My dorm room cooking station, feat. yoga mat and running shoes.

 

“I’m one of those people who loves to be busy.”

I say this a lot. I said this at the beginning of this quarter. And someday, I’m probably going to regret saying it.

That day is not today.

Right now, I’m currently enrolled in 19 units (which, in Stanford lingo, is the classic winter quarter over-stuffed schedule), trying to finish editing and rewriting my novel on a deadline (seventh time’s the charm?), and keeping up with the various friends/clubs/organizations I love so dearly.

Not to mention the food and fitness side of things.

During my senior year of high school, I started getting bad stomachaches, especially when I ate food with a lot of grease or oil. Freshman year of college, I started getting awful stomachaches when I ate… anything.

Like, literally anything.

So I embarked on a journey of reading about and studying food allergies and nutrition and exercise, trying to figure out how I could make myself feel happy and healthy again. Though I’ve definitely had ups and downs, I’m happy to report that I have my food issues pretty much sorted out at this point.

Here are my three rules:

  1. Make exercise a priority, because it will make you feel better (unless you’re sick or injured, of course). Freshman year, I often shrugged off my workouts because I was too busy, too tired, too stressed out. But at this point, I know how valuable a bit of exercise is every day. I’ve also transitioned to early morning workouts (okay, not that early. Like, eight. But in college terms, pretty dang early). This way, I never spend my day waffling about whether or not I have time to workout—it’s already done, so I can feel great and energized until I fall into bed at night.
  2. Eat. Good. Food. Though eating well is pretty good advice for everyone, I might be a liiiiiittle far on the extreme end in this respect. To get my stomach to stop hurting so much, I started cutting out everything that made me feel sick. So… fries. Ice cream. Chips. Pizza. Basically the college student staples. But you know what? I don’t miss any of those things one bit. I feel so incredibly energized with my current diet—I’ve got an endless list of recipes for smoothies and smoothie bowls, healthy toaster oven cookies, oatmeal, quinoa pasta… You get the picture. Eating this way makes me happy. It keeps me free of stress and optimistic. Which leads me to my final rule…
  3. Take a deep breath and enjoy where you are. I know, I know, easier said than done. But even with all the exercise and good food, I don’t think I ever would have started to feel better if I didn’t learn to take time for myself, celebrate my achievements, and let the stress melt away.

So how is this related to writing? One of the toughest things about being a writer is the amount of time spent sitting down in front of a computer. Which also leads to a lot of wasting time checking social media, which leads to an episode of TV from Netflix, which leads to a sluggish, unproductive day.

BUT.

I’ve learned a trick that works well for me. Whenever I’m in a writing slump, I hit the gym. A few minutes on the elliptical machine or on a trail run, and I’m guaranteed to have a few new ideas. There’s also something huge to be said for getting some fresh air. Grab your laptop or an old-fashioned pen and paper and head out into the sunshine.

Now go write. Go run. Go drink a smoothie.

Bottom line, do whatever you need to feel great about yourself. Nothing else will make your creative side happier.

Relevant links:

That’s right—this time, I’m dumping a boatload of recipes on you. Why? Because you’re awesome, and so is food. And you deserve to eat food this good (and good for you)!

Make chia pudding! It’s delightfully weird. I had it for breakfast this morning.

Be one of those trendy people drinking something green. This is my all-time favorite green smoothie.

It’s like you’re eating fries, but healthier and more delicious.

Two words: buckwheat porridge. Four words: buckwheat has crazy protein.

Your smoothie bowl starter pack.

Spinach? In ice cream? Don’t knock it ’til you try it.

Currently eating this cookie and feeling great about it.

I eat this oatmeal at least twice a week.

Pour this on the quinoa pasta you made in your microwave for a fantastic dinner.

*Though some of these recipes say they require stoves, I have made all of them this year, in my dorm room, with only a microwave, toaster oven, and blender. You can, too.