My Keto Journey

My journey to weight loss has been long. Though I have not reached my goal, I am happy with the progress. I have to say that of everything I have done, the Ketogenic diet has been the one with the quickest and lasting results. Starting out I searched and searched and asked friends what and how it worked. It took me a while to find the answers I wanted in order to convince myself to start.

While I am no expert on Keto, I am an expert on my experience, and that is what I want to share in this post.

  1. What is it? How does it work? The idea is for your body to no longer use sugar as its main source of energy. Sugars are measured in the form of carbs. No bread is not sugar, but the carbohydrates in bread are processed in the body the same way. SO.. if you no longer are using carbs for energy, your body begins to use stored fat as energy. This is the diet I’ve been searching for!! I can use my own fat @ss to fuel my body. It isn’t always this easy. For your body to begin this process, it takes about 3 days of zero-low carbs to convert to Keto.
  2. How many carbs is “low carb”? Its really about percentage, but as a rule of thumb, I try to stay below 20 grams a carbs a day. Everything else is considered Fat and Protein. This leaves very little room for “cheating” or having a small sweet snack that will completely halt the process (for me).
  3. Where to start? I started with a food diary in the form of an app. I have used MyFitnessPal for general calorie tracking in the past, but with the upgrade to a premium account, you can track macronutrients (Carbs, Fat, and Protein as well as overall calories). Getting the percentage right in these areas are really your key to success. 5% carbs, 25% protein and 70% fat are my settings. Having a diet tracker keeps me from gorging on steak 24/7 or only eating eggs. You can keep within 5% carbs and still consume 3,000 calories which, unless you are running 26 miles that day, will not help you lose weight.
  4. What to eat? What is interesting about Keto, is you’re really not as hungry. I have found that when my body is in Ketosis, I don’t think about eating until around 2pm. I DO spend all morning sipping sugar-free coffee (2-3 cups) which wards off boredom hunger. I pre-make things to keep me from trying to “snack” on something I shouldn’t when I do get hungry. A typical snap shot looks like this:

In the morning, I drink 2-3 cups of sugar-free coffee. This is the extent of “sweet” that I get in a day. I have found that any more artificial sweetener than this stops my weight loss. Most of my daily carbs come from my sugar free coffee creamer. Until I am okay with not drinking coffee (which will be never) this will always cut into my allowable carbs for the day. A sacrifice I am willing to make.

Around lunch time, I have what I call “sausage snack”. If you want, I can send you a recipe but is essentially cream cheese and ground sausage. It is premade and all I do is scoop out a serving and pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Super fast and easy. Lots of fat and some protein. Very little carbs.

If I get hungry before dinner, I can eat all the bacon I want (keeping within my calorie count for the day). OR I premake deviled eggs, because I don’t like plain hard-boiled eggs. They have a few carbs, but nothing crazy and they are easy to just grab and eat. Both great for fat and protein and zero carbs if eaten plain (not deviled).

For dinner, I cook for my husband and I. I make a meat a vegetable and a starch. If the veggie is lowish carbs, I might eat it with my meat. Hubs eats the starch. I DO NOT EAT THE STARCH! So for the sake of an example, I have celebrated a few things this week, so we had crab legs with butter and asparagus. I made perogies for the mister, which I did not eat.

At night, if I get hungry before bed, I will cook bacon, have a ½ serving of “sausage snack” or a deviled egg. These are MY go-to’s. Other people like other things, but this keeps me on track. If I have reached my calorie goal for the day, I will drink water. Always drink water, all day. Your body will even burn fat if you drink cold water, because of the energy require to metabolize water to body temperature.

All of that being said, since mid-September to beginning of December I have lost almost 20 lbs. I did not gain anything over Thanksgiving, but maintained my loss. Ten more pounds until I reach my first goal. I might take a break, or I’ll keep going for another ten pounds.

All of that is possible even without working out if you can keep within a healthy calorie intake. I like working out because I feel like I have more energy later on chasing kids, cleaning house, and all that jazz. AND I can eat more on days I work out, which is fun. Also, I once heard that squats help the rocking world go ‘round (get it?).

This diet is great for people that are not able to really workout due to time or an injury and really want to lose the weight. It is still A LOT OF WORK! Planning and tracking are crazy important to the success of a ketogenic diet. Luckily, for me, when I diet, I completely obsess over tracking and measuring and planning because I am a nerd like that.

I hope this was helpful. Feel free to ask questions, message me, etc. Also be sure to check with your doctor before making any huge lifestyle changes to make sure it is the healthiest choice. Have a great day!

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Happy Birthday To Me!

I am beyond excited to announce that my book, Apparent Power, will be published in 2018 by Immortal Works Press. It will be available in paperback, ebook, AND AUDIOBOOK!

I feel like I am living in an alternate reality where my dreams are coming true. I know I worked my butt of to get here, but when I told people “If I am not signed by my birthday, then…” I never thought I would actually sign a publishing contract by my birthday. I never thought any professional would see the passion that I wrote into the story. I love my friends for being my coaches. I am sorry I did not believe you when you told me it IS a good story. I am sorry for doubting myself.

I have been sitting on this potential post for weeks now. I have been biting my nails and chewing my lip. I have hinted that this announcement was coming. I am proud to finally be able to put a public name to my publisher. Thank you, Holli, for taking a chance on me.

I started this blog almost three years ago because I had writer’s block in the 14th chapter of this book. It wasn’t until a writing challenge that I was able to move forward. Then a subsequent challenge that I was able to finish and write The End.

I have given so many updates like “Joining a Writing Challenge” and “I’m still working on it” and “Please check it out and let me know what you think”.

Thanks to YOU and your awesome feedback, Apparent Power will no longer be available for free on www.chapterbuzz.com A HUGE thank you to Tim Pike and that platform. It challenged me to put my work out there. For anyone wanting to give it a shot, I highly recommend using that site. Apparent Power was #1 for 6 months!!! I know my peers are happy to see it off the charts. I am particularly glad to see my good friend and fellow blogger, Liberty, take that #1 spot. You’ve earned it!

My beta readers!!! My editors!!! The couple of friends I knew I could call when I got stuck and bounce ideas off of. My husband for taking care of the kids so I could write. My DAD for writing before me and giving me the inspiration to do it myself. My sister, my mom, my cousin, my aunt. Everyone who believed in me. THANK YOU!!!

 

Holidays With a RailRoader

So it is one of my favorite past times every year to explain our family Christmas situation to everyone. For those with family down the street, it could be easier. But for those traveling for the holidays farther than 2 hours, it gets pretty sticky.

Railroad women are a rare animal that solo-parent roughly 80-100% of the time. We are not SINGLE, but nonetheless could very well find ourselves alone during the holidays. When my RR (railroader) and I were in the military, we were able to anticipate when we would be apart. The railroad is very different and very spontaneous.

For ease of everyone, here is a quick and easy way to share with your family and friends why you cannot accurately answer their holiday invitation:

  1. Unless we say no, the answer will be “I don’t know” consistently until about 2 hours before your event. Until that 2 hour window, it is impossible to give even a  “maybe yes” or “maybe no” as to if my spouse will be able to attend. We are just as frustrated as you might be. The reason is because…
  2. There is not a schedule. If there is a schedule, it could change at a moment’s notice and is completely out of our hands. The above mentioned 2 hours is being generous. Other circumstances nullify that 2 hour window. Bottom line is, it is a game day decision if I have to strong arm the kids by myself or if I will have help.
  3. If you are farther than one hour away, it either all of us or none of us on Christmas Day. The big kicker is that I don’t want my RR home alone, without his family on Christmas Day. Whether that is waiting for a call to go to work, coming home to an empty house, or us leaving him to go to another Christmas without him. I don’t want that.
  4. We would be happy to compromise but without set dates. I know this is nearly impossible for most people, but this is our life. As much as we love and appreciate you, our priorities our different because the RR is our livelihood.
  5. We WANT TO GO TO YOUR EVENT! But because of number one we don’t want you to count on us being there or not make enough food in case we are able to come.

 

In some cases, we can make it but it’s just us (and the kids). Please understand our spouse wishes they could spend time with you and us during this time of year (or birthday or anniversaries or anything else for that matter). It is hard on them as it is hard on us doing these things alone.

If anything, what we want for the holidays is understanding. Send us home with an extra plate of food, or be available when we are together. It is not easy, but it is especially not easy having to come up with colorful analogies to help you understand why we cannot give you a solid answer.

For more RR wife stories, you can check out these 6 Facts, The Condition of the Railroad Wife and A Snap Shot of Life on the Extra Board.

Share as needed with friends and family and have a Happy Holiday Season.

NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month

 

I learned a little more about myself in my first stab at writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I made it 1/2 through in a matter of 1/3 of the time so there is hope that in the future, I would be able to actually do it.

I started to plan out my novel in mid October. I mapped out new characters, a new and compelling story. I kept with the trope of ordinary people with extraordinary abilities. This was 100% new. November 1st came and went and I was so focused on pitching my first book, that writing anything new took a back seat.

Then something amazing happened. I got a full request for my first book that had “series potential”. The only thing is, if she did manage to read the whole thing, she would see that this was indeed a book one of a very strong series. I couldn’t disappoint.

So on the 8th I started hard charging into book 2 of the Power Series. From there, I averaged about 4k words a day. I would constantly chase the same 5k to be caught up with the NaNo pace car so to speak. Then something else happened that stopped my brain completely. I could not focus. I struggled to get 2k words out in a day.

I was paralysed 1/2 though my very first NaNo. My family came to visit and holidays took priority over writing which changed focus when my baby was admitted to the hospital. Writing was the last thing on my mind.

But I still learned things:

  1. I COULD do it. There is no doubt that I have the ability to get words out. With this particular story, I know it so well, I can add just about any scene to it for better or worse.
  2. First drafts are by far the worst products of writing ever. I am embarrassed to have even my favorite Beta reader and closest friend read what I produced in a mad rush to write words. Horrible garbage writing. What is fun about this is that I will not have to work so hard later. Editing is easier than coming up with ideas from scratch.
  3. I learned a lot about bullet journaling. I cannot draw, but I can use a ruler and make graphs to track things. This was soooo helpful as I am a pantser (I write from the seat of my pants without any formal planning). I created a timeline of various scenes that kept me writing. Transitions between scenes are pretty rough as I have yet to master the passing of time between one paragraph and another, so sleeping is my default. This is later researched and edited to something far more entertaining and effective. All that to say, outlining in some fashion is not something I am used to, but it works for NaNo and prevents you from getting stuck. Write a scene, then move on to the next.
  4. I also found that a reward system is fun, though I rarely stuck to it. As I continue punching out this book, I think I will keep with the reward goals. Mainly because 40,000 words is an order of my favorite wine from Tennessee. (Just had an amazing idea to have my book cover on a wine label for all future book launch parties.. Um YES!!) Other rewards included NaNo swag, a coffee mug, writing in a public place, etc. I did not want everything to cost money, because I am a writer and we can potentially no longer deduct “writing expenses”. I also stuck to rewards every 10k words so that I could feel like I was actually working for it. I was producing anywhere between 1.5k to 5k words in a day. A typical novel is around 80k. 16 rewards that potentially cost money is a bit much in my opinion.
  5. Changing your writing environment helps to break a writer’s block. So incredibly true. I dropped my son off at school and sat at my neighborhood coffee shop and took notes until it was time to pick him up (1/2 day session preschool). The problem I was running into was I did not have enough scenes between the beginning and the end of my book. The end was coming dangerously close in just 20k words. I needed more subplots or a bigger main plot of the book. AND IT WORKED! I left that coffee shop with a HUGE addition to my plot and even an added theme.
  6. I truly have a solid support system. Between my husband giving me the time to writing and my friends cheering me on, to fellow authors and industry professionals that gave me advice on how to write a sequel.

 

I hear that people are scared to write books, and nervous about XYZ. The literary world is so forgiving in the developmental stages of writing. We want to see others succeed. Once it is out in the world, that is when things get sticky. You could have the ripest apple on the tree, but there is always going to be someone that does not like apples. Much is like the publishing a book.

Success for me now, having put so much work into not only my story but the logistics of marketing to agents and publishers, is not so much about the numbers (I say this now knowing I have this huge marketing plan that will require much more work). Success for me is holding my book baby in my hand or giving someone the title to search on Amazon. Success is stating my occupation as an Author when asked. It’s catching up with former colleagues and being able to tell them that I succeeded at everything I started out to do.

I really recommend doing a hobby challenge like National Novel Writing Month. Or maybe you want to try doing a smaller challenge first. ChapterBuzz.com offers a 10k in a month challenge, which I have won twice with one book. You never know until you try.

No More November

November was great and stressful and amazing and stressful. Overall, I survived and have an armful of sweet kiddo love to show for it. We’ll just call it a win.

In late September, I left a great job and people I grew to love. It is no secret that I struggled in areas, but not in the areas of hard work, positive relationships and quality outcomes. It is not in me to produce anything less, so I started looking for other opportunities. Family dynamics shifted. I suddenly became a mother of a chronically ill child and lacked support for my oldest. The logical thing to do was leave the work force to focus on the two little people I am responsible for.

In true Dacia fashion, I also set some steep goals for myself to accomplish while “sitting at home”. With my children taking the highest priority, I planned to return to school, lose some weight that has stuck around far too long, and send my book baby out into the literary world in hopes to get it published. November was also National Novel Writing Month, and to give myself a distraction from rejection emails, I decided to make my first attempt it writing 50,000 words in a new book in one month.

My kids are everything. My littlest, though, is soooo little. She walks and people ask me how my baby is walking. She is 14 months old, perfectly normal for her to be walking. She’s just so tiny. She also has a very tiny airway. So, as we have recently found out, every single time she gets a cold, we end up admitted to our local Children’s Hospital in the ICU on breathing machines. The most recent of which we were discharged yesterday. After three admissions since her birthday in mid September, they finally decided to treat her as an asthmatic, using preventative medicine to help open her airway more making her less susceptible to trouble when copious amounts of boogers are involved (fingers crossed).

 

My little guy, doing his 4 year-old best at being helpful, happy and positive, has struggled with Mommy being with sister. He misses me and it tears me to shreds. The main push to leave work when I did was because he is in afternoon preschool. First of all, I do not even know why this is a thing. How do working parents get their kid to school? We do not have family that live near us and we pay amazing people to watch our children and help us raise them so we can live where we do. That being said, I could not, for the life of me, find a solution to getting my kid to school other than stay home and take him myself. A week after my last day of work, a spot in the morning session opened and he was able to move. Everything happens for a reason.

 

I started school. The online college I attend, fits my mentality and schedule. However, the only language they offer, is the one language I never bothered to learn. I know basic “Hi, how are you? I’m tired. I need coffee.” in English, Arabic, French, Russian, and Swahili (a story for another time). But Spanish I never bothered to learn. Dammit. But luckily, I am very good at taking tests and here I am with a 3.9 GPA and on to Spanish II.

Somehow, I gained back almost every pound of pregnancy weight. Postpartum depression and stress really did a number on my health. We had family photos taken in July at my heaviest. Because I am so short, all that weight put me at borderline obese. I was not huge, but I was very much overweight. I started a journey and since my daughter’s first admission to the hospital in mid September, I have lost 20 pounds. I am back to my prepregnancy weight, but still not where I want to be. Thanksgiving only put back 2 pounds, which will be easy to take back off in the coming weeks before Christmas. 10 more pounds until my initial goal, but I will probably keep going for a total of 40 pound loss. I’ll explain what I have done in another post.

 

NOW ABOUT MY BOOK!!!! I have labored over this baby for years. I finally got it to an acceptable format to send to agents and editors to get it published. It has been #1 on ChapterBuzz.com for 6 months now, and I am positive that my peers are ready to see it leave the charts. So as I sent the emails out, I held my breath as the rejection emails came back. Rejection is part of the game. It really does not bother me much to get rejection emails. Mostly because this is a pipedream and only 1% of books get traditionally published. But then something amazing happened… Industry professionals started asking for more. They wanted to read more of the story, if not the whole thing! People send 100s of queries before this ever happens. But I had put in so much work into crafting the emails and summing up the story in an exciting way, that it was catching on.

 

As I became more and more excited, I got motivated to begin another book. If they want more, I have to have more to show them. So I started NaNoWriMo eight days late. I worked really hard for two weeks and almost caught up to the target words per day. At 25k words, half way done, I got an email that left me anxious, excited and 100% distracted. I know that is incredibly vague, but that is all I can say at the moment. In the coming weeks, I hope to be able to divulge much more. But I learned a lot having started writing another book so aggressively. Look for my NaNo post later.

Anyway, that is my month in a nutshell. This month, like the beginning of every month, I plan to be far more active in my blog and social media in general. I need to get back to building my platform and keeping the people I care about, and the people that care about me abreast on life lessons and new short stories. It’s been a while since I’ve written a short story. Maybe I’ll work on publishing a collection in the future. Who knows.

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Thank you for reading this far and Happy Holidays!!!

Writing: The Art of Romanticizing Life

I’ll be the first to admit that my life is, by no means, glamorous. I am in, in no way, the best at anything. I have many talents but am a master of none, as the saying goes.

But when I tell people stories of my life, they listen. Or they read, because I am a writer and all. I lived a life that was very clumsy, but for that I have stories to tell. I did not live them so that I could make a profit or for the attention. Many of the stories I have to tell about my life, I truly wish I could take back and never live through again.

But why do you even bring them up, if you wished they never happened?

I am who I am today, because of those events. Because of my mistakes. While there is a teeny bit of satisfaction from people being interested in what I have to say, I honestly want people to learn from my life.

How do you get people to listen?

As a writer, stories are told in a way that place people in the moment. I put them there with me in the emergency room in Baghdad, in the concrete shelter of a bunker in Talil, in a helicopter over Mosul, on the seas of the Persian Gulf.  They listen as if they were on the receiving end of the phone call, the bad news, the heartbreak, the fear. Things that they have felt before but claim “I can’t even begin to imagine.”

Oh, but you can. And I will help you.

Writing is taking my day, mundane and routine, giving the details of what would normally go unnoticed, and changing the perspective of the person reading (or listening. I tell a lot of stories, too).

Writers church up the details, regardless of their intent. We make things darker, bolder, sexier, more precious. We put makeup on the pig, and fool them all.

This is kind of embarrassing but I’ll admit to it:

I have a habit of commentating my life as I go through my day. It makes me more conscious of my emotions, easier to control because I imagine people are listening to my thoughts and watching me throughout my day. This exercise also helps me to search out those romantic details of my day, and explore them.

Disclaimer: By romance, I am not referring to any type of relationship with people. I am referring to the ability to make something ordinary or otherwise a footnote and showing it in a light that makes it appear desirable.

Example: I have recently resigned from my job. I will, more or less, be a stay at home mom. For those who live there, they know it’s not as exciting as it sounds. But the writer in me divulges more, because heaven forbid anyone think my life is boring or mundane. I’m quitting my job to write full time and focus on my children. My book is finally finished and I have begun seeking representation. I should be published by the summer of 2018.

See how romantic that sounds? Not once did I mention dirty dishes or poopy diapers. Scrubbing the toilet or folding an endless pile of laundry. My hope was that you would imagine me, in my business casual, typing in my home office while my children play quietly on the floor in their clean day clothes (I just laughed so hard I snorted).

So you, writer, can you “church up” your day to day? Can you paint a sexy picture of your #bedhairdontcare? Can you fool us into believing Beyonce ACTUALLY woke up like that? That is my challenge for you today. Tweet it, FaceBook it, Instagram it.

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#myromanticlife

Another Challenge

It’s STILL not done. But it is getting all shiny and polished for submission at the end of the month. I greatly appreciate those who are waiting for it to be published to buy it and hold it in your hands, smell the print on the page and request an autograph (which I would absolutely oblige). But if you absolutely cannot wait for the final printed thing, you can read it at Chapterbuzz.com It has been #1 on the site for months and it’s up to you to keep it there. Read a chapter, buzz the chapter, rinse and repeat.

 

Thank you for all your continued support. I don’t mind sharing the #1 spot with my peers but it lets me know that I am doing something right when I get that email every week letting me know my ranking.

Do you have a story in your heart that you want to share with the world? Or maybe you just want to try. Join me at Chatperbuzz and be an award winning author like me 🙂

 

Yes, it could happen. And happen suddenly: one day you’re a regular writer, the next day you’re an award-winning author. Many people have it in their heads that winning an award is a long, drawn-out process that can only happen once their books are published, and involves filling out lots of applications and sending their […]

via Want to be an award-winning writer by next month? — What Inspires Your Writing?