Yes, We Can Be Healthy Writers

By guest blogger Lois Eighmy

About 4 – 4 ½ months ago, I began to think more seriously about my health. Being a writer can make one very sedentary, as you need to sit still to write. I’d been doing this for a long time, slowly packing on the pounds, and I was tired of it. I decided, once and for all, that I wasn’t going to let the writing lifestyle make a blimp out of me.

First, I started walking with Leslie Sansone’s Walk-At-Home DVDs, but eventually, I needed more of a challenge, so I branched out. I started looking on iTunes for podcasts that would help keep me moving without my having to stick to a fixed routine. That was when I discovered, and then the PodRunner Podcast.

PodRunner gives you a set of dance music at a certain pace. They even have intervals, which take you through different paces for set amounts of time within the workout. I downloaded some podcasts at a 175 bpm (8 mph) pace, and I jog for 30 minutes every morning.

I also signed up for a account. This web site is incredible, in my opinion. I can record what and how much food I eat, how much water I drink, how much and what type of exercise I do, etc. It’s helped me stay motivated, even through times when I just didn’t feel like working out. I love seeing my progress, even if it’s been slow progress.

Before I began jogging at the 8 mph pace, my weight plateaued. I think it lasted for about a month, maybe more, and I began feeling very discouraged. I took days off, sometimes half a week or more at a time. My basic caloric need is 1,200 calories. It’s impossible to stick to that without being hungry. So I renewed my determination, and I went on the hunt for the faster paced music. When you work out, you get to eat more. You can’t go wrong with that, right?

I began drinking Body Fortress Super Advanced Whey Protein Shakes after my workouts, which helps to rebuild the muscle broken down during workouts. I added hand weights during part of my workout to strengthen my upper body. I’m eating more lean protein and less carbs.

And I’m taking two days off from exercising per week (I go by whatever days my husband has off from his job, and that’s during the weekend). I believe the two days off help, as they get the body out of the routine so it doesn’t get too used to it, but I try not to go overboard on the food, either. It’s not easy if we’re traveling, but most of the time, it’s doable. And since has an Android app, I can take them with me!

About a month ago, I started drinking Energy Shots. I’m not sure why. I hadn’t been interested in them before, but I wanted to try them and see if they’d help with my workouts. They did. I noticed I had more stamina from the “gradual energy release” these shots afforded. But it took me about a week or two to realize that these drinks should be avoided like the plague—at least by me and anyone else who might have the same reaction I did.

They didn’t keep me awake at night, since I had them right after my workout. I workout from around 7:30 until 8:00 in the morning, sometimes a little earlier or later, but generally, my workout is done long before 10:00, the point where I stop drinking anything caffeinated. So the physical energy the drinks gave me wasn’t the issue.

So what was the issue? Why do I avoid them now, even though they gave me good physical stamina? Because they changed my mood drastically. They made me very, very anxious. The reason it took me over a week to realize it was because there were some things going on during that time that I was trying to figure out. I’ve never been great at time management, and my time to write has been cut way back in the past few months. I thought I was stressed out over that, and I was to some degree, but the energy shots were magnifying that stress and anxiety more than tenfold. I couldn’t stop thinking about the things that made me anxious. I was almost ready to quit writing altogether, because in my despair, I thought ‘what’s the use?’ It was not a good place to be in, especially for someone who’s usually pretty laid back (and generally a prolific fiction writer)!

I don’t really remember what tipped me off to the fact that it was the energy shots’ doing, but once I suspected, I refused to drink the last one. A couple of days passed, and I began to feel a lot better about everything—much more relaxed, and in better shape to deal with the time management situation.

I’m so glad I figured out what was wrong. I likely would have quit writing. I wouldn’t be planning to write a novel next month. I’ve participated in Nanowrimo since 2006, and I’ve won every time. Why stop now because of some stupid energy shots?

So, I guess the moral of the story is this: never put anything into your body without knowing what the consequences might be.

And forget the stereotypical image of what a writer should be—a beer guzzling, cigarette smoking, depressive person who can only come up with good stories as long as they have their vices about them. We can be healthy and happy as writers, and when we break out of the mold, we can inspire other writers to do the same.

What vices have adversely affected you? How have you dealt with them?


LOIS EIGHMY is a full-time writer who enjoys working from the home creating characters, putting them through tough times and making them grow. She is also an artist, and her art cards can be ordered as personalized greeting cards (Note Cards by Lois Eighmy). She lives in Arkansas with her husband, Jeff; her white calico cat, Chloe; and her brindle mutt, Nikita. She dreams of moving anyplace where she can experience an annual White Christmas, but is happily working on being content with where she’s at in the present. — ~ Lois’ WordPress Blog ~ Lois on Facebook ~ E-mail Lois ~ Lois on Twitter ~

7 Responses to Yes, We Can Be Healthy Writers
  1. Lois
    October 30, 2012 | 10:20 AM

    Thanks for inviting me to write about my experiences, Milli. It was a nightmare, to be honest. There’s nothing like a sense of hopelessness, especially when it’s brought on by icky chemicals. 😛 Thank God I learned from that!


    • Fear of Writing
      Twitter: fearofwriting
      October 30, 2012 | 10:27 AM

      Lois, I’m so glad you figured out what it was. And thank you for the inspirational article about fitness. 🙂

  2. Lois
    October 30, 2012 | 10:33 AM

    So am I, Milli, believe me! 😛 And you’re welcome. 🙂

  3. Kit
    October 31, 2012 | 2:54 PM

    Chemically-induced anxiety — I hear you! I’m sensitive to lots of different additive and be at my best have to stick with whole natural foods as much as possible. And things that are good for you can be as much of a problem as anything else — I was taking a bunch of supplements and had to stop because of the side effects.

    I’m just getting started standing at my desk. They say even with regular exercise, long periods of sitting are bad for you. My feet are still getting used to it, but I have to say I feel better and am more productive. I’m liking it.

    Good luck improving your health! I find it an endless challenge…

  4. Lois
    October 31, 2012 | 5:22 PM

    I don’t take as many supplements as I was, but that’s because some of them are like horse pills! 😛 Sometimes I can swallow things easily. Other times, not so much.

    I need to figure out a way that I can stand at my desk, too. It’s just too low. I have a pull out keyboard drawer, and it’s at just the right height for me to sit and type comfortably. But getting used to standing would be a very good thing!

    It is a neverending challenge, but one I plan to stick with for as long as I possibly can. It’s not about wanting to live forever (even though I like to joke about that). It’s about not wanting to live in a lot of pain when I get older. If I can somehow avoid that, I want to!

    Thanks for commenting, Kit. 🙂


  5. Melissa Crytzer Fry
    November 1, 2012 | 3:22 PM

    SO true that what we put into our bodies impacts our anxiety levels (and writing productivity). I’m a sugar fiend and am still battling with the sugary treat devils, but I WILL get there, darn it! Glad you’re on a path to healthy living and writing!

    PS Hi Milli. Hope the NM plans are moving along well.

  6. Lois
    November 1, 2012 | 4:30 PM

    My husband and my mom both have vicious sweet teeth, so I know what you mean. Me, I’m more of a salt fiend. 😉

    My biggest problem has been with carbs–things like pasta, rice, bread, and potatoes. Even the whole grain healthy kinds are too high calorie. So I try to limit those and give more to my husband, who needs more to keep his weight on, and I concentrate on the protein. It’s not easy, but I’m getting used to it, little by little. 🙂

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