True love begins with the act of going home to ourselves and our body. We need to learn to handle our body with compassion, in the way we eat, in the way we work. Keeping our compassion alive and releasing tension in our body brings us deep peace and wellbeing.
Thich Nhat Hanh
I want to break with the myth of the self-destructive writer. They get too much publicity. How often have we heard or read about the boozed author? Way too often. Alcohol, drugs, self-destruction are not cool. They do not make good writers!
If you happen upon writer boards or forums, most writers talk about their fuel, coffee, chocolate, chocolate-covered peanuts, chocolate chip cookies (see a pattern?), and other unhealthy junk. You’d almost believe these things give writers their magical powers (writers DO have magical powers), that the stories could not be written without them. I call bullshit.
Haruki Murakami has become somewhat of a hero of mine. I like his healthy approach, you know with the running and the healthy eating and all. He’s doing it to keep writing. A healthy body helps keep a healthy, sharp mind. And it doesn’t hurt that when you’re in your 50s, 60s, and 70s, you’re way ahead of your peers health wise.
I have always imagined myself swimming in rivers (in rivers of life) well into my 90s. Life is not worth living in sickness. I want to keep going until the day I die. I don’t want to be bedridden. I have so much yet to accomplish and I want to give myself the time and physical capability to accomplish it.
There is a three-pronged approach to health that writers (we all) need to stay healthy and maintain our body in tiptop shape. These are a healthy diet, exercise, and self-compassion.
The three-pronged approach to health:
- Healthy diet
- Self-compassion, self-love
I have been cleaning up my diet over the years, honing it so it feels the best for my body, so I feel good in my body. I recently realized that I too began to believe the myths of writing. I needed my chocolate (often chocolate-covered peanuts) and a glass of wine to get started. It began to look a bit too much like a 90s TV special on addiction. Admittedly, I had none of the symptoms of an alcoholic or chocoholic, but if writing is to be a career, I cannot NEED these things to be productive. I definitely don’t need them when I translate or proofread other people’s work.
So I have separated those things from writing. A glass of water or cup of mint tea will do now. If I am hungry, I stop, step away from the computer, and eat an orange or a pear.
What does my typical day look like now? I try to eat a lot of greens. My breakfasts are very fruit heavy. Lunch and dinner are mostly vegetables. I eat to feel full, but not stuffed.
Breakfast (around 8-9 am)
Water with lemon
Green smoothie (usually banana, sometimes pineapple, lots of greens such as kale, spinach, parley, lemon juice, water)
Several pieces of fruit or a fruit salad (when I feel like chopping up fruit) or a mix of cooked grains (quinoa, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, chia) with fresh fruit (when I’m feeling extra ravenous)
Lunch (around 1 pm)
A huge salad (mostly leafy greens) with a seed-based sauce (sesame or sunflower)
Piece of fruit
Dinner (around 4-5 pm)
Bowl of soup (oil-free)
Another salad or steamed veggies with some kind of bean (there are days I skip the beans as I already feel so full from the vegetables)
I’m working on not eating past a certain hour, but I do not let myself go to bed hungry. If I am still hungry (which is rare, because I eat about 2 pounds of vegetables throughout the day and probably another half to one pound in fruit), I’ll eat a piece of orange or an apple in the evening. I eat raw as much as possible.
I don’t eat bread. Occasionally, I’ll eat a slice or two of a sourdough rye (real dark and heavy). I don’t consume wheat, as I am allergic.
If you’re familiar with Dr. Furhman’s Eat to Live, this is basically his eating plan. I highly recommend that book, especially to people who have any health problems – allergies, diabetes, arthritis, get sick often, etc. Another book I recommend is Julieanna Hever’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition.
Also watch this:
All of us know we need to exercise to be healthy. How many of us actually like it? Not me. I admit it. I am a lazy ass who would rather waste my time on Facebook or watch Project Runway or Glee than get my ass moving.
I do realize the necessity of working out, particularly for my plan of longevity and health well into old age to come into fruition, so the next thing I need to work on is exercise. I need to be more consistent.
I used to be a maniac, working out 2 hours. There was a time when I thought a 30-minute workout was pointless. That’s when I was working out for the wrong reasons (for me). Now I am working out for health.
I am trying to find joy in movement and do things I like, such as bicycling, yoga, and dance. I want to learn to like running. I believe I can, so I do it once in a while despite my own protests. I got myself great fuchsia running shoes. I am here to tell you shoes can be great motivation, people.
- When you are compassionate and loving towards yourself, you’ll eat well and exercise, because you know it makes your body feel good.
- You’ll go to bed early, because you want your body and mind to be rested.
- You won’t put yourself in dangerous situations or do things against your better judgment.
- You won’t stress as much, and when you do, you’ll seek healthy ways to cope.
- You won’t turn to food for emotional comfort.
- You’ll go for a run when you’re angry.
- You’ll dance when you’re happy.
- You’ll be compassionate with yourself when you skip a workout or eat that ice cream, and then you’ll do the right thing the next time.
- Care for emotional wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing.