Every Once In A While, I Falter, Then Fall Down

Yesterday morning, I woke up to a gray sky and an even grayer mood. I grabbed a cup of coffee, started a fire in the fireplace and sat down to write.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. It’s not like this is anything new. All writers occasionally come up empty. But this was annoyingly familiar…

As I sat there, toasty warm by the fire, it occurred to me that I’d been mopey and sluggish and generally all around blah for quite some time now. I could feel the ideas in my head. They hovered in the dark, waiting, watching, seeking an escape route from the unchartered territory of my brain. But they were trapped…locked behind a month long diet of ice cream bars and Twizzlers.

I’ve been blaming my lack of ideas and glum mood on the fact that I don’t get out much or see a lot of people. But as I considered the lethargic state of my brain, I knew there could only be one explanation.

There’s no lock on the pantry or freezer doors.

Sugar is my weakness. It overloads my brain and puts every idea on permanent hold. Coupled with the fact that I’d stopped exercising in the spring because I was so busy in the yard, the over indulgence of the past couple of months had finally caught up with me.

I’m in good shape, healthy, usually mindful of what I eat and do. But every once in a while, I falter, then fall down. If I’m not careful, I end up flat on my stomach, one hand clutching an ice cream bar, the other hand filled with red Twizzlers, my nose pushed into a bowl of richly buttered popcorn.

This junk food isn’t just clogging my arteries and promising to cover my body with an extra layer of warm fat for the winter. It’s frying my brain, killing my darlings…oh, those wonderful ideas that come from the mysterious depths of our sub-conscious.

After I finished whining into my cup of java, I made a few healthful decisions. Resume those daily walks. Cut out the daily sugar and save those junk food extravaganzas for a Saturday night movie fest. Focus on those delicious brain foods – fresh vegetables, fruits, and salmon. Half a day without sugar and already, my mind is humming along and the Idea Fairy is chasing her children out into my world.

I know I’ll fall down again. It’s in my genes. My dad always knew exactly where my mom hid his favorite go-to treat, the supersized bag of chocolate chips.

So what foods make you falter, then fall? And what snacks or foods do you reply on to keep you and your brain in premium condition? Busy minds need help to stay sharp. 🙂

About Sheila Seabrook

Author of contemporary romance and women's fiction.

Posted on September 19, 2012, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. Oh Sheila, Sheila, Sheila!! Sugar is a voracious beast, isn’t it. But you already took the right steps to beat it back and take no prisoners. Yay!! For me, my guilty pleasure is usually movie popcorn. I walk into the theatre and start to salivate. Fortunately we don’t go to the movies very often. 😉

  2. Sugar makes me so tired! I call any big sugary treat by the name of Ambien (the sleeping pill). 🙂

    • Great name, Coleen. I used to buy those dried apples because I thought they were a good, healthy snack. But every time I ate them, I wanted to sleep. I finally discovered that it’s caused by the chemicals they add when drying them or preserving them. So now they’re off my treat list … forever. 🙂

  3. Oh, Sheila, I am so bad. I eat a bit of chocolate every day. And yesterday-oh dear-I had key lime cheesecake. A good cause: to celebrate my birthday with a friend. Right now, I feel fat. LOL.

  4. Sheila, you’re preaching to the choir here! I have to be chewing on something while I write. Lately, it’s been kettle corn. Of courses, today I couldn’t button my jeans. ;( Back to chewing gum .

    Exercise is my way of unlocking my moody muse. I try to work out every morning and I find that I’m a lot more productive when I do.

    Don’t beat yourself up too badly, we all fall down. It’s the getting back up that is remarkable. Congratulations on being remarkable today! 🙂

    • Tracy, I read somewhere about a study that compared people who chewed gum to those who didn’t. During the test, they discovered that those chewing gum were sharper and more productive than the people who weren’t.

  5. What Tracy said at the end! Getting back up is what’s remarkable!

  6. Sheila, as an Italian I can relate to the issue of carbs clogging the brain and the arteries. I find that when I have a diet free of these, I have more energy and have less “lows.”

    When my daughter was younger, I always knew when she had too much sugar after school. She’d first get hyper and then depressed.

    The high and then the zap and then the terrible lows.

    Good for you tht you at least recognize this problem. Take extra B-complex vitamins while you’re also dedoxing off the junk. B-complex are stress relief for a good reason. AT that “time” of the month or whenever you falter, try to combine them with the good foods. Also, beware of the natural high gluclose in fruits. Green vegies and low fat proteins will help you to get your real highs on track. Good luck and feel better 🙂

    • B-complex is part of my daily regimen, Florence, which is probably a good thing, huh? Imagine the low I might have hit if I hadn’t been taking it. Yikes! 🙂 Hmmm, those low fat proteins would include eggs, right? And eggs are filling, too. I’m never hungry after I’ve eaten an egg.

  7. Hi, Sheila! Now that Ginger Calem has commented and left the room, I can confess that I haven’t completely eliminated sugar from my diet, but I’ve cut way back. If
    only I could do the
    same with cheese, aka
    my precious-s-s.

  8. I’m back! The comment box wasn’t cooperating with me earlier. It probably disapproves of cheese. Anyway, I wanted to say you’re right to resume exercising (although yard work counts as exercise). I’m doing pretty well on the exercise front. I can’t say cutting down on sugar and making time for exercise have made me a better story teller, but the muse can’t say my clothes are too tight.

    • Okay, now we can talk freely. 🙂 Melted cheese on tacos. Yummm. And I agree, Pat, yard work does count on exercise. Anyone who has lugged around watering cans full of water, dug out trees and bushes, planted new trees and bushes, and spent hours bent over at the waist pulling weeds knows how much exercise we get from gardening. It’s when we stop all those gardening tasks and sit in front of the computer for hours without moving cause we’ve forgotten that walking exists is when it starts to catch up with us.

      Yay on the well fitting clothes!

  9. You are so slim I don’t think a mini cheat once in a while would hurt. Sugar creeps back into my diet every time I get deep into writing and I’m nervous about being able to do it well. Especially since I’ve given up coffee. So I sympathize big time.

    • It’s not the weight that concerns me, Alicia. Fortunately, I don’t gain weight very easily. But the sugar affects the brain cells I need to write and unfortunately, it’s never just a little “sweet”. I always overdo it. 🙂

  10. I get this! If eat sugar in the morning, I crave it all day and can’t stop. Then I have a sugar hangover the next day. I just have to avoid it altogether. I don’t know how anyone can function without coffee, though. It’s one of the things that make life worth living!

    • Ditto on the coffee, Lark. I love it, but only drink it in the morning, otherwise I don’t sleep at night. And I guess that eating sugar in the morning creates a craving for the rest of the day. I never realized that before, but it makes perfect sense. Thanks for the help. 🙂

  11. I don’t eat anything with sugar in it, so that’s not an issue. but carbs from grains are just as bad for me. yikes – I have to stay away from all of them

  12. I think I fall down more than I get back up LOL. Sugar is my bane! Especially Mtn Dew. My babystep to doing better is to limit myself to one can/day.

    • As you can see, it’s mine too, Jennette. 🙂 If all you have is one can of pop a day, that’s far better than binging, then cutting it out, only to — months later — binge again. Maybe Vicki Batman’s “bit of chocolate every day” is the trick to overcoming the cravings.

  13. Sugar is the enemy. It waits in the darkness, laughing evilly, while all kinds of Carbs get all the blame…

    • Lol, Natalie. We put it away in the dark pantry or basement, but it calls to us, taunts us with its deliciousness. 🙂 Whenever my husband comes home with a bag of chocolate covered almonds, I tell him he has to hide it from me. No good putting it out of sight in the pantry because it just calls my name….

  14. Oh how I love sugary sweets, too! I’m one half totally healthy and one half totally not. Brownies, ice cream, cookies, chocolate–many sugar will do! 🙂

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