Don Braden is an advocate for healthful living. He firmly believes that central to maximizing the quality of your music and life is to take excellent care your health. His own experiences, experimentation and research have helped him develop clear strategies and tactics that help him maintain high energy for the joys and challenges of life's journey. See below for some ideas; experiment and see what works for you!
Resources for Healthy, Strong Living for Musicians
The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success explains why relatively easy decisions – taking the stairs, ordering the salad – lead to big results in your life
Based on years of research and experimentation, I recommend the following four ideas:
1) Maintain a lifelong health-priority mindset
2) Understand that every healthy choice has a positive effect
3) Develop a set of practices to stick with consistently, at home and on the road
4) Embrace the power of teamwork
A health-priority mindset means energizing your mind to feel strong and healthy 24/7, and embracing the joy and power of that feeling. Being weak is no fun, and being strong is awesome! It also guides daily choices like taking the stairs and not the elevator, walking instead of standing on the escalator or moving sidewalk, skipping the french fries and ordering salad or baked potato, selecting brown rice over white, or getting up a few minutes earlier to do calisthenics. You can train your mind by setting clear health goals. Then take actions to support those goals: visualize (imagine how you want to look and feel), enact mental/verbal affirmations (“I am strong!”), read solid health information, and engage with inspiring people. Naturally, feeding your body excellent food also invigorates your mind as well!
Understanding the power of each choice means you can start health-positive actions right now, regardless of your current condition, and gradually get stronger and healthier. Even small actions help. You achieve the goal of doing 10 (or 100) push-ups a day by starting with one push-up – then keep going!
Developing healthy practices that stick involves knowing yourself and being able to distinguish the things you actually love from those to which you are addicted. It also involves knowing what motivates you, and understanding your personal process for building new habits. The right diet or exercise plan – the one to which you would actually commit – can be very helpful. Most importantly, it involves keeping your daily activities consistent with your life and health goals. All these things require self-reflection, discipline, and solid information about healthy, strong living.
Embracing the power of teamwork means that interacting with the right people can be great for your health and fitness. In general, humans are far more effective in pairs or groups than alone, just like on the bandstand. Find a workout partner or class, a fellow health-conscious musician, a mentor or mentee, someone to cook or shop with, etc. – you will motivate each other. If you fear lack of discipline in yourself, which is common, find the right teammates!
Check out this insightful article describing the benefits of HIIT (high intensity interval training), and how it compares to standard cardio work.
Eating on the Road
The key to healthful eating on the road is preparation and knowing which foods travel well. I usually carry a small dedicated food bag when I travel, and every day I stock it with whatever healthy stuff I can find: apples, nuts, boiled eggs (in the shell), carrot and celery sticks. Many transport hubs now have decent packaged salads, “protein mixes” of nuts and cheese, and other good options. While I don’t recommend protein bars (most have too many chemicals and sugar), I usually keep a couple of Kind or GoMacro bars handy in case everything else runs out. I usually bring a water bottle (stainless steel is the safest -- avoid plastic), and refill it.
Exercising on the Road
The key to staying fit on the road is realizing that even small actions help. Any travel day can be approached “actively” – for example take the stairs, or carry your bag instead of rolling it. A morning walk before breakfast is a great way to start the day. Basic calisthenics can be done in any hotel room, and almost all hotels have stairs. Many have either their own fitness rooms or a deal with a local fitness center.