Okay I’ll admit it …I have another life outside of photography: health and fitness! –Well kind of this is post will be an explanation of how this lifestyle change complements my creative work. I’ve been getting a a lot of messages from people asking me “What’s going on with the fitness binge?” To give you a brief background for the last few years I’ve been on a workaholic grind. I’d work several hours straight and skip meals if it meant that I could meet an appointment or reach a deadline. With this lifestyle I was 75% sleep deprived, 10% caffeinated, 10% scrambling for solutions, and 5% loony. Not to mention my back was constantly tight and I always felt aches specifically in my neck, shoulders, and wrists. I’d rarely feel 100% and would find myself working overtime to develop ideas.
Beginning last April I gradually started redesigning my lifestyle to accommodate a balance of fitness and nutrition. My goal was to have greater peace of mind and an endless supply of creative energy. Here’s a list of the major benefits of restructuring my lifestyle:
Being Physically Healthier
Since I can remember I’ve accumulated a lot of back pains and shoulder injuries from years of working/studying from a desk and from straining myself by carrying heavy objects. Every other week I’d pay my chiropractor a visit to realign my spine and alleviate my shoulder pains. Every once in awhile I’d go to see her for other injuries that I attained from my random antics such as exploring broken airplanes or climbing fallen trees in New York. Actually, there’s a lot of climbing involved with my antics.
Last April my chiropractor told me that if I continued to overwork myself with a crazy schedule in no time I’d be out of commission. Around the same time one of my friends introduce me to Groupon, LivingSocial, and the art of hopping from one well bargained priced activity to another. I gave yoga a try and it turns out I love it. Plus I haven’t gone back to see a doctor since the spring. This means I can continue to edit hours on end (oh joy!)
Having More Energy to Be Creative
About the same time that I started yoga I was going through both a creative funk and a employment slump. Gigs weren’t coming in as I hoped or expected and no matter what I did I couldn’t come up with any ideas or concepts that I’d want to self-produce for myself. Phases like these are natural and reoccurring for every life. Normally the stress and anxiety of an unstable future by finding work to preoccupy myself with. This gives me the sensation that I’m being productive and therefore am making progress towards my goals. However, this is not really what happens. By dealing with anxiety this way I’m distracting my mind with busy work for the sake of being busy. The work I perform is neither focused nor specific to honing my craft. Therefore rather than being productive I’m wasting a lot of time.
This year instead of diving into my self-generated busy work I threw myself into being active. While yoga was doing wonders for both my constricted muscles and my mentality I wanted to mix things up more. I can get bored easily thus I started alternating among swimming, jogging, lifting, and yoga. Exercise kept me busy, filled me up with endorphins , and alleviated my stress levels. Post-workout my mind would have such clarity that I would be free to enjoy and to be inspired by the small details in life. This in turn allowed me to write and develop ideas without hesitation or doubt.
Staying Focused and Disciplined
Work started picking up for me again in May. Since I became addicted to free feeling I felt after working out I decided to maintain my workout routine. As long as working out was leaving me with a clear, open mind ready to bust out some stories I’d like to shoot there’s no reason to drop it. I would make time each week specifically to go outside and be active (I retouch inside and after hours of it cabin fever sets it. Let me out!!!) It wasn’t until I met my friend, Billy, in June that I started incorporating diet into my day to day.
**Note: Dieting is hard!
Eating a cleaner diet made me feel more energized and pumped to tackle on any photo assignment, so like working out I made up my mind to making it a habit. Focusing on my diet not only energized me, but also saved money and reenforced a disciplined schedule on me. Because I have to prep all my meals now I mentally have to make time during the week to: go grocery shopping, cook meals, and clean up. Add in exercise and my abundance of photography chores and voila you have a full day! Making nutrition a long term priority forced me into sticking with a schedule and not waste time by being unfocused on a task at hand. If you’re disciplined enough to create a schedule for yourself Mother Nature has this awesome way of keeping you accountable: hunger.
Grocery shopping saves you so much money, which equals more money to invest into my own art.
Since I’m eating between 5-6 small meals a day biologically my body has created a nice flow for me to follow. If I fall off track I’ll get behind on the flow and be forced to play the terrible game of catch up with everything and everyone. My daily schedule on a non-shoot day looks like this:
6:00 AM – Wake up, eat breakfast
7:00 – 8:30 AM – Gym/Cardio/Yoga
8:30 – 9:00 AM – Hungry, eat!
9:00 – 12:00 PM – Emails, phone calls, catch up on blogs/news
12:00 – 1:30PM – Hungry, eat!
1:30 – 3:00 PM – Retouch, research, prep for an upcoming shoot, retouch again
3:00 – 4:00 PM – Hunger kicks in again, eat!
4:00 – 6:00 PM – Retouch, research, prep for an upcoming shoot, retouch again
7:00 – 8:00 PM – Hungry again, eat!
8:30 – ? PM/AM – Work on more photo related things, blog, or hang out with friends
Cooking as also turned into another creative outlet for me.
I’m leaning up and the abs are coming in 🙂