I have been hunkered down for the past several weeks—okay—months, working on the hardest part of SALAD DAYS. That wouldn’t be writing the novel. That’s the easy, fun part. Convincing a literary agent or publisher to back the manuscript; that’s the hard part, certainly the aspect debut authors dread. It seems I spend most of my “writing time” sending query letters to agents and publishing companies throughout the western hemisphere, rather than actually writing. But I’ve reached the mountain top, the summit of Parnassus. I’ve boiled down the 400 page narrative of SALAD DAYS to a one-page synopsis ready to pitch to a list of potential agents and publishers. And while time remains a precious commodity, I can at least start to catch up on the blog, my Facebook status and by other means bolster my social media presence—if you haven’t noticed already, that’s how authors sell books these days. That social presence will include putting out a short story spun-off from the novel. I plan to give it away, in hopes its wonderfulness will entice you to read the full-length novel. If everything goes well, you should be able to read WELCOME TO CHANNEL SIX in a few months or so, that is, if I close this page and get back to writing it. Stay tuned.
I know this sounds like the start of one those Maria Osmond and Terry Bradshaw weight-loss ads. “I lost weight and so can you.” Don’t worry. I’m not selling anything. I’m advocating sleep. And if your story sounds like mine, maybe a brief change of diet. I emphasize brief, temporary, nothing drastic.
I couldn’t figure it out. I weighed the same as I did a decade ago. I was eating the same, exercising regularly, but I was feeling doughy, thick in the mid-section. I was able to grab flab where I had never been able to grab flab before.
I watched those YouTube videos: WHAT NOT TO EAT, LOSE BELLY FAT, GET SIX-PACK ABS. You’ve seen them; the shirtless guys who make their living by working out and selling their exercise programs on YouTube. While they have different methods of how to look like them (dream on), they all agree. Diet matters.
I did some reading. dietitians and other qualified health professionals (they wear shirts) say when you’re tired, pooped, when your feet and your mind are dragging, you seek energy to get your weary body across the finish line. You eat to make up for the energy you didn’t get from sleeping.
That’s been my situation while anchoring the morning newscast. Up at 2 a.m., I was dragging by 10. And I craved and overdosed on carbohydrates, the bad ones. Sugary cereals, too many slices of wheat toast (too much of a good thing) ahem, doughnuts a few times a week, (too much of a bad thing) and cookies before bed.
Author Nate Miyaki likens carbohydrate feeding to fueling up your car. “If your car has been sitting in the garage, it doesn’t need gas. Loading up on carbohydrates is like trying to fill up a full tank. It just spills over the side. In the human body, that overspill equates to sugar backing up in the blood stream and excess body fat storage.”
That’s me. Mr. Pyramid.
Right after Thanksgiving, I cut out the evil carbs. Not all carbs and not forever (keep reading), but the low-fiber, scant-nutrition carbs the body tends to store at the waistline and below: pasta, low-fiber breads, and sugars. Instead of toast, I had oatmeal (sweetened with Splenda, sprinkled with cinnamon and maybe some apples), brown rice, and I skipped the cookies. For desert, a carton of low-carb yogurt, the weirdest flavors I could find because they add some adventure.
I haven’t felt deprived or hungry, and by staying away from the evil carbs, the body has had to get its carb-fix by turning to the carbs stockpiled at my waist. I dropped three, maybe four pounds the first week. Another three or four I lost on the second. On the third week, another three. And when Christmas Eve rolled around and my neighbors dropped by with their plates of fantastic baked goods, I took some deep sniffs (smelling doesn’t take in calories or carbs), sealed all the goodies into air-tight plastic containers in my pantry for safekeeping, and then went upstairs and tried on jeans and slacks that the laundry and dry cleaners had shrunk over the past six years. I didn’t squeeze, tuck, or suck-in my gut to get into them. They fit. Some a tad loose.
Mission pretty much accomplished. I went downstairs, turned on the game, and had hot diet Dr. Pepper.
Now, I haven’t sworn off bread, pasta, certainly not cookies. I’ve paced myself on the neighbors’ holiday treats, and I look more like an upside-down pyramid again.
And I get my sleep.