Join Jessica Brody for an in-depth discussion in this video Brain hack #7: Fuel your body, part of Productivity Hacks for Writers.
- [Instructor] Welcome to Fuel Your Body. The point of this brain hack is to eat. I know it sounds simple and elementary, but so many people skip breakfast and go straight for the coffee, hoping that it will be enough to get them through the morning. But here's some basic math for you. Your body runs on food. Your brain runs on food. Food is the electricity running to your super powerful brain computer. If you don't feed your brain, it's like yanking the power cable right out of the wall. How do you expect it to run well? And no, sorry, brains don't run well on donuts, chocolate pastries, or sugary cereals.
In fact, brains don't run well on sugar in general. Your brain runs well on protein, yup, protein. Processed foods are one of the worst things you can jumpstart your day and your brain with. So stay away from those chemical-filled, fluorescent colored cereals and frosted toaster pastries. Try cooking up a yummy omelet or blending up a protein shake instead or even try a cup of Greek yogurt with some fresh berries in it. Other foods that studies have shown to boost brain power include whole grains, blueberries, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, almond butter, salmon, coconut oil, broccoli, spinach, kale, avocado, tomatoes, and nuts.
And I know it shouldn't have to be said, but it does. Water, drink lots and lots of water, more than you think you need, especially first thing in the morning. Sleeping is totally dehydrating. You're basically going eight hours without water. So the first thing your brain and body needs when you wake up is water. Not juice, not soda, not coffee, but water and lots of it. When I wake up, the first thing I do is chug a glass of water. Then by the time I even start writing, I've already drank almost a liter of water. Water is nature's remedy for everything.
If we were meant to drink soda, it would come from a spring in the ground. Water can work wonders to jumpstart your brain and get you into the right mindset for writing. But look, all of this stuff I'm telling you is not rocket science. It's common sense. The better your feed your body, the better your body will run. It's as simple as that. Same goes for your brain. Feed it junk and it will give you junk back. Feed it clean, healthy stuff and you'll get beautiful, inspired words on the page, lots of them. I was amazed at how changing my breakfast every morning completely changed the output of my work.
I know I shouldn't be surprised since like I said, it's common sense. What you put in, you get out. But I was surprised. My ability to concentrate, feel inspired, and write more everyday went off the charts when I added a healthy protein-filled breakfast to my morning routine. I personally like to drink protein shakes for breakfast because they're quick and easy and I don't have to spend a lot of time preparing them. They usually contain almond milk, chocolate vegan protein powder, a banana, and sometimes I'll add spirulina or fresh kale for an extra brain boost.
But trust me, my mornings weren't always that healthy. I used to eat white bread toast with butter and sprinkled sugar on it every morning. Talk about a carb-sugar fest. And it's no surprise that back then, I struggled every morning to get into the writing mindset and get stuff done. Now, I pop right into that writing mindset every morning because I prep my brain and my body right from the get-go and I feed my body good stuff. Check out the PDF handout in the resources section of this lecture for a few quick healthy breakfast recipes that will help fuel your body and brain, so you can get the most out of your writing day.
Also, as a little side hack, I found that eating the same thing for breakfast everyday has helped trick my brain into getting into the writing zone quicker. It's similar to the hack of getting dressed in your writing clothes. Eating a writing meal also puts my brain into the writing mood. Habit and ritual are very strong mental motivators. Just like muscle memory, your brain works the same way. When you do the same thing every morning, your brain gets into that habit. So by getting dressed in my writing-only clothes and eating my writing-only meal, my brain goes, oh, it must be writing time, and it instantly gets into the writing mindset.
As long as I don't interrupt that process with distractions on my phone or computer, the flow is pretty seamless. On that same note, let's talk about caffeine. I know all of you coffee and tea lovers out there are probably going, yeah, yeah, fine, I'll eat more blueberries, but what about the coffee? Look, like I said earlier, I'm not a scientist, I'm not a doctor, I'm also not a nutritionist. I can't tell you whether or not you can have caffeine. That's a personal decision for you to make. Do I drink caffeine? Heck yeah, I drink coffee every single morning and tea throughout the rest of the day.
But here's the thing. I've actually turned my coffee drinking into another brain hack. That's right, I'm hacking my brain all over the place. In the same way that I've trained my brain to get into the writing zone with my writing outfit and writing breakfast, I've also trained my brain to get into the writing zone with coffee. When I drink coffee in the morning, something magic happens. It's like a switch has been flipped in my mind. I write fast, I write furiously. I write with passion and purpose. I write lots and lots of words in a very short amount of time.
Yes, okay, I admit. There's a chemical reaction happening from the caffeine. Sure, but there's also a brain hack going on here. The coffee is working twice as effectively because I only drink coffee when I write. That's right, I don't drink it unless I'm sitting in front of an open Word document with my latest work-in-progress on the screen. Not before I write, not as I'm making breakfast, not even as I'm walking into my office. I don't take that first sip of coffee until my laptop is open, my fingers are poised on the keys, and I'm ready to go.
The rest of the day, I drink tea. I have reserved coffee only for writing. And in doing that, I've set up a mental association with the taste and the flavor that instantly snaps my brain into writing mode. It's crazy, but it works. It works well. Not only because of the mental association I've set up, but also because when you limit how much coffee you drink, the caffeine has more of an effect on your body and brain when you do drink it. People build up tolerance to caffeine just like they do with alcohol. And the higher your tolerance, the more cups you need to feel the effects of the caffeine and the less each individual cup works.
So by only drinking coffee when I write, which usually equates to one or two cups a day, I've effectively lowered my tolerance to the caffeine, thus making each cup work better. More basic math for you. So if you're a coffee or tea drinker, I urge you to try this hack. It's incredibly effective and you will see the effects almost immediately. Well, you know, after you get over your withdrawals, of course. If coffee is your vice, try cutting back to only drinking it when you're writing. Then switch to black tea for the rest of the day to help curb your caffeine cravings.
If you're a black tea drinker, try drinking black tea only when you're writing and switch to herbal or green tea throughout the rest of the day. Make coffee and tea a special occasion. Reward yourself for sitting down to write with a cup of your favorite caffeinated beverage, whether that's a cup of coffee, a frappucino, or a steaming hot mug of tea. Bribe yourself to write. Trust me, it works. By making coffee or tea a privilege and not a right, you'll be automatically more inspired to start writing everyday, especially if it's the only way you can get your hands on that magic cup.
Is this hack difficult to implement? Is it hard to cut back on how much coffee or tea you drink a day? It certainly can be. Is it worth it though? Absolutely. Caffeine is magic, but only if you make it work for you. If you're drinking it just to get through the day, then you're not fully harnessing its magic. You're letting the caffeine control you, instead of you controlling it. So make that caffeine work for you. Wean yourself off of it. Limit your intake to when you need it to work most, a.k.a. when you're writing, and then sit back and watch the magic happen right before your eyes as the words fill up your screen.
- Tracking your daily word count
- Dressing the part
- Fueling your body and soul
- Training your brain waves
- Creating a productive workspace
- Mobile device hacks and apps for writers