Are You A Healthy Producer?

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.

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  • AdotRobles

    Timbo was actually drinking water and eating a banana…

    • Deez Nutz

      Please tell me that he did not start off this blog with a completely wrong premise…you should be working at the LA Times or some shyt

  • thoreauly77

    this is a great post, and definitely not just for producers. these are fantastic suggestions, but if you are like me, you need structure; it is not enough to simply say, “i will now eat better and exercise.” in other words, actually make a fitness plan. with any plan you should have a strategy, which begins with a goal. perhaps your goal is “increased strength and flexibility” or “lose 30 pounds”. after that, decide which kinds of exercises suit your goal. next, see how you can incorporate an exercise regiment into your lifestyle; IOW, use a graphic organizer (calendar, graph, electronic organizer, etc) to create a schedule. stick to your schedule and have your diet sufficiently meet your exercise regiment; IOW, do not cut out carbohydrates if you plan on increasing your cardio. but never, ever, EVER start drinking light beer.

  • Pierzy

    Good work on this. I remember watching “Fade to Black” and being like, “Damn, Timbo can barely move his arms he’s so big!”

  • Neven

    I drink green tea mostly it helps with your metabolisms…… and hot tea is good for burning fat and cleaning toxins from your body…………… keep away from the red meats and fatty fish (boiled or steamed chicken the best)………… eat raw veggies with skins for nutrients …………. stay away from sauces (i know they give it flavor) ……….. I like to use cayenne pepper gives your food extra kick without the extra salts and sugars……………Stay away from fake foods like margarine and diet anything. the man made products usually have more trans fats …………….more importantly if you really want to lose those pounds eat more often during the day but small amounts. Instead of 3 eat 6 meals a day and include more fruits and nuts the nutrients in apples and cashews will keep you feeling full without the extra fat and if you constantly eat then your metabolism keeps working for you and your body doesn’t store any sugars or fats……….

  • render

    Practical life advice instead of meaningless gossip and bullshit on

    Is Bol gonna start writing about bond diversification next?

  • Yayza

    Like a lot of things in life, working towards being more healthy has a lot to do with willpower. A lot of the time you may not want to excercise, eat right, etc. but sometimes you have to force yourself to do those things, especially if you’re not used to doing them in the first place. Another thing I find is that if I have certain unhealthy foods at home, I will eat them no matter what, even if I know they’re bad for me, simply because they taste so damn good. In such cases, I find you have to surround yourself only with healthy foods. If you only have water to drink, you’ll eventually bite the bullet and forget about that pop you wanted.

  • N DOT C

    This is the best post I’ve seen in a loooonngg time. It couldn’t happen at a better time when everybody is all depressed, recession, problems, blah, blah, blah… I look forward to reading more

    N DOT C

  • ri067953

    Yo, this is not a new concept. Just like the idea of a producer creating a brand is not a new concept. Yeah, Im hating on Gooch. When I was in recording school a few years ago, I found out that a lot of lab rats had to work out because of long hours in the studio. If you sit, drink and smoke and eat all day in the studio, you gonna blow up and I ain’t talking money wise. Yo, could you imagine the studio sessions with Timbo and Missy? They probably had mad crumbs all over the console.

  • David

    I’m a fat ass producer but I keep my studio clean.

  • Shawty J

    The only thing in their that I really disagree with is the “no caffeine” rule. Most medical and fitness magazines recommend taking controlled dosages of caffeine at the beginning of the day and pre-workout, because caffeine blocks fat build up.

  • connor

    I feel real cold for saying this, but I do think Tim’s output was way more consistent when he was fatter. Granted, Cartoon Weightlifter Timbo ((c) Breihan) is still damn good, but now that he is not of monstrous size he is clearly itching to be in everybody’s video, which makes him want to do more hooks, which is a baaad idea.

    Also, Gooch, kudos to you for four miles a day. Gulliness.

  • Zilla Rocca


    To jump in late, this is probably the BEST blog post on XXL outside of Noz.

    I ran into this problem a year ago, and what I did was pretty basic:

    -Cut out sugar from my diet or only consume is occassionally (no soda, no ice cream, no Frosted Flakes or kiddie cereal, no pop tarts, etc)
    -Eat AT LEAST 1 piece of fruit and one vegetable a day (bananas and Fiji apples are the shit…romaine, chopped celery, tomatoes)
    -Walk 3 times a week (about 12 miles) and use a stair master twice a week (you can burn about 450 calories in 45 minutes!)
    -Cut down on beer–that’s alot of empty carbs and it dehydrates you while killing your energy. Only drink 1-2 a week at the absolute MOST
    -Play Nintendo Wii. On days I don’t feel like leaving the house or it’s too hot/cold outside, I do Wii fitness for at least a half hour. Boxing, tennis, and baseball are awesome workouts.
    -Order smaller portions if you get takeout. You don’t need 44 oz of Mountain Dew or 2 lbs of french fries. You’d be surprised how filling small sized meals are if you eat them SLOWLY
    -If you’re going to indulge on pizza/ice cream/beer/fried food, make sure you follow up with lots of water to rehydrate.

    Anyway, I’m glad you’re using your platform to help hip hoppers improve their health. Much respect!

  • dynamicwayne

    Wow wish I would have read this a few years ago lol