Viewing entries tagged
exercise

The Wordslinger Diet

Being a writer and a Creative Director is a somewhat sedentary lifestyle, fraught with overlap. M'bellly overlappin' m'belt, mostly. So, like the rest of the Western World, as of 1 January I started doing things that I hoped would help me trim up. Not unusual, and not my first time. But this go, I decided to skip the "resolutions," and instead make a commitment to changing my actual lifestyle. Instead of dieting, I set up a system that lets me eat what I want and still knock off the pounds. No willpower required. Here's what I've put together — 


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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.2, my old enemy, we meet again

For the past three weeks I've gotten up nearly every day to exercise. I play "beat the week." The rules are, if I can get up and exercise at least four days out of the week, I beat the week. If I don't, the week beat me. So far, for three weeks running, I have kicked the week's butt. 

Along with the exercising, I've started tracking what I eat and keeping my calorie count down. Really it's about eating better. More veggies, less processed sugar, that sort of thing. And that's going well, too. I've had a slip or two, but nothing I couldn't recover from.  

And the weight is coming off. But there's where things get screwy. 

OK, here are the numbers, and I know how bad they can seem, so cut me some slack for my honesty, OK? But when I started this, I weighed in at 278. 

Yeesh. Just looking at that makes me want to throw up. But the good news is that in a very short time I've managed to drop into the 260s. Yesterday I weighed in at a svelte 266 even. I was pretty happy with that. Not only had I cracked the 10 pound barrier, I'd beaten it by two whole pounds! 

That was good enough motivation for me to get my butt out bed again this morning and beat the week, good and proper. I went and did my thing, and felt strong doing it. Where I had suffered all week to "get back into the groove" after the holiday weekend, this morning I was more energetic, more spry, more fit. And after my workout, just as I have done every day for the past three weeks, I stepped on the scale. 

I saw the 268 pop up, and I was devastated.

More than devastated, I was furious! Two pounds! I had gained two pounds in just 24 hours? What's the deal here? Who's pulling something? Who do I beat up? 

And then, in the last second, just as my weight was "finalized," an extra .2 popped up to give me an extra bit of kick to the groin. 

I gained 2 pounds and 2 ounces in 24 hours.

I know, I know ... it isn't unusual. It depends on what you've eaten, whether or not you're retaining water, maybe the pull of the moon—all kinds of crazy factors. Still, I could have lived with the fluctuating 2 pounds. I get it. But it's that extra .2 that really wasn't called for. 

I'll keep it up, and this will happen maybe 20 times more over the next copule of months. But whatever—I'm doing this and it's making me feel much better. Sooner or later the serious poundage will start falling off, and that will make it all worth it. 

And that .2, my old enemy, will rue the day it crossed me.

 


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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That time a children's playground made me cry

For the past two weeks I've been exercising every morning. It isn't much. No "Insanity" or "P90X" or "DDP Yoga" or anything cool and trendy. Just me, a pair of sneakers, a stretch of road and a public park.

In the park is a playground that has thinly disguised workout equipment. Seriously, who are these people trying to fool? Paint a pull-up bar a cheerful blue and it's suddenly "fun." Put a flag on top of a climbing wall and it's a castle. These are all ways to trick children into being fit and healthy, and I, for one, am appalled. Because they really, really fooled me at first. 

Actually, I knew what I was getting into. I knew, at some point, I was going to hurt and curse that playground for what it was—torture and punishment for every lazy day filled with chicken wings and ice cream that I ever had. That playground is "the price." But it's a price worth paying if I want to look and feel and live better. He said, rather convincingly. 

I start my workout by getting up at 5 a.m. and walking to the park, which is three blocks away. I walk at 3 miles per hour, on average, and it takes me maybe 10 minutes to get there. Then I spend the next ten or fifteen minutes doing planks, mountain climbers, balancing, and a maybe climbing up and down on the equipment. I try to mix it up a little every day, but those are the basics. And then it's more walking, for about 20 to 30 minutes, through the park and back around to the house so I can shower and get ready for the rest of the day. 

I used to get up and write during this time, so I feel just a little deprived. I have to resort to "writing in my head," getting the ideas together, talking them out in an interesting internal dialogue, and then firing them into my laptop and break-neck speed before starting the rest of my day.

This sounds like I'm adding-to, with exercise plus workload, but honestly this is how I did it all along anyway. Wake up at 5 a.m. Procrastinate and fill myself with angst and anxiety over what I needed to write, then panic after seeing the clock just before jamming everything onto the screen at a pace that makes my keyboard smoke. Nothing has changed except the way my pants are fitting.

It's only been two weeks in this new routine, but I'm starting to see and feel results. I've dropped six pounds, because that's a thing guys can do. I feel less lethargic and more spry. I'm even starting to see signs of definition in the ab area. It's well camouflaged, and only a keen observer with a trained eye could spot it, but trust me, it's there. 

I'm determined to have a six pack again. True, this will harken back to the days when I thought it was cool to wear tiny corduroy shorts in florescent colors, with half shirts that revealed my mid-drift. You know ... "sexy if you're a chick" stuff, but cringe-worthy if you're a guy who isn't living in the '80s.  Whatever humiliations my past might hold, however, I would very much like to see my abs again. It's on my bucket list. 

I'd also really like to walk and talk at the same time without become so winded that people become concerned for my health. And I'd like to be able to wear cloths that use numbers for sizes, instead of X's and L's. Although I would settle for an M, or maybe even a coveted S!

Becoming fit takes commitment. That's what I learned the last time I was fit. Staying fit takes even more commitment, because there's a tendency for me to say "OK! I'm done!" In actuality, a fit lifestyle is a continuous thing, not something I can finish or achieve. And traditionally, I do much better with things that have endings. I know a book is done when I write "the end." I know a contract is fulfilled when I get a check. I know a meal is over when I'm sitting on the couch feeling a persistant disgust and nausea and what I just ate. Although that last bit needs some tweaking. 

I'm committed to this, though. Not in that desperate "I really want to be committed to this" kind of way, that's more about convincing you to believe me than convincing me to do what's right. It's more of a "Yeah, I'm finally sick and tired enough of this that I want to change it." Which is encouraging to me, because that's the way most of the good stuff starts. When I'm finally fed up enough to push through the stuff I don't like just so I can have what I do like, that's a when all the fun parts happen.  

 

 


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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35 beats per minute

About a year-and-a-half ago I went into a doctor's office thinking I had a bad chest cold.

The thing is, I'm not the "go to the doctor" type. In fact, I pretty much never see a doctor unless something is hanging off of me that would better serve me by being attached, or copious amounts of "inside fluids" are suddenly becoming "outside fluids." So for me to even consider going in for a chest cold should tell you that I had more than the sniffles and a bit of congestion. Think in terms of absolute lethargy, an inability to exert myself for more than a few minutes at a time, and an impending sense of doom.

The big surprise for me was when they checked my pulse and found that it was around 35 beats per minute.

"Yeah, my heart rate has always been low," I said, nonchalantly-in-complete-and-utter-denial.

"Are you an Olympic-class athlete?" my doctor asked.

"Not unless fried chicken is an competitive event."

"Then we have a problem, Mr. Tumlinson."

"Please," I said, "call me Ishmael."

OK, no, I didn't say that. I may have thought it, though. But at that moment, I think I was more focused on the "problem." An excruciating bit of worry started to chew at my insides. But on the plus side, my heart rate and blood pressure "shot up" to near normal levels. Now all I'd have to do is live under complete and continuous stress and I'd have a perfectly healthy amount of energy and vigor. Clearly no harm there.

The short version of this story is this: After some stress tests, EKGs, ultrasounds and blood work it was determined that I was absolutely, positively fine. Except for the heretofore undiagnosed congenital heart defect which was causing an ever-worsening bradycardia (gradual slowing of the heart) as I aged, and would eventually lead to my death, probably within the next few months.

The solution was for me, at 37 years old, to go under the knife and have a pacemaker installed. I was apparently "batteries not included."

For the next year or so I recovered from the surgery and started to get my strength and stamina up. It was a slow process, and in many ways it is still ongoing. But I did manage, in that time, to drop about 30 pounds, to stop wheezing when I took a flight of stairs, and to actually become a bit more active and energetic. Times were gettin' good.

More energy is great. A bit of weight loss is great. But I still have moments where I feel a bit exhausted and lethargic, and I still have a good 20 or 30 pounds of extra "me" hanging over my belt. I'm not as "out of the woods" as I'd really like to be. So that's why I've started being more active.

I do not do gyms. They're a blatant rip-off, frankly. Most want you to sign some ridiculous contract that auto-renews with or without your permission, obligating you to an auto-draft of an exorbitant monthly rate for the occasional use of their facilities, which are nice and clean and sometimes very modern, but still a place you have to force yourself to attend. Most  gyms, as well, require you to have a credit card on file, with or without a contract. I still don't get the "give me your credit card, we have no contract" gyms. I have the sneaky suspicion that they are paying for porn while I'm sweating and grunting in another room. And that just ain't fair. I can't compete with that.

I prefer to get my workout from things I actually find fun and engaging. Or at the very least the activities have to make some kind of sense to me.

If I'm going to run, I want to get some place and maybe see a bit of nature and God's creation sprawling out around me, as opposed to running on a treadmill for an hour watching a sub-titled soap opera on a hanging television screen. If I'm going to ride a bike, I want to have the reward of zipping past joggers and people working in their lawns and dodging the spray of lawn sprinklers, as opposed to dodging the rain of sweat flinging from the grunting guy on the treadmill next to me. And if I'm going to lift weights, I'd rather hoist my own hefty butt up the side of a rock wall or over a boulder, as opposed to laying in a pool of some other guy's funk while I push a metal bar up and down, over and over, mostly praying it doesn't slip and crush my windpipe.

Call me a radical hippie.

The thing is, even though I've always liked the whole "the world is my gym" attitude, I've been stupidly lax about actually getting out there and using it. Until now.

Recently I've started taking on some new challenges. I've started rock climbing. I bought a bike and I ride most mornings. I've started walking and sprinting. I'm slowly adding more and more actual activity to my lifestyle.

It is kicking my butt. I may need some kind of intervention.

The truth is, I'm enjoying the things I'm getting into, and I'm seeing some positive results. I'm not getting the svelte, slender body I was hoping for, but then I'm not as consistent as I should be, I tend to fall off the wagon on keeping my calorie intake low, and I've only been doing this for a couple of months. Lifestyle changes ... they're so friggin' slow.

One thing that annoys me is when people say, "It took you 38 years to get into the condition you're in now. Just think about it that way."

This is an invitation for a savage beating.

OK, maybe not. I do understand that these folks mean well, and they're trying to be encouraging. And I do my best to take it that way. But the truth is, this being fat and lazy thing didn't happen to me over a span of decades. I was actually in very good shape right up until my late 20s. Which, perhaps coincidentally, is about the time my doctors think my heart started slowing to the point of causing me some issues. So the reality of my life is that in a relatively short period of time I went from slim and fit to fat and lazy. I'd say the responsibility for that was 60% heart, 30% fried chicken, and 10% natural-born laziness.

No excuses.

I'm working on lifestyle changes these days. I learn things, I try things, I succeed, I fail, I try again. I'm looking for activities and relationships that get me out there in the world, staying fit by having a blast. I'm looking at getting to the point where I play so hard I don't even recognize it as exercise anymore.

So, in a lot of ways, getting a pacemaker is the best thing that ever happened to me. I have a second chance. And the only requirement, the only responsibility I have to live up to, is "do something."

I can do that.


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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Sticks, Rocks & Fried Chicken

Exercise and me, we've never been toasting good friends. Sure, when I was in my early 20s I ran two to three miles per day. I would jog along the back roads near where I grew up, or bounce around the track that rings the Sweeny High School football field. Sometimes I might give the winding, tree-lined walking trail a try. I had a good rhythm for it, and it paid dividends in the form a buttocks that could crush walnuts, and brought unsolicited compliments from female friends and acquaintances. Yes, yes.

Somewhere along the way my heart started working against me. The bradycardia I developed as a result of some undiagnosed birth defect started dragging me down. My heart was literally skipping a beat, and the intervals were getting bigger, so oxygen was starting to become a scarce commodity in Kevinopolis. My energy levels were starting to suffer. So was my waist line. In the span of just five years I went from a trim physique to a bulbous mass. Of course, I can't blame all of that on the bradycardia. There was fried chicken involved. Oh so much fried chicken.

Then, in 2010, when my condition was diagnosed and a nifty new pacemaker was installed, I started my long road to recovery. Long, mostly because I took my time getting on it. Once the stitches had been removed and I had gotten an OK from my cardiologist, I was free to change my deep-fried ways and get my behind on a treadmill. I declined.

I continued to decline for the next year, gleefully stuffing my gullet with every fattening fried food I could find. I had newfound energy, you see. My heart was working better, and now I could approach food with all new vigor.

I did this until I was told I had shockingly high blood pressure, and my doctor put me on meds.

That would not do.

Blood pressure medication has always been a symbol for me. Sure, I had pacemaker now. And sure, I was overweight, and my joints ached, and I was slowing down in nearly every conceivable way. There was a vague notion in the back of my mind that I was "getting old." At 38, I think this was a bit premature. But one accepts such things. One suffers on.

But blood pressure meds? Suddenly the message did a tsunami rush from the back of my mind to my frontal lobe. "Holy crap I'm getting old," I thought. "I have to do something about that."

There is nothing wrong with taking blood pressure medication. Some people absolutely must take it. It helps keep them alive. But c'mon. We all know ... I knew ... what was causing my BP to skyrocket. It wasn't a genetic pre-disposition or a side effect of something I had no control over. It was buckets of fried chicken for every meal. It was limiting my exercise to shifting my fat ass around in my chair while I watched TV. It was any number of really bad decisions on my part. And that, my brain finally accepted, simply would not do.

I determined I would get off of the meds. And I figured the best way to do that would be to lose a whole bunch of weight. So I went on a severely low-calorie diet, limiting my calories to about 1,500 calories per day. I increased my intake of vegetables by a factor of a billion (easy to do from zero). I started walking each day, hitting the treadmill when it was raining, and even using some resistance bands and free weights. I started taking vitamins and drinking lots and lots and lots of water (and some apple cider vinegar).

It worked. Beautifully. After about three months I was already seeing significant weight loss. I was also feeling better. Loads better. Much more energetic, much happier, much more fit. I was doing great. And people were starting to notice. But best of all, I was able to ween myself off of the blood pressure meds. I win.

When we bought our house and I started renovating I changed my diet a bit. I started eating fast food again, but I tried to keep it to light stuff. I made good choices -- as good as possible, anyway. But despite that, I did start gaining again. Not much. A few pounds. But it was enough to scare me, so I stepped up my exercise.

In the past couple of months, I've started going off the beaten path. Every morning I get up and go for a walk in the park near my neighborhood. I eschew the gravel-laden walking path, which takes me in a wide but predictable circuit around a couple of soccer fields. That's fine for someone who needs a bit of guidance, but it simply won't do for a warrior on his path to greatness. Instead, I cut across fields, follow bayous and drainage ditches the run behind fenced in back yards, and push my way through brush and bramble and thick growth. I am an explorer. I am a lone survivor in a post apocalyptic world.

I am afraid of snakes and rabid possums.

Luckily I haven't encountered either of those on my journeys so far (I've seen possums, but they seem blissfully rabies free). But it wouldn't matter. I push on regardless, knowing that such dangers exist but determined to stay my course. I am an explorer, after all. A roaming warrior.

These walks are great cathartic experiences for me. I work through a lot of "stuff" while I'm pushing through high grass and stepping over soggy patches of ground in the deep darkness of pre-dawn. Deadlines, petty comments from petty people, stressful encounters with upset clients ... all of this fades away when you're trying to figure out the best way to cross a marshy gully in the dark.

Earlier in the week I came across a playground that has a couple of "climbing boulders." I've taken to scaling these on their toughest faces, and I have to say I do it very well. I study the ascent, I choose my route, I mull over every Jon Krakauer book I've ever read. It's all big-boy pretending, I know, but it has awoken a passion in me. I've decided to look deeper into this rock climbing idea ... you'll be the first to know when I take it on, believe me.

To add some variety to the whole thing, this morning I carried with me my Jo staff (or jyo staff). It's been a while since I've practiced any sort of martial arts, but the staff was something I always enjoyed. And I always thought it would be the most practical weapon to learn, honestly. In a post apocalyptic world, there is sure to be no shortage of sticks.

I carried the staff walking-stick style as I made my away through rugged terrain, and practiced a few forms in the middle-of-friggin-nowhere. Then I made my way back to the park, where the climbing boulders beckoned.

When I came to the boulders, Jo staff in hand, I thought, 'I bet I could climb these boulders with the Jo staff tucked into my belt." An idea worth exploring, thought I! And so I ran the staff down the back of my T-shirt and through my belt, just to the side of one of my belt loops. Then I sized up the first bolder, picked the toughest route I could find (it's only about seven feet tall, so it's not like I'm scaling Everest here), and then started my "ascent."

Success! I reached the top of the boulder and stood proud, "unsheathing" my staff and waving it in victory. The double entendre symbolism is not lost on me.

Now, having mastered the ascent, I resheathed my staff and scaled my way down, again doing brilliantly. I am a master of rocks and sticks, what can I say?

For those of you disappointed with the positive and successful spin on this tale, and for those who were expecting a story ending with my bloody and broken body at the bottom of a boulder, I can give you only this: In daylight, it becomes blaring obvious that these boulders are considered a public toilet by every bird that flies over. This fact can be unsettling to a man who, as a celebration of his pre-dawn, low-light scaling of the mighty boulder, has decided that he will drink copious amounts of water from a nearby, dirty water fountain by cupping the water into his hands and drinking as if he were pulling it from a fresh mountain stream.

You're welcome.

I will probably keep up this kind of workout (adding gloves). The world is my gym now, and I refuse to wipe down the equipment after I've used it. And I may go ahead and join some kind of rock climbing program (if anyone has suggestions, send them to me). I have a monkey-like frame, well-suited to climbing, and I think I would be good at that sort of thing.

Fitness ... who knew I could actually enjoy it? I'm actually looking forward to incorporating more of it into my life.

Because the more calories I burn each morning, the more fried chicken I can eat at lunch.

Learning life lessons is fun.


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____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
____________________________________________________________

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So long, Somedays

Sometimes you have to stop saying "someday" and actually get off your keester and do the thing you want to do. I've recently had a couple of "somedays" become "todays," when I finally got tired enough of getting nowhere to actually step up and take action.

The first Someday got its walking papers about 30 days ago. I went to the doctor for a checkup, the same doctor who was the first and only one to spot my bradycardia a year ago, and was told that my blood pressure was too high.

"It's always high when I come to the doctor," I said. "White coat syndrome."

"It's been consistently high too many times in a row. It's time to get it under control."

What could I say? She saved my life once. Was it inconceivable that she would do it again?

So, starting that day, I had to go on blood pressure meds. This was a wakeup call.

My grandparents had been on this stuff. And though they were far from disabled or incapable of having a life, I did see the abject misery and discomfort and unhappiness that being overweight brought them. And for years, it's brought the same to me. Being overweight is like being in prison. Once you're there for so long, you tend to forget what freedom is like. You become "institutionalized." You stop trying to dig your way out (unless the exit happens to be at the bottom of a big bowl of mashed potatoes).

For the past ten years or so I have been hideously overweight, and I knew it. I could blame it on my heart, and I'd probably be right. But what was my excuse now that I had the pacemaker? What reason or justification did I have, now that my heart worked properly and I was all healed up from the surgery?

It was time to face facts. Eating fried chicken three meals a day, drinking gallons of sweetened something-or-other, eating piles upon piles of candy bars and fries and cookies and whatever else I could cram into my gullet and refer to as "food"-- it all had to stop. It was ridiculous, what I'd been doing to myself. I was wasting my second chance, among other stupidities.

So, as of the day I started the blood pressure meds I started changing my lifestyle. I changed what I eat, going for lots of fruits and vegetables, cutting out all fried foods, cutting out sugar and salt, limiting my calorie intake each day. And I changed my level of exercise, going for three-mile walks each day, doing resistance training (starting to -- working on consistency with that), taking the stairs more, even jogging a little. I started keeping a food journal, to help keep me honest. And I started learning everything I could about creating a clean diet and lifestyle. I don't smoke, and I don't drink, so that wasn't an issue. But food was. And now it's not.

For thirty days I have done this, and I have lost nearly a pound a day since it started.

Yeah -- it's true. I started at 278 (stop gasping!), and as of yesterday morning I weighed 250. I look trimmer and I feel better. And like everyone else who finally says "enough is enough" and changes their lifestyle, I'm wondering, "Why the hell didn't I do this sooner?" [NOTE: I foolishly wrote these weights as "178" and "150" the first time around. Thanks to my sister-in-law, Heather, I now feel much heavier, and am far less impressive. But also, I appreciate her pointing out the goof.]

Easy? Sort of. Not "difficult" anyway. I eat like a king, actually. Any worries about being deprived of food are just ridiculous. I just choose better food.

So that's one Someday I changed this month. The other was YouTube.

For months I have considered starting a vlog. Actually, it was more like years. I have thought about it since vloggers started appearing online. I have even filmed a few "episodes" from time to time, but never posted them, because they never felt "right." But a few days ago I decided I'd had enough. If I really wanted to have a presence on YouTube, I would just have to do it. And do it now.

So I started vlogging. Just like that. I got my iPhone rolling and just spewed a lot of randomness onto YouTube.

Is it clean and polished? No. I could produce something better. I could write sketches, do some editing, use my really expensive equipment and lights. But the problem is, I've had that stuff all of this time, and I've plotted and planned and prepared all this time, and yet I have never actually followed through.

So, I used my iPhone.

Now I've started. And that s all it takes. Will I do more polished videos later? Sure. I think so. I mean, why wouldn't I? Will I still do these iPhone videos? Yeah. I think so. I mean, why wouldn't I?

The point, really, is to start something, and to build momentum. If I do this often, then I have momentum. There's no reason I can't improve what I'm doing. Or, if people seem to like it (and many seem to, so far) then why change it? I can throw in some polished pieces from time to time and just do it for the fun of it. I can put up anything I want, after all. It's my channel.

If there's a point to be taken from this, I'd say it is this: Start now.

I have a lot of Somedays, and you probably do, too. But what makes them "somedays?" Why are they even there? What's the point? A someday is always going to be imaginary. Today is real. So if you're holding back on something you want to do "someday," just do it. It really is that easy. If you fail, you fail. But you won't fail. You'll succeed in starting, and that's usually all it takes.

Check out my new YouTube videos in this playlist: http://bit.ly/eM27TB

Here's one to get you started! Enjoy:


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____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
____________________________________________________________

BECOME A SLINGER

Get updates on new books, new posts, and new podcasts, plus be the first to hear about special offers and giveways. And pants jokes. Lots and lots of pants jokes.