Monday, February 26, 2018


Two months into the New Year -  And I'm still fat!






By the end of February resolutions have already drifted from our minds. We’ve joined gyms, signed up for diet programs, started the latest fad diet, with no noticeable results. Or, just as bad, took off a fast ten or fifteen pounds only to gain it all back in a week or two after giving up.
What happened to our fresh resolutions?
A resolution, from the word resolve, is defined as firm determination and sounds way too much like restriction.
How about goals? Unlike a resolution, a goal is a something positive that we want to achieve, not a restriction. Positive is good.
The holidays, along with all the food temptations that come with them, have been over for weeks. It’s time to resume normal eating. Normal? Normal might be defined differently for each of us. For me, there is no “normal”. I’m either closely watching my caloric intake, or overeating, seldom anything in between.
It is time to dust off those New Year’s resolutions and turn them into manageable goals. A goal can be as simple as a mental picture of something you want to accomplish or can be a formal outline for a goal’s accomplishment. The most important thing is to choose goals you are excited about achieving in order to motivate you to complete them.

Some goal guidelines:

1.    Write them down. Give them the added formality of typing them and printing them out. You might want to have a separate list for your goals for the week, month, and year. Anthony Robbins advocates a five-year plan—think about what you’d like your life to look like in five years—it’s an eye opener!
2.    Have your goal sheet somewhere you will see it every day. I keep a set of weekly goals on an index card next to my computer.
3.    Don’t try to do too many goals at once. Pick two or three, or even only one if it is something important to you.
4.    The more difficult the goal, the more necessary it is to have a list of action steps you will do in order to achieve it. Divide the steps into long and short-term solutions.
5.    Procrastination can be overwhelming, thus emphasizing the need to have increments toward the achievement of your goal. Begin with that baby step—but begin!
Many years ago, I was stuck in a job I found unfulfilling and I made a goal for the year to change my career path by taking advantage of the tuition reimbursement plan my benefit package offered. I wanted to go back to school for my Master’s degree, a huge task that involved a lot of work just to get started. I took an immediate first step and contacted a university for information about the programs. It was a small step, but the catalogue they sent made the goal real and feel more attainable.
I began classes that spring and graduated three years later.
Make that first step a small one and make it today. You’ll be surprised how it inspires you to keep going.

Dear Readers,
An accomplished goal does not happen by throwing a coin into a fountain and making a wish. If you tucked those resolutions you wrote on New Year’s Day into the pile of detritus on the top of your desk, that’s most likely where they‘ll stay—buried.
Whatever your goal, keep it in sight and take a first step toward its completion. What you focus on becomes more and more real to you.
I wish all of you a healthy and amazing new year!

Marla







Friday, January 5, 2018

The holidays are over.
 Now what?




My last blogs were designed to encourage myself and others like me get through the holidays without gaining weight—or at least only gaining a pound or two. Since most of us have a New Year’s resolution to lose weight in 2018, I thought talking about how to accomplish that goal would be helpful.
An accomplished goal does not happen by throwing a coin into a fountain and making a wish. One of the best ways to achieve a goal is to use creative visualization. Athletes use the technique to get in their optimal zone by picturing a winning season. What you focus on becomes more and more real to you. If you tuck those goals you wrote on New Year’s Day into the pile of detritus on the top of your desk, that’s where they‘ll stay—buried and forgotten.

Using visualization:

1.                    Twice a day, assume a relaxed position, close your eyes and picture what you and your life will look like when you’ve accomplished your goal.

2.                    Make sure to include a mental video of you making the steps necessary for success.

3.                    Picture yourself overcoming the obstacles that are sure to fall into the path to achieving your goal.

4.                    Incorporate as much sensual data into the picture as possible.

5.                    Remember, don't forget that what you focus on becomes more and more real to you. Rerun that picture of your goal in your mind throughout the day.

Whatever your goal, keep it in sight and take a first step toward its completion. join a support group, begin an exercise plan, start a food diary. Make a list of the steps involved in reaching your goal.
If I’ve learned one thing about losing weight, it’s this—no one method works for everyone. Part of your goal is finding a plan that you can live with.


Dear readers,
      Thank you for following me through this series of weight-control blogs. I am an author of suspense novels, and also a woman who has battled with my weight since I was a child.
      Many of us who love to read and write have an even more difficult time, as our favorite pastime does not burn calories!
Wishing you a happy, healthy and successful new year,


Marla

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The week before Christmas

 - Sugar’s Slippery Slope





     Last week on my annual three-day gambling and shopping getaway with girlfriends, a friend gave me a jar of goodies that she’d baked. They were delicious. Don’t ask me how much I consumed on my drive back home; I’m afraid I lost count!
     Why is it, after being given a wonderful treat like home baked cookies, I eat them like they’re the last ones I’ll ever enjoy? If any of you readers have a good suggestion on how to put the brakes on grazing, please share it!
   Last week I was on the edge, and now I’m at the bottom of the goodie barrel, fluffy as a marshmallow snowman. It is not a pleasant feeling. I’ve slid down the slippery slope for three days; now it’s time to follow my own advice and return to sensible eating until the next food “event”. With only nine days to go before the big day, there are many more temptations ahead.
     I’m pondering why it’s so impossibly difficult to get back on track after three days of free-reign eating. The mouth wants what the mouth wants, hard to control as a cat! I must accept the inevitable truth—in order to keep from gaining pounds this season, I have to eat less than normal on days when there are no parties or other eating occasions luring me to overindulge.
And meanwhile, thank goodness for stretch jeans!

Tips for Christmas week.
1.  Don’t let a few out-of-control days lead to a week of binging. Accept it, forgive yourself, and eat lean whenever possible.
2.     Put gift treats out of sight. (Or in the trunk!) Allow yourself one or two each day as a reward for your resolve.
3.   Think before you drink! Most alcoholic beverages have 90 calories or many more. Substitute coffee, tea or water for them and save your calories for the things you can’t live without.
4.   Plan ahead. At the beginning of every day, take a few moments to consider your schedule. On party days, cut back on your fat and carb intake during the day so you can afford to splurge at the party.
5.    Remember it’s cold and flu season. Be sure to get enough protein, fiber, fruits and vegetables to stay healthy and ward off all the bugs that are going around.

Dear Readers,
Hope these tips help keep you on track (or close!) during the party season. Have a wonderful, happy and healthy Christmas.
Marla



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Preventing Holiday Weight Gain

Christmas Treats—Yeeks!



     Thanksgiving is behind me. I indulged, bulged, and managed to get back on track. And then I started my holiday baking. Making treats to give as gifts is a holiday tradition, which once started is as difficult to get rid of as a yeast infection.
     For more than twenty years I’ve made candy to box up and give as gifts to friends and relatives. Everyone loves my fudge. Unfortunately, so does the cook. Over the years I’ve at least cut down to making two varieties. But two or twenty, the dilemma is the same. How do I keep from stuffing gift goodies into my greedy mouth?
     When Terry and I each had our own house, I shipped it to his garage in sealed containers until I was ready to box it up and give it as gifts. Keeping the candy in our attached garage now, makes it just too darn accessible.
     And everywhere I go, Christmas goodies are out, even at the library and the bank. A few bites here and there, and I’ve upped my daily calorie allotment to code red. I’ve had to wrack my sugar-drenched brain to come up with a few useful suggestions.
     Here goes.
1.     Pass up public goody trays by forming a mental picture of the unsanitary conditions surrounding them. Think about people sneezing on them, children handling each one before deciding, and how long they sit out exposed to who knows how many dastardly germs and menacing viruses.
2.     During the holiday season, few of us has the time or the inclination to write out a food plan every day, but develop a mental plan and stick to it. Plan to allow yourself two or three of your own homemade treats after supper, and keep that in mind when you walk past the cookie trays on display wherever you go.
3.     If you are making treats, box them for gift giving as quickly as possible. This includes a gift tag with the receiver’s name. I find that if I do this, it keeps my fingers out of them. Then store them with a neighbor!
4.     When baking cookies, make everyone else’s favorites and avoid your own.  If that’s impossible, again, allot yourself a few after dinner. I find that allowing myself that small indulgence keeps me from pilfering the gift boxes every time I walk into the garage.
5.     And one handy tip I’ve turned to lately—chewing gum. Hard to snarf up those random treats with gum in your mouth!

Dear Readers,
Every holiday season is a challenge for anyone watching their weight. The best way to keep from gaining is to stay aware of what you’re eating. Even the small things can help. Enjoy the parties, the lights, and celebrate the season!

Marla

Friday, November 10, 2017


HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN

Preparing for Thanksgiving



            Unless you’re stranded on a desert island, being held prisoner in Myanmar, or   are accidentally locked in your storage locker, you’ll be stuffing yourself on the big day. The trick is to give yourself permission to do that without eating more and more every day leading up to Thanksgiving as if you were training for an Olympic event. 
             That isn’t as simple as that sounds. Anticipation makes moderation difficult. Your devious brain will be telling you, “Go ahead. You’ll be overeating on Thanksgiving anyway, you may as well eat whatever you want until then.
Sound familiar?
            Use your brain to help you, not sabotage you. Remain aware of your eating habits.
Don’t starve yourself. Eat sensibly. And get enough sleep! Sound strange? Then you’ve never noticed how much more susceptible you are to food urges on days that you’re exhausted. Getting enough sleep is the best way to be good to yourself and prevent eating binges.
My tips for this week are for those of you—and myself—who are going to be doing the cooking on Thanksgiving. Cooking is a task requiring more that one tip!
1.  If your family and friends are used to having appetizers set out, prepare some that you can pass up. For me, that means herring, a shrimp plate, and stuffed mushroom. I know, it’s really weird not to like those things, but I’m a picky eater except when it comes to junk food. So for me, no chips, cheese, or mixed nuts on my coffee table.
 2.  At the big meal, indulge only in your favorites and pass up the other dozen side dishes. I’ve practiced this one for a while now, and believe me, I’ve never been reprimanded by the hostess since I so obviously enjoy what I am eating.
3.  Make sure to have a supply of disposable plastic containers for leftovers. Send the tempting, high-calorie items home with your guests and don’t take no for an answer. This will require extreme assertiveness on your part when they protest—and they will. Be firm.

Dear readers,
        Remember, Thanksgiving is one day out of three hundred sixty-five. The free
pass you give yourself to eat the things you love on that day is for one day only. Go ahead and indulge, then move on.
         Enjoy!

Marla

Sunday, October 29, 2017





Holiday weight gain starts in October! 



            I used to gain ten pounds every year during the holiday season.
How was that much weight-gain possible? It was easy—I started in October. Then I struggled to take off my “Christmas fat” in January and February.
            That shameful acquisition of holiday bulge began in October with Halloween candy. (And I don’t have children to blame its presence on.) Any candy that comes into this house during October is for yours truly. Terry, my significant other, may snatch a piece or two, but he’s not haunted by the same carb addiction as I am.
October is candy month.
            Then there’s the snacking during football games—an annual ritual—the home team couldn’t win if I weren’t encouraging them with the cheers of my crunching.
            Everyone knows what happens in November. In November I vow that I will NOT gain weight over the holidays this year. But, having made that vow, the terror of holiday goodie deprivation niggles at me. The only cure for this tweak of conscience is—guess what?—you’ve got it—a bowl of buttered popcorn and the last of the Halloween candy.
            Then comes the mother of all eating events, Thanksgiving. It would be a sin to diet on Thanksgiving, wouldn’t it? How else would I show my thankfulness except by indulging in everything the buffet has to offer? Someone went to a lot of trouble to cook all that goodness; it would be rude to pass it up.
            I hardly need to remind you what December brings. But I will: parties, Christmas cookies on display everywhere you go, gifts of home made treats, boxes of fudge and chocolates . . . the list goes on.
            I’m not sure January would be the same without digging out my “fat” clothes, bemoaning my food transgressions of the previous ten weeks, and joining a diet group for the umpteenth time. It’s all part of the post-holiday depression syndrome, that and the drifts of snow that nearly cover our west-facing windows.
How have I managed to control my holiday weight gain?
I joined TOPS, weigh in every week, and have been doing so for more than four years now. Has it gotten easier? Not really, but now I face the holidays prepared and with support. Follow this blog through the holidays for tips on how to avoid taking on the snowman shape.
Till next time,
Marla

Tip #1  Halloween Candy.
If you can possibly avoid it, don’t give out candy. Give it to your neighbor to pass out for you or leave the house during trick-or-treat time. If you must have treats to give out, be sure to buy something you don’t care for. Or pass out apples. Or small toys.
Tip #2  Dealing with leftover Halloween candy

I turn all candy over to Terry, he locks it up in the garage, and only gives me two pieces a day, no matter how many I ask for. If you don’t have someone to hold your candy for you in a home-style Fort Knox, throw it out or give it away. But if you throw it out, make sure it’s in the garbage with something disgusting enough to prevent retrieving it in a moment’s mad craving!
Tip #3  Football snacking
Have sensible snacks on hand. Unbuttered popcorn, veggies with yogurt dip. Or, and this one is my favorite, schedule your lunch or your dinner during half time depending on the time of the game, that way you won't be starving as you watch and will have food to look forward to.

Sunday, September 24, 2017



Manuscript Organization and the Independent Writer




I wish I could tell you that I have some amazing and simple organization skills that I can pass on to you.
I don’t.
What I can tell you is what NOT to do.
I’ve learned everything the hard way, even making some mistakes more than once. The problem is I write long books, therefore only using things like editing, proofing, Mail Chimp, uploads to Amazon, and Author Central, as infrequently as once a year. It is difficult to establish a learning curve for those things that doesn’t dip into nothingness in between uses.

Here are a few hints on how to avoid costly errors.

1.     Slow down.  I know, I know, everyone tells you to crank out your books as fast as possible and get them uploaded immediately. But having once uploaded the wrong manuscript, one with errors still in place, I can assure you that taking time to double check your manuscript every time you get one back, and before you upload it, will pay off.

2.     Delete early versions. Develop a system that works for you. Date or number every version of your work, and get rid of the old ones as soon as possible. Again, number and/or date them to avoid confusion.

3.     Keep a writing journal. Devote a notebook just to keep track of your promotions, your proofing, editing, formatting, reminders, etc. Date entries and list tips on using things that come up only once in a while. A large planner works great for this and is worth the investment to keep everything in one place.

4.     Post a weekly goal list in front of your computer.  I use a small index card every week and list about five things that I’d like to get done that week, then post it in front of my computer. One of the items is always the number of pages I want to get done that week in the latest book. Change the list weekly and check off what you’ve accomplished.



Dear readers,
We are having a very warm weekend here in northwest Wisconsin as I write this. I’m one of those weird people who love fall and winter, and I’m eagerly waiting for some cool, crisp days!
I’ve just added my latest book to Amazon, and as usual, made some serious errors in the process, which inspired this blog. Hopefully, you will find it helpful.
Have a happy autumn,
Marla