Author Archives: Deborah Riley-Magnus

About Deborah Riley-Magnus

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising, and public relations as a writer for print, television, and radio. She writes fiction and non-fiction. Since 2010, she had two novels released. In 2013 her nonfiction, Finding Author Success (Second Edition), and Cross Marketing Magic for Authors were released. Her newest book, Write Brain/Left Brain, focuses on bridging the gap between the creative writer and the marketing author. Deborah produces several pieces monthly for various websites and online publications. She writes an author industry blog and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations. Deborah has lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and recently returned after living in Los Angeles, California for several years.

WHAT A MESS!

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by Deborah Riley-Magnus

Well, I suppose you can all imagine why I didn’t post for the past few weeks. Yes … LIFE. It takes over, it drives you to strange emotional and high pressure places and it manages to help you forget all the good things you plan for yourself. These aren’t excuses but let me count down the lowdown. Over the past 14 days …

The misery in my heel continues, but not so bad that I can’t get around. Power walking is still out of the realm of possibilities.

My second book was released. It’s a non-fiction and geared toward an entirely different audience than my urban fantasy, so I’ve been focused on driving the marketing and promotional bus in this new direction.

We had some surprise snow here in Pennsylvania, which spurred a frantic need to take inventory of all the things we now need that we didn’t need in Los Angeles. That’s my house on October 28, 2011! SNOW! Yes, a culinary bowl scraper works to get ice off the windshield in a pinch, but real winter is coming soon and a few industrial strength items (snow brushes, ice scrapper, snow shovel and … dare I dream … a snow blower) would be helpful and less stressful too.

 
I got older … yes, I aged … had a birthday (number never to be revealed!) and what comes with a birthday? A birthday dinner and birthday cake, of course. Yes, I had both the dinner and the cake, but not so much I gained weight, thanks heavens!

 
I did a charity event for my mom’s church.  You know how those things go – run a hundred errands, carry bags and boxes and more bags and boxes and oh yes, there are a few more bags and boxes … then drag them all back home afterwards. (Hey, maybe that’s why I didn’t gain any weight?!?)

Today my life has settled back into some semblance of normal. I’m able to do my work here at the computer – it’s the thing that makes me feel the youngest, LOL – I have another fiction to finish, due at the publisher by the end of December. I have house guests from the west coast for Thanksgiving. I have ongoing promotion and marketing to do for the books already out and oh, this house sooo needs a good cleaning. Even with all this, I feel less stressed than I have for the past two weeks, so I’m thinking maybe today I try to start doing some serious walking again.

I’ll do a few blocks and if the pain isn’t bad, maybe a few more. I’ve walked all over Gettysburg, shopped all over town and stood on my feet for hours at a church charity … granted I was miserable those evenings but not in serious pain at all.

Yup, today’s the day I start walking again! YAY!

And while I’m at it, I’ll start being careful with my food lists and water intake. Maybe I can get this weight loss ball rolling again.

On the bright side, whatever foundation we set in the beginning of all this has made drastic improvements, after all, there was a time when two weeks of not paying attention to a diet meant a complete regain of whatever I’d lost. Lifestyle Change is a GOOD THING!

See you all next week!

The Gettysburgh Diet … or Not-So-Much Diet

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by Deborah Riley-Magnus

Sometimes you simply gotta get outta town! Period. This past week, two lovely things happened. My roommate landed a terrific new job, and my second book, a non fiction entitled Finding author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Marketing Power Within Your Manuscript arrived, (official release date is November 5)! It’s a major event because my fiction is released in ebook format and there’s just something magical about holding a book you wrote in your hands! The publisher was so cool, just sending my copies to my front door. Early Christmas, I tell ya! So what do women do under these circumstances?

ROAD TRIP!

My roomie, Natalie, is a native Californian, born and honed in the web of Los Angeles freeways, traffic and diverse population. I spent five years there myself, and now that we’re both here in lovely Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, I seriously appreciate the things I’d taken for granted. She, of course, lives in aw. I don’t think two cities could be so different … outside of Gulliver’s Travels, of course. Taking a road trip across one of the most hilly, beautiful and autumn-colorful states in the country seemed like a perfect way to celebrate our good fortune.

We chose Gettysburg, making reservations at a hotel in Chambersburg (30 miles away) because nothing was available in town. It was perfect! I packed a healthy road-food bag, some clothes and we were off!

Diet? On a spontaneous weekend vacation? I suppose it’s possible but the other side of our New Lifestyle Plan is to actually, you know, live. In reality, jumping in the car and heading off for an unplanned few days isn’t normal, so when it happens, the last thing I want to think about is calories, exercise and getting the burn. Hell, I’m still suffering with some heel pain, so I figured whatever workout I got would be more than I’d gotten lately anyway. As it was, we walked all around the historic town and Cemetery Hill, took a Candlelight Ghost tour covering a few miles, then checked out the things that intrigued us most on those various ventures. THAT was just Saturday! On Sunday we drove back to Gettysburg from Chambersburg (along a road that the soldiers followed, mind you) and climbed onto a bus for an extensive historic tour of the battlegrounds. Several times the bus stopped and the guide walked us around the areas, spouting more (sad, frightening and historic) information along the way.

Needless to say, by the time we got home on Sunday evening, I was exhausted from not only the few hours drive back, but all the walking I’d done. The aching feet held up but want a little rest today, that’s for sure.

Now, about dieting … um … I made good choices, just not all the time. I did taste a homemade Italian lemon cake after my late lunch on Saturday. I did tire of the healthy road food and eat a Snickers bar on the drive home. But, so what. It doesn’t happen all the time and isn’t my real life (anymore than exciting road trips are my normal activity). The scale said nothing … nothing lost and nothing gained, whew. Today I’m fine, had my oatmeal for breakfast, have no desire to eat lemon cake or chocolate candy, and am already thawing the ingredients for a well-balanced, calorie-conscience dinner.

I wasn’t bad, I was on a road trip. I wasn’t out of control, I was fine! What a revelation that I can actually do such a thing! It was exciting to go somewhere and focus less on what I’ll eat at the next meal, and more on “Ohhh, what’s that over there? Let’s do that!”

It was wonderful.

Now, if I can only recover from the strange paranormal stuff that introduced itself to us over the weekend. Seriously, if you like ghosts, are interested in the paranormal, or just want confirmation that something remarkable hovers over places like Gettysburg … it’s a road trip you too should take!

Mind Games

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by Natalie Preston

First off, I’d like to apologize for missing my post last week. I’ve been interviewing like crazy these last two weeks to find a job here in Pittsburgh. And, finally, I found one. My first day was today, and I’m glad to be working again. Woo Hoo!

So, back to the regularly scheduled blog … At last week’s weigh-in, I’d lost only a pound. But this week, it was much better and I’d lost five pounds. That makes a total of ten pounds in four weeks. Not a bad beginning!

But, I’m at the point where in the past I always started to play mind games. Games like “If I eat a doughnut this morning, then I’ll eat only salads for the rest of the week to make up for it.” Or, “I can have that pint of Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Chunk Fudge ice cream because I’ve been so good. I deserve it, dammit!” Games that essentially sabotage any food/exercise plan or lifestyle change I tried to make. And ultimately, I always ended up back where I started; fat, out of shape and unhappy.

This time around, though, I’m trying to do it differently. The mind games are still there. I’m only human, after all. But, the rules are changing. I’m playing the games to benefit, not sabotage, my plan. For instance, it was odd but it always seemed that my total weekly weight loss was less on Monday mornings than on Sunday mornings. So now I weigh in on Sundays. It’s a psychological boost that really seems to help get me through the week. Another game is that I never tell myself I “can’t” have anything. I just can’t have it right now. That pint of Ben & Jerry’s is not off limits, only delayed to some future date. It all seems to help me carry on instead of giving up.

I played a mind game just today. This morning, my recruiter met my new boss and I at the office bearing a dozen doughnuts. Later this afternoon, I noticed where he left the box, in the desk where the department keeps their supplies. I was so tempted … You know the game … “One doughnut won’t hurt. And I can stop at just one …. And I’ll eat a light lunch the rest of the week to make up for it. So it’ll be alright.” I so wanted that doughnut! But, I played a game instead. My boss, Angie, was there with me and I told her about the blog and what Deb and I are attempting. And I even said, “That’s why I don’t want a doughnut.” And that caused my pride to kick in. There was no way I would take a doughnut after telling someone I didn’t want it and why. It would be too big of a ding to my pride!

So, am I learning anything from all these games I’m playing? I dunno. In the past, they were my downfall. But, if played right, they are helping me to succeed.

My challenge for this week? How to get my exercise in while I’m working eight hours a day, and it’s raining outside!

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Diet Life in the S L O W Lane

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by Deborah Riley-Magnus

And the heel pain continues, but not nearly as bad as it was in the beginning. I’ve really tried hard to rest my foot for a whole week, careful to eat fewer calories and drink more water. Belly Dancing was part of my plan, but that proved not such a good idea. Guess what, you belly dance on your feet. DUH. I also intended to do some floor work, flat on my back, leg raises, twists, stuff like that. One big problem there … you have to get up off the floor and use your feet to do it. Every time I thought “oh yes, this feels a whole lot better” I’d somehow, without even realizing it, push the envelope and end up aching for hours after.

 

Life goes on. Go to the grocery store? Good for maybe three aisles. Check out the mall? Good thing there are benches every thirty feet and I wasn’t alone. It was such a frustrating week I wanted to jump out of my skin! Who knew that the person who used to say “When I get the urge to exercise I just lie down and it passes” would suddenly salivate at the mere idea of getting out and moving. Now that I’ve changed my feelings about activity as part of my new life style, I’m forced to sit on the sidelines and watch for a few more days! This (now I need to admit it) injury must heal before I can move ahead. Sigh.

Some progress was made though. I did purchase a new pair of shoes, thanks to the expert advice of the sweet young lady at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Turns out I’m at an age (ah-hem) where the padding at my heel has thinned and I require better padding in my shoes. To get that I needed to step away from the walking shoes display and introduce my feet to running shoes. The perfect pair of light weight, comfortable running shoes were tied on and (can you hear the angelic strains of music?) I could miraculously walk without limping! Granted it only lasted a few hours and the heels made themselves known again, but at least I know that when I’m ready to hit the walking trails again I’ll be well supported.  One would think I was talking about a sports bra, but that’s a subject for another post all together.

All week I cooked carefully, focusing on low fat, well balanced meals, lots of great soups (because it was a rainy autumn week in Pittsburgh) and watching the Major League Baseball playoffs. I will give this foot-resting thing another few days then start walking again … slowly, not too far and with the full intention of stopping when I feel any pain.

Weight loss? A whopping 2 pounds. Sheesh, that’s frustrating but I suppose I should be pleased. It could have been a gain if I wasn’t so careful.

So it’s a total loss of 13 pounds in four weeks, the gain of perfect shoes for future activity and a tentative acquisition of patience. A lot to ask of OCD me, but it is, after all, a journey.

A Pain in the Foot!

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By Deborah Riley-Magnus

 

It’s a great week here in beautiful, Autumn painted Southwestern Pennsylvania, and to get my walking in, I chose the trails that showed off the season at its best. Pittsburgh’s South Park, a drive up to the gorgeous trails at Presque Isle in Erie, even making sure I parked as far as possible from the grocery store entrance! What a wonderful time! The air is crisp and crackling with energy as everywhere I turned there were brilliant golds and reds and oranges accented by the deep richness and pungent scents of pines reaching to tickle the passing clouds.

That’s when it happened. Maybe it was happening since my roommate and I began this diet and exercise journey but I didn’t really notice until last Thursday. I tried to ignore it on Friday while I pushed through the mile and a half walk. I finally threw up my hands on Saturday when it became just impossible to continue.

It was a pain in the heels I never felt before in my whole life! What began as a mild irritation made itself clearly known after doing three days of walking in a row. Brilliant me, I thought “hey, we have a busy weekend, so let’s just get all this walking stuff done in a clump on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday!” Dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

I’m not on a medically supervised program like the Biggest Loser contestants, I don’t have trainers to advise me, wrap sore muscles with warm towels and massage away the aches and pains. I just have me and my body and I forgot to listen to one of us.

Ow, ow, ow ouch!

The culprit? It looks like my Sketcher walking shoes are breaking down over the past few years of use. Not that I did a great deal of power walking before this current effort, I just liked them so much I wore them all the time. Apparently, now that I’m using them to seriously raise my heart rate and burn calories, the shoes are having a laugh over my ambitious expectations for them.

No worries, a new pair of walking shoes are on the near horizon but … I do have this niggling issue of aching heels to deal with in the meantime. I can’t just stop trying to exercise, I can’t just throw up my hands and give up! That was the old me. The new me, the one with the new life and determination to get it together, lose the weight and live healthier, has to find a way to get through this week without injuring myself further … and hopefully without gaining weight.

My planned solution? Belly Dancing (because I can do it in my bare feet), and floor work, (because I can do it on my butt and back). Both have specific body activities I haven’t done yet, arm, leg, strength and balance. Both will hopefully do some toning, even if they don’t burn as many calories … and speaking of calories, I know I’ll need to cut back this week while I work my body differently. At least, that’s what my logic says, so I’ll be cutting a few hundred calories off my daily intake. We’ll see how this works.

As for the last week, I lost 1½ pound – after all that misery! I can pinpoint the issue without even looking back. See on Saturday and Sunday I spent a lot of time on the road. Long drives and stopping to pee every twenty minutes just didn’t seem practical so I cut back on the water, from 7 glasses a day to 2 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. I kinda expected a low weight loss because of it. Nothing else changed in the calorie counts for those days. My theory is that WATER IS YOUR FRIEND and I need to make peace with stopping at rest stops more often while on a road trip.

So, this week I’ll be staying away from the walking trails, working hard on movements that will help tone my muscles … and drinking my 7-8 glasses of water every single day.

On the bright side … even though the total weight loss over three weeks is 11.5 pounds, I look and feel better, my clothes and my friends have noticed the changes and I am not discouraged! How’s that for lifestyle change and success?


 

And the Waters Get Rough!

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By Deborah Riley-Magnus

Hoh man, what a tough week! I had a publisher’s deadline that stressed me like crazy but I managed to meet the target date with a few hours to spare. The weather was absolutely horrible and rain dominated everything. And between finalizing the book, dealing with gloom and attempting to keep an even keel in these rough dieting waters, I ate outfour times this week and I really thought I did it well. Yesterday, our final day for walking, it was so cold and rainy we didn’t go, so our “Last Chance Workout” never happened.

The results? A one pound weight gain. Sigh. BUT …

Considering that I still drank all my water every day, I still walked three times (although it should have been four) and I did choose from menus not once but four times, I’d say I did pretty well. I know, my body doesn’t know what I didn’t eat, only what I did, but if I hadn’t chosen carefully, it could have been a five pound gain instead of just one.

My goal is to look at what worked and what didn’t work, just like last week. Granted, there was no way I can expect another 11 pound loss in one week, so maybe the slight gain was God’s way of saying “Don’t get cocky, girl.” I’m still feeling pretty good, though. And, I can actually analyze everything and see where I fell short.

STRESS – Yes, stress takes a big toll, especially at the beginning of a diet and life style change effort. I couldn’t find time to cook, and one evening I actually went out for the evening to relax! Dinner was included in that relaxation and I’m going to say clearly that dinner should be part of a celebration or an evening out. I hate when people say things like “Don’t reward yourself with food” and “You can never eat that again”, so I’m going to state a rule for my new lifestyle. YES, you can celebrate with food … healthy food choices are a must, but you can celebrate with food! Hell, the rest of the world does, so rather than drop out of life until I can wear a size six, I think food will continue to be a staple when celebrating.

FOOD CHOICES – This week I ate at a Greek restaurant for dinner one evening, roasted chicken, sautéed veggies and rice pilaf. I didn’t eat it all, I was full and I really enjoyed the flavors too! I had lunch out three time, once it was a lovely steak salad, about 5 oz. grilled lean beef, lots of veggies and a circle of finely sliced fried onion rings. The second lunch I had out was a salad topped with about 4 oz. of ahi tuna. The third lunch was also a salad of grilled chicken over greens. In all cases, I ate very little of the dressings, dipping my fork in the dressing-on-the-side for a bit of flavor. That’s all. All those choices seemed really good … then, with one of those perfect salads, I added a cup of this absolutely yummy, totally decadently creamed, sherry crab bisque. I LOVE this soup. It was cold and raining and I wanted some comfort. I think that cup of soup is something like 500 calories! This particular restaurant is famous for it. Guess what? I distinctly tasted how salty it was and I felt like I’d swallowed a bowling ball when I was finished. Of course I ate it all, too so … no more crab bisque for me, at least not when I know it can put a kibosh on a whole week’s efforts. Some other time but in the second week of this diet, it just wasn’t worth it. Another bad choice I made was to eat after eight last evening, and even though it was a totally veggie, fresh made pizza (spinach, mushrooms, red peppers, Roma tomatoes and fresh mozzarella on whole wheat flat bread, only 300 calories) I really didn’t want it or need it. I wasn’t hungry. But I ate it. Where was my head? Well hell, who knew making good food choices could include choosing not to eat at all. Lesson learned.

EXERCISE – Toooo critical! Yes, there is nasty cool fall weather here in the north east, but I can’t be using that as an excuse. Yes, deadlines are important, but I honestly think that if I’d done the walk anyway, I might have felt better rocking out the edits on the manuscript. And yes, I now understand that walking at the park is far better than walking up and down my neighborhood street. Why? Well, I live in a hilly part of Pittsburgh and frankly, the hills are too hard and I end with hurting knees from the efforts. The hills are so challenging, I tend to give up quicker and head back home. Walking is only exercise if it raises your heart rate and holds it there for a while. I can do that a lot better at the park because the walking trails are flat and easier. It’s a ten minute drive to get there, but so much more productive. To press the envelope, Natalie and I plan how much further we’ll go the next time. We’ve also decided that we need to walk at least four times every week. When winter finally comes, we’ll need to come up with another plan but for now, we’re committed.

WATER – Yes, water. Doing my six glasses every day. Oh, and I’m trying to make friends with green tea (ew). I’ve heard that it helps raise metabolism so I substitute my first and last cup of coffee every day with green tea.

Okay, that’s it for this week. I definitely learned that playing around with the plan can be counter-productive so I’m going to let my OCD generate the next week’s efforts.

Have a great week, everyone!

Where’s a Brass Band when you need one?

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By Deborah Riley-Magnus

Week one has ended, seven days of doing what our instincts told us would work and what our emotions hoped would bring results and it all comes down to this, the first week weigh in.

You know, I love The Biggest Loser, love the amazing inspiration of the contestants and the astounding weight loss those people see when stepping on the scale. Of course, I don’t expect anything like that. There’s no Bob Harper to guide and shout at me, there’s no big gym with expensive equipment to push me and there’s no $250,000 incentive here in my roommate and my house. We’re trying to do this without spending a fortune, and we’re trying to do it with common sense and rational choices. We’re trying to prove to ourselves first, and the world second, that we’re as strong and empowered as we think we are. We’re supporting and encouraging each other but we are also facing the fact that this is really a personal journey. No more comparing what I can eat vs. what Natalie can eat, no more doing the co-dependent behavior that got us here, no more “oh shucks, if you want cake, I want cake too!” This is a whole new road for us and we are trail blazers!

HERE’S WHAT I DID THIS WEEK

  • I religiously drank 6 8oz. glasses of water every day – Okay, truth be told I choked down 6 glasses of water. It was hard but I stuck to the program I believe works best. Well, maybe one day I only drank 5 glasses, but I really did try to meet the quota.
  • I walked 4 times this week – By walk, I mean about a mile of constant walking. I got a little out of breath but didn’t feel like I’d drop dead or anything. The day after my first walk I hurt like the devil! Knees, back, calves, holy moly I was in misery, but I went right back at it on Wednesday and did the same. I walked again on Friday and Saturday and guess what, I don’t hurt so much at all!
  • I made a decision! I’m PERMITTED to look at food I shouldn’t eat, watch the food channel, admire the donut display, even read a whole menu at a restaurant. I’m allowed to make those food items part of my life … just not part of my daily intake. This strange “permission” opened doors to making better food choices throughout the day. Odd, by not forbidding myself to look at the jelly donut, the jelly donut no longer had power over my desire to eat it. It’s just a jelly donut. Maybe someday I’ll want one enough to pass on a whole meal, today isn’t that day. So, pretty, fluffy, raspberry-filled jelly donut, you may continue on your quest to find eaters. I’m not one of them.
  • I’ve eaten only the allotted amount of calories per day. Now, this was a real challenge. See in the past (probably from as far back as when I was 18 or 19) I’ve always believed that eating 800 – 1000 calories a day was the only way to assure losing weight. On the occasions throughout my life when I wanted to lose a few unwanted pounds, I’ve done just that and it worked dandy … then I turned forty … then I turned fifty! At 214 pounds, I naturally assumed that I’d need to seriously eat as few calories as possible to get the ball rolling. Natalie, using her extensive education and experience, tapped into a website that told her that at my weight and age, I was to eat 1,700 calories a day in order to lose weight. THIS WAS ASTOUNDING and basically I thought it was ridiculous but, since my 1,000 calorie diets haven’t been getting any results at all since the big “40”, I decided to grudgingly give it a shot. 1,700 calories is a LOT OF FOOD, just too much for me to deal with and I found I couldn’t bend that far. So I decided I’d give it a 1,500 calorie a day honest try, but found I was so full 1,300 was the most I could get down. I must admit though, the whole time I ate over the past week I was sure I wouldn’t lose anything at all. In my warped mind, it just didn’t add up.
  • I listed everything every day, the water I drank, the food I ate (protein, starches, fruit, veggies, fats … everything I put in my mouth got written down.
  • See, I’m an obsessive/compulsive type, so if I lay down a law it’s just that, LAW for me. The problem is, I wanted this to be a lifestyle change, so I need to soften up on the strictness of my plan in order to keep it flexible. I did a few LIFESTYLE changes too this week that may have contributed to how and if this works. I got out of the house every single day, even if it was to run to the grocery store to buy zucchini or go for a ride and I even went to a movie! I actually took the weekend off! These are rare choices for me. I’m a writer who would rather sit at my keyboard than venture out into the black hole that is the rest of the world. Tearing myself away for an hour or two every day wasn’t radical enough … I didn’t work at all for the entire weekend! This is unheard of! Unthinkable! I didn’t turn on my computer once on Saturday or Sunday (except to briefly check emails – I do have a book coming out in November and lots of things to deal with regarding that) and I didn’t take my cell phone when I left the house. Can you imagine? I figured no one would even notice but I received six Saturday and Sunday cell phone calls from clients and a number of emails regarding publishing and my work. Apparently people have come to assume I’m available 24/7/365. Maybe that wasn’t so good.

All week I told Natalie that I didn’t feel like I’d lost even one pound, but I followed my committed plan to the letter.

Monday morning and I woke around eight, paranoid about going to pee because the bathroom scale would be right there, grinning at me, taunting me … making me feel like I had to know.

I stepped on, shook my head, stepped off, stepped back on, shook my head and stepped off again. I slid it to another part of the bathroom floor and tried again. Yup, it was right.

I lost 10.1 pound in one week!

Makes no sense! I enjoyed myself, I relaxed, I just walked a little and I ate sooooo much food … and I went from 214 pound to 203.9 pounds. Anyone have the number for a fifty piece brass band?

For this week I’m going to do exactly the same thing. I understand that if I keep getting results they will dwindle and I’ll need to make adjustments but for now, hey, this can actually work! It’s a new me! A new lifestyle! and I’m starting to see how things can be healthier and better all the way around.

Oh, and I set a little goal. On November 5, 2011 my second book, a non-fiction entitled Finding Author Success, is being released in print and ebook. My goal is to have a launch party with family and friends, and to wear clothes that don’t make me feel like anything but a lively, interesting and happy author. Tune up that brass band!