Dieting tips for weight loss

Yes I’m busting out the nutrition advice because in the past 3 months I have been on a big time health kick, I also weigh less now so like all science types, I have recorded the results to pass on to others as advice.

(Disclaimer:  I am not a medical physician or a diet-ologist so before you embark on any type of change to your regular diet or lifestyle; seek professional medical advice. This also goes for any type of exercise.)

Backstory – gotta love a prequel…

Last year was an enduring and mostly stressful mess for me. Things ran hot, I published 2 books, drafted another and even wrote a play; that is without mentioning the fact I moved out and got my own place while holding down a job that follows a sometimes grueling shift pattern. It was an arduous journey which rolled into 2019.

Even though I managed to get back into running short distances after being injured basically for 5 years (shin splints, bad knee, bad back, sciatica, procrastination) my exercise regime consisted of basic yoga, some running and mostly walking. Let’s just say I wasn’t doing enough to look after myself both physically and dietary wise.

Tip 1: Cookin’ fresh…

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Even into this year in which the start was mainly hectic things didn’t really calm down until the beginning of May but around March my significant other and I decided to call time on our not particularly great diet. To elaborate I’m speaking convenience quick to cook foods of most persuasions, jars of sauces, full dairy ice cream and processed meats. We (she) signed up to a thing called slimming world and this gave us access to a bunch of awesome recipes that are ranked in something called ‘syn’s’ – this basically means the more ‘syn’s the less good it is for you.

Early on we opted to choose ‘syn’ free meals to cook in the evening. This also means everything has an emphasis on freshness. From veg to meat and carbs alongside everything else, you cook these meals from scratch.

You don’t have to sign up to slimming world to access low calorie healthy recipes, there are plenty of other places to find them just ask the google… 

Tip 2: Keep stocked up with spices…

We now have an impressive range of spices, herbs and seasonings. We’re making meals that we would normally just buy ready to cook. Those jars and packets contain so much more crap than you need. The recipes instruct you to make it from scratch which in essence begins to transform the diet and you begin to taste things properly.  From paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, mustard seeds, mixed herbs, tandoori powder, cayenne pepper, ginger, basil, chopped garlic and even cinnamon all of our meals have this stuff in frequently for curries, low cal pasta dishes,fajita’s to even burgers.

Side tip: Buy a pestle and mortar – this helps crush herbs and spices easily, and you also look sophisticated 

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Tip 3: Keep the veg section of your fridge stocked…

Every meal is made better for you by adding vegetables – just ask vegetarians… but seriously your fridge has always got to be stocked with stuff like onions of the red and brown persuasion, peppers, potatoes, chilies, tomatoes (technically a fruit) and spinach which blends into near enough any pasta dish.

If your fingers don’t constantly smell of onions like mine then you aren’t chopping enough vegetables!

Tip 4: Take it seriously and kick the habits

no booze

After what seemed like a barrage of weddings, parties and other gatherings I attended this year (I know it’s a tough life…) it felt like I was an Olympic alcohol drinker and guess what I weighed as much as an Olympic alcohol drinker. This takes real will power but if you are committed to losing weight, you have to kick any habit that increases your weight- sounds logical right?

Now I really love booze, I like most booze, I like the flavor and what it does to me, hell my third book the Teleporter is basically a love letter to booze but I knew I had to stop even if it was just a beer or two a day, it had to go. Booze effects people differently, but it increases my weight big time. So since May I have only consumed alcohol on one occasion. First time around I got to 38 days without booze, now I am on 45ish! You can do it, because I can!

Tip 5: Change it up

My current diet doesn’t just revolve around some slimming world recipes, we only really have their meals 4 times a week but I do follow their concepts for all of my eating. Here’s what an average few days looks like:

Day 1

Breakfast – Two boiled eggs and 2 slices of toasted wholemeal bread

Lunch – 1 large Baked potato with beans

Snacks Between meals if hungry – Fruit, 1 of – Apple, Pear or handful of Grapes. 

Dinner – Chicken and vegetable fajitas with grated cheese in wholemeal wraps

Dessert (yes I said dessert) – Ben and Jerry’s vegan non dairy ice cream – four scoops 

Day 2 (Zero carbs day)

Breakfast – Two boiled eggs and two slices of bacon with visible fat removed

Snack – Fruit

Lunch – One can of tuna in sunflower oil and salad with some feta cheese

Snack – whole nuts

Dinner: Two home made beef burgers without the buns and side salad

Day 3 (Meat free day) (I should do more of these)

Breakfast – 1 boiled egg, baked beans and 1 slice of toasted wholemeal bread

Snack – Fruit

Lunch – Potato wedges made from one large baked potato and vegetables 

Snack – Sweet and salted popcorn 

Dinner- Quorn meat free sausages and fresh mashed potato

Dessert – A couple of reese’s peanut butter cups

Tip 6: Beverages, always bet on zero

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Carbonated drinks, you can’t escape them, they are everywhere and they add a little life into the sometimes plain world of water or coffee. Of course I drink tea with soy or almond milk but it’s nice to have a little flavor. I drink coke zero quite a lot, and even now when I hit the cinema or a food place my beverage will be of the zero persuasion. Trust me, go zero, the scales will reveal why.

Zero per cent non alcoholic beer is my second go-to zero beverage. Heineken do a great one, and it’s got me through my booze free journey.

Tip 7: The scales don’t lie

The first thing I do every morning is weigh myself. If it’s good or bad; this will determine what I eat that day. It’s a great daily reminder to keep on track and when it’s good you get a real sense of reward from putting in the effort. Of course when it’s not so good that can be a motivation to do more also!

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Tip 8: What killed the dinosaurs? THE ICE AGE!!!

Terrible batman film quotes aside, if you have a freezer use it. Frozen vegetables and meat/meat free meat add to the already well stocked fridge you should be prepared to have in order to gain a depth of ingredients. The quality is so much better these days also.

Tip 9: Don’t expect quick results… and it’s okay to cheat sometimes..

It takes time and effort to lose weight healthily and effectively. Our bodies are designed to regulate our current conditions. Eventually our metabolism changes as we burn away fat and eventually that metabolic rate of burning stuff will speed up. The best way to notice is via the scales because we can’t visually see our own weight loss particularly well. Keep a record of it somewhere and look back to track progress.

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This leads into the fact that as humans we will indulge at some point. We have to so we can stay happy. Indulge every now and then but don’t take it too far. Order that Friday night pizza but make it a thin base. When I have my cheat days I look on the scales the very next day and see a number I like because my body burns it at a quicker rate now. Loosing fat will mean new fat burns quicker.

Conclusion:

Moderation is the key word to dieting. Vegetarian and vegan stuff is getting better and better these days and I am more prone to choosing it. There are also environmental factors that all of us need to take into regard. Starvation isn’t the answer and neither is dropping a particular food group you regularly eat. Some people will pursue the no carbs route to just give up a few paces down the track. They say variety is the spice of life and when it comes to dieting, give yourself options!

Of course all of this stuff works for me but is there anything that works for you? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #35

It’s been a month since I last touched any alcohol. I’ve never seen drink as a problem for myself, one can even joke it’s the solution, but I’m on a quest for better health and a better mind. Booze can be awesome, it makes you feel great, you become more confident, funnier and sometimes even more creative; not that I have ever drunk and wrote (I tried once albeit with dire consequences). Some of my fondest memories have been while sharing a drink of two with fine company. But the problem with something that makes you feel good or better about life is simple; you always want more until eventually one day you turn around and realise you have become the drunk in the room; something I cannot handle being named as.

I’ve learned this past month that there are two ways to completely stop drinking alcohol. Firstly you have to understand drinking is something I’ve come to enjoy in life so you must find something to replace that enjoyment, this in most instances has to be better than what you are replacing. My muse for booze replacement is simple and what I have always done; writing. In the past month I have torn into ‘Jack Thorn’ with 1000’s of words drafted. I also count reading and blogging under the writing umbrella; something I do all of the time now.

Secondly and this compliments the fist: Stay busy. I’m a shift worker and much of the time my hours are constant, working and having a job is great. Nobody can really drink on the job or on the commute home (unless you have a big time problem). The theory is that alcoholism has no cure and neither does addiction; even though I am not addicted or have a problem, I found a way to stop doing something that I overall enjoy but in long game terms is destructive. The remorse of the next morning is another huge factor which has turned me from getting drunk. The problem is I have a good memory of my antics the evening before and so I sometimes spend up to a week after reliving and cringing at my conduct. I said to myself ‘this is not me’ and it isn’t because 28 days without something you enjoy proves it isn’t needed and it also proves I am in control.

 

Weekly Ramble #32

As an author do you want to know what’s worse than a one star review?

A one star rating with no review, words, explanation or even evidence said ‘reader’ has taken on your work. Not to mention the mindfu** it will give an author for a long time constituting to the round in circles question; why didn’t they like it?

One of my previous ramble post’s was half rant and half response to a one star review that had an actual explanation which I tried my best to debunk and move on from. This is different and it appears a particular book of mine keeps getting ‘pot shot’ with these random ratings (Open Evening) via Goodreads. In fact you can compare the reviews on Amazon (UK) to Goodreads to see the inconsistencies which just leaves me flapping my arms as to why?

I don’t want it to appear as if it’s getting to me, but it is, because we’re only human right? As authors we live and die by the currency that is reviews and as a reader if there was something I thought deserved a one star review I probably wouldn’t have finished reading it and then would have just moved on (and I have done that very recently). We’re all entitled to an opinion, that’s fine and I am not contesting that, what I am contesting is conduct towards writers. Leaving that one star might turn someone away from the craft forever.

Another huge factor is Open Evening like all my books was funded entirely by me including the sequel and the other book it is linked to Darke Blood; there is plans for further sequels but thoughts of that turn me away from it.

The question that remains in my head; Is Open Evening that bad? Does it justify someone swooping in to leave a one star rating and think nothing of the consequences? Maybe some like minded writer folks should swoop in and help an author in need…

 

 

 

 

Satin Publishing Review

As the dust tries its best to settle from the release of my first book Open Evening ; I must look towards reviewing the services provided by my publisher. Considering the great job done its important to record and pass on knowledge of my experiences, for the future.

By that I mean there could be a budding author out there looking to get themselves published. Where could they go?  Well the way we make decisions and learn like always is to read from other peoples experiences. And so here’s the account of mine with Satin Publishing.

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No person is an island, or so they say and eventually if you are serious about being published you will have to take a leap. By that you will have to leave your own island of solitude, build a bridge of contact and find the required help to publication. Now since I became an ‘active’ author in the world of social media I soon began to connect and network with many different writer types and those who work in publishing.

Soon enough I came across Satin Paperbacks, and then Satin Publishing an e-book publisher both run by editor Nicky Fitzmaurice. These were the days when I was still convinced that I could sell stories about criminal robots in the future and it could land you a six figure book deal with a half celebrity literary agent.Everything was going to be great and I would casually knock out several books of a series and Spielberg wanted to do the movie!  Well that worked out didn’t it!

After some time I eventually grasped that someone like me, unless you are lucky (I’m talking struck by lightning twice whilst on the way to buy the winning lottery ticket lucky)  wasn’t going to be picked up by a literary agent for the work mentioned above.

In all that time I was learning, about the book industry, about how to write and who could realistically help me achieve my dream of publication. During this time I was also noticing the popularity of Satin Publishing rise on social media. Eventually I dropped the robot criminal stories and started fresh. Open Evening was born and from the very beginning of drafting in the late summer of last year I constantly had my eye on Satin Publishing with the view to pitch my idea to Nicky.

I made official contact around Christmas time and quickly we had agreed a date for which Open Evening would launch! After an exchange of emails I was quickly given a quote to have my work edited and uploaded to amazon via e-book and print formats (there was also a lot more than just that). Any time I had a question (considering I was a newbie to this) Nicky would always reply and answer anything that I didn’t know.

Soon enough the time quickly rolled around for me to finally hand over my manuscript to be edited and hence the leap of faith was imminent. The moment where this project becomes more than just me tapping away at a laptop. A few weeks later I received a proof copy of my manuscript complete with stuff that was to be deleted and the subsequent replacement. Upon reading through all the changes I was very happy and my eyes were now open as to how my work should look. Then came back the fully edited manuscript with all of the completed work and stuff replaced/edited and at that moment I knew we had a decent book.

Every writer needs an editor, even if its just a fresh set of eyes on something you have been working on for what seems like forever. All of the changes and stuff deleted only made the book better and overall the editing was fantastic. Open Evening has a unique voice that Nicky understood along with putting her own stamp on the work and deservedly so.

The next step was uploading to amazon and again this was done brilliantly as you have probably seen from the pictures of how it came out. Throughout this whole experience to publication Satin Publishing have been professional and helpful to the very day of publication. Nicky helped me liaise with my cover artists and got everything ready for the big day!

I now control every aspect of the book including price and access to sales stats but this book isn’t just mine, its now also a part of Satin Publishing.

For all those first time writers out there looking to make it to publication, I  would recommend Satin Publishing any day of the week, especially if you are looking for an understanding, helpful, trustworthy, professional and knowledgeable editor who can help you realise your dream!  All of this also came at a reasonable price so anyone dreaming of being a writer, if you put in the hard work that dream wont be that far away from reality.

Satin Publishing can help you in ‘unleashing the written word.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Write with your head, not the heart

Over the past few months I have come to some realisation on how I perceive myself in writing. From what started off as a pre teenage dream now stands as something dead serious, to me anyway.

On my way to adulthood I learned quickly from the working world about having an important thing called work ethic. Without tooting my own horn too much I have taken such ethic and applied it to everything I deem as a success. My philosophy in life and my ultimate key to success has only really consisted of three things:

  1. Turn up on time
  2. Be nice
  3. Work hard and be useful

The above rules work together as much as they do in a formulaic way. If you feel useless in a new job at least you turn up on time and be nice. If you can’t work hard because of some arbitrary consequence then just be nice and turn up. Everyone has no excuse for rules 1 and 2, to me they are the most important.

In writing it’s hard to find success even if you apply my rules because unfortunately there is always something else denying you. All you can do sometimes if continue onwards and work towards an eventual goal you may not even see on the horizon.

This stuff I talk about here is good and all but what is my point?

Writing is indeed something very personal. Here you are pouring all emotional strength into a story and yet people are rejecting you left right and center. Much of the time we get lost in our own creativity to even think that if we want genuine success as writers it needs to be treated like a job.

Slowly everyday that is my realisation. Take away all the heartfelt stuff, emotional connection with characters and  you can still let the creativity flow. Last year I made a critical decision to let go of my first written stories.

There were many reasons but above all if I want success as a writer I need to take away the emotion and write a story with appeal across the board. Don’t get me wrong that isn’t the key all writing success because all of this is figurative but I was penning a story that meant so much to me. Perhaps it just wasn’t right for me anymore or a readership.

To all those writing a fantasy time travel pirate series for example. You may have had this in you for years and it means so much, the story very much runs in parallel to your own life. For sure go ahead and write it if that’s what it means to you. If you want to find publication not only does this piratey masterpiece need to be good enough for a literary agent to like it but also have appeal to a massive group.

Making things complicated from the start will leave you disappointed and there isn’t an agent in the world who will take on your stuff if it has zero appeal to a mainstream audience. You also need to be somebody these days. By mainstream I mean all types of folk. Adding several sub genres to a title is just narrowing down potential readers each time. My suggestion and this is all yet to be proven so take what I say with a pinch of salt, keep it to one simple and single genre.

Why do you think Justin Beiber (through gritted teeth) is such a success? Two reasons: The stuff he makes is one genre and his target audience are a large number of people. He didn’t know he would be a success to begin with but he made it easier by making stuff that appeals. How do we do the same as writers?

Treat this thing like a job and research what is hot at the moment. If you are a writer and call yourself one you have to be prepared to do parts of the job you don’t like. Much like the real world of work. Put the pirate fantasy time travel story away for a while (but don’t forget it) and pen a simple romance story or something of the young adult persuasion. Two genres that are massively popular across many ages. Widen the range of people your writing will appeal to and grow a readership. The pirate story will come later when people buy the book because who’s written it and not what it’s about.

That good people is where I currently stand. My close to heart story and pick of destiny book series the Thorn legacy is currently on hold. A futuristic science fiction action thriller is too genre heavy right now for it to actually weigh in as a success. That doesn’t mean it’s gone because some day it will return. Right now my focus is on writing simple stories with mass appeal that I can get out myself and actually build a following.

Before August I was writing this series which had a zero following and readership. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t really want to do. But if you are what you say you are (a writer) then that’s what you got to do. The story you are destined to tell comes after the story you have to tell.

My first book Open Evening comes out this year. It’s recognised as young adult in genre. I have absolutely zero expectation as to how well it will do because I don’t know. For me that is the thrill of publishing. Not knowing and being surprised by what can happen. I’m very sure soon I will officially announce the publication date and begin a countdown.

So my advice right now is write with your head. Not your heart.