Posts Tagged ‘health’


NaNo… Halfway!

   Posted by: Faith    in NaNoWriMo

As you know, NaNoWriMo is well underway… and so far, I’m setting a personal record for how much I’ve written up to this point. I wanted to try and finish the novel within the month, and I might actually do it… or at least just about finish it. It’s great, but I’ve learned a few things already about my working habits, being an ML, and writing this story…

1) Three write-ins a week is too much.

Now I know why even the bigger regions only tend to have two every week! Or, if they schedule more than two, the ML doesn’t kill his/herself trying to get to all of them. I wanted to make sure I could accomodate everyone by having so many write-ins at multiple times, but it’s really just too much for me. It’s a lot of time away from my home, husband, regular work, and other hobbies. Two a week would be perfect, especially since each one runs for three hours. I know better now for next year.

2) When I get stuck… I don’t have to keep doing the same thing.

Earlier this week, my story was stalled. Drastically. I had no idea what to do next, because I wasn’t connecting properly with the MC. So, what did I finally figure out? I decided to change POVs. I decided to tell the story from the POV of another character, and so far, I’ve unstuck myself. During edits, I don’t know that I’ll choose to keep this in, or if I’ll change the whole story over to one person or another, but in the meantime… it’s keeping me writing, and that’s what matters.

3) I need to take breaks.

If I’m writing and really in the zone, I’ll forget to stop and eat. I won’t stand up and stretch, and I think – if my eyes are any indication – I won’t blink as regularly as I should. Health professionals recommend that you get up and take a break from your computer every hour… two days ago, I stared at my computer screen for nearly 6 hours non-stop, and ended up with a very severe tension migraine to show for it. It’s still not gone. The last time I got one of these stress-induced headaches, I had to cancel a vacation and take a ‘stress leave’ from work/life for a few months. Pretty sure it was the same thing this time, and I really can’t afford to take a break… so, moral of the story…

Slow down, take breaks, and don’t push yourself beyond what your body can handle.

Yes, I know it’s NaNo, and yes, I know we’re all gunning for 50k… but please, don’t give up your health or endanger it just for the sake of word count. Be good to yourself, and get up and walk away from the screen every once in awhile. If you just have to keep writing, grab a pen and paper and write that way for a little bit.

I know we’re only halfway, but I don’t want anyone to come to the end of the month a nervous wreck or suffering from carpal tunnel because they typed for five hours straight without stopping, seven days a week. Or with an iron deficiency. Or migraines. Or any form of sleep deprivation.

Please, take care of yourself. As an ML this year AND a participant, I didn’t realize how much more I’d be pushing myself, and it’s taking a toll. Even if you’re not doing NaNo this year, take care of yourself.

Have some tea. Sit in silence and breathe deeply. Pray. Watch the leaves fall, and smile at the antics of squirrels as they scramble to stock up food and build nests for the winter. Pet your cat, or take the dog for a walk. Bake some cookies and brainstorm about your characters. Then get back to writing.

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Book Review: ‘Potatoes Not Prozac’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Potatoes Not Prozac – Kathleen DesMaisons (Health/Self-Help)

This book was recommended to me by a friend who knows all about my ridiculous mood swings and occasional lapses into mild depression. I’d been wondering for some time if they were being triggered (or perhaps just worsened) by the food I was eating, so I wondered if changing my eating habits would make a difference. The first few pages of this book described my symptoms perfectly… and I realized that, without a doubt, I am what is called a “sugar-sensitive” individual. Mmm… oh dear, even thinking about sugary foods is making my mouth water right now… okay, okay, book review. Stay focused.

So, the premise of this book is not to be a “diet book”, but to change your eating habits so that your blood sugar is stabilized, your seratonin doesn’t spike and drop (which can cause a lot of problems in mood, energy, etc), and your sugar cravings are controlled. Apparently she’s done quite a bit of research into sugar sensitivity and actually uses the program she’s described in this book to help alcoholics become 100% reformed (is that the right word?). Apparently 90% (or some crazy stat like that) of the people she’s treated never have a relapse, as compared to only 20% in a typical AAA program. But anyway, that wasn’t why I was reading this, just thought I’d mention it because it was interesting. Also, apparently this system is excellent for weight loss, because it reduces cravings and offers healthier alternatives for those times when you really just need to eat something. Again, not why I was reading the book, but my friend read it looking for some weight/health suggestions – and she was very pleased with what she read – and I believe has implemented some things mentioned in the book.

The title itself, “Potatoes Not Prozac” really just refers to a concept DesMaisons introduces in her final step of the book (I believe there are 7 steps), which involves eating a potato before you go to bed. The idea is that potatoes are nature’s perfect food, and eating one before sleeping will release regular amounts of seratonin while you sleep, helping you feel better and wake up refreshed. This part of the book was really the only thing I took issue with, because I heard from another doctor (on a radio program) that there is no scientific proof that this kind of thing has any effect whatsoever. I also mentioned the concept to a medical student, who laughed… so, while I can’t recommend eating a potato before bed (who knows, maybe it does work for some people?), I would recommend reading this book if you think you might be sugar sensitive and are looking for change/improve your diet.

That said, it doesn’t mean that I’ll be giving up ice cream or cake anytime soon. It just means that I’m going to be more aware of the effect that sugar has on me (ie. just thinking about walking through a bakery makes me salivate) and can make wiser choices according to my food “needs” and “wants”.

Rating: 3 coffees out of 5

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NaNoWriMo + Health = Fail

   Posted by: Faith    in NaNoWriMo

Though most people already know this – something about “common sense”, pffft – if there is one time of the year that a writer really, really needs to take extra care of their health, it’s during NaNoWriMo. This month of frantic writing is infamous for causing tens of thousands of writers to:

- eat only foods that are microwavable, take-out, or scrounged from neighbor’s garbage cans

- eat junk food instead of any of the aforementioned foods, simply because it’s ‘faster, easier, and more convenient’

- forget to eat anything at all (except maybe chocolate)

- drink waaaaay too much coffee or other caffeinated beverage of choice

- forgetting to sleep

- not exercising… we’re talking “not even walking across the hallway for a drink of water” lack of movement

- not having time to do laundry, and therefore wearing dirty clothes, socks, and… er, let’s not go there

- not having time to clean… anything… thus turning kitchens and bathrooms into terrifying toxic wastelands until that magical day of December 1st, when the writer blinks and realizes the pigsty he or she is now living in

There are other consequences, certainly – such as the lack of social interactions and thus ability to communicate verbally with other human beings for a month – but these other consequences can be overcome with a simple phone call or visit from a friend who’s finally allowed back over once December hits.

As for the other things… well, they can have further-reaching consequences. If you don’t eat properly, you’re going to either gain weight, get sick, or both. If you don’t drink anything but caffeinated beverages, you’re going to find yourself rather dehydrated within a short period of time. If you don’t exercise, don’t sleep, and just stare at a screen all day, you’ll probably gain weight and have a few splitting headaches to boot. And if you wear dirty clothes all month… well, I’ll let your doctor fill you in on that one.

So what can a Wrimo-er do to stay healthy during a month like this? Er… when you figure it out, let me know.

No, seriously. I’ve had more than my fair share of unhealthy days this month, and there are still 10 days left in November. I currently feel like crap, and it’s also the beginning of cold/flu season – what better way to get sick than when your immune system is down from not taking care of yourself? Here’s a few things I’ve learned over the course of my two NaNoWriMo attempts.

Tips for Taking Care of Yourself (While Still Being Allowed to Eat Chocolate) During NaNoWriMo

1) Drink water. And lots of it.

This applies particularly to those individuals like myself who find themselves not only consuming more caffeinated beverages than usual during the month of November, but who also find that they’re craving  more warm drinks because it’s getting colder outside. What’s nicer than a warm mug of coffee or tea on a cold November night? Not much, that’s for darn sure. However, if you drink too much of this stuff (or Coke, or Red Bull) and not enough water, you’ll find yourself dehydrated and feeling pretty awful. How do you know if you’re dehydrated? There are a few signs: headache, sore stomach, constipation, and bright yellow urine (your own, that is). I know, “TMI”, but it’s something to watch for. If you’re feeling off, think about what you’ve had to drink lately, and go grab a glass of water.

If you’re having trouble getting cold water down on a cold day, there are a few good solutions to keep yourself well watered: have an herbal tea; add some honey and lemon to hot water (very good for sore throats, as well); drink some pure fruit juice (not this uber-sugared, “from concentrate” stuff).

2) Give yourself a good night’s sleep.

I know, I know: who has time to sleep? But you’ll be a better writer for it… and you’ll feel better too. I’ve learned this year that nothing beats sleeping at least 7 hours a night, and it definitely improves my concentration throughout the day if I’ve had enough sleep. Sure, there are times when I’ll get on a roll and stay up late – usually, I’m the Queen of staying up late – but especially during a month like this, when you feel your eyelids start to droop and you do the keyboard faceplant several times in a few minutes… take your body’s hint and get some rest. Some good rest, too. And give yourself a treat: sleep in on weekends!

3) Put away the chips, get out the carrots.

It’s so, so easy to just open a bag of chips or candy and start snacking away… and the next thing you know, the bag is empty and you’re nursing a sore stomach for the next several hours. There’s a very good way to avoid this, and to make sure you don’t gain a pile of weight in the process: have healthy snacks that taste good. I know, I know, you’ve heard it a thousand times. But seriously, try a few of these ideas and see what you think: carrots and celery with peanut butter or dipped in Caesar dressing; apple slices with honey; multigrain crackers and cheese; pita bread brushed with olive oil and placed under the broiler until crispy (cut into triangles and *voila!*, a convenient snack!). And what about grapes? There’s a fruit that’s easy for a writer to eat: not messy, very sweet, and bite-sized.

You won’t feel sick, it won’t pack on the pounds, and you can still enjoy that chocolate bar at the end of the day when you make your word count. Everything in moderation, right?

4) Get up and get out.

No, seriously. Every 500 words or so (or every 45 minutes/hour), get up and do something on your feet. I don’t care what it is: walk the dog, do the dishes, start your laundry, dance around the room to that new Britney Spears song you secretly love (come on, you’re not fooling anyone), walk to the corner store for some more pita (since you ate it all while snacking earlier). Just get off your butt and do something physical for about 15 minutes.

I’ll admit, this is the hardest of my own advice for me to follow. I always think that there’s no time, I can’t take a break if I want to get anything done, blah blah blah. But think about it: how much time do you spend sitting there, staring at your screen, wondering what to write? Or procrastinating by checking your email… Facebook (“yay, one new notification!”)… Cakewrecks (“ooh, isn’t that cake awful!”)… MSN Celebrity news (no comment)… the NaNoWriMo forums (guilty as charged)… you get the idea. Now take all that time, add it up, and… what? You mean you could have walked the dog three times during the space of the time you wasted?

Hmm. Seems you do have the time after all. And while you’re at it, clean your bathroom. Or better yet, come clean mine. I don’t have time to do it, there’s this great new Facebook app invite I have to check out…

5) Stop Eating Crap.

I know, I know, I sound like a broken record. You’ve heard this before. But this time, I’m talking about breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m talking skipping the McDonald’s and going for that bag of frozen vegetables in your freezer instead. Know how long it takes to cook some frozen peas or corn in the microwave? About 3 minutes, that’s how long. Know how long it takes to wash a potato, pierce it with your fork, and stick it in the oven? About a minute and a half. Add an extra 30 seconds for salting the thing after you’ve cooked it, and you’ve now got veggies and potatoes in 5 minutes (not counting the potato cooking time – mainly because you can go write while waiting for it to cook). What about meat? Okay, easy enough.

1) Buy a box of lean ground beef meatballs from the grocery store.

2) Read the instructions for cooking them in the microwave.

3) Follow the instructions.

So, now you’ve got meatballs, vegetables, and potatoes in about 9 minutes. While you’re waiting for the meatballs to finish in the microwave, you can get yourself a burger bun from the bread box, grab a cheese slice, slather on your favorite condiments, cut the meatballs in half when they’re done and place them on the bun, and… *ta-da!*: easy home burger. Heck, it’s an easy home meal that isn’t as healthy as, say, cooking everything from scratch, but it’s a million times better for you than just hitting the drive-thru and paying $6-7 for a McCombo. And you know what else? It’s cheaper. The whole meal described above will probably run you about $2 (if even), assuming you have basic staples in your house like ketchup and cheese.

Yeah, I know, you can’t eat the same thing every night. But there are plenty of options like that available to the time-challenged WriMo-er, all which provide the basic elements of nutrition that a person needs to stay healthy in a month like November.

Let’s face it – it sucks to feel disgusting, and no one wants to come to the end of November with their health in ruins, especially as Christmas season begins (two words: Christmas. Baking.). If you didn’t do so well with your health this NaNoWriMo, well, you still have 10 days left, and all the best to you. There’s always next year. For those of you who are still on track with your word count and feeling great, I salute you. You’re a figure of envy and awe to the rest of us.

Now, I wonder where I left that bowl of chocolate bars…

NaNo Fuel Count

Cups of Black Coffee: 29
Lattes (cafe or home-made): 6
Mugs of Hot Chocolate: 4
Cups of Tea: 10
Cans of Bawls (energy drink): 2
Baked Goods: 10
Bowls of Ice Cream: 3
Mini Chocolate Bars: 23

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