Monthly Archives: July 2013

Low Carb: How It Works For Me #MyWANA

Several people have asked how I’ve stuck to low carb for so long.

This is what’s worked for me.

imgres-1First, I purchased the new Dr. Atkins book. I read the entire thing before I committed. I wanted to know what the steps were. The book changed my thoughts completely. When I got it, I thought this was a diet. It’s not. If it’s a diet, you get the same results as every other diet. You’ll lose a ton and then gain it back. This is not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change.

If you’re like me you’ve spent years gaining weight at the scent of cookies while friends and loved ones could eat what they wanted in moderation. From reading the book, I learned the idea that weight loss isn’t exactly one size fits all. I finally understood why it took me hours in the gym to lose weight on the traditional low fat diets, and I understood part of why I suffered with cravings for years. There’s a reason we’re the most obese nation in the world even though we’re inundated with lowfat options everywhere.

Second, I followed the induction phase one plan religiously. This is the only way to break your body from its addiction to sugars. Read every label carefully. Fillers are everywhere, especially in meat. LABELS are important! Plan on lots of fresh food, but no sweets. Not even fruit.

Phase one is HARD at first. But it’s so worth it. You’ll feel better, and you learn to ¬†really listen to your body about food. It’s easy to binge on a bag of potato chips. Not so much a block of cheddar. ūüôā Speaking of binging, a lot of my weight issues are mental. I have serious food problems. Anyone who can gain and lose 60 pounds in one year more than once in a decade has something other than food problems going on. I’ve starved myself so often over the years that the binge mentality became my norm. Some of you will relate. For instance, before my low carb lifestyle I’d buy a bag of M&Ms for the family to share (HA!). Those M&Ms would call my name until they were gone. No one else in the house cared about those M&Ms, but I DID. And after I ate them all in less than 24 hours, I HATED them and myself. ¬†I’d swear to “be good” the next day only to binge again. It might be a month later, but the binge would happen. Guaranteed.

Since March 2012 I’ve binged twice: once on green beans and once on spinach. That’s makes me laugh when I write it, but it shows how ingrained my issue with food is. I remember exactly what happened with those binges and how crappy I felt afterwards and how I realized my food issues were bigger than food. I’m careful with both veggies now because I know they can trigger a binge, and even though that kind of binge won’t result in weight gain, it’s still an unhealthy behavior. ¬†The good part of this is two problems in over a year. Pre-low carb, it was two a week.

After phase two, I quit following the Atkins plan word-for-word, but I’ve maintained my weight loss for several months by continuing low carb. My keys to success were and still are bacon, eggs, heavy cream, butter, coconut oil, almonds, almond milk, olives, pepperoni, cheese, cream cheese, cauliflower, spinach, flax, Atkins bars and protein mix. If I’m hungry, I can always make a protein smoothie, but be careful. A lot of those mixes are FULL of carbs.

Be super careful about eating sugar-free candy. A lot of it is made with sugar-alcohols, and while they don’t count as carbs, your body can process them like carbs. I found that other than Atkins bars, sugar-free candy made me crave sugar. I do use Splenda. I know the research says to get rid of it, but I haven’t found anything else that tastes right in my coffee.

I’ve added berries to my diet and I’ve started doing Pilates. My next goal is to add a cardio workout because I know that’s important for heart health.

Since dumping sugar, starch and flour from my diet, I’ve felt better, looked better and had more energy. I no longer crave carb-laden foods.

One more bit of advice: Pinterest and Google are your friends when it comes to great low carb recipes.

This is what worked for me.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.#

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Accidents, THE END plus give-aways coming soon #MyWANA

One of the bags responsible for snapping my shoulder out of place. Ouchy.

One of the bags responsible for snapping my shoulder out of place. Ouchy.

As I’ve stated a million times before, I am the klutziest person I know. I mean I injured myself with my purse. I’m seeing a chiropractor now. His first order of business was snapping my shoulder back in place. Yes, it hurt as bad as it sounds.¬†

Today, he started work on my neck. Somehow, I got a paper cut on my ELBOW on the FACE paper they put down on the chiropractor table. Blood everywhere. I freaked the poor guy out pretty good. I have no idea how I got the paper cut on my elbow. This ranks up there with the time I got a yearbook box paper cut on my knee. Ouch.

Injuries didn’t stop me from writing, though.

I finished the draft of Sharlene Book 3 last night! Book 2 releases next month (finally!!!). That means I’ll be hosting give-aways soon. Watch the blog for more info. If you don’t know who Sharlene is, let me share. Once upon a time Sharlene was a teen scream movie queen, aka horror film actress. But then she was bludgeoned to death. Now she’s back as a guardian angel. In book 1, Dead Girl Walking, Sharlene has to solve her murder before her killer strikes again. The novels are campy mysteries, and they’re tons of fun. I’ll talk about books 2 and 3 later. All I can say is poor Sharlene. She’s had a tough year. The Dead Girl Walking video trailer created by Karl Kelley will be out soon. I can’t wait to share it with y’all!

Have an awesome day!

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Less Than Perfect No Longer Acceptable

Crown JewelsEarlier this month when I heard a former Biggest Loser contestant was being sued by the fitness firm who hired her to peddle their wares, I was irate. When media professionals made a big deal about Princess Kate’s day after giving birth baby bump, I could not believe it.

The cases are different, but both show the problem people have with real bodies.

Anyone who’s studied nutrition and exercise knows the¬†axiom slower is better is absolute truth. Biggest Loser contestants drop over 100 pounds in a short time with several hours a day of that time spent in a gym. The chances of the weight staying off is slim ūüôā . People big enough to go on The Biggest Loser haven’t embraced the gym lifestyle. And weight is so psychological as well. It’s an identity. You might drop pounds, but if your mindset doesn’t change, too, the pounds will come back. The gym that hired the contestant should’ve known all that. They wanted the before and after photos of the girl who’d transformed practically over night to sell their product. Instead, they got the truth. A gym alone isn’t the answer to a weight problem.

Princess Kate doesn’t have a weight problem. There’s nothing psychological at work, and a gym wouldn’t make a difference one way or the other. She just had a baby. She looked amazing and gracious and happy. And the media wanted to focus on her stomach? UGH! I wanted to punch someone.

It seems like less than perfect is no longer acceptable for people in the public eye. Because of that we see all sorts of strange cosmetic surgery results. If we’re not careful the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld will be something other than science fiction. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend.#

 

Writers Write: You Want to Blog #mywana

If you’re a writer, you want a blog. If you have something to say, something you want to share with the world, you want a ¬†to¬†blog (the verb is what’s important, not the noun). If you want something amazing and wonderful to look back on one day–something that captures life’s little and big moments–you want a blog.

I hear a lot of writers say they can’t handle a blog. That makes me think of those girls who complained about 20-page papers when we were in classes for our MA’s in English. We’re writers. Words are our thing. They’re what we do.

Blogs train you to write short. They teach you to have a central focus. They help you connect with others. They give you a voice. If you’re an indie author, they connect you to readers.

my blog connection mapDon’t believe me? Check out my blog map. It’s stunning how people from all over the world have connected with me here. Okay, it’s also a little scary, but it’s mostly awesome. (Hi people checking out the blog!)

How cool is that? How neat is it that as writers we can reach people all over the world simply by clicking Publish?

So back to the beginning. If you’re a writer, find a way to connect with people. It’s essential.

If you think you don’t have anything to blog about, do this exercise I do with my students: Take out a piece of paper. Fold it hotdog (horizontal), then hamburger (vertical). Now, it’s a little square. Put on some music and start writing words the music makes you think of. Not sentences, words. Choose one of the words that reminds you of something you could write about maybe. (Don’t worry about doing this wrong. There are no firing squads. No one’s going to give you an F.) Flip the square over and write words or phrases connected to that word. If nothing stood out, keep going with your list of disconnected words.

If you’re a writer, by the end of the two small squares, you probably have at least 10 ideas. If not, don’t freak out. Just keep going with the list. Flip the square inside out. If you have your topic use this blank square to start writing details about the topic. Specifics. Maybe pieces of dialog. Maybe scents from the event. Maybe words that fit together and make your soul sing with their rightness. Writers, you get what I mean by that.

Flip to the next side and continue.

By now you probably have hundreds of ideas. Shoot, you might be ready to write the next bestseller. If so, you’re welcome.

Writers write. Blogs are a great place to do that writing.#

edited at 8:36 a.m. to add: as with most things, there are no absolutes. ūüôā

JCamp 101

I don't have the kids' permission to post pics of them to my blog, or I'd have a pic of them working!

I don’t have the kids’ permission to post pics of them to my blog, or I’d have a pic of them working!

Yearbook camp at Rider this week has been amazing. It’s not just my kids. I invited all the area schools. Iowa Park, Hirschi and Graham have been in the room with several of my kids. So far we’ve learned more about story and photography and how to critique. Tomorrow we start design and the kids will be get busy working on actual products they can take back to their rooms for use in their yearbooks and papers. MSU Professor Bradley Wilson and two of my former students–one in training to be an adviser, one already an adviser–are there helping. It’s AMAZING. Two yearbook companies have donated supplies. Balfour brought adviser gifts and fun stuff for the kids. Walsworth gave us food yesterday and brought supplies. My rep Brian would have taught, but photo ran over on time, which was totally cool because the kids learned so much. He’s coming back Thursday to help instead.

My vision when I decided to do this camp was to improve scholastic journalism in the area and to let everyone know about TAJE, our state J organization.

The reality is so much more than I ever could’ve imagined.

Yep, I love my job. #

 

 

Coffee Time Night Owl Writer Reporting For Duty #MyWANA

My little addiction

My little addiction

WAAAAAYYYYY back when I started writing again, my (no longer existent) local writer’s group met at Jackye Plummer’s house. I blame Jackye for my addiction and insomnia.

Jackye was an amazing writer, a fantastic hostess, a true joy and MEAN with her red pen. Nine times out of ten she’d hand a manuscript back, say “chunk the first three chapters” and then talk about what you’d done right in the book. The group would spend hours around her table trading pages of our WIPS. We loved Tuesday nights. We’d eat, drink coffee, read, comment and laugh for hours. I’m not sure what Jackye put in her coffee, but we could work for hours on it.

It’s been years since I participated in those Tuesday night critiques, but I still drink coffee when I’m working. I’ve tried NOT drinking coffee, but the words don’t seem to work without it.

Problem? I usually write at night. I don’t know why, but for some reason my creative brain kicks into gear around 10 p.m. If I could write all night, I would. But unless it’s summer, I have the day job to consider. The last thing in the world my students need is a sleepless Mrs. Lee reporting for duty. ūüôā

I’m finishing up my late night coffee, remembering Jackye and saying a silent thank you to her as I write this post.

What about you? Coffee at night? Creative brain on night owl hours? Someone who made a huge impact on your life and art?

I’d love to hear your stories.#

 

Make Me Cry, But Warn Me First

Media kit file.

Media kit file.

I don’t care how many times I watch Moulin Rouge, every time Satine dies, I cry. When Christian holds her close and screams “No!” I’m right there with him. Earlier when she’s still alive and it looks like Christian’s going to walk away and ¬†Toulouse remembers his line and screams “The greatest gift you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return,” I cheer. Even though I know in a few minutes Satine’s going to die from TB and wreck Christian’s whole world.¬†

I love that movie. I always have. I could watch it every day and not get tired of it. The music, the characters, the story. Every bit of it makes me happy even though it shatters my heart every time.

If the movie didn’t start by telling me Satine died, I’d HATE it. But I know, and I appreciate the story of freedom, beauty, truth and love.

I love a handful of movies other than Moulin Rouge that make me cry: Steel Magnolias, Hope Floats, Beaches. None of them surprise me with deaths used only to trigger emotion. All tell amazing stories.

I write romance novels. I’m a fan of happily ever after. People who pick up my books know they’re in for that ride and not the kill off the main character or make the protagonist the villain book. If an author gives me a heads up in foreshadowing or flat out telling me the end before the beginning, I’ll follow them along that box of Kleenex path, no problem. But if they surprise me with a death just to make me cry or because they don’t want to be classified as romance novelists, I’m not going to be a happy camper.

What about you? Tears or happily ever after? Both or it doesn’t matter?#

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I write romance novels and mysteries. Check them out here.

 

 

Need Fantasy Recommendations

Ok, maybe my love of fantasy goes all the way back to Star Wars. I raised DD on those movies. Do movies count?

Ok, maybe my love of fantasy goes all the way back to Star Wars. I raised DD on those movies. Do movies count?

I never planned on writing fantasy novels. Shoot, other than Arthurian Legend, Harry Potter and The Hobbit, I didn’t read fantasy. Fantasy was my brother’s realm. He’s the one who raved about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Lord of the Rings. I’ve tried a thousand times to slog through Tolkien’s masterpieces and stopped around page 100 every time.

I’m not sure what changed. Maybe it was Karen Marie Moning. Or Jim Butcher. Or GRR Martin. I’m not sure. All I know is over the course of the last couple years I’ve gone from being a light reader of fantasy ¬†to someone who reads fantasy constantly.

So I guess it makes sense that I started writing a guardian angel mystery series last year. And it makes sense that the more I write, the more fantasy elements show up. I can’t wait to share Sharlene’s next book with readers. It’s in copy edits now, so it won’t be long.

Do you like fantasy novels? If so, which are your favorites? I need a new series since who knows when book 6 of Song of Ice and Fire will be out and Dresden’s done for a year.#

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If you like my blog, check out my books. (YA as Elizabeth Lee and Inspirational as Mary Beth Lee)

Weight Loss, Writing and Commitment

my weight lossIt’s been a while since I talked about my weight loss journey. And it really is a journey. There’s nothing fast about it. Nothing miraculous. It’s what’s worked for me.

I don’t eat sugar or flour or bread. At all. And I haven’t since the middle of March 2012 (other than my 11-day trip to Ireland and the UK).

Some people say that strict of an eating plan will fail. For me the opposite has proven true. Cutting it out completely makes it easy to follow.

If you want to know more about low carb, check out the Atkins book. It’s what I used. I promised myself I’d add cardio to the mix this week, because that’s what makes the heart healthy.

Here’s the deal, though.

I LOVE Zumba and the elliptical. I mean, I LOVE them. I love working so hard my shirt is covered in sweat. I love the way my heart kicks into overdrive and my breathing grows deeper and I can feel my lungs. I LOVE it.

BUT getting to the Y, even though it’s two minutes from the house…UGH. I wake up with the best intentions ever and then before I know it, it’s 10 p.m. and I’ve watched a million episodes of Criminal Minds or cleaned house or spent five bajillion hours on Facebook. My best intentions are not cutting it. If I’m going to work in the cardio, I’m going to have to commit, just like I’ve committed to the low carb lifestyle.

That commitment is what’s necessary for my writing, too. I can’t start the day with the best intentions and then waste the day on projects other than my books. My poor office gets used for blog posts and critiquing others’ work, but it’s not seeing a lot of new words making it onto the pages of my current manuscripts.

So I’m committing. Because just like with low carb, when you commit, when you say this is how it’s going to be and there aren’t any excuses, the results happen. #

 

 

London Day 2: The End of an AMAZING trip

When we woke up the last day of the trip, my sickness was gone, and we were focused! We knew we wanted to see the Tower of London and the British Museum. We knew the rest of the group was going to watch the Changing of the Guard. Armed with our handy dandy tube guide and a map, we decided to leave the group and meet up with them for dinner near St. Paul’s.

1 YEOMAN WARDERSo off we went. We stood in line at the Tower and decided to go on the guided tour first then walk around on our own. I’m glad we did. We learned about the Warders. They’re all retired military and they live at the Tower. They tell fabulous stories and point out all the attractions you want to see if you have time. While we were there, a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary was there. They were married at the church in the Tower of London property, and this was their first time back. It’s NOT just one tower. Most people probably know that, but I didn’t. After our guided tour, we stood in line to see the Crown Jewels. If you ever go to the Tower of London, STAND IN THE LINE for the Jewels. It’s a fast moving line, and even though it looks like you’ll be there forever, you won’t. It’s so worth it. HOLY COW. AMAZING.

(This weekend I saw a PBS special on the queen’s coronation, and as I watched I kept telling DH, “this doesn’t capture the majesty of that robe, that dress, that crown.” I think he might’ve gotten a little tired of hearing it, but I was serious.)

After the Jewels I headed to the dungeon aka, the torture display. All I can say to that is OUCH!

We saw the ravens. It’s said if the ravens go, the kingdom will fall. I didn’t realize how BIG ravens are. There were signs not to feed them, and all I could think was WHO WOULD FEED THEM, they might bite your finger off!?!

We ran into some of the other group as we were leaving. They said they didn’t have time to stand in the line for the jewels. I don’t know if they did or not. If not, they’ve got to go back to London.

2 British Museum

From the Tower, we hopped on the tube (mind the gap!) to the British Museum.¬†Armed with another map, we went in search of the Rosetta Stone. But I ran into this guy instead. I’m a romance writer. When I find statues of Cupid and Venus, I take photos.

3 Cupid

No, really.

I didn’t take photos of the Rosetta Stone. Or the Assyrian statues. Or anything else in the museum other than Cupid and Venus. I think maybe my brain was fuzzy from cold meds.

I gave everyone 90 minutes to look through the museum, but after 45 my feet

4 Museum ceilingwere killing me, so I drank an orange pellegrino and took a picture of the¬†museum’s ceiling.

I should definitely NOT be in charge of what pictures get taken at the end of a trip. I almost took pictures of my feet.

After 90 minutes we found the rest of my group and discovered they too had been done looking at the museum for 45 minutes because their feet hurt! I should’ve take a group foot picture.

6 St Paul'sBy this time it was close to dinner time, so we headed back to the tube station for a two stop ride to St. Paul’s. All I had here was the tube stop. No map. I forgot to look up and took us AROUND the cathedral. (Cold meds, hurt feet…I had an excuse!) We ran into the church AND a Starbucks. The group wanted to sit since we had a little time. I’m always ready for coffee, so off to Starbucks and their free wifi.

After I finished my coffee I wanted to look inside St. Paul’s. I lucked out. A choir from Norway was performing. It was BEAUTIFUL! I sat in that amazing space and took part in the first thirty minutes of the service before leaving to make sure I didn’t get us lost looking for the restaurant which my iMap said was within feet of St. Pauls. I trusted iMaps once. It took me to an OU/ Kansas ¬†football game. OMG. SOOOOOOOOO much read! That stadium is crazy big and it was packed and all we wanted to do was go play poker, but we were stuck in OK Hell of tailgate parties and Kansas fans leaving because they were getting stomped and rednecks driving around in trucks and screaming like wild banshees. As much as I like the app, I don’t trust it. But this time it was spot on. Our last London dinner was fish and chips and it was delicious.

Half the big group went back to the hotel after that, but it was our last day and I wanted the full experience, so I stayed with the other half of the group for a short walk and our final tour.

8 Wobbly BridgeWe walked across the wobbly bridge from Harry Potter. And while we waited I took another picture of the Eye 5 The EyeAND discovered what I’ll definitely check out next trip to London.

I’ve walked by the Globe every time I’ve been to London, but this time it was actually open and they were showing Macbeth! I can’t believe I never thought to look and see if tickets were available. I know our super awesome amazing guide Paul would have at least given me feedback on the option had I even thought of it!

7 MacbethSo yes, if you ever go to London, check to see if The Globe is open!

At least I got a picture in front of a poster. ūüôā

As the sun started setting our final guide of the trip met us on Embankment. Jack the Ripper. He was so funny. In the past our main guides have told us not to bother with the Ripper tour because it’s just walking around the East End through alleys looking at places the most notorios British killer left bodies behind. Paul promised us the tour would be awesome and he was right. Our Ripper tour guide was funny and insightful and full of information. Not only did he tell us the Jack the Ripper story, he showed us how the East End is changing and how diverse it is. We LOVED it!¬†9 Jack the Ripper tour

At the end though, my feet were wishing I was back at Macbeth.

And then…we went back to the nice town of Greenwich for one last night of London sleep.

I love EF Tours and the opportunities it’s given me and my students. When I was a kid my bucket list had two overseas places on it: London and Paris. I’ve been to both, and I feel like I could make my way around London no problem now. My students feel like they can do study abroad and experience the world no problem. They want to learn other languages. They’re fascinated by different cultures. EF helps you see the world as global. Since 2008, I’ve taken students and teachers to England, France, Italy, Ireland, Wales and Scotland. I’ve written on the banks of the Seine River and sung along with Parisiennes on Music Night. I’ve gotten lost and found my way on busy London streets. I’ve seen the place fairy tales were born. I’ve seen the white cliffs of Dover from Calais, France, and wondered what soldiers thought during World War 2 when they were so close to home they could taste it, but they couldn’t get there. I’ve experienced history in a way no classroom could ever truly teach. When I was that kid making the London and Paris bucket list, I could never have imagined. As a teacher now, EF helps me open the world to my students. I can’t wait for my next trip (Germany, Prague and Paris). THANKS EF!! #

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If you like my blog, check out my books.

I think my Elizabeth Lee guardian angel mystery series (Dead Girl Walking¬†and¬†soon to release, An Angel Gets Her Wings) might make a London stop soon. Or a Paris stop. Or and Ireland stop…