Fitness For Your Photography And Your Life – A Call Out To The Community

Getting ready to go on a run, one of our favorite end of day activities.

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.


YouTube Direkt

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.

Remember:

  • It’s not a diet, it is about a healthy lifestyle. If you are on a crash diet to try and lose weight to hit a certain goal, you may make that goal but it will most likely not stay there long. Starving yourself is bad for you (portion control is an entirely different story) in most situations. Feeding your body with the right healthy food can actually do wonders.
  • Do at least one thing a day that points you in the right direction of a healthy lifestyle, as little as it may be. As long as you are being proactive, you are in a better place than you were yesterday.
  • Strong body equals strong mind. It also works the other way around. Taking care of yourself can improve your productivity and creativity.

10 Responses to “Fitness For Your Photography And Your Life – A Call Out To The Community”

  1. Good post! You’re right on the money!

    Good exercise and diet gives you more physical energy and mental clarity. For gentler portable (on the road) exercise I like yoga and pilates, which can also be a form of meditation.

    Brain Rules is a great book that will clearly give you the science behind this and many other ways of improving your health, both physical and mental.
    http://astore.amazon.com/johnpaulcapon-20/detail/0979777747

  2. Elaine Odell says:

    So true! When I started out as a full-time photo assistant, I’d come home after a day on the set, swallow a handful of advil and fall into the bed, aching all over. My body wasn’t ready for the physical aspect of pushing gear. I worried I’d hurt myself if I didn’t do something fast. So, I went to the Y and started weight training. It worked! No more crawling home in pain after shoots. For women who want to work in film/photography and grip with the boys, there really is no other option but to get into good physical shape–weight lifting, push-ups, sit-ups, etc.

  3. Michael says:

    Just the type of post I needed to be reading this morning! As a 23 y/o student living in the city, lifestyle choices are often harming my body and mind then helping it. Lately i’ve decided to cut alcohol and exercise more as well, within a week i’ve been sleeping better and thinking more clear.

    Thanks for sharing, you make me want to go out and run (even though it’s raining hard core).

    Will check out the books, keep up the fantastic work man!

  4. Linda Vannetta says:

    How timely you should write this. I’m an avid landscape photographer, love going to new places to shoot the natural beauty of this country. Just recently returned from a short trip to the Sedona AZ area, and found out just how horribly out of shape I am. Past photo treks I could carry my full photo backpack plus camera and tripod. This time, I found I had to leave the backpack in the car and just carry the tripod and camera with one 18-200 lens……and struggled with just that.

    I’ve had a complete physical and know things there are ok, just need to lose some weight and get fit. The shape I’m in now is taking the enjoyment out of my photography. Huffing and puffing on a trail, or not even taking a trail because I know I can’t do it has been a wake up call on this last trip.

    I’m going to print out your post above where I can see it everyday as a reminder!
    Thanks!

  5. Steve Hebert says:

    Health on the road. Please. Pretty please. I’ve already done a 26 day trip in Europe and in November I’m going back to Europe for more than 3 weeks…..

  6. David Saunders says:

    Nice words of wisdom in there Doug!

    I find that health for me is not just going out to the gym. But it is more the everyday tasks that I do. I don’t always take the elevator, I limit my coffee consumption to A single cup that I sip all day long. I still love a nice solid punching bag to throw some punches and kicks into. If there is a warm water pool around I will swim it till I just can’t lift an arm again.

    My favorite workout to date is with my new assistant, companion and buddy golden retriever “Dexter”. He keeps me moving all the time especially when I want to crash. And being that he is a solid 85 lbs. he is a formable workout partner for pulling the rope, running up a hill, and some good old fashion wrestling.

    It helps me when I need to walk through the airport with my gear bag that stays with me or when I need to limbo down to the correct hight of my subject.

    But the main thing for me is that I have fun doing it, because for me I will keep doing it!

    I hope this helps someone and keep writing Doug!

    My Best to you -David

  7. Luke Copping says:

    I have been on my own journey as well, and lost 25lbs in the last few months using a lot of the information from 4 hour body. The back pain that has been a constant thorn in my side since college is becoming more and more of a distant memory and my mental focus is better than it has been in a long time.

  8. [...] A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of us photographer and filmmakers taking better … We push ourselves entirely too hard, especially those of us that travel for shoots. Therefore, I’ve started asking friends that are REAL fitness experts, unlike myself, to share tips about how we can easily take better care of ourselves. [...]

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