Sunday, June 27, 2010

A New and Improved Healthy Writer Blog is at

As we've discussed before, holidays, anniversaries and birthdays are wonderful times to pause, evaluate where we are, celebrate what we've accomplished, and make plans for needed improvements. This kind of self-reflection inspired Trish Milburn to start this blog in anticipation of the big 4-0, and we all continue to embrace that same spirit with everything we do. With the approach of the Healthy Writer blog's one-year anniversary at the end of July 2010, we saw a wonderful opportunity to push even further with what we can achieve individually and as a group.

The celebration begins with a new, improved, redesigned Healthy Writer at!

Come visit us there!
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Keep Moving Forward!

Among the many changes you'll see in the next few weeks at Healthy Writer blog we've discontinued Inspiration Sundays. However, I hope you’ll agree that this simple quote still deserves a post:
Keep Moving Forward

I’m always inspired by Walt Disney and his words. A man who started with only a creative vision and a talent for drawing began an empire. Growing up near Walt Disney World, it was easy to see the awe inspiring buildings, theme parks, and man-made lakes, but sometimes hard to remember that it all on the same shaky ground as my own writing career.

You probably didn’t know it, but Walt struggled in his early years. He did any work he could including a series of Army education films that would be considered very politically incorrect these days. Like many writers and artists he suffered setbacks: the first studio he founded went bankrupt, he lost the rights to one of his creations (Oswald the Lucky Rabbit), and he couldn’t find a distributor for either of the first two Mickey Mouse films.

Through it all, Walt kept moving forward. He tried new things and refused to look backwards for too long. His philosophy is as useful to writers as it is to people who strive to be healthy. If you’ve missed a work out, eaten an unhealthy meal, skipped a deadline, or failed horribly on a pitch, don’t dwell on it, move forward, and do better next time. As we work hard to reach our goals it’s easy to get sidetracked by the things we should have done instead planning the things we’ll do next. Don’t. Instead, give yourself a little time to look backward, then get back to work. Who knows, maybe someday you’ll be a household name just like Walt.

(This is the first in a series of posts that focus on Walt Disney World, the location of the next Romance Writers of America Conference. I’m not just a rabid Disney fan, I’m also a former employee. I’ve had the honor and the thrill of working in the Disney Reservation Center where we booked all restaurant and hotel reservations. If you have any Disney questions, please post them in the comments.)
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

In Sickness and in Health

I've got a question - how do you push yourself to exercise when you're sick? Or do you? Should you?

I've heard arguments for both sides. I've read that your body needs a break when it's sick so it can focus on healing. And I've heard the arguments for staying in the groove and not letting yourself get out of the habit. I guess it depends on how sick is sick, right? A headache means keep on running. The flu, OMG please stay in bed. But what about things like miserable allergies or a cold, or something that isn't totally debilitating but still feels miserable? Do you exercise then? The Mayo Clinic says it depends on the symptoms. If they are located above the neck, then go workout. If they are below the neck, then take a break. Prevention agrees - a stuffy nose and itchy eyes or sniffles aren't enough to cancel the workout. But a chest cold or body aches? Skip it. I like their reminder for people who exercise at gyms, too! If you're contagious, don't do it.

This begs the question - who wants to exercise when they are sick? Its been my experience that when I'm sick, I feel crappy and don't want to do anything except whine and moan and be miserable *g*. But the reality is, exercise taps into those feel-good endorphins and can kick that whining and moaning to the curb, giving a burst of energy, too.

And what about eating? For me, at least, comfort food is necessary for the healing process -and comfort food never seems to be found on my healthy menu, ya know? Now, granted, the last thing I ever want to do when I'm sick is cook. But I'm more than willing to hand someone a recipe and look pathetic, hoping they'll make it for me *g* A quick google search found a bunch of healthy recipe makeovers, so I'm thinking eating healthy while sick is definitely doable. The trick is non-recipe comfort foods - and I can't think of any *g* How about you?

Do you exercise when you're sick? Or skip it? And what about comfort food? What's your favorite comfort food and how healthy is it?

Tawny Weber writes hot, spicy stories for Harlequin Blaze. In January 2010, her novella, YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS, was out in the Blazing Bedtime Story anthology and her next full length Blaze,, RIDING THE WAVES, will be out in September 2010. Come by and visit her on the web at
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday Workout

Are you ready for another Wednesday Workout?

But, first how are you doing this week? Are you taking work breaks?

This week, my workouts fell by the wayside. Between a bout with viral bronchitis, graduation parties, Father’s Day, and the end of the school year stuff, any uninterrupted minute was spent vegged out in front of the television. Not my best week. But, I'm ready to jump back into my routine today.. :)

However, in between my soap opera viewing (Anyone an All My Children fan?), I did stumble across, attempt, and enjoy this arm workout below… Check it out.

Don’t forget to stretch when you’re finished.

So, what did you think?? Did you try it out?

Happy Wednesday!

*Disclaimer – The author is not responsible for any loss or damages suffered from participating in any of the above-mentioned physical activity or links as she is not qualified at this time to suggest or recommend exercise programs. The author is merely informing readers of what she does. No one should ever begin an exercise program without consulting a doctor first.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Pros and Cons of Wii Fit

Today I'm happy to host a regular reader of Healthy Writer, Sally Kilpatrick. Sally has guested with us before, and we're thrilled to have her back. Today's she's talking about the pros and cons of the Wii Fit. Welcome, Sally!

First and foremost, let me say thanks to the Healthy Writers for letting me blog today. I’m inspired by everyone’s journey and the great tales they tell, and I’m learning some great strategies as well.

I’m writing today because I finally succumbed to the hype and bought a Wii and then, in short order, the Wii Fit. I can’t tell you that I’m now fit enough to model for Victoria’s Secret, but I would also have to confess that I let my fitness goals slide in the spring as I finished up my Masters. I sometimes wonder if I wouldn’t be in worse shape without having had the Wii Fit to chastise me when I started getting too far out of line. Let me share with you what I’ve learned about it so far and then please chime in with questions and comments.

First the Cons:
• While some of the yoga and strength training activities are challenging, I can’t see getting a really, really good strength training session from the Wii Fit. Similarly, some of the cardio activities will cause you to break a sweat, but it’s nothing like a treadmill run or a stair climber binge.
• You have to turn the blessed thing on. Before I bought mine, I asked my best friend if she liked hers and/or found it effective. Her response? I suppose it would work if I used it. As in all things, discipline will be required.
• The electronic voices and trainers sometimes make me want to throw things at them. I suppose I’m better at suppressing the urge if it’s an actual human being who’s asking me to identify the reasons I’ve gained weight or who’s telling me I’m “a little shaky.”
• The suggested weights for women seem to be about right—the Wii Fit thinks a woman of my age (30-mumble, mumble) and my height (5’4”) should weigh 129, but the recommended weight for men seems to be skewed—163 for my husband who is 6’2” and has a large bone structure. Trust me when I tell you he would be way too skinny at that weight, and it’s not quite 30 pounds more than my recommended weight even though I’m much shorter than he is.

And the Pros:
• The Wii keeps up with your progress and throws electronic confetti when you reach a goal. Yay, positive reinforcement!
• As someone who had never done yoga before, I love the yoga program and now feel more confident about taking a class with the real people. The Wii Fit Plus “My Routine” is especially good for putting together a yoga program. You can also combine yoga and strength training.
• The aerobic activities as well as the Wii Sports package that generally comes with the Wii are a fun way to burn extra calories. (I love rhythm boxing, advanced step, and tennis.)
• Using the Wii Fit is a great way to supplement your regular routine and/or get a workout on a rainy day. When our treadmill died, my husband and I combined sets of stairs with Wii Fit activities, and it helped us break our respective plateaus.
• Some of the strength training exercises—particularly core ones like the traditional “plank” are quite grueling. And helpful. But mainly grueling.
• The Wii does help you with your form in yoga and strength training exercises as well as emphasizing posture and flexibility.

My conclusion?
I think Wii Fit works really well in tandem with an exercise routine that involves more vigorous cardio and strength training routines. I generally go to the gym proper on Monday and Wednesday and use the Wii Fit on Tuesdays and Thursdays—as long as that routine is going well, I see great results. I’ve also noticed recently that I do much better with smaller goals and more frequent “celebrations,” and the Wii Fit starts with two-week goals.
The Wii Fit might also be an excellent purchase for someone who is new to fitness and needs to work up to more strenuous exercises or for someone who either can’t pay a gym membership or who doesn’t live near a gym. Like anything else, some aspects would get boring, but the Wii Fit does offer a lot of variety.
Most importantly, the kids like to play balance games and do some of the aerobic activities so exercise becomes a family affair. We also like to play some of the Wii Sports games like tennis as a way to blow off steam or to burn a few extra calories if we splurge on dessert. Our newest obsession is the “Just Dance” game for Wii; trust me when I tell you MC Hammer will have you panting at the end of that dance routine. Of course, the kids have seen us fuss at our weight so much that my eight-year-old will say, “The Wii Fit is evil.” I don’t have the heart to tell him that it’s not the Wii’s fault that his mother has a chocolate addiction.

And now it’s your turn…
I’m looking forward to trying some of the Biggest Loser programs or the Jillian Michaels one. Does anyone want to share an experience with those programs or the Wii in general? Has anyone thrown something at the television because they stepped on the balance board and the voice said, “Oo” in that electronic mock-horror way only the Wii Fit can do? I’d love to hear your Wii Fit stories, and I’ll answer any of your questions that I can. Thanks again to all these lovely ladies, the Healthy Writers.
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Monday, June 21, 2010

Why Do I Keep Going?

I recently acknowledged that I have accomplished almost nothing in terms of weight loss this year. On November 17, 2009, I first hit 28.8 pounds down. This past Thursday (6/17/10) I weighed in at 29.2 pounds down. .4 of a pound is not a lot to show for more than 6 months of effort.

Yes, I did gain some weight in December and entered 2010 on January 5 at 26 pounds down. On March 30, 2010, I reached 33.2 pounds down and felt like 35 was just a week or two away. In actuality, it was a start of a couple of months stalled in a two-pound range between 31 and 33 pounds down that was broken by a two-week trip to California where I gained 5.2 pounds. On May 25, 2010, I was just 27.4 pounds down.

I need to figure out what I can do to continue to lose weight, but that is not actually the point of this post. I'm more interested in what keeps me going. Why am I still putting in all this effort when I can make a valid argument that I've barely lost any weight since last summer when I first hit 20 pounds down on June 23?

The brilliant group leader of my typical Weight Watchers meeting always says we need another reason besides losing weight to keep attending meetings and keep putting in all this effort. He often mentions that a lot of people actually lost weight at the last meeting they attended with the implication that success was not enough to motivate them to keep trying. Why do I keep going?

Promises and Planning: In my post Plan and Prepare for Success, I mentioned that I ask myself every so often: What kind of support systems and habits can I build into my life that will help me lose weight and ultimately maintain a healthy lifestyle? These support systems, habits and commitments I've made have saved me from the temptation of considering quitting or losing hope.

The diet and fitness promises I made to myself in the beginning of 2009 and renewed in January of 2010 to attend 45-50 Weight Watcher meetings and work out at least 100 times a year
ensure that I can't ever give up for long stretches of time. In August of last year, I started to blog at least weekly at the Healthy Writer blog, and that forces me to confront the emotions that may be holding me back on a regular basis. I'm also presenting a workshop on being a Healthy Writer with Tawny and Trish at RWA National in Orlando July 29th, and I want to be able to feel like I'm giving it my all and have accomplished a lot when I talk about my journey.

Clothing: I've blogged a lot about the total joy I feel when I can fit into smaller sized clothing and how I have donated all my plus-sized clothing and most of my size 16 and 14 clothing to charity. Whenever I gain some weight or even start longing for some of the outfits I've given away, I can start worrying about what will I wear if I go up a size. There's no way I'm going to buy a whole new wardrobe in a size I've eliminated in my closet. I can't go back. I can just keep moving forward wearing my newer, smaller clothes and perhaps dream about getting even smaller. I love the fact that I am now in regular sizes and can go into any department store and find flattering clothes that fit. I'm not going to lose that, and I'm fairly confident that if I gave up on my journey to becoming a healthy writer I would start gaining the weight back.

Appearance and Positive Body Image: I like how I look and feel better. I'm becoming more comfortable with the fact that my changed appearance can inspire a lot of reactions from people I've know a long time. The majority of the attention is positive, and I am better at handling it all now - even the negative reactions such as jealousy. It's not necessarily right that people are nicer and more interested in me now - particularly men - but that's how the world works, and it has its benefits.

I also like the fact that I am developing the ability to appreciate and even rejoice in my body. I spent a lot of years feeling guilty for being able-bodied, wallowing in the typical, female body image issues that can go over-the-top when you are overweight or worse, or just numbing myself out/being totally unaware of my body and what it was feeling. In the past 6 months to a year, I have gloried in what I've been able to do physically at the gym and have caught myself admiring how I look from the neck down in the mirror. It's very new, and it's nice. It's also something I don't want to lose.

The End of Self-Destruction: I know when and why food became an issue for me. I know why I first developed this coping mechanism that has me overeating to ignore or repress emotions or to comfort myself in a way that in the end does much more harm than good. I want to stop this pattern. It is ultimately so self-destructive, and I don't want to do that to myself anymore. As we've discussed before, self-destruction is not the best reaction to tragedy.

One of the many promises I have made to myself on this journey is to learn to treat myself as well as I treat others. This has meant I am to encourage myself as opposed to judging harshly or criticizing how I'm handling stuff. I may have occasional issues with food and eating for the rest of my life, but I want to make these healthy changes permanent. I need to follow my new healthy lifestyle for all its many rewards. I am fairly confident that I will eventually reach a healthy weight, and I plan to do my best to stay there for the rest of my days.

What keeps you going? Why do you keep trying - in your healthy living efforts and in your writing? Any advice for me?

Michelle Butler has made becoming a healthy writer a priority. She lives, works and writes in the Washington, DC, area. You can follow her on twitter at
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Prey animals

My harshest editor weighs only 4.2 pounds. He waits for me each morning, eager to read over my shoulder. Occasionally he stomps the delete key, erasing whole paragraphs and forcing me to rethink a scene. A grumpy old man trapped in the body of a cuddly bunny, he always thinks I could do better, start earlier, and write more. Except for this Monday, when he wasn’t waiting, already annoyed at my lateness. Instead he sat on his litter box, lethargic and unwilling to move. I raced to the call the vet, frantic at what could happen.

For those of you that don’t know a rabbit intimately, here are a few common aliments and their outcomes:

Illness Outcome
Pink eyedeath
Nose colddeath
Stomach upsetdeath
Torn Toe Naildeath

I’m exaggerating but only a little. Rabbits are prey animals. They make wonderful pets and great writing companions, but veterinary medicine can only do so much to extend their fragile lives.

Is your writing a prey animal? If you hit a stopping point in the middle of a new manuscript does the whole piece die? What if you turn out a clunky, poorly worded sentence, is that a cause for certain death?

Is your health a prey animal? If you find that running isn’t for you, does that mean you give up on all your plans to start exercising? If you can’t find a healthy breakfast do you kill the rest of the day by eating bad-for-you-food?

I can only do so much to keep my furry editor alive. Healthy food in the right amounts, a clean living environment, and lots of love will extend his natural lifetime from one year to ten times that amount. Thankfully, healthy writing doesn’t have short lifespan.

Writing can be made stronger, through classes and workshops, or just plain writing more. You can resurrect works that have lain nearly dead for years by getting a fresh pair of eyes to make suggestions. You may need to amputate bad scenes or even cut away everything but the healthy subplots, but there’s always something you can do.

You can do the same for your health by not letting yourself be stopped by little problems. It’s fun to daydream about how much weight you’ll lose and how fit you’ll look when you join a new gym, but don’t let those dreams go because the membership is too expensive. Don’t stop yourself from seeking out ways to get enough sleep, relax at the end of the day, or eat a healthy meal. Find ways around problems instead of giving into them.

As of Monday afternoon, my editor was waiting for our usual after-work rereading session. The tummy trouble brought on by indulging in sweets cleared up before his vet could work him into the schedule. I don’t know how many more mornings I’ll have with him, but I know I’ll work hard to make as many of them happen as I can, the same way I’ll work hard to keep my writing and my health.
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