Monday, September 22, 2014

Get Healthy Kickstarter

As some of you know, I am a musician.  I sing in three bands ( Ed Force One, Styx & Stones, and Maxxxwell Carlisle).  As you may be aware, musicians don't tend to live the healthiest of lifestyles.  There's a lot of alcohol, pot and other drugs, late nights, fast food/junk food, and other risky behavior.  I'm kind of an anomaly in the industry, since I don't do any of the above, other than the late nights (when I have a show) part.

In the last month or so, I have seen at least 5 of my comrades in music be hospitalized or killed by heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues.  I have, over the months and years, seen several more felled by strokes and liver and kidney damage.  I've watched friends of mine with lifestyle-related type 2 diabetes get sicker and sicker due to their refusal to change their habits.  I know of several whose inactivity and extra weight gives them pain so intense that doing every day things like picking up amplifiers-- or playing with their kids and pets-- becomes virtually impossible.

It hurts me deeply to watch it all happening.  I feel helpless and afraid for them.  I went so far as to offer free nutrition classes for anyone who wanted them, but only three people mentioned any interest.

Here's some things I know about the psychology of getting healthy:

1)  Nagging people about it usually causes pushback.
2)  Most people know that they *should* do something, but don't really know what to do.
3)  People get very, very attached to their bad habits, and can, at times, be afraid to let go of them.
4)  Unless someone really wants to change, change will not happen, no matter how badly that person knows they need it. 

And so I have decided to put together this little kickstarter for those who want to change, but need some direction.  For reasons of simplicity, I am leaving out the sciency stuff that I usually put in, but I'm providing links to more in-depth information if people want it, and would be happy to provide more science if anyone wants it.  I also want to leave the comments section open to anyone who has questions.  It'll be like an ongoing Q & A for those who want it, and I will do my best to stay on top of answering questions in a timely manner.

I hope this helps at least one person.  Please feel free to share it with anyone you think might benefit.  My goal is to save lives.  I cannot bear to see one more colleague drop long before their time.

^ This should NOT lead to...



1) THERE IS NO QUICK FIX.   Going on crash diets, "cleanses," taking pills, and so on might work in the short term (all of them reduce calories, which causes weight loss), but don't provide lasting results, and could really harm your health.  Furthermore, these things are not sustainable.  What ends up happening is you lose some weight, then go off the diet, go back to your old habits, and start the cycle all over again.  Yo-yo dieting wreaks havoc on your system, and with time it will be more and more difficult to lose the weight again.  YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE, and it has to be done in a way that is sustainable for you. 

2)  Set goals.  You need your long-term goal ("lose my gut," "no more back and knee pain," "lower my cholesterol and blood pressure" are some examples), but you also need tangible short-term goals.  These are little goals you can reach within a 2 to 3 week period.  So, for instance, if you want to "lose your gut," what might you do to make that happen?  Your plan might look like this:

Weeks 1-3:  No more soda and juice; cut down alcohol to weekends only (2 drinks/day)
Weeks 3-6:  No more fast food
Weeks 6-9:  Dessert/sweets only one meal per week
Weeks 9-12:  Walk or run 30 min/day
Weeks 12-15:  Eat veggies with every meal
Weeks 15-18:  Start weightlifting 3x/week

And so on.  Once one healthy habit has been solidified in your routine, you add the next one.  That way, you don't overwhelm yourself by doing it all at once.  

I highly recommend writing your goals down and holding yourself accountable to them.  Post them on your fridge or somewhere you'll see them several times per day.  Post them in more than one place!  Be honest with yourself about your progress, and figure out how to get support where you need it.

-Coconut oil, bacon, and butter are not magical health foods
-Just because someone is a doctor does NOT mean that person is qualified to give you nutritional advice.

3)  Stay active.  Sitting may be the worst thing you can do for your health, even if you get in a workout at some point during the day.  Stand up and move your body as much as possible throughout the day.  Break up your day with walks, squats, lunges, pushups, and so on.   

4)  Tell your friends, co-workers, family, or whoever you spend your time with what you are trying to do.  Ask them for their support.  If they cannot support you, you're going to need to distance yourself from them during meals.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of surrounding yourself with people who want to see you healthy and help you get there.  If you still choose to spend your time with people who don't support your efforts to get healthy, you are going to need to have enough willpower to avoid doing what they're doing, eating what they're eating, drinking what they're drinking (more on this here).

5)  Get enough sleep.  A lot of people do not realize how important getting enough sleep is.  It is important for your hormones, your recovery, your sanity, your heart, and more.  Aim for 7-8 hours per night, or whatever is *truly* right for your body (as opposed to what you have forced your body to become accustomed to).  (More on this here.)

6)  You can't get completely healthy by *only* exercising or *only* changing your food.   You need both parts of the equation. 

This should give you a good head start.  Please post any questions you might have about anything you're confused about.  I will help you and support you to the best of my abilities.  But please, please-- care enough about yourself to take care of your body.  It means a lot to more people than you could possibly realize. 


  1. Well I didn't know you were a singer too! Snap :)

    It is sad, I've seen too many of my muso friends hospitalised and not looking after themselves. Thankfully there is a change in culture going on here in the UK. More and more of my metal pals are not only performing metal but lifting lots of heavy metal too and it warms the heart to see them take an active interest in their health. and as result more and more post on my sites asking for information about diet and exercise, and how to incorporate that into their touring etc.

    Great post, as always, Melody. x

    1. That is so great to hear, Krissie. I hope some of that energy comes over here to my music friends. :)

  2. I am just starting on my journey and my biggest obstacle is pain. I've done physio and I've tried anti-inflammatory medications but it doesn't seem to help. I work-out = I hurt. even if I don't push it. Someone suggested my diet was to blame, do you know anything about that? (PS i do not have arthritis but it is not just muscle pain, I know muscle pain vs joint pain as I used to be a gymnast)

    1. Diet could be a big contributor. An anti-inflammatory diet can do great things if your problem is due to inflammation. However, it could be a lot of things-- you might have some misalignments, you might have fibromyalgia, or a host of other things. Have you been checked out?