12 Books in 12 Months, Week 5: Physical Health for Authors

Hey there! Welcome to week 5 of the 12 books in 12 months challenge. If you haven’t started the challenge, and you’re interested, now is the perfect time to start because it’s NaNoWriMo! For NaNo, the challenge is to write 50,000 words in a month. Now if you’re doing my challenge, then you’ll be doing more than that for 12 months, but it certainly serves as a good motivator if you haven’t started the challenge yet. I will be doing NaNoWriMo this year, so I highly recommend you do too.

For my own account, I did manage to pass up my goal of 15,000 words this week, with a total number of ___ words. I got a little behind last week because on one of the days I was traveling. But I’m back to where I should be this week, and looking forward to getting ahead again because I will be back in North Carolina visiting my fiance for the Thanksgiving weekend. So I expect I probably won’t get a lot done on those days.

Anyway, this week I’m talking about health, specifically physical health and how it relates to writing. Now this is drawn partially from a post I did a while back, but I thought I’d reiterate a few things, since some things have changed since I made that post.

Now you may be wondering what I am doing talking to you about physical health. I’m obviously overweight, so what do I know? Well, I actually not as overweight as I was a couple of months ago. In fact, it was pretty back. I weighed in around 390 pounds, and it was affecting my life in a lot of ways. One of those ways was in my writing. Writing is like my favorite thing to do, but I would often struggle to keep myself motivated to do it. I would have a hard time getting up in the morning to do it before work, needing sometimes 9-10 hours of sleep to not feel exhausted. At first, I thought I was just inherently lazy, and I didn’t really make the connection between my health, and the success of my endeavors, until a little something happened to me in April.

Round about my 30th birthday, I got an infected abscess in a place that, let’s just say, was not very comfortable. It grew worse and worse until I had to go to the emergency room. Once there, they admitted me to the hospital and I had a minor surgery to drain the abscess. Also, while I was there, they discovered that my blood sugar levels were incredibly high, like to the point of toxicity. As a result, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Now while this was a difficult thing to swallow, I can honestly say that it was probably the best thing to happen to me, as far as my health goes. Because following this, I got my blood sugar levels down to a normal level, and went home with a new kind of motivation. It was like I had this new kind of wall to lean on, which prevented me from eating anything I shouldn’t. I completely cut out all grains and sugars. And yes, I realize that’s kind of extreme. But the whole experience kind of traumatized me enough to get there. I still allowed dairy and meat, because those aren’t as bad for diabetics, but I keep those at a lower level.

Now, apart from the obvious health benefits, I began to noticed several other results. For example, I started writing again and finished the book I was working on in a month. It was the first time I had ever written that much all at once. And I realized that all of the habits I had tried to form, surrounding things like time management and writing, were starting to come a lot easier to me, and I hadn’t really done much to make that happen, other than to change my diet. And I’ve done very well on my writing and in other areas of my life since. I’ve also found I need far less sleep than before. I can easily survive on the standard 7-8 hours, with no trouble at all.

And I’m convinced that all of that came from making adjustments in what I was eating, getting my sugar levels under control, and losing some weight. That made all the difference, and I think it’s an absolutely essential step to becoming a prolific writer. It may sound like a hard truth, but the standard American diet (which by the way is common outside of America as well) will hold you back from your dreams of being a prolific artist, and in a significant way.

One book I would recommend is How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger. It goes into extreme detail on eating a lot of plants in your diet, with a lot of scientific research to back it up. The gist is that eating a plant-based diet helps you in almost every major illness, everything from heart disease to chronic depression. And yes, for those of you who have mental illnesses that I know can interfere with your writing, getting your diet under control is one of the best ways to combat that. Now I’m not saying that mental illnesses can be cured in this way. They are far more serious than that, and are not so easily dealt with. But I can promise you that you can improve your situation with a good diet. The science suggests that the right diet can significantly improve depression at least. I haven’t done as much research on other mental illnesses to speak to them. It’s perhaps one of the most underutilized ways to significantly improve your life, and I say that both from all the scientific research you can find out there, but also from personal experience.

Now I know better than anyone that eating a healthy diet is easier said than done. After several months of eating better, I’ve begun to notice a few cracks in my wall, and I’ve begun to slip into a couple of old habits. And that scares me a little bit. There are times when I wonder if I’ll ever be able to make it. So I’ve developed a health challenge for myself, improving on a few habits I’ve developed recently. Basically it’s set on a point system. If I get my exercise in for the day, I get a point. If I stick to my healthy food plan, I get a point. If I lose a pound, I get a point. Then once I get enough points I can “spend” them by taking a day off and buying something that I like up to $50 dollars. This is usually a movie, a game, a book, or something like that. I’m hopeful that that should help motivate me further.

But this is not a health channel, so this is probably all I’ll say about that for now. But I can definitely say that physical health, particularly the food you put in your body, will manifest itself in how well you write. That is something I have clearly been able to see in my own life. I think too many of us underestimate just how much the food we eat affects our motivation, our sleep, our mental clarity, and more.

See you next week!

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