Interview With Michele Vecchitto


Hi everyone! Wonderful to see you again for this biweekly interview with Michele Vecchitto. Michele is a friendly and kind woman who has a talent for writing wonderful poetry and engaging stories. I have been following her for a couple of years now, so I hope you will like her writing as much as I do. You can visit her blog here: Steps Times Two – Love and Life . . . The Second Time Around.


miichelle-interview-4
Credit: Michele Vicchetto

1. Hi Michele, Please Tell Us About Where You’re From?

I live in Niantic. It’s a lovely town on the Connecticut shoreline that somehow manages to hold on to the charm of days gone by while still offering all the conveniences I might need.

One of the many treasures in Niantic is a used bookstore called The Book Barn.It now has four or five satellite locations, but the main store is a complex which includes a large barn and several quirky, smaller buildings, each overflowing with books devoted to a particular genre. The few resident cats and some goats, add to its unique vibe. It’s a place to spend the day and get lost in books. Niantic also recently opened a new boardwalk along the beach that offers fantastic views and a place to meet neighbors.


2. Can You Tell Us More About Yourself, Your Everyday Life?

I’m the second of four sisters. My family is especially close and the fifteen children my sisters and I have between behave more like siblings than cousins. My parents are definitely the foundation of our lives. I love everything about belonging to a large family – the support, the laughter, the chaos, and the history we create.

My three children are young adults, busy finding their place in the world. In some ways, they could not be more different from one another, but they remain close. I’m enjoying watching them evolve into the adults they will become. I’m proud of the choices they’ve made and the direction each of them is following in life.

I’ve been exceptionally lucky to find a man who provides the perfect balance to my life. My husband and I have been married just over five years. Mark is an Executive Chef and extremely creative in his own way.

Our personalities are different but we complement each other well. We are each other’s top priority and do everything we can to support each other in our many endeavors. We’ve intertwined our families and I feel blessed to have his three strong, caring, and talented children in my life as well. They, along with their families, are a vital part of my life.

On a professional level, I teach middle school Literature and Language Arts. I love working with students of this age. It’s my favorite age group of kids. I’ve taught math and science and enjoy teaching each subject, but I’m most thrilled to spend my days sharing Literature with my classes. Preteens and teens this age are discovering their voice and it’s exciting to see the world through their eyes.

Additionally, I work as a freelance editor. I’m working with an audio book company and enjoy the exposure to books I might not otherwise read.


“I’ve been exceptionally lucky to find a man who provides the perfect balance to my life. My husband and I have been married just over five years. Mark is an Executive Chef and extremely creative in his own way.” – Michele Vecchitto


3. When Did You First Start Writing and Blogging? 

I started my blog in 2014 as a way of keeping myself disciplined about writing, but I’ve always been a writer. I kept journals as a teenager and still have poems I wrote for a memorable class in high school.

My teacher, Ms. Jordan, helped me discover my voice and probably inspired me to become a teacher. I was a stay at home mom for fifteen-years, and when my children were in school, I’d spend eight or more hours a day writing. I took writing classes and completed two novels and a few children’s books.

When I divorced in 2007 and returned to work full time, I lost some of my dedication to the craft. Steps Times Two is my blog and remedy to not being able to write all day anymore.


4. What Does Writing and Blogging Mean To You? Why Do You Write?

I’ve always been a writer as mentioned earlier. I many of my stories and poems from younger days and used to write tales for my kids, nieces, and nephews.

I find if I have an idea for a poem or a story, it screams in my head until I write it down. It’s a great way to discover new ways of thinking about situations or work through issues which lurk beneath the surface. There were times, when I was going through my divorce, writing preserved my sanity.

Beyond these meanings, I love the way writing connects people. I am so excited to be able to talk with people from all over the world about subjects I have brought up or someone else has written about. It sounds sappy, but I believe people are more alike than different and we all have something to share. I am a big fan of the community writing fosters between writers and readers (etc).


“I find if I have an idea for a poem or a story, it screams in my head until I write it down. It’s a great way to discover new ways of thinking about situations or work through issues which lurk beneath the surface. There were times, when I was going through my divorce, writing preserved my sanity.” – Michelle Vecchitto


michele-interview-1
Credit: Michele Vecchitto

5.  Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?

Sometimes motivation comes from pure emotion. I do some my best writing when I am out of my mind angry or excited about something or someone. I find the best writes are the ones in which I completely lose myself and emerge after I’ve released all my demons on the page. It’s a purge of excess energy which takes on a life of it’s own. Surrendering to the moment can lead to exciting results.

Inspiration for me can come from anywhere: a look between two people; a snippet of conversation I overhear; the expression on someone’s face when they don’t notice I’m looking; and/or an unexpected situation or some mundane activity we all experience. Music also inspires me. My playlist has a bit of everything on it and I love to hit play and let my mind drift. Sometimes I’ll find something to write about immediately and other times, I have to file an idea away and let it resurface when it’s ready.

As well, I’m a huge fan of writing prompts and blogging events. It’s a terrific way to stay involved in the writing community and interact with other people. I love to follow and read what other people are writing because each piece leaves me with something to think about and offers a varied perspective to consider. Prompts for me are similar to a puzzle. Each of us figures out how to put the pieces together in a different way to create authentic images. It’s fun when someone has a completely unique take on the same prompt.


6. Is There A Time Of Day You Prefer to Write?

I prefer to write in the mornings, although, it’s not always possible. During the week, I will write when I come home from teaching school. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I’d write from the time the kids went to school until they came home. I miss those days! I’m hoping to stay home next year and write full time.


“I do some my best writing when I am out of my mind angry or excited about something or someone. I find the best writes are the ones in which I completely lose myself and emerge after I’ve released all my demons on the page. It’s a purge of excess energy which takes on a life of its own. Surrendering to the moment can lead to exciting results.” – Michele Vecchitto


michelle-interview-3
Credit: Michele Vecchtto

7. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? 

I have my blog which I try to work on each day. I also post on Poet’s Corner on WordPress and do my best to keep up. I am working on a historical fiction novel based on my husband’s grandfather who escaped from Poland in the early 1900’s. I’m enjoying the research portion of this novel greatly. In addition, I recently cleaned up a YA novel I wrote about ten-years ago. My romance novel also needs editing and I have two short stories to finish.

My biggest hope for writing projects is finding time to submit projects again and become more involved in responding to all the blog posts I read. Responding to blog posts is a full time job in itself!


8. Can You Tell Us About What Your Publishing Process Has Been for Some of Your Writing?

I’ve had poems published in anthologies and in places like The Reverie Journal. I have self-published two volumes of poetry which can be found on Amazon. I’m considering adding a third volume but I think my next push will be seeking a publisher for a novel.

Years ago, when I had more time, I was organized about sending my work out. I had a contract with Blue Mountain Arts and several ‘good rejections’ from publishing houses. I took classes and attended conferences. I think networking is a huge part of the publishing process and hope to get back to it in the next year.

I’ve been invited to participate in the Austin International Poetry Festival next April. Eight of my poems will be included in their anthology and I plan to travel to the event to do some readings.


“My biggest hope for writing projects is finding time to submit projects again and become more involved in responding to all the blog posts I read. Responding to blog posts is a full time job in itself!” – Michele Vecchitto


9. Are You Able to Describe Your Writing Process To Us?

My writing process varies, depending on the type of project I’m working on, but it always includes music. I have a million playlists and a great pair of headphones.

The first thing I do is put my headphones on and blast the music so I can disappear from the world around me. If I’m working on a poem, I jot ideas or prompts on post-it notes and arrange them around my writing space.

If I’m working on a formal piece, I’ll have notes on rhyme schemes and various types of poetry. After I write, I’ll look for photos to accompany what I’ve written and then decide on a title. My titles always happen last.

If I’m working on a novel or short story, the music part is the same, but I’ll have notes on my bulletin board or in folders which I can flip through. I also send rough drafts to my sister Maureen. She’s read everything I’ve ever written and offers me honest feedback. She’ll tell me what works for her as a reader and what doesn’t, then I go back and edit.

I set my larger pieces aside, sometimes for days but often for months, and then return to them so I can see them with fresh eyes. My YA book has been through three major revisions already and I think it’s almost ready to send out.


11. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading? Any Genres In Particular?

 I’m not sure you can be a writer without being a reader. I love both equally and will read almost anything. I like to balance my writing with quick, light reads and books which require more concentration. I’m  a big non-fiction reader. It must be the teacher in me, but there’s never too much knowledge to learn. I always want to discover new things.

My own writing style has surprised me at times. My YA book is a fantasy novel which is something I’ve never followed, however; a fantasy story was the tale waiting to be told when I tackled the YA book project.

I must confess, I do enjoy writing darker, more provocative pieces. There’s such power there. I enjoy  inspirational pieces as well. Both of these kinds of writing have their place.


“The first thing I do is put my headphones on and blast the music so I can disappear from the world around me.” – Michele Vecchitto


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Credit: Michele Vecchitto

12. Do You Have Any Advice For Other Writers or Anything Else You Would Like To Add?

I find the more I write, the better I get. It’s a commitment and like any other craft, needs to be nurtured so, keep writing.

I’ve also started a Facebook page and hope to add more writing related posts in addition to my own poems. Twitter has been a great resource for finding writing communities and sharing information for me as well.


13. Do You Have Any Favorite Blogs?

I’m not sure I have favorites. I love to read blogs of all styles and content. A friend of mine started a blog in which she combines book reviews and running called Belle of the Book. It’s fun to follow a blog when you know the writer personally. If the writing is good I want to read it.


14. Here is A Piece of Michele’s Writing She Has Shared:

“Deerfield’s Ghosts”

By Michele Vecchitto

deerfield
photo: Atlas Obscura

Wandered into a cemetery

surrounded by a stone wall

hidden in the deep wood

The cold winter’s wind

calling the shadows and

whispering my name

Air weighted with sadness

as tombs of sorrow beckoned

like a house so empty

I stood alone, waiting

as voices of the lost

washed me in time’s tempest

My hands embraced each soul

as I traced those crumbling stones

placed long ago with care

Overcome with tears

as I read of Martha. loving daughter

a life lived five short years

And her mother, wife of John

who shared the same last day

in another time, another place

Night fell and mockingbirds

resumed their evening song, playing chords

that matched a funeral march

Chilled to the bone and wearied

I sank to my knees beside a family plot, crying

Tell me where hope lives

Awareness that each stone was marked

with that date, February 29, 1704,

came slowly, deliberately

Echoes of war drums rang

through the silence as fear

electrified the hallowed space

The massacre of yesterday

forgotten as time moved on

still hosts ghosts of the innocent

Every once and awhile

the lost invite someone back

to share their story

And so I did


Michele says about “Deerfield’s Ghost:” “I love this one because it almost wrote itself. When I came to the point when I narrowed in on a subject, I googled “massacre” to find a specific date to use and came across a list of victims from the Deerfield massacre of 1704. The funny thing is, it included the names and ages of people I had included in my poem.”


More Links To Michele’s Blog Pieces:

  • Ray holds special meaning for me because it was written for a dear friend who passed away. Reading it at his funeral was the first time I’d read my poetry in public and I feel grateful I had a chance to honor him in this way.
  • Small Town Hens is an example of a poem I wrote after I witnessed a situation that made my blood boil. It makes me chuckle now because it captured my disgust at poor behavior.
  •  Light of Love was written after the nightclub attack in Orlando. I will sometimes respond to current events in poetry. This incident demanded a response.
  •  The Choice and Metamorphosis are two old ones that I wrote during very difficult times.  I try to live my life as described in “The Choice” and “Metamorphosis” speaks to the ability to persevere in even the darkest of times.

Thanks to Michele for thoroughly and thoughtfully answering the interview questions. I wish her much luck with her writing and future endeavours. Here is the link to her blog one more time: Steps Times Two.


I hope you enjoyed this week’s interview. If you would like to share and answer interview questions on writing and blogging of any kind, feel free to reach-out to me on my contact page. See you in two-weeks!


©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

 

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Interview With Melinda Kucsera


Welcome to another edition of my bi-weekly writer interview series. Today I have interviewed the fascinating and lovely, science-fiction and fantasy writer Melinda Kucsera. You can visit here blog here: www.melindakucsera.com


 

Melinda Kucsera
Melinda Kucsera

1. Melinda, Please Tell Us About Yourself?

I’m an IT project manager for an academic journal publisher by day. By night, I write fantasy books, science-fiction books, and short stories. Then, I post them to me blog: www.melindakucsera.com


2. When did you start writing and blogging?

I started building my own world, when I was small and fleshed out a fantasy world for my characters to live in. Originally, my world only had one country called Shayari. But my world grew to include other countries as well as extensions into other worlds and realms.

I used to tell stories about Shayari and its people to my siblings, the kids I babysat, (etc). But I didn’t write my stories down until I was in middle school and even then, I spent more time writing about my created world and its peculiarities than its people.

Around the age of sixteen-years-old, I came across the bookThe Winds of Fate by Mercedes Lackey at my local library. It was the first fantasy book I’d ever come into contact with and it gave me the idea to write down the stories I had been imagining. I thought, if readers liked Lackey’s fantasy world, then they’d like mine too. So, I began writing all my stories down. And I don’t have to tell you, writing for me is pure joy. I’d rather write than do anything else.

I started blogging a year ago in 2015 because everyone kept telling me I should do it. Blogging seemed like a good way to start fulfilling my sister’s last request. She asked that I publish the stories she grew-up loving so that other people could enjoy them as well.


” . . .I began writing all my stories down. And I don’t have to tell you, writing for me is pure joy. I’d rather writer than do anything else . . . Blogging seemed like a good way to start fulfilling my sister’s last request. She asked that I publish the stories she grew-up loving so that other people could enjoy them as well.” – Melinda Kucsera


3. What Does Writing Mean to You? Why Do You Write?

I write for the joy of it and because I can’t not write. There’s an ever expanding number of characters walking in and out of my imagination, demanding that I capture their life in words. I want to write these character’s stories. Their stories are compelling and they always show me tantalizing bits which make me want to know more!


4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?

Writing is the first and last thing I think about every day. In fact, every other thought I have is about a story in progress, or a character, or an idea for a character for a story. My imagination has no off switch. It never takes a vacation and it doesn’t sleep. It’s always working away in the background, no matter what I am doing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s no logic to what my imagination latches onto and spins into a story or character.


“My imagination has no off switch. It never takes a vacation and it doesn’t sleep. It’s always working away in the background, no matter what I am doing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s no logic to what my imagination latches onto and spins into a story or character.” – Melinda Kucsera


5. Do You Find There is a Time of Day You Most Enjoy to Write?

No, I steal time for writing whenever and wherever I can. I have a demanding day job which keeps me busy for eleven to twelve hours-a-day, five-days a week, if you factor in my commute time to and from work. Additionally, I’m a fitness and health nut and I walk anywhere from one to three hours each day. Thank God for smartphones, they allow me to write, edit, and walk at the same time.


6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? Do You Have Any Hopeful Projects?

I have too many projects! I love working on multiple projects at the same time, hence, my day job as a project manager.My most current projects are:

1.Curse Breaker: Enchanted, which is on sale on Amazon at http://bit.ly/CurseMK. Sarn must find out why a child was murdered in the enchanted forest before the same fate befalls him or his son. (It’s a heartwarming fantasy tale). I’m finalizing the Kindle version and will start the print edition hopefully, the week following.

 2. Curse Breaker: Faceted, which is the sequel to Curse Breaker: Enchanted, (Dec 2016/Jan 2017 release). It’s already written and I only need to edit the novel. In this book, odd events happen around an old tower which only Sarn can remember seeing. These occurrences are building up to something and Sarn wants nothing to do with it. But he can’t escape what’s coming…

3.Curse Breaker: Jousted, book three of the Curse Breaker Saga (March/April 2017 release). Sarn and his family take in a joust which takes a deadly turn when extinct creatures show up. Who will survive the hunter’s game?

4.Curse Breaker: Trapped, book four of the Curse Breaker Saga (June/July 2017 release). Sarn’s luck has finally run out. The silence that hid his son for the last four years now dooms him when an old enemy shows up to even the score. Sarn’s two lives collide and his son hangs in the balance.

5. I’m also working on several other novels and extensions for the short stories readers have requested. And I publish a short story a day on my blog so yeah, I’m also working on blogging short stories as well.


” . . . I walk anywhere from one to three hours each day. Thank God for smartphones. They allow me to talk, edit, and walk at the same time.” – Melinda Kucsera


7.  Are You Planning to Publish More Works of Writing in the Future? Do You Have Other Published Works Besides What You Are Currently Working On?

Yes, I am planning to publish my stories. My sister asked me to publish my stories before her death in 2014; it is one promise, I intend to keep.

I published Stars and Angels Sing in January of 2016 as well as Curse Breaker: Enchanted, is on sale right now on Amazon. (See the second link to purchase Melinda’s first book in Sarn’s journey.)


Curse breaker Enchanted Melinda
http://www.amazon.com

Additionally, as stated above, I plan to publish the first four books of the Curse Breaker Saga: Curse Breaker: Enchanted (9/27/2016); Curse Breaker: Faceted (December 2016/early January); Curse Breaker: Jousted (March/April 2017); and Curse Breaker: Trapped (June/July 2017). I haven’t figured out which book will follow book four, possibly a book book five; but I’m not sure yet.


8. Can you Briefly Describe the Process You Are Going Through to Publish Your Curse Breaker Series of Books?

Sure, though I’m making this up as I go along. Consider yourself forewarned. I couldn’t afford an editor so I’m doing all editing myself. For me this means:

1. I submit each chapter to The Hemingway App which is a fantastic writer’s tool. It highlights uses of passive voice, wordiness, hard to read sentences, adverbs, words that can be simplified,(etc). I edit my chapter based on The Hemingway App suggestions and until I’m satisfied with my editing.

2. I also, use an app an on my android phone called Voice Reader. It essentially, reads my word document of my manuscript to me and I edit my book while I walk. I listen to each section in my book two-times.

3. I spell and grammar check my entire manuscript in MS Word as well as double-check the meanings of words to ensure I am using them correctly. To ensure I’m using words correctly, I use:  Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

4. After completing the appropriate steps to self-edit a group of chaptersI send them to my beta reader and wait for feedback while I work on the next group of chapters requiring editing.

5. Once, everything is edited to my satisfaction from self-editing and the comments of my beta reader, I will listen to the entire book one last time, to be certain I’ve caught any missed mistakes.

6. I designed the covers for the Curse Breaker Saga since I know my way around Photoshop. But first, I researched. I browsed audio books and ogled a lot of book covers. I may have bought a bunch of those books. I asked my cube-mate fro, work, who is the web designer from my day job, for feedback on the covers but she didn’t have any.

7. Next, I formatted my book for Kindle which required me to apply some styles in MS Word, slap in a hyperlinked TOC, and I was done.

8. After, I created a new MS Word document and set it up for print. I cut and pasted chapter by chapter, following basic design rules (chapter heads always start on the right hand page etc.) I always chose the ‘paste as plain text’ option AND THEN  I applied the new styles. If the document is set up right this process is boring but painless.

9.  I submitted two documents using self-publishing, one to Amazon and one to a printer to proof and print/put up for sale.


9. How Does Your Writing Process Work? Do Prefer Certain Areas or Genres of Writing and Reading?

I write whenever I can steal a few minutes to do so. I always have pages of my writing, clawing its way out of my head. Also, I love audio books. They are the only books I read anymore. As for genres, I love fantasy and science-fiction. Reading science-fiction, I especially enjoy military, speculative, and hard science-fiction. I also like to read whatever else catches my eye when I feel like reading.


” I submit each chapter to The Hemingway App which is a fantastic writer’s tool [for editing] . . . I also, use an app an on my android phone called Voice Reader . . . I edit my book while I walk. I listen to each section in my book two-times.” – Melinda Kucsera


10. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice For Other Writers Or Anything Else You’d Like To Share Related To Writing or Yourself?

Write because you love writing; write for yourself not for others. Read a lot and if you’re busy, listen to a lot of audio-books while you do other work. Hearing great writing in your ear and thinking about it in your mind is vital. So read, hear, think, about writing, however, you can.

Write On!


11. Please Share With Us a Few Links from Your Blog With Some of Your Favorite Pieces? 

Curse Breaker: Enchanted blurb:

“SARN indentured himself four years ago to pay for his brother’s education. It was a desperate bid to help his brother escape the cycle of poverty. For him there was never any hope, not while his body brims with illegal magic that just so happens to fuel the perpetual glow of his green eyes.

THE BARGAIN…The terms of his indenture landed him a stint with the Rangers who patrol the enchanted forest until a party of travelers is attacked in the forest’s midst and killed. Everything changes when that first drop of blood is spilled, waking the forest’s ire.

THE MYSTERY… Sarn tries to stay out of sight and trouble but one of the Rangers has plans for him. And the ghost of a child murdered in the forest haunts him—a green-eyed child just like his own son. Who killed this boy and the party he traveled with and why? The answer might cost his sanity but to find it, he risks losing the son he’s kept a secret for four years. Not finding the answer might damn his son to share that murdered boy’s fate.

As conflicting plans collide beneath enchanted boughs, one thing is certain. If Sarn can’t get his magic under control, he’ll never find the answers that he seeks. But how far is he willing to go to find those answers? The search might cost more than his sanity; it might cost his life.”


12. Here are Some Short Excerpts of Curse Breaker: Enchanted Below from Melinda’s Blog:

1. Queen Of All Trees

2. Curse Breaker: Kaulayaw

3.The Trouble With Marahuyo


Thank you so much Melinda for agreeing to be interviewed and providing such a thorough description of your publishing process and the exciting book series you are publishing. Here is the link to Melinda Kucsera’s Blog again and the link on Amazon to purchase her amazing first book!


Hope you enjoyed today’s interview. I know I did 🙂 If you would like to share about yourself and your writing in my bi-weekly interview series, please reach-out to me through my Contact Page here. Thanks for reading!


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

 

 

On Staying Fit


Physical Fitness

I don’t know about you, but I grew up on a diet of fitness. Maybe you did too? Maybe you played soccer, hockey, rode horses, biked, or just walked a lot with your family. For me, fitness began with dad. Being a pudgy child of a former pudgy child, I knew I never wanted to be this way as an adult. Dad was always taking us biking or walking; he ran or walked to work on his own a 2 mile distance there and back. Dad biked and golfed, encouraged us to be fit people too.

More than that fitness was a decision I made in junior high. Tired of being a little over weight,  a little slower than all  the other kids, I started to push myself in gym class. I played basketball, and even when there was no girls volleyball team in Jr. High I went to every boy’s practice and played with them. Playing volleyball and basketball continued into highschool aided by 45 minute Pilates videos 3 times a week and walking the dog. In university I was crushed that the University I attended did not and would not even try to have a girls volleyball team, despite avid interest from many of the girls I knew. I had started weight lifting in highschool but opted for a leaner look of cardio on the elliptical or treadmill combined with Pilates and other core centered exercises. When university finished I seriously got into weight lifting. Three times a week I worked out on some cardio machine 30-40 minutes and weight lifted one day on my upper body and one day on my lower body alternating. It was a fitness lifestyle I really enjoyed. Not to mention I took the bus walked about 12 blocks every day to and from the bus and walked up every set of staircase I could find while taking the bus. But this was the old me; like with what happened with many things when I had my depressive episode, my fitness changed a lot after I was sick. I did not and do not have the energy to maintain such a fit life style and inside this kills me. But it is something I have come to accept for now – at this point in time I do not have the energy to exercise as much I need to as much I would like.

The most unfortunate effect of this drop in physical activity is the weight gain. While in university I was able to control my weight despite my drinking, now I hardly drink and must carefully watch my calorie intake. I see I dietitian and am most aware of the pounds I have put on due to certain medications that I have to take; weight gain that may increase as I try different medications to see which will work best, to give me more physical energy. Not only do medications cause weight gain with lack of physical energy, but so does lack of energy itself. I cannot go for 2 hour walks or even handle a full work out at the gym even twice a week and this really upsets me. The best I have been able to manage is 10-12 minutes on the elliptical 4-5 days a week, 2 days walk my dog for 30 minutes, and yoga for 20 minutes 2-3 times a week – on a good week. These are all good exercise but not nearly intense enough to decrease my body weight to its former glory. But I should also mention, some people in my extended family tend to be heavier.

My purpose, in telling you this, If I can do this having little physical energy, you who are just stuck on the couch can do something – do anything. At least maintain your body weight. I am very aware of the fact that medications, and increased weight around my middle puts me at risk for heart disease, diabeties, and an increase in cortisol which generally leads to less energy ironically – and you should be aware of this too. Yes, exercise can be really hard – but its really necessary to maintain your body. You may not be like me and crave more intense exercise (despite my inability) but a little thing like sitting up on the couch, going for a walk around the block, doing a 20 minute exercise video, even that can make a difference and decrease your risk for things such as heart disease and even some cancers. Paying attention to you diet and especially portion sizes in your diet is really important. For instance, one cereal bowl full of chips may be a treat, but the whole bag is pushing it, even if you are working out so much that you can burn those calories off. Eat good food – vegetables and fruit, protein, and everything in the right proportions. And even if you cannot be the same weight you were in fourth year university, you will be on your way to a healthier more energetic life. Take care of your body for you and your family.