Booky Goodness and a Giveaway

One of my goals for the new year is to read more, and I am proud to report that I have already finished two books! Better yet, I’m even going to give away one of them, so stay tuned!

I kept reading/hearing things about the novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and so I decided to use some Christmas money and order the book. I am so glad I did because this book ended up being one of the best books I’ve read in quite some time. It’s an epistolary novel set on Guernsey, part of the Channel Islands, after World War II (I had to look up exactly where the Channel Islands were), and it tells the story of a group of people on Guernsey who began a literary society as a cover from the German soldiers, who occupied the island for most of the war. The letters focus mainly on Juliet, a cheeky, charming British author who learns about the society through one of its members who happens to find a book with Juliet’s name in it and then writes her. Her curiosity is piqued with his first letter, and other letters follow. Soon Juliet finds herself corresponding with several of the society’s members, and she becomes quite attached to them, and they to her. The letters provide fascinating and sometimes heartbreaking glimpses into life during wartime, and I found myself at times brought to laughter and tears while reading their stories. A visit to the island itself is practically inevitable for Juliet, and what she finds there is certainly more than she bargained for. I adored this book and its style, and with the slight caveat that there is some language in it, I highly recommend it.

The other book I read is The Spark, written by Chris Downie, who is the founder and CEO of, the weight loss and fitness website that I have mentioned many times on my blog. Part inspirational memoir and part self-help, the book details a very practical and focused 28-day plan for achieving your goals. While the focus of the book is primarily on weight loss, Downie points out that many of the principles can be applied to goals in other areas of life. Although much of the content was a review for me due to my two year experience with the SparkPeople site, it gave me fresh motivation to reach my weight loss goal and reminded me of the fundamentals that are so essential to successful weight loss. This book would no doubt be very helpful for someone who is beginning a weight loss journey or needs new motivation and inspiration, which is why I want to give away my copy!

To be entered in the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment telling me why you would like to win the book. That’s it! The contest will end Friday, January 15 at 5:00 p.m. CST. and is open to anyone in the U.S. I will use to draw a winner.

When Life Gives You a Sore Throat, Blog About It

I had big plans for the start of the new year, and so far they haven’t worked out well. I planned to start SparkPeople’s Spark Your Body Bootcamp on Sunday, but I woke up with a very sore throat and some achy muscles. I didn’t go to church and spent pretty much all day in the recliner, wrapped in my Snuggie. Then this morning I got up to do yesterday’s video and today’s (which was only about 18 minutes total), even though I still didn’t feel great. About 2/3 of the way through the cardio video from yesterday, I started feeling dizzy. The feeling didn’t pass for several minutes, at which point I decided my body wasn’t ready for physical activity, and I called it quits. Aside from some strength training on Saturday, I haven’t worked out at all this year! Not a good start. However, I am tracking my food and drinking my water, so not all is lost. I hope to be feeling stronger tomorrow so I can tackle my running and get back on track.

Speaking of running, I have been researching training plans for a 10k, and I had no idea there were so many different options out there! I haven’t picked one yet, but I have narrowed it down to 2 that I am considering. Several of the plans assumed the people using them were already running 15-20 miles a week, which definitely isn’t me, but the ones I’ve narrowed it down to begin more modestly with 2.5 mile runs twice a week and then a longer run on Saturday, which is more manageable for me.

I have also been trying to decide whether or not to use walk/jog intervals (this would involve repeated intervals of running for 3-5 minutes and then walking for 1 minute or so). I know of several runners who utilize this method, and I am thinking it might be good for me to try as well, but I also like the idea of being able to run the entire 10k. However, I haven’t yet completed a 5k race while running the entire thing, so perhaps it’s not realistic for me to expect myself to run the full 6.2 miles. I have run both a 5k and 10k distance in training, but I know races are always different, especially if there is hilly terrain involved, and the last time I ran a 10k distance was in August. What do the more experienced runners out there think?

*If you’re interested in doing the SparkPeople January Bootcamp, it’s not too late to start. Each day of the bootcamp features a short video, with Sunday’s video emphasizing cardio and the other 6 emphasizing strength training different parts of the body. The plan also recommends getting at least 30 minutes of the cardio of your choice 5 times a week. You can join SparkPeople by going to (tell them Erin1022 referred you!) or by clicking on the little SparkPeople button my left sidebar. It’s FREE and I highly recommend it. It’s changed my life!