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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pinterest Repin

15-minute workout

My daughter and I did this last week...this should not be attempted if you need to be moving from the sitting to standing position numerous times the following day.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Seagull

Yesterday after a long walk on the beach, my husband stopped to wash off his feet in a pool of water, because he is the sort that likes everything just so,and dislikes getting sand between his toes and his sandals. Never mind that's why sandals are called sandals--so they can be sandy. Larry placed his sandals next to the pool of water and stooped down to wash his feet. While he was hunched over, a seagull flew overhead and pooped right beside him. The poop splattered onto his hair. As much as Larry dislikes sand between his toes, he dislikes seagull poop in his hair even more. He quickly forgot about his sandy toes, and went into the surf to rinse out his hair. His hair was now poop-free, but wet. When it dried it was stiff with salt and every time I  looked at him I wanted to laugh, again, because it was impossible to look at his funky hair and not remember his look of shock when the poop hit. (Mean, I know.)

Yesterday was a reminder that even when you try to do everything just right, a seagull might bomb by and just maybe you'll have to spend the rest of the afternoon with stiff, funky hair. And how maybe you work really hard to get your toes sand free, thinking that this is important, until  you have poop in your hair and the sand between your toes just doesn't matter anymore.

Life is like that. We were in Oceanside at sunset and the sky was pinky orange and the clouds were huge and there was a band playing on the pier and children laughing and splashing in the water, and a collection of shells and pebbles at our feet and all the world seemed perfect, until the seagull came by. But there will be always seagulls. Maybe laughing isn't mean. Maybe it's the very best thing to do.

What does this have to do with a healthy life-style? Pretty much everything. For one thing, laughing is good for you. According to health web MD, "Laughter stretches muscles, burns calories and produces a natural energy booster." And for another, poop happens. Everyday something unhealthfully delicious walks in my door. Whether it’s a friend’s birthday celebration, or a t-ball player selling candy bars, or a girl scout selling cookies, or guy outside his restaurant passing out free samples, (do I really need to go on?) most of us here in the prosperous US  live a life of super abundance.
We have the counter-challenge of excess. Those who are struggling for food would laugh when we call abundance a curse, but isn’t it? Without excess we wouldn’t have obesity, alcoholism, drug addictions, hoarders (I could go on.) Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a magic train where we could stash all of our extra calories and send them to those who need them? Why can’t we bundle up all that we don’t need and ship it to countries starved by draught or strapped by greedy governments? Wouldn’t that be better than wearing our excess around our bums or stuffing it into spandex?
But I don’t have a magic train and I do have spandex. The challenge is to stay lean, mean and yet still be able to laugh when the seagulls bomb by.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Nutritarian Conversion

It’s been a little less than a month since I started dieting and I’ve lost five pounds. Which is great. My goal was to lose five pounds a month and that’s what happened. I started out with the daily goal of eating fifteen hundred calories and burning four hundred calories through exercise. For the first week, this worked. I lost weight…but the second week—not so much. Even though I was doing pretty much the same thing. I think the problem was that when I started it was raging hot and I would come home from my run dripping with sweat and weigh myself before showering and the next week, not as hot, not as sweaty and not as much weight loss.

So, I tweaked it. I read Dr Furhman’s book, Eat to Live and decided to become a nutritarian. A few years ago I had a tooth problem and for about two weeks I wasn’t able to chew. I lived on soup and realized that I really didn’t love or need meat. Cutting down on meat has been easy for me. I miss cookies, but the beauty of the nutritarian diet is I’m able to eat 1,000 calories of whatever a week. I try to save my calorie splurges for Sunday desserts and eat mostly vegetables and fruit and some whole grains during the week. This is working for me.

Since my nutritarian conversion, I have far less mood swings (that are so typical of women of a certain age) and no longer need an afternoon nap. The five pounds on the scale seems like an insignificant bonus in comparison. Maybe soon I'll decide another tweaking is in order, but for right now I'm happily grilling zucchini and making cauliflower soup.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What's for Lunch

One week into my diet or die program and I’m down four pounds. Which is pretty fabulous. Unless you consider that I’m actually up one pound from where I was at the beginning of the summer. Sigh. And yesterday was such a crazy day that my lunch was basically trail mix, eaten in a car on a freeway in northern San Diego county and dinner was sugar free banana bread eaten in a car on a freeway in central Orange county. But today is another day and another opportunity to eat lunch.

Here’s a few of my lunch time favorites.

Add 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth to one package of frozen, puréed frozen vegetables. Blend until smooth. Top with grated pepper jack cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Croutons optional.  (Isn’t the color nice?) serves 2 
About 100 calories

Mean Bean Green salad
Top 2 cups of torn greens with 1 cup bean salad, 1 strip of crumbled bacon, a dash of parmesan cheese. Dressing, 1 tsp. Ranch dressing mixed with juice from the bean salad. Feel free to add extra vegetables.
About 150 calories. This is the bean salad I love and use.

Chicken and Apple salad
Top 2 cups torn greens with a grilled chicken breast. Add craisins, a chopped apple or pear, and a strip of bacon.
About 150 calories

Mandarin and Spinach salad
Top 2 cups spinach with ½ cup of mandarin orange sections. Add avocado slices. Sprinkle with slivered almonds. Dressing: juice from orange can, balsamic vinegar and touch of olive oil. Add grilled chicken or shrimp or scallops.
About 100 calories (without meat)

And those are all better choices than this:

160 calories a 1/4 cup

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Exercise Friends with Fur

This is Sandy and Grendal. Grendal and I run on my off gym days and we walk with Nancy and Sandy in the canyon on Saturday mornings. Sandy and Grendal are good friends, but Sandy, by virtue of his size and sex, gets to walk a little ahead of Grendal.

Nancy and I met more than twenty-five years ago when we both lived in Connecticut. She lived in Norwalk and I lived in Darien—about ten minutes apart—but we attended the same church. Back then Nancy and I met at the church to walk because Connecticut winters are darn cold. And wet. We’d leave our children playing with the toys in the nursery and do laps around the halls, peeking in at our children as we passed. (And yes, we had permission and keys, but we didn’t have dogs.) Our children have long outgrown the nursery, and many dogs have come and gone, but Nancy and I continue to walk.

Maybe someday we’ll be doing laps around the halls of a nursing home.

Friday, September 14, 2012

20 Tools for Change

I’m talking about changing your diet, but also, a little, about changing your life. For both, you need to change your habits. First, let’s look at the tools you can buy.

1.  Good exercise clothes and shoes. What this means: shoes that fit well. Socks that last. Bras that do their job and do it well. Shorts/pants that stay where they should and don’t creep into forbidden territory. Clothes that wick sweat. Hair ties.

2.   Sunscreen

3.  Portable motivating music

4.   A tape measure

5.  A journal to record your success

6.  A calorie counter

7.  A food scale

8. Measuring cups

9.  Lots of vegetables

10.  An insulated water bottle

Now here are the things that money can’t buy.

1. Support from people who love you

2. A healthy kitchen free of temptations. (If you happen to be in close quarters with someone who insists on stashing trash, give them their own cupboard or drawer in the fridge. Always use a cuss word when referring to this cupboard or refrigerator drawer. I generally don’t advocate cussing, but in this instance it’s highly recommended. If swearing isn’t your style, you might consider the terms poopy pantry or kakka cupboard.)

3. An exercise buddy (or two)

4. A good night’s sleep and naps when needed

5. A plan for resisting temptation (more on this later)

      6. An action plan (also discussed later)

7. Kind comebacks and retorts for those who try to tempt you or belittle your attempts (Do not be surprised when this happens, because it will. You might be tempted to refer to these people by the same slur you assign to the pantry or cupboard. Don’t do that. Be nice, even when others aren’t as kind.)

8. Dietary know how

9. Recognition of your triggers (more on this)

10. Meal plans


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Diet or Die, Day One

Here's my goal--to lose fifteen pounds by December 15.
Here's the game plan . Eat four 400 calorie (or less) meals a day and burn at least 400 calories exercising.

6:30 a.m. Ran/walked 4 miles. For me, that equals about 400 calories.

 8 a.m. Breakfast - about 170 calories

12:40 Lunch- about 360 calories. The sandwich is a subway club with lots of vegetables,but no mayo, cheese or oil. I missed the cheese.

6:30 p.m. This is our family's dinner, steak fajitas. My family will put theirs in a tortilla shell. I will not. My meal will be about 350 calories.

Add a 340 calorie snack and I have successfully made it through day one. Give or take a few altoids.

1220 calories in, 400 out. I may need a piece of toast, especially since my weight loss tool said I could subtract calories for the two hours I spent cleaning. Hmm...I'm learning.

I'll be talking about tools next, because just like it's important to have the mowers, blowers and trowels when you're gardening, your weightloss will be easier with the right tools. After all, you would never try to mow your lawn with a pair of scissors.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Starting Again

Here's the thing. I started my novel Losing Penny several months ago, but once it was finished and I was thick in the rewrites I realized that there's a tonal shift at about page 200. I dislike tonal shifts. So I got the brilliant idea to rewrite my old novel The Rhyme's Library, which I did. Originally, I spent three years writing The Rhyme's Library, but since it spent many years sitting in a drawer, it needed some dusting off, which I did. The Rhyme's Library once sat on a Penguin's (the publishing house, not the bird) editor's desk for ten whole agonizing months, before it returned to me with a no thank you. It's now available for most electronic readers (a big thank you to all my readers who have enjoyed it.)

The Rhyme's Library diversion worked so well that I decided to resurrect my novel Hailey's Comments, which was a quarter finalist in the Amazon Breakout Novel contest. And guess what? I finished editing Hailey's Comments. I'm going to let it sit while I return to the tonal shift in Losing Penny.

And this coincides with the reality that my son returns home from his two service as a missionary in about three months and wouldn't it be wonderful if I lost the ten pounds I've gained since he left? And since the whole family will be together and I want to have pictures taken wouldn't it be nice if I lost five more, just for the glory? And maybe, if I'm lucky, I could lose five more after that before my birthday in January? Wouldn't losing 20 pounds be an amazing birthday present?

Which brings me back to Losing Penny. When I started the novel, I thought the blog would be a good marketing companion and since I still think that here's what I'm going to do: Every week I'll post recipes and shopping lists. All of the recipes will be less than 400 calories. I'll be using a few of the same recipes Penny uses in the novel. Yes, it's a novel about love and food. Love food and love of food. And learning to love in a healthy way and learning to love healthy food.

Please join me on my weight loss journey and Penny's journey to publication.

I'm so close I can taste it.

(If anyone would like to be a beta reader for Losing Penny and tell me if they notice the tonal shift, or if they find it as annoying as I do, please e-mail me at Here's Penny's blurb, just in case you're interested.)

Penny Lee, a cooking show diva, is delighted when she loses fifty pounds, and horrified when she gains a stalker. To avoid the attention of her most devoted follower, Penny travels to a remote beach house in Rose Arbor, Washington, where she intends to spend the summer compiling her cookbook.
Drake Islington, an English Literature professor with a secret too awful to share, jumps at the chance to spend the summer at a remote beach house where he can write in peace.
When Penny and Drake collide it’s a perfect recipe for a delicious summer until the arrival of Drake’s mom, Penny’s teenage crush, Drake’s old girlfriend and a donkey named Gertrude. Secrets and stalkers heat up the mix and the town of Rose Arbor brews another tale of romance and suspense.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Yesterday’s low-down
Breakfast—high fiber cereal, half banana, almond milk
Lunch—half a burrito at Chipolte
Snack—smoothie (half banana, some yogurt, frozen berries, splash lemonade) whole grain crackers with nutella
Dinner—honey lime grilled chicken breast, two cups assorted vegetables, half cup of rice, mango and watermelon
Am—45  minutes bike at gym (read my book)
Pm—30  minutes lifting weights while watching TV
After dinner—4 mile walk with Larry and dog

Today’s lowdown
Exercise—4 mile run with dog, about 50 minutes
Breakfast—high fiber cereal, half banana, strawberry, almond milk
Dinner—fish tacos

After breakfast, I’ll be fasting. Tomorrow morning I’m attending an early morning temple session and I like to go fasting. This has very little to do with my health goals, although I did recently read that a 24 hour fast has health benefits. I don’t try to exercise while fasting. Obviously, I’ll be skipping the fish tacos—saving my portion for Friday’s lunch.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Shopping Lists and Scene Chart

At nearly 60,000 words, Losing Penny the novel is a rough first draft and a tangled mess. My personal life is much the same. To restore order to Losing Penny, I dug out a handout from a long ago UCI (University of California Irvine) novel writing class taught by Louella Nelson. The handout is called Scene Setup and Editing Chart and I’ve made forty copies—approximately one for each scene. It looks like this:
 Scene # 1 Goal: Introduce Penny’s self image problem
Opening hook: Penny trying to fit into a bridesmaid’s dress
Time: morning
Mood: frustration
Weather: cloudy
Setting: fitting room and gym
POV (point of view): Penny
POV’s goal: to lose weight
Expressed emotions:
Sensory details:
 Sight- mirrors
Sound- add sewing machines, people giggling—at gym, sounds of clanking weight machines, people grunting Smell—fabric? sweat
Taste—of last night’s cake
Touch—the feel of the dress, sweat
Characters: Penny, Rose, dressmaker
 Closing hook: Penny running

 My writing goal for today is to fill out this chart for at least three scenes of Losing Penny. Here’s a peek at how I’m going to put a little order and sanity into my personal life.

  Exercise. During my week long absence, my running partner got lazy. Every few feet she wanted to sit and lick her paws. At one point I dropped her leash and ran without her. I can do that in the canyon, as long as I keep an eagle eye out of Schnauzer predators (coyotes and mountain lions) I can’t let her off leash when I run near the street. So, two slow, paw licking miles today—two miles shorter than our typical midweek run.

Diet. Because of our trip there’s no food in the house. No milk. One egg. Half a loaf of bread. This morning I made my family pancakes and bacon (complete with maple syrup) and ate my own breakfast of two pieces of whole wheat toast. For lunch I had last night’s leftovers—seafood cannoli, coconut fried shrimp and a green salad. Probably not the best choices, but since I’m going to the store with the intent of buying all sorts of things on Bob Greene’s Best Life Diet and Meal plan—a little cannoli and a couple of pieces of shrimp aren’t going to hurt.

 I really like The Best Life Diet. I know that there are faster, more aggressive diets in the world, but I’m not looking for a bikini ready diet, I want a healthy lifestyle. I want my Best Life.

So, if anyone’s interested, here’s my shopping list.
Almond milk (about half the calories and double the calcium of skim milk)
Pepper Jack Cheese
Sugar free pudding
Wasa crispbread
Sugarfree jelly
Whole grain bread
Assorted fresh vegetables, including
Fruits, including
Chicken breasts
Lean beef
Fiber cereal

 Stay tuned to see what will become of all this food. Trader Joes, I'm on my way.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


We become what we tell ourselves we are.

Where there is great love there are always miracles. Willa Cather

In a time lacking in truth and certainty and filled with anguish and despair, no woman should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to the world through her work a portion of it’s lost heart. Loise Bogan

No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit. Helen Keller

Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how..the artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark. Agnes DeMille

We are most asleep at the switch when we fancy we control any switches at all. Amy Dillard

It’s never too late in fiction or in life to revise. Nancy Thayer

There are voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter the world. Emerson

All you need is deep within you waiting to unfold and reveal itself. All you have to do is be still and take time to seek for what is within and you shall surely find it. Eileen Caddy

If one advances confidently in the direction of her dreams and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, she will meet with success unexpected in uncommon hours. Thoreau

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Scene from Losing Penny

The door exploded. Shards of splintered wood flew through the cabin. She tightened her shawl around her head, crouching beneath the berth, try to be as small and still as possible. The Pirate king burst into the room, wielding a wavy bladed dagger. Tattoos covered his brawny chest and muscular arms. When he caught sight of her he smiled, revealing his stained teeth that had been filed to sharp points. Shark teeth. His men crowded behind him, the lust in their eyes mirroring their King’s.
She slowly stood and the Pirate’s gaze raked over her, judging her the way one might select fresh produce, searching for blemishes, bruises, bee stings.

Fresh produce? This is a dream! Penny’s mind revolted, struggling to wake.
She flinched away as the Pirate king caressed her cheek with one coarse hand. The dagger clattered to the floor as he grabbed her wrist and pulled her into his arms.
“Penny!” He held her and she felt the now familiar thump of his heart and inhaled his scent. Somehow, he always smelled of paper and ink. Did paper even have a smell, she wasn’t sure, but if it did, it would smell like Drake. He whispered her name in her ear and his breath fanned her cheek. “Hush.”
Penny’s heart still raced, but her panic eased. “What are you doing in here?”
“I think I’m saving you from pirates.” He chuckled as she slumped against him.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Early to Bed, Early to Rise= A Wizard

We know the proverbs. Early to bed and early to rise make a woman healthy, wealthy and a wizard. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Here’s some current medical statistics to back up the old maxims.

“The evidence that sleep deprivation adversely affects cognition and motor performance is striking. One study [published in the Western Journal of Medicine] showed that people who were awake for up to 19 hours scored substantially worse on performance and alertness than those who were legally intoxicated.”

“A growing body of medical evidence links inadequate sleep with anger, anxiety, and sadness. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that when study subjects were only allowed to sleep 4.5 hours a night for one week, they reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted, with overall scores for mood and vigor declining steadily during the test period. When the subjects were allowed to get enough sleep, their mood scores improved dramatically.”

Okay, so we know sleep helps us not to be cranky and keeps us mentally sharp, but I also know that sleep can solve problems. I think that our minds work on our problems in our sleep. It’s like magic. Try to different experiments. They can even be done at the same time. First, go to bed and with the promise to yourself that you will sleep for a full eight hours—do a bit of math, figure out your wake up time, and stick to your promise. The second experiment—on a notebook beside your table, write down a worry or a concern—don’t stew over it, just close your eyes and sleep. First thing in the morning, write down any thoughts/dreams you may have had during the night.

This has worked for me on several different occasions, but sometimes I forget this amazingly simple problem solving tool. I wasn’t thinking of solving problems this week. I was just simply cranky. (Not enough sleep? Maybe, or maybe I was just discouraged and cranky.)

I’ll confess that I didn’t work on my manuscript at all yesterday or the day before. I’d set some lofty goals for the month and I’d meeting them fairly consistently and Tuesday night I went to bed with feelings like: writing has taken over my life, maybe I’m using my writing to avoid other things I should be doing, all this sitting and writing is making my bottom big. I woke up the next morning with the most amazing story idea. I’m not even half way through with the first draft of my current book and I’m a third of the way through editing another. I’m not at all ready to start to something new, but the idea was so mind boggling good I had to write the outline. Sometime later I remembered that writing is taking over my life, it’s helping me to avoid life’s messiness and it’s making my bottom big. Oh well, maybe some messes are best avoided and some people like big bottom girls enough to write songs about them. (No one writes songs about small bottom girls)

I think in sleep we draw closer to our real selves—the part of our souls that speaks to us, loves us best and provides gentle answers. When we don’t get enough sleep, when we’re exhausted, we close the door on intuition. The Bible dictionary defines dreams as “one of the ways that God communicates with man.” And in Joel 2:28 he tells us:

I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

Which is the best argument for a good night’s sleep of all.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Raisins Versus Anemia

I eat raisins. Not because I like them, but because I like what they do for my afternoons, even though I eat them in the morning. I used to suffer from an afternoon slump—a horrible zombie-like state that typically struck around 3pm. Surprisingly, cookies and other jolts of sugar didn’t really help. Raisins did.

You’re probably anemic, my sister said. And then I recalled all the times I went to the doctor and was told the exact same thing, although he replaced the word probably with seriously. It must be hereditary, because it used to be every time my sister tried to donate blood, they told her she was anemic and sent her home. She discovered that if she eats about a quarter of a cup of raisins before she donates—she’s fine. (Personally, I can’t give blood because I lived in England in the 1980’s and was exposed to mad cow disease. I don’t like to think of myself as a mad cow, but there it is. A part of me.) Kathy’s discovery has changed my life. I’d much rather eat raisins than take iron pills and the accompanying stool softeners my doctor tried to give me.

So, most mornings I eat a bowl of raisin bran. I like the Costco and Trader Joe brands. Neither is as sweet as the other brands and both, as my husband complains, have too many raisins. I mix the raisin bran with half a banana and a high fiber cereal. Again, I like the Trader Joe’s brand. It has the clever name “Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal” and has 80 calories and 9 grams of fiber.

All that fiber makes the stool softeners absolutely unnecessary.

Sometimes I eat oatmeal with raisins, diced apples, cinnamon and nutmeg. And sometimes I eat French toast drowned in maple syrup. But honestly, if my choices are:
1. Wasted, lethargic afternoons
2. Iron pills and stool softeners
3. A daily quarter of a cup of raisins

I’ll choose the raisins every single day.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Motivation

“We came to earth to learn how to control our bodies and our minds.” Mom Tate

I’m rereading Dennis Deaton’s The Book on Mind Management. I first heard Dr. Deaton speak at BYU’s Education Week. (I LOVE education week- I have a post about education week that you can read somewhere on this blog.) Anyway—love and highly recommend this book. If you need some motivation, read this book. If you don’t have the time, the money or the wherewithal to read his excellent book, here’s a few quotes for your motivational Monday.

“We alter our destiny by altering our thoughts.”
“The moment you start thinking differently, your world changes.”
“The power of thought is the power of creation. Thoughts exert direct effect upon your body, your behavior and even the external world around you.”
“You can alter circumstances and events at will by first creating a vision of what you want to have happen and then giving yourself permission to enact it.”
“Moment by moment, thought by thought, you author your own script.”
“The consummate truth of life is that we alter our destiny by altering our thoughts. The minds is our most crucial resource, our crowning asset, our ultimate battle arena. If we will master the power of our minds, we may do or be whatsoever we will.”

And a couple of more thoughts from a couple of more guys who seem to agree with Deaton.
“Thinking is the soul talking to itself.” Plato

I hold it true that thoughts are things;
They’re endowed with bodies, breath and wings;
And that we send them forth to fill
The world with good results, or ill.
That which we call our secret thought
Speeds forth to earth’s remotest spot,
Leaving its blessing or its woes
Like tracks behind it as it goes.
We build our future, thought by thought
For good or ill, yet know it nor.
Yet so the universe was wrought.
Henry Van Dyke

I’m not a follower of The Secret, by the way but I am devoted follower of Him that said, “As a man think in his heart, so is he.” And so today, as I start a new week, I’m asking myself—what am I thinking?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Workout Wednesday--Goals

I was what my swim teachers called a screamer--the little kid who sat on the beach during swim lessons and cried. My parents sent me to swim lessons for years and I still don’t swim. Not really. We have a boat and love spending our summers on a lake (sunny lakes.) My daughter was captain of her high school swim team. All my children took swim lessons and swam for the Rancho Santa Margarita Dolphins, but in my heart, I’m still the little kid, the screamer, sitting at the water’s edge. (To be fair, I grew up in Washington and the lessons were held at Lake Goodwin…in the rain. Anyone sane in a bathing suit, in the rain, at the beach has a perfectly good reason to cry.)

One particularly uninspired teacher threw me in the lake, giving me a motivation to swim (and an increased hatred of swimming lessons.) We all find our motivation differently. As an adult, I still don’t like being thrown in to anything. I’m more of a carrot and stick person. Actually, more of a carrot person. No one works well under a stick.

I like to make goals and promise myself rewards (carrots, although not actual carrots. Carrots themselves aren’t really all that incentivizing.) Doesn’t everyone do this? Are they one hundred percent successful? In October I made a writing goal—I would write 7-10 pages a day, six days a week. I couldn’t do it. Over long presidency meetings, dental appointments. Failing at my goal was sucking all the joy out of my writing and so I set my goals on the side of the road and just kept walking, enjoying the time I spent writing, loving my characters, being in thankful awe for the ideas.
Now it’s March. I’ve made lofty goals and I’m meeting every one of them. Blowing them out of the water, in fact. What’s the difference? I’m not sure.

October wasn’t the first time I’ve set a goal aside. (Not by any means. My life is littered with unmet goals.) Once when I was training for an upcoming race I went to Arlington to help celebrate my step-mother’s birthday. Visiting my parents is wonderful for many reasons, but not for training. For one thing, my dad’s favorite restaurant is an all you can eat buffet called Jumbos. (Real name.) So, I packed my work-out clothes and made myself a promise that if I could stay on schedule with my training over the dangerous weekend that I’d buy myself new exercise clothes when I returned home.

Friday night: an evening at Jumbos where I practiced moderation and iron clad restraint. Set my alarm for 5:30 am and went to bed.

Saturday morning, predawn: I woke to rain. No matter. I’d grown up running in the rain. I slipped from my bed and put on my running clothes. No shoes. I realized my sneakers must be in the trunk of my sister’s car. I dashed through the rain, barefoot. The car is locked. I returned to the house drenched. I searched for my sister’s purse and keys and then realized it must be in her room. Wake her up? There’s lightning and thunder and my sister is still snoring. I went to my room and promised myself that I’d run later.

Later never happened. Aunts, uncles, cousins, visiting—I could have excused myself, braved the rain and fulfilled my goal, but I didn’t. I didn’t feel badly about my choice, but I also knew that I didn’t deserve new exercise clothes. Unmet goal—no reward. Simple, really.

I returned home on a pink bag day. Pink bag days happen about once a month. In our neighborhood, a local charity places pink bags on our doorsteps and the neighbors fill the bags with donations to the charity. I love pink bag days and I was scouring the house for donations when I came across an unopened Christmas present in the back of a closet. I took it to my husband and asked if he knew anything about it.“I wondered where that went!” he said. “It’s for you.”

I opened it and found brand new exercise clothes for me. I took away many lessons from this experience, but the one I’m trying to keep in mind that sometimes, even if the goal isn’t met, the blessings can still come. I still write. I’m still in love with my characters. I’m still awestruck by the ideas that come. I can always run tomorrow.

But, sometimes it rains and sometimes I have to go to the dentist. And that’s okay. No need to sit on the beach and cry.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Please Welcome Guest Blogger Dr. Linda Cheek!

“If you have a good diet, of what use is a doctor? And if you don’t have a good diet, of what use is a doctor?”

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food.

One of the reasons we are so overweight in this country is that we are dehydrated. Food does contain some fluid, so if we don't drink water, we eat more. The beverages today are usually dehydrating. Everyone should drink water regularly, and reverse osmosis is the best.

Another reason for being overweight is our bodies are crying out for trace elements and nutrition needed to run the cell machinery. Since most of what we eat is empty calories, they don't fit the need, so we continue to be hungry. Also, did you know that fast food restaurants put hunger-increasing ingredients in their products, just so you'll want more?

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is extremely acidifying. This removes minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Acidification creates stress, silent inflammation and dysbiosis. These conditions are the precursors to all chronic diseases, including cancer. Yes, cancer can be prevented and even cured through the alkaline diet. And by feeding our children acidifying foods, we are setting them up for chronic diseases and cancer.

What should you not eat or drink?

Soft Drinks, Coffee, Tea, Juice (except unsweetened apple juice), Milk

The evils of milk are discussed in The China Study. In this book Mr. Campbell's research links milk consumption with osteoporosis and cancer. The acidity of the fats and protein acidify the body and the calcium is not absorbed.

Okay to drink:
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar--drink 1 teaspoon in 1 cup water before each meal.
Herbal teas (no caffeine)

Omega 3's
It is important to have Omega 3's in your diet every day. There are essential fatty acids used by your nervous system that we can only get from fish oil and a few seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, flax, borage.

Why are alkaline foods better?

In order to get rid of toxins, the body must be slightly alkaline. Acidification causes the retention of toxins which leads to disease.

Foods that alkalinize
Most vegetables and fruits.
Vegetables and fruits contain primarily carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. So when they are broken down, waste products are carbon dioxide (exhaled) and water (neutral). Even fruits that are themselves acidic, such as lemons, become alkalinizing in the body. The minerals they leave behind are magnesium, calcium and potassium which alkalinize.

Olive oil can be used as an oil because it alkalinizes.

For grains and pasta, use quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat.

For protein, use beans, legumes and vegetables. Eggs are okay in moderation. For occasional meat use chicken, turkey or fish.

Food Groups to Avoid
Avoid all sweeteners, even natural like honey and stevia. They cause dumping of insulin, creating hypoglycemia and then anxiety with increased appetite. Sugar is the #1 acidifier.
Especially avoid artificial sweeteners as they are toxic to the liver.
Grains--wheat, rice, oats, barley
Red Meats--beef and pork.
Dairy--milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt
Fats & Oils--Margarine, butter, vegetable oils or shortening.

Avoid all alcohols--beer, wine, liquor

The Importance of Enzymes
Eat something raw before each meal to provide natural enzymes from the food. This takes the strain off the pancreas. Enzymes can also be taken in pill form.

Do a 24-hour juice fast one day per week. This provides micronutrients, rests the pancreas, and alkalinizes the body.

Dr. Cheek is an alternative medicine physician. Under attack by the government for providing nutritional counseling to her patients, she continues to teach through her website, and her book, Target: Pain Doc. Please visit and support the rights of patients in the country to be healthy and pain-free.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday's Menu--Roasted Garlic Cauliflower

2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large head cauliflower, separated into florets
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

The First Page of Losing Penny

One week into my new novel and I'm loving it. It's always a honeymoon when I start a new novel, but I think because I thought and mulled this one over for several weeks before I actually started writing it's pouring from my fingers. Or maybe it's because I've spent so many years yo-yo dieting that I can really relate to my character Penny. Or maybe it's because I already know my hero, Drake. Drake appeared in the novel I wrote years ago and that I'm currently rewriting.

That's right.

I'm drafting a new novel and editing an old one. Why? Because I love drafting and editing not so much. And yet, I can't throw The Rhyme's Library away. It's too good and I spent way too much time on it to let it die. I work on it on Thursdays. My Costco day...but that's another blog post.

Here's the first page of Losing Penny. Enjoy.

Penny loved Richard and she adored Rose, but she her feelings toward Pralines and Cream were mediocre at best and standing on a platform with a woman with a mouth full of pins in her mouth at her feet, looking at herself in the mirror Penny had to say she looked exactly like an overflowing Pralines and Cream ice cream cone. Dress sizes come and go but wedding pictures are forever, she thought.

Rose smiled at her from across the room. Because of all the mirrors lining the walls, Rose came in quadruples. Rose’s dress reminded Penny of a lamp shade. Understated—Rose’s wedding buzz word. Rose wanted a very simple, elegant, $150 thousand dollar wedding. And Penny’s brother Richard couldn’t deny his finance even one little thing, not even a waffle cone dress for his sister.

“It’s a little snug,” Rose said, frowning at the Penny’s multiple reflections.
“Harrumph,” the woman at Penny’s feet said.

Rose, a fashion designer, understood tailor-speak, but Penny didn’t. She guessed the woman said, It doesn’t matter what she looks like, everyone will be looking at you and you’ll be drop dead gorgeous.

“I know,” Rose sighed. “Still, we want her to look her best.”

“Harrumph,” the woman retorted, which Penny interpreted as You can paint a barn in fancy colors, but it’s still a barn.

“She’s worked so hard, it would be a shame not to show her off,” Rose said, she smiled at Penny and tugged at the dress’s bodice, exposing more creamy cleavage.

Please don’t let my pralines show, Penny prayed.

“Just a little more va va voom,” Rose said, frowning at Penny’s spillover cleavage.

And that’s why Penny spent the next three hours at the gym. She wanted less va va and definitely less voom. With grim determination stamped on her face, she raced on the treadmill. All around her, Orange County toothpicks and giraffes sweated on the machines. Music blared from the speakers, but Penny only heard her own internal mantra. Less va va. Weigh less voom. Soon.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Importance of Journaling

Just get it down on paper and then we’ll see what to do with it
Maxwell Perkins

Goals really can be applied in any area of your life and the beauty of a good goal is that it spills over and blesses not only you, but everyone around you. When you’re healthy, you’re better able to serve and bless the people you love. So, if you have some goals, write them down. Be specific. Give every goal a time and a place. Remember the old adage, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Someone once told me that life is like a closet, if your life is full, you'll need to take something out if you want to put something new in. And don't we all have full lives? We spend our time doing something, but some things are more worthwhile than others. If you need to make time for exercise, where can you steal some time? What can you replace? Can you dovetail, for example--if you currently spend your mornings reading the newspaper, can you do that on an exercise bike? Can you watch your favorite TV show while on a treadmill?

If you really don't think you have time to spare, try this exercise (no pun intended). Make out or purchase a weekly calendar that has every hour of everyday listed. For one week, keep track of how you spend every hour. You might be surprised at the "islands of time" available. You'll probably also see that there are countless of ways to be more efficient, tasks that can and should be delegated, and that there many ways to reclaim your life and your health.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday's Workouts. Why I Run

I started running in college with my roommate. We’d go at night when we were finished studying and run from our apartment to the Provo Temple. I liked the crisp air, lights and stars. The next year when my roommate (the same one) was sick, I started running alone. Because Utah winters are cruel, I’d put cotton balls in my ears and wrap a bandana over my mouth and nose. By this time, running wasn’t just about chatting with my roommate or burning calories, it was also about being alone.

I loved my roommates and I loved living with five girls, almost always, but the truth was I’d grown up in a very quiet house with a sick mother and a working father. After my mother’s death, the very quiet house became even quieter. I loved my roommates then, I love my family now, but I am used to quiet and I love it. I love being alone. Running provided that solace and solitude when I was in college and it provides it still.

During the semester breaks when I went home I’d run with my dad’s German shorthair—Trooper. We didn’t own a leash, which was probably just as well because Trooper ran much, much faster than I did. He’d run away from me and then run straight at me. I think he found it amusing to see if he could knock me over.

Thirty years later, I still run with a dog. My dad’s dogs have died, but whenever I go home, I’ll run the same trail that I did when I used to run with Trooper. For twenty years I’ve been running the same miles in Rancho, but the amazing thing is—whether I’m running around the golf course or through the fields in Arlington—I’m still the same person that I was when I began thirty years ago.

My body has changed—it’s still changing. My circumstances are different. I own more stuff, have more responsibilities, hopefully I've learned things, but basically, the essence of who I am—I’m still that girl. Running helps me remember that. I think my very best thoughts when I run. I don’t know why—I only know that it’s true.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday's Menu--Mango Slaw

My stepmother was a vegetarian. After the first night she made dinner for us, my dad whispered to me, “I’ve never seen so much dad-burned rabbit food.” That was the beginning of our alpha-alpha sprout days. Around that time, my best friend looked in the cookie jar on the counter and sadly said, “I remember when this used to be full.” And years later my husband once commented on my parent’s fridge, “I’ve never seen a full fridge without anything to eat before.”

My dad never did learn to appreciate Marie’s vegetables, but I did. I’m not the puritan she was—I like to dress my vegetables up and when I sit down to dinner

I try to remember to have a plate of (mostly) plants. Marie ate only fruits and vegetables, but I try to have two thirds of my meal be (preferably fresh) produce.

Here’s one of my favorite dishes. It’s great with fish or chicken and can even be used in a taco.


4 cups shredded cabbage

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1 fresh mango, cubed

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1 cup fat free sour cream

Mix all ingredients well. Be sure and save as much mango juice as you can for the dressing.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Introducing Penny

I’m starting a new novel and this blog will be, in part, a marketing tool for my book, LOSING PENNY. My main character is a blogger who chronicled her recent weight loss online and attracted a huge following and unfortunately, a stalker. With the help of her honeymooning best friend, she decides to pretend that she's traveling the world. Her friend is taking pictures of exotic locals and Penny is photoshopping herself into the pictures, posting them on her blog and all the while hiding out at a remote beach house where she comes face to face with a novelist who has his own brand of stalker-- his boss. The two--my blogger and the novelist-- who intensely dislike each other, decide to fake a marriage to thwart the boss and protect my blogger from her stalker. While learning to share a house, a kitchen and a refrigerator, my characters are eaten by dinosaurs, just kidding—but really, I’m not going to tell you anymore because I want you to read the blog and, eventually, my book. LOSING PENNY should be ready for the world by December, 2012.

Losing Penny and Pounds, the blog, will mirror Penny's blog and feature Monday’s Menus, Wednesday’s Workouts, and Feel Good Friday’s Personal Affirmation quotes. (This is a blog about healthy lifestyles, not about being skinny at any cost. And, of course, all body parts will be referred to in the most respectful manner.)