Nationals Or Bust: Week 1

Nationals or Bust Health Challenge: Week 1

Nationals or Bust, Healthy eating, diet challenge, RWA Nationals, writing, authors, exercise, sedentary job, weight loss, romance authors

Something very special happened last week. My sister, author Ella Sheridan, was chosen as a finalist in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart awards. This means she will be attending an Awards Night and many events at the RWA National conference this summer in July. I was nervous enough about going to this conference, because it will be my first time there as a published author. As a “curvy girl”, I’ve really wanted to get into better shape for it, but kept putting off the start date (we all know how that goes, right?).

Now we both have a reason to hunker down and get moving, but we hate to do it alone. We’re hoping you will join us! Whether you are attending RWA Nationals or not, this will be a great time to band together and focus on our health through information, encouragement, and accountability. Participate as much or as little as you like, but the more you make your voice heard, the more encouragement we can offer and the more you’ll get out of this process!

So let’s begin:

Have A Plan!

We do it all the time with our writing. I’ll write 2 scenes a day until… I’ll finish plotting and start writing by… We make goals and plans so we can see our target and reach it! There’s nothing more satisfying than marking a task off a list (okay, maybe that’s just me) or standing at the top of a mountain looking over everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Eyes on the prize, baby! After all, you can’t sell a book you haven’t written.

Just like the general “I’m gonna write a book someday” doesn’t get anyone anywhere, so the “I’ll just cut back on my eating and exercise” rarely nets any discernible results. So, yes, even you pantsters out there need a plan!

We all want to lose weight to look and feel our best at National Conference in July. That’s 15 weeks from today!

15 weeks, weight loss, romance authors, Nationals or Bust

You don’t have to post your plan here, but having one will help you see what you’ve accomplished and what you need to work on. What you’ve gotten control over and what still needs more focus. I suggest 1 or 2 options:

1. Decide on a food and exercise plan, instituting it all at once. That’s right, from Day 1. It might be a little overwhelming the first week or two (especially after all that Easter candy), but you’ll soon settle into a groove.

2. If you need more variety, try creating a very basic plan, then adding on to it each week by introducing a new “focus”. For instance, one week you can focus on adding more strength training to your exercise routine, or eating more veggies, or drinking a certain amount of water, or trying a new sport. This can keep things interesting.

Seriously, I’m nobody’s motivational guru — I’ve failed at more diets than most people have started. So when I post, I’m preaching to the choir here. But I’ve always worked better in a group and with accountability. I’d love to run into each and every one of you at Nationals and pat you on the back for all you’ve accomplished between now and then.

SO LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTED!!!! Introduce yourself in the comments and post your plan/goals if you want to. Each Wednesday we’ll have a check-in for those who want to talk about their progress, problems, or pitfalls. Offer encouragement, advice, or high-fives — we need them all.

I look forward to getting to know everyone. Invite your friends, and let’s look back on these 15 weeks with pride, having found a few new friends along the way.

Dani Wade


35 thoughts on “Nationals Or Bust: Week 1

  1. I’m in!!!

    I’m A.D and my goal is to drop 30 pounds in the next 15 weeks. That’s 2 pounds a week so it sounds doable, right. My plan is to cut gluten out of my diet, do some form of cardio exercise in the morning and a stretching workout in the evening.

    Starting weight is 161.

    Let’s do it!

  2. Here’s my plan for the next 15 weeks!

    Limit myself to 1 serving of high-fiber carbs per meal (20 grams or less).
    No sugary foods (I’m not uber policing content for now, but foregoing candy, cokes, desserts, etc)
    Being extremely careful about content when I have to eat fast food (only option near work if I run out of time in the mornings). There are several places that serve salads or chili, so those are the ones I need to stick to.
    Exercise 4 days a week at home (elliptical machine) and walk a minimum of 4 days a week on my breaks at work (15 minutes isn’t much time, but there’s LOTS of stairs, which helps up the cardio).
    Drink 40 oz of water each day, minimum.

    I’m not posting my weight. πŸ™‚ But I want to lose a minimum of 15 pounds.

  3. Hey, y’all! *waves* I’m Ella, and yes, I’m a plotter and planner. My lists have lists, lol. That doesn’t mean I always use them, which is why I need this help. When I write, I use an accountability group to keep me moving forward despite setbacks, rejections, and uncooperative characters (that’s you, Arik!). I’m hoping the same idea will work for losing weight. πŸ™‚

    So, my plan is this:
    – a 40 min outside walk with 15 min on my elliptical machine, 5 days a week (works me a little harder, but I need the outside time to help with depression)
    – 15-30 min arm exercises daily (some of this is weight lifting, but most of it is my PT exercises as I’m recovering from rotator cuff surgery, so I’m not working as hard as it sounds)
    – one hour circuit training twice a week (I meet with an exercise accountability group I started at my dojo, so that’s how this wacky plan came into being, just adding stuff as I went along)
    – karate/kung fu class twice a week
    – chi guong daily for relaxation (this only takes about 5 minutes)

    It sounds like a lot, and it really is for me. I don’t like to exercise, but my group is pushing me to keep it up, and my therapist and the pain in my shoulder is pushing me to strengthen my shoulder, so there you go. Starting next month I’ll be switching some of this out for a water aerobics class I love, but I can’t take the water yet — hurts too much.

    I’ve been sticking to this to some degree or another for almost a month, with no weight loss — yes, you read that right. So diet it is! Here’s my food plan: cut carbs. No kidding. All those yummy things I’m not supposed to enjoy as a diabetic — yep, I enjoy them. My only real plan is to limit myself to one serving of (preferably whole grain) carbs per meal, with one snack in the afternoon to keep my sugar level. I started this week, and so far I’m doing pretty good. The exercise helps me get in a good amount of water, too, which is a struggle for me.

    Whew! Okay, does that sound like way too much? I know the exercise sounds like a lot, but since it evolved organically, it’s really not. And I SO need to move. I spend a lot of time sitting behind a computer. It’s been good for my mental health, and I’m hoping it will be good for my body even if the pounds don’t melt off.

    So, let’s get going! (I guess that means I need to go walk! :p)


  4. Crud, forgot my goal — duh! I want to lose 20 pounds before Nationals and LOOK GOOD IN MY GOLDEN HEART DRESS!

  5. Morning, ladies. Timely post. When my last diet was not going the way I hoped, I gave myself a bit too much freedom and this morning’s weigh in (which I won’t share) was quite the perk up. It seems when I’m not dieting, I’m gaining, but if I’m dieting, I’m not losing either. I’m treading water. I can only manipulate food so much, so I’m looking for more exercise in my life. *sigh*

    Okay – here’s my goals

    – Less sugar. I won’t say no sugar, but I want to limit it to when I’m writing (long story) or a special occasion treat like going out for a birthday. Thursday is not a special occasion. If I’m desperate, I need to turn to fruit, etc., not cookies. This is a huge thing for me. I’m a sweets snacker. I’d rather skip dinner entirely and eat a Twinkie. Bad.
    – Less carbs. I’m going to try and cut back overall, but when I do eat them, I want it avoid the white stuff. Sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat bread.
    – More vegetables. I really don’t care for most of them. I need to work on developing a love affair with something other than green beans and broccoli. Salads get boring. I need to expand my horizons.
    – More protein. This is a constant struggle of mine. I want to hit at least 50g a day. I don’t really like meat, so this won’t be very easy.
    – Tracking. To keep myself honest, I’m going to fire up my Sparkpeople account and try to stay accountable. I’m not worried about calories at this point, but seeing what I’m doing always helps.
    – Water! No fewer than 42 ounces of water every day. No flavor packets or mix ins, either. Just water. Maybe some actual lemon or something. I think artificial sweeteners make me hungrier, so I want to avoid those as much as I can.

    – I want to do cardio at least 6 out of 7 days of the week. I will mix it up between time on my treadmill, my bike, some aerobics videos and maybe I’ll even dust off my Wii fit. At least 30 minutes. I’d like 60, but some days that’s easier than others. To start, a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio 6 days a week.
    – I want to do some strength training twice a week. I have my own list of PT exercises for my upper body that I’ve been ignoring. I need to work on that and build up the muscles around my knees so I can get back to running someday. Might include some yoga some days or just some weights. Core work on my stability ball.

    – I need some mental space and I’m not getting it. I have a meditation app on my phone. I want to try using that, even if just for a few minutes a day. I am so stressed out. And I can’t turn to food to deal with it, which is what I tend to do.

    No small feat. I don’t want to slap a number on here, but if all this goes well, I’m hoping for 15 pounds. One pound a week. If I can do more, great.


  6. I’ll join you! I’ve been wanting to find a diet partner and this is even better! πŸ™‚ I’ve recently started an anti-inflamatory diet. I’ve written a blog post about it, if anyone wants to read it. Its called Sugar Today, On Hips Tomorrow – at my website,
    I’d love to lose 30 pounds. Someone posted earlier that that’s only 2 pounds a week. Very doable! I’m the type that needs a buddy to succeed so I’m happy you guys started this venture!
    As for exercise, I’ll have to limit it to walking and some light weight training. I have a hip issue that’s quite painful at times and I have to be careful.
    Congrats Ella on being a Golden Heart Finalist! I’ll be cheering you on from the MCRW cheering section!
    My real name is Joy, but you’ll see me posting as Darcy Flynn, my pen name. Feel free to call me either. I answer to both! LOL

  7. Just back from vacation and too much ice cream, so this is timely for me, too. I have a difficult time losing but I gain very easily. The last time I did weight watchers I lost two pounds in two months. Very discouraging. I want to be healthy, most of all. I need to move more, and have been working toward more exercise. No way am I posting my weight online, but — I’d like to lose 25 pounds before the RWA conference. — LJ

  8. Yay! So great to see everyone! I think a lot of us have weight loss issues or issues with our body that keep us from doing what we need to do (Darcy, I recently spent 2 months in a sling for my rotator cuff, which severely affected my balance, so I totally get the physical issue). I’m hoping we can all cheer each other on when things get tough, and cheer each other on when things are going great. One way to look at it: even if you don’t lose to your goal weight in the next few weeks, developing a healthier lifestyle is always good, and every pound gets you closer. What’s that they say, it takes something like 30 days to make a habit?

    I’ll be pairing with Dani to help out on the blog since she’s at work during the day. So you’ll probably see me commenting more in the morning and Dani more in the afternoon/evening. She’s not ignoring us! And let’s encourage her too, because she’s having a tough time implementing healthy living while working full-time, writing full-time, and being a single mom most of the time since her hubby works evenings. It’s tough, but we can all help, right?

    One thing I’ve learned recently from one of my group members: rewards help! I used to reward myself with a free day once a week, but since that involved food — yeah, kinda defeated the purpose. My friend said going all week was too difficult for her, so she started rewarding herself every night. Her problem is she eats constantly after 8 pm because her husband works nights, so for every night that she doesn’t eat after 8, she gives herself 50 cents. It’s working very well for her. Not so much for me, since I know if I want it, my hubby will hand me five bucks and send me out shopping. πŸ™‚ So, to avoid food rewards, I give myself a gold star on my food journal for every day that I complete my exercise/diet goals, including taking my meds. When I get 7 stars, I get to buy myself something for one of my upcoming trips (RWA Nationals or Ireland in the fall!). I would normally not buy for those trips till the last minute (and then not get what I want), so I think it will work well.

    How can you reward yourself daily/weekly/monthly? Don’t just tie it to pounds lost; tie it to doing what you need to do as well. You can reward yourself nightly for a job well done, then every ten pounds with a mani/pedi — both will help you get where you need to go!

  9. I’m in! Not able to go to Nationals, but I started on diet/exercise plan in January. Try mark Lauren’s Body by You about body weight exercise. Also, LOVE My Net Diary app on my iPhone. Goal? To fit into the pants I wore before surgery and Christmas.

  10. Great goal, Cynthia! I keep thinking, as a side effect to prepping for Nationals, I might actually not cringe when I put on my swimsuit this summer. πŸ™‚

  11. I’ve never dieted. I know, don’t hate me! But the mid-life monster seems to be adding a few
    pounds to my usually fit body. Soooooo, I am gonna jump on ur bandwagon. Like I use writing contests to be accountable to for my writing, I’ll use this blog to be accountable to
    my losing 5-10 pounds. I’m kind of a fitness nut but I want to commit even more to breaking a sweat every day. If anyone needs suggestions for working out, I’m ur girl. And if you guyz
    have any specific ‘what-to-eat-to-lose-a-few-pounds meal plan, I’d love for you to share that with us. This is exciting! Mary Kennedy Eastham, Author, Squinting Over Water – Stories,
    The Shadow of a Dog I Can’t Forget and The Girl With Sand in Her Hair, which I hope to
    finish by year’s end

  12. Wow! So great to see everyone here! This is gonna be awesome, I just know it! Looks like a lot of us are limiting carbs, so I hope y’all will keep me from going off the deep end during withdrawal. I’m allowing myself a limited amount but trying to make better choices.

    The exercise thing is hard for me because of a big factor: TIME! I have so little of it that it’s pitiful. But again. I’m trying. Without someone watching, I’d give up in 2 days!

    I will check back in after work today, but am looking forward to working together to get the weight off!!!

    Everybody check in and let us know if you started your plan today! If not, when do you plan to begin???


  13. Okay, I’ll bite…er, jump in. πŸ˜‰

    I’ve been wanting to lose 15 pounds, and just haven’t found the motivation to stick with anything longer than 2 weeks, then I lose interest. I wanted to be slimmer for my first trip to RT, which is only 4 weeks away (eep!). I’m going to try to lose 5 pounds by then…then work on the rest with y’all over the summer. πŸ˜‰

    My plan? Walk or workout at least 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Drink more water. Watch what I eat. If I go for snack-type items, choose fruit, veggies, or limit how much junk I consume. Avoid the late night snacks.

    And Ella – mega CONGRATS on the final! What a thrill!!

  14. Thanks, Anne Marie! It’s good that you have a goal in four weeks — makes you get right on it and work hard up front. Good job!

    So, I have a question… I’m guessing trail mix for lunch is not good? 😦 I managed to get caught out with no restaurants around, so I stopped at the store to grab some water (something I wouldn’t have done 2 months ago) and picked up some trail mix because at that point I was starving and still had to go get my kids. It only had nuts, cranberries and raisins in it, but somehow I still felt like I was doing something wrong (which is pretty much my take on food in general, lol). Oh well. Tonight will be better. Always look to the next chance to do it right, ladies!

  15. Ella, I would think trail mix is okay, as long as it’s not the kind heavy on sugar (like M&Ms). … I’ve heard that it’s actually recommended to have a couple tablespoons (can’t remember the amount) of nuts a day. And there’s a hierarchy of the best ones for you. I think maybe almonds are at the top? Peanuts might be the bottom.

    The only issue I’ve had with trail mix like that is if I’m on the Atkins diet (low carbs), so the dried fruit would be an issue.

    Oh, and the salt can make you retain water weight.

    But don’t take my word for any of this…I’m not a dietician. FWIW, I think trail mix is a very healthy choice compared to others you could make!

  16. Yeah, considering you were at a store, probably trail mix was the least of all evils. πŸ™‚ I snack on nuts in healthy portions, and though peanuts aren’t the best for you, its like raisins over M&Ms. At least its a healthy version. πŸ™‚

    Next time pick up a pack of almonds or pistachios. And great job on the water!!!!

  17. Thanks for joining us, Anne Marie!!! Yea, those events closer up can give us a good start!!! I have new author headshots being made at the end of April and it is really motivating me. We’ll get whipped into shape in no time!!! Focus on that exercise, it will help bring the weight down quicker, especially with an Atkins-style diet. You want to keep your muscle mass.

  18. Oh, Mary… we promise not to hurt you… too much. πŸ™‚ I feel like I’ve been on a diet my entire life.

    But those hormones do tend to catch up with us at some point in our lives. Probably the biggest eating tip I could give you (and like Anne Marie, I’m not a dietician and don’t claim to be one, but I’ve dealt with hormone-induced weight gain my entire life too), is to change your carbs over to high fiber (at least 3 grams fiber per 15 grams of carbohydrate, is what I’ve been told). And limit them to a specific # at each meal. I’m limiting myself to 1 at each meal, because I’m extremely sensitive to them. You may not be, so experiment and see what works.

    Or maybe try 1 no-carb meal a day, say lunch. A salad or stir fry with no rice. Watch for hidden sugars in your foods.

    Anybody else have advice for Mary?

  19. Welcome, Cynthia! Hey, even without Nationals barrelling down on us, we are all writers and that very act keeps us more sedentary than most. We’re in this together!!!!

    I’ve got some posts coming up about different things — just my thoughts and ideas to challenge us, but I’m hoping to have a few guest bloggers come in and share with us too!

  20. LJ, Heaven bless you! The only good part about eating in Disney is you walk so much you at least work some of it off!!! I’m realizing more and more, as I sit in a cubicle 8 hours a day, then come home to write several more hours, that exercise is essential to me. That’s why I started walking as many days on my morning break as I could at work, because I’m worried about what all that sitting is doing to me.

    And my momma swears its the best way for me to keep my sugar under control. Gotta work on that!

  21. Great to see you, Darcy!!! Hope I get to meet you at the MCRW meeting in a few weeks!

    I’ll have to check out that post. As a diabetic, sugar is both evil and my ultimate craving. Very difficult. But I did good today. I resisted the call of the candy jar in my office! And I warned our office “candy dealer” not to be visiting my cubicle with any goodies. I’m serious!!!

  22. Andrea, I really need to add a brain section to my goals! I stay on the run so much that, like you, I feel like I have no space. I’ve got a meditation app on my phone. Need to figure out when would be the best time to schedule that in…

  23. So glad to see you all here, ladies!!! Next Wednesday I hope to see some weight lost and some challenges overcome! And feel free to add to this post during the week if something comes up. Or Ella and I are both on Facebook. Don’t wait until Wednesday if it means you fall off the wagon! We’re here to help and I hope when I’m crying because I can’t have those last malted milk eggs in the jar at work, one of y’all will snatch me off the ledge as well. πŸ™‚

  24. I’d probably second Dani’s suggestion, Mary. Other than balancing hormones (which can be more like getting them as tolerable as possible, the older you get ;)), eating healthy and exercising are really all you can do. If you already exercise, I’d say something in your diet would be helpful. Particularly processed carbs — white sugar, flour, etc — seem to affect me.

  25. I started Weight Watchers yesterday and ideally I’d like to lose 15 pounds but I’d be very happy with 10. Because of gastric issues, artificial sweeteners are out of the question and I *LOVE* sugar! 1 tsp, though, has 0 points on WW. I know I can’t use 10 tsps and not have points, but I can at least sweeten my morning tea. Water is another of my downfalls. I hate it unless it’s used to make a soft drink or sweet iced tea. But I’m determined to drink at least 6 glasses a day. I add lemon to flavor it. I’m good with veggies and lean meats and portion control. It’s the sweets I crave.

    Exercise is where I fail miserably. I can’t do a lot of things because of the injuries from the auto accident. No walking, no treadmill. Nothing that puts a strain on my neck. The exercise bike works for me IF I’ll get off my arse and go to the gym and do it. I just seem to run out of time. Once it’s warmer, I can swim at the apartment pool and that’s very easy on my poor, injury-ridden body.

    Anyway, I’m in! I have soooooooooo many dresses in my closet I can’t wear. But with a 10 pound loss, I probably could — with Spanx ;-).


  26. Hallelujah for Spanx! Marilyn, I let myself have one spoon of sugar in my coffee each morning. Of course, I also use one spoon of Truvia, but still. Sometimes knowing you can have that one thing helps offset the many other times you have to say no.

    I also do the lemon thing. Can’t drink water anywhere away from home without it. The thing that has made it possible for me to actually tolerate water is, believe it or not, a Brita water pitcher. Takes all chemical taste, everything away. Kept in the fridge, it’s very cold, plus ice, and I can actually make myself drink it. My rule of thumb to try to meet my water goal: never take just one sip. Always take multiple drinks at a time, and you’ll be surprised how fast the level goes down. Maybe some of those things might help you. πŸ™‚

  27. I’m in, too!! (*waves to AD* Didn’t know you were reading this until I saw you in the comments.)

    Almost a year ago, I had our first child and with the encouragement of Jenn Leblanc and Derek Hutchins I reached pre-pregnancy weight months ago.

    Baby started table food and I’ve gained 5 back. 😦

    I’m back on my game! I want to lose 15lbs by RWA. That’s doable even with a kid who needs me to show him how to eat goldfish.

    Great idea!

  28. That’s hilarious, Kristin! I’m hoping this will be a good experience for all of us. I’ve already found myself thinking before I put something in my mouth, “WHAT do I want to report next Wednesday?”

    I’m planning to come up to the MCRW meeting this month. Maybe I’ll see you there and we’ll finally get to meet in person? Been following your blog since I’m a freelance line editor. Lots of great advice!

  29. I went to a weight loss seminar last night (put on by my doctor — I tried not to take it personally) and basically got a refresher course on nutrition. My vacation weight is coming off quickly, but I don’t expect that to last long. This time, no strange or extreme diets for me. Healthy food. Watch calories. No artificial sweetener (poison, IMO). Most importantly, more exercise. I wonder if 10 minutes three times a day is as beneficial as 30 minutes all at once? The answer seems to vary, depending on who you ask. Sitting for so long at the computer can’t be good, so in some ways maybe breaking it up can be beneficial.

  30. I’m a day late, but I’m in!

    My goal is to lose 15 pounds for Nationals so I look good in my GH finalist dress! Like Dani, I’m a diabetic, so my focus is already on eating properly (and yes, I’ll do better). What I need to do is get off my butt and use my muscles more than once a day. πŸ˜‰

    My plan:
    1. Get at least a half hour of cardio in four days a week. Play cool tunes to motivate myself
    2. Do my ab/arm exercises (that only take ten minutes to do) every day
    3. If I have a choice between stairs and an escalator or elevator, take the stairs

    My reward:
    A mix of things. Ten minutes of online games, song downloads, a swing on the swings in the nearby park, fresh flowers. I’ve also given some cards with encouraging words to a friend, who has agreed to send them to me at random over the next two months.

    So glad to be in this with everyone!

  31. Hey, a fellow GHer! Woot! So glad you joined us, Bonnie. What a great idea with the cards!

  32. Welcome Bonnie, Marilyn, and Kristin!!! I apologize for missing you today. It’s been a rough one, but the weekend is on its way, right? Glad you could join us on our challenge.

    On the exercise front, I’m thinking about trying one of those little foot peddler things (like a bike, but it’s only the pedal part). I could use it at my desk at home, and maybe even try it at work if the wicked witch of the west doesn’t veto it (long story). Worth checking into!

    LJ, that’s essentially what Ella and I are doing — limiting the amount of carbs we eat (not altogether). I’m doing better about artificial sweeteners at work, just trying to do better at home too. But getting my water in! Woohoo!!!

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