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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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.

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?

Pitch Wars Update- A Writing About Writing

“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” -Mary Tyler Moore

Earlier this month I submitted my very first novel to PitchWars (HERE) in hopes of snagging a mentor that will help me shape it into the master piece that I see in my mind. Well, I did not get in. Which is fine. I am actually in the majority and did not take it very hard.

The day after submitting my first ten pages for consideration, I attended a writing conference (which I wrote about HERE). I was able to tweak my in person pitch, tighten my query letter, and found some very GLARING problems within the first few pages of my work and even some throughout.

These are VICTORIES for me. They are not setbacks. I knew I had a lot of work to do, but I also know that it will be worth it to see Apparent Power within a cover and in my hands. My premise sparks interest with agents and now I have to wow them with my hardly more than mediocre writing.

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Though I am so excited about my new book, Apparent Power is my baby and I cannot wait for Valerie’s story to be available to the masses. You can preview it HERE.

So while I balance work, kids, and life, I guess it’s back to late nights in September editing and writing on my lunch break.

If you are a writer and have experienced rejection or are being hard on yourself (its a vicious cycle, we all do it) take a breath and say “I won’t learn if I don’t try. If I fail, I will know why and work to fix it.” You are in control of your emotions. You are in control of your actions. You can be defeated or you can have your beverage of choice, maybe cry a bit if that’s your thing, and then you suck it up and drive on. Your writing goal is not stupid or unrealistic. It takes a special person to keep going, and I think you’re pretty special. Good Luck!

The Condition of the Railroad Wife (But this may also apply to you)…

I talk a lot about Tribe in regards to parenting, wifing, working, writing, etc. It is a very particular group of people that “get” the aspect of your life that is unique to the general population. Of these, I find the railroad wives to be my biggest cheerleaders. An even smaller group (you know who you are because I know you’re reading this), is a handful of women, rough around the edges, that fight like mad to keep their families together in the face of the struggles of being married to a RR.

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What a dummy.. 

I have noticed that on social media there is a small group of ladies that are willing to be brutally honest about their feelings towards their husbands in regards to their profession. If you are not familiar with the dynamics of having a RR for a spouse, you can check these Six Facts (HERE) or this short story (HERE).

There is another group of women that praise every ounce of their husbands being. While I am not apart of this group, I will approach them with sensitivity, as I am sure that a couple of things may be true

  1. They actually found and married that tiny percent of person that has such small trivial flaws and they are genuinely so happy, that they live to make it up to that person for being so perfect.
  2. God tells us to support our husbands 100% as the head of the household. They dare not speak ill of their other half, especially in questionable company.
  3. They simply do not use social media to vent. Period. Fair enough.

Again, I am very much apart of the first group, and they have A LOT to say. The groups I am apart of are a safe place to cry, laugh, ask for advice, or simply just vent about what frustrates us to others that not only understand, but can validate our frustrations. The railroad exasperates every domestic dispute.

There are spouses out there that are perfect, but most are not. I am nowhere near being perfect. But to women, both working or staying home, that fight this unfair battle of equality within the walls of their home. This seems to be a theme of a lot of women I talk to. Smart, educated, strong women. Every person deserves respect but most of all, married people deserve respect for each other. They married forever, and that is far too long to spend feeling unequal, and dependant. It is okay to be financially dependant on someone else, but not to the point where one feels completely helpless without the other.

A lot of times, we are expected to hold things down at home 24/7 while the other person is sleeping in a silent hotel, free of responsibilities, or little people that constantly fight you over the smallest things like putting their shoes on EVERY.SINGLE.MORNING!!! And then, some come home and expect it to continue. Yes, they they brought home the bacon while they slept peacefully in that hotel, but when one has kids, there is no peace. lol

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What I really want to say to you, the one reading this waiting for your RR to come or go, is that you deserve to be happy. You deserve to be happy with your RR. You jumped into this life with them with the intent to get through the hard stuff, and to make each other better people. You deserve to be respected. You are not dumb, useless, horrible, a bitch, or insufferable. You might be a little crazy, because I don’t know one of us that isn’t just a little batty. But getting through this is not beyond the two of you. You just both have to agree to keep working on it, and only give up when you know you’ve reached your limit.

Encourage other RR spouses to join these groups. Please for the love of everything read the pinned posts of the rules and expectations of the page before you post a single thing. All groups are different. Some allow gratuitous cursing, others do not allow it at all.  Find one that suits you and cling to that tribe.

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Lastly, I will leave you with this. Domestic violence is NOT okay. Emotional abuse is NOT okay. My best friend was murdered Christmas Morning 2010 while I was away at war. If you are unsure if you need assistance you can read HERE for Six Facts about domestic violence.