Baby Steps to a Better Diet

Our guest today is Rebecca J. Clark, a nationally certified personal trainer as well as romance author. Her first diet book just released. The Checklist Diet is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and other ebook retailers. You can learn more about Rebecca's books on her websiteAnd now, here's Rebecca!

We are a few weeks into the new year. Did you set a resolution to lose weight? How is that going for you? 

Oh. That bad?

Before you throw in the towel and think you’ll start your diet
and/or exercise program again on Monday or February 1 or some other date in the future, let me remind you that you’re just one meal or snack away from being back on your plan. And just one workout from being back on track. Does that make you feel a little better?

I want you to decide on some reasonable changes you can make and stick with. Is it reasonable for you to overhaul your entire diet cold turkey? Maybe, but probably not. Is it reasonable for you to exercise every day? Maybe, but probably not.

We’ll talk about your diet today. When I say “diet,” I just mean the way you’re eating. I don’t want you to go ON a “diet” because that infers that you’ll eventually go OFF of it. I want you to think about your worst eating habits. Do you eat enough vegetables? Do you eat protein with every meal? Do you drink enough water? Do you eat too much junk food? You’re smart. You know what you “should” and “shouldn’t” be eating. You know what your bad habits are. Pick one. Just one. And work on that.

The worst habits my clients have are eating enough fruits and vegetables, eating too much junk food, drinking too much alcohol, and not drinking enough water. Here are some ideas to help with those particular bad habits.

  • Make a big salad and having it with lunch and/or dinner three times a week.
  • Cut up a bunch of raw veggies every Sunday, and strive to finish it by Wednesday. Then cut up some more and finish be Sunday. Repeat.
  • Use vegetable purees (baby food is a great way to do this) in your every day foods. Like adding pureed carrots or sweet potatoes into your spaghetti sauce, or adding pureed spinach into your meatloaf, or pureed cauliflower into your soup.
  • Have a fruit smoothie each morning to start your day.
  • Reach for a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts for your afternoon or evening snack.

  • Before reaching for junk food, ask yourself if you really want it. This might sound silly, but sometimes the simple act of stopping and asking yourself that question is enough to stop you.
  • If you must have junk food, eat just one portion. Look on the package—it’ll tell you what one portion is. Eat it and enjoy. There’s no use eating junk food if you’re going to feel too guilty to enjoy it.
  • Make sure you have healthy snacks on hand. If all you have on hand is junk food, guess what you’ll reach for? Yeah.
  • Tell yourself you can have X servings of junk food a week. How many is X? Depends on how much you’re eating now. If you’re eating junk food every day, cut back to every other day. If you eat it several times a week, cut back to twice a week.

  • First, let me tell you what a “healthy” amount of drinking is. For women, one drink a night is fine. For men, two drinks a night is good. If you drink more than that, I’d strongly suggest you start cutting back. I don’t want to be preachy, but I care about your health. More than that amount is bad for your health and your waistline. Alcohol is empty calories. Your body doesn’t metabolize it well. So any excess will go to your gut or your butt. You really don’t want a Beer Butt, do you?
  • So...if you’re drinking more than you “should” – and only you know the answer to that – start cutting back just a little at a time. Cut back from 3 drinks to 2. From 2 to 1. From every night to 3 times a week.

You can do it!

  • This is a huge one. If you’re even slightly dehydrated, you won’t feel your best. You might be tired, or get headaches, or feel bloated, or have a scratchy throat, or be depressed. Your body won’t digest food as well.
  • Have a bottle or glass of water with you at all times: at your desk, on the coffee table, in the car.
  • Create reminders for yourself to drink your water. For instance, if you watch a lot of TV, drink ½ cup every commercial. If you spend a lot of time at the computer, set a timer to go off every 30 minutes and drink ½ cup. If you’re driving, every time you stop at a light or stop sign, take a few chugs. If you’re driving long distance, every time you approach an exit, take a few chugs.
  • Buy yourself a really cool water container (I like Starbucks plastic cups with a straw). You’re more likely to reach for water if it is in a container you like. Sounds silly, but it’s true.
  • Keep an 8 oz glass of water on your nightstand. Drink it as soon as you get up, before even getting out of bed.
  • Have 8 oz of water every time you eat.

See? It’s all about small changes. Pick one or two things you want to change and focus on those. When those become habit, pick one or two more things.

Keep going until you’re eating a healthy diet most of the time. That’s right, I said most of the time. Life’s too short to not enjoy the occasional cheeseburger or Cheetos.

New Year, New Books, New Experiences

This week on the white sands of our Beach Read Authors' Site we have dynamo, Pat White, who is an eight-time published author. Making her splashy debut ten years ago writing about romance and wrestling, Pat is published by Harlequin, Dorchester, and is now joining the Indie ranks. As well as being a person who inspired many Seattle authors to write romance, Pat has been honored with a Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Contemporary Romance from Romantic Times Magazine
I give you, Pat White!

How is everybody's New Year going so far? I'm excited because this year I decided to try some new things, like dive enthusiastically into self-publishing! I decided I wanted to publish the stories that are near and dear to my heart but may not have a place in the traditional book market.  Readers have it so good these days with all their book buying options.  I don’t know about you but my head is spinning with excitement as I discover new authors every day.

I’m especially excited about an anthology I’m participating in for Valentine's Day.
Valentine’s Romance is a collection of four short romances and it went live last week.  My story is titled The Wife Project.  Here’s the scoop:

 Enigmatic software genius A.J. Remington needs a wife to seem more accessible to potential clients, but love cannot be a part of the equation.  Having been burned, he knows that love is complicated and painful. A.J. is resigned to a life without love.

 Friend and personal chef Katy Walsh has also tasted her share of heartbreak due to a failed marriage, and she’s determined to avoid that kind of pain, thank-you-very-much. 

 But when Katy agrees to help Alex to choose a suitable woman for the role of wife, an unlikely recipe for romance consumes them both.  Can it be that the perfect woman is standing in his kitchen?  And will either of them be willing to risk falling in love as they work on… The Wife Project?

 This story is a friends-to lovers-romance—one of my personal favorites.  My first published book was a friends-to-lovers story called Practice Makes Mr. Perfect for Silhouette Romance.  I enjoy these storylines because who best to fall in love with than the one person who knows your faults and your strengths and loves you all the same? 

A real plus to self-publishing is that everything happens so quickly.  I can release a new story every month if I want to, that is if the dogs and cat leave me alone long enough to write!  In traditional publishing you can sign a contract and wait a long time before your book is actually released.

Since 2014 is the year of trying new things, I’m considering all kinds of non-writing activities as well.  I’ve read that new experiences can stimulate certain parts of your brain and help with overall wellbeing.  I’m looking outside the “box” at things like: helicopter lessons, Nia (dance) class, or perhaps kick-boxing.  One thing for sure, I’m going to find new places to walk my puppy before she completely destroys my house!

 How about you? Do you have any new experiences planned for 2014? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

 I’m giving away a copy of my short romance The Wife Project to a lucky reader.  If dark and dangerous is more your style, I’m also offering a copy of of my YA paranormal, Out of My Mind.  Just post a response to this blog by Monday, January 20 and I’ll add your name to the list for a free copy.  Winners will be picked on Tuesday, January 21.

I’m so excited to be a part of the awesome Beach Read Blog!

Visit Pat at

Writing Inspiration . . . Where do you find yours?

The Beach welcomes Lori Leger today with a real life love story that will blow your heart apart!

Take it away, Lori. . .

Admittedly, I’ve found mine scouring book covers online, stock photo sites, snapshots of actors, models, cover models, body builders, body builders that moonlight as cover models, talk show hosts, etc, etc., etc.  I found inspiration for my upcoming book entirely by accident.

I’d been researching Marines in Afghanistan and wanted to know a little bit about their daily life over there. What do they do in their down time, do they even have down time, do they have access to Facebook, Twitter, Skype, cell phones or texting to keep in touch with their loved ones at home? How do the loved ones at home handle the long separations? How do the long separations affect their relationships? 

Since I’m phenomenally good at procrastinating, and Facebook plays a large part in that procrastination, I thought it was only fair to turn to the site for help. I simply sent out a feeler. I posted a comment, asking for anyone who knew of someone with personal experience and who wouldn’t mind giving me some info. I got an immediate response from an elementary school teacher in my home town of Gueydan, LA, whose son, a Marine, had recently left the Corps.  She gave me his name, tagged him in the message, and I contacted him. Not only has Lance Corporal Ben Bonin proven to be a wealth of information for me, he’s turned into a dear friend as well. He and his girlfriend, Haley Broussard, were so helpful to me in researching my previous book, MEAGAN’S MARINE, I decided to write them in that book as secondary characters.  Their roles were so promising, that I eventually decided to give them their own book.

I wanted to meet them in person, so we met at a lovely seafood restaurant called the Regatta La. Seafood & Steakhouse, in Ben’s hometown of Lake Arthur, a town I’d spent lots of time in my previous life/marriage.

The Regatta Restaurant

I sat there for two and a half hours, taking pages of notes, as these two young adults regaled me with stories of their personal experiences. Ben Bonin comes from good people in a small town. He was a good kid, athletic, respectful, and responsible. Or as they say where I come from, he was raised right. Tall and broad shouldered, with brown hair, hazel eyes and a kind smile, he looked like a clean cut, all American boy next door.

Ben Bonin

Ben gave me so much insight to what life in Afghanistan was like for him. He’d been deployed twice, that’s two 7 month deployments to Afghanistan. He described so many things, like the act of ‘digging in’ while deployed and out on a mission. That’s digging a hole, in the cover of complete darkness, large enough for the entire team of four men to hide inside. He told me how, when waiting inside that hole for members of the Taliban to reveal themselves while setting out road bombs, the wind would blow that desert sand in a steady and repeated pattern that hit their helmets right at eye level. He told me about narrowly missing a road bomb himself.  He described the feeling of weeks or months of dirt and sand build up, caked upon his skin. Wipes are a piss poor substitution for soap and fresh water, a rarity in the desert, but they were better than nothing. How when he got home, he’d take three or four baths a day . . . because he could.  How thoughts of his girl, waiting for him back at home, filled his daytime thoughts when he wasn’t occupied with a mission. How images of her invaded his dreams as he slept. How sick he got of eating the MRE’ sick that everything got to taste the same. How his mom sent him bags of Ramen noodles, his favorite meal when mixed with plain old oatmeal—yep, you read correctly—oatmeal MIXED with Ramen noodles and eaten as one meal, simply because it wasn’t the same old crap. . . nom, nom, nom!

Then I turned to Haley, a pretty, fresh-faced girl with big brown eyes and auburn hair. She grew up in another small town not far from where I live now, and rode horses all her life. She’s competed in rodeos for years, and I’ve seen enough of the footage to know she’s damn good at it.

“What was it like to have the man you loved so far away, Haley?” I asked her.

She turned to Ben, linked her hand in his, and stared into his eyes.  She told me about the three torturous weeks with no word from him. How she moped around the house, bit her nails, ate sunflower seeds by the pound, tried to sleep a lot, jumped at every phone call, checked her Facebook account constantly (in case her phone wouldn’t ring), snapped at her poor mother, and finally screamed when the caller ID showed his number. How she couldn’t speak for a moment, her relief was so great. How they talked until they couldn’t anymore because someone else needed the phone. And how, once the call ended, she started all over again with worrying about the love of her life until he made it back to the Battalion Base so she could see his face during Skype calls. She told me about his thoughtful and romantic acts—actually admits that he’s more romantic than she is. (Earlier, he’d bragged to me in a text message about how romantic he was—I had laughed, then answered that I’d have to hear that from her mouth before believing it.) As it turns out, this particular Marine could give lessons on being romantic. Maybe it’s because he knew how easy it was to lose everything in a flash. He arranged to have a single fresh rose sent to her every Monday. I know, right? Sigh...  And how he rented a stretch Hummer for her 21st birthday for her and all of her friends.

She told me that he insisted that she fly with HIS family to meet him in Hawaii after his deployment.


 She also said how he arranged to have rose petals spread all over their hotel room, from the door to the bed, with candles lit and everything.

“Seriously?” I asked. Haley looked at Ben, and beamed up at her sweet Marine, as he sent me a slightly sheepish grin and nodded. Only slightly, I emphasize, because he was totally confident and proud of his actions.


How could I not fall in love with this couple? It was inevitable. That’s when I decided that book would not only share some of their experiences, but that I had to have these two beautiful people on the cover of what I would forever consider to be their book. I mean—just look at these two!

They are both such bright, young, responsible and respectable adults. When I first met them, both were students, and Ben worked part time. Since then, Haley has graduated from Lamar University in medical sonography. Ben should be graduating from technical college in May and is working as an electrician’s helper during the week. 

I expect an invitation to their wedding one day. I’ve already told him I hope he wears his dress blues. (My dad was a Marine also, and I admit I have a weakness for Marines in uniform.) I expect to see them have beautiful children one day. I know they are wonderful people who will contribute something good to this world. And if they never do another thing, they will have inspired me to write a story based somewhat upon their unfailing love.  I haven’t finished the book yet, so I haven’t scheduled the photo shoot for the cover. I have some ideas about what I want. I guess I’ll have to wait and see if they pan out for the book cover. As of now, the title for their book, a work in progress, is RAINY SEASON, but that is subject to change.

Sometimes life can influence fantasy in a good way.
Have a good one!