I’ve been doing NaNo for several years now, and I can vouch for a few truths concerning the process. Number one: The first week you will be on fire. Take advantage of that feeling. Write like your ass really is on fire, because… Number two: Week two sort of gets sucky. You’ll be tired for a plethora of reasons. And inevitably you’ll begin to wonder what you were thinking in taking on this monumental task, and the word counts will go down a bit. Number three: Self-care is more important during NaNo than you can ever imagine.
Several years back, right after I began my journey to becoming published, I had a health scare. It wasn’t life threatening at the time, but could have been if left unchecked. So I had to do some self-correcting. There was a lot going on in my life at the time, just part of which was my husband was deployed more than he was home and our kid was feeling his oats (and sowing them, as well, as we’d find out later). I was tired. I was emotional. And I was eating all of that through bags of chips, gallons of ice cream, and Chinese take-out. What that all added up to was high blood pressure and the need for a counselor for a while. That’s the short of it, and I’ll leave it at that for today. Slowly but surely, I worked off some of my excess weight and started eating properly. Then the yo-yo ride began. I was up. I was down. I was round and round. Four years ago, I had another major health scare and on the heels of that, three years ago I had some evil blood work numbers. At that point, I took command of all things nutrition in my household. I did a lot of research. Consulted a nutritionist. And did a bunch more research. All that landed me in the Paleo eating camp. However, I modified the general plan to more closely meet our nutritional needs and our likes.
The results were astounding! All my evil blood work numbers went back to normal within three months, I lost so much weight someone saw me from behind and didn’t recognize me, and I felt better than I had when I was in my thirties. (Yes, I am going to link all this back up to surviving NaNo. I swear it on my good cast iron skillet!)
Fast forward…I moved to the mountains a year before my husband retired from active duty. We were now in deployment mode again, basically. For the first few months, I was able to maintain, but being lonely and stressed a great deal of the time lead to me making best friends with the red velvet cake once again…well, and I’ll be honest here, every other kind of cake. A year later, my husband moved home (doesn’t that sound odd?) and we sort of went on the anything goes lifestyle. We ate like we were on the longest vacation of our lives! My ass shows it now, too. I’ve gained back several of the pounds I had dropped. Not all, though, thank the Baby Jesus!
There have been a few whys in my decision to get my ass in gear and refocus on what’s important. Number one: I am in danger of my blood work numbers going wonky again and my blood pressure going back up. No thank you! I’m off all those meds and want to stay off them. Number two: I’m achy and bitchy. Neither is state I want to live in. Number three: I don’t want to die because I ate myself into an early grave. Number four: My husband is nearing completion of his EMT course and getting ready to begin the advance Paramedic course. (There will be more on this new adventure in posts to come.) The things he’s already seen… Need I say more? Number five: Have I mentioned I don’t want to die?
It takes thirty days to implement and adhere to a new habit. Isn’t that why all the writers practically sleep at their desks for the entire month of November? To get into the good habit of writing every single day? Be it a blog post, a journal entry, or a few paragraphs of a novel or short story, the point is to get into the practice of making sure writing is done every single day. Being tied to a desk for hours on end, however, can implement some pretty bad habits as a side effect if we’re not careful. Not taking the time for self-care, eating all wrong, neglecting to have a regular meal at least once a day, drinking too many coffees with all the bells and whistles, stocking up on our favorite naughty treats. Any of that sound familiar to any of my writer friends out there?
I’d already decided things needed to change as far as my health journey, and back in the right direction before things totally go off the rails for me again. I figured, why not! I’m forming a good writing habit I might as well go whole hog (no pun intended! But I do have pork loin in the crock pot and the oven as I write this this afternoon). I decided that the month of November for me is going to serve not only getting back to writing every single day, but also self-caring every single day by way of exercising like I should and eating something healthy. With the husband in classes every day and pulling twelve hour shifts every so many Fridays, we’ve had a time of meeting in the middle to share a healthful meal. With some planning, perhaps that can be fixed.
Yesterday, I sat down with all my nutrition information, and I devised a plan to get back on track and keep us in healthy eating while I’m busy chasing the words and he’s busy chasing patients. Today is my day one of that and I’ve spent a few hours now in the kitchen doing meal prep for the entire week. So far, I have the pork loins cooking in two different ways, I’ve made shrimp and avocado salad, tuna salad, prepped a fruit bowl, made a veggie loaded frittata (the eggs came from my very own chickens, by the by), and soon I’ll be working on some Keto fat bombs to get my healthy fats in as needed, and serve as a quick snack in lieu of a handful of candy or chips or cookies. Aside from all that, I’ve created a couple of signs for myself. One is hung on the refrigerator reminding me to eat mindfully, and the other is going above my monitor to remind me to get up and walk a while every so often. I also have my size too small pants hung all over the house. Motivation, sugars! Do whatever it takes!
The moral of this little tale, Virginia, is this. You can survive NaNo without packing on ten pounds with some planning, whatever that planning may look like in your world. It will look different for everyone, but self-care should be included in your planning stage when you’re staring November down every year. What will you eat? Drink? How often will you get up and walk? Who will do the laundry? Take care of your family and kids? This is just as important, if not more so, a part of the NaNo process and experience as the outlining and character developing. And, as long as we’re utilizing the thirty days to a new habit method, let’s make the most of it.
So far, I’ve yielded a little over four-thousand words. It’s day three and with my nutrition taken care of for the next five days or so, I’m now ready to pick-up where I left off. And I can totally focus on the words knowing my family is taken care of at least in one area for the week.
What’s your plan for self-care while you’re chasing the words this month?