About two years ago I woke up one morning and took a good, hard look at myself in the mirror. While I had reached a point in my career where I had a steady flow of work and a job as a stringer for the local newspaper, my health was suffering. I was at my heaviest and my mood was all over the place. I wanted to be a better role model for my two small children.
Like many writers, I am a person of extremes. In college, I put in long hours working on the campus newspaper sitting in front of a computer, chain-smoking and often eating only one meal a day. Needless to say, I was the skinniest I had ever been in my life, but I was far from healthy, and it took a toll on my mental state as well. Two years ago, the opposite was true. I craved comfort foods, sugary, frozen coffee drinks, and I wasn't getting enough sleep or fresh air. Again, I was not as happy with my life as I should have been.
I made the decision to be a healthier person. I began working with a personal trainer who taught me a great deal about the proper nutrition. Within three months, I had dropped 15 pounds and was running road races and lifting weights regularly. I looked and felt great.
I've now incorporated what I learned then into my daily writing life. I have slip-ups, as do most people, but I try to make it to the gym 3-4 times a week. My mind is so much clearer after I've worked up a good sweat. I also keep cut-up vegetables and hummus and fresh fruit in my refrigerator for morning and afternoon snacks and plenty of water in the bottle on my desk. I still have a love/hate relationship with coffee, particularly around deadlines. I was even able to write and sell a few articles about my lifestyle changes, so my career benefitted from the changes along with my health. What good is a successful career if you don't live long enough to enjoy it?
We all need to be mindful of taking care of ourselves while we're nurturing our inner artist. It's all too easy to let yourself go in the name of a deadline or rough draft that needs revising. Take a look around you and see if there are any health changes you could stand to make. I'm sure we could all find a few.