I never cared much about being healthy until after I started writing seriously.
In college and in all the jobs I’ve held since, I could roll into the classroom or office on half a night’s sleep and still take care of everything I needed to do. Sure, I wasn’t going to be the most agreeable fellow that day, but it didn’t matter because I got everything done.
With writing though, if I’m too tired I will fall asleep. Not because I’m not enjoying myself, but because creative writing takes every bit of imagination, skill, and willpower that I can muster, and I can’t do that if half my brain is asleep. So I don’t, and I flounder, and I pass out. Now I get enough sleep most nights, and I’m more productive for it.
At some point after that, I got it into my head that if I wrote better when I was well rested, maybe the same would hold true if I exercised a bit. Turns out I was right – rather than tire me out, exercise energizes me, and now I write best on the days where I make time to exercise.
When people think of taking care of their bodies as something they’re “supposed” to do, they don’t do it because it’s not truly important to them. The benefits of good health only become clear after a great deal of time and hard work, and it’s easy to lapse in the face of the hundreds of other things we would rather be doing. But when you have something you want to do that requires every bit of your ability to even attempt, then you have to take care of yourself to have a shot. Good health becomes part of what you love, a prerequisite for following your passion.
First, find something you’re passionate about which challenges you. Then take care of yourself so you can give your absolute best every single time. That’s the best motivation to work out, eat healthy, and get enough sleep that I’ve ever found.