀.

  59. #75 by writerwellness on July 11, 2011 - 2:25 pm

    Thanks for the shout-out, Kristen. Anybody who comments at my blog about Kristen’s blog on being a healthy writer will be entered into a drawing for a free mini desk kit for writer’s. US res only. be well, write well,
    Joy Held

  60. #76 by Julie Glover on July 12, 2011 - 12:43 am

    Not the best post to read while I’m drinking my high-fructose corn syrup sweetened Coca-Cola from a bottle. Oh yeah, and our church youth group is at my home tonight eating brownie sundaes (must resist!!). But you’re so right. When I exercise, drink lots of water, and sleep well, I’m far more productive … and nicer to live with too. Thanks for the reminder!

  61. #77 by virginiaripple on July 12, 2011 - 5:38 pm

    OMG! Watering the plants with Dr. Pepper made me think of the movie Idiocracy. Lol. This post is spot on. I can tell when I get out of my healthy routines. Thanks for the reminder.

  62. #78 by cory on July 12, 2011 - 7:07 pm

    Great thoughts here today. I agree and feel we all need to be healthier in our mind body and soul to be healthy in our lives.

    Thank Kristen.

    Cory

  63. #79 by Karen on July 19, 2011 - 9:47 am

    Great post Kristen and spot on for me today. Having just joined my local (women only) gym I am looking forward to the renewed energy regular exercise gives us. Having worked in the fitness industry firstly as a personal trainer and latterly running my own pre/post natal exercise company for 7 years I sank without trace when an old foot injury came back to haunt me leaving me disabled for 3 years. Now on the road to recovery and learning to cope with my limitations I am determined to reach a good level of fitness and wellbeing again (plus losing the 4 stone gained would be a bonus…) Thanks for the inspiration, I shall retweat this and mention you in my ‘newborn’ blog’.
    Blessings, Kzee🙂

  64. #80 by marycastillo on July 28, 2011 - 5:50 pm

    I’ve been meditating (on and off) for about six months. It’s like working out: I feel great, my jeans fit well and then I start thinking I’m doing good so I can skip the workout today…

    Nonetheless I recommend it because it cleans out my head and makes me aware of those creepy crawly thoughts that I’m not good enough, I’ll never find an agent/publisher, etc. Awareness of those thoughts has been a huge benefit because then I can let them run their course and each time they show up, the course gets shorter and shorter until they don’t mean much.

    If you’re interested, I recommend the guided meditations to start at The Chopra Center: http://www.chopra.com/library/guidedmeditations

    Or, Sharon Salzburg’s audio book, Guided Meditations for Love & Wisdom at http://www.sharonsalzberg.com/books-audio/75

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