Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Weight-Loss Wednesday VII: Say no to fast food – eat slow food!

In our day and age we are always trying to do things fast. Work faster. Think faster. Do everything faster! (Here is a useful video on things faster) We tend to even want our food faster. DON’T! We all know the pitfalls of fast food but I would like to focus on the slow food movement. It’s simple:

Eat your food slow.

That’s it! Slow down and enjoy your meal. This small, simple change can make a huge difference in your weight. It takes time for your stomach to notify your brain that it is full. When you eat slowly you stop eating closer to the time you should so you consume fewer calories. This can cut calorie consumption by over 100 calories a day, or 1-2 pounds per month. That could be 20 or so fewer pounds to worry about per year!

Here are some tips to slowing down while you eat:

· Listen to your mother; chew your food. Work your way to chewing 20-40 times before swallowing. Not only does it slow down the pace you eat but you also increase digestion efficiency, allowing your body to use more nutrients.

· Ignore your mother; don’t clean your plate. Stop eating if you feel full but still have food. The extra caloric consumption will do you no good.

· Take a break between bites. As you chew your food, put down your fork or spoon. After you swallow, take a sip of water. The extra water will do you good anyways.

· Wait ten minutes before going back for seconds. Personally I’m surprised how often my appetite disappears during that time.

· Don’t eat while watching TV. Pay attention to your food. Enjoy it. Savor it! When you pay attention to the TV you can easily slip into a mindless binge.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Weight-Loss Wednesday Week VI: Make Exercise Fun

Six weeks down, four more to go. The progress thus far has been amazing! For this week’s fitness tip, I suggest…

Make exercise fun!!

Most people do not consider going out and running for hours on end a fun experience. Those who do had to work their way into getting that runner’s high. But to add exercise into your life you do not need to become a gym rat or hit the road for countless hours. Start small and find ways to make it fun.

• Exercise with the family. Don’t tell them it is exercise and focus on the fun. Play tag. Have races around the neighborhood. A family bike ride is a great way to burn a lot of calories. Go swimming. Play a friendly game of basketball. Convert family time in front of the television into active time outside. Even tossing a baseball or the ol’ pigskin is better than sitting in front of the tube.
• Find an exercise buddy. Nothing motivates me out of bed more than knowing somebody is waiting for me to exercise. Find a friend who has similar weight goals as you. The social aspect will keep you motivated and make exercise something to look forward to.
• Get a dog. People with dogs tend to be more active, primarily because dogs need exercise as much as people do. They make great running and walking companions. If you don’t have a dog, borrow one from a neighbor or friend and offer to take them out for some exercise. The dog and your friends will appreciate it.
• Get a stationary bike or a treadmill. Work exercise into your television schedule. Get a stationary bike to ride or a treadmill to walk on while you watch TV. If that is out of the budget, work exercise into the program. Instead of heading for the fridge during commercial breaks, alternate between pushups and sit-ups until your show returns.

Get creative with your exercise. If you are having fun then exercise doesn’t feel like such a chore and can even become something you look forward to. Always remember that moving is better than sitting and making little changes can make a huge difference.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Don't Trust Your Spell Checker

Don't get so lazy that you forget where words are applicable or not. The other day I shared (more like ranted) homonyms that can be one or two words. Some are "real" words while others are not and I try to help you remember which is which.

My sixth grade teacher, Mr. Benanti, was one of the most influential teachers I ever had. No, scratch that, he WAS the most influential teacher. I need to dedicate a blog post to him and make it required reading for all teachers. But one lesson he taught was to always keep a dictionary nearby so you can quickly look up a word if needed. With the advent of this little thing called the Internet you can verify words faster by going to reference sites like

While I'm not really into poetry, here is a poem that is awesome. I wish I had thought of it and it has been a favorite of mine for over a decade. There is a lesson here: Don't trust your spell checker. While modern spell checkers also check the references of words, you still need a basic foundation of knowledge to get the words right.

Eye have a spelling chequer,
It came with my Pea Sea.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss Steaks I can knot sea.

Eye strike the quays and type a whirred
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am write oar wrong
It tells me straight a weigh.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your shore real glad two no.
Its vary polished in its weigh.
My chequer tolled me sew.

A chequer is a bless thing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right all stiles of righting,
And aides me when eye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The chequer pours o'er every word
Two cheque sum spelling rule.

-Jerrold H. Zar, 1992

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Writing Lesson: A lot of meanings between one or two words

I'm relatively laid back when I witness spelling errors, misused word, and bad punctuation. Even when they are found in professional writings I can laugh it off. After all, what is important is that meaning is communicated so I don't usually get too uptight about it. But there is one exception, and I see it a lot and far too often.

"alot" vs "a lot"

"A lot" is two words. "Alot" is not a word at all.

This might have to be a rule you just memorize with no tricks. Chant to yourself the phrase, "A lot is two words. A lot is two words," until you get it. Say it until you believe it! Say it until you know it! Say it until it bugs you just like it bugs me!

Why? Because it is two words. It really is! See if you notice the pattern here:

Incorrect: I ran afew laps today. Correct: I ran a few laps today.
Incorrect: I did aton of work today. Correct: I did a ton of work today.
Incorrect: I ate abit of dessert. Correct: I ate a bit of dessert.
Incorrect: I am alittle afraid of snakes. Correct: I am a little afraid of snakes.
Incorrect: I have alot of homework to day. Correct: You're an idiot and you are going to burn if you keep spelling a lot wrong, plus today is one word!

(I'm breathing, I'm breathing)

Okay, that is my soap box. These other cases don't put me in the mental house but I do see them from time to time.

"Alright" vs "all right"

This is similar to the "alot" vs "a lot" argument. Technically, alright is not a word. It is a lazy way of writing "all right" to the point that it has actually become accepted. Go ahead, open up word and type it in. See, no red squiggly line under it (Now do it with alot just to test your sanity). It has even been accepted into the dictionary.

To be on the safe side, always write it out as two words. While it may be acceptable, it is still not taken seriously by the intellectual elite. But then again, who cares about them, go ahead and use either form without abandon!

But, seriously, it is two words.

"Everyday" vs "Every Day"

I've got good news, these are both correct, English words. The only thing is that they are not synonyms or interchangeable with each other.

As one word, "everyday" is a adjective. It describes something you see often or commonly. Since adjectives modify nouns, you'll usually see it in front of the noun it is describing.

I avoided my everyday route to school.
I got another everyday tie for Father's Day.
I enjoy hearing the British accent over the everyday, American accent I grew up with.

Notice in that last example that I threw in two adjectives. I'll save this for another lesson, but two or more adjectives modifying a noun have commas between them.

"Every day" on the other hand is a phrase which means "each day." "Every" is an adjective, and it modifies the word "day."

I want to hug my kids every day.
I try to whistle every day as I work to help the time go by faster.
I see that broken down car every day I drive in this neighborhood.

"Nevermind" vs "never mind"

Nevermind is a word, but it is very outdated. In common (everyday) speech you are using the two-word version, "never mind," which means to disregard or ignore. Don't use the outdated "nevermind" because, I promise you, you will use it wrong. In its correct usage, it doesn't sound like correct English.

Never mind what Tom says, he is crazy!
Never mind the manager, he is just ornery every day.

For what it is worth, "nvm" is NOT a word.

"Sometime" vs "Some Time"

Kudos to Tristi Pinkston for this one and her explanation. I hope she doesn't mind when she noticed I'm stealing this from her.

Sometime is a vague and unspecified time at which you do something. It's use would be the same as saying, "When I get around to it." I like how Tristi explains "some time" so I'll just quote from her writing tip: "The words "some time" mean, "I need a quantity of time." "Some" is used to refer to a quantity." So, it is like needing some salt or some proof. You are asking for an unspecified quantity of time.

Also, if you can put a word like "spare" in the middle of it, then "some time" should be the option to go with.

I need to update my blog sometime.
When I have some time I need to start outlining my story.

I need to update my blog somesparetime.
When I have some spare time I need to start outlining my story.

"Altogether" vs "all together"

"Altogether" is when you are referring to something in its entirety or completeness. Such as if you are considering the sum of all parts of something.

Altogether, the trip was worth every penny.
My computer was $499 and monitor was $149, or $648 altogether.

"All together" means everyone or everything together.

Put the clothes all together in the hamper.
The dogs started barking all together.
When the starting pistol goes off, we will begin the race all together.

I often find the term "all together" being awkward. If you can split the term the sentence usually makes more sense and validates the use of all together in the first place.

Put all the clothes together in the hamper.
All the dogs started barking together.
When the starting pistol goes off, we will all begin the race together.

To Be Continued...

Well, not exactly. I've decided to break each out into its own lessons. So I'll do the examples below as their own post. I was about to delete this post altogether, but decided against it to preserve the comments below.

I'll add more since there are a lot more words that would fit in this:

"Pickup" vs "pick up"
"Already" vs "all ready"

Do you have more? Feel free to comment below!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Launch

My friend, Tristi Pinkston, is having her book launch for Hang 'Em High.

When: Saturday, August 13th, 12 – 4 pm
Where: Pioneer Book, 858 S. State, Orem
Prizes, games, Dutch oven cobbler (first come, first served)
Authors Tristi Pinkston, Nichole Giles, Heather Justesen,
Cindy Hogan, and J. Lloyd Morgan

She is also having a blog contest.

I wish I could be there, but I've got too much to do down here in beautiful St. George.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Weight-Loss Wednesday Week III - And Balancing Life

I have two tidbits of self-help for everybody. Both could be applicable to writing, but these were written by request of others and I thought I'd post them here.

So, first, is an excerpt of the Email I sent out for today's Weight Loss Wednesday:

If you aren’t meeting your weight loss/maintenance goals then you might need to sleep on it. Substantial medical evidence points to a correlation between good, interrupted sleep and weight. Good sleep allows for energy to get you through your day (and your workout) and also regulates hormones. With a lack of sleep, your body cuts back on producing leptin (the hormone that tells you when you are full) and produces more ghreliln (the hormone that increases your appetite) enticing you to eat more – and usually unhealthy – food.

So shoot for getting at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night and you could literally be losing weight in your sleep.

funny gifs

Also, I was asked to write for the Authors Incognito August newsletter a segment on balancing life. That, and other contributions, can be read here:

Authors Incognito August Newsletter

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Time to Catch Up

It's been two and a half weeks without a blog update. I'm sorry I'm a blog slacker, though I do feel like a lot of things in my life have progressed. For instance, since my last blog post I've ran two half marathons and kept them under the time I wanted.
As for the Wednesday Weight-Losses, I sent out a few Emails but they were so short I didn't think they would justify a blog post. For those who are interested in weight loss, I think you will find a portion of my last note of interest:

For those who don’t know, I’m a data junkie! I love looking at and analyzing numbers. Here is what I found interesting about the results. Those who DID NOT keep track in their habit trackers lost an average of .77 pounds. Those who DID keep track lost an average of 1.87 pounds. That is a 243% improvement over those who didn’t!! So if you didn’t lose what you wanted and you didn’t keep track of your daily food, water, and exercise then by all means start tracking NOW. The ONLY difference is that one group tracked and the other didn’t.

For my WIP, I'm pretty deep into the world building. It is hard, yet rewarding, work. I am surprised at how much work is actually involved in this process. I thought the first step would be putting together the outline and while that is coming to fruition, it is the world building I'm finding to be the time-consuming process I didn't see coming.

To practice writing, I entered Karen Hoover's Weekly Flash Fiction challenge. It is fun and I would encourage more people to get into it. Best of all, it only takes an hour of your time (it's in the rules). She just changed up the schedule and, unfortunately, it doesn't fit in with mine this week so I couldn't find time for another entry. I do look forward to entering more as my schedule opens up. For those who are into poetry, she also has a weekly poetry contest of the same vein.

And the result? I won! Well, I co-won. I tied with Rebecca Blevins so we have both won the following trophy for our blog:

I am planning a blog series soon to look at different ways to outline a story. I just read a book on story structure and I've seen, and mentioned previously, a few others. I would really like to explain, analyze, and discuss each method and hopefully get feedback from all of you good folks.

I noticed my "currently reading" page is out of date. I'll get that back to speed ASAP.

Thank you everybody for sticking around. I appreciate all of my followers!