Monday, June 18, 2012

Carbs for the Runner's Body and the Writer's Mind

Carbohydrates provide fuel for the body needed for physical exercise. Cut the carbs and you’ll run out of gas on your long runs. Eat them and you’ll run faster and burn more calories. But the key is to eat the right carbs at the right time. White bread, bagels and energy gels can give you a quick energy boost before a workout and will help you from hitting the wall during a long run. But beyond that, they offer little benefit and only add calories you don’t need.  

The best sources of carbohydrates are—fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.

ü  Start the day with whole grains. If you like hot cereals, try oatmeal. If you're a cold cereal person, look for one that lists whole wheat or whole grain first on the ingredient list. A bowl of oatmeal fills my stomach and gives me energy for a morning run.

ü  For snacks or lunch use whole grain breads and don’t forget to add a protein like chicken, turkey or hardboiled eggs.

ü  Instead of potatoes, try brown rice. That’s a hard one for me because I’ve always loved white rice.

ü  If you like pasta, pick up some whole wheat pasta. Again, whole wheat is not my first choice, but I’m slowly coming around.

ü  And go for the beans, an excellent source of slowly digested carbohydrates and protein. Does that include green beans?  Yes, but Southern style cooked in bacon grease? Nah! I do have fond memories of sitting on the porch with my grandmother snapping beans.  Oh, well, I digress.

Now that you’ve got carbs and quick energy for your body, what about your writer’s mind? What fuels you so you can think creatively and find your way through problems in your work-in-progress? What do you do when you know your pacing is off, when your characters are misbehaving, or you’re not feeling the emotion of the scene? Step back, take a deep breath, and pull a resource book off the shelf. Go back to the basics (whole wheat and green vegetables).

What are your favorites? Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain. My copy is highlighted in yellow and pink with multi-colored tabs sticking out the sides like fringe. The pages explaining a motivation-reaction unit are all yellow. I remember the day that concept clicked for me. Swain says, “Our world would turn topsy-turvy indeed if the teacher first jumped and cried out . . . then sat on the tack!”

Although I’ve read and reread the book dozens of times, I can always find a piece of advice that propels my writing forward. Swain says, “A writer can work at his craft for twenty years, yet continue to discover something new each day.” If I’m not learning, I’m not growing. Just like if I don’t run, I can’t get stronger or faster.

I have 30-40 craft books, and I’ve read most of them cover to cover. I have a Pinterest board showing several of them. Like most authors, in the beginning, I struggled with point of view and head-hopped with the best of them. The Power of Point of View by Alicia Rasley set me straight, as did Debra Dixon's  Goal, Motivation & Conflict. I really struggled with defining my heroine’s goals and motivation until I read her book. I highly recommend all the books on my board. Carbs! They are all good carbs.

What are you feeding your mind and body today? Good carbs, I hope.

Happy writing and running, and enjoy your oatmeal! Kathy

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