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Excerpt Reveal of Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet by Jenny Ruden

ABOUT CAMP UTOPIA & THE FORGIVENESS DIET

 

Camp Utopia and The Forgiveness DietTitle: Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet
Genre: Young Adult
Author: Jenny Ruden
Publisher: Koehler Books
Language: English
Pages: 300
Format: Paperback

Sixteen-year-old Baltimore teen Bethany Stern knows the only way out of spending her summer at Camp Utopia, a fat camp in Northern California, is weight-loss. Desperate, she tries The Forgiveness Diet, the latest fad whose infomercial promises that all she has to do is forgive her deadbeat dad, her scandalous sister, and the teenage magician next door and (unrequited) love of her life. But when the diet fails and her camp nemesis delivers the ultimate blow, Bee bids sayonara to Camp-not-Utopian-at-all to begin what she believes will be her “real” summer adventure, only to learn that running away isn’t as easy—or as healing—as it seems.

Her wry and honest voice bring humor and poignancy for anyone, fat or thin, tired of hearing “you’d be so pretty if…[insert unwelcome judgment about your appearance from loved one or perfect stranger].”

 

AMAZON* BARNES & NOBLE

 

“A funny, poignant, emotionally intelligent and beautifully written novel that takes the reader on a journey that is by turns heartbreaking and inspiring. I highly recommend it.”

 

-Alisa Valdes, New York Times and

USA Today bestselling author

 

 

“Ruden’s debut novel is more than merely funny. It skewers our cultural obsession with the superficial, lampooning everything from fad diets to reality television and self-help gurus. And Bethany’s inner journey from bitterness to forgiveness is one that will resonate with all readers.

 

Read it for the laughs, reread it for Ruden’s profound insight into the transformative power of forgiveness.”

 

-Mike Mullen, author of Ashfall

 

“Anarchic slapstick laced with timely truths make this wry, occasionally raunchy debut a standout.”

– Kirkus Reviews

 

AN EXCERPT:

AMERICAN ENVY ENDED without a miracle. No boulder. No cannibal either. There was only an infomercial TJ and I were obligated to view because the couch had sucked the remote under one of its cushions.

The commercial featured a giant fishbowl filled with multicolored scraps of paper. Xylophone sounds tinkled in the background. At first, I thought the commercial was for some kind of craft, like moonsand or a Chia Pet. Then a voice blasted out from the TV:

DO YOU NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT?

I was lifting scratchy cushions, rummaging for the remote. When I heard the voice, I turned around.

HAVE YOU TRIED EVERY DIET AND FAILED?

On the screen that glass bowl glittered again, rainbow swirls of paper spinning around.

I WANT TO HELP YOU, the voice roared

No doubt I had heard various diet infomercials a million times, but never during prime time and never one quite as hypnotic. I couldn’t look away. TJ seemed rapt too. We studied the screen where the fish bowl overflowed with paper like jewels.

PAY ATTENTION. THESE NEXT FIFTEEN MINUTES COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE. 

There was something about this voice. Like a magnet.

“It’s not about food,” a lady wearing a giant sunhat said. She lounged beside a pool, the glittery bowl positioned next to her sandaled feet.  “I weighed two hundred pounds and thought it was about food.”

Then the woman stood, dropped her towel, and twirled in a gold bikini. “But I discovered it’s about forgiveness,” she said.

“Hey!” TJ said. “My boss went on this diet.”

I shrugged. TJ’s boss at Rent-My-Ride went on every diet.

YES, the voice intoned, IT’S ABOUT FORGIVENESS.

That was when the room darkened a notch. It was dusk, and Baltimore had just breathed its last streak of sunlight against the pavement outside. The city’s gutter smells and sounds drifted past the open basement window. I should’ve told TJ to go home. It was getting late. And it was hot—too hot to even have the television on, which seemed to breathe fire. But I couldn’t talk or move. Even TJ didn’t get up to excuse himself and walk to his row house across the street.

Like my sofa had been slicked with paste, we watched this commercial as intently as we had American Envy. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen entire minutes. There were testimonials from people all over the country. Men and women held up size 20 pants, size 24 skirts, 3XL sweats. Then they pirouetted in something slinky, showed off their skinny jeans, patted their flat tummies.

“The Forgiveness Diet,” they all chimed, was how they did it. THAT’S  RIGHT,  said  the  voice.  WITH OUR  PROVEN THREE-PART SYSTEM YOU CAN DROP THAT UNWANTED WEIGHT.  INSTANTLY.

On the screen, a middle-aged guy stood before the ocean.

“Hi, I’m Michael Osbourne, and I invented The Forgiveness Diet. At twenty-seven years old and three hundred pounds, I was carrying too much weight and too many burdens. I decided to write everyone’s secrets on a piece of paper. All mine too. Then I put that paper inside a bucket. Enough, I said to myself. It’s time to forgive them.

“Before I knew it, the weight vanished. And yours will too. You can read about my innovative approach to mercy weight loss in my new book. If you call now, we’ll even throw in your very own Forgiveness Jar to get things started. For free. Free!

Call now to find out more about this amazing opportunity. Come on, what do you have to lose?” The corners of his mouth lifted as if attached to strings. “Except weight.”

He turned and ran out into frothy surf.

A phone number flashed across the screen. “Maybe you should buy the book,” TJ said shyly.

“Why?” I asked, still staring at the television.

“Because my boss lost mad weight. And fast!”

I rolled my eyes. TJ’s boss was always trying to thrust TJ onto better things. Like herself.

He nudged me gently. “If it worked you wouldn’t have to leave for camp tomorrow. You could see me graduate. Watch me audition.”

“You mean you don’t want me to go either?”

“I mean you could stay here. Just buy the book.” “I don’t have a credit card,” I said.

“What about PayPal? Order the e-book.”

“No e-reader.”

The fish bowl, on the screen again, brimmed with folded pa- pers. fat people walked up to the jar, kissed their papers, and dropped them inside. As they skipped off it appeared they lost the weight before our very eyes.

“You can do that,” said TJ. “Just write down the names of people who have pissed you off.”

“I’m sure the book has some kind of specific directions. There must be more to it than that.”

“Maybe not,” said TJ. “My boss said she just had to for- give her boyfriend for cheating on her and forgive her fingers for stealing change out of the rental cars, and she lost like ten pounds.” TJ stared at his Converse. “Bee, you have a lot of people to forgive. Maybe all that pissiness is stuck inside you making you big, like that voice said. It makes sense in a way.”

I bristled. “It makes absolutely no sense.”

TJ removed his glasses and rubbed them on his shirt, a ritual he only performed when something bothered him. “You could make it like a bucket list. Write everything down like in those long letters you used to write.”

“Those letters sucked. You’re crazy.”

“Your letters were amazing. Just write it true. Then put it in a Cool Whip container.” he replaced his glasses. “You could start with that night, you know. When we almost—”

“Shut up, TJ.”

“What?”

“It will never work.”

TJ sighed. “It worked for all of them,” he said, nodding toward the television.

YOU CANNOT FAIL the voice bellowed. GUARANTEEDThen the commercial ended.

“I mean you don’t want to go to fat camp, right?” TJ asked. “This might be your only hope.”

“But it’s just an infomercial,” I said. I looked back to the television where a woman discussed a very absorbent paper towel. I dug around behind the sofa, felt the hard plastic of the remote, and pushed the rubber button. The television buzzed off. “How am I supposed to get thin by tomorrow?”

TJ walked to the basement stairs and sat on the third step. Behind him moonlight dripped in the window. It had to be one hundred degrees in my house, yet there was no sweat on his forehead. TJ never sweated. When he opened his mouth, he spoke slowly, as if I were retarded.

“Look, Bee. Remember that guy who levitated on American Envy last season?”

Here we go, I thought. “How could I forget when you bring it up every other day?”

TJ’s eyes darted around the room, and he lowered his voice, conspiratorially, “Well, I finally figured out his secret.”

“Yes, TJ. It’s called Hollywood. It’s called camera tricks.” he stood up on the step and spread his arms wide. Then he brought them together in front of him like he was praying. He put his chin down near his collar and prepared himself for what looked like a swan dive directly into the coffee table.

“It’s called the Balducci levitation. You stand at an angle,” he said, rocking on the balls of his feet. “So from where you’re sitting it looks like I’m floating, but really, my foot is just on my ankle, see?”

We had that American Envy episode on DVR. For weeks TJ was over my house pausing it, flipping his head upside down in front of the television, trying to determine if the contestant had some sort of fan contraption crammed in his pants.

TJ stumbled off the step and landed, face down, on our shag carpet, which was the exact color of a tennis ball.

“Didn’t it look like I was floating a little?”

“No.” I said. Then, “Well, maybe slightly.”

He studied his shoes like they were to blame. “I’m still practicing,” he explained. “My point is that instead of trying to figure out how the Levitator couldn’t do it, I tried to work out how he did.”

“I don’t understand how writing down secrets and forgiving people will make me thin.”

“You don’t need to understand how it works.” TJ stood and stepped closer to me. “You only need to know that it’s possible.” When he reached behind my ear, I expected he would flick out a silvery coin or, if he was feeling mysterious, a gardenia. But he didn’t. He smoothed my hair back behind my ears and looked directly at me.

“You never believe what’s right in front of your face.”

“I believe in you,” I said.

He leaned in. “Don’t believe in me,” he whispered. I could see the red indentations his eyeglasses had pressed into his nose. “Believe in you.”

TJ dropped his hands from my face. When he brought them up again, they held a crumpled ball of paper. I started at it curiously, then I touched it with the tips of my fingers.

“Open it,” he said.

Once in a while, he could still surprise me with a magic trick. “Go on,” he urged.

I slowly uncrumpled the paper.

It read: I forgive my dad for not seeing me.

 “Where did you get this?” I asked, my voice tight.

He shrugged. “It was behind your ear.”

“TJ!”

“You’re full of magic, Bethany.”

“Tell me how you did this. Seriously.”

But TJ had slipped into illusionist mode where every movement was choreographed and every smile insincere. He might explain later how he’d managed to write this on a restaurant napkin when I wasn’t looking. He might cop to how he’d found purple ink, my favorite, and how he’d made the handwriting look identical to mine. Exactly like mine. Maybe he’d admit to somehow crawling into my future ahead of me, but not now. Now he only kissed my forehead, lustlessly. The way you would kiss a cat.

“You could forgive him,” he said, referring to the slip of paper, “your dad, for ignoring you at Chuck E. Cheese’s.”

“Stop,” I said.

He plucked the paper from my fingers. “You could forgive me too,” he continued, “for everything. You know. Last year.”

I could, I thought, but I won’t. Leave it to TJ to present it like an option. An option about as viable as a diet based on forgiveness.

“So if you won’t try the diet then will you at least write to me every day you’re gone?” he asked as he readied himself to leave. “Not just texts, e-mails too. Long, epic ones.”

My phone vibrated in my pocket. I pulled it out and read the text he’d somehow sent when I wasn’t looking. you my girl.

He’d never told me how he’d managed that trick either.

Not that it mattered. Tonight, just like every other night, I’d fall for him all over again. I’d believe I was his girl. I’d accept that someone so extraordinary could have a thing for me—someone so ordinary.

And fat.

So fat.

___________________________________________

ABOUT JENNY RUDEN

 

Jenny Ruden has published short stories and essays in Nerve, Salon, Eclectica Magazine, Literary Mama and High Desert Journal. She won an Orlando award for creative nonfiction, was named a finalist in Glimmertrain’s short fiction contest, and has been nominated for the Pushcart prize two years in a row. She has worked with teenagers for over ten years as a teacher of Reading, Writing and GED, and has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Oregon. She lives with her husband, two daughters, two basset hounds and cat in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

She does a flawless impersonation of a normal person. Don’t be fooled. She’s a writer.

 

TWITTER *FACEBOOK* WEBSITE*GOODREADS

 

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Top Ten Best-Ever Healthy Weight-Loss Tips by Elle Erikkson, RHN Book Blitz – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Top Ten Best Ever Weight Loss TipsTitle: Top Ten Best-Ever Healthy Weight-Loss Tips
Author: Elle Eriksson, RHN
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 122
Genre: Health and Wellness
Format: Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

We all know that being slim does not always mean being healthy. In Top Ten Best-Ever Healthy Weight-Loss Tips, Elle Eriksson offers you sensible, effective ways to shed those unwanted pounds while improving overall health and wellbeing.

Blending personal wisdom with professional training and experience, Elle shares her insight and provides strategies for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Also included in these top ten tips is “a little food for thought” as the author explores some of today’s concerns around food quality and production.

With a variety of options for all body types, Elle guides you toward successful weight loss, using a whole-foods diet and realistic steps to attaining an active, balanced lifestyle. This easy-to-use guide includes a 21-Day Food/Weight/Fitness Journal along with real-life weight-loss success stories.

 

amazon

 

Elle Eriksson, RHN, is a registered holistic nutritionist, nutritional  consultant, urban gardener, and cooking instructor. In her passionate concern for both the planet and animal welfare, she incorporates these issues into her down-to-earth approach to food, health, and weight loss. Elle lives with her family in Vancouver, British Columbia.

 

Elle is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

 

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins June 2 and ends on June 14.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, June 16.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Health Fitness Guru & Author Nicolette Dumke on ’10 Things You Didn’t Know About Weight Loss’

Nicolette Dumke enjoys helping people with food allergies and gluten intolerance find solutions to their health and weight problems. She began writing books to help others with multiple food allergies over 20 years ago and the process culminated in The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide. She says, “This book contains everything I know to help with food allergies,” and it has helped many people come back from near-starvation. Her other books address issues such as how to deal with time and money pressures on special diets, keeping allergic children happy on their diets, and more.

A few years ago, while listening to the struggles of an allergic friend on the Weight Watchers™ diet, she remembered her own weight struggles* many years ago and thought, “There has to be a better way.” This was the beginning of a new quest, and she is now helping those who are overweight due to inflammation (often due to unsuspected food allergies) or high-in-rice gluten-free diets, as well as those who are not food sensitive but want to lose weight permanently, healthily, and without feeling hungry and deprived. Her unique approach to weight and health presented in Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss is based on body physiology and reveals why conventional weight-loss diets work against rather than with our bodies and therefore rarely result in permanent weight loss.

* (Nickie’s weight loss story, briefly, is that in her early 20s she could not lose on a calorie-counting diet in spite of repeatedly further reducing the number of calories she ate and swimming vigorously and often. Then she found a diet based on blood sugar control, lost weight without being hungry, and still weighs what she did in her mid-20s).

Nickie has had multiple food allergies for 30 years and has been cooking for special diets for family members and friends for even longer. Regardless of how complex your dietary needs are or how much or little cooking you have done, she has the books and recipes you need. Her books present the science behind multiple food allergies and weight control in an easily-understood manner. She has BS degrees in medical technology and microbiology. She and her husband live in Louisville, Colorado and have two grown sons.

You can visit Nickie’s websites at http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com and http://www.food-allergy.org.

About Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss

Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss answers the question, “Why is it so hard to lose weight?” Because it’s hard to put a puzzle together if you’re missing some of the pieces. We’ve been missing or ignoring the most important pieces in the puzzle of how our bodies determine whether to store or burn fat. Those puzzle pieces are hormones such as insulin, cortisol, leptin, and others.

In addition, we’ve been given some puzzle pieces that don’t belong or fit in the weight-control puzzle. Much of what we’ve heard about dieting and exercise is incorrect and can cause loss of muscle mass instead of fat or even result in weight gain. The idea that weight is determined solely by “calories in minus calories out” is an assumption not based in reality. Most weight-loss diets require us to endure hunger much of the time, but hunger means that our blood sugar is falling or low and our insulin level may be rising. Prolonged hunger leads to the release of adrenal hormones, and the hormonal cascade which follows results in the inability to burn our own body fat as well as causing any fat we eat to be stored rather than burned to give us energy.

Another problem with most weight loss diets is that they strictly dictate food choices, lack the flexibility that those on special diets for food allergies or gluten-intolerance require, and deprive us of pleasure. Individuals with food allergies face additional weight-loss challenges such as inflammation due to allergies which can lead to our master weight control hormone, leptin, being unable to do its job of maintaining a healthy weight. Those with gluten intolerance often eat a diet too high rice. Rice is the only grain which is high on the glycemic index in its whole grain form; thus eating too much of it will raise insulin levels and cause the body to deposit fat. Although the recipes in this book were developed for those on special diets, non-sensitive people will enjoy them as well, and the weight loss principles in this book will help anyone lose weight. (A chapter of recipes made with wheat and other problematic foods is included for those on unrestricted diets).

The most frustrating deficiency of conventional weight loss diets is that they don’t work long-term. Low-calorie, low-fat diets can lead to loss of muscle mass, and with less muscle to burn calories, this type of diet effectively reduces metabolic rate so we need less food. Rare is the person who loses weight by counting calories and keeps it off after they liberalize their diet! However, continual dieting for the rest of your life is not the way you need to live, and you do not have to be deprived of pleasure in order to lose weight. Overweight is not due to a lack of willpower. Rather, it is due to a chemical imbalance in our bodies. Once we begin to correct that imbalance by applying the principles in Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss, we can lose weight without hunger or deprivation and can maintain a healthy weight permanently and easily by regaining normal self-regulating hormonal control of our weight.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Weight Loss

(from Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss)

Why is the population of the United States getting heavier and heavier with every passing year? We go on diets, we want to lose weight, and yet our average weight continues to increase. It’s because we are misinformed about how body chemistry affects weight loss and gain. Here are the top ten things you may not know about weight loss:

1. Diets rarely work. Achieving permanent weight loss is extremely uncommon. After dieters reach their goal, they usually re-gain most or all of the weight they lost. They may even be heavier than when they started; if they lost muscle mass, their metabolic rate will be lower than before their diet.

2. Trying to lose weight does not mean having be hungry. Most diets which demand “No fat! No snacks!” have made us hungry, but hunger is part of why such diets don’t work. How long can one resist being hungry? Then when we finally eat, we overeat. In addition, hunger indicates falling blood sugar levels and rising insulin levels. High insulin levels affect enzymes that control fat metabolism and tell the body to store food rather than burn it and not to burn body fat.

3 “Counting calories is the way to lose weight” is a fallacy. Conventional diets say that all that matters when you want to lose weight is the number of calories consumed minus the number burned by physical activity. Although calories do have an effect, they are not the primary determining factor in how much we weigh. Our hormones, such as insulin, cortisol, leptin and others, are what really determine our weight, and we can control them. If your hormones are saying, “Deposit that food! A famine is in the land!” you will not be able to lose weight even if the number of calories you consume is very low.

4. Skipping breakfast, or other fasting, tells your hormones that you are at risk of being food deficient because you are living in a land of famine; this inhibits weight loss. Eating moderate amounts of food at three hour intervals (or two hour intervals if you get hungry that soon) is the best way to lose weight, and you’ll never be hungry! Eat breakfast within an hour of arising in the morning, and have small protein-containing snack between meals and a protein-containing bedtime snack.

5 “Fat is bad for your health – clogs the arteries – and should be eliminated” is a fallacy. This idea was derived from the calorie math described in #3 because fat contains nine calories per gram compared to four calories per gram for proteins and carbohydrates. (This is where the almost-no-fat, plenty-of-carbohydrate diets got their start). However, our bodies need fats of the right kind to make hormones, build cell membranes, and deal with inflammation.

6. The right fats promote weight loss! This sounds heretical, right? (And it doesn’t mean you should load up on unhealthy types of fat). Yet it is a scientific fact. Fats help with weight in two ways: (1) A meal or snack that contains fat will keep us satisfied much longer than a low-fat meal or snack, especially since these may be high in carbohydrates. Therefore, a person consumes less food! (2) Some fats, especially those that contain omega-3 fatty acids, reduce inflammation. With less inflammation, leptin, our master weigh control hormone, functions more efficiently. When it is functioning optimally and a person overeats, leptin will boost the metabolic rate and decrease appetite, thus automatically returning the person to a healthy weight. People whose weight fluctuates in a five pound range regardless of what they eat have a normally functioning leptin system.

7. Individuals may deny – or be unaware of – having problems with inflammation, but this is a fallacy if they are heavy. Sometimes inflammation is obvious; it causes redness, warmth, and/or pain. However, chronic inflammation can be silent. Overweight individuals may not know it, but they are experiencing silent inflammation. As we gain weight, our bodies do not add more fat cells. The fat cells we already have become larger and are just filled with more fat. They leak as they are stretched more and more. Then immune cells called macrophages come in to clean up the mess. The macrophages release inflammatory chemicals in the cleanup process. Some of these interfere with leptin functioning. In optimally healthy people, leptin is responsible for automatically maintaining weight at the right level. When leptin is made ineffective by inflammation, the dysfunction is called leptin resistance, meaning that even though a person might have normal or high levels of leptin, the leptin does not work to suppress appetite and speed metabolism to maintain a healthy weight.

8. Although #7 sounds like a depressing vicious cycle, there are ways to break the cycle. Briefly, these include consuming the right fats to reduce inflammation, eating to keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable, and eating anti-inflammatory foods. The additional good news is that as the slimming process begins, leptin resistance abates. Then when an individual reaches optimal weight and has inflammation under control, the struggle to maintain a healthy weight will end. The newly-functional leptin system will control both appetite and weight.

9. There are two commonly held fallacies about eating carbohydrates: (1) Very low or no-carbohydrate diets are the best way to lose weight, and (2) A diet low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates is the best way to lose weight. The USDA Food Pyramid promoted this second type of diet, and the weight of Americans increased every year when the Food Pyramid was our national standard. The truth is that we need carbohydrates for good health. Strictly limiting carbohydrates deprives us of the phytochemicals they contain which help reduce inflammation and allow our leptin to function properly. Furthermore, carbohydrates are not all alike. Simple carbohydrates are not all bad and starches are not all good for us. The glycemic index is a measure of how each carbohydrate affects blood sugar levels. This test is done using human volunteers, unlike calorie testing which is done with a machine (calorimeter). The best way to lose weight is to maintain stable blood sugar and insulin levels by eating carbohydrates with low or moderate glycemic index scores and balance these carbohydrates with protein.

10. Exercise, if excessive, prolonged, or done when we are hungry, can keep us from losing weight or even cause us to deposit fat. (Read the whole story about this here: http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com/exercise_right.html). Moderate exercise, such as walking, gardening, house cleaning, or moderate bicycling or swimming, is the best way to lose weight because it does not “unsettle” our hormones. In addition, moderate exercise decreases leptin resistance, which was discussed in #7, thus making weight loss easier and normal self-regulating weight control possible.

There may be other things that you never knew about weight loss, but ten is the limit for this list. To find out more about how to lose weight permanently without hunger or struggle, read Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss or visit http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com. The principles in the ten points above apply to everyone. This book will help people with food allergies or gluten intolerance lose weight while staying on their special diets, and it will help non-food-sensitive people lose weight as well.

 

 

 

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