What Does it Take to Lose 55 Pounds

June 30, 2011

If I had to sum up in a single word what it takes to lose a lot of weight, and keep it off, that word would be acceptance. Oh certainly, determination is an important word too, but acceptance is what finally made the difference for me.

I had to accept the fact that I had to eat in a very proscribed way for the rest of my life, or I would never lose the weight I needed to lose, and most definitely would not keep it off. It’s like being an alcoholic or a drug addict. They know that they can’t have just one, or a little of anything they are addicted to. It simply leads to more. So I changed my mind set. I can’t live to eat, I must eat to live. What that meant for me is, no added salt, no sugar, no simple carbs, very little fat, no processed food. This diet isn’t for a day or a month, it is for the rest of my life. 

Giving up salt was the hardest part of my diet. I don’t even cook with salt, and I eat almost no processed foods. Food is bland without salt. I try to substitute fresh  herbs,  rice vinegar and mustard, but salt, oh how I miss salt. Sugar comes from fruit, oil comes from nuts and salmon, and carbs come from oatmeal in the morning. 

Here’s an interesting little bit of news:

Healthy Lifestyle Tip: Fabulous Fiber
Take two people of the same age and height; one is normal weight, the other is overweight. What accounts for the difference? Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin studied the dietary intakes of 100 people, half in each weight category. They found that diets were similar in consumption of sugar, dairy products and breads, but different in fiber intake. The normal-weight people ate 33 percent more dietary fiber and 43 percent more complex carbohydrates than the overweight group.

Fiber-rich foods are generally low in calories and fats, yet they’re bulky enough to provide a feeling of being full. Here are some ways to increase your fiber:
  • Jump-start your day. For breakfast choose a high-fiber cereal – 5 or more grams of fiber per serving. Opt for cereals with “bran” or “fiber” in the name.
  • Switch to whole grains. Look for breads that list whole wheat, whole-wheat flour or another whole grain as the first ingredient on the label and with at least 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Experiment with brown rice, wild rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta and bulgur.
  • Mix it up. Add pre-cut fresh or frozen vegetables to soups and sauces. For example, mix chopped frozen broccoli into prepared spaghetti sauce or toss fresh baby carrots into stews. Add high fiber fruit such as pears, raspberries, strawberries to salads, cereal, yogurt, salsas or as a topping for any dessert.
  • Get a leg up with legumes. Eat more beans, peas and lentils. Add kidney beans to canned soup or a green salad.
  • Eat fruit at every meal. Apples, bananas, oranges, pears and berries are good sources of fiber.
  • Make snacks count. Fresh and dried fruit, raw vegetables, low-fat popcorn and whole-grain crackers are all good choices. An occasional handful of nuts are also a healthy, high-fiber snack.
    Source: mayoclinic.com
Next week I’ll share what the weight loss has done for my health. Amaaazing!


Categories: Thursday - Lifestyle Changes.

Somersaults In the Spring

June 29, 2011

When I was almost nine, I came home for lunch on a Fall day and crawled into my bed.

My Mom came into my room, “Why are you in bed?”

“I don’t feel good.”

She put her hand on my forehead, “You’re very warm.” I didn’t leave my bed again until the following Spring.  I had rheumatic fever.

Some nights I would dream of a thick pot of something that looked like Cream of Wheat. A big wooden spoon stirred it around and around.  Then I would wake up, and my Daddy would be sitting by my bed, so I knew the fever was back again.

It’s hard for a nine-year-old to stay in bed. I wanted desperately to get up. Sometimes, when my Mom would take my temperature, I would put the blanket over my head so I could shake the thermometer down, hoping I could make it be normal. She never said anything, just suppressed a smile, and made me stop burrowing in the bed clothes until she was satisfied she had an accurate reading. My Mom did  something for me, for which I am forever grateful. She lugged home shopping bags full of books from the library. That’s when I learned to love to read. There was no television in our house then, and books were my only way to leave the bed I was sentenced to occupy.

Every other day Dr. Gibbs would come to our house to check on me. “How do you feel?”

“All right. Can I get up now?”

He would shake his head, “Turn over.” I had to lay on my stomach, pull my pajama bottoms down and he would give me a shot of penicillin. He was a rumpled  sort of man,  his clothing and his face looked like they needed to be ironed. His voice was gruff, but I was never afraid of him. He told me once that if I did a somersault every day for the rest of my life, I would  be healthy. I thought it would be wonderful to do a somersault on the grass outside our house. I lived in a twin bed, so there was little room to practice a somersault.  I determined that I would start somersaulting as soon as I was free.

Every morning my Daddy would make scrambled eggs for me. I had to eat in bed on a little tray table. Whenever I  couldn’t finish my breakfast, I would dump the left-overs in a box of toys that was underneath the skirted dressing table next to my bed. One night I heard a scratching under the dressing table and I screamed.

Daddy came running, “Sharon, what’s wrong?”

I could hardly speak, I was so frightened. I was curled up at the foot of my bed as far as I could get from the scratching under the dressing table. “Daddy…” I pointed wordlessly.  He found my stash of left over eggs and a small mouse in the box. He didn’t say anything, but I felt terrible.

Finally, one day in May, on my ninth birthday, my Daddy said he had a surprise. Mom brought in a new dress and laid in on my bed, and took out some underwear and socks from my drawer. She helped me dress. My shoes no longer fit and she slid my slippers on my feet and then she stood and held out her hand. I felt anxious, I didn’t know what was happening. Mom lead me out the back door where Daddy was standing beside a metal lawn chair. It had an arched red seat and back and white arms and legs.

“You can sit out here in the sun for an hour every day,” Mom said.

“But you have to stay in the chair,” Daddy added.

I just looked at the green grass, thinking of how I would somersault everyday for the rest of my life.

Categories: Wednesday - Memoir.

What I Learned by Admitting I’m a Dummy

June 28, 2011

I learned a lot this week by reading my Writing for Dummies book. Maybe the most important thing that I learned is that writing a novel is very formulaic. The rules are strict, but talented writers bend, break and ignore them all the time, but if you’re fairly new at the game, or if you have more than 100 rejection slips papering the walls of your writing area, maybe you need to understand the rules and formulas.

If you don’t write, or read, but watch drama on TV, here’s an interesting bit of insight I can share. Most stories are built around a three act structure.

Act 1 – The first quarter of book or TV show where you set up the background, ends with a major disaster. This is where the main character commits.
Act 2 –  The second and third quarters of the book or TV show, deals with the main character trying to achieve her goal while running into one road block after another, with each quarter ending with an even worse disaster
 Act 3 –The last quarter ties up all the  lost ends and includes the climax  (resolution). Did the main character win or lose, or maybe neither?

The novel I’m working on right now is in the women’s fiction genre and is titled Layla Bunch. The other skill a writer must master is the art of boiling a complex story down into a single sentence of 25 words or less. At first that seems impossible. But I managed a 17 word description of Layla Bunch. What do you think?

An ailing widow takes in a homeless woman who suffers from memory loss due to a traumatic past.

Does it make you want to read the book?


Categories: Tuesday - Writing.

I’m Reading a Dummies Book

June 27, 2011

There I said it. Not only am I not smarter than a fifth grader, I’m a dummy when it comes to writing. After over 60 years of reading nearly non-stop, I thought I was qualified to write. Sorry, not true. However, if I hadn’t put those years in, perhaps I wouldn’t be able to write at all.  At least I can write badly.

The Writing for Dummies book is an MFA in a box. I know, just from this one book, that I’ve probably improved my skill level at least 30 to 40%. I’m using what I’ve learned to plan my latest WIP (that’s work in progress), Lalya Bunch, which is turning out to be a vast improvement over my first three books.

I’m sorry I ordered it on Kindle.  I wish I had a physical copy so I can dog-ear the pages and write and highlight more easily. Yes, you can set bookmarks and highlight text on a Kindle, but it’s not as visual.

But, if you are a writer without confidence or would like to try to write and are willing to admit you are a dummy, there is no better starting point to learn about how to plan and structure your work.

I promise next week I’ll tell you what I am reading for fun. You’ll be surprised.


Categories: Uncategorized.

A New Direction

June 26, 2011

I thought a long time about what this blog could/should be. Now that I’m so old and my kids don’t listen to me so much anymore, I thought about all the things I know, and wondered who I could tell. So I revamped this blog to cover a number of topics, and if anyone is interested in any of the subjects I’m going to write about, tune in on the flavor of the day that interests you.

 Sunday, because it’s such a neat day (don’t you love Sundays? they always seem crisp because they start a whole new week, and most of the time, you can do what you want on Sunday) is carte blanche. If anyone wants to guest blog on any topic on that day, let’s do it. Just send a comment that you would like to opine on a given subject, and I’ll take your words from an e-mail and paste them up here for the world to see. (Granted, it’s a small world, but, it’ll get bigger.)

Otherwise, if no one wants to guest blog, I’m just going to do an Andy Rooney thing.

I have five computers, three desk tops and two lap tops. I also have an extremely smart phone, but I’m not counting it in this abundance of electronic power. Of course I don’t use all these computers, but they sit all around my writing room, waiting for me to boot them up, like the bench of players at a basketball game. They’re just waiting to be called in to score.

I could take some of these loyal players to one of those recycle places, but what secrets of mine are left inside those boxes? Are there some of my old manuscripts (I keep those too) hidden in the depth of those mysterious drives, even though I think I erased them? Are they really gone? What about indiscretions of one kind or another? Can you remember everything you told your computer? I can’t.  Maybe I’ll hold on to all of them a little longer.

Tomorrow is book day. What are you reading?


Categories: Sunday - Carte Blanche.