By Alex Rubin
To be a writer, you must be able to hold the weight of an original world on your shoulders. You must be capable of exploring farther than others, climbing higher, and diving deeper. And you do this all from a chair.
Writers are professional couch potatoes. We spend most of our careers sitting at computers and notebooks or sitting through rehearsals and meetings. Our livelihood is dependent on us being completely stationary for hours a day.
Furthermore, those hours can slip away as we battle through a new draft, suddenly realizing that we haven’t had anything to eat all day, because we are IN THE ZONE! We can’t stop to make food! Where are the chips? What is my Seamless password???
I’ll keep this short and structured: Writers MUST find a way to take care of their bodies.
In my own fitness journey, I’ve found that there are five practices that may have saved my life while I pursue my passion. As I am a writer, I accidentally-on-purpose created an acronym: PRISM.
But before we get to that, you may be wondering what my credentials are. Or not, I don’t know your life. I’m not a fitness professional or a doctor. I’m a writer on my own journey to a healthier life. The flashy Jenny-Craig-style stats are that, using these practices and others, I have lost 50 pounds and gone from a size 24 to a size 16. That all feels awesome, but truthfully, I could give a damn. I had just as much success as a writer and single lady (shameless dating plug) 50 pounds ago as I do now.
What’s actually important to me is that I am stronger, healthier, and happier than I have been my entire life and I know how to care for myself now. If your goal is weight loss, super! Do your thing, friend! That’s not what this article is about. This is about breaking the writer’s cycle of crappy choices and practices.
Let’s get into it:
When you’re mere seconds away from figuring out how act one ends and your stomach starts to grumble, you’re going to pick up the easiest thing possible. So, be prepared by having snacks available that will power your body as you power through to the act break.
Personal favorite: Trader Joe’s Unsulfured Unsweetened Dried Mango. I know it sounds like it’s going to taste like leather, but it is so yummy and you get the satisfaction of eating out of a bag, just like chips.
You are going to have meetings at restaurants, events at which you just must be present, and brunch, which, to me and my Hell’s Kitchen crew, is church.
Nearly every restaurant has a copy of the menu online today. Spend the extra three minutes looking it over before heading out so you have a plan. Knowledge is power, people.
Picture this: you are commissioned (omigod someone is paying you for your work omigod) to write a play for a company. They need you to create it with specific actors in mind. You need to know what you’re working with so you can write some great characters for them!
It’s the same with your body. Consult your doctor, nutritionist, or trainer to find out how many calories you should be eating and what your macro (carbs, fat, protein) goals should be.
Then, use an app like My Fitness Pal to track. When you know what you’re actually consuming, it will open up a whole world of understanding.
Okay, I know you can work a deadline. #coffee #friendsreruns #morecoffee
You need to schedule time to set yourself up for success. Yummy, healthy food doesn’t magically appear in your refrigerator.
Wait, what? Yeah, no.
Pick a day to cook your food for the week and don’t stand yourself up. Depending on what you cook you may need 6-8 hours, but it will be SO WORTH IT! Also, you can watch #friendsreruns while you chop those veggies.
There are a quad-deca-gillion (not an actual number) websites with great healthy recipes. Make sure you check out the nutritional facts on each and then get to it!
You knew it was coming. You’ve got to move your body.
In my journey, working out 4-5 times per week is the sweet spot. I feel accomplished, my body feels good, and I can meet my personal fitness goals. I’m asking you to go at least 3 times a week for 45 minutes each.
That’s only 2 hours and 15 minutes out of your whole week. You. Can. Do. It.
And here’s the thing: It’s good for your health AND creativity!!! Win-Win!!! There’s science about this, but I’m not a scientist so I’ll just relay my personal experience.
When I work out, my brain has time to process problems without me getting in the way. I can’t count the number of times I’ve left the gym and realized something integral about a project. It also gives me a chance to take a break from the stress of a project or the ever-obnoxious survival job.
I have one more thing to say. Should I add a letter? How about an exclamation point instead.
I don’t nail this 100% of the time, because I am a human and not a robot designed to eat spinach instead of cupcakes. So, you shouldn’t hold yourself to that standard either.
Maybe start by cooking your meals and once you’ve got that down, get to the gym a few times per week. Gradually integrate what matters to you into your life instead of trying to cram it all in at once.
This is marathon. If you treat it like a sprint, you’ll get shin splits and end up on the ground and Ryan Gosling will have to come carry you off the track… how did we get here?
My Ryan Gosling fantasies aside, the important take-away is that you figure out what creates a happy, healthy life and career for you.
In closing, consider this: A prism is an optical element that refracts light. That means that they make rainbows. DUDE, MY ACRONYM!!! YOU HAVE RAINBOWS INSIDE OF YOU! SO POETIC!!! I TOLD YOU I WRITE!!!
You can do this, friends. One obstacle at a time, just like that first draft. Go make your life a gosh darn rainbow.
Alex Rubin is a New York City-based playwright and lyricist. Her work has been presented in productions, readings, and concerts both in New York and across the United States. Select work has been published by Indie Theater Now. Alex is a member of the BMI Workshop, the recipient of the 2006 Francis Ford Coppola Award, a 2012 SPACE on Ryder Farm resident, a proud member of the Dramatists Guild, and the 2013/14 Big Vision Empty Wallet Playwriting Fellow. She is also an avid brunch-goer. www.AlexRubinWrites.com IG and T: @alexrubinwrites