Thursday, June 23, 2022

My Head to Clearer Thinking

 My Head to Clearer Thinking

Growing up, being in 4-H was a big part of my life. I learned public speaking through demonstrations and holding various offices in the club. I made life-long friends from different schools, like Kathy Tomac who was older and went to Escondido High, and Leslee Woods who was younger. Later, I decorated Kathy’s 4-tier wedding cake as a wedding present.  

I learned “accounting” by keeping a record book and determining a profit/loss after raising a sheep and then selling it at the livestock auction.  I went on to be an accountant/CPA.

I ended up being a computer consultant and performed training seminars around the world.  At one speaking engagement, I shared the speaker's lounge with former First Lady Barbara Bush.  She was the keynote speaker and I was only a "breakout" session speaker - but wow!  She was right there in the same room - but of course, surrounded by guys in dark suits with guns, so I sat quietly and ate my free granola bar in awe.

In high school, 4-H was a VERY embarrassing thing for a "semi-cool kid" like me at OGHS - if we were considered cool? I dated a football player and my best friend was best friends with a truly cool kid, Anne McLeod.  Anne was a cheerleader, homecoming princess, etc.  You might wonder why I was best friends with a person who had another best friend?  That was because my football player boyfriend was very jealous – of even my best friend.  He was especially jealous of my 4-H guy friends.  But when I met my husband Keith, he ended up becoming friends with my guy 4-H friends, Cliff and Danah - even selected them as groomsmen.  After we got married, Keith and I went on to be the Hi-4-H leaders for the next few years. Then after we moved to Arizona where Keith helped bring Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station online, I was a leader for sheep, rabbits and photography.  4-H is an unusual youth club; the organization is administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - through the University system's Extension Service. I can still remember the pledge

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,

my heart to greater loyalty,

my hands to larger service,

and my health to better living,

for my club, my community, my country, and my world (world was added in the 1970s)

A clear head?  That was hard as we left childhood and became teenagers. 4-H might have been okay at Escondido High which had FFA and lots of farm kids and many 4-H kids went there for their Ag program like my neighbor, Danah.  But at OGHS I rarely mentioned 4-H at school and didn't hang out with any of them - but my 4-H friendships were genuine. I am still in touch with Danah’s mother who was our neighbor on La Honda the person who got me involved in 4-H. Danah passed away many, many years ago, but I still think of him often.  His cousin, little Leslie is now a successful real estate agent in Texas, married to the Sheriff.  In my 1971 4-H story that we had to complete each year, I write, “In January, Leslie Woods – 9 years old asked me to help her with her demonstration. I ended [up] giving it with her. I feel “demonstration” is a very valuable activity. It not only builds public speaking courage but also allows members to share their knowledge. I helped Peggy Frazee with Hi-4H Novice Demonstration Day and was the Mistress of Ceremony.”


Over the years as a computer programmer, whenever the discussion turned towards levels of “nerdiness” as a kid -  I would rank at the top when I pulled out this 6th-grade picture.  

I thought I looked pretty tough in my 4-H uniform that was supposed to be worn with white pants, but schools at that time required girls to wear dresses.  This was before 4-H created a scarf/dress uniform- which I later I liked. Since I couldn’t wear my 4-H pants, I had to wear a skirt and looked major dorky in my class picture!  

Today, I’m writer of MG – Middle-Grade fiction. I remember vividly 6th grade and my desire to fit in at school. I remember the pain of being picked on. 
I had a tyrant of an older brother who was charming and gorgeous to others, but abusive to me. I had big ears and a big nose. I stuttered when I was tired or excited. My brother lasted one year in 4-H and quit because it wasn’t cool.  He was no longer friends with our neighbor, Danah, and I jumped in to fill that gap.  I loved Danah until the day he died. My best of times was roaming around the fair with Kathy Tomac, Danah, and Cliff.


To this day, I still sew, grow food and decorate cakes (a few of my 4-H projects) but don’t raise sheep anymore. I have a tiny yard that I use to learn how to grow food.

My senior year, I was the recipient of the Junior Livestock Auction scholarship which helped pay for my first year of college. My plan after high school was to attend CalPoly where I had a scholarship and teach the world how to grow food...but a slight diversion happened. Now that I’m retired, I'm trying to get back to agriculture and always have 2-3 backyard experiments going. My goal is to find the best salt-tolerant crops to feed a hungry world.  I’ve signed up to be a Master Gardener with the University of Florida Extension Service and hope to complete that in the fall.  I think that is rather a full circle  - writing about middle school when I was in so much pain - and remembering 4-H and the friends that helped me survive. 

If you want to follow my writing and gardening trek - please subscribe to my free quarterly newsletter (next issue is July) at and Subscribe to my YouTube channel at


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Teachers make a Difference


Mrs. Dankowsky and Mr. Alstrum were my two favorite teachers. I had Mrs. Dankowsky for two years; 2nd and 3rd grade. She had done such a good job fixing my stutter in 2nd grade that my mom insisted she stay our teacher for the next year.  I'm the person in the center of the photo - 2nd row, 4th from our lovely teacher.

Mr. Alstrum was my civics teacher for my senior year. He left my high school 22 years later and then became a middle-grade teacher until he retired. We email each other about once a month and I asked him to read my middle-grade fantasy book based on my Cherokee ancestors and he said, “Thanks for letting me read Sleep Warrior. I enjoyed the complexity of the plot and was impressed with the depth and breadth of knowledge readers will gain from it, as well as its contemporary relevance. I’m overwhelmed by the creativity and research that is so evident!”  I'm trying to get it published and will probably get lots of rejection emails, but this comment means so much.  If you want to read it, just send me an email to

As I remember him in high school, he wasn’t one to hand out compliments; you’ll notice when he signed my yearbook that put quotes around "good" student and he mentioned “when you were there” because I cut class a lot. High school was easy for me and I easily got bored and preferred to read the text instead of sitting in class.  But his class was worth attending.  I went to OGHS in the 1970s. Escondido was a Republican stronghold and Richard Nixon had just taken office as President; serving the whole time while I was in high school.  In my senior year, as some of my male classmates worried about going to Vietnam, the debate about the war took center stage in our civics class.  
It was taught by these two amazing guys; Bill Rutledge Jr., and Stan Alstrum.  I was the photo editor for the yearbook and staged this photo because they were always "fighting." 

They moved back the partition between two classrooms and “team” taught two classes together.  I think it was a first for OGHS.  As you can see in this picture; Mr. Alstrum tended to be the more liberal guy (eschewing the tie) and Mr. Rutledge was the more conservative.  Mr. Rutledge was raised in a Navy home.  My best friend, Laura liked Mr. Rutledge best, having worked with him and the swim team. She was also raised like my husband in a conservative military family. We often had heated debates since she was raised Republican (Nixon) and my family was long-time farming/labor union Democrats (Kennedy.)

Mr. Alstrum was voted our favorite teacher by our class.  Partway through my senior year, I was already accepted at Cal Poly and all scholarships had been applied for.  I had enough credits to graduate, but some obscure school rule said I had to take a minimum of 4 classes my last semester.  When I complained to Mr. Alstrum, he suggested that I be his teacher’s assistant for period 4, which was his lunch hour.  This enabled me to get to work by 11AM and work the day shift at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor to save money for college.

The debates offered by these two amazing teachers helped me see both sides; since I adored both of them.  To this day, I don’t take a liberal or conservative view of anything; instead, I use the skills these two guys taught me to investigate the full issue and then debate the pros can cons.    Sadly Mr. Rutledge died early in 1990 at 47 – with Mr. Alstrum as his friend to the end. 

Teachers truly make a difference in our lives and I hope they know how much we appreciate them!  I have an offer on YouTube for free books for teachers or other school employees.


Monday, April 11, 2022

Risks vs Reward - April 2022 Quarterly Newsletter


Risk vs. Reward

I use a "risk vs rewards" concept to make decisions.  I suffer from huge  FOMO  - fear of missing out, so when it comes to doing something that I want - I weigh the risks.  For my birthday, I wanted to go on the Wild Africa Trek at Disney's Animal Kingdom.  It comes with lots and lots of risks, here is a small excerpt of the warnings; For your safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure; heart, back or neck problems; motion sickness or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not participate. The safety harnesses used for this experience may prohibit Guests of certain body shapes or sizes from participating.  You must have physical stamina, comfort with heights, and the surefootedness to negotiate small hills, foliage and unsteady rope bridges on this tour. 

For me the biggest risk was no bathroom access for over 3 hours - and they give us a free water bottle and constantly remind us to hydrate!  What a risk for an old lady with a tiny bladder!  But I did it and the reward was worth the risks.  I got to see my favorite animals up close and personal.  We went behind the scenes of Disney's Animal Kingdom and got to eat an amazing meal out on the savannah amongst the animals.  This was a big bucket list item for Keith.  He had originally wanted to go on a real African safari,  but downgraded it to this.  He worked very hard over the past five years to recover from his stroke and regain his balance to enable him to make this excursion.  He minimized the risks to enable this reward.

Profit Accounting Guide

Illustration by Tulaasi JeromeNow, I am embarking on another huge risk; becoming a full-time writer.  I spent the past fifty years working my way up the ladder in the automotive technology world.  I would often make a few jokes; trying to get car dealers interested in technology is like trying to get nuns to like pornography and yes, most car dealers are highly qualified and have a PHD, which stands for "papa had a dealership."  That career had lots of risks, but the rewards were numerous and you can read about that in my free Profit Accounting Guide below.  But I was able to minimize the risks in that career by becoming highly qualified; earning my accounting degree and CPA, learning computer programming, and training myself on dozens of different DMS systems (the software that runs dealerships and communicates with the factory.)  I ended up designing my own  DMS, DealerStar and sold that three years ago to a bigger company, DealerTeam.  To hear more about this journey and maybe help your accounting skills, here is the free Profit Accounting Guide. Download PDF link -

Amazing Animals of Disney's Animal Kingdom

But now I take a new risk and I have been diving into it over the past few years in my free time while turning over my company to the new management.  I tested the waters of self-publishing and wrote a non-fiction book about one of my passions; the Amazing Animals of Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Here is a download link below to look at the pre-final copy that I'll upload to Ingram and Amazon on April 30th.  If you'd like to be in the acknowledgements - just send me an email to with your comments, suggestions, blurbs, etc.  I have been handing out free copies at the park to the cast members and guests and the reception has been wonderful.  Download PDF

Sleep Warrior

During the Covid lock down, I gave my granddaughter the job of teaching me fiction by having her convert my award-winning screenplay, Princess Quest into a novel and used the wonderful graphics of my other granddaughter, Tulaasi (who did the graphics for the free Profit Accounting Guide above) and the graphics of my best friend, Laura.  Again, we self-published.   I found that book publishing and promotion takes away from what I truly love; telling stories.  

One of my passions is genealogy and I try to write a Facebook posting every week called Throwback Thursdays to share in my two family groups; The Phillips Family and Nellesen Family. It is great having 36 first cousins and thousands of 2nd and 3rd.  When I was researching the Native Americans on my paternal grandmother's maternal side (Phillips;) I found the Native American that we trace our roots to; Clarissa Phillips.  She became the dream spirit superhero of my first fiction book, Sleep Warrior - for the middle school audience.   

I think the time is right for this type of book.  On page 28 this month of Anadisgoi, Official publication of the Cherokee Nation there is an article about the Marvel Voices Heritage - Indigenous Voices that will have a Cherokee character in a future series.  This is the artwork created by a member of the Cherokee Nation.    

My own novel, Sleep Warrior is about a preteen girl, Aya, who is half Cherokee, but looks like she is right off of the ‘res’ as the kids at her new huge public middle school in Asheville, NC refer to her. After moving from Oregon during the summer, Aya hasn’t been able to make friends like her twin brother, Alec. When the ever-popular mean girl, Chrissy, makes fun of her brother’s severe stutter, Aya gets Alec to smile again with some clever revenge, but it comes at a price.  

To make matters worse, Aya starts sleepwalking. She discovers that her ancient Cherokee ancestor, Clarissa, is taking over her body each night.  Clarissa is your typical superhero; flying around on a talking bear, saving a little girl from drowning, rescuing a hiker, and now she wants to expose the danger of a new dam.  Aya desperately wants her body back and to fit in at her new school.  With the help of another Cherokee kid at school and two talking bears, Aya discovers that sometimes to fit in, you need to find your own tribe.

I am looking for family and friends (old and new) to read this and provide me with a critique or review of the book.  Please send your comments to  It has been a long time since I've been around middle schoolers; my own granddaughters are now grown in their 20s, so my only input is listening and observing them at the Disney Parks which we frequent a few times a week as Annual Passholders.  Please download a free copy here.  Download PDF link

Now comes my big risk.  I will be having this critiqued at the SCBWI conference next month and also be sending out query letters to agents and publishers.  I have minimized the risk by reading a fantastic book over 9 times and doing ALL the exercises; including waiting 90 days.   It is by Mary Kole - Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers 

I made the decision to change from self-publishing to being a PAL - Published and Listed author.  This means that a major publishing house has published my book.  I was a "PAL author" in 1990 when I wrote a computer manual for Lotus 1-2-3 (a popular spreadsheet program before Excel.)  I was lucky; I came up with an idea and sent out 3 query letters.  This was before the Internet so everything was snail mail and 2 letters came back as invalid addresses.  The 3rd one ended up with a phone call from an editor at Compute! Books saying he was publishing my book!  It was exciting and I used the money to buy a laser printer which cost more than my car.  But now, I go into the other "R" arena and the risk of rejection since the children's book market is huge.  My new question for myself;  is it worth the risk AND rejection?  The risk of my finite time left on this earth, the humiliation of criticism and rejection for the reward of being a PAL author again?  Yes, it is - because I have so many stories to tell and I get up wanting to write.  

I hope you like this Sleep Warrior story and if you're not already,  please Subscribe to my Quarterly Newsletter - I'm changing this from monthly to Quarterly to give me more time to write.  I will send you a link for this update; next time in July 2022 and maybe some more FREE things to download. Go to and enter your email address and then click Subscribe.  You'll get an email from SmilingEagle (our self-publishing venture) to Opt-In after you click the Subscribe button.  That email might be in your SPAM.  

Thank you for reading!





Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Finding your Roots


Finding your Roots

 Genealogy is one of my hobbies that I inherited from my mother.  I wish I had inherited her buxom body, blond German hair and flair for cooking, but I got this instead.  I tend to look more like my dad’s side of the family.  But my mother loved genealogy.  She had huge family charts in the dining room that I now have.  At each family reunion, she went armed with a notebook and would record each new child and seek out the elders for more information about her ancestors. 

I joined in 2010; over a decade ago.  It took me a few years to learn it, but now with that tool and – I have discovered my “roots.”  One of the things that always puzzled me was my Native American; Cherokee heritage. My Grandma Mabel Phillips Cook ended up dying on the Cherokee Nation reservation in Oklahoma.  It is difficult to determine my exact Cherokee blood percentage because we have Native Americans on both sides of my father’s family.  Some of our ancestors were adopted; but the Cherokee nation treats them as tribe members.

I have been writing most of my life; first screenplays and now fantasy fiction for the Middle Grade audience.  My latest work, Sleep Warrior is about a young Cherokee Princess, Clarissa who takes over the body of her great, great, great, great, great granddaughter and becomes a superhero.  It is roughly based on Clarissa Wright – my actual 4 times great grandmother and the grandmother of Moses Phillips.  William Phillips – Grandma Rees’ first husband (my father’s grandfather) died tragically in Orange, CA in 1944 in a car accident.  William’s father was Moses Phillips and the person who did the most work registering all our ancestors (like my Grandmother Mabel Phillips Cook) into the Cherokee Nation.  

Moses was born in 1852 in Going Snake District in the Indian Territory.   His family is from South Carolina, North Carolina and TN – two areas where the Cherokee were removed, along with Georgia, after gold was discovered.  Moses’ grandfather, Elijah Phillips was born in 1805 in South Carolina and his wife Clarissa Wright was from Cherokee, TN (now Cherokee, NC) and part of the Wolf Clan.  She died in 1836. This is an important date, since she was only 33 years old at the time. Between 1836 and 1839 of an estimated 16,000 members of the Cherokee Nation were removed from their lands in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama to the Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma.)  This Cherokee removal, part of the Trail of Tears, refers to the forced relocation where the tribes were marched on foot from the east to Oklahoma without adequate food, water, or protection from the heat and cold. The resultant deaths along the way and at the end of the movement of an estimated 4,000 Cherokee.  We don’t know where Moses’ father, John Phillips was born since the records during this period are sparse and he died young at 35. 

Frustrated in not being able to learn more about Clarissa and her son who was only 12 when she died, I decided to make it up; thus the start of my fiction book, Sleep Warrior.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

I am Smiling


This month, Keith and I celebrated 49 years of marriage and on the same day, 49 days to retirement. I will be a full time writer and Keith will be my editor. We sure are smiling!

On the Nellesen family Facebook, someone said that Grandma never smiled. She was a stout German no-fuss woman that probably didn't see a need. My mom used to say that I was a happy baby; I would just sit and smile and I didn’t talk or walk for a long time. Sure enough, my baby book says that I smiled at 4 weeks when most babies don’t smile until 8 weeks and laughed at 7 weeks. I was almost 2 years old before I walked and talked. I sure made up for that! Most days, I walk 5-6 miles every AM on my treadmill and then go to the Disney Parks on other days and walk 4-5 miles.

Getting back to Grandma, I do like these pictures, especially on my wedding day when she gave me something “borrowed” – her cross. She kept teasing me to make sure I gave it back after the ceremony; otherwise it wouldn’t be borrowed anymore! It sure made me smile and after looking at my own pictures; it is hard to find one where I am not smiling. I guess I'm just a happy person!

I will be even happier in 49 days. That is when I retire from a long career working in the car industry; first as an accountant, CFO, and then owning a software company that provided software to the car industry. I sold that company over three years ago to a guy from my hometown of Escondido. It is an amazing coincidence; one of my early investors suggested in 2015 that I talk to a young man that was also a software developer. After staying in touch for few years, we decided to meet and he mentioned that he was going back to his hometown for his grandmother's birthday - Escondido! With his unusual last name, I realized his father was a good friend of my brother. We agreed to fly to Rancho Bernardo and take the meeting. We were so impressed that a few months later we sold the majority interest in our company and agreed to stick around for a few years. They merged the two companies at the end of 2021 and we set a retirement date of April 2022 since Keith would start drawing Social Security in May and for me, the next April.

I have been testing various new occupations since I figured out the end was near; yoga instructor, writer, YouTube vlogger (Owen the Giraffe,), screenwriter, spinach grower, software developer (yogaiteach) and have settled on the one that I wake up the most anxious to start doing for the day; writing.   Please visit to see more and click on Books or my Author page on Amazon.

As a "hobby" I have been writing screenplays for decades with some small successes; but to actually be a screenwriter is a different story.  Screenwriters have to take meetings, make revisions suggested by trust fund kids who call themselves “producers.”  I don’t ever see us being a part of the Hollywood scene.  But writing is there in me; it is my passion.  I have settled on two areas; “how to” and middle school fantasy fiction.  I enjoyed learning how to write novels while working on Princess Quest with Chandra during her forced lockdown in Hawaii. Poor Chandra, she arrives in Hawaii after being in Europe and Asia for almost 5 years and immediately goes into a lockdown.  I think Chandra was a good teacher and hopefully I’m improving with my next book.

I am also learning from a KitLit expert (which is what Middle Grade and Young Adult is nicknamed) a former Literary Agent and Editor.  One of the things that she recommends is that the protagonists be the same age as the readers.  That meant that I had to rewrite Princess Quest. My main characters, Kira and Henry they needed to start out at 10 years old and go on the Quest at 12. Makes more sense with them playing hide and go seek at the beginning.   The other is to make it appeal to both boys and girls.  I changed the cover to feature a map that appeals to boys…go figure because they certainly don’t like to use them as adults.  I added myself as an author.

During our past five years after moving from the Treasure Coast of Florida (Port St. Lucie) to the Central Orlando area (Clermont) we have been Florida Resident Annual Passholders. That meant that every free moment, we could to to my favorite park, Disney's Animal Kingdom. It is actually a zoo. I started sketching the animals to use the other side of my brain and learning more about them. Eventually I had enough for a book. I'm busy handing out free copies to Disney cast members and guests to get input and make any corrections. Then I will create the final version and "publish" it on May 1st when I have more time after retirement.

My dad always said, if you love your work, you never need to retire. I love this new job and I'm already working on two more books in my free time. I am smiling and happy. If you visit our "company" website, - you'll see how I got the title of this month's blog.



Saturday, January 22, 2022

Lifestyle Weight Loss


30 Months to a New You


This month, Keith is only a few pounds away from reaching his goal of losing 100 pounds.  He didn’t do it quickly; it has been a slow process of changing his lifestyle instead of dieting.  He has struggled with his weight since he as a child.    After years of stress, travel, eating double bacon cheeseburgers, and Big Gulp Dr. Peppers, he truly packed on some serious weight. 

 Keith at BMI 24.5 (above and normal) instead of 39.4 - (below and obese and close to morbidly obese at 40.0)

A few years ago, he got his wake-up call; first with heart attack and triple bypass heart surgery, and then three years later he had a hemorrhagic stroke.  He has always had high cholesterol and blood pressure but today, they are both normal without the medications he took for years and years.   I didn’t need a wake-up call after packing on an extra 40 pounds after I turned fifty.  I took one look at that huge scar running down his chest and the pain that he was going through after open heart surgery and decided; it is time for a change.

You might have noticed the subtitle – 30 Months to a New You and think – 30 months?  Are you serious?  Most of us want a 30-day quick weight loss diet.  Let’s talk about fat cells and water first.  With most quick loss diets you end up losing water; not fat.  We are born with about the same amount of fat cells as we have today.  The problem is that those cells have fat in them and some water.  If you eat a lot of salty foods; your body has a lot of water.  No problem with that (other than salt is bad for you!)  What you want is for those evil fat cells to “give up” that fat it is holding onto.  It is a slow process to start burning fat, but it will happen and you have the perfect tool to do this; your extra weight.  That is why Keith always loses faster than I do and more – he has more extra weight.  So, for once you’re going to use that to your advantage. If you are willing to commit 30 months to this plan; you should be 30 pounds lighter or more (without those daily fluctuations of water) in 2 and half years.  You might think, “I can’t wait this long!”  But for most of us, we spent 30 years piling this on - so what is 30 months to slowly and permanently take it off? Keto and other diets can starve your body of energy to do this and make you weak - so try not dieting for once.  Don't try to live off of a 1200 a day no carb diet when you have a body demanding 2000 calories to function.  You'll get weak and sick.  Use that weight to your advantage to reshape your body into more muscle and less fat.  At first you might even gain weight, but the long term goal is to make yourself into a lean, mean, fighting machine!

Remember when you were young and didn’t worry about your weight?  The reason why is that you had a high metabolism and a high percentage of muscle.  Just walking around burned more calories with your young firm and trim body.  That is your goal; to convert the fat filled body that you have today into a lean, firm muscular body with great core strength that burns calories better so that you can eat freely without gaining weight for the next 30 years.  You will have better balance and prevent falls that might break your hip.  You'll be healthier, stronger and have less inflammation. You'll be less susceptible to catching colds and the flu.  If you have leg, shoulder, and knee problems like me - they will all get better.  But don't overdo it - start slowly so that you don't cause an injury.  I went overboard and decided to run a Disney 5K and ended up injuring my hip joint.  It took months to heal and in the meantime I had to alter my daily routine.  So be careful and this blog is not intended to provide any medical advice; rather it is a blog of what worked for us.

Here are your steps;

Step 1Become vegan.  Okay, this might be a tough one that will make you stop right here.  But converting to a plant-based lifestyle is easier today than ever.  If you want to be fully convinced read The China Study and its analysis of the cancer risk of meat.  I will admit we are not 100% vegan, but close.  Today’s plant-based food it tasty and easy.  Look for the brand, Gardein in the frozen grocery section. But a word of warning; vegan food does not have fewer calories than lean meat, but here is the real reason why we follow a plant-based diet; it doesn’t taste as good as real beef, chicken, turkey and pork.  I love KFC chicken and can eat a whole bucket! Would I eat a bucket of Gardein’s chicken patties?  No Way!  So being vegan means you’ll end up eating less and reducing inflammation.   Aim for high protein and high fiber choices to make you strong. 

Step 2Start Walking.  For Keith, he started walking.  Being vegan and walking is how he lost the first 50 pounds.   But he still had a heart attack and stroke.  I think walking and being a little bit lighter saved his life.  If these life-ending events had happened before he lost that first 50 pounds, I’d be a widow today. His type of stroke has an 80% death rate.  He is part of the lucky 20% - or was it luck?  It isn’t easy walking in the Florida heat, so we eventually got treadmill desks so both of us could walk and work, Internet browse, do email, etc. at the same time. Our brand of treadmill is LifeSpan and Amazon has lots of desks designed to go up and down above a treadmill.  For me, I lost my first 20 pounds this way, but we were stuck.  Still overweight but no longer obese. 

Step 3 – Add Yoga for Strength and Brush your Teeth.  Walking can be a good aerobic exercise and even build some muscles; but they are the same muscles.   With all that extra weight, you have the perfect body to build strength if you’re careful.  I became a certified yoga instructor and added some of those poses to my daily routine.  Hopefully in this blog I’ll start sharing my daily yoga routine that I do it all day.  Maybe even some videos!  I do many of of my daily yoga poses while watching TV, so not very spiritual.  If you want to get started, here is your first lesson; stand on one leg while you brush your teeth.  I have a Sonicare toothbrush that goes for 2 minutes with a little beep every 30 seconds.  Each 30 seconds I stand on one leg, then change to the other; keeping a hand close to the counter to steady myself. Building this leg and core strength will help you later with the Warrior pose.

Step 4Eat good oils to reduce body fat and inflammation. We started replacing our oils and butter with the good oils; coconut, avocado, and olive oil.  The other "bad 8" oils cause inflammation and increase your belly fat and make stress worse.  It is hard to switch to these since food companies often label something as olive oil butter or avocado chips, but if you read the ingredients, they normally start with one of the 8 bad oils; Soybean, Corn, Cottonseed, Canola, Rapeseed, Sunflower, Sesame and Grapeseed oil.  These oils make you fat, cause inflammation, and increase the fat in your fat cells.  The good oils "trick" your fat cells to not hoard the fat.

Step 5 – Get a Personal Trainer and Stand Up.  This is something that I did that Keith did not.  I found that the treadmill and yoga alone wasn’t doing enough to get me in shape.  The personal trainer set up a series of weight and strength training that I follow every day while I watch TV.  I use exercise bands and 10 pound weights. Covid hit and I didn’t get to go back to the trainer; but I still follow that routine she made for me.  If you want to get started, here is your first exercise.  Ever hour stand up and sit down 12 times. My iWatch reminds me to do this every hour and by doing this (it is harder than you think) you start building other muscles that walking doesn’t get for you.  It also increases your metabolism.  I will add more ideas in next months blog and there are some others in my older blogs.

Step 6 – Drink water.  I drink 12 cups a day.  If you study the body here is a simple lesson on how it works; food goes from your stomach to your intestines.  While it is in your intestines; your body releases hormones that converts food to nutrients.  It uses the carbs to create energy to fuel your day, protein to make you strong and it stores that extra fat in your belly where your anxious fat cells are waiting for it. This is one problem with being overweight; your body is not only waiting for that food – it is demanding it to maintain that extra weight.  It not only wants that food – it needs it.  So, the goal is to send that all that massive food you ate quickly through the intestines before it gets processed too much.  Sure, you could take laxatives; but that will make you look old and dehydrated.  It is also very dangerous. Instead flood your system with water; and some good belly fat oil like avocado, olive, and coconut to keep things lubricated and moving.  If you switch to vegan, you’ll be getting more fiber and things will go easier and give fat less time to get out and over to your fat cells for storage.  I don't like drinking water, so I brew one bag of decaf green tea and one bag of caffeine free apple cinnamon spice tea.  I add 6 drops of stevia and then put into 6 Rubbermaid plastic16oz containers and add water.  I drink them until they are gone daily and make 6 more the next day. 

Step 7 - ELF – Eat less food and Intermittent Fasting.  We often go “off the plan.”  I did that for Christmas and cooked a lobster pie from Harry and David.  This must be one of the worse things in the world you can eat other than tablespoons of butter!  It has high calories and fat (saturated) – but it tastes so good.  But in the end, “nothing tastes as good as feeling good feels.”  But I wanted it and it was amazing!  I only had one serving and then threw the rest away.  ELF – Eat less food.  Keith was able to resist it.  I didn’t feel guilty, but I made up for it by eating Cheerios for dinner that night.  It is VERY hard to throw away food!  I was raised by two depression era parents that did the whole “children starving in China” and “finish your dinner” routine.  I’m trained to save and hoard food.  But now I merely bury it in my sandy Florida soil to slowly transform my body and backyard into a better place.  I am experimenting with growing Gynura procumbens or Longevity Spinach which Keith chews 3 leaves a day and then drinks a cup of warm water to curb his appetite.  I eat 3 in the morning, just for health reasons.  I also used intermittent fasting to lose weight.  I stopped eating at 4pm and didn’t eat again until 9AM for my 30 months.  Keith didn’t do this but I did and it worked for me.  Everyone is different and part of this 30-month plan is experimenting on what works for you. Some or all of these steps might work for you.

Step 8 – Go Slow. Keith and I have been losing weight for 2+ years.  Our goal was 1 pound a month.  Yes, that is all we aimed for.   It is obtainable, easy to reach, and works.  The science of it all is; to lose 1 pound; you need to reduce your calories by 3500 a month.  That works out to just a little more than 100 per day.  Look at a daily food log (try to do one for a week) and see how you can reduce your intake today by 100 calories.  Eat less, substitute vegan for something else, eat only one bacon cheeseburger instead of 2, drink one less soda.   Start with the French fries – get the apple slices instead. It isn’t hard.  Giving up my end of the day treat did it for me.  We had little 100 calories low fat snack packs and I didn’t eat one and stopped ordering them.  It really helps not to have this stuff in the house; so we don’t order it – or do what Keith does- he has me hide it and asks for it only when he really “needs it.”  We put our start weight (minus 1) on the top of the calendar in the bathroom and weigh ourselves each day; looking to hit our goal.  We might only hit it once, but that is enough.  The next month it is that weight minus 1.  Somehow it works.  Yes, our weight goes up and down with water gain/loss and whether or not we got a good poop that day, but over all we’re 1 pound lighter each month.  I’m currently done; which means I’ve achieved my goal weight, have a lean strong body and burn calories all day long.  So, I eat according to the “plan” and plenty of good food during the week and get down to 133.  On the weekend, I go crazy and snack and eat shrimp, pizza, steak or whatever bad stuff I crave and normally end up at 135.  Then I spend the next week back on the plan and back to 133.  I'm not dieting, I always eat a lot of food - it is merely either good food; thinking of the food as making me strong - or bad food that is the treats I crave. I found my set point is 135 pounds for someone who is 5’6” (I shrunk an inch) and my built, but when you get to your set point, you’ll know and you might like my little fun “maintenance plan.”  I treadmill, yoga, and weight train every day – regardless of weekend or not.

Step 9Eliminate Stress.  This was hard; both of had high-stress jobs that meant lots of travel.  When you travel do you tend to hoard food like me?  I would even save and eat the peanuts and pretzels from the plane because I didn’t know when I would get my next meal.  Then when I did get to eat; there was an attitude of “I deserve this” because I was so far from home and lonely – or I was eating and drinking* with clients and who can turn down lobster and steak, followed by chocolate mousse?  There were also all the employee birthday cakes, free cookies at the hotel, and free breakfast buffet.  We stopped traveling except maybe one vacation a year.  It was hard, but traveling causes stress and overeating.  Now we are able to work out of our home and we added twice daily mediation.  I stopped talking on the phone because it was difficult to hear and went to “email only” with my clients.  I sold our company and started a retirement plan.  I won’t get into the science; but if you experience stress, the elevated cortisol levels caused by your belly fat and stress promotes overeating and weight gain - along with belly fat storage.  You are probably reading this because you are my friend and most of my friends are either retired or considering it soon.  If you're already retired and experience stress from certain people or events; why are you around them or doing that? Rethink your life until you are better.  If you are obese, you're very sick and in danger.  Time to get you well again.   Feel free to email me when you start and your monthly progress at the end of the month.  I save my emails forever, so I'll give you little mile marker congratulations and promise to NEVER share your personal info like I did with poor Keith.  I plan to use this blog for the next 30 months to guide readers along, so ask me to email you when I have done a new blog.

Step 10 – Sleep More and add Mediation to your Day.  This is also hard if you’re still pulling down a 9-5 job, but we faithfully meditate each day at 10am and 2pm.  Since we’re not very deep or spiritual folks, it might be more like a “senior nap.”  I do lots of yoga deep breathing during that time and often fall asleep (Keith always does.)  I also sleep like a farmer; I go to bed at sundown.  That means heading to bed at about 7pm and I’m fast asleep by 8pm.  If I stay up late, I'll snack, so easier to go to bed.  This means that I get to wake up every morning naturally at 3:30 - 4AM.  No alarm clock jarring me awake!  I go to the bathroom, then back to bed for some wake-up yoga in bed (quietly not to disturb Keith who sleeps from 11pm to 7AM.)  Again, this might not work for you, but it is 6AM now and I’ve already done a 5K (3.1 miles) on the treadmill while writing this blog and Internet surfing.  I remember when it was hard to do the treadmill at this speed for more  than 15 minutes.  When was that?  About 30 months ago….

Good luck!

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* neither of us drink, but you might consider giving that up to help your willpower.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

My Experiments


Gynura Tea Experiment

If you have some of my previous blogs, I am turning my backyard into a Gynura procumbens or Longevity Spinach farm.  After years of killing plants (there is a wives' tale that women with big hands kill plants,) I have something that I can grow; along with papaya trees.  I have sent cuttings of this plant and small starters all over the country to friends and family to see how it grows in apartments, balconies, rocky soil, cold weather, etc.     

I am also finding various ways to eat it.    My goal is to test if this plant can truly lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and curb your appetite.  I find that supplying Keith with 6 leaves a day (he likes to eat 3 in the morning and 3 in the evening) plus my morning 3 leaves means 9 leaves a day.  This is not an issue; I have hundreds of these plants in my yard; but what about someone who cannot grow it outside year-round like we can?  How can we supply it all year?

 The instructions say to eat 3 leaves, then drink a cup of warm water and wait 30 minutes before eating/drink (especially no caffeine for 30 minutes.)   I thought I would dry the leaves, then make a tea; adding cinnamon for flavor.  But you really don’t get the whole plant unless you tear open the bags and eat the leaves.  Well, mixing it with cinnamon means a rather messy job of eating; plus making the tea bags is time intensive and wastes a bag.

Instead, I’ve been trying this; I put 3 dried leaves in a cup of hot water and wait for it to cool enough to drink and then I chew and swallow the leaves.  I tried to get Keith to just eat the dried leaves and he spit them out with a big yuck!  But putting in the warm water seems to be working okay.

 Now, I'm starting to send out gynura tea.  The experiment is for my friends and family to compare the tea bags to the loose tea leaves and see what is more acceptable.  Can they eat the tea leaves afterwards? If you are interested in a 30-day supply to start the New Year out with right, just email me which is better for you (bags or loose) and I’ll try to supply you.  Of course, this is just a hobby of mine, so no charge!

  My next experiment is to grow this hydroponically in a jar.  If this works, I might ask if you want some hydroponic-ready plants and their feed.  Then you’ll only have to keep in a jar or vase inside and naming them is optional.