Saturday, February 11, 2012

No cookies for you!

For most of my life, I've heard that you have to eat right, exercise, and drink enough fluids. This is a good thing for everyone, but I think as a writer, it's particularly important. It can be hard to focus when you're starving to death!

Herein lies the problem though... I have the worst diet habits, and I do mean the worst, when I'm writing. I'm pretty good on the exercise front. I love hiking, dancing, and swimming, and do them as often as I can. I'm also constantly running at work. Keeping up with a 28-family house is hard work! But when it comes to eating right and getting enough fluids, I fail miserably.

When I'm writing or otherwise busy, I forget to eat. The Husbinator frequently has to remind me to stop long enough to get something to eat. And I tend to go for the easy, not particularly healthy stuff a lot. Don't get me wrong, I freaking love fruit and veggies, and I will munch on those all day long, but just as often, I'll grab a brownie, a couple of cookies, cheesesticks from Sonic or something equally delicious terrible.

I'm even worse when it comes to getting fluid. I've been in constant trouble with my doctors' since I was a teenager for not drinking nearly enough. On an average non-working day (I drink more when I'm at work), I get about 25-32 ounces of fluid. I should be getting a minum of 64 ounces a day. As a result of my horrible habits, I dehydrate a lot and have to get IV fluids. It's not fun, and I should have learned by now that I've got to do better.

I keep a drink with me at all times, but when I'm writing, I just don't think to pick it up and take a drink. I've tried setting timers to remind me, and more often than not, I'd just turn the timer off, take a sip, and then forget to turn it back on. I know this is a bad habit, especially for someone who already has medical issues, and I could make excuses or come up with reasons why I suck and it's not my fault, but at the end of the day it boils down to the same thing: I suck and it is my fault.

Yesterday was a reminder of just how much I suck. Four years ago, I had a kidney stone and it was miserable. I thought I was going to die, and I was so bummed because I didn't get to finish NanoWriMo as a result.

The doctor chewed me out when I told him my drinking habits, and told me it probably could have been avoided if I drank more. Drinking, as he explained it, keeps the bad bacteria and such in your kidneys from building up into mushy calcium deposits and such which turn into kidney stones which can cause pain and a host of more serious issues. Now that's probably a pretty simplistic explanation, but it amounts to the same thing: Healthy Kidneys = Watered Kidneys. Not Healthy Kidneys = Not Watered Kidneys.

My kidneys are not healthy. Yesterday, the same pain hit again. Eleven hours in the ER, a whole lot of morphine, a fortune in expenses, and IV fluids later, I got to go home after having passed another kidney stone.

I was bummed again. Not just because I had a kidney stone again, but because it was completely my fault. Again. I know what my bad habits are, and I just don't work hard enough at overcoming them. I tell myself that I'll stop in a minute and grab a bite to eat, or that I don't have time to stop and grab a bite, or that I'll go refill my glass after this paragraph or this chapter. Inevitably, I tell myself that repeatedly, and by the time all is said and done, it's been four or five hours and I've yet to follow through.

That's not a good thing! So I'm making a point of cutting that behavior out. Not only is it not healthy, but like I said above, it's a whole lot easier to concentrate when you're well fed and well watered. For a writer (or a student!), concentration is important. It's hard to get any real work done when you're distracted every five minutes by any shiny thing that crosses your path.

And I definitely deal with that! I'll write a little bit and then think, "Oh, Twitter!" or "What's the Keeper of the Cheerios doing?" or "I wonder if they found Baby Ayla yet." Quite often, I'll think of ten things I must check or do immediately. In short, I'm like a squirrel on coffee.

I was talking to the wonderful Krystal Wade about writing the other night and she asked how long it usually takes me to write. The sad fact is, it takes longer than it should too often, so I've been selling myself a boatload of lies for a while.

Not stopping to eat or drink isn't getting the work done any faster. It's just guaranteeing that not only is it going to take longer, but that I'll be unhealthy in the end. So I'm setting myself goals, and come hell, high waters, or doom, gloom, and heartbreak, I intend to stick by them!

I hope the rest of you, be you readers or writers, are taking the time to take care of you, too. Believe me, it's a whole lot easier to do it now than to spend eleven hours being poked and prodded later!

What about you? Are your eating habits better or worse when you write? Do you have any tricks on making sure you're eating right while busy?
A Not-So-Healthy Author,
A.K.M.

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