Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Paige Shelton: Talks about Of Books and Bagpipes and microwave diets!

JENN: One of the best things about being a writer is the friendships you make along the way. Paige Shelton and I met years ago at some writing function or another when she resided in Utah and I was in Arizona, and it was pretty clear we were kindred spirits from the start. Thankfully, she's recently moved to AZ and now we're lunch buddies, which is great because being a writer can be a very solitary occupation. Paige brings a lot of light and laughter to my life and I am ever grateful, and here she is to share some of that Paige magic with you:

Paige Shelton
PAIGE: I’m supposed to be talking about my upcoming book, OF BOOKS AND BAGPIPES, the second book in my Scottish Bookshop Mystery Series. Oh, I loved writing this book – literally, every second I spent working on this book was a joy. It was a rare experience, but I’ll take it. Here’s the thing though – I wrote it a long time ago. Since I turned it in, I’ve turned in two other books, and edited one. I know it’s no surprise that that’s how the publishing world works.
I journal my writing projects – word count, research, challenges, etc. When I began this article for Jungle Red, I looked back over my journal (and my notes, frankly, so I could remember the story) and I found two things on the same day. August 10, 2016, here are my entries:

Entry one - Time to put OBAB away. All the way done. LOVED (yep, all caps) writing this book.
Entry two – Begin diet.

Turns out, I did both of those things. OF BOOKS AND BAGPIPES has lingered in my thoughts as a good-feeling, positive experience. And, I began a diet, which hasn’t been the least bit fun, but it’s been positive. So, far, I’ve lost 51 ½ pounds. I have 21 to go.  No – no applause or congratulations, please. I gained the weight too.

I have no advice, but people have started asking what I’ve done to lose the weight. So, here’s a brief summary, right here where I’m supposed to be talking about my book, the one called OF BOOKS AND BAGPIPES. Anyway.

Well, first of all, I didn’t consult a doctor. In fact, at the thirty-pound mark, I had to go to my doctor for a sinus infection. I got on the scale and the nurse noted my weight on my chart without any gasps or whoops of glee. The doctor came in and I had to point out the weight loss to him. He said, “Oh, that’s good.” I said, “No, that’s great. I expect balloons next time.” He laughed. I tried not to laugh because balloons wouldn’t suck.

On about August 1, I told my husband Charlie that I really wanted to try a diet and he’d have to cook for himself until I was done. I knew I couldn’t be in the kitchen much. I knew I would have to microwave things and stay out of that room as much as possible. I knew I couldn’t buy potato
chips, because potato chips are my most favorite food-thing of all time. Charlie didn’t even hesitate but said he’d do whatever I needed in the way of support. I didn’t expect anything different, but cooking has been my marriage role –  I gave myself the job. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy our family meals together. I think giving it up was harder for me than for him. In fact, he’s lost weight too. He didn’t really need to, but he did and he’s pleased.

The microwave thing. Yeah, we purchased new appliances, and the reason I wanted to start on August 10 was because our new appliances were to be delivered on August 8. Happily, on about August 5, we took our old appliances to Goodwill. However, the delivery for our new ones got moved another week. I panicked. I wrote the start date in my journal, for goodness’ sake, I HAD to start my diet on the 10th.  We went to Goodwill and bought back our old microwave for $20.00. Deal! We donated it again when we got our new stuff a week later.

I’ve always been an exerciser. I love biking, so I just continued doing that, but the way I’ve lost weight is simply by cutting down on calories. I found a calorie count that I could eat and still lose weight, and I stick to it most days. My favorite diet foods are Tootsie Pops and mini pancake/sausage things I found in the freezer section. I don’t cook much. I microwave. Low calorie frozen dinners with the desserts are yummy. I eat fast food – I just keep it under a certain calorie count. The only food I try to stay away from is potato chips because they are the best things ever created. However, I have had some at restaurants and they haven’t ruined the diet. I do feel hungry (first two weeks were I’m-gonna-die starvation hungry; now, mostly manageable hungry), but since I eat whatever I want (under the calorie count) I don’t feel deprived. It’s worked well for me. In case anyone wants to point out the unhealthiness of eating all these processed foods – I’m fully aware of all that stuff, and for now I just don’t care.

I also know the hard part is ahead of me. The weight loss has slowed, which is normal, and these last twenty are going to be a battle. But nothing like the battle of keeping the weight off. I’m shooting for the weight I was when I first thought I was fat, not the weight I was when I was skinny and miserable.

As I’ve watched the number on the scale go down, I’ve hit milestones like the weight I was when I was nine months pregnant almost twenty-three years ago, when I blew out my knee, and when my son was a baby and we went to New York City for Christmas. As of today, I’m three pounds above what I was when I came home from having Tyler, and thirteen pounds away from when I got pregnant. So, no, no congrats or kudos, however, I would take good vibes that I can keep doing what I’m doing.

Here’s the thing, if you want to lose weight (only if YOU want to), you have to find what works for you. This has worked for me. You should probably also talk to your doctor, even if only so she can get the balloons ready.

Oh yeah, though my books have absolutely nothing to do with what I’ve talked about here today, please check out OF BOOKS AND BAGPIPES, publishing April 4. It’s a mystery set in Scotland. The main character is from Kansas and moved across the sea to take a job in a bookshop in Edinburgh. Little did she suspect that investigating murders would become a big part of her new life. Thank you. 

Thanks to Jenn McKinlay and all the fabulous Jungle Red writers and readers for letting me stop by today. It’s a true honor. 


JENN: Thanks so much for visiting us, Paige! And here's some balloons to celebrate you and your new book because, as you say, balloons wouldn't suck! LOL!







JENN: I loved the first book in this series and am really looking forward to this one. Here's a description for anyone else who loves all things Scottish -- you know, books, bagpipes, and men in kilts!


Delaney Nichols has settled so comfortably into her new life in Edinburgh that she truly feels it’s become more home than her once beloved Kansas. Her job at the Cracked Spine, a bookshop that specializes in rare manuscripts as well as other sundry valuable historical objects, is everything she had dreamed, with her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, entrusting her more and more with bigger jobs. Her latest task includes a trip to Castle Doune, a castle not far out of Edinburgh, to retrieve a hard-to-find edition of an old Scottish comic, an “Oor Wullie,” in a cloak and dagger transaction that Edwin has orchestrated.

While taking in the sights of the distant Highlands from the castle’s ramparts, Delaney is startled when she spots a sandal-clad foot at the other end of the roof. Unfortunately, the foot’s owner is very much dead and, based on the William Wallace costume he’s wearing, perfectly matches the description of the man who was supposed to bring the Oor Wullie. As Delaney rushes to call off some approaching tourists and find the police, she comes across the Oor Wullie, its pages torn and fluttering around a side wall of the castle. Instinct tells her to take the pages and hide them under her jacket. It’s not until she returns to the Cracked Spine that she realizes just how complicated this story is and endeavors to untangle the tricky plot of why someone wanted this man dead, all before getting herself booked for murder.


Well, Reds, what do you think about diets or making radical changes to your lifestyle like not cooking to accommodate your goals? Balloon worthy? 

59 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Paige, on “Of Books and Bagpipes” . . . it sounds quite intriguing.

    What do I think about diets? UGH. [At the moment, I am trying to ignore the nearly irresistible call of some maple bacon potato chips.]

    I’m not sure about abandoning cooking even though I imagine my husband would be supportive if I said I needed to do it and he’d even manage to cook enough keep himself from starving. It’s more that I’m not a fan of microwaving in the first place, so I doubt that I’d stick to any diet requiring me to microwave all my meals. BUT if it works, then it’s a good thing --- definitely balloon-worthy . . . .

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    1. Thanks, Joan - and, maple bacon potato chips? Yum. Look what happens to the potato chip aisle when I start ignoring it. :)

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    2. I'm a cheddar and sour cream potato chip, girl. They are my crack.

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    3. I'm a cheddar and sour cream potato chip, girl. They are my crack.

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  2. Congratulations, Paige, on your book(s) and on your success at losing so much weight! That's awesome! I bow to you, as I have never been good at sticking to diets. Portion control is my friend, and I have learned over the years what foods to avoid, but nobody is ever going to call me skinny again. I'm not sure they ever did, even back in college, when I was at my theoretical ideal weight.

    I have, however, gone as long as a year without cooking. When I bought my house in 2014, it came with original, 1960-vintage kitchen appliances, including a double oven that hadn't been cleaned in decades, and a dishwasher that looked more like a washing machine inside, except for the box of rat poison at the bottom. There was also about an acre of worn pink Formica, so scratched up it could never be truly clean. It all had to go, and while it was going, I didn't use it for cooking. Due to other renovation priorities, plus a screw-up with my original contractor, the new appliances weren't installed for nearly a year, and I ate a lot of sandwiches and fast food. It was interesting. I tried to make sensible choices, and eat the complex stuff at lunch, when I was at work and had access to better restaurants. I'm not a fan of microwavable meals, so I salute you on that front, too, but the upshot is that I really, really love my new appliances. Being able to cook in a fully functional kitchen again is a pleasure not to be taken lightly.

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    1. Oh my gosh, Gigi,I love the description of your old kitchen. It doesn't sound workable, but at least charming. However, nearly a year??? You made the best of it though. Very cool.

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    2. Gigi- That's amazing. I don't know that i could go a whole year without my kitchen.

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  3. Kudos to your successes, the new book and the weight loss. It is great you found something that works for you. I understand, have been fighting fat all my life.

    I also made a life-changing decision when I developed type 2 diabetes. Three years ago I had a sleeve gastrectomy and lost 80 pounds. And I came out of the hospital two days later with normal blood sugars, off most meds, normal blood pressure and no signs of diabetes. I have severe arthritis, but I manage to walk every day, shorter ones in the winter and long ones in good weather. This decision added years to my life.

    Now if only I could have some surgical procedure that would turn me into a best selling author!

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    1. PS, Finta, Formerly Known as Ann in Rochester

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    2. Hurrah for you, Ann! As for becoming a best selling author, the only thing I could think of would be surgically attaching butt to chair. I'm considering pursuing that course myself!

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    3. Way to go, Finta/Ann! You took charge and took control of your life and health. See, now you have plenty of time to become a best selling author. Keep at it. Kudos and good luck!

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  4. Congrats on the book, Paige! I have not read this series and see I need to amend that. I wish I could be there having lunch with you and Jenn:).

    Sometimes getting sick does help with diet (unfortunately!) I love potato chips too (with Lipton's onion soup dip), but knowing the vertigo would return if I ate things like that really helps put things in perspective. So I don't buy anything for the house that would be tempting.

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    1. Roberta, I've been wondering, did changing your diet cause you to lose any weight? Not that you needed to, you're so tiny, but did the salt make a difference?

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    2. Ooooh, I've had vertigo before. Not fun. I've heard that salty foods exacerbate it. Glad you're aware of the trigger. And, I wish you could be here for lunches too! If you're ever traveling to or through Phoenix . . .

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  5. This is so great, Paige! Dieting is an incredibly difficult thing--it is so easy to fail and eat one bad thing, and then decide you're a failure, and then give up. You are such a rock star! ANd I always think it comes down to that little fuel of control--you can decide what you want to eat, and you can say no.

    I agree, Ann, walking is great.I love my fitbit. Whatever it takes! Potato chips are not my downfall. I'm more tempted by French bread and butter. But even more tempted when my clothes fit, and that is SUCH fun!

    Yay, Paige! Such a funny story about the microwave. We know what we need.

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    1. It really is about things like enjoying your clothes fitting more than eating French bread and butter (yum, by the way). That's been part of all of this - changing my mindset. Still a process, but my priorities are lining up differently; one day/choice/priority at a time. :)

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    2. Yes! One choice at a time. LOVE that. SO much more controllable.
      I say: could I never ever have that ______ again? If I could have it the next time, I'll say, okay, I'll have it the next time. And I've also asked myself: would Jackie Kennedy eat that? Yeah, silly,but it works.

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  6. ann in R you are an inspiration! Paige congratulations! On the book and the diet. Traveling usually makes me lose weight. All that walking and eating only at meal times and the occasional bout of food poisoning, usually good for about 5 pounds. Nowhere near Paige's 30+!

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    1. Somewhere along the way I adopted the attitude that travel calories don't count. I eat way too much when I travel. Or I did - working to be better there too. I've never had food poisoning while traveling. Ugh. That sounds terrible.

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  7. Paige, I had a similar experience with my doctor! At my annual physical in January 2016, my blood pressure was inching close to the hypertension line. My doctor looked at my past readings. "You know," he said, "If you could get your weight down by twenty pounds, your BP should be perfect."

    So I lost twenty pounds. When I weighed in at the January 2017 physical, I was elated! I bragged to the nurse! Did my doctor notice? Nope. I had to point it out to him and demand kudos. (PS, my blood pressure did go down to a healthy level.)

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    1. Congratulations, Julia! That's impressive.

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    2. Way to go, Julia! We need to write a medical journal article: "Hey, Docs, Pay Better Attention - and Have Balloons!"

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    3. I'm surprised the docs don't notice right away - it's such a wonderful achievement! Congrats to you both - with balloons!

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  8. Paige, OBAB sounds right up my alley! I love that you journal each of your books--and the other two that you just turned in--are they part of this same series? My flag is flying all things Scottish at the moment (a dear friend now resides in Scotland). And there hasn't been a potato chip in my house in lo these many months--sigh! Too bad I can't surgically remove my kitchen, Ann, because, like Julia, I'm working on saying adios to twenty pounds. We know you're doing the weight loss for yourself, Paige, but as you can see, many of us share the journey--so kudos for your perseverance and finding a way that works for you!

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    1. Hi, Flora - thanks! I have a couple of friends who've each lost twenty pounds more than I have. We didn't join forces or even talk about our diets beforehand. I wonder if something's in the air, or perhaps I'm just more aware. The two other books: one is the third book in the Scottish series (2018), the other is the third book in another of my series, Dangerous Type Mysteries. It pubs in December of this year. Best of luck to you!

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  9. Congratulations on the new book, Paige. I'm with you - potato chips are the best food thing ever.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. I know, right!? :) Thank you, Mary.

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  10. Paige, there are so many good microwave meals these days, including the ones in the organic food section. A company called EVOO makes some delicious "bowls". My favorite is the steak burrito, so tasty, and made with real food.

    My cousin's son was 150 pounds overweight, and he lost it using the microwave, too. Plus bicycling. On Saturday nights he would treat himself, with a beer or a burger, but the rest of the time he was very strict about counting out every calorie. Now he's looking amazing, and very active.

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    1. Karen - good to know about EVOO. I will seek them out. Congrats to your cousin's son - 150 pounds? Now, that's amazing!

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    2. Thanks, on Jon's behalf. The extra skin alone weighed ten pounds. Which is gross, but kind of incredible.

      Your book--and the series--sounds wonderful. Love finding new-to-me authors.

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    3. Paige, I apologize, but I got the name wrong. It's not EVOO, it's EVOL.

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  11. I can't believe these doctors not noticing weight losses like that. They should be applauding. LOL! I definitely applaud those here who have lost weight! Please imagine that balloons have been sent.

    I lost almost 50 pounds on Weight Watchers. I still had a little way to go, but I felt like a new person. (Trite, but true.) Sadly, I regained almost half of that. Now I'm back on the losing side. It's so hard, though. I have the exercise part down, too, especially now that the weather is nicer, because I love walking, and especially hiking. But food is everywhere, and it's so hard to resist the so-called good stuff.

    Opening a book store in Edinburgh sounds like a dream come true to me. It's my favorite city that I've visited, and as a lover of all things Scottish, I can't believe I've missed your series, Paige. Going to order the first book now!

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    1. Hi, Mary - thank you. I feel like a new person too (yep, trite, but true!). You're so correct - food is everywhere, and we HAVE to eat to survive. It's not like we can just stop for a while. Everyone has ups and downs; it's all just part of the journey. Best of luck on your journey, and thanks for checking out the books!

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    2. MaryC - You're so right. Food is everywhere and the good stuff is so hard to resist. Good for you for the walking and hiking. I love to do both.

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  12. Well, you DO deserve congratulations and balloons, so there. I took off 14 pounds last summer and fall and have kept 11 of them off. It's not 30, by any means, but it's made me feel so much better and helped my own creeping-up blood pressure, too. And congrats on the new book, too!

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    1. Good job, Edith - and thank you!

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  13. Congrats, Paige! It's not easy to lose weight under any circumstances, but particularly not when on deadline.

    I'm really curious about your book journal. Do you write in it at the end of each work day? Do you find it hard to stay motivated? I always wish I had a record of the process, but have difficulty sticking with it. Any tips?

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    1. Oddly, I journal in the morning. Notes about the day before and then what I want to accomplish that day. Much of it ultimately doesn't make sense out of context, but it puts me in the right direction (or what I think is the right direction) for the day. Sometimes there are many notes, sometimes "code." This morning's was more code. Here's what I wrote before I checked my phone or email:
      JR
      Send email to JF
      End sucks. Boring. Rework.

      Translate:
      Jungle Reds
      Email my agent
      The ending I have in mind for something I'm working on sucks. It needs reworked, or perhaps just burned.

      No problems sticking to it. In fact, it's become a crutch, which might not be a good thing.

      Thanks, Ingrid.

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    2. I wish I could be more structured with notes and journals. I feel as if I'always playing catch up and then trying to remember the thing I told myself I wouldn't forget that I forgot. Bleh.

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  14. Congrats on the new book, Paige! I snorted out loud -- scared the cat -- at you buying back your old microwave, then donating it again. We're remodeling our bathroom and the guest bed and bath, and I'm crossing my fingers to avoid similar mishaps.

    Wishing you many more balloons!

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    1. Oh, best of luck on the remodel, Leslie! Thanks for the good wishes. :)

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  15. Congratulations, Paige, on both your new book release and your weight loss! When I saw your photo taken during your house construction (on Instagram) I immediately noticed how slender you looked, even with your dust mask on :) You deserve lots and lots of balloons for accomplishing something that is so difficult to do!!!

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    1. Thank you, Kim! Dust masks hide a variety of faults. :)

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  16. Wow, Paige, big congratulations on the book and the weight loss!! I'm curious if you have a plan for maintenance once you reach your target weight. And I am so intrigued by your Edinburgh books! I'm going to look up the first in the series right now. I lived there when I was first married to my Scottish ex-husband, and LOVE the city. Do you visit there for your research? Why did you decide to set a series there?

    Ann/Finta, you are, as always, an inspiration.

    And Julia, I'm up for the butt-attached-to-chair surgery myself...

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    1. I did go to Edinburgh - once only so far. As my husband, son, and I boarded a plane, I handed them a four-page list of what we had to find/research. It was eight crazy days, but we had a wonderful time and checked off most of the things on the list. Scotland is so beautiful and amazing. I hope to go back again and explore even more. I'm jealous about the time you must have spent there.

      My maintenance plan is to add calories slowly and monitor every day, see what happens. I'd like to get back to cooking, so I've been researching ways to "healthify" all the foods we enjoy. When I started this, I knew I had to change forever. We'll see if I can do it. I hope so, but I know it will be difficult. Also, I'm not losing to be skinny - just less fat, and more flexible. The flexibility has come back and I'm almost to the less fat I want to be. Phew, that was a long answer. Sorry.

      Thanks, Deborah!

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  17. PS: Paige, I meant to comment on your novel journals, too. I've tried for years now to keep a journal for every novel. Some have gone better than others, lol! I am going to try your method of making notes in the morning. When I wait to the end of the day, I'm tired, or I'm rushed, and I end up skipping it. I also keep a really rough "scribble" notebook. This is the one I take to bed at night in case I get a last minute or middle of the night idea. It's full of scraps of scenes and dialogue and weird mostly indecipherable notes. But I date everything, so it's very interesting to go back through one of these when a book is finished.

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    1. I have visions of myself in the evenings, lounging on a chaise and journaling as I listen to good music and drink wine. In reality, it's a couch, Diet Pepsi, and The Voice. And, my mind is going so many directions at the end of the day, processing what I've done. The morning, a few quick notes (sometimes not so quick) after a good night's processing-sleep and before I even look at my phone, has been really wonderful. Good luck!

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  18. Paige, welcome to Jungle Reds! I remember your Scottish bookshop series and loved them! Have you read the Sunday Philosophy series by Alexander McCall Smith? He also writes the Scotland Street series, the Ladies No. 1 Detective Series, among others.

    This is a really tough topic about diets. In my lifetime, I find that diets do not work if I have to eat things that I do not like. I stopped eating potato chips when I was about 12 years old. My grandfather's doctor did not allow him to eat salty food. I remember offering him Pringle's potato chips. He mentioned his doctor would not let him eat salty food. Potato chips and french fries made my skin break out - it was acne! Ironically, I was more worried about my skin than gaining weight. If I gained weight, I could always cover up with bigger clothes. When you have acne all over your face, it is difficult to cover up. Even cosmetics would not cover up because you can still see the bumps from the acne.

    I used to get headaches all the time. I discovered that if I ate whole wheat bread or anything with lots of wheat, I got major sinus headaches.

    And I have a sweet tooth so I eat a lot of fruits instead of donuts, cakes, and candy. Once in a while I eat them. The other day I smelled yummy chocolate chip cookies then I realized I already had a fortune cookie that day.

    It takes a lot of practice, practice, practice, practice.

    I cannot give you advice because I am not you. Only you know what works for you. It is your body. I can only share what works for me. I also go to farmer's markets and buy organic vegetables / organic fruits. Instead of french fries and potato chips. I eat sweet potato fries and sweet potato fries, which taste better to me. This is a few times each year.

    Again, I love your books!

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    1. Hi, bib-li-o-phile - thank you! You are so right about everyone needing to do what works for them. It's never easy, but we have to pay attention to what works best for us. It sounds like you do a great job of knowing what's best for you.

      I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't read the Alexander McCall Smith series, but you're not the first to tell me I should. I'll move them up on my TBR list. I promise. :)

      Thanks again!

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    2. Good recommendation for me, too. I've read the the Ladies No. 1 but not the others. Thanks.

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  19. Lots of great tips in here, and I'm going to try journaling in the am. Heck, that could just be the secret to the universe! Congratulations on the new book - and the weight loss.

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  20. Paige, your book sounds terrific! I haven't read the start of this series yet, but I will soon rectify that.

    Congratulations on the weight loss! I think the fact that you know the hardest part is still ahead bodes well for your continued success. I have struggled with weight my whole life. (Tends to come with the territory of being only 5'1" tall.) Finally a few years ago I decided I was tired of gaining and losing the same 25 or so pounds over and over again. Here are a few little techniques that help me -- I know everybody is different, but maybe one of them will resonate with you.

    First, when faced with a caloric splurge item (for me it's more likely to be alcohol than dessert or chips, but it works the same for all of them) I ask myself: Do I really want this? It is surprising how often when I just stop to ask that, I realize the answer is "no." I am just about to eat it because it is there. But if I really do want it, then I'll eat it.
    Second, I try to stick as closely as I can to eating "real food" --no chemicals in the ingredient list, nothing I don't recognize. It's hard to function in American society without eating a little crap, but I try to keep it to a minimum.

    Finally, I prioritize my treats. If I have to choose between wine and dessert, I'll take wine. And if it is one of those days when I really, really want the kettle chips, then maybe I'll just have water with my meal instead of a more caloric beverage.

    Again, congratulations, on both the book and the weight loss!

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    1. Hi, Susan - congrats to you too! It sounds like you've done a great job. Isn't it interesting when we start analyzing ourselves, asking questions? I call it "getting real" with myself. It's eye opening.

      Thanks for the comment, and for checking out the books!

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    2. I like the way you make yourself think about it, Susan. I always binge eat when I'm bored which might be why I write so much - keep me out of trouble.

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  21. Good for you Paige! (Insert balloons). It is so dang hard to lose weight. I lost a few pounds a few years ago by counting calories. That was hard. And I lost a few a couple of years ago on the Keto diet. Don't know if that one is healthy or not. But I have to get serious and lose some weight, starting now! I've read the blurbs on your bookstore books and they sound great. Must read!

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    1. Hi, Pat -thanks so much! And, good for you too. Losing weight is always hard, no matter how you do it. Good luck!

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