My 600lb Life and Me

I have been trying to lose weight for a few years now. I’ve joined Weight Watchers, Tops, followed Atkins, Body Clutter, and the Body type diet. You name it, I tried it. I might have lost a pound or two but always gained it back. The desire for sweets and potato chips was stronger than my desire for fitness.

I also have the bad habit of watching TV while I eat. This adds to my tendency to overeat because I’m not paying attention to the food. Then I discovered the TV show My 600 Pound Life, which follows a patient for one year in their weight loss journey. Now, if I watch TV while I am eating, I watch this show. Trust me, this makes me acutely aware of how much food I eat.

I binge watched every season in their entirety, fascinated with the success stories and in awe that the doctor, renown bariatric surgeon Dr. Nowzaradan, didn’t throw in the towel with several of these patients. I certainly would have. 


The show is mesmerizing, and I believe it’s at least partially responsible for the combined 64 pounds my partner and I have lost since starting this “Program”. I recommend it to anyone who is struggling with their weight.

As a writer, I also realized that the show closely follows the Hero’s Journey. Each episode begins with the ordinary world of the patient. We see the patients at home sharing their backstories. It’s a bit of an info dump but it works.  Next, they are offered the chance of help, but something stands in their way. Transportation to Houston where the doctor is located can pose a huge issue. Finally, a call to adventure forces the patient to make the trip and they meet the mentor, Dr Nowzaradan. Entering Houston, they cross the first threshold to become his patient. Win, lose or draw, their lives are never the same.

After the call is answered, we follow the patient through a series of tests and challenges. The doctor’s first order is to go on a very low-calorie diet and lose a large number of pounds in a month. Most patients fail this test and fall prey to temptation, some several times. They receive assistance from nutritionists, physical therapists, counseling for their emotional issues, and sometimes drug rehabilitation. With the help of these allies they deal with their issues (or not), and experience a revelation. Their reward is weight loss surgery. But the surgery is not the magic elixir many of them believe it will be.  

Now the patient must learn to eat properly and increase their activity using all they’ve learned. There is usually a setback but with the mentor’s help, they pull things together and begin to lose again. The show ends on a hopeful note with the patient making progress towards their transformation.

Over the course of their multi-year journeys, these heroes can loose 400-500 pounds. By their example, I’m reminded that I too can reach my weight loss and fitness goals.

Music Fuels Me #MFRWAuthor

Music effects us on a physical level as well as emotional. Our breath quickens, heart rate increases in response to some types of music. Music can calm those same functions. It's logical that listening to music which enhances emotional responses in writers helps them express those feelings in their writing. We may not ever be lucky enough to find a song that inspires us to write a blockbuster movie, as Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet did for Young Guns II, but we can hope that it spices up what we do write. There is so much music available that it would be impossible to NOT find a song that elicits the feeling we're trying to put on the page.

Music helps me get "into the zone" when I write. It can almost be a trancelike state when the writing is going well. And sometimes when I would rather do anything than write, a good song can call me to where I need to be. But it has to be the right music.

My go to music is Liquid Silk by Marina Raye, Wave by Beck, or Elephant Box by Ingrid Chavez. They help me relax. I never listen to the radio so am hopelessly out of touch with the top popular songs.

I find music on TV programs or in movies.

My fight scene, or intense scenes, work well with many of the entrance themes used by WWE wrestlers. Live in Fear, Voices, The Truth, Black and Blue, Catch Your Breath, and This is War. Any doubt you might have about the quality of this music can be easily erased when the music hits and the crowd erupts.

Drift from Pacific Rim and Young and Beautiful from Great Gatsby are two of the songs on my playlist. I would love to have a song out of Twilight that isn't for sale as far as I can tell, and I have searched for the theme to Blood Ties without any success. Way Down We Go from Lucifer joined music from Empire and Sons of Anarchy. i recently bought Silent Lucidity again as well as Misguided Angel by the Cowboy Junkies. Both were bought because they were on one show or another and I was reminded how much I liked them.

The common denominator for all of these songs is that they move me, cause me to feel a strong emotion. In turn, this emotion sparks and fuels my writing. What songs fuel you?

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Just Hungry for a Good Story #MFRWAuthor #bloghop

I suppose it could be called a total lack of willpower. Or maybe it is incredible focus. Whatever you call it, I have it: A tendency to binge watch television programs.

With some shows, binging comes easy. Several seasons were available when I stumbled upon Stranger Things, Hemlock Grove, DareDevil, Luke Cage-Their stories captivated me. It was easy to just keep watching.  It doesn't hurt that Netflix requires nothing of you to play the next episode. It just rolls on to the next one in the queue.

With other shows, I deliberately wait until the season is over before I start to watch.  If I could only watch one episode at a time, Empire would frustrate me to the point that I would stop watching completely. Longmire falls into this category too. The main characters of both shows pull such stupid and illogical stunts that I would stop watching if I had to wait a week. Watching the season in it's entirely allows me to see the story unfold and resolve.

Then there is the third type of binge watching. I start at Season 1 and watch the entire series--and then start back at Season 1. Supernatural falls into this category. I cannot even calculate how many times I've watched this series from beginning to end. I also have favorite episodes I pull out if I only have a small amount of time. Usually these are humorous but not always.

Interestingly,  this sort of binge isn't restricted to TV. How many times have I read the first six of the Anita Blake books? Or Tanya Huff's Shadow series? Or Stephanie Plum?

What brings on Binge #3? Mostly disappointment. When I can't find a new TV show that I like, or if I've started a few books that I can't force myself to finish, I go back to my favorites. The entertainment equivalent of comfort food.

Regardless of the type of binging, it isn't about lack of will power. It's about my hunger for a good story. What about you? Do you binge watch? If so, what do you hunger for?

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Binge Watching #Stranger Things: A #Review

I never seem to have time to watch a show while it's playing in real time. Consequently, I occasionally fall victim to binge watching. My latest is the Netflix series, Stranger Things. I saw the trailers and meant to watch but—no surprise here—I forgot. That is, until my nephew connected with me to tell me his opinion. He said the acting is good, the cinematography and music are “leaps and bounds ahead of other shows”, and the story is so good each episode feels like a movie. Since we tend to like similar things, I knew I had to try it. I watched the first episode and was hooked. I didn’t stop until I’d devoured the entire season.

My nephew was right. It was a beautiful show with gorgeous camera work and music that set a mood so well it was as if I was in the scene with the characters. But reflecting on the experience, I think if I’d I watched one episode each week I may have gotten bored and wandered off like I have with so many other shows—Beauty and the Beast, Legends of Tomorrow, Haven, to name a few.

On the surface, Stranger Things seemed to have huge flaws. Too many one dimensional adult characters—the doctor, the government agents, the police, the ex-husband. Most of the acting was so over the top it verged on parody—including Winona Ryder, who I’ve respected for years.The teenage drama storyline would have been hard to watch if it had dominated any episode. And at various places I thought, “Oh they're redoing Species, or ET,” or now that I think about it, any number of sci-fi tropes we’ve seen hundreds of times.

Worse, some of the twists and turns were illogical. For instance, the main character, Mike Wheeler (played by Finn Wolfhard) turns on the young girl (the one he’s risking a lot to help) for protecting him. Who does that? Or poor Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) a character so gratingly negative I kept wishing the monster would get him. Thankfully we had Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) who was completely adorable and softened my reaction to the others.


Another clear bright spot in the show was young Eleven, played by Millie Bobbie Brown. Her expressive face (and acting chops that belie her age) made me care about her despite the plodding backstory that was explicitly designed to make her sympathetic. I also connected to Jonathan (Ryder’s oldest on, played perfectly by Charlie Heaton). These two, along with Gaten, are the reasons I watched episode after episode. I plan to watch the show again to figure out how they brought these young protagonists to life and what hooks kept me glued to my seat for eight hours.

Eight hours? Remind me to never admit that again.

Dress Up, Dress Down Featuring Guest Author, Adam Mann #MFRWAuthor

Please join me in welcoming Adam Mann to Living After Midnight. Mike, tell us about the attire of folks in your book BODY HEAT-Naked and Afraid. ***Due to internet issues, this Friday Feature was delayed until today. ***


There is nothing that you can elaborate when you're naked!  You can't hide any blemishes or scars, but in this story neither participant is concerned as they quickly get used to seeing one another wearing absolutely nothing.  There may be an inherent fear when you're not dressed, which is really irrelevant, fear of what?  The original TV program is called Naked & Afraid, but afraid of what?


Jennifer and Charles team up to start their own 21 day wilderness programme, without clothes, food or drink, or a TV sponsored back-up team.  They choose a remadam mann1ote area, and as complete strangers they only meet a day before the adventure starts!  Watch the sparks begin to fly, not from the fires they light, but from the passion that somehow ignites between them.


The reply from Charles startled her:

Jennifer, could you please arrange to take four weeks off, preferably next month, and tell me the dates so that I can arrange to travel.

I’ll fly to Bangkok, but I don’t think that we should meet there. Make your own way to Nan, and I’ll suppose we’ll have to meet there and travel to the site together.

I’ll hire a small car in Nan so that we can leave our clothes and possessions in it until the end of the twenty-one days, unless you have a better suggestion.

That means we’ll organize our own drop point and our pick up point ourselves, again your comments would be most welcome.

We have to cheat a bit, as we need some maps.

Please tell me what you think we should each take.

Jennifer was amazed at her own compliance with Charles’s suggestions. This sort of adventure holiday was just what she had wanted to do for years, but at this stage she had overlooked the lack of clothing factor!

At her office the next day, she completed the form for annual leave, and her boss signed it without reading it. She filed it with the Personnel department. They did not read it either before they filed it.

Her email back to Charles amazed both of them:

Four weeks leave starting1st November.

I’d like to meet you in Bangkok, so that we can recognize one another.

Car hire good idea, but my family may have a better suggestion.

I’ll buy a sharp machete, with a saw-tooth back, locally made are good.

Please bring the fire lighting equipment yourself.

I’ve got some local maps, which are a bit out of date.

I look forward to meeting you,


Jennifer typed: I’ve got two locally made hessian bags.

More about Adam Mann:

adam mann2Adam Mann has written twenty four romance books all based in those parts of the world where he has lived and worked.  As a result five are in sub-Saharan Africa, eleven are in South or East Asia, and only seven based in the UK or Europe.

Adam has been married four times, his first wife died, the second divorced him, the third marriage was annulled as that wife had forgotten to get divorced, and the fourth wife is fit and well.  They have between them seven children and four grandchildren.  As a result Adam thinks he knows a bit about life and loving.

Adam has lived and worked in Vietnam since 1997, where he lives in a provincial city with his wife, and has constant stream of visitors from the families of their seven adult children.


Published by Phaze Books

Everything copyright Adam Mann.

The Devil Made Me: A Review

Lucifer has stolen my heart. That’s not a statement you hear every day. And I haven’t always felt this way. I try to watch at least the first episode of all new programs that have a supernatural element. Finding them on TV isn’t always easy but On Demand helps.

And not all get second views.

Lucifer almost did not get that second view. The show started out too predictable with the trope I hate…two men vying for the attention of the single woman. Early in the program I had told my partner that I didn’t think this was going to be a keeper.

Credit:Fox Television

I am not sure exactly when my opinion changed. Maybe it was to his loyalty to his friend Delilah? Maybe it was Maze? More likely it was his interaction with Linda. I love hearing the secret desires of these characters and his determination to see the bad people punished. His brazen behavior became humorous and his smarmy smile became endearing.

I’ve read that certain groups have tried to have the show cancelled and when it didn’t air one Monday night, I was afraid they had succeeded. After a bit of research I learned that the show was bought by HULU, which I do not get. So, I lost my On Demand option. But for now at least I have a reason to look forward to Monday night television  again

#Supernatural: Unforgettable

cropped-image1.jpgAfter watching Supernatural last night, I realized there will be a fissure in my world when the show ends. The Winchester boys are fully developed characters with hearts and souls that bring them alive on the screen. Their lives and their stories connect with viewers, and although we all know they are fictional characters, we cry for them, cheer for them, grieve with them.

A writer's dream, by the way. I often wonder if any one connected with Chey and Zander so deeply. Years from now (and hopefully with a few more of their stories in the world), will anyone remember them the way the Winchesters will undoubtedly be remembered?

Last night, the deaths of both men were foreshadowed. First Dean thought Sam died. In order to try to save him, he overdosed on stolen drugs to have a chance at making a deal with a Reaper. In the process, he nearly died. Thankfully you don't get more resilient or bad-ass than the Winchester brothers. They both survived against harrowing odds--even managing to kill three werewolves in the process. A rush of relief came first, then the usual smile at their hard-won victory.

For a brief moment in time, however, we glimpsed three possible futures. Sam, dead. Dean, dead. Both brothers gone. It was...devastating. Is that how the show will end? Hard to say. As Jensen Ackles offered in an interview, it's either going to end tragically or not tragically. For me, no matter how it ends, it's going to be gut-wrenching.

And unforgettable.

#teamdean #supernaturalforever

Along for the Ride

**Minor Spoilers**My friend calls me a serial obsessionist. That isn’t completely true. I really have several obsessions at any given time.

At the moment, I’m hooked on Sons of Anarchy. I’ve seen ads for the show for years and said to myself, “I’m going to watch it as soon as I have time to catch up on the older seasons.” But the time never came—until I signed up for Netflix. Suddenly SoA and tons of other shows that looked tempting became available.

- MARCH 16: Motorcycle Season opening parade with thousands of participants. April 24, 2010, Riga, Latvia.

The plan was to watch the pilot episodes of a number of shows: Community, The Blacklist, or Red Road (Jason Momoa…mmmm) for example. But I started with Sons of Anarchy. Once I saw the first episode, I never looked back. I eat, sleep and breathe SoA. This week I’ve finished Seasons 1 & 2, and started Season 3. I’ve lost sleep, I’ve laughed, I’ve cried—how could they kill off Half Sac? I’ve become obsessed.

As a writer, I can’t keep from analyzing it. First, how did the writer turn a motorcycle gang of gun runners and killers into the good guys? What the hell did he do to make the upstanding, kind and honorable police officer the bad guy? Talk about lessons in character development.

It’s also fascinating to watch beloved characters make bad decisions. When the decision is in line with the character’s personality, life or circumstance—like when Jaxx (Charlie Hunnam) fights despite a desire to leave that life, or when his doctor girlfriend slugs the hospital administrator—you get it. You even support the bad decision. But when the decision makes no sense in light of the character as they’ve been written so far, or is irrational considering the current circumstance—Whoa. It’s hard to watch.

For instance, when the Sons have Zobelle (Adam Arkin) cornered in the convenience store with plans to kill him (Yay!), but leave because Jaxx wants to chase a different bad guy. It wouldn’t have taken that long to shank the guy, right? If they’d only taken a hot second they could have “finished it”, as Clay, leader of the SoA would say. Sure, keeping Zobelle alive leaves the door open for future conflict but it was a stupid, illogical decision.

Fortunately, the men of Sons of Anarchy are largely consistent and make decisions that are “true to form”, which is one of the reasons we can’t seem to get enough of them. Action packed episodes, and gut-wrenching emotion are additional critical reasons.

Incredibly hot, powerful men don’t hurt either.  Heading back to my binge watching. Saddle up and ride, boys.