The Difficult Road

I’ve been traveling for the past six weeks, some for family reasons, but also for writing reasons. I’ve seen loved ones, signed books in ten different locations, had lots of solitude in my truck to think up new books (his name is Sebastian, Baron St. Clair), made many new writing friends at RWA National, taken all sorts of walks and… gained twelve pounds. That averages out to a little less than 1000 extra calories a day, which suggests I need to learn to live on air and true love.

This is not the first weight to come join me uninvited. When I seek medical help for my weight problems, I find there’s a willingness to treat symptoms–with amphetamines (not much help if the patient is caffeine intolerant), with off label use of anti-depressants (um, no thank you), with sure-fire calorie counting that results in more weight gain (on 1200 calories a day). Supposedly the thyroid problem is under control, but, gee, it sure feels like all the symptoms are still in evidence as well.

As serious as I’ve gotten before, I’m getting serious-er. This stuff has got to stop. now. It occurs to me, though, that I’m in the same place a lot of my characters end up: They can’t see what they did to find themselves in a predicament, but nobody is going to get them out of it but themselves. “Fair” has nothing to do with it, “just” has nothing to do with it and whining is a recipe for defeat. Time to go where they never wanted to go (Weight watchers? Drugs? Medifast?) and learn some new things about themselves and life.

So… I will regard the need to lose weight as an invitation to gain in other areas–compassion, self-awareness, fitness, who knows?–and order a treadmill desk before I turn this computer off for the day.

Any other suggestions? Maybe you’ve never had to lose weight, but you’ve had to face something equally daunting, wearying, and scary. What sustained you? What new knowledge helped you gain a better perspective?

To one commenter, I’ll send a signed ARC of “The Bridegroom Wore Plaid,” which is in some ways about two people who both had to change their perspectives, on themselves, familial duty, and what it means to love and be loved.



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35 comments on “The Difficult Road

  1. My daughter has PCOS which is a combination of insulin and hormone imbalance. She has gained weight every since puberty and no diet has worked. They’ve just caused frustration. After almost fifteen years of gaining, she recently started a low glycemic program – – and has lost over ten pounds in a month. This is significant because in the past, she couldn’t lose a pound a month. She started the program because she knew of someone that had lost over 150 pounds. There’s no measuring or calorie counting. It’s about the glycemic index which makes sense when the only thing that diabetics count to calculate insulin is carbs which is the glycemic index. I know that because my son has diabetes. I already have the book so it’s not necessary to put me in the draw. Best of luck.

    • Mynra, how wonderful that your daughter finally found something that works because PCOS is a mighty bad curse. My brother is a PhD nutritionist, and put me onto managing my glycemic indexes years ago. There’s no bread in my house, no chips, no potatoes, no rice, no soda, no bagels, etc. I miss them sorely, but with carbs and me, a cordial separation is the healthiest approach.

      My sister is a Type I, and she’s found that wheat carbs play more havoc with her levels than any other kind… so the wheat products were the first ones I banished.

      • LOL – it occurred to me last night that I didn’t really know what ARC stood for and that you might have been talking about an advance copy and that I may just not have already read this book but one by a similar name and – clicking through – it appears that’s true. Too funny.

        I’m a prolific reader and romances are my sitcom since I don’t watch TV. I’ve loaded 210 in my e-book alone in the last 18 months never mind hard copies.

        PCOS is hell. Type 1 is not a lot of fun either. With that family history, I can imagine some of your struggle. Oh for a magic pill. Best of luck.

        VBG – and I’ll jump back into the cue if you don’t mind now that I know better.

      • Myrna, I wondered how you’d gotten hold of a copy but figured you are one of the many bloggers whom my publicist will send an Advanced Reader Copy to–you lucky dawg.

        Your name is back in the hat.

    • Romance writers, that’s who. We’re at our computers for hours and hours, and that is Just Not Good. Turns out that jury-rigging a tread mill and something to rest the computer on has two problems.
      First, you get eyestrain if the treadmill vibrations affect your computer screen in any way. Second, running your treadmill at very slow speeds repeatedly wrecks the motor. The Tread-Desks are designed to fix both problems, thought they are not cheap.

  2. A one time I used the South Beach Diet (I am a heart patient) and lost over 60 lbs! Stopped the diet and gained all the weight back. I then tried a diet recommended by my Dr. “Take Shape For Life” and lost over 80 lbs…. got real comfortable and eased up on the diet and ended up where I am now…. with all the weight returned. What I think I need to do is stop ALL snacking and replace it with plenty of nice cold drinking water and plenty of healthy exercize!! I used to be so much more active than I am now and I’m sure it has a bit to do with the weight problem. For me, I need to actually do more d eat less (small portions). During the day I need to be more active and incorporate long walks and bike rides.
    Best wishes with this next book. Oh, how I would LOVE to win a copy. It is on my list to buy though. I do LOVE your books!!

    • Betty, my heart goes out to you–to have touched that brass ring twice and have it snatched away. Why isn’t somewhere we can order out some nice, friendly, handsome fellas to go walking with? Guys with good conversation that don’t mind starting off slowly?

    • Betty, if you get tired of water, you need to learn to like iced tea and/or coffee without sugar (or cream). Zero calories. And NO artificial sweeteners or Diet Coke or whatever; those things are really bad for you. Or, oh, are you caffeine intolerant? Well, there’s always decaf coffee and tea, and it’s a nice change from water all the time.

      And you can still snack sometimes. Just make sure it’s fresh fruit (like an apple) or a handful of nuts. Some calories, but they’re good for you. Making a permanent change in your eating habits is the solution to gain-lose-gain-lose, because most “diet plans” only change your eating long enough to get the weight off and then turn you out to pasture on your own. I recommend Weight Watchers if you’re looking for a new plan.

      It’s like a Hundred Years’ War; you win a battle here and there but the war just goes on and on. Best of luck to you either way.

      • I agree about the artificial sweeteners, Betty. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I think there’s something in them that makes me hungry. I can do agave nectar though, so I keep it around at all times.

  3. In the last six-and-a-half years, I have: been hit by a log truck, had MRSA (medicine-resistant staph), almost lost my right leg twice, spent six months in hospital, had to relearn to walk, fought the government for disability (am still fighting truth be told), had a miracle that I named Abigail, got married, had to realize that my infirmities mean that my chosen career path was unobtainable, and had a Roux-N -Y Gastric Bypass because the same infirmities hampered my ability to exercise in order to lose weight. I have found that my stubbornness, my faith, my friends, my love/husband, my girls and a specific person (my Mom) to hold me accountable for my actions have helped me immeasurably. I hurt everyday, but I can bring myself to smile through the pain. I lost a lot of the extra, but I will always have to struggle. I just look at it as another reason to keep being feisty and fabulous.

    • WHEN does the book come out? Humorous romance author Susan Donovan lost a leg last year to some sort of foul microbe, and she’s writing the memoir, calling it, of course, “Single-Legged White Female.”

      Feisty and fabulous says a lot, Mandy. Keep on feisting!

  4. I sure do feel your pain!! I also need to get back to exercising and eating right. Every day I tell myself to get to it and every day I don’t do it. I just don’t understand why our bodies have to change as we get older. At 20 I could sit around reading all day and eat what I wanted and never gain weight. Now at 49 (soon to be 50) If I look at something fating I gain weight. I know I will get to it, because I plan to be around a long time for my grandchildren. I know I will, I know I will, I know I will….. LOL. Thanks for the giveaway!

    • Mary, I try to do what I can today. If it’s pouring rain and I have not mojo, I might do more stretching and less walking. If it’s hotter than blazes, then the pool is the only reasonable option, and so forth. And some days, you just try to not make the situation any worse…
      And then there are those days when you MUST have a cookie if civilization is not to be threatened throughout the planet.

  5. What helps me when I want to lose weight is something my grandma taught me. Eat 3 squre meals a day(you can eat what you normaly eat just don’t overdue it-smaller portions) excercise take a brisk walk or go for a swim. When you think about food-do something else read a book write a friend a letter-take your mind off food. If you are really craving a certain food eat it denying yourself only set you back.

  6. Gosh, it feels like it’s been forever since I had a chance to comment on the blog!

    I swear the only thing that has helped me lose weight: fear. I was diagnosed as Type 2 three years ago. It was the most frightening thing and I dropped 70 pounds in about 6 months. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), that level of fear can’t be maintained.

    I still have another 30 pounds or so that really needs to go. I’m ordering a scale that also does body fat percentage. I know I’m putting on muscle (I can see it in my arms and it’s COOL!). I want to focus on changing my eating habits (again) to take off the protective layer that is keeping the rest of the world to see all the awesomeness that CrossFit is helping me create.

    I wish there was something that would be the magic bullet for everyone, but you really have to just find what works for you and be willing to make it your life. We all know that making diet changes you can’t stick with for life isn’t going to cut it.

  7. I count myself happy to not have a weight-problem. Though after 3 children I am still having a rather unshapely belly, but can’t bother at the moment to do something about it.

    Besides eating not only right amounts, I consider it important WHAT you eat. 25 years back, we didn’t eat so many sweets and fat stuff and precooked and just “industrial” food. I try to eat lots of (organically grown) and freshly cooked vegetables and fruits and wholegrain stuff. And there must be something about food combining.
    And especially for you Grace, needing to sit so much, excercise would do you so good. Just find the time! and the right thing for you, something you like and can do regularly (one former blog had that in already), cycling or something you can do with a friend (nordic walking, squash, whatever you can look forward to).
    And, strange as it sounds, I count on attitude and belief. people, who think they are ugly, will be. People, who think, they will get an illness because there ancestors had it and it’s supposed to be hereditary, will get it. Women, who are embarrassed about there breasts will get a huge bossom… What you believe, what you radiate, you will be.
    Goog luck to you! (and to me for the bridegroom…)

    • Connie, I think you’re onto something about attitude. My brothers refer to a woman’s “light being on or off.” She can be drop dead gorgeous but they won’t approach her if her light is off, and she can be plain as chickens, but if her smile is welcoming, they move closer. I think this is true of guys too, and even children know how to signal “come here” or “go away.”

  8. What has worked for me (although at the moment, the commitment to it is NOT working) in the past was to do all that you are doing and were advised (exercise, low carbs, small portions, healthy snacks, etc.). Then add two separate days during the week when there are NO snacks except a mix of tomato juice and sparkling water at the end of the day, and meals were almost NO carbs or fat, but plenty of good protein and vegetables. I kept the calories under 800, and once I had a few meal choices that worked, I stayed with them. Weight loss was slow (one or one and a half pounds a week), but it came off steadily. And it stayed off until recently. Then I lost some mobility, and lack of exercise without seriously cutting in-take created a ‘situation’. Now I have to commit to getting back in the groove and losing those extra pounds.

    • THAT is a commitment. The endo says less than 800 calories and you’ll burn muscle, so you trimmed it back to the max. That slow loss stuff is hard, though. The more slowly you lose, the more likely it is to stay off, but ye gods, it takes determination.

      Which, fortunately, I have–and you do too.

  9. I’ve been counting calories and it has worked for me. Cut out pop of all kinds, even diet. Try not to eat alot of bread and rice. But my biggest challenges have been having cancer twice (two different kinds). What sustained me was me!, my family and some great music. I found out I was stronger and braver than I ever thought. There was seven years between the two. and the second time my kids were older. I found the, trying to comfort me more that time, instead of me comforting them.

  10. Grace,

    In high school I was anorexic and went through a depression. My friends and family pulled me out of it to where I could function again. Apparently it wasn’t enough to save me from an abusive marriage, but again I was able to get out of it. I was recently diagnosed with PTSD because of everything my ex had put me through. I am still coping with what happened to me, but I have an amazing support system now. My kids are my saving grace. I don’t know where I would be without them or the man of my dreams who came into my life just a couple years ago. Weight is the least of my worries now and I try not to think about it too much because that stupid little voice of the anorexia still likes to rear it’s ugly head now and then. I have learned that you can do anything you set your mind to. Good luck in your own search and remember, You are awesome just as you are! Looking forward to your books!

    • Cancer survivors as a group have their heads on straight, and you’re right: Extra pounds are a problem with a solution. I’ll investigate the music. When I wrote “Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish,” I listened to Handel’s “Messiah” over and over. I love that music, and the book ended up as a Romantic Times Best Historical, and a RITA nominated Regency.

      Music hath charms… thanks for the reminder.

    • Lynsey, you have been through the wringer, and I’m sorry the bad things befell you. My daughter has been on a similar road, and it’s long and hard.

      Your words hit home: I’m awesome just as I am. Think I’ll write that down, and plaster it all over the house.
      And the office.
      And the truck….

  11. I am over weight and I hate to diet. I know I need to because I feel better when I’m thinner and healthier. I’ve read some of the replies to your blog Grace and I can’t say I’ve gone thru anything that bad. I’m just over weight but my life is good. I try not to get depressed about things. I try not to think poorly about myself because there are so many people that have it far worse then I do. If being over weight is my biggest problem them I’m doing ok. My thoughts and prayers go out to the other people that have replied to this blog.
    Thank you for the great contest.

  12. Me, sitting on the couch, in my PJ’s, reading books all day doesn’t help my weight loss efforts but KEEP THEM COMING! I’ve been on the Mayo Clinic Diet. The REAL one, not the weird internet one. They published a book. It’s wonderful and it works. I’ve lost 20 lbs in about 2 months. It is just a better way to eat the foods you love and give you boundaries. Incorporates some exercise. Then I started on P90X and I’m exhausted after 2 weeks and thus the ‘whole day on the couch reading books’ Sunday. I work from home so I’m fairly sedentary as well. I almost went for that treadmill setup but I’m holding out to see how P90 works. As long as I don’t drop a weight on my head I think I’ll get results. But it is a commitment. At LEAST 1 hour a day. And it’s intense. But I don’t just want to lose weight..I want to be physically fit so I am making the effort.

    • CrzyCatLdy, I don’t ask the docs how to get skinny, I ask them how to have enough energy to get done what I need to get done. They keep hearing it as “How can I get skinny?” Skinny-schminny. Fit is great goal.

      Glad you like the books–at least when I’m sedentary, I’m doing something I love to pieces.

  13. All this sounds so familiar. How about another way to measure? Sometimes when you start exercising, you lose inches before you lose actual lbs. So, track your inches at waist, hips, thighs, and upper arms and look for results there. Along with your excellent tread mill/desk (still can’t imagine being able to type and walk at the same time), add some weight work into the mix. It’s amazing the difference a little tone can make!

    I’ve seen your comments about disliking exercise, and I think the trick is to find something that not only you don’t mind, but actually like. I found Jazzercise a year ago, and I actively look forward to class. a small miracle in my life. I hope you find something to look forward to, too.


    • Kristen, I liked very much riding dressage. For me riding was like listening to music–so analytically absorbing, I lost track of petty annoyances like fatigue, sweat, or hunger. Some very fine day about a million book sales from now, I hope to find a cushy-footed, handsome steed with tidy gaits and a heart of gold.
      Until then, I’m glad there are romances to read–and to write.

      • and then there’s all the care it takes to keep a horse, which takes care of weight-work all by itself. A lovely dream. and I lost too much time to Eloisa James’ new book this morning – I am glad there are romances, too!

  14. I’m going on my fourth month of tracking what I eat and my minimal exercise on It’s so handy to have on my phone, works quickly and saves my most often eaten foods for just clicking to add. I’ve lost fifteen steady, and got down every now and then to seventeen. As a former bulimic, I have to have a plan that doesn’t allow me to get hungry (or I’m tempted to binge) and makes me lose slowly to form a long term habit of eating smaller, healthier portions.

    My biggest secret, homemade jambalaya which has my fiber, low calorie meat; so tasty and I never get hungry if I eat it once or twice a day. And I can change it up enough that it’s not the same. I’ll share my recipe.

    Livestrong allows me to add my own types of exercise, too, like “Barely walking” “working and walking” tread milling at 2mph, etc.

    I wish you the very best for your new goal with better health and a sharper mind at its core.
    ;)) Livie

    • Congrats to you Livia! The adage that diets don’t work, but lifestyle changes do, comes to mind. And what’s the rush, anyway? I’ve been overweight for years. It makes sense the body and mind will need some time to adjust to a healthier reality. Keep up the good, hard, work.