Greta Boris, author of The Wine and Chocolate Workout, has been a Weight and Lifestyle Management Consultant and Personal Trainer for nearly 20 years. For many of those years she worked for the YMCA of America and then started her own coaching and writing business, Fitness Inside Out. She shares her writing journey, how she took her expertise and turned it into a non-fiction book.
What led you to first start writing?
I was working as a personal trainer and weight management consultant and found myself saying the same things over and over again to clients. Most people have similar concerns regarding their diet and fitness programs. I had this ah-ha moment; if I wrote these things down and taught them to groups instead of individuals, I could save myself a lot of time.
What inspired you to write The Wine and Chocolate Workout?
I first wrote a healthy lifestyle curriculum to teach to groups. Repeatedly clients that went through the program suggested that I write a book because they wanted something to refer back to. Originally I was going to write a manual to accompany my classes but then I realized how many more people I could help with a book. It really became about expanding my circle of influence.
How did you come up with such a fabulous title?
I actually tell this story in the book. I was trying to come up with a title that was catchy and really captured my message. My philosophy is that diets are disasters and one-size-fits-all exercise programs don’t work. You have to enjoy your life and, really, a healthy lifestyle is the most enjoyable if you approach it correctly. Honestly, girls just wanna have fun, including me. You can’t expect people to give up all their favorite treats permanently but whatever you do needs to be permanent or you will gain back any weight you lose. My husband asked me, “What would most women be least likely to give up?” Wine and chocolate was the obvious answer and the name was born.
What was your process for getting your book published?
My father was an editor and writer during his career. He was the editor in chief of several magazines and edited some non-fiction books as well. He is a great mentor and, of course, my editor. I also have a past client who’s a terrific graphic artist. He designed my cover. My partner is in digital marketing and she is a huge help in that department. I was able to self-publish because of my team, so that’s the route I’ve taken.
What was your favorite part of writing it? The greatest challenge?
I love to write and communicate. I have a blog and I’ve done some health and wellness articles for magazines, the YMCA, and The Daniel Plan (Saddleback Church’s health program headed up by Dr. Oz, Dr. Amen, and Dr. Hyman). I try to put myself in the mind of my reader and imagine what they would want to hear and the tone that they would be most receptive to. I also love to research health topics–nerdy, I know. The greatest challenge has been, now that I have all this verbiage, what do I do with it? How do I put it into an attractive package and get it into the hands of people it could help?
What makes fitness writing different from other types of writing?
Your biggest competition tends to be the people who are not actually fitness professionals but models, actresses, and other celebrities who have great genetics and plenty of money to spend on personal trainers, chefs, aesthetic procedures, and so on. They are often pushing miracle diets, exercise programs, or supplements. A lot of the time these things aren’t going to work for Jane Doe who is trying to fit in a workout between shuffling kids from school to little league and doesn’t have a ton of time or money to spend on herself. However, it is hard to come up against pizzazz when what you’re selling is reality.
What sort of health considerations/verifications are necessary when writing this type of book?
Over the years I’ve found that the two biggest problems people have are misinformation and the application of good information. My book is designed to teach people how to apply proven techniques and to make a permanent lifestyle change. I also suggest that if anyone has any health concerns they take the book to their doctor and show him or her the table of contents. I work with an OBGYN practice right now and feel it is very important to include medical professionals when you’re attempting weight loss or a lifestyle change.
Advice for non-fiction writers?
I’ve had to learn to edit myself. My mantra when coaching, teaching, speaking, or writing is: seek to bless, not impress. It’s easy to get carried away with your subject. The tendency is to want to share everything you know, but all your readers want to know is the bit that is going to benefit them. People can only absorb so much at a time. Save something for the next book.
Advice for fitness writers?
I think people respond better to a less formal tone when it comes to fitness. Health and weight are very touchy subjects. I want people to feel the compassion that I have for their struggles coming through the pages. Not everyone has a great metabolism. Not everyone can do boot camp or kettle bells without getting injured. Dieting is like holding your breath–it will only last for so long. I try to be understanding, help them put things into perspective, and maintain a sense of humor.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
I always thought writing was a solitary activity. It really isn’t. I have never needed a team so much. There are so many aspects to creating a book that are completely out of my league. Also, you don’t have to know everything to write a book. You just have to be passionate about the subject and humble enough to seek the answers to your questions.