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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day Sixteen of Twenty-Eight: Another Round of J. J. Virgin's Sensitivity Diet

Yes, I did this earlier in the year, based on the free info found online. Thanks to some helpful comments to those initial posts, I found out that fruits, honey and Stevia are no-nos during this cleansing period without gluten, peanuts, soy, dairy, eggs, sugar and corn. So this time around I'm avoiding even the healthy God-made sugars.

I found days five, eleven and fourteen (with day fourteen as the worst) to be taxing on my commitment to this program. Those first two days were not bad, probably due to not ingesting enough good fats to satiate me. But day fourteen had several things working in concert: a restless night's sleep added to the lack of proteins and fats. I was craving liver and onions and revived after that and a good eight hours of sleep.

I find I'm eating so much less. Basically a snack upon waking, another at noonish, a late lunch of a regular-sized meal (one-fourth meat and three-fourths veggies, either cooked or raw as a salad) and a snack a couple hours before bedtime or later if I can't make it without it. Now work is a little hectic right now too, so I don't really have the time to cook much.

For instance, here's a few of the things I've been eating over the last couple weeks:
  • Handful of almonds or pepitas or sunflower seeds
  • Colored bell peppers (not the green ones; I find them too bitter when raw)
  • Black olives
  • Canned wild tuna stuffed in a tomato, drizzled with EVOO
  • A lot of salads with EVOO and lemon juice that first week
  • A lot of sauteed veggies the second week
  • Grilled salmon and asparagus spears
  • Grilled marinated shrimp and sauteed fajita veggies
  • Bacon and blackened onions
  • Beef liver and onions with mushrooms
  • Black forest ham with an avocado
  • Deli roast beef wrapped around a green onion
  • Green tea mixed with mint herb tea
  • Decaf coffee
  • Lots of water
I'm not exercising, other than weekly lawn mowings, but I'm losing weight, so it's all good. Like the Dinner Diva Leanne Ely said in one of her videos, no amount of exercise can offset bad eating habits. Although I fully do intend to add in some daily exercise to counter my chair-sitting computer work. Right now, my freelance projects entail twelve-hour days. So I'm a little short on time.

And my normal triggers are gone. No emotional eating, regardless of a particular thorn in my side today. No stress eating, meanwhile making two of my self-imposed (earlier) deadlines today, and three more projects awaiting me. No eating what I see, even with cupcakes in the house. That was a big test. I passed.

I've got energy (except for day fourteen). In fact I never had withdrawal symptoms. No headaches. No grouchiness (until today but that was from an outside source). So I'm pleased. Very happy.

Now I'm on the downside of the hill heading toward day twenty-eight. Looking toward the maintenance program. Since I'm going by just what info I can research online, I'm going to reintroduce foods per Atkins's rungs (see Wikipedia article). Also increasing each week's carb intake by five the first week, five the next, and so on until I cease to lose weight. Want to know this carb cap to apply to my lifestyle eating from here on out.

I don't even know what carb count I'm hitting daily now, but it's probably below twenty a day. I'm surprised my body's not in shock. Where are the breads? The pastas? The sweets? I am so proud of myself. Even halfway through, I've done something wonderful for my health.

Here's to greater health for all.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Indie Author's Ten Steps from Imagination to Reality

I swear I wrote this post long ago and yet cannot find that one, so here I am, doing it again (in my mind anyway).

An author's job entails so much more than the writing-it-down part. Traditional-published and Indie-published novelists alike have to do rewrites and marketing (of some degree or fashion). But this list is evidence of how we Indies take our ideas from our brain to an upload page on our chosen venues:
  1. Think it first, followed by writing it down. This incubation period between the two may take many hours of staring out a window looking at nothing. Nevertheless I think I need a sign that says Yes, I'm Really Working Right Now.
  2. Revise as many times as needed to make sure a clear translation of our imagination is set down for our reader. This is crucial. I'm all about intelligent communication. Be consistent, clear and chronological.
  3. Complete a final edit, which includes both big and little details. Here we need a good editor. We don't want to give Indies a bad name. If doing it yourself, at least use The Chicago Manual of Style, sixteenth edition (CMS), and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, eleventh edition (Web11), as your guides. If they conflict, CMS trumps Web11. For the "big picture" review, I recommend Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King. It's excellent.
  4. Create a cover or commission one done. It must look good even in thumbnail size (check it at 25% view within Microsoft Word, as this is about the size of books when searching on Amazon and getting the sixteen-or-more-to-a-page results). When I last uploaded a new book in March 2013, the JPEG cover had to be under 2000 pixels on the long side to be acceptable to Amazon, B&N, Kobo. Not sure if Smashwords has changed its requirements since I last uploaded there sometime in 2012, but the under-2000 limit worked then.
  5. Write blurbs, of differing lengths, to best fit in the initial windows of the online venues, so the prospective buyer doesn't have to click Expand or Show More to see it all. Here's a post re the actual WC for my four main sites, which may have changed since I wrote it: http://livingthedreampublishing.blogspot.com/2012/09/blurb-tips-less-than-127wc-for-amazon.html.
  6. Pick categories and key words wisely. The number of genres available to us within which to list our book varies from site to site. If memory serves, as of March 2013, it was two for Amazon, three for B&N and five for Kobo. But check each site's upload form to be sure, since this industry changes by the nanosecond. Have at least seven key words noted for the new book. Study SEO tips to help in choosing.
  7. Add new book to first forum of choice by typing in the online form. Fill in the blanks. It's easy. Especially if items 4-6 above were prepared ahead of time.
  8. Preview! Look for glitches. Fix them. This is another place where it is crucial to look as professional as possible. After the copy editor has done her job and the author has Accepted/Rejected the changes, I suggest hiring an experienced formatter (sometime between steps 3 and 7).
  9. Hit Upload. Do celebration dance now. But not for long. Now repeat steps 7-9 for the other venues.
  10. Marketing. Not my area of expertise, so ask someone else for this advice. Remember what works for one may not work for all or even just you or me. Also remember how "this industry changes by the nanosecond."
Best wishes and many successes to all!

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Healthy Eating Side Effects

I'm only on day four of this resetting-my-body/cleansing eating (no white foods except of course cauliflower, so no dairy, bread, pasta, pastries, processed foods, rice, grains, sugar in any form, plus no soy, peanuts, corn, gluten). But it was day two when I noticed how warm I felt, as if exercising. I was not visibly perspiring or running a fever, but my internal body temperature was definitely raised and evident all day long. I count this as increased metabolism going on. Yippee!

I don't believe I have ever had this happen when dieting unless I was engaged in weight lifting, yoga, lawn mowing. This is a first. I must finally be on the right eating path.

My bad cravings are gone almost completely. I can actually pass up the dark chocolate in my house and the breads in the bakery at my local grocery store. I don't tempt myself too much though.

My hunger is more easily satiated. After all, eating sugar does not fill a nutritional need but an emotional/psychological one. So you remain hungry after eating sweets, chips, carbonated colas, ice cream, even fake sugar in all its forms. These make you hungry for real food.

Start eating real food and the always-there hunger stops.

Also the last two nights I've slept deeper, dreamed heavily and vividly. Clearly in the REM stage, even from my viewpoint. I'm usually a very light sleeper.

Of course my fickle old-fashioned bathroom scale is as wonky as ever and tells me nothing reliable and consistent. But I have a favorite pair of Levi's button-fly jeans that is a great indicator.

For those of you interested, I'm following the tenets of:
  • J. J. Virgin's elimination/sensitivity diet (except eggs, which were cleared for me to eat as proven by my previous twenty-eight-day foray into her plan) found at jjvirgin.com; 
  • Dr. Mark Hyman's diabesity-avoiding guidelines as in The Blood Sugar Solution;
  • Tim Ferriss's Four-Hour Body confirms my slow-carb leanings; and
  • Even a bit from the Atkins diet (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atkins_diet) as to the nine rungs, adding one food group for a period of time and allowing for five more net carbs per day for a week, starting from the intro restriction of twenty daily. This is great, pinpointing both the amount of net carbs my body can tolerate yet not gain weight while classifying each new food group reintroduced as either helpful or hurtful (per J. J. Virgin's foods sensitivities).
I'll update more later.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Healthy Eating Is All About Substitutions

Yesterday I wanted the equivalent of my favorite roast beef sandwich, which previously consisted of soft white bread or artisan sourdough, mayo on both pieces, thinly sliced onions topped by roast beef (from the deli or my own oven) and sea salt. Perfect for me in its simplicity and the wonderful things this does to my senses.

So yesterday I fixed two healthier versions to see which fit my craving best or even exceeded it. Both started out with a huge leaf of romaine lettuce, one slice of deli roast beef on each, which was longer than the lettuce leaf. For the first, I added sliced black and green olives, diced tomato and onions, along with a drizzle of EVOO and a sprinkle of S&P. This is a very plain-Jane olive salad, used on muffulettas and such. For the second, I added onions and a bit of horseradish mustard.

Both were good but didn't hit my expected mark.

Later that day I ate a quick snack, which was nothing more than two deli slices of roast beef, each rolled around half a stalk of green onion; the mostly white part went in one, and the mostly green part went in the other. Next time I'm gonna slice the green onion lengthwise and then halve it. That way the mild onion taste is mixed in with the more bitter parts. No oil added much less anything else. And this hit the spot. This was the taste I was wanting.

And I thought it had more to do with the mayo. [At this time I'm avoiding all dairy as it does lead to a stuffed nose at nighttime. Plus the MSG hidden in most brands of cream or half-and-half gives me a facial itch and redness irritated by the scratching/rubbing or even worse makes my eyelids itch unmercifully, akin to poison ivy. Since I can't put Benadryl on my eyes, I flush it out of my body by drinking copious amounts of water, plus applying olive oil carefully to my lids and just waiting it out. Takes about two hours. Not fun. But as I've mentioned in other posts, my body is a highly effective MSG detector.]

The moral of this story is: pick out the best complements within each of your fave foods and leave out the rest. For instance, I have this recipe for date nut cake from my paternal grandmother. It is better than dark chocolate most times, and I'm a severe chocoholic. But let's not discuss that now while I'm doing without all forms of sugar (day four, folks!). Or for that matter, the date nut cake. I'll be quick about it to make my point.

My grandmother's date nut cake is... Well, there aren't adjectives to do it justice. But you know what? I found a date stuffed with a walnut is the essence of that cake, without the added sugar, white flour, much less all the time and effort and heating-up-of-the-kitchen-in-the-Texas-summertime involved.

So find the heart of the foods you love and distill it down to the healthier core.

Experiment. Have fun. Take good care of you.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Healthy Eating Tips

I'm on day three without sugar. And I'm not grumpy or rabid. Weird. This is probably the first time in my life that I've done this. I mean in its entirety: no pasta, bread, white flour, fruit, sweeteners fake or real, even honey or Stevia. I can only proffer that God is helping me. Plus I've been more strictly weaning myself off the processed foods all year long.

Also I have some of my favorite foods in the house: red bell peppers, mushrooms, lima beans, black beans, wild tuna, wild salmon, shrimp, black forest ham, among more listed below.

Here are a few tips to cleanse the palate and stop those dessert cravings:
  • Add lemon or lime to your meal. I love EVOO and lemon juice as my salad dressing. You could squeeze a lemon into your water or tea. I also like lime juice and sea salt over crushed ice and let it melt in my mouth so I don't hurt my teeth by eating the ice.
  • Eat a sprig of parsley or cilantro at the end of your meal. Even if you don't swallow the leaves, the flavor alone helps. Add both to your salads, your V-8 juice, your fish.
  • I find mint green tea very refreshing.
  • Don't forget horseradish for your sandwiches (made with romaine leaves instead of bread, of course). I also like olive salad, or you can just use green olives or marinated artichoke hearts in your salads and sandwiches. These pungent foods are a boon.
The other thing to remember is that fat satiates. Stick to the good ones, though, like these:
  • If you love black olives like I do, eat them for a snack. Very filling.
  • Fix a bowl of guacamole and eat it when you feel your resolve waning.
  • Nuts! Also don't forget sunflower seeds.
  • Even sliced avocados amid sliced tomatoes and drizzled with EVOO will distract your mind and body.
If you have fruit in the house that your diet doesn't allow yet and will spoil before then, freeze them. I put my blueberries in a single layer in a casserole dish to freeze separately before transferring them to a freezer bag. I'll use them in my fruit smoothies later. Did the same with my peaches: slicing them, freezing in a single layer and bagging.

Here's to improving our health.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Couple Tips for Better Eating

I'm of the slow-carb fandom, and thus substitutions are needed to update my food cravings to something healthier. Two came to mind today.

  • Instead of potato salad, fix some deviled eggs from omega-3 or organic brands. I substitute EVOO for the mayo, using a tad more brown mustard  and bumping up the apple cider vinegar with an equal dose of pickle juice from the opened jar in the fridge. Add in garlic and onion, well minced, plus sea salt and ground pepper. Tweak to fit your taste buds. I find that the primary elements that are calling me (the mayo, mustard, pickle carried by the vehicle of the white potatoes) can be reconstituted in another form and still be satisfying.
  • Instead of everything bagels or everything French bread, try sprinkling all those wonderful seeds and seasonings on your wild salmon. Just be sparing with your application. These are to be used as spices; we are not creating a blackened effect. I like to add sunflower seeds to my sesame seed mix.

Take good care of you and have a wonderful week, all!

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor