Does anyone remember that scene in Fade To Black when Timbaland was playing beats for Jay-Z, and was drinking a gallon of milk and eating a sandwich at the same time on some total gluttonous fatboy shit? I can’t remember where exactly I read it (it might have actually been in that first Scratch Timbaland cover a few years back), but my understanding is that Timbaland used his bloated physique from that scene as an inspiration to get himself in shape. Now he’s a physical specimen, and what’s more, his appearance allowed him to become more marketable as an entertainer, thus his ascent as a pop rap artist himself.
I remember when Just Blaze was a relatively chunky dude, now he’s slimmed down quite a bit. Last time he and I chopped it up, I just asked him what he was doing to lose weight, and he said just eating right and doing martial arts. When I spoke to David Banner last week, he sounded more excited about his weight loss and redefined physical appearance than his actual music. Clearly, health is on people’s minds, particularly for producers.
Why? Because we spend so much time being sedentary. It’s not unlike sitting in an office somewhere for 8 hours a day, in fact being in the studio might be worse. I don’t know how everyone else works, but I keep late hours. When I’m making music, I don’t like to start working until 8-9pm. Depending on what I’m doing, I may be sitting around listening to records for a sample, I might be toying with some melodies on the keys, I could be mixing a song. Point is, I’m not doing anything physically challenging. Additionally, at some point I’m usually going to eat, and it’ll be after midnight, perhaps as late as 4pm. That’s not healthy. Then you’ve got artists in the studio, a lot of times they like to smoke and drink (I personally don’t smoke, but like to sip something from time to time, just to keep the vibe right), sometimes they toot a little something up their nose a la Lil Wayne. Hey, it’s the nature of the game. Loose atmosphere breeds loose habits.
After many years of living like this, a few months ago (March to be exact), I decided I’d had enough. Granted, I’m not someone who works till 4am and then sleeps until the afternoon. I work till 4am and I’m up at 10am the latest, earlier on days when I need to be out running around. That grind was killing me, and I could feel it in my body- I’m barely older than 26 and my back was hurting constantly. I’d ballooned to like over 250 lbs and felt like I’d die if I didn’t make a change.
I started on Dr. Ian K. Smith’s Fat Smash Diet, which is the same diet that is used on VH1′s Celebrity Fit Club. And you know what, the diet works. I’ve been on it less than 8 weeks and have dropped over 40 lbs. I run over 4 miles a day, 6-7 days a week, sometimes twice a day (work out around 7pm, and then again at midnight, depending on what time permits), and keep a very strict diet. Not only do I feel great, but I’m a lot more productive in every aspect of my life, from making music to writing to just enjoying quality “ME” time.
Now before anyone jumps into a diet and exercise regimen, I think there are some very simple things producers, and pretty much anyone, can do to keep themselves healthy without going crazy.
1) Try to start your musical workday earlier, that way you won’t be awake throughout the night and eating at late hours
2) If you do have to work through the night, snack on fruits and vegetables, not chips and soda and fried chicken wings from the chinese takeout spot around the block
3) After 2-3 hours, or whenever there is down time, leave the studio and go for a short 10-20 minute walk. There is always down time when an artist is writing or eating or hopping on myspace looking for a jumpoff. Use that time to get some exercise in.
4) Before your session starts, do some push-ups or crunches. They don’t take long and you can usually knock them out in the recording booth while nobody’s watching.
5) If you’re going to indulge in weed, liquor and other drugs, do it in moderation.
6) Try to keep yourself on a disciplined schedule for the day in terms of the time you wake up, when you eat breakfast, when you’re just relaxing, when you’re working, etc. That’ll make it easier for you to plan your meals, and then you can eat more healthy things because you’re not just ordering fast food off the cuff
7) Buy a treadmill. You already spent bazillions of dollars on music gear, why not spend another thousand dollars on a treadmill? You’d be surprised how much space you can save by condensing your production/recording set-up. Then add a treadmill to the corner of the room. Now you have no excuse not to do some cardio during the day.
8) Get some dumbbells. They’re cheap and small and are easily accessible for getting some work in while the artist is in the booth messing up his lines over and over.
9) Drink a lot of water. Water is the most overlooked part of maintaining a healthy diet. Now obviously if you don’t work out your body won’t have room for any more fluids. So if you exercise, you’ll sweat the fluids out, and you’ve got the replenish them somehow. So it becomes relatively easy to drink a gallon of water a day without thinking about it.
10) Stay away from caffeine. A little coffee in the morning doesn’t hurt, and some diet soda in the afternoon or with dinner is cool, but otherwise caffeine gives you a false sense of energy when in reality you’re still running on the same amount of energy that you had before you drank it. So you wind up even more tired in the long run. Stay away from it and let the good foods you eat supply your muscles and brain with the nutrients it needs to keep your body going in a natural way.
If you’ve got any tips, share them in the comments section and I’ll take the best ones and make a new post out of them. I think it’s important that we start taking our health as serious as our music and careers.