Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: clean eating

 

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.

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?

Happy writing!

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.

Also, I highly recommend the Write It Forward Workshops. Learn all about plotting, how to write great characters, and even how to self-publish successfully…all from the best in the industry. I will be teaching on social media and building a brand in March. For $20 a workshop, you can change your destiny….all from the comfort of home.