I’m Back!

Hi! It’s me! I’m back!

Oh yeah, in the time I’ve been gone I quit straightening my hair and have been embracing my curls.

May 29, 2019 was my very last blog post. Wow.

This blog post has been a long time coming. Literally years in the making. 

What’s happened since then? Well, a lot. 

First, let’s tackle why I stopped posting.

The short answer? Life. Life just got in the way. But let’s dig into the long answer.

I believe it was around the time of my last post that my part time job offered me the chance of full time hours. Full time hours really cut into the time I had available for reading, writing, and especially blogging. Suddenly my 4 hours a day committed to my day job doubled. Plus, I still had a family to take care of, as well as my publishing work for Melange Books and our imprints, Satin Romance and Fire & Ice Young Adult Books

But that was just the tip of the iceberg. You know what else happened in 2019? The extensive ad campaigns for the 2020 US Presidential election. This was a real mind trip for me, as I had (and still have) very strong feelings toward that election. But I won’t get into politics here.

Okay, so the election was over. What stopped me then? Well, you may have heard of this little virus called Covid 19. It was everywhere. Nobody knew what was happening, people were being hospitalized and dying at alarming rates. My brain was not in a place where I could do anything more than keep reading and listening to learn what the hell was going on in the world. 

Covid sucked. For sure. But for the first year, it didn’t personally affect me all that much. Sure, I knew people who had been diagnosed with the virus— hospitalized even—but I didn’t know anyone who had died. My heart ached for those who did experience that, of course, but my day to day didn’t change much. My husband still went into work every day. My kids did “Zoom School” at home, and I’d check in with them throughout the day to make sure they were staying on task. 

Due to the nature of my day job, I never stopped going into work. In fact, I was the only employee at my small company going into work in the beginning of Covid. I’m not going to lie, aside from the fact that I had to leave my house, I liked being there alone. I could put on music, an audiobook, or a movie and just do my job with zero interruptions. Aside from the few months when my gym was closed, I continued to drive to the gym on my lunch breaks and lift weights.


Literally my only gym selfie. I’m too self-conscious to take photos of myself in public with other people around!

Feb 2020, before the world ended.

Speaking of lifting weights. I’m pretty sure I performed a bad deadlift and “mildly” hurt my back. On January 10, 2020 (my birthday), I “treated myself” to a day of doing nothing but sitting at my computer and playing The Sims 4. Boy did that backfire! I’m not gonna lie, I’ve never had proper computer chair posture. I’m literally the absolute worst. (After this mess I bought a kneeling chair with no back to force myself to sit upright, and these days I sit on a balance ball on top of my under-desk treadmill!) And this day was the straw that broke the Caroline’s back. Almost literally. I sat for so long in a slouched, scrunched up position (8+ hours probably, because time has no meaning when The Sims are involved!) and the next day, I could barely move. My entire back had seized up. 

Learn from my mistakes. When someone tells you to sit up straight, do it! It was weeks before my back didn’t hurt anymore. It was so bad my chiropractor said there was literally nothing she could do for me, I needed to get my back muscles to relax. And by early March, my hip was still aching so bad I actually went to a doctor. She diagnosed me with SIJD (Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction) which basically meant that the hip wasn’t moving properly in the joint on one side, causing the other side to overwork and become very, very sore. 

She sent me to physical therapy. I think I attended 3 sessions of physical therapy, and then the following happened.


On Thursday March 25, 2021, Covid struck too close for comfort. I woke up that morning around 3 am alternating between chills and hot flashes. I remember getting out of bed and searching my entire house for the thermometer. I finally found it and I was feverish—100.2°. I was shivering so badly that my husband woke up. I remember him finding more blankets to put on me and it wasn’t enough, I couldn’t get warm. He snuggled up against me, and it still wasn’t enough. I texted in sick to work, said it was probably a flu bug, I’d had a pretty nasty one the year prior. I spent all of Thursday in bed resting. 

Friday I felt great! I had an appointment for a rapid Covid test and I had texted my boss and coworkers “My test is at (such and such time), once I have my negative results I’ll be back in the office!” 

Except… my test wasn’t negative. I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot of CVS, answering the call with my results, and feeling the numbness wash over me as the woman on the line told me I had tested positive. What? How could that be? I washed my hands. I wore my mask. What did I do wrong? Where did I pick up this nasty virus? (I still don’t know the answer and honestly, it ultimately doesn’t matter.) I texted into work. “Guess I won’t be in. I’ve joined the Covid club.” I stopped at work to pickup my work laptop, there were some pieces of my job that could be done from home. They set it outside the front door when I arrived and I put it in my car and left.

Easter was just around the corner. I’m normally super ahead of the game with having everything ready for my kids’ Easter Baskets. But this year, I had been planning to go to Target that upcoming weekend. I had absolutely nothing for their baskets. So, I placed an order for curbside pickup (my first time ever!) and had my kids goodies deposited into my trunk. 

Thank goodness I did too, because even though I felt great that day, it was downhill from there. The next week I spent alternating between fever and no fever. The body ache Covid symptom you probably heard about? It wasn’t my body that hurt. It was deeper. It felt like my bones hurt. It was hell. I was exhausted, my head hurt, I was coughing up a storm, and my throat ached. I had zero appetite. My fever peaked on March 30, at 100.3° but the reading I took after that was “only” 102.6°, so I kept waiting it out. My husband was getting concerned. 

My Covid fever history
While I felt well enough to take my fever, my thermometer has an app that stores that info.

I ordered a finger oximiter from Amazon to check my oxygen levels. When I was laying in bed they were fine, mid-upper 90’s if I remember correctly. However, when I stood up they dropped. I remember walking from my bedroom to the living room —only a few steps—and collapsing on the floor. “I’m… fine…” I panted, as my oximeter alarm blared that my oxygen levels had plummeted to 70%. Once on the ground, they quickly ticked up… 75%… 80%… 83%…. 88%… 

April 1st, one week after my symptoms appeared, my husband called the ER and described what he was witnessing. They said to bring me in. So we packed a bag. I remember him being mad because I insisted I needed my iPad and my chargers! He thought I was being ridiculous. But I got the last laugh. Because the ER admitted me.

At the hospital, my vitals were fine. I had no fever. I must have looked and sounded pretty bad though, because they moved me into a room that was no bigger than a closet, and shut the door. They first ran an EEG, which was fine. They put an IV port in my arm, but when I asked for IV fluids, they said no. You guys, I was so thirsty! At some point they ran a CT with contrast, which was an interesting experience. The tech warned me “It will take a minute for the contrast to work it’s way down your body, when it hits your abdomen it’s going to feel like you’re peeing. You’re not.” And he wasn’t kidding! 

I was wheeled back to my closet room to wait. All I had to entertain myself was my phone and the battery was draining quickly. 

Then they came with my CT results. “You have bilateral glass shards in your lower lungs.”

I had Covid pneumonia.

I was being admitted to the hospital. Just not that hospital. They didn’t have room for me. I think I was brought to the ER at 8 pm, and it was around 3 am that I was being loaded into an ambulance and taken to a hospital clear on the other side of the Twin Cities where I live. It took them hours to find a hospital that had room for me. 

After enjoying my first ambulance ride (not that exciting!) I was wheeled to the Covid ward of my new hospital. I believe it was in the ER they gave me my first dose of meds, a steroid to help my lungs. And remember that hip pain I was attending physical therapy for? FINALLY GONE! 

The next 2 days were a combination of solitude, 3ish times a day visits from people in hazmat suits, and bingeing Criminal Minds on my iPad. (See, I knew I would need it!)

Unfortunately, it was also meds and being stabbed with needles. They put me on Remdesivir, which is an antiviral to stop the spread of the infection, and continued giving me the oral steroids. They also kept stealing my blood. I think it was the second morning I woke up to a nurse stabbing me in the hand with a needle to draw blood. I wasn’t even fully awake! I screamed so loud they probably heard me on the other floors. The next day when the nurse came for my blood I was awake, and I tried to decline. She told me what they were testing for—blood-clots among other things—and I reluctantly agreed, but only if she would take the blood from anywhere but my hand, which was by this time a giant bruse.

I was admitted in the wee hours of Friday April 2nd (after going to the ER in the evening of April 1st) and they agreed to release me Saturday afternoon. I wanted so badly to be home with my family for Easter. I was sick of being locked in a room by myself, not seeing another human face. (Hazmat gear, remember?) I jumped at the chance to leave. My doctor told me I was much better, that the steroid and Remdesivir had done their jobs and I had turned the corner.

I was very happy to go home, but I still had weeks before my general doctor was willing to let me go back to work. “But I managed to walk 7,000 steps yesterday!” I remember telling her, only to be scolded because, “Your lungs are still healing. You need to take it easy.” I was only allowed to move from point A to point B until she cleared me. 

The hospital room was welcome after the broom closet ER room!

During covid I never lost my sense of smell or taste—except chocolate. For about a day and a half I could not taste chocolate, and let me tell you, it was awful! I remember biting into a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, my absolute favorite candy, and all I could taste was the fake peanut butter inside. I had someone else try another one from the pack and they confirmed it tasted normal. It was me. Fortunately, that went away pretty quickly. However, I couldn’t eat a Reese’s for over a year because they never did taste right until Halloween 2022 when I tried again. Aside from that, I became very sensitive to salt. Even a little bit tasted like someone dumped the whole shaker on my food. That went away too! In the year after Covid I would have phantom smells, cigarettes. Looking back, I think it was any time I was around a perfume/body spray kinda smell.

During Covid, I also lost 8 lbs in that first week. I don’t weigh that much to begin with, so it was a pretty significant loss. I like to tell people, “I lost 8 lbs on the Covid Diet. 0 out of 5 stars. Would not recommend.”

I was so glad to be home from the hospital and able to get some fresh air! (Double masking for the protection of my family – none of whom caught Covid from me during the whole time I was sick! Including my husband who refused to sleep anywhere but our bed.)

Okay. So that was a good two months of my life, having and recovering from Covid. Surely that’s the end of it right? No way could things get worse, right? 


Remember that hip pain? When the steroids ended, the pain came back. Once I was well enough, I went back to PT. Except now, my heel was numb. And my leg started having a tingling sensation.

Historically, when I get tingling in my leg, I go see my chiropractor and she pops me back into place and it goes away. Except she couldn’t fix me this time. And each PT session made me feel worse. It got to the point where I could not lay down. I couldn’t sleep. I was sleeping on my living room floor because the solid wood beneath the carpet was less painful than my mattress. 

Eventually, I was able to get an MRI to see what was happening inside my back and the results were… impressive. I had an 8mm herniation in my L5-S1 disc and it was compressing my left L5 nerve root, causing my pain and all my symptoms. I also had a smaller 2mm herniation at my L4-L5 on the right side, but we ignored that one because it wasn’t causing symptoms.

A composite of two of my MRI images. On the left is the side view, showing the disc bulging out. On the right is a top to bottom view. Do you see the little black circle to the left of where it says 7.73 mm? That’s the right nerve root. The disc material had spilled out and completely blocked the left nerve root, resulting in pain every waking moment of my life.

I quit PT. I tried rest—except I still had to work. And my work involved lifting large 11 lb boxes repeatedly during the day. Eventually I got the order of no lifting, and then I became a burdon to my coworkers who had to pick up my slack. 

Long story short, after 3 months of pain, 2 epidural steroid injections (that were nothing more than a bandaid), a couple rounds of Prednisone (an oral steroid) and another attempt at physical therapy, I had back surgery. 

Looking FAR from my best, but so, so happy for surgery day! I was absolutely terrified (I’ve never had surgery before!) but it was 100% worth it for me.

Do I regret my back surgery? No. I only regret that I was neglectful of my body enough that I needed the surgery. I truly believe that if I had not had the surgery, I’d be in more pain than I am in now. Because my pain isn’t completely gone. It’s mostly gone. I can ignore it mostly. But my left heel is still partially numb and sometimes I get a muscle spasm in my foot that is absolutely excruciating. 

What caused my disc to herniate? Pure speculation here but I believe it to be a combination of decades of poor seated posture, the poor gym lift mentioned above, weak muscles after my battle with Covid, and a sneeze. That’s right, while laying in bed sick in bed with Covid I twisted to the side to grab something and at that moment I sneezed. I felt a pop. I screamed in pain. Then moved on with my life. I think that’s the moment I went from a bulging disc to full on broken.

So, if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably thinking, “Holy crap, Caroline, surely something good has happened to you in the last almost 4 years?!?” and you’d be right! I have had some good things happen.

In January 2020 my family was supposed to go on our first out of state vacation—a Caribbean cruise—obviously Covid put a pin in that plan, but we did rebook for January 2021 and had a wonderful time enjoying the 80° temps while back home in Minnesota it was much, much colder! My husband and I also had our very first trip to Vegas with his extended family, which was 3 days of fun. 

Hubby and me at the Bellagio gardens in Vegas!
My youngest, Mina, and me on the beach in St Maarten.

And the biggest news of all? I was recruited for a new job! I left my previous job and started a (mostly) work-from-home job and it’s been so good for my mental health. I’m a homebody, so being able to roll out of bed, walk to my desk in my living room, and start my day has been amazing. Of course, like every job, there are pieces of it I’d rather not have to do, but find me a job that doesn’t have that! I’ve been with my new company for about 9 months now and my coworkers and supervisor and boss are all amazing. They’re so helpful. If I’m stuck on something, I know I can go to any one of them for help. I even helped a friend/former manager of mine get a job working with me, so I have someone I can chat with on Teams throughout the day who already gets me! 

So, what am I doing posting here now? 

It’s time. I think I’m finally getting out of the (almost) 4 year crud I’ve been in, and I want to get back to the things I’ve loved in the past, including book blogging and writing my own books. I can’t count the number of times I’ve written this post in my head over the years. Laying in bed, sick with Covid. Hunched over, suffering from awful back pain. Wanting to get this all off my chest, and out there for anyone brave enough to read all of my rambling! 

So if you made it this far, wow! Thank you!
(Now go purchase a copy of one of my books if you haven’t yet. 😉)

Book Release & Fitness Update!

I’m THRILLED to announce that SOMETHING I’M GOOD AT (a clean, teen romance) will be available June 18, 2019! You will be able to get both ebook and print copies.

This book is the first in my Sol del Mar High series. Each book will stand on its own, but they do happen in chronological order, so to avoid any spoilers I am recommending they be read in order.


Summer was the girl who had it all: good grades, a spot on the high school volleyball team, and a best friend since elementary school. Then she was diagnosed with lupus…and her best friend betrayed her. Now she’s cutting ties, because nobody should have to deal with someone as broken as her.

Kane is the guy who never gives up. When he puts his mind to something, he gets it done—no matter how many broken bones it takes. So when a chance encounter at the urgent care throws him in the path of Summer, the girl he’s secretly had a crush on for years, he’s determined to win her heart.

Despite her vow to keep people away, Summer finds herself falling for Kane’s charm. Will the boy who never gives up be able to win—and keep—the heart of the girl who is afraid to let people in?

You can add to your Goodreads shelf here.

Or Preorder:

Barnes & Noble

Google Play and Apple Books are still processing, but will be available shortly.

My Health and Better Eating Journey

I intended to write another post on this sooner, but c’est la vie. I got busy!

Things are going pretty well for me. I’ve been pretty successful cutting out added sugar. I have a couple grams per day, but coming from a candy/cookie/ice cream addict, this is a giant leap forward!

NOTE: I’ve decided to go for a low carb, high fat, moderate protein food plan. (I don’t like to call this a diet, because diets end. I plan to eat healthy for life. With cheats allowed more often once I reach my target!) I would love to go full Keto (cutting down to the bare minimum of carbs, if you don’t know what Keto is) but I don’t feel the desire to go that extreme. At least not yet!

A typical day for me for food looks like this:


2 eggs fried in either coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil. I’ve been making it as an janky omelette, because I can’t make an omelette to save my life. So it’s somewhere between an omelette and a breakfast skillet!

To my egg mush I usually add all or most of the following: deli turkey, shredded Italian style cheese, spinach, onion (green, red, or sweet), tomato, and avocado. If I don’t have avocado, I sometimes add this guacamole stuff we get from Costco in individual packets. It’s not spicy, but it is very salty, so I prefer the fresh avocado and salt it myself with pink Himalaya sea salt.

Now that berries are in season and affordable, I’ve been pairing this with a small handful of strawberries, blueberries, and/or raspberries. Right now I also have cantaloupe. (Not a berry, I know, but fruit!)

I was struggling to eat my minimum daily calories, so I’ve also added a cup of milk with a scoop of strawberry protein powder. In the past I’ve saved this for post-workouts, but on days when I know I won’t be working out I’ll drink it with breakfast to boost my calories and protein for the day.


This is where the sugar comes into play. I make my own trail mix with salted peanuts, walnuts, pistachios (my favorite!), pecans, almond slivers, hazelnuts, and a couple of dark chocolate covered almonds. They’re my reward for eating all the nuts! In all it’s about half a cup, and it fills me enough and it’s a TON of calories! (Like, 550 calories!)

Sometimes I bring a salad, or carrots and hummus. (Which reminds me! I forgot to buy hummus today at the store! Dang it!)


I do way better with dinner when I plan ahead. Unfortunately, I’m REALLY bad at planning ahead! Some foods I’ve made in the past month:

  • Bunless burger (I add all the toppings: lettuce, onion, tomato, avocado when I have it, and yes ketchup – more added sugar, but it’s minimal) and eat it with a fork.
  • Salmon burgers (they sell these at Costco. They’re a little pricey, but they’re a good source of omega-3’s. I add mayo to mine, which is surprisingly NOT awful for me! I get the kind with olive oil.)
  • Grilled chicken breast. My George Foreman grill has been getting quite the workout between the burgers and chicken!
  • For side dishes I’ll have either salad, steamer bags of veggies, or I’ll heat up non-steamer veggies (usually broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, or some mix of those.)

We bought some marinaded salmon from Costco recently and tried that last night. It was pretty good, but I had a hard time eating my full 5.3 oz fillet!


Evening is when I run into trouble. I go to bed late-ish. Usually between 11 and 12. And I get hungry between dinner and bed, and I HATE going to bed early. I’ve read all about intermittent fasting, but it’s just not for me. If my tummy is grumbly, I’ll stay awake thinking about how hungry I am.

I’ve caved and had cereal (I’ve been pretty good about avoiding the sugary stuff, and the times I have caved, I’ve discovered I didn’t even like it anymore!) and granola bars (bad choice! Even the “healthy” ones are PACKED with too much added sugar!)

So, I need to find better snacks for myself. I bought the ingredients to try a Keto “copy-cat” Frosty (from Wendy’s.) I’m hoping to try that in the next couple days.


This is where I’m thriving! Food has always been a challenge for me, but if I decide to work out, I’m good at sticking to it. At least for a while. But this time I’m more determined than I’ve ever been before in my life, and being about a month into this endeavor, I feel confident!

Week 1: Worked out 3x (weight lifting x2, yoga x1) for a total of 1 hour 20 min

Week 2: worked out 3x (cardio with weights x3) for a total of 1.5 hours

Week 3: Worked out 4x (weights x 2, cardio with weights x1, and PiYo x1) for a total of 2 hours, 15 minutes

Week 4: Worked out 5x (weights x3, cardio with weights x1, Piyo x1, and a 4 minute tabata that barely counts) for a total of 2 hours, 15 minutes.

Week 5: Still going, but currently I’m at 3 workouts (weights x1, cardio x2) for a total of 1 hour, 44 minutes. I over worked my legs a bit by not taking a rest day between the full body weight routine and the cardio, so I’m giving myself 2 rest days now.)

Finding time to exercise has been pretty easy. Weekends I just pick a time and go with it. Week days I’ve been either exercising right after work, or after dinner.

Not included above are my walks. Each day the weather is nice and we don’t have anywhere to be right away, I go on a walk around the neighborhood with my kids. We usually go about a mile, give or take.

Step Count: The recommendation is 10,000 steps per day. That’s been pretty impossible for me, so I set my own goal at 6,000 steps and even that was a challenge. I’ve since upgraded from a FitBit One, which was clipped to my shirt, to a FitBit Charge 3, which I wear on my wrist.

THE DIFFERENCE YOU GUYS! The Charge 3 tracks more steps, but when compared for half a day, the count wasn’t too different between the One and the Charge 3. I do have to take off the Charge 3 if I’m sitting and folding laundry because it thinks I’m walking.

I love that the Charge 3 tracks my sleep cycles (how accurate it is I don’t know, but it sure is fun!) AND it has the option to REMIND ME to get up and MOVE every hour if I haven’t taken 250 steps that hour! I’m a very competitive person at times, so I really like trying to get the 250 steps every single hour.

So between the Charge 3 motivating me to get up and move more often, and all my exercise I’m doing anyway, my step count has gone WAY up!


Ah, weight. That’s what it’s all about, right? Losing weight.

Now, I’m not super overweight. Technically, for my height I believe I’m within the “healthy” range, but I do have enough flab around my middle to make me very self-conscious. I was always the kid who was super skinny. I was teased in middle school and called “toothpick” because I was so scrawny.

So yeah, weight has always been a big thing for me, and I’ve always identified myself as “skinny,” but looking in the mirror, that’s just not true anymore.

This muscle was NOT here a month ago you guys!

My goal is to lose 15 lbs. But that may not even happen because I’m gaining muscle. (I HAVE BICEPS YOU GUYS!) My ACTUAL goal is to lose the belly flab from incubating two humans AND not even trying to battle a severe sweet addiction that was pretty out of control up until recently.

So I’ve been tracking my weight daily. (Well, almost daily. I forgot a couple of days. Whoops!) I’ve been logging my food to make sure my calories and macros are not out of control. But looking at the weight drop, and then bounce back, is pretty disheartening.

And then I had a wake up call. I read an amazingly helpful article on Medium (I believe it was Medium anyway!) and the author said to ignore the day to day weight fluctuation. It’s going to happen to everyone. (And I already knew that, but it still felt like all my hard work was for naught!) Instead he said, take every reading from the scale for a week, add them up, and divide by the number of days. THAT is your weight for the week. As long as that number is moving down each week, you’re making progress.

So I did it.

Week 1 to 2: -1.44 lb
Week 2 to 3: -0.23 lb
Week 3 to 4: -1.68 lb
Week 4 to 5: (this week is still going, but I’m betting I’ll drop a little bit!)

Seeing the numbers like this makes me believe what I’m doing is working. And I keep reminding myself that I’m building muscles.

What I’m Reading

I’m between e-books/audiobooks at the moment, but I listened to the audiobooks for the following recently:

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kawn – LOVED this one! I didn’t want to stop reading. Every character was WONDERFUL and I really enjoyed the narrator! I can’t wait to see the movie one of these days!

Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard – The narrator on this one semi-ruined the book for me. I really hated the accents she made for the characters. This is the third in the series. (Well, 4th in the series released, but from what I understand you don’t need to read Sightwitch as part of the series order. So I didn’t.) Story wise, I enjoyed this one. I loved getting to see more of Aeduan and getting into his head. If you’re a fan of YA fantasy with light romance, this is a series worth checking out. I love the characters, though the plot/magic is a little confusing, it’s not so bad that you can’t read past it.

Print books:

I have a number of print books started. I have a bit of book ADD going on. My focus right now is A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin (third in the Song of Ice and Fire series) and The Baby Game by Randall Hicks.

So….. scroll up and pre-order SOMETHING I’M GOOD AT if you haven’t yet, and let me know if you have any favorite healthy recipes for me to try!

New Year, New Me – Days 1-3 Of My Health and Better Eating Journey

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since my last post. Where have I been? Right here, as always. But I’ve shifted my priorities, and not all in a good way.

I’m still leaving mini-reviews over on Goodreads. (Link in the sidebar!) I aim for every book, but I’m less strict with myself than before, so I’m sure I’ve missed a couple.

I’m still writing, which for me is a better use of my time than blogging. (Sorry readers!)

And I’ve been addicted to the app Game of Sultans on my phone. I almost quit, but then I was given leadership of my union, and felt obligated to my teammates to stay play. And I don’t do things halfway. If I play a game, I FULLY COMMIT. Even if it negatively impacts my life. I am trying to cut back though.

So, why the title of this post? Especially in May, which is far from the new year? Well, it’s been nearly a year since I last posted, and I’ve made changes in that time, as mentioned above, but I’m also working on making BIG changes going forward.

Image courtesy of @jamin-djuang-116234

Hi. I’m Caroline, and I’m a sugar addict.

If you don’t have a sweet tooth it’s probably easy to brush off or roll your eyes at anyone who says they’re addicted to sugar. Just stop eating it, right? But no, it’s not that simple. Especially for a picky eater like me. But, I recently made the decision that NOW is the time to make big changes in my life.

If you keep reading you can see just how bad I am about making good food choices. In short: candy and ice cream and minimal veggies.

All this sugar is slowly killing me. And my body shows it, both in how tired and sluggish I usually am (even after a full night of uninterrupted sleep) AND in the stubborn bit of belly fat I can’t lose (and I can’t blame that on my baby, who is now 7 and a half years old!)

So… it’s time for a change. And I’ll admit it, my primary motive for starting this attempt at change is a vain one. In just about 2 years my family is planning a cruise to the Caribbean and dammit, I want to look healthy and good in a bathing suit, and this change needs to start with saying sayonara to sugar. Because I’m an addict and I need to change things.

Courtesy of @PixaBay

I made this difficult decision on Friday – 3 days ago.

Actually, let me back up a bit. I made the decision to get healthier almost as soon as it was decided we were going to make this cruise happen. The better eating plan (I refuse to call it a diet, because diets are something you do for a little while, and I plan to change how I eat FOREVER) was started Friday.

So, I started with fitness. I’ve been trying to go for roughly mile long walks with my girls after school/work, but the weather has been pretty crummy lately, and if it’s too cold I get really bad cold headaches and have to waste at least twenty minutes of my life after the walk waiting for the headache to go away.

So I dug out my workout DVD’s. Les Mills’ Body Pump and The 21 Day Fix are my primary go-to’s, but I know I can also find some good ones on YouTube, and I have PiYo (another BeachBody workout I don’t care for as much.)

Why am I sharing this with the world via my blog? Because I know I’m not the only one with a sugar addiction. I’m not the only one who leads a sedentary life. (On a good day I MIGHT log 3,000 steps on my FitBit.)

I hope that by blogging my journey with sugar reduction, I might inspire someone else. And blogging might keep me more accountable.

NOTE: I am not a health or fitness expert. Everything I know, I learned from the internet, but I do try to locate reputable sources. I welcome anyone to leave comments with sources if I ever give flawed information so that I can learn and so can my readers!


I feel like I should tell you my usual (bad) habits, to get a feel for what my diet and activity level was like before I started working toward this goal.

Activity: I don’t have a very physically demanding job. My work space is pretty small, so even when I have to do a lot of walking, it’s not a lot of walking! I mostly sit at my desk and process orders, except for when I’m grabbing the items for shipping from the shelf, 15 steps away. After work, when the weather is nice, I try to go on at least a mile long walk, but that’s a newer habit I’m working on building, not my norm, and definitely won’t be happening come winter! (Come summer I’m hoping for a morning and afternoon walk.)

I’m not really overweight, technically I think I’m in the recommended range for a 5’5″ woman, but my belly blubber and lack of energy tell me I need to make changes.

I also “pass” my yearly physical, except my August 2018 numbers put me at high risk for my HDL (good cholesterol.) I came in at 33 mg/dl when the ideal goal is to be above 60. How do I fix this? Cutting the crap and more exercise. (Important to note, I was working at a hotel for over a year and I ate a LOT of free cookies…. Gone are my days of free cookies, but now I need to kick the chocolate to the curb!)

Breakfast: Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, or some other breakfast cereal LOADED with oh-so-delicious and awful for me added sugars, topped with 1% milk. And I never ate ONE serving, who eats only 3/4 cup of cereal? NOT ME!

Lunch: On a work day, usually way too much candy (I’m talking at least 6 of the Hershey Nuggets mentioned above, usually more – a serving size is 3 and that’s 150 calories and 16g added sugar!) or chocolate chip granola bars (usually, at least 2-3.) Sometimes I’d stop at Panera and pick up an Asiago bagel and a couple pads of butter (I’d buy two at a time, one for that day and one for the next.) If I had a good reward on my account, I might get a panini, chicken noodle soup (in the cold months), or a strawberry salad when it was in season. But the panini and salad weren’t often, because I don’t have the money to spend on expensive takeout. I can afford my two bagels at $2.99 a week no problem!

Dinner: I don’t mind cooking, but I hate coming up with ideas for dinner. In the past my go-to meal was pizza. My mother-in-law taught me to make dough and sauce and we would eat that at least once a week. It’s been a while since I made pizza though. Most nights are “fend for yourself” and I might have another bowl of cereal, or a can of creamy chicken noodle soup with a ton of saltine crackers, maybe we’d make homemade panini’s or burgers. Sometimes grilled chicken (my favorite is on a toasted bun with pineapple, lettuce, and a sweet chili mayo mixture I make.) In the last month or so I’ve been making stir-fry, in an attempt to get more veggies into my diet. I really hate veggies, so this is a REAL struggle for me.

Snack: As mentioned before, I would snack on ice cream or another bowl of sugary cereal, and maybe some more chocolate while I’m working at my computer.


DAY 1: Friday

On Friday I decided I needed to get serious about my health.

I had big plans of making a healthy grilled chicken dish for dinner. Until I got home and discovered we were out of chicken. I don’t know what I ate for dinner, as I hadn’t started logging my food yet, but I’m sure it was something like a bowl of cereal. I did refrain from eating a bunch of chocolate at lunch, so that was something.

When hubby arrived home from work, we ditched the kids at home and went to Costco together in search of some healthy foods, including the giant bag of Perdue Chicken Breasts. I seriously love these because they’re the PERFECT chicken breast for grilling on the George Foreman grill, cutting into chunks for stir fry, anything really!

I also picked up a bag of pistachios. I haven’t had them in forever, but I want to incorporate more nuts into my diet and these were always my (way too expensive) favorite.

DAY 2: Saturday, May 4, 2019

This was when things got real. I spent the day doing laundry and tracking my food.

Weigh In: Weighed myself first thing in the morning and was down 1 lb from the last time I weighed in Friday morning.

EXERCISE: I did a 30 minute Body Pump workout and was really feeling it. (I’d done the same Body Pump workout on Wednesday, and Yoga on Thursday.) Because I’m just getting back into lifting weights, I’m sticking with the lighter 5lb weights on my barbell and the shorter 30 minute workouts. Gradually, when I feel ready, I’ll up to my 10lb weights on the lifts I know I can do, and move to the longer workouts.

FOOD: Was I perfect? No. But I’m not going for perfect. I’m not going to cold turkey remove all sugar from my life. I’m going to work on making healthy choices, but if there’s a moment where I feel the need for a single piece of chocolate, I’m going to look at my nutrition for the day and decide if I’ll allow myself to cheat.

Everything I ate on Saturday.
Some portion sizes are guesstimates.
Oh, and the BBQ sauce I had to just pick one from my options – this was a homemade sauce that The Husband got from a co-worker, so I have no nutrition stats on it.
I also have read that sugars found in milk and fruit should not really count against me since they’re natural sugars.

I do want to limit all sugars, but right now my main focus is added sugars.
So, excluding natural sugars I’m looking at 58g of added sugars.
If one teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams,
that means I consumed about 14.5 teaspoons in under 24 hours.

DAY 3: Sunday May 5, 2019

A lazy Sunday for me! I folded more laundry (seriously, I feel like laundry is my life sometimes!!!)

Weigh In: Forget to weigh in today. But that’s okay, because weight fluctuates a little bit from day to day.

EXERCISE: I planned to do yoga today, since I was still a little sore from the Body Pump session yesterday. Instead I put in 21 Day Fix Lower Body Fix and holy cow were my legs feeling it by the end! I was dripping sweat and absolutely feeling the burn!!!

FOOD: Time got away from us and we didn’t have time to make dinner, since it was a school night for the kids, so we ended up eating canned soup or Ramen. I opted for a can of Campbell’s Creamy Chicken Noodle with a handful of Saltine crackers, knowing full well this was an AWFUL choice. I did try to limit my crackers, so that’s a small victory. And at least it wasn’t sugary cereal? I ended up going over my calories, but my FitBit One doesn’t do a great job of tracking anything that isn’t walking, so I honestly think I may have burned those 80 calories I went over by. (Anyone have the FitBit Charge 3? Does that do a better job tracking exercises that don’t involve a lot of walking, but heart rate increases?)

I was pretty hungry shortly after breakfast on Saturday, so today I opted to double things and use a whole cup of guacamole on two slices of toast with two fried eggs.

For lunch, I went with the least sugary cereal option – regular Cheerios only have 1 gram of sugar per serving. I did add one packet of pure cane sugar to sweeten things, and cut up some strawberries and added those in.

Excluding natural sugars, I was sitting at 30g added sugars.
I’m down to 7.5 tsp of added sugar today vs 14.5 yesterday.
I need to get all my sugars down though.
But this isn’t a race, it’s a learning process.

Eating that bedtime bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios was a bad choice

DAY 4: Monday May 6, 2019

Today I’m feeling optimistic!

Weigh In: First thing in the A.M. and down 0.6 lb!

Exercise: I should’ve done another workout DVD, but I didn’t. I DID go on a walk with my kids though, so I upped my step count, got some fresh pollen-filled air (and itchy eyes), and earned some extra calories. I have a feeling I won’t get to work out again until Wednesday, aside from a walk.

Eating: Today was so much easier! I was going to double my avocado/egg/toast breakfast like I did yesterday, but I burnt one slice of toast when I went to the basement to weigh myself. Whoops! One was enough though. I did almost cave and eat some chocolate twice during the day, and in the evening when I saw where my sugars and total calories were at, I opted to allow myself one Hershey’s Nugget as a treat. AND IT DIDN’T EVEN TASTE THAT GOOD! The nuts for lunch were a killer on my overall fats for the day, but better fats from nuts than sugars? I think? The Panini’s I made for dinner were DELICIOUS and the Ciabata rolls I bought were healthier than I thought! The Husband said we could eat that every night and he’d never get sick of it. Next time I’ll probably add some more deli turkey to the Panini for the calories and protein since I did struggle to reach my caloric goal today. I’m not extremely under so I’m calling it a day and going to bed. AND LOOK AT THOSE SUGARS!!!

Look at those sugars!
Only NINE grams of ADDED sugars! That’s only 2.25 tsp!
I also feel like I’m craving the sugar less.

I did struggle with the nuts, because trail mix always has something sweet – raising or chocolate candies or both!
I’ll be adding a couple chocolate covered almonds to the mix to sweeten it up, and adding a variety of other nuts/seeds, as I adjust to less and hopefully, eventually no, sugar.

Oh, and you can see at the bottom that FitBit did give me extra calories for my walk. Because it knows my steps, but can’t calculate my other workouts.

SUMMARY: The first days were hard, but by day 4 things are getting easier. I do need to find more food options. Eventually I’m going to get REALLY sick of avocado/egg/toast for breakfast! And I’m still not getting NEARLY enough veggies. A handful of carrot sticks with hummus won’t cut it. (Have I mentioned how much I HATE carrots? But they’re such an easy and healthy snack.)

TRACKING TOOLS: I do my tracking with MyFitnessPro – I have a hard time tracking my workout videos with it, so I usually leave those out and just track my food. I like that MFP gives me the breakdown of my macros (fat, protein, carbs) and even lets me customize them if I so desire.

Because I have a FitBit, I connected MFP to my FitBit app and I can see it all there (but have to go into MFP for the Macros.)

Both the FitBit and MyFitnessPal aps are available on Andorid, OS, and on the computer.

MY WRITING LIFE: Even though I’m going to be focusing on my health and fitness journey here, at the end of the day I’m still a writer.

I’m VERY excited to announce that my YA contemporary romance, SOMETHING I’M GOOD AT, will be released in June. No official date yet, and cover reveal to come! I’m waiting for my writing partner to send me her final thoughts (tomorrow she says!) so I can make any final tweaks, then it goes to my editor, and then I’m sending it to NetGalley. (So if you’re a member of NetGalley and in good standing, be sure to watch for my book!)

My editor is VERY QUICK, so I anticipate probably being done with this book by the weekend. It’s been a year long labor of love, and I’m very proud of what I’ve created.

My NEXT project is a teen paranormal series. I’ve got a very loose outline and the first chapter written, so I’m HOPING by fall to have something ready for my editor, but let’s be honest, deadlines aren’t my forte. I say fall, and it may be fall 2020. Either way, it’s in the works. Along with the sequel to SOMETHING I’M GOOD AT.

If you haven’t checked out any of my other teen books yet, both PEACE IN FLAMES and SUMMER OF PEACE are available wherever ebooks are sold!

Staycation 2015


Almost every single summer of my entire life my family has gone on vacation “up north.” If you’re from the Mid-West, Minnesota in particular, you know that “up north” means spending time at a cabin on a lake. My uncle (my mom’s twin sisters husband) owns a few cabins at a resort near the Boundary Waters on the Canadian border so for many years I’ve been able to stay up there with my parents and have a small family reunion like vacation. We’ve also stayed at a cabin near central Minnesota near a town called Hackensack with my dad’s relatives (his mom and all his siblings and their families.)

This year things didn’t work out for us to go up north. I’m a little sad because this is the one time a year I get to go fishing. I could go on my own, but without my dad, who will put on my bait and take off my fish? (I’m a girl and I act like one. Deal with it.) Instead, we opted to have a staycation where we stay home and do nothing but fun things for a week. Due to when my husband was able to get off work, our staycation didn’t happen until this week – the first week of September!

We’ve been having a blast so far. We agreed that we’re not stressing over time and we’re just relaxing. We started Monday with a picnic at the neighborhood park with two sets of our former neighbors. My girls loved getting to see their friends and, as a bonus, they had NO idea their friends would even be there! What began as a family walk to the park turned into a family drive when we realized it was in the upper 80’s on trash day. Not a pretty smell to say the least!

Como Zoo

Mina and Allison with the gorilla statue at Como Zoo and Conservatory

Day two, Tuesday, involved my baby’s preschool screening (Mina is nearly four, so I use the word “baby” loosely.) That went pretty well, aside from her failing the vision screening. My older daughter (Allison is eight and a half) barely passed hers and ended up getting her first pair of glasses a year later. This time we have a referral to the eye doctor to get her screened asap. Once home from the screening I took a nap (the screening was at 9. I don’t like getting up before the double digits – I’m a night owl!) And then, after nap time, we headed out to the Como Zoo (aka the free zoo!) The kids loved the animals, the bison was a big hit for Allison. Mina loved the giraffe’s, especially the baby who was not even a week old yet. I think the gorilla’s were my favorite, they have a very nice new habitat which is much nicer than their old one! To top it off, before leaving we ventured into Como Town so the girls could ride the rides. The swings were a hit, but the frog hopper was hands down their favorite. Allison really enjoyed “driving school” as well, and even followed the “rules of the road” and stopped at the stop signs!

Minnesota State Fair 2015

The Great Minnesota Get Together!

Day three, yesterday, was our trip to the Minnesota State Fair. Now, I’ve only been to the fair a handful of times in my life. I can recall once as a small kid and my brother getting separated from the family. If memory serves, nobody realized he was gone until we saw him riding on the shoulders of a police officer! Every other time has been for a concert. We’d arrive in the late afternoon, buy a bucket of Sweet Marth

a’s chocolate chip cookies, then check out our concert. (I can recall seeing SR-71 and Vertical Horizon one year, and Three Doors Down, Three Days Grace and Seether another year.)

This years trip to the fair was awesome. And incredibly expensive! Mina was free (thank god!) but the rest of us got in for $11 a piece. That’s $33 just to get in! Before we were even in the gate my husband had blown $5 on a tiny container of cheese curds, which Allison proceeded to choke on. (Nothing like HOT melty cheese halfway down your throat!) But, whatever, it’s staycation, right? We saw newborn baby piglets and cows, had all you can drink milk (to go with our $16 bucket of chocolate chip cookies from Sweet Martha’s of course!), ate pizza, cotton candy, mini donuts, a corn dog, a macaroni cupcake and drank lots of water. The girls got to ride the giant slide (another $5 for the two.) We anticipated staying maybe four hours, because how long can you spend walking around the fair with an 8 and 4 year old? Apparently a long time. They lasted about 8 hours! We arrived around 1:30 or 2 in the afternoon and didn’t leave until around 10-10:30 pm. It was pretty awesome and even though we spent FAR more money than we SHOULD have, it was worth it.)

Today was less awesome, it was more of a recovery from the past two days. I tried to start a campfire in the fire pit out back, but everything is too wet from yesterdays rain. We’ll try again tomorrow. We did get out of the house for Allison’s school orientation followed by a trip to Wendy’s to use the last two coupons for free Son of a Baconator’s we received from a Saint Paul Saint’s baseball game we attended a month or so ago. We don’t eat fast food often so itw as a treat for the girls. Of course, Allison is my queasy child, and she hadn’t eaten in a while before we left the house (despite being told to grab a snack) and ended up feeling too sick to eat, then puking all over the bathroom floor at Wendy’s. At least it wasn’t the car. This time.

Anyway, I’m going to wrap this up. The rest of our staycation will pretty much be at home. Mina’s 4h birthday party is Sunday, Allison starts 3rd grade on Tuesday and I start my new seasonal full time job as well on Tuesday! (Well, it’s not completely new. I worked there in 2008 but was laid off when they cut back on staff due to the economy. I’m thrilled to return!)

Until next time!


Mina taking the vision test at her preschool screening.



Allison and Mina at Como Zoo and Conservatory


Como Town Tea Cups.

Mina and Allison riding the tea cups at Como Town.

Minnesota State Fair 2015 - Sweet Martha's Cookies

Mina enjoying Sweet Martha’s Cookies and all you can drink milk at the Minnesota State Fair.


Newborn piglets

These piglets were born just that morning. So cute!