Monday, September 26, 2011

Starting something new

Revisions went off late on Thursday and my editor let me know she had them on Friday. I spent the weekend researching the Vikings in England and have decided what I want to write. I now get to work on something bright and shiny new until I hear from my editor. Character sketches and plot outlines. I want to know this pair before a word goes on the page. It is going to be fun. My play list is going to include a lot of Runrig. I find writing Vikings to a background of Runrig throughly satisfying.

It is less than a week before my eldest two leave for uni so there has been lots of shopping. I managed to snag a pair of cords (UK size 10! You should have seen my daughter's face when she realised that they fit. The elderly lady who was waiting for someone to emerge from the dressing room gave a snort of laughter.) and shoes. I have ordered a new pair of heels for AMBA. I know what I wanted but they didn't have the right colour in stock...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A war hero horse -- Sgt Reckless

Sometimes you hear an exploit and wonder why it has not been made into a feel good movie. Sgt Reckless is one such story. The horse served with the US marines in Korea and made 51 trips up a mountain in the height of a battle (Operation Vegas), resupplying the Marines with ammunition.  The horse saved countless lives and was decorated. She retired to Camp Pendleton where there is a memorial to her.
You can read more about Sgt Reckless here.
And there is short video about her: I do hope that they will do a movie about the horse. It does sound like the sort of tug at your heart movie for all the family.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Reshaping my Writers Bottom: Healthy BMI reached!

Today is Day 20 of the Tracy Anderson Method 30 Day Boot Camp. The last ten days have made a believer out of me. So much so that even though I haven't finished my revisions, I have ordered the TAM 90 Metamorphoses and have enrolled in her continuity programme for after the 90 days are up. (Metamorphoses is only available on via her website . You can get the book that I have been using: Tracy Anderson Method 30 Day Boot Camp from Amazon)
Right so the good news. I am finally at a Healthy Weight BMI for my height. Just. But it has been a long time coming. Back in August 2010, I started trying to reshape my writer's bottom with a BMI of 32.3. I wince as I write this. I was fat by any measure.  When I started the TAM 30 Day bot camp my bmi was 28 or in the over weight region and stubbornly refusing to move.  My BMI is now 24.9 or just healthy.  I would like to lose 15 lbs which would put me at a bmi of just under 23.
Because I am in a healthy BMI, my reward will be NOT to do the TAM cleanse -- five days of pureed foods but rather to continue on with her lifestyle menus. The purees sound disgusting. I understand the chocolate blueberry mousse is great but corn and sweet potato puree, no thank you. I did brave the kale juice this morning and it is fine -- mostly tastes of apple with an underlying tone of kale. I can understand why people would do it, but I don't think it necessary. I figure with the cleanse you will lose more weight but I am already losing a fairly good clip. Thus far, it is 18 lbs. The first ten days saw the most dramatic weight loss of  13 lbs and the last ten days have seen 5 lbs.
My inches are going down.  To go back 20 days ago, 19 inches have been lost. I am now wearing things that I haven't worn in years! Included amongst are silk tops I made when I was in my early twenties and which I dearly loved wearing. When I went to NYC at the end of June, I couldn't even button them.
I fit into an orange A line skirt that I have had since I was about 16.  Again, I couldn't fasten it when I was going to NYC. Not sure why it was kept either but that is another story.
I have come to enjoy getting up and doing my exercises. Today is a change day so I had some new and killer moves to learn for the mat portion.  I can tell they are effective. I have also increased the cardio to 60 minutes. 50 minutes full on with 10 minutes step-touching.  I love that NO weights are involved. Just me, the mat and a kitchen chair. The dance  cardio is actually fun.I never ever thought I'd say that!
I have so much more energy! The lymph oedema in my arm continues to improve as well.
Anyway it is tremendously exciting. It works for me which is all that really counts. I suspect with this, I shall check in after the 30 days are up to give my final stats but really having reshaped my very large Writer's Bottom, there is no need to keep updating publically. I am just so glad that I FINALLY found something that worked for me. And yes, I have sweated tons and it has been hard work. If you have plateaued and are in despair, do think about trying The Tracy Anderson Method. It has worked for me.
My revisions are on going.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sometimes you have to change the POV.

I have been working on my revisions and reached an important scene. It worked in the heroine's POV, but it wasn't right, considering the scene which now has to follow. So I changed it to the hero's POV and it is working better. The words are also flowing.
Sometimes, it is worth seeing if a scene doesn't work better from the other character's POV.

New Voices 2011 is now open. See for more details and details of the author mentors (not me this year...but a whole array of writing stars) Good luck to everyone!

And I have cut my hair short, very short. Picture to follow when I get around to getting it taken.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Debunking a few Daily Mail created myths about the Tracy Anderson Method

I have seen the Daily Mail do hatchet jobs over the years but I was surprised to read the inaccurate info in a March article about the Tracy Anderson Method. The journalist claimed alternatively to be on the 30 Day Method and then on the follow up 90 Day one -- Metamorphoses.  The photos claim she was on the 30 day Method and she states in the article that she was on the 90 day one.
I can only say that she obviously did not read directions. For example she started with the Cleanse/Detox for a week. If you are on the 30 Day Method, it comes at the end and is only 5 days. Yes the Cleanse is severely limiting and hard but it is done as a detox (if you want it) at the end after your endurance is built up. Tracy Anderson is quite specific. She wants you to have enough energy to do the cardio and exercises as they are the main part of her programme. The portion size is a guide. The main emphasis is on her muscle design mat work and the cardio.
The Lifestyle menu is really built on the concept of low sodium, low starch, reasonable amount of protein, and lots and lots of fruit and vegetables. Very little diary. It is about using the freshest ingredients to create delicious and filling meals. the portion sizes are a guide but if you are hungry, you are supposed to eat more of the menu, rather than supplementing from other foods. No powders or pills or processed foods.
My blender has been getting a workout as there are blended soups and drinks.
I was also surprised to see Wilcox saying that all you had for lunch was a protein bar. Lunch on the 30 Day Menu has been  things like grilled salmon salad, carrot ginger soup, turkey roll up, grilled chicken salad. There are no protein bars in sight. In fact, in the 30 Day Method, Tracy Anderson makes it quite clear that she wants fresh foods, simply cooked. The recipes do not take long. Suppers are generally white fish, chicken or turkey with roasted or braised vegetables. There is a snack which tends to be more desserty -- so fruit or her version of a chocolate pudding. She also does some savoury ones -- cucumber mint relish or fresh chopped veg.  Breakfasts vary from strawberries and mint or fresh fruit to egg roll ups -- egg white omelettes filled with vegetables.
Anderson is also quite clear that it is a diet and is not intended for the long term. It is to help you lose weight and learn to reconfigure your eating habits so you know what full is and what is good to eat.
Wilcox also claimed that the 30 Day Method Exercise portion took 3 hours per day and involved over 40 exercises. Ummm no. Depending on your fitness level, the cardio portion will take as little time as 10 minutes step touching or as much as 60 minutes full on dancing. You work up to the 60 minutes. It is about building your endurance. It was comforting to read that Gwyneth Paltrow and a few other celebrity clients of Tracy's started with step touching. The dvd consists of 2  10 minute cardio dance sequences which you do.  Because there are no instructions, you can mute it and choose your own playlist.
The over 40 exercises in the book are divided into three ten day segments. When you finish 10 days, you move on to the next segment.  Each segement consists of 15 exercises.  One of Tracy Anderson's abiding philosophies is that muscles get bored and you need to constantly challenge those muscles and make them work in different ways. You need to do the reps on both sides and you do increase the reps. You start at 20 if you can and work up to 60. If 60 is too easy and you can do them ALL without stopping, you can move on to ankle weights.
So it would have been helpful IF  Rebecca Wilcox had managed to read the directions and follow what she was supposed to do rather than making it up as she went on along.
Perhaps the 90 Day metamorphoses has a completely different menu. Perhaps she skimmed read the 30 Day Method book and didn't bother to read the chapter headings. Perhaps she was after good copy. Who knows what her agenda was but she obviously didn't bother to read the 30 Day Method in anay great detail.
Currently I am on Day 15 of the 30 Day Method. I have not fainted, nor have been in any danger of fainting and I have strictly followed the diet. I have also not bothered with some of the snacks as they didn't appeal.  I know enough about nutrition to know that it is a reasonably sensible diet -- lots of fruit and veg with reasonably sized portions.
Time wise it  takes me 2 hours per day to do 50 minutes of full on dance cardio and the 15 exercises required for this portion. When 50 minutes becomes easy, I will move up to 60 minutes but won;t go beyond that. I am on 50 reps and am working on being able to do them without stopping.
In terms of weight loss, I have lost 16 lbs so far and 16 inches from my thighs, waist, hips, and stomach combined.   When I did Jillian Michaels 30 Day shred, I lost inches but only about 5 lbs.
I haven't measured my upper arms as I have lymph oedema, BUT it has been a marvel for my left arm. My wedding ring is now loose and I have to remember to  wear my bandages. I suspect it is a combo of the low sodium and the arm exercises which is helping the arm to drain and the fluid to move.
I remain undecided about doing the Cleanse as some of the food sounds disgusting and I don't think I will need it. the lifestyle menus are working just fine. It might not be Anderson's exact method but I think she will forgive me.
Once I have done my revisions, I am planning on ordering the Metamorphoses 90 day dvd set as a treat. I may eat my above words after seeing it, but right now all I can compare Wilcox's article with is the 30 Day Method and she made mistakes
You can order the book -- Tracy Anderson 30 Day Method from Amazon. The 90 day programme is only available from her website.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Revisions and rethinking

My revisions have hit and I had a long and productive conversation with my editor about the way forward.
A good editor's eye is crucial. She saw some things that mean the entire reading experience is going to be so much better. She also challenged me to think about how I done things and why.
It turns out the one scene that I thought was central to the novel wasn't and there is a BETTER way.
I shall now retire to my cave and work things out. (My daughter points out that I don't have cave per say, just a study. However she likes the idea of me having a cave as I would make a very good cave dweller.)
This is going to be a great book when I get done.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Suddenly my baby is an adult

21 years ago I became a mother. The c-section was supposed to happen a week later but my son had his own ideas (he always does). They weren't overly busy in maternity that day and it did seem like I was in labour, so out he came. He had been breech -- just to be different. My other two were normal births but he was the c-section. It is a MAJOR operation and people just toss the word around like it is normal. It takes a long time to recover. It is not an easy option. I still sometimes talk about how my eldest scarred me for life. He doesn't find it amusing.
When he was about 6 weeks old, I can remember taking him to the clinic and thinking that I had all the time in the world before he turned 5 and started school. After all at  that point with a child who didn't sleep, every day felt like a lifetime. But I had once stitched something for a friend that said at the end, I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep. And I did remember that.
 Five rolled around and he started school. It seemed like an age until... But now it doesn't and he is an adult. Luckily I remembered that children don't keep either. And despite absent mindely agreeing to let him to go Moscow once when I was writing, I like to think that we made time for each other.
I am terribly proud of the adult that he has become. Life and all its wonders beckons.
All I can say is hug your babies and enjoy your children at whatever age they are because they don't keep.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Reshaping My Writer's Bottom: The Tracy Anderson Method Boot Camp

It came to a crisis point last Tuesday. I knew for several days that my clothes were getting tight. There were the excuses -- my son had just come home, my daughter did wonderfully in her A levels and we had family celebrations which included champagne and cake. But this time, I had had pasta and one of the last pieces of cake. My head started spinning and I realised I was at a crossroads. Either I could buckle down or I could go back up to the weight I was. (There are reasons for wearing non elasticated clothing) I knew I'd plateaued but I was not about to climb.  I opted for -- buckling down.
But I wanted to do something different. I hate dance cardio so I decided to stop fearing it and start doing it.  I had read about the Tracy Anderson Method and saw she has a book -- The Tracy Anderson Method 30 Day Boot Camp. I ordered it. It arrived the next day.
In the first chapter, she asks for a month and promises she can remake your body if you follow her plan. This includes doing her muscle strengthen exercises, her cardio and eating her meal plan.
I have been learning to love Dance Cardio. 40 minutes of performance cardio rather than instruction plus performance. She provides a dvd with 2 routines 10 minutes each and then you repeat. If you get good enough, you go up to 60 minutes. I can do 40. I am no longer tripping over my feet. I do the cardio first as otherwise I'd find an excuse. It is now oddly enjoyable.
The mat workout is something else. Tracy Anderson focuses on accessory muscles rather than the large muscle groups.  You start at 20 and keeping adding 5 more per day. She demonstrates how to do the exercises on the dvd and has illustrations in the book. You do them at your own pace. The pain is addictive. This takes about 40 minutes.
The menus are based on FRESH food -- lots of fruit and veg with mainly white meat. She isn't anti anything. The dishes are delicious and surprisingly filling. Strawberries with mint and agave syrup, poached cod with roast asparagus, puree of broccoli soup. It is not baby food by any stretch of the imagination. I am on the meal plan for 25 days and at  the end is the Cleanse with lots of purees. (I am not looking forward to the cleanse). Mainly she wants to reeducated your palate and make sure you have enough energy to do the exercising. It is low sodium, low carb, low fat and controlled calories. She give portion sizes which certainly fill me up. You can eat more of the foods on that day's menu if you are hungry.
So I have been on for 9 days and have lost 12 pounds!!!! I broke through the plateau and am hoping to see a lower figure in the tens column tomorrow. My clothes are much looser. But the best thing is my left arm, the one with lymphoedemia. It hasn't moved for ages. My wedding ring has generally been tight, although sometimes after I have worn my sleeve, it loosens. Even without wearing my sleeve, my wedding ring is loose.  My hands and wrist look about normal. I don't know if it is the exercises for arms or the low sodium in the diet, all I know is that it is BETTER and that's all that counts.
I can't wait to see what the next 21 days bring.