Resources for the Healthy Writer

By Jennifer Hallmark

Resources. They’re gold to any writer. They rate right up there with research and time. But I’m not talking about a new computer, online classes, or a critique group. This month, we’ve shared articles on lessons the Crew has learned when it comes to physical health. Did you miss any?

I hope you enjoyed the articles as much as I did and learned a lot about fitness. Would you like a few more resources?

Books

Apps

Self-care is important to writers. I haven’t always listened to my body and I’ve paid dearly for ignoring the warnings. But I’ve started changing the way I look at myself and my writing and you can too.

Click to tweet: Writing and good health can go together. And we share some resources that you might find interesting. #WritingCommunity #health

If you know any great resources, please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your ideas! 

Writing the Healthy Way

Let’s face it. Sometimes, it takes a wake-up call to help us see what’s right in front of our faces. And for “why” people (waving hand), it takes understanding why something is necessary.

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My wake-up call came in 2010 when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease, Sicca, also known as Sjogren syndrome, arthritis, and bi-lateral frozen shoulders. For one who didn’t like taking breaks, drinking water, or eating balanced meals, my life was about to change.

Although the diagnoses explained all my symptoms, it didn’t give me the answers on how to change my lifestyle. The whys came by years of research. Hello, Google.

Relaxation

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that messes with your cognitive abilities, among other things. If I get overly tired, I struggle to make decisions and suffer memory lapses. On those occasions, I take time away from everything, returning when I’ve rested.

Unfortunately, I can’t always control my schedule. Life has a way of interrupting our normal. What I can control is my nutritional intake. I do this by feeding my brain the necessary nutrients.

Nutrition

The way we eat affects our brains and our moods. Too much sugar weakens brain function and may worsen mood. Foods to avoid are refined carbohydrates, food high in trans-fat, highly processed foods, Aspartame, alcohol, and high mercury fish.

You may be asking, well, Gail, what do you eat?!

The omega 3 in fish is great for the noggin! Dark green vegetables improve memory too, along with berries and walnuts. By eating more vegetables and fruits, I have energy without the pain, and I think clearer.

 

Hydration

A good word for Sjogren is dry. You can’t swallow food or breathe when your nasal passages and throat feel like a desert, so I’ve learned to drink the required amount of water each day (that reminds me, I’ll be right back).

Hydration has become a way of life. A water bottle is always with me. Coffee is limited to one cup. Sweet tea with lemon and Dr. Pepper are treats for rare occasion. Hey, I get tired of water, but it’s a necessary element for good health. 😊

Want to think clearer? Drink water. Your brain is made up of 73% water. How about breathing better? Your lungs are 83% water. Want supple skin. Your skin is 64% water. Lastly, your bones are 31% water. (I’ll wait while you get that water bottle.)

Action

As writers, it’s necessary to sit and type for hours. But this disease has made it necessary for me to move. Experts advise moving every hour to counteract the dangers of sitting. Some suggest every thirty minutes.

I often do household chores or fold clothes while writing, carrying paper and pen with me. I exercise by walking outside, on a treadmill, or riding a stationary bike. The idea is to get my heart rate up and keep it up for 30 minutes to build stamina, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and lubricate joints. My favorite thing is cleaning yards, especially raking and hauling leaves to the burn pile. Pulling a tarp or pushing a wheelbarrow always does the trick. 😉

Do I ever fall off the wagon? Honey, I’ve jumped and rolled down the incline. However, I’m learning everything that tastes good, is not good for me. If I want a body that will take care of me, then I must feed it the right nutrients, get the needed rest, drink plenty of water, keep moving, and write the healthy way!

 

Learn More:
The 7 Worst Foods for Your Brain
How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Really Need?
4 Types of Food to Help Boost Your Memory
Your Brain On Food
2 Minute Walk Every Hour May Help Offset Effects of Sitting

Click to Tweet: “Do I ever fall off the wagon? Honey, I’ve jumped and rolled down the incline. However, I’m learning everything that tastes good, is not good for you.” ~ @GailJohnson87 via  @Inspired Prompt  #writing #health

Writing Prompt

Ding. 
Jane’s hands paused over the keyboard. She couldn’t stop, now! She glared at the kitchen timer.
To lower your blood pressure and reduce stress, you must start moving, Miss Reynolds.
In the scene, tell if Jane obeys or ignores her doctor’s instructions, giving reasons for her decision.

Are You Sensitive to Your Food?

By Cammi Woodall

Most patterns in life are good, right? Knowing the UPS carrier will bring your package around 4:00, the toaster takes exactly 1 minute 14 seconds to achieve perfect toastiness, or you can go 27 more miles once your car dings “I’m empty!” The food you eat can trigger patterns as well. Some good, some bad.

Chocolate can give you a sugar rush and satisfy that creamy, sweet-tooth craving. But for some people, indulging in this delectable treat will guarantee pain, nausea, fatigue, and intestinal problems. Oh, sweet chocolate! How can you deceive us so?

Six years ago, I noticed I had a pattern in my life but it wasn’t a good one. Every month I had to take sick days due to headaches and an upset stomach. It was not uncommon for me to have headaches. No big deal – take a Motrin and go on about my day. But a migraine episode was different. Migraine pain is unique and personal to each person. When I get a migraine headache, I basically fall apart. The top of my head clenches so hard I feel like it is cramping. I can’t open my eyes all the way because the light hurts so badly, plus the muscles in my eyelids hurt. Sounds are magnified. Simple typing on a keyboard sounds like a machine gun, and people talking in normal voices feel like they are shouting through a bullhorn at me. My bones and joints hurt. Any move I make sets off a reaction in my stomach and… it is bad. I won’t go into details about that. Just nausea and sickness. So much sickness. And during all these symptoms, the top of my head is still cramping, my face feels like it is going to implode, and I am dizzy. After the initial pain, my headaches for days and the top of my head feels bruised for a week.

My medical tests were okay – gall bladder and thyroid checked out fine, blood pressure good. Medical professionals had the same basic diagnosis – exercise and lose weight. Who hasn’t heard this before? My sister and my mother urged me to start a diary, keeping track of what I ate, where I ate, stress levels, and how I felt afterward. That is when my pattern emerged.

So what was common about my sick times? Certain foods appeared each time – processed meats like bacon and sausage, highly processed food, and ranch dressing. (I will also admit I had a slight addiction to Doritos. I would keep a bag open on my kitchen cabinet and go by several times a day, grabbing or two to munch on.)

I realized I have a food intolerance or food sensitivity. I am sensitive to two things –

1.      Nitrates/nitrites – a chemical in processed meats that are used to keep meat fresh and gives it that nice pink color. If sensitive, they trigger migraine pain by expanding the blood vessels in your brain.

2.      Monosodium glutamate or MSG – this is the chemical that makes food taste good. Almost all boxed foods on the grocery store shelf have some form of MSG. The chemical makes you crave more of what you just ate. If you suspect MSG sensitivity, check the ingredients lists for monosodium glutamate, the word hydrolyzed, the word autolyzed, yeast extract, or carrageenan. There are others, so do some research into the ways MSG can be hidden in your food.

Both sensitivities come with controversy. With nitrates, many companies are following a new food trend of ‘uncured’ or ‘no nitrates added.’ Some companies have completely stopped using synthetic sodium nitrate and used powders derived from celery root or cherries. Doubters say that these vegetable compounds have the same amounts of nitrates as the manufactured chemicals. They probably do. But I know how my body reacts when I eat a turkey sandwich made from the different ingredients. I do not get headaches if I eat the turkey or chicken or roast beef cured with vegetable powders. I do if eat luncheon meat cured with synthetic nitrates.

MSG is even more hot topic! Glutamates occur naturally in food, so naysayers to MSG sensitivity say any pain is nonexistent. Again, I can only go by what my body has experienced. I can eat a portion of food with MSG and I get migraines. So I study labels. I now avoid Doritos (weeping in the distance), most canned soups, flavored rice, seasoning blends, and most salad dressings. I look at labels whenever I go shopping.

There are no definitive studies that show scientific proof linking MSG and migraine pain. That does not stop my pain.

I would like to say now that I am not a doctor and there is a difference between a food allergy and food intolerance. The two share many of the same symptoms of headaches, such as nausea, lightheadedness, and head pain. But food allergies can be deadly. They are your immune system’s response to a foreign material your body considers harmful. Symptoms occur immediately upon eating the food and include hives and face/tongue swelling. You can go into anaphylactic shock. So please consult a doctor for any possible food allergy.

By contrast, food intolerance occurs anywhere from one hour to 48 hours after you eat your suspected food. It may not even occur every time you eat that particular item, or only if you eat a large amount. Food intolerance may be painful, but it is not life-threatening. 

Like I said earlier, each circumstance is personal to each person. I hope I helped you to know that certain foods can drastically affect how you feel. If you think you might be sensitive to a food, try eliminating it for several days and see how you feel.

And if you find a tasty replacement for MSG-laden Doritos, please let me know!

Prompt: I knew I shouldn’t have eaten the whole thing!

Walking Into 2020

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photo by Alexas Fotos on Pixabay

This year, 2020, I am challenging myself to walk for at least 20 minutes five times a week.

I came across this idea through a podcast I listen to called Happier with Gretchen Rubin. This podcast contains life hacks, practical ways to manage time, and ideas for living a happier life.

Now, I am not new to walking. In fact, years ago, too many to claim, my doctor told me that I had high cholesterol and I needed to start exercising. He suggested walking. At the time, I had small children, so taking the kids for a walk a few times a week was easy to add to my routine, and they loved the adventure.

Then while the kids were growing up and going through those wild but wonderful teenage years, my reasons for walking changed. My motto became “not for vanity, but for sanity.” My few minutes walking through the neighborhood or meeting up with a friend at the walking track gave me perspective and made me recognize that my need for exercise went beyond the physical to the mental.

Now as a writer, my need to move has increased tenfold. My sedentary job pushes me to keep up my walking in order to maintain good health, but I have also discovered when I exercise my creative juices flow more readily, giving me inspiration and new ideas. Once again, my reasons have gone beyond that of the physical and mental to include the creative.

So, when I heard this podcast, I decided to pick up the gauntlet and accept the Walk 20 in 2020 challenge. I would increase the number of days I walk from three to five and see how the Lord uses this investment of time in my life.

If you have been feeling the nudge to get more active, I would challenge you to join me in my quest for twenty minutes of walking five days a week, and to entice you, I want to leave you with five great reasons to be a walker:

  1. Walking clears your mind and ups your creativity by 60 percent according to a Stanford University study.
  2. It gives you time to pray and think.
  3. It reduces your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and stroke.
  4. It strengthens your bones and muscles.
  5. It improves your mood and leaves you feeling happier.

With all these benefits, you might want to give walking a try and walk into the New Year knowing you’re doing something worthwhile for your mind, body, and spirit.

“But they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings of eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (ASV).

Prompt: The bells chimed midnight. Carol couldn’t wait to begin her new project. She loved the clean slate of a whole new year in front of her.

Click-to-Tweet: Five great reasons to be a walker – Bonita McCoy in Walking into 2020 via @InspiredPrompt

Geocaching 101: If You Hide It, We Will Hunt!

By Cammi Woodall

I hunt for Tupperware in the woods. How do you spend your weekends?

No, I am not careless or forgetful of where I put my belongings. My family and I are part of a growing group of ‘treasure hunters’ who participate in an exciting hobby called geocaching.

So what is geocaching? Well, it is basically what happens when nerds go outside to play. A person takes a container, hides it somewhere outside such as in the woods or in a city, marks the coordinates with their GPS, and logs that information onto a website. Our favorite is the free site geocaching.com. Indiana Jones wanna-be’s then log those coordinates into their GPS systems and head out to search. When you get to the correct coordinates, put your GPS on Pedestrian Mode and start to hunt! Once you find the cache, you sign a log book provided, and register your find on the website. Caches can be anywhere – city streets, local parks, scenic byways, bridges, cemeteries, even underwater! They can be tucked under rocks, in hollow logs, in magnetic holders on anything metal (like a tank – no joke!), or hanging from a tree branch. Harder caches can even require scuba gear or rappelling equipment.

Geocaching got its start in 2000 in Beaver Creek, Oregon. To test the accuracy of his GPS unit, a man named David Ulmer took a small plastic box and filled it with goodies like books and CD’s. He hid it alongside a popular nature trail and logged the plotted coordinates on his website. He invited readers to try and find his hidden stash to test the accuracy of their own units and his.

Within three days, two people had found it and responded back. They loved it! Slowly the activity caught on and was featured on an online tech magazine, in the New York Post, and on CNN. This media attention drew seekers from around the world. The website geocaching.com was born and the hunt was on!

But there were only 75 known caches in the world. Chances were a caching newbie was not close to one. So if you couldn’t find caches, why not hide one for someone else to find? Thus started the geo version of “Field of Dreams” – if you hide it, they will hunt. So they hid it and we hunted. We are still hunting. From its humble beginnings, geocaching.com has grown to over two million caches sought after by more than five million seekers. Caches have been placed on every continent, even Antarctica (my bucket list geocaching destination)! There is a good chance you are within walking distance of a cache right now, or at least a short drive.

You are in nature so be aware of dangers. So far we haven’t been chased by a large boulder “Temple of Doom” style, but we have encountered several snakes, dogs, ticks, and stinging bugs. My sister was chased by a buffalo once! Well, the buffalo was safely behind a fence a long distance away from her and she was never in any danger, but we still laugh about that. (My parents and I do, my sister not so much.)

Why Tupperware? Because it lives up to its reputation for keeping contents fresh! All caches are not stored in the iconic containers, but it is certainly popular. Caches are susceptible to weather, so you need good containers that will protect the contents. They can range in size from micro (a small metal tube half the size of your pinkie finger) to large (about the size of a five-gallon bucket). There are even a few caches the size of telephone booths.

I’ve had several people ask, “But what do you get?” Many people hear ‘cache’ and thinks ‘cash’. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. The treasure you find will be stickers, small toys, beads, pencils… anything that will fit in your cache container. The smallest containers will only have the logbook.

So what do you get? Well, you get the rush of searching for a lost container, the satisfaction of finding the capsule and signing your name with the others who came before you. You get the thrill of discovery as you visit new places. You get a sense of community when you meet fellow cachers also out for that elusive treasure. You get that thrill of competition when you find the cache before the people with you. You get time spent with family and friends.

My hearty recommendation is to try it at least once. Grab some bug spray, pack a picnic, pick some easy caches nearby, and start hunting! I just checked geocaching.com and there are 22 caches within ten miles of me. There were only 18 the last time I checked. Excuse me, but I need to grab my GPS and start looking for some Tupperware! Hope to see you out there!

Click to tweet: Geocaching 101: If You Hide It, We Will Hunt! Article at the Inspired Prompt blog. Have you tried geocaching? #geocache #amwriting

Writing prompt: Darla drew near the large oak that stood in the middle of the park. Had she finally found…