Do creatives need a fitness journey?
(plus my personal workout plan)
Terrible stomach pains woke me in the morning hours before the alarm was due.
I looked in the mirror and knew something in my life was off.
I wanted to write. I wanted to be creative. But I was too tired.
My stomach had rebelled for months, I haven’t slept enough and my energy levels were constantly dropping. I was unhappy with myself.
This morning, I felt the impact of health on my creativity.
My lifestyle slowly had crept in like a thief, stealing everything before I even knew it. But where would I start if everything seemed off? You probably know this feeling of frustration – needing to accomplish more than you can handle. With this, health remains hidden in the back drawer.
This was about one year ago.
My life had changed in many ways before that morning. I had finished my studies, was recently married and found myself at an impasse, lost and without any goals. But this morning (that was close to the end of the year) moved me to rethink something we often overlook – our daily routines.
Those were my two top priorities: establishing a story writing routine and a fitness routine, including healthy eating habits.
Over a year later I can tell you from experience – this is what consistent routines can do for you:
1. The mirror is not your foe
Since I can remember, I was unhappy with my looks and body shape. I guess it’s every girl’s curse, and nowadays even men have fallen victim. It’s not that I wanted to be skinny, it was just a general feeling of dissatisfaction with my body.
A gym routine changed this completely. And even when the visual results only set in slowly, I feel great, every single time I overcome my inner couch-potato and leave the gym after a workout.
If fitness and exercise belong to your lifestyle, there is no pressure for a quick fix. You will be doing this for the rest of your life, enjoying every minute and gradually seeing results.
2. Stress is less of an issue
Physical workout releases dopamine – a happiness hormone!
It helps you relieve stress and gives your conscious mind time to relax.
3. Consistent triggers help organize the day
My typical day starts with a writing session followed by a gym session. I suddenly feel an incredible consistency and am empowered by it to have more disciple and get more done.
“Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.” – Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit
4. More energy, more health
My stomach pains have stopped since I changed my eating and workout habits, and I feel much more energized throughout the day.
The fact that you can establish a workout routine and change your body provides confidence in other areas of life.
In other words: I know I can do it! I know I can workout regularly, change my health, and thus I know I can also write regularly and be successful in my business, day in day out.
6. Success comes in smaller portions
We all want INSTANT change. The quick fix. The prompt diet.
But this is not how life works.
Instant changes never last: We might hunger to lose weight, but as we start eating normally again, it will be back up. We might get a one-hit-wonder, but how long will it last?
This is not what I want. I want my body to change over time, and I want to maintain my body shape. This requires a lifestyle of working out. That’s why I urge everybody to find a workout they love, and they can imagine doing for at least the next five or ten years.
The same goes for our dreams and careers. If we put in daily work overtime, things will change for good. It’s the universal law of seed and harvest – it always works.
7. More ideas
Story writing ideas come easily in the gym.
During a workout, our conscious mind is distracted and gives the subconscious space to develop the ideas we have been researching for and pondering over for days and weeks.
Sometimes, they come later – in the shower.
A workout plan for creatives
Creatives mostly perform sedentary work. We live in another world – where art and stories matter more than laundry and lunch.
So in order to have a successful workout routine, you need to bring in your creativity and personality into this as much as you do with your stories. You need to find a workout you enjoy, and this can be anything that fits into your daily life: jogging, hiking, swimming, team sports, dancing, bodyweight or weight lifting. The list is endless, and exercise will quikcly become “your thing” once you find the right one.
You only need 3 months
This is all you need to establish a habit.
So on those mornings where you feel like staying in bed instead of heading out into the gym, know this: The torture will end. There will come a time where exercise will become as natural as breathing and brushing your teeth.
To survive those three months, find a workout programme that fits your needs and will instruct you, help you understand your body and lead you through the workout you chose.
I had been very insecure about the gym and especially the weightlifting area. A 12-week programme lead me into all the necessary basics one after another. Find a programme to kickstart your journey and stick to it for three months!
Find your personal plan
Be realistic about how you want to work out and be flexible until you find your ideal routine.
If you can work out only 3x a week for 30 minutes – great! But don’t feel pressured to exercise 5x a week for hours just because others do. You will fail if your goals don’t fit your schedule.
Build up your exercise as you go — make it more complicated, find people to follow on YouTube to spice up your gym time. Be creative about your fitness journey: learn to understand your body and come up with new exercise splits, sets and supersets yourself.
The 70/30 rule – What are the 70 %?
This is the magic formula, 70 % of your success.
If you want to keep creating for a long time, you need to start consciously thinking about what you put into your body.
Knowledge and simplicity are key.
You need to understand macronutrients and micronutrients.
If I can recommend one unbiased and amazing source of education on healthy nutrition, it is The Food Medic (the two books and also the great podcast).
Breaking down food into large (macro) bits, it consists of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
“Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals, which are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts.” – Dr. Hazel Wallace, The Food Medic for Life
The golden rules of healthy eating are very simple:
Eat things as they come in nature – fruit, vegetables, meat. Stay away from processed foods. Start reading ingredient lists, and eat everything with a very simple and short ingredient list.
Our relationship with food is emotional – and we often don’t realize what we put into our bodies before we start tracking it.
So for the sake of understanding your own eating habits: Start tracking your food with an app like Lifesum for three months to see what you eat and how it breaks down into nutrients. Adjust your diet to be balanced and meet your targets.
Don’t chase current trends like low-carb and gluten-free. Instead, check out the Mediterranean Diet.
Fitness has become a trend online, but we should strive for a healthy and sustainable lifestyle — not a quick trend.
For us creatives, it’s not about the sexy pictures on Instagram, but rather about building a body of work that is impactful. And we can only build if we are healthy and strong.
So let’s use the trend to our advantage.