Category Archives: Weight

The Gettysburgh Diet … or Not-So-Much Diet


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?


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!


Diet Life in the S L O W Lane


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!


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?


Second Week Blues


by Natalie Preston

Monday was the dreaded weigh-in. I pulled out the scale and stepped on, anxious but hopeful that the number would have changed in the right direction.

It didn’t.

I’d gained a pound and a half. Deep breath. Sigh. Lots of “where did I go wrong” thoughts. Lots of analyzing the past week in minute detail. But what’s different this time from all the times before is that I didn’t beat myself up for gaining weight and I didn’t give up. I’m still here, dammit!

So … after all that over-analyzing, what were my successes last week? What were my failures? Well, they’re kinda jumbled up together. Basically, I ate all my meals and snacks consciously (success!), but I didn’t write everything down and relied on my memory of what I ate and when (failure). I walked three times last week, once even on sore foot (success!), but I let the rain keep me from my fourth workout (failure). So, it seems that I need to work on follow-through. To keep everything going, food diary and exercise, through to the end of the week. So far, I’ve been much better this week on follow-through … keeping my promises made to myself and to others. Keeping my food diary up to date. And, doing my exercise without excuses.

But … I am very proud of one success in particular. Deb and I had a busy week last week; we had a lunch date with her mom, did our bi-weekly shopping, and we saw a Jackson Browne concert. (It was wonderful, by the way!) So, we ended up eating out four times last week. My success? I made good choices instead of bad ones while eating out. For instance, when we were at the Mexican restaurant, I had just enough chips (total: 6) to enjoy the salsa they served. In the past, I would have eaten the whole basket then asked for more, all before the entrée was served! I also chose healthier entrees rather than the bacon cheeseburger or the pasta in heavy cream/cheese sauce. It’s all baby steps, and I’m finally learning to walk!

The outcome? Overall, even though I gained a bit of weight, I’m proud of last week and my accomplishments. And I’m doing even better this week.

Speaking about eating out … I’d like to give a shout out to Panera Bread. In the past, I rarely made it past their pastry display, but lately, I’ve discovered their “Café” menu. There’s a Panera near the park where Deb and I walk and we’ve had lunch there a couple of times since we began this lifestyle change. Once we got past the cinnamon rolls and cheese soufflés, we discovered a whole new side of Panera … sandwiches, salads and soups that fit within our diet plan. Not only that, but the calorie count of each item is listed right on the menu board, so it’s easy to order item(s) that fit in my food budget. For example, my lunch today was a tomato-mozzarella Panini, one half (385 cal.), a cup of lemon-chicken-orzo soup (130 cal), and an apple (80 cal). The total was 595 calories, a tad on the high side, but not bad for restaurant lunch.

Okay … back to our regularly scheduled blogging …

My goals this week:

1. Write everything down! It’s important!

2. Drink all my water (six 12-oz glasses a day)

3. Exercise four times this week. (As of today, I’ve walked three times.)

That’s all for this week! See you next time!

Where’s a Brass Band when you need one?


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!


  • 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!