About 6 months ago, I hit a wall. I’ll be honest, work was overwhelming and my personal life was a mess. Running two companies (the photography and my production company 8112 Studios) takes a toll on your mind and body, not to mention flying about 100k miles a year on assignments. In a sense, I was feeling like a zombie. I made a promise to myself when I turned 30 last year that I would take better care of myself, especially due to the poor health history in my family and the arduous health-draining lifestyle of photography and production. Although, at that point 6 months or so, I hadn’t done anything to really change my life except an occasional jog and eat less junk food. I’ll be honest, I was also doing a lot of moping from a hard breakup at that point and feeling plenty sorry for myself and having trouble focusing on all of my projects (hey, I’m only human). Then one day, I just woke up and decided I didn’t want to mope anymore… that I needed to make some changes in my life, and that’s when this all began…
I started to do research on diet and exercise. Reading books like the 4 Hour Body (see the video below), which my mom the amazing nurse suggested, and various online articles. I started to exercise and jog slowly. Some weight training here and some cardio there. I would learn different exercise routines from diagrams online and try them out and see what worked. I used what I had learned about circuit training from trying out crossfit last year, which I stopped after I broke my ribs doing crossfit in China last summer. I began to create a diet that worked for me and my lifestyle (less carbs, less sugar, less sodium, no soda/more water, less/no processed food, cut most but not all alcohol out of my life, ate more veggies, ate some more fruit but didn’t overdo it due to their natural sugar, cut out fruit juices, ate more protein, avoided excess red meat, etc etc) and an exercise regiment that worked in my tight schedule. I started to pack running shoes in my luggage, and was gradually increasing the intensity of my workouts. Every day I would just tell myself that as long as I was headed in the right direction/a positive direction, that this is all that mattered.
6 months later, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, including my time as a firefighter in my early 20′s, faster than ever, my natural energy is much higher, and I even have visible stomach muscles (never thought that would be possible). My back no longer aches like it did at the end of a long day with a camera around my neck or lifting heavy cases, and I can pull long hours and keep motivated. It’s changed my drive and my ability to focus. Cutting all of that junk out of my system and treating my body better has truly changed my life and improved my life outlook.
Now, let me step back here. This is not meant to be a brag post, I promise, this is about you taking care of you. I just had a good photographer friend suffer a stroke. He is surviving by his sheer will to fight and survive. Amazing guy and it happened to him way too young. I see way too many shooters, myself included, that push our minds and bodies way too hard and it takes its toll. You do not have to be crazy like me and change your entire diet and fitness lifestyle. You do not have to run marathons or lift heavy weights. I just want you to promise me something: that each day you will proactively do something to be conscious of your health. Avoid that extra donut, take the dog for an extra jog or walk, drink less or cut out soda (including diet soda which is just as bad because your body does not know how to process most fake sweeteners and just convert them to fat anyway), just do something! Our lifestyles are SO HARD and the only way to keep ourselves going is to take a little better care of ourselves. Do not abuse your bodies any more than they need to be (unless you’re into that sort of thing).
I would LOVE to hear your input on this subject. Please comment with your stories. If you want to know more about my personal exercise routines, diet, or how to be healthier on the road, I’d be happy to share if that interests you guys at all.