Sunday, May 19, 2013

Healthy Writer Isn't an Oxymoron

A successful writer doesn't have to sacrifice good health. 

The image of a writer is one who spends hours and hours hunched over their computer screen, drinking ginormous amounts of coffee and eating whatever is fast and usually not very nutritious. Exercise? What writer has time for exercise when a deadline is looming?

A writing career carries a ton of stress. Especially with all the changes in the publishing world today, it’s difficult for a writer to decide which path to take in her career. Prolific writers seem to get ahead of the pack, but if you have family, young children, a full time job, the pressure of being prolific becomes even more stressful. Unfortunately, what suffers is a writer’s health.

Symptoms of an Unhealthy Writer:

·         Frequently sick with colds, stomach bugs

·         Headaches and/or migraines

·         Insomnia

·         Edgy and depressed

·         Increased weight issues

·         Increase blood pressure

·         Low energy level

·         Muscle and back pain


To be a successful writer, you have to write consistently, focus on goals, be persistent and positive, continue to grow and improve as a writer, schedule time to write.

To be a healthy writer, you have to be consistently health conscious, plan ahead, schedule writing times and healthy times(eat healthy and exercise) into your daily schedule. Change and adapt new habits slowly for the greatest success.

Here are a few Healthy Writer Tips:

EXERCISE: Exercise isn’t a dirty word. Exercise at ALL ages is important for good health. Do you have to join an expensive gym? No, but you need to be consistent and schedule the time. One hour is only 4% of your day. No excuses! Start slow and work up.

·         If you have a day job, go to the gym or do a workout right after work or before you start your job (get up an hour earlier). If you plan your meals ahead of time, you can make 30 minutes dinners after your workout.

·         Keep a variety of exercise videos at home. Email me and I can give you some great suggestions (kathykulig(at)rcn(dot)com).

·         If you’re a full time writer, schedule your exercise daily. Let’s say at 10 AM, you take a break from writing, go for a 30 minute walk/jog, and do some strength training with hand weights, or 30 minutes of yoga for flexibility and toning.

·         Strengthening your core with exercises like yoga, pilates, plank exercises. This will tone muscles especially your abdomen, back and over all muscles and build stability. Notice how older people have frequent falls? Not as often when you have strong muscles.

·        Keep hand weights at your desk and take frequently breaks to stretch and do arm lifts.
·         Meditation is also good for good health. 10-15 minutes of calming the mind can do a world of good to refocus and distress.

EATING: We’ve become a fast-food/processed/high calorie world with our constantly moving lives. Planning ahead and making gradual changes toward good eating habits NOT DIETING is the best method for a healthy lifestyle and a healthy writer. Balance and portion is the key. Try different foods, snack less, eat smaller portions. Don’t eliminate your favorites, just don’t eat tons of them. You know that lean protein, fresh vegetables and fruit and whole grains are healthy. Build your meals around these. Avoid fad diets.

·         Make substitutions. 1 cup of whole milk has 157 calories and 9 grams of fat. Buttermilk has 99 calories and 2.2 grams of fat. Almond milk (unsweetened) has 30 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. For lunch or breakfast, I make a protein smoothie. I can drink this at my desk while I write.

·         Chicken breasts can be large. Cut it in half. Eat half for dinner and have the other have with a salad for lunch the next day.

·         Make your own dressings. Use buttermilk for creamy dressings. Olive oil and different flavored vinegars like tarragon or balsamic. Add spices. Add a little Stevia or Truvia for a slight sweetness.

·         Avoid sodas, diet or regular. Bad!

·         Watch out for the “healthy” snacks and cereals with hidden high fat or high sugar contents.

·         Make a pitch of lemon water and keep it in your refrigerator. Juice of one lemon to 1-2 quarts of water and one packet of Stevia or Truvia. Can also slice up cucumber, sliced orange, or strawberries, add mint leaves. Lemon helps detox your liver.

·         Read labels. That “low fat” dressing for your healthy salad may have 11 grams of sugar in it.

·         Write down what you eat for one week. REALLY, do this! You may be surprised how much mindless eating you do between meals, at your computer and late at night.

·         Try different recipes using fresh food. I check out online sources like and

·         I’m having fun trying out Mediterranean recipes. My parents recently returned from a trip to Greece and Turkey and I like the healthy eating recipes. They also brought back some olive oil and saffron.

Here’s one recipe I recently tried that was yummy. If you want to check out other Mediterranean recipes check out this site. I get their email newsletter and it comes with great recipes.

400 degree oven


Green beans                               ¼ C. Fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Garlic, 1 clove, minced             ¾ C. Cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lemon                                      1 tsp. lemon zest
2 T. Kalamata olives, chopped    2 T. green olives, chopped
2 (6 oz.) Cod filets                       4 minced anchovies (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil                    salt and pepper  

-Combine garlic, olives, anchovies, lemon zest, tomatoes, parsley, a pinch of salt and pepper, drizzle with a little olive oil.

-On two sheets of foil, lay out a handful of trimmed green beans. On top add ½ of the tomato mixture. Place the fish on top and drizzle with an little olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add two slices of lemon on top. Fold and seal foil.

-Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.


Zee Monodee said...

Spot-on tips, Kathy! Thanks for these.

I'm guilty of not exercising and veering fro a healthy diet lately with the stress of work, but like you say, it's perfectly possible to turn the tide around and get something done every single day.

My pledge is to exercise for 1 hour every week day, and to move toward a better eating plan (I'm finding Paleo agrees with me) to get me in better shape and health.

Need to go check that smoothie recipe of yours...


Tracey H. Kitts said...

I really enjoyed this post. I totally agree. I work out 6 days a week. ;) When I stick to a regular schedule and healthy eating, my writing improves because I have improved.

Tracey H. Kitts said...

I really enjoyed this post. I totally agree. I work out 6 days a week. ;) When I stick to a regular schedule and healthy eating, my writing improves because I have improved.

Cris Anson said...

Wonderful suggestions. The cod recipe sounds yummy.

Before I retired, I was known as the lady who walked around the grounds at lunchtime while reading a book *grin*. Now I do more gardening.

Kathy Kulig said...

Thanks Zee, small steps. I try fitting in exercise and adjusting my diet a little at a time. Good for you for all the changes you're making. :)

Tracey, That's awesome. Writing does improve when you're feeling well. I agree.

Thank, Cris. You look fabulous and healthy bec. you take care of yourself. xxo