Six tips for a healthy lifestyle - from rock stars who’d know

Music producer Mark Ronson says he tries to get outdoors as much as he can.
Music producer Mark Ronson says he tries to get outdoors as much as he can.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Once upon a time, the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle was the exclusive preserve of, well, rockers. Nowadays, more and more people are living out of airports and hotels, working late into the night and eating on the run, says Gabrielle Francis, a naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, acupuncturist and massage therapist who’s toured with some of the biggest bands in the world. “Just about everyone’s living an extreme lifestyle,” says Francis, author of “The Rockstar Remedy: A Rock & Roll Doctor’s Prescription for Living a Long, Healthy Life.”

Here, she and her clients share six backstage-tested ways to switch from excess to success.

Nail the 90/10 rule

Aiming to radically overhaul your lifestyle is a recipe for failure, Francis says. That’s why she created “the Rule.” “Ten percent of the time you do what you want — as long as you make healthy choices the other 90%,” she explains. “I’m not fanatical in my diet by any means,” writes Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro in the book. “I try and stay away from ... sugars, and dairy products. But I will indulge, like the occasional pizza or In-N-Out burger, from time to time.”


Rock the sheets

You don’t have to be Sting to have a legendary sex life. The surprising secret? Sleep. “Two of the most common symptoms of burnout are erectile dysfunction and low libido,” Francis says. “I was on tour with a reggae musician who was self-medicating his stress. ... It was causing problems not only with his libido but with his sperm count, and he and his queen were having difficulty getting pregnant. After nixing the weed in favor of herbs, meditation and bed rest, he got his mojo back” and, nine months later, a baby.

Trip out on healthy food

“You don’t have to bag your health just because you’re traveling,” Francis says. Actor Adrian Grenier teamed with his business partner, Peter Glatzer, to create an app called Food Tripping to help people find healthful food while on the road. “The options range from healthy, local, and smaller establishments to mom-and-pop joints off the beaten path,” he writes.

Walk on the sunny side

“The benefit of 20 to 30 minutes of sun exposure per day — sans sunscreen and sunglasses — includes loads of vitamin D, which bolsters immunity, balances hormones, activates melatonin and serotonin,” Francis says. “It’s Mother Nature’s Prozac.” DJ and producer Mark Ronson, for one, is a convert. “I’ve spent most of my life inside nightclubs or dark recording studios,” he writes. Nowadays, “I try and go outside as much as I can.”

Love is the drug

“Love increases oxytocin, which is a natural narcotic that raises endorphins,” Francis says. That’s why musicians bring their families on tour. “I used to go on the road by myself and it was lonely and disorienting,” writes singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin. If you can’t take a loved one on your next business trip, try looking up from your smart phone. “I see all these people texting and typing,” says producer Mark Batson, who’s worked with Jay Z and Eminem. “You can learn so much by having a physical conversation with another human being.”


Never neglect your solo act

“I’m my biggest fan, and if more people were their biggest fans, we’d take better care of ourselves,” writes songwriter Lydia Lunch. Adds Navarro, “We tell ourselves, ‘Once I reach a certain level of success, then I’ll feel happy.’ When those goals are reached, [we realize,] ‘Wait a minute, this doesn’t make me happy.’ The key is to make that connection and do something before the side effects occur.” Hole rocker Courtney Love chants twice a day. “That’s critical to me,” she writes. “I do total silence for 10 minutes right after a show,” writes Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee. As for Grammy winner Eve, “Sometimes I’ll just turn on music and dance. I love dancing, and it’s all about the stuff you love.”

Claire Coghlan blogs at The Alchemy of Truth.