Early results and a new challenge


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I meant to check in before now, but I started a new job this past week. The days leading up to it were my “last days of freedom,” and then this week has been exhausting. But guess what? I stuck to my Paleo goal like a champ!

It was the only goal I stuck to, but it was 100% successful, so I’m not complaining.

A friend and I are starting a new challenge today — the Whole Life Challenge. She’s just getting started with Paleo, so she chose the beginner level. I’m doing the advanced level. The challenge includes eating and exercising and other stuff, including blogging. I don’t think they have a blog system on the site, so I guess I just use this one? If so, you’ll probably get sick of my ramblings over the next couple of months, but I think the challenge will help keep me on the straight and narrow.

Since I’m 11 days into eating strict Paleo, I’m beginning to get the good results. Seriously, this diet makes me feel incredible. Below I pasted the list of aches, pains, and complaints I had before I started this with notes about the changes I’ve seen.

  • Unable to reach all my body parts — Improving!
  • Acid reflux — Completely gone.
  • Indigestion — Completely gone.
  • Can barely close my seatbelt — Seatbelt is looser, but certainly not easy yet. I’m not pinned to the back of my seat anymore though.
  • Low energy — Vanishing quickly, replaced by even energy throughout the day (no caffeine needed!). This will get better, though, until I’ll have trouble sitting still. Already I’m getting more chores done around the house because I have the energy to do them.
  • Very low cardio fitness level — No change, because I haven’t done any exercise.
  • Loss of muscular strength — No change, because I haven’t done any exercise.
  • Chronic acne on forehead — Still there. Can’t tell if it’s improving.
  • Swollen feet and ankles — Haven’t noticed a difference here.
  • Tendonitis in elbow — 95% gone. Twinges if I do weird torquing movements.
  • Sore joints — Completely gone.
  • Exceptionally weak ab muscles — No change.
  • Lack of flexibility — No change.
  • Sleep apnea — Sleeping better, but haven’t gotten to the doctor yet.
  • Foot pain when walking — 99% gone.
  • Bloating — Completely gone.
  • Feeling uncomfortably over-full after meals — Completely gone.
  • Chronic (but mild) snotty nose — Completely gone. I think I used one Kleenex this week.
  • Hair loss  — I wish.
  • Chest pain — Completely gone.
  • Headaches — Completely gone.

I don’t think that’s bad for 11 days!

Setting the tone for 2014


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Me and River. 1/1/2014, my highest weight ever. But isn't he adorable?

Me and River. 1/1/2014, my highest weight ever. But isn’t he adorable?

A friend reminded me yesterday of a saying that what you do on January 1 is what you’ll do all year long. To that end, then, I’m going to work hard to make today the most ideal day possible.

My first chore was to experiment with a morning routine. Today is a holiday, and I don’t start my new job until next Monday, so technically I’m under no pressure to get up early right now. Come Monday, though, I have to get up early enough to get all of my morning tasks done before work. Those tasks include feeding the critters, getting myself dressed and fed, meditating, writing, and social networking. I timed those activities this morning, and, assuming just one hour of writing time and only the most cursory read-through of Facebook, they took almost exactly 3 hours.

Isn't he cute?

Isn’t he cute?

(That does not include the 15 minutes I spent dealing with two mice that got stuck in our recycling can. They were exhausted and dehydrated, almost to death. I generally take mice out to the woods and release them, but these would have died, so I made them a temporary home and gave them food and water. One recovered fairly quickly but unfortunately escaped as I was taking him outside. The other is still recovering. He was further gone than the other, and I’m afraid he may not make it. Sigh.)

Those 3 hours didn’t include time to read the blogs I follow, nor to do Twitter, which I usually do in the morning. In all honesty, I’m not a big Twitter fan, but building a social media presence is necessary as an author these days. If I take advantage of the scheduling feature on Hootsuite, I can probably schedule the next day’s tweets each evening. My goal is to spend only 15-20 minutes per day, total, on Twitter.

Reading the blogs, on the other hand, is something I very much enjoy, even though I skim a great number of them. I’ll have to figure out how to make time for that. The logical time seems like it would be lunchtime, but once I start working, I was planning to use lunchtime to work out and do some other tasks. Honestly, I’m going to end up eating at my desk, because I’ve stuffed my lunch hours full of other things!

Speaking of, yesterday Jay and I picked several entrees, and I went grocery shopping. Today I’ll prepare some of that food, so I’ll be set up to eat healthily and won’t be tempted to snack on non-Paleo food. This morning I rearranged the den a bit and got the treadmill set up. (And used it!)

Okay, it’s still early, but I feel like I’m off to a good start. The only red flag I see is my uber packed mornings. Those will hurt once I’m back to work. Getting up at 5am, when I’m used to sleeping until 7 or 7:30, is going to hurt. A lot.

Gearing up for January 1


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changeThis year I’m making some New Year’s resolutions. Usually I don’t because, like everyone else, I tend to make them and break them a few days later. Life is significantly less stressful without them.

This year, however, I’ve decided to make some resolutions anyway. Why? Mainly because I was working on these projects at some level already, so this seemed an awesome time to formally take the plunge. Yes, January 1 is truly no different than Dec. 31 or Jan. 2, but it’s really a lovely day for starting a new project, and this year it’s a New Moon (also propitious for new projects) to boot.

What do I want to accomplish over the next year? I want to…

  • Finish “The Novel.”
  • Establish a meditation practice.
  • Eat 95% Paleo.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Build a platform for my writing.
  • Save as much money as possible!

Now, someone is probably going to point out that those aren’t S.M.A.R.T. goals. In fact, at face value they’re pretty nebulous. What does “exercise regularly” mean? How do I determine “as much as possible”? Well, I’m not stressing over that seeming nebulousness, because each resolution is composed of discrete, measurable baby steps. I didn’t want to list all of those as resolutions, because, dude, OVERKILL.

Someone is also probably going to point out that this list is sort of like my list of impossible things. Yep. These are aspects of that list that I want to focus on this year. I’ll be working on other things too. For example, I’m working on my Spanish, and I plan to take a sailing course this summer. But these are the big ticket items I want to really focus on.

I’ll talk more about these and about the discrete baby steps in future posts.

The reasons why (Part 1)


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3d Health Word Sphere on white background.It occurred to me I am doing this for three reasons: my health, my soul, and my future. In this post I’m going to explore the health-related reasons for taking this journey.

My health is the biggie because it’s immediate. At one level, I’m doing all right. I’m functional. I feel okay from day to day. I have a strong immune system and don’t get colds and flus and such.

At another level, I’ve got a lot of underlying issues that are starting to catch up to me in a big way. My quality of life is gradually declining, and at any moment I could have a heart attack, stroke, or other serious event that could not only impair my life (forever) but could end it immediately. I’m not exaggerating. I have type II diabetes and type I PCOS. I’m insulin resistant and morbidly obese. I feel pain and fogginess in my head and tightness in my chest that didn’t used to be there. It’s terrifying.

I made a list of everyday symptoms I hope some healthy living will rectify:

  • Unable to reach all my body parts!
  • Acid reflux
  • Indigestion
  • Can barely close my seatbelt
  • Low energy
  • Very low cardio fitness level
  • Loss of muscular strength
  • Chronic acne on forehead
  • Swollen feet and ankles
  • Tendonitis in elbow
  • Sore joints
  • Exceptionally weak ab muscles
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Sleep apnea
  • Foot pain when walking
  • Bloating
  • Feeling uncomfortably over-full after meals
  • Chronic (but mild) snotty nose
  • Hair loss
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches

It’s a long, ugly list. I’m 45 years old, but I feel and look older. Western medicine doesn’t have good treatments for PCOS or type II diabetes. Mostly they treat symptoms, and the medicines they use have serious risks or ugly side effects. I’m afraid it’s a sad truism that it’s more profitable to manage than to cure. Fortunately, though, there are non-medical steps I can take to treat (and potentially cure) both conditions:

  • Eat a Paleo diet
  • Minimize carbs
  • Lift heavy things a couple times a week
  • Get enough sleep
  • Sprint a couple times a week
  • Reduce stress

I know from past experience that a consistently-followed Paleo diet and simple exercise will clear up every single one of the issues I listed above. Every one. “Consistent” is the key word, though, and that’s my life challenge. After a week, a month, two months, the pendulum swings to the far end of the continuum, and I return to SAD (Standard American Diet). Sticking to a Paleo diet and simple exercise routine is a key part of my List of Impossible Things.

An in-depth look at my “List of Impossible Things”


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By Ckepper (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Some of the items on my list of impossible things are related (building from one to the other) and some are standalone. Many have steps/accomplishments that are necessary but not immediately obvious.

Much of this list is built around the goal of selling our house, buying a sailboat, and cruising until retirement. Planned date to put the house on the market and kick off the dream: April 2021. I have just over seven years to accomplish the impossible.


The top section outlines what I hope is the path to a fiction writing career. I have another career (as an instructional designer) that isn’t covered here, because it’s how I pay the bills, not how I feed my soul. I had a non-fiction book published ten years ago, and I’m well educated about the publishing industry. I’m up-to-date on the chaos within as Amazon takes over, publishers merge or crumble, and self-publishing skyrockets. I don’t even fantasize about replacing my annual salary as an ID with income from fiction writing. I do, however, think it may be possible to cover the monthly cost of cruising. The goal then is to build a respectable backlist by April 2021.

  • Finish The Novel.
  • Get a literary agent.
  • Publish The Novel.
  • Sell a screenplay based on The Novel.
  • Sell 10,000 copies of The Novel.
  • Sell 20,000 copies of The Novel.
  • Sell 50,000 copies of The Novel.

I have a mainstream novel in progress. The Novel. I do honestly (based on objective feedback from industry insiders) believe it’s publishable. Or, it will be once it’s finished. My goal is to finish The Novel by the end of 2014. The steps I’m taking toward this are trying to write a certain number of words per day and working on tasks related to platform building.

The screenplay probably seems like an unusual addition to the list. This novel started out as a screenplay and was a semi-finalist at Nicholl. That’s… a big deal. After I finish the novel, while I’m shopping it, I’m going to rewrite the screenplay and give it another go through Nicholl. Many novels (even first novels) get optioned for movies, but as a general rule, novelists don’t get to write the screenplay. I figure, though, if that novel just happened to have an already written screenplay that was a Nicholl finalist….

Well, couldn’t hurt. It also wouldn’t hurt to tell the producers who call the Nicholl finalists that the screenplay is based off a novel that was recently picked by one of the Big Five.

Big impossible dreams.

I have another mainstream novel planned to follow The Novel:

  • Write and publish The Next Novel.
  • Sell a screenplay based on The Next Novel.

At the same time I’m writing that, I want to begin working on an urban fantasy I’m currently outlining. The mainstream novels I want to traditionally publish, but I’m leaning toward self-publishing for the urban fantasy series, which would enable me to get the entire series complete by my 2021 target date and hopefully provide a steady base income.

  • Write the ENTIRE urban fantasy series.
  • Make enough money with my fiction writing to support my household comfortably.


Next comes health. First up is Paleo and getting my blood sugar under control.

  • Be (95%+) Paleo for 6 months.
  • Be (95%+) Paleo for 1 year.
  • Maintain my morning blood sugar at <100 for 6 months.

I tend to feel best when my carb intake is <50g per day, and that, conveniently, drops my blood sugar into normal levels. I’m not planning to be militant about my diet, with even one slip resetting my counter, which is why I said 95%+. There is a difference between choosing to have a sushi lunch with my girlfriends and having a multi-day binge just because I’m too tired to cook. The things I’m most trying to avoid are sugar, wheat, corn, and GMOs. Although I call my diet Paleo, I don’t worry about dairy in the forms of cheese or butter unless I’m doing a challenge that specifically leaves out dairy.

  • Complete level 5 on all exercises in Convict Conditioning.
  • Complete level 7 on all exercises in Convict Conditioning.
  • Do 10,000 steps per day for 6 months.
  • Do 10,000 steps per day for 1 year.

I’ve done Crossfit in the past — and loved it — but we’re money poor at the moment, and I rather like body weight exercise. So my weight lifting program will be the seriously awesome Convict Conditioning. I also need to build my cardio and get off my butt, so I’m aiming towards 10,000 steps per day. I’m starting damn close to zero, so I’ll have to build to get there. I may add a yoga goal to this. I’ve wanted to do yoga for a long time, but I haven’t ever made time for it.

  • Weigh <200 lbs.
  • Achieve 20% body fat.

And this is where I’m headed. I know 200lbs for a woman sounds insanely high, but I haven’t been below 200lbs since my teens. Believe me — it sounds IMPOSSIBLE to me. I have a long, long road to travel to get there. The health and fitness checklist is all about the baby steps I need to take to accomplish this section of the list.


Now we have every other dream in my head. First we have the steps I need to take to be ready to sail into the sunset. I’ll likely start with the first of these next summer. (I live in the Pacific NW. Trust me — this is not the time of year to begin learning to sail.)

  • Take sailing lessons.
  • Get certified to bareboat charter.
  • Get all ASA certifications.
  • Learn boat engine and electrical maintenance.
  • Rent a large catamaran for a week and sail in ocean waters.
  • Live on a boat and write my sailing mystery series.

The last one is the ultimate goal. I have an idea for a series that I could write while sailing that will continue to add money to the coffers. Hopefully that and my backlist will keep us going.

  • Finish remodeling the house and get it in salable condition.

In order to sell the house, it has to be remodeled. We have done a great job creating a turnkey horse property outside, but the inside of the house needs a lot of work. The first steps there involve installing central heat and air, finishing the basement, moving a stairway, and finishing my husband’s office. Those are all major projects! We’re currently saving funds so we can tackle the next project.

  • Become fluent in Spanish.

This one, too, is related to the sailing dream. Many of the countries we hope to visit (and maybe settle in for retirement) are Spanish-speaking countries. I don’t want a language barrier to impede us, nor do I want to travel and be the ugly American who expects the rest of the world to speak English!

  • Meditate daily for 6 months.
  • Meditate daily for 1 year.
  • Complete both Levels 1 and 2 of Debbie’s animal communication course.

The rest of these are all about the woo. I love the woo. It’s easy for those to fall through the cracks, so I’m going to try to do a little bit of woo every day. It’s good for my soul.