Friday, July 29, 2016

Keto Update & More: Week Two and Beyond

Good morning and happy Friday, everyone! So, I wanted to update ya'll on a few things. First off is the ketogenic diet. In my last post, I talked about how I'd plateaued after losing only four pounds this go around. Well, it seems I was a little quick to make that assumption. As of today, I'm down 6 pounds (18 lbs total from before my first keto session). I have a lot more to lose before I'll be happy, but for the last two days, I've been losing roughly a pound a day. This is pretty cool--it's also because I changed my activities.

Instead of running--which seems to give me a terrible stitch in the chest--I've changed over to yard work. Our yard needed some work anyways, but my husband and I have been weeding and planting some late-season things (bushes, trees, etc.), and not only does it help to keep my chest from hurting, but it also seems to have worked as a way to kick-start my metabolism again.

I've also been keeping a keener eye on my carb intake. I suspect because we cut so many carbs naturally after our last keto round, my body was already used to getting less than 80g of carbs a day, so bumping down to 20g wasn't doing much. I've kept an eye on it and am sitting at less than 10g/day now, which makes me pretty happy. I also suspect that my... beer intake after the first week and a half on keto may have caused me to jump out of ketosis. It's a bummer, but I've learned my lesson. I'm planning a cheat day Monday (for special reasons), but after that, will get back in the habit of cheating once every two weeks. And most of that cheating will be beer. Sorry, I love my brew.

Still doing well without sugar, which makes me insanely happy. I did try to make my own whipped cream yesterday and added a half packet of TruVia, but man. That crap is too sweet for me. I ended up refrigerating most of the whipped cream in some coffee, and it melted (not surprisingly). I'm glad to see that my tolerance for sweets has gone down, though. Maybe once I'm off keto around the holidays, I can keep to that low-sweet tolerance. Hopefully. Pie is one of my favorite things in the world.

Yesterday, my brilliant cover artist, Mallory Rock, sent me the cover for Frendyl Krune Origins: Her Tired Heart, and I have to say--it's beautiful! I'm going to share the new cover in my newsletter on August 1, so if you haven't signed up yet, now might be the time to do it--especially if you want to see new covers before they're shown off to the public! I'll be revealing the cover here, but it'll be a few weeks later.

The cover for Frendyl Krune and the Nightmare in the North will be revealed once I have the final draft. I'm excited to see where Mallory takes this one!

Look for Frendyl Krune Origins: Her Tired Heart on September 26, 2017, and Frendyl Krune and the Nightmare in the North on November 28, 2017! Both are sure to thrill readers of all ages!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Frustration with the Ketogenic Diet

Hey, all. So I've been on keto for two weeks exactly now, and I've plateaued. Almost instantly, I stopped losing weight. I'm running four times a week and weight lifting at least twice a week. My calories sit just under 1300/day, which, to me, is already at the brink of me not wanting to cut any lower.

I've only lost four pounds since starting, and I'm not sure why. The last time I was on keto, I lost seven pounds in a week, and then eight more the following week before becoming addicted to sugar again. This is beyond frustrating and infuriating. I'm at my wit's end. No clue what more to do. No idea what to change. I'm already eating mostly lean meats, salads, and healthy fats. And I want to scream.

I don't want to give up on keto. My goal is what has kept me pushing forward, what has kept me focused, but if I cease to lose weight, no matter what I try, I may have no choice but to back out and try something else. Four pounds? Plateauing less than two weeks after I've begun this diet? It's insane!!

Ugh. Sorry. I just don't know what to do. Just frustrated and angry. I take in less than 20g of carbs a day, less than 5g of sugar... Any help or thoughts would be sincerely appreciated. I'm not even using almond or coconut flour this time around. Literally, I only get carbs from my coffee (heavy whipping cream), cheeses, and my salads!

Maybe this week will be better. I'll just have to wait and see. :/ Thanks for any help...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

First Big Drawing Project in a While!

Hi, everyone. I hope you're having an eventful weekend! I sure have. I've taken a short break from writing to focus on a gift for a close friend of mine (my previously mentioned co-author of our Epics of Etheliu series, which we'll be starting to rough out on Monday), C. G. Malcolm.

I started this last night, because I was literally shaking and couldn't keep still long enough to write. My mind's been going like the Road Runner on about 6 pitchers of coffee since Friday night, and drawing helps me to zone out and focus my energy. No thoughts. Nothing except the lines and the pencil/pen. I wanted to do something a little more traditional, and of course, now that I'm looking at the picture, I see about a million mistakes. Hopefully my friend won't care.

I wish I'd taken more process pictures. I think it might have been nice to show you the process during the 8 or so hours I poured into this illustration. Ah, well. A lesson for next time, I suppose! Anyway, here's me nearing the pencil stage.

I used a myriad of references during the sketching phase, which I normally don't have to worry about. Usually I'm drawing my own creations, so it was a little strange having to jump back and forth between various images. I think I ended up with like 7 tabs open on my phone while I sketched last night! Fun!

Initially, I planned to start inking last night, but I was so deliriously tired that I couldn't even keep my eyes open, so inking was out of the question. I woke up this morning, and after some yard work, I started the inking process. This is an image from the stage where I inked a bit and finalized a few of the pencil bits, adding more, clarifying a few things, etc.

Here was when I began to notice a few things that I wanted to add and adjust, such as the flags, the saddle bag, the bedroll, and the checkered bit near the horse's rump. The lines came out rather good, I think, for not having practiced with pens in a long time. I think the last illustration I inked was for Frendyl Krune Origins: Their Pretty Bones! That was a while ago.

Once everything was inked to satisfaction, I went back through and shaded, added some details, and erased all of the pencil lines. While I'm not 100% pleased with the outcome, I'm still happy enough to pass the picture on to my friend. So much to learn still!

Here's the finished piece!

And some close-up pictures...

I still have a lot to learn, but at least it was nice to draw again. I might give it another go sometime soon.

For those wondering, I have considered opening myself to commission work. If you're interested, feel free to let me know, and we can talk. :) I work best in pencil and ink, but have had some success with PhotoShop and mouse work.

Also, sorry for the bad photos! This illustration is 14x11 and doesn't fit on our scanner, so taking pictures with my phone was the only way to show this picture off. :)

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Keto: End of Week One

Hi everyone! So, today marks the end of my first week back on keto. I had mixed results, and I think it's mostly because I gave my body the first week to adjust to the new diet without working out. I'll start weight lifting and running either this afternoon or tomorrow, depending on how my body feels.

The cool thing is that I'm already down 3 pounds. Yay! I broke that barrier I couldn't seem to get through during my first round of keto a few months ago, which feels pretty good. I kept wondering if I might not be able to break through that barrier, and WHAM, this morning, I finally did. So glad to see my weight dropping.

Something else odd--I had keto flu for like a day and a half, but it didn't start until Monday, and I kind of think part of that was being hungover from Sunday (whiskey tasting, which I stuck to whiskies that were either no-or-low carb). I felt a little blegh on Tuesday, too, but today? I feel fine today. Hungry, but fine (and I'm currently enjoying a salad, so that will go away soon enough--okay, the salad is actually gone, but it was super YUM!). I can't wait for the energy part of the diet to kick in. ;)

I think the biggest struggle I've had with the diet (other than my husband noshing on chips literally right next to me) has been my greens wilting stupid fast. Like we buy them, I put them out to dry a little, because our grocery store over-mists them, and then the next day they're wilted and crappy! From my research, I've discovered that I need to wash them and then place them in a Ziploc bag with a small opening and a paper towel. I'll give that a shot. Hopefully it will work, otherwise, this diet is going to be a heck of a lot more difficult than I thought. :/

My hunger returned, which is good. Oh, I also figured out that eggs aren't terrible if I cook them over-medium. Something about scrambled eggs or mixing the yolk with the white really bothers my stomach, so I've stopped doing that. ;) Now just two sausages (1 carb each, 0.5 sugars each) and an over-medium egg work super well for breakfasts. I'll admit, I still don't eat the egg every day--I'm having troubles willing myself to down eggs, even when prepared over-medium and coated in salt. Maybe I have an allergy? I didn't have problems with eggs before I started keto last time, but it could just be that I overindulged in them. Who knows.

Anyway, I think I'll write an short update blog each week on Wednesday to kind of keep me focused on the diet and on my goals. It should help. And I'll admit--today I'm craving ice cream like no other. Maybe in a few months, I'll have some. That pesky sugar addiction needs to be worked out of my system completely before I even think about eating refined sugar. The only thing I truly do miss that I'm planning to enjoy in a week or two is beer. Gods, but I miss my ale. Soon, my Precious, soon I will enjoy you.

Have a lovely week, and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Project Updates

Hi all. I hope you're having a fantastic Tuesday! I know I am. Today, I'm continuing to push forward in The Soulless King. This book is quite a bit larger than the first of the Soulbound series, which topped out at roughly 176,000 words and was split into three segments, each between 60,000 and 70,000 words. Part One of The Soulless King is currently with my editor, and pre-revisions, is at just over 70,000. Usually during the editing and revision process, about 10,000 words are added, so... yeah. This book will be a bit longer. I'm already planning parts of The Throne of Souls, which is the third book in the Soulbound arc, and boy! That one is going to be hefty. No doubt about it, especially with everything I'm building up in The Soulless King.

I'm nearing the end of my major writing season, which typically lasts from December through the end of August. I have one and a half books to write left (Frendyl Krune and the Nightmare in the North and The Soulless King: Part Two; I consider TSK-P2 half a book because I am still in the editing/revision phase before it goes off to my editor), which is truly not too bad. I'll also be finishing The Rise of the Four Kings here in a month or so, but that won't be available until next year.

A few other projects have since been completed or are awaiting the final editing phase with my editor. The main two right now are Frendyl Krune Origins: Her Tired Heart and The Soulless King: Part One. It's nice to know that things will be slowing down a smidge between the end of next month and the end of December. I won't cease writing, mind you, because I still have deadlines early next spring, but at least I won't have to sit at my desk between 10-15 hours a day trying to get things done.

The slow season will also offer me a little time to finish some miscellaneous projects I've had in the works. Axis of the Soul, for one, as well as the first in my co-authored series, Epics of Etheliu, which I am writing with C. Gaston (or C.G. Malcom, as he has not yet decided what his pen name will be). This particular series, and more notably, the first book, has been in the works for well over seven years now. We've spent much of that time developing the world, the cultures, and the magic system, as well as delving into the politics and the structures of the civilizations. While Mr. Malcom and I only meet up once a week to work on this book (and in the past, more often when time allowed), it is getting close to time to pen the first draft of the first book, and I'm beyond excited. Mr. Malcom is one of my best friends, and it's great to see where this story is headed. I think fans of The Amuli Chronicles will truly enjoy Epics of Etheliu!

For now, that's the majority of what I have on my plate. I'm pushing through it, and sooner rather than later, you'll be enjoying the first two parts of The Soulless King and the fourth Frendyl Krune book!

Thanks for reading, and I hope to have more to share soon!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Keto: Round Two: FIGHT!

Hey, all. So I wasn't going to announce this, because I was worried I might back out and decide not to continue with it. As some of you know, I've struggled with my weight for a long time and a few months ago, I tried a ketogenic diet. I lost 15 pounds total, which was awesome, but I stopped because I had a cheat day and got addicted to sugar again. Ugh!

Well, I weighed in after my wedding and honeymoon, and by some miracle, I've kept off 12 of those 15 pounds during the two months where I wasn't keto. I was astounded. No way had I managed to keep off all of that weight after pigging out on cake, Georgia Boys BBQ, and other bad-for-you-sweeties. But the scale we have is pretty accurate. So I have to assume it didn't lie to me.

Armed with the knowledge that I'd managed to keep off the majority of the weight over such a long span of time, I've decided to go back on the ketogenic diet. Only this time, I'm changing a few things. I'm not going to try and make cinnamon buns or anything that I'd normally eat bread-wise. Why? Well, honestly, I don't really like bread. It's just such a staple in the American diet that I've eaten it without realizing I don't particularly like it. Potatoes, on the other hand, will be harder for me to get over. I do love me some hash browns and baked potatoes. Oh well! Maybe in a month or so, I'll have a small cheat meal.

I'm also not going to do cheat days very often. I made the mistake of having one cheat day and had a ton of sugar, and WHAM, all of my hard work went away. I became addicted to sugar again. AGAIN. Ugh! Sugar is my worst weakness. I usually can manage to ignore the cravings after a few days, but the very minute I eat sugar again, it's like I never went on the diet at all. I just can't control it. So, this time around I've decided not to have any sugar on my cheat days, or if I do, it'll be in small amounts and never from things like candy or pastries. We'll see how it goes, but I want to try and stay as far away from refined sugar as possible, since that's what undid me last time.

I started being completely keto last Wednesday, and I've been weighing myself every day to make sure I'm sticking with the program. Holding myself accountable and all. I understand that as a woman, weight will fluctuate for a while, so I'm not doing anything super extreme when I do gain back a partial pound or so--mostly, I'm just trying to make sure that the trend is still downward and healthily so. This morning, though, I had a pleasant surprise! I've lost two entire pounds. That's a good feeling, since that means I'm almost back to the point where I stopped losing weight. I'm hoping this time around, I don't plateau for a little while. If I could lose another 15 pounds, I'd be pretty stoked, even if that means plateauing after those 15 drop off.

The amount I want to lose overall... well, it's going to be a long journey. That's why I'm so determined to stick with this for as long as I can. I feel better, feel less hungry, and am more determined than ever to become healthy. Losing weight and making sure I work out to keep from being skinny-fat is a huge part of that. I'm also trying to make sure I balance the oils I take in, and focusing on protein being my main source of incoming food. As time goes on, I'll adjust. Salads and fresh greens, too, play a large role in my new diet. Don't worry, for those who know keto well--I make sure to have plenty of oils and fats. Cheese, bacon, and oil-based salad dressing play an enormous role in my meals, too. ;) I'm not about to starve myself of the exact fuel my body needs!

There are tons of other benefits for me being on keto. The first and foremost is the energy. WOW. What a huge difference. In the few days (what, five??) that I've been on keto, I noticed almost a light-switch like change in energy levels. This happened last time, I think, but slower. I also didn't have the keto flu this time around. If I did, it was super short. Like less than a day. Odd, huh? I keep waiting for the flu to hit me, and nothing. Overall, I'm far less hungry, which is amazing, but it also worries me a little. I have to force myself to eat sometimes. This is the first morning I woke up hungry enough to actually eat more than a few slices of bacon and an egg.

Speaking of eggs, I think one of the bigger challenges for me will be eating them. I'm not a big fan of eggs. Period. I used to love them, but the last round of keto burned me out on them pretty hard. Like to the point where I feel nauseated just by smelling them cooking. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but I'm taking the cue and listening to my body. I think I'll back off on eggs for a little while and see how I feel in a few weeks.

Overall, I'm excited with how quickly I'm seeing results. Super glad, too, that I'm not living to eat, but eating to live. Usually I'm too hungry on diets to get very far without over-indulging on calories, and since I'm waiting until tomorrow to start working out (for medical reasons and because I wanted to be over the keto flu first), I really didn't want to over-eat during the first week. That said, I'd be lying if I didn't note a little concern over how little I've actually wanted to eat the last few days. It was a bit scary for a time, because I didn't even think about how little I was taking in. Today, I seem to have a normal appetite--not overly hungry, but also not completely uninterested in food. Hopefully I can keep to that balance, but we'll see. The first few weeks are usually the most important in terms of how the body balances out. My hunger may also be aresult of the whiskey tasting I partook in last night. My bet is that I may have kicked myself out of keto, but we'll see.

More updates will come as I continue forward. :) This blog isn't meant to be about the keto diet; I want to note that there are tons of other resources across the Internet about the diet itself, so please don't take my results or my alterations as proof of the diet. Do research and inform yourself. I can't eat most fruits due to allergies, and as I mentioned, I'm not overly fond of baked carbs (beer is another story, and I'll miss it), and I hate cereal with a scathing passion... so keto makes sense for my needs. Listen to your body. Listen to its needs. And more than anything, don't get discouraged. You will plateau. You will cease to lose weight at a certain point. That's okay. Just keep to the changes you've made, and eventually, the plateau will break (might have to cut calories, but be careful and do research first!).

Thanks for reading!