Get on the Road to a Healthier Lifestyle
10 Wise Tips to Feel and Perform Your Best
Erin Cizek, RD, LD
1. Take time to take care of yourself.
Your health is important! While you may be thinking about a million things as you roam the globe, your body is keeping track of how well you are taking care of it. The choices you make every day affect how you feel, how you perform, and your risk for developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Making time to eat well, engage in physical activity, get some rest (including vocal rest), and reduce stress can greatly impact your health and performance as well as how you interact with the world. For vocalists, wise lifestyle choices play an extremely important role in preserving your voice.
2. Know your numbers.
Do you know your cholesterol levels? When is the last time you had your blood pressure checked?
These numbers are the body’s warning signs to make some changes. Ignoring these warning signs can lead to chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, which the World Health Organization determined to be among the 10 leading causes of death in the world.
Some important numbers to know include: LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”), HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”), triglycerides, total cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, and blood pressure.
3. Address existing health conditions.
If left untreated, existing health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux, and prediabetes continue to harm the body. Not only can these conditions make you feel rundown and prevent you from doing what you enjoy, they can lead to very serious health conditions that may be irreversible. Addressing these conditions as soon as possible can stop and may reverse damage to the body.
If you need to make some lifestyle changes, setting up a support system may be helpful. Someone who will provide encouragement, eat good food with you, or reliably workout with you can help make these changes part of your daily life.
4. Enjoy your food!
Food, like music, appeals to our senses and creativity. Through both food and music, we can experience the diverse cultures of the world. Like a song, food can transport you back to a specific moment in time, remind you of a special person, or just feel like home.
Understanding how to balance meals and snacks to meet your needs can help you fit a variety of foods into your lifestyle. Consuming a variety of foods is important to obtaining key nutrients that promote good health.
5. Fit food into your schedule.
Think about the time you go to sleep and wake up. If you live the 9 to 5 schedule, a 6pm dinner and a 9pm snack may be the last food of your day. If you are going to sleep at 3am after playing a gig, you are going to need some food and fluid after that gig to refuel your body.
6. Manage music performance anxiety (MPA).
If you experience music performance anxiety that affects your appetite, skipping a meal or snack before a show could cause you to run out of energy during the show.
Pre-performance foods and the timing for consuming these foods should be determined based on individual needs. This will help maximize your energy throughout the show and decrease the risk of gastrointestinal problems.
7. Engage in regular physical activity.
What can regular physical activity do for you? We all know physical activity strengthens muscles and helps with weight management. However, regular physical activity offers many additional benefits.
If you have difficulty sleeping, engaging in physical activity may help you to fall asleep and improve your quality of sleep. Improving the quality of your sleep can help you feel more rested throughout the day.
Some additional benefits of regular physical activity include: relieving stress, boosting energy, maintaining strong bones, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
8. Aim for at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Fruits and veggies blah, blah, blah… You’ve heard this ad nauseam, but your mom was right.
Fruits and veggies are packed with important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals all working together to help keep you well inside and out. However, this does not mean you’ve been sentenced to a plate of carrot and celery sticks every day.
You can easily add veggies to foods like burritos, pizza, omelets, pasta salad, and fajitas. Guacamole, sweet potatoes, and choosing marinara sauce in place of cream sauce are also great ways to help you get your daily dose of fruits and veggies. For something sweet, you can toss some fruit in your oatmeal; make a fruit and yogurt parfait; or dip berries into melted dark chocolate.
9. Read and understand food labels.
Before tearing into that package of cheesy poofs, check out the food label to see what you are about to feed your body.
Food labels can be confusing, but understanding how to read food labels helps you determine if a food item fits your specific health and nutritional needs. You can also use food labels to compare similar items such as different types of cereals to determine the best one to meet your needs.
When reading a food label, remember to look at the serving size listed on the package and adjust the calories and nutrient quantities to reflect the actual portion you will consume. Also, check out the ingredient list to make sure the ingredients fit your specific health and nutritional needs. The ingredients are listed in descending order by weight with the greatest amounts listed first.
10. Be informed about dietary supplements and obtain information from credible sources.
You may take dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, and amino acids, but how much do you know about the supplements you are taking?
Dietary supplements, frequently packaged as pills, powders, beverages, and bars, can be beneficial. For example, someone who does not consume enough calcium regularly may take calcium and vitamin D supplements to maintain strong bones. However, not all supplements are safe or effective. Too much of a supplement can be harmful and the long-term effects may be unknown. Some supplements can cause side effects or interact with medications or other supplements.
If you depend on your voice, be aware that some supplements may dry out the vocal folds or increase the risk of vocal fold hemorrhage. A registered dietitian or other health care provider who specializes in care for music professionals should be able to provide information about the safety and effectiveness of supplements for your specific needs.