The Mediterranean Diet

Picture yourself sitting outside your villa in Tuscany, sipping some red wine and nibbling on a little bread dipped in some freshly-pressed olive oil. Wait! This is a diet? The Mediterranean diet reproduces the eating patterns of Italy and Spain to improve your heart health and maybe shed a few pounds. Here is why it is gaining popularity in diet circles.

The Mediterranean diet focuses on foods that are recommended, rather than focusing on foods that are minimized. That means a lot of fruits, vegetables, grains (typically whole), beans, nuts and olive oil; even a glass of red wine with dinner if you're so disposed. You won't see a lot of red meat, mostly seafood and the odd piece of chicken once in a while.

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been established by modern research. A study of 1.5 million adults showed reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, type II diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's among those following a Mediterranean diet. A more recent study of 2,500 New York City residents found similar benefits. All in all, some pretty compelling science backs up this diet.

What do you give up? The Mediterranean diet does not have much red meat. Even eggs are minimized, with less than five per week recommended. Most of your fat comes from olive oil, so expect that your dairy intake will be mostly from the Fat Free section of the grocery shelf. There aren't a lot of sweets in the diet, either, which can be a deal-breaker for some people. With little red meat and restricted dairy, many people take a multivitamin to be sure that they get enough iron and calcium. You will get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, though, so don't look for a vitamin that features these nutrients.

Will you lose weight? A typical Mediterranean meal plan comes in right around the government's recommended 1,200 calories per day. Coupled with moderate exercise, you should be able to lose at a responsible rate of 2-3 pounds per week. In contrast to more draconian diets, it isn't hard to see yourself eating this way for the rest of your life. That means that you won't have a post-diet snap back of all the weight you lost, plus interest.

With all this going for it, why hasn't the Mediterranean diet taken over the dieting world? Some people are allergic to seafood, or just can't give up that steak on Saturday night. If you don't like your veggies, this probably isn't the diet for you. Olive oil and red wine play a role with the Mediterranean diet, so liking both is pretty important, too.

This is an especially good diet for people who eat out a lot. It is not hard to structure a casual- or fine-dining experience around a Mediterranean diet. Most of the time, the people eating with you won't even notice that you are on a diet. Just fight the urge for a second glass of red wine. Oh, and skip the desert. That might be the hardest part.

Are you ready to live like an Italian nobleman? Have you tried the Mediterranean diet? Click on the Comment button and let us know how it worked for you.

The Gout Diet

Gout brings to mind images of sage statesmen from times gone by, swollen leg propped on a stool as profound thoughts are shared. Long associated with dietary excesses, especially red meat and wine, gout continues to be a painful part of daily life for many people. In most cases, changes in diet can bring about a dramatic reduction in symptoms and a return to normal life.

Gout is a variation of arthritis, usually in the hands and feet. It is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the bloodstream. The uric acid forms tiny, but painfully sharp crystals in the joints these cooler extremities.

Uric acid is formed when your body breaks down purines. Purines are found in all body cells and nearly all foods, but the purine level in foods varies greatly. To make things more complicated, not all high-purine foods are bad for you if you have gout. Milk, for example, is high in purines yet can actually reduce your risk for developing gout. In addition to milk, researchers say that other high-purine gout fighting foods include peas, beans, spinach, mushrooms and cauliflower. 

Most high-purine foods should be a limited part of a gout-sufferer's diet. These food include organ meats (like brains and kidneys), anchovies, sardines, herring, scallops and mackerel. These foods are high in purines AND they trigger a build-up of uric acid. Limiting your intake is important if you have gout. You can have breads and cereals, nuts and tofu without fear. In fact, most complex carbohydrates are encouraged.

Sadly, alcohol consumption is linked with gout attacks. Normally one or two alcoholic drinks per day will not trigger an attack.  However, during a gout attack any alcohol, especially beer, should be avoided.

In recent years there have been several pharmaceutical treatments developed for gout. Some, like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and corticosteroids, treat the symptoms of gout.  Others, with trade names like Zyloprim, Benemid and Probalan, treat the underlying pathology, reducing the uric acid levels in your body.


Another sound strategy for treating gout is drinking lots of water. This helps your body flush out uric acid. Controlling your weight pays dividends, too. Not only does it reduce your body's creation of uric acid, it reduces the strain on your joints, making gout attacks less painful.

Have your dealt with gout? Click on the Comment button and give us your advice!

The Low Residue Diet

A low residue diet is not intended as a weight loss tool. People follow a low residue diet to help them cope with specific medical issues, like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or diverticulitis. Typically suggested by a doctor, a low residue diet (also called a low fiber diet) does not cure the medical issue, it just reduces the intensity of some of the symptoms.

When intestinal walls are inflamed, because of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis or diverticulitis, doctors recommend reducing your intake of fiber and difficult to digest foods in an attempt to reduce the severity of cramping, bloating, gas and diarrhea. People with Crohn's disease have narrowed small intestines, making a low residue diet a key strategy in treatment. The goal is to get total daily fiber intake below 10-15 grams.  Minimizing dairy products and any foods with seeds or grittiness also helps to reduce IBD symptoms.

Minimizing fiber is directly opposite of accepted wisdom regarding a healthy diet.  A low residue diet should not be taken up without specific instructions from a doctor. Specific dietary supplements are normally prescribed to offset the loss of nutrients found in high fiber foods, including vitamin C, folic acid and calcium. This diet is normally only followed for a brief period while the bowels recover, minimizing the negative health effects from the lack of dietary fiber.

A low residue diet emphasizes white bread, white rice, peeled fruits, tender meats, eggs and limited dairy.  Most cooked and cold cereals and pastas are permitted. Foods to avoid include whole-wheat of whole-grain bread, brown rice, dried fruits and vegetables, uncooked vegetables, seeds and nuts, coconuts and popcorn. Many products, such as cereal, ice cream, yogurts and even beverages have added fiber, so label reading is important. As the digestive tract returns to health, fiber can be slowly reintroduced.

Although the low residue diet is not intended for weight loss, it can play an important part in the recovery from many digestive system diseases. Careful meal planning and diligent label reading are the keys to your success.

Beating Procrastination


Procrastination is the gooey, sticky swamp that we must trudge through to get to success. There are few people who actually enjoy procrastination, but nearly everyone falls victim to it at least once in a while. Here are some strategies for coping.

Procrastination stands between us and our accomplishments. It saps our energy and distracts us in every way possible so that we don't get around to doing the things that are most important. Sometimes we don't realize we're procrastinating, and then suddenly realize that our deadline is upon us and we are horribly unprepared.

If you find yourself filling the hours with trivial, low-value activities rather than take on your major task of the day, you are procrastinating. If you think of several really good reasons why you aren't going to be successful with that major project that you need to start, you are procrastinating.  If you keep adding new items to your To Do list so that one assignment can be ignored, you are procrastinating. It happens to everyone, but there are some simple tactics that can help you get over the procrastination hump and onto completing that task.

First, you need to recognize that you are procrastinating. We've listed some symptoms and there are some more obvious signs, but you need to be honest to yourself and admit that you're putting off that task with any excuse in the book.

Once you've decided to quick procrastinating, try to picture the nice glow that you will feel when you complete this project. Visualizing a positive outcome can help to counter any negative thoughts you have built up during the procrastinating process. You need to look forward to the results of your efforts so that you can get off to a good start. Decide how you will celebrate completing this project. It doesn't have to be champagne or balloon rides, just a victory lap around your chair may be enough, but visualize the completion and your associated joy to get your juices flowing.

Start by allocating ten minutes to the task. Yes, just ten minutes. Maybe start a timer if that helps. What can ten minutes hurt? Don't spend the ten minutes on fancy formatting or arranging the pencils on your desk. Really jump into the project and get a bit of it underway. When the ten minutes are up, you will be happily surprised by (A) how much you actually got done, and (B) how little it hurt.

Now let yourself really dive in. Do not multitask! Yes, in today's world it is very easy to write a paper, text message a friend, send out that great tweet on your world view and make sure that you email discussion with the Nigerian prince is up to date. Avoid this at all costs. A project that triggers your procrastination reflex deserves your full attention. Besides that, if you fully concentrate on the task at hand, you will be done much more quickly and can get back to all these more enjoyable (and productive?) activities.
If this is a large task, break it down into manageable chunks. Just as shopping malls and bedroom communities are designed to hide their real (massive) size, breaking your project down into bite-sized chunks lets you enjoy success early and carry this motivation through to the end.

Once you've accomplished a significant milestone (no cheating, now) take a break and reward yourself with an enjoyable task for ten minutes. Set that timer again, this is the end, just a milestone we're talking about. After the ten minute refresher, jump back into your project renewed and enthusiastic.

Before long, you will have completed your project. It turns out to be easier and less distasteful than the procrastinating, right? Celebrate your success and put a little bit of this joy away as fuel to power you through your next procrastination-worthy project.

Have you beaten procrastination? Leave us your best strategy and tips by clicking the Comment button. Don't put it off, click NOW!


Why Dieting Is A Lifetime Commitment


People who have never been overweight don't understand. Chronically thin people believe that losing weight is easy, just eat a little less every day for a while until you reach your goal weight. Of course, it isn't really that easy.

Anyone who has battled their weight knows how hard it is to lose weight, and how much harder it is to keep the weight off once it is lost. Some recent medical research has looked at this and found some reasons.  It turns out that our bodies work against us when we try to control our weight.

Dr. Ryan, a researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana studied the issues surrounding long-term weight management. She focused on the changes that our bodies go through when we diet. As soon as we cut back on our eating, our bodies make changes to prepare for a possible starvation that could be right around the corner. Our metabolism ramps down, allowing us to "idle" along burning fewer calories.

Our bodies prepare for possible starvation because a hormone called leptin is produced in smaller quantities. Our fat cells produce this hormone, so as we initially shrink these fat cells, they produce less leptin. That signals our bodies to conserve energy produced from our food.

At the same time, our brain receives more signals that trigger a hunger response. It is not imagined; when we are dieting we are hungry most of the time. That is a symptom of this increased messaging to our brain warning of impending starvation.

These responses put people on diets at a double handicap. They are hungry all the time and the food that they eat is burned more slowly, compared to people who are not overweight. Dr. Ryan estimates that someone who has dropped from 230 pounds to 200 pounds must eat 300 to 500 calories a day less than someone who weighs the same 200 pounds (but has never weighed more) to remain at 200 pounds. That is an amazing difference.

This body sabotage makes long term weight loss very difficult. To lose weight and keep it off means finding a diet that can last a lifetime. Fad diets, in addition to being amazingly hard on your nutrution, do more harm than good as the body puts the weight right back on after the diet is over. With the starvation mode running amok in the brain and metabolism, chances are good that the fad dieter will end up weighing more in six months than they did before the diet. That makes selecting a diet critical to success. The WannaBuddy diet recap is a good place to start your research.
The other important factor beyond life-long dieting is remaining active. Just a half hour a day of moderate exercise can burn 400-500 calories. That can more than offset the "dieter's handicap" and help to keep those lost pounds off. Just walking briskly is enough to kick-start our metabolism again.

So, pick a sensible diet that fits your lifestyle, stay active and get yourself a diet buddy. Your good health awaits!

Have A Healthy Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with family and friends to remember our many blessings. A time for fun, food and football, it is hard to imagine Thanksgiving as a healthy holiday, but a few small tweaks can really help to make healthy living yet another blessing to be enjoyed.

The roasted turkey, a centerpiece of the traditional Thanksgiving meal, is actually a pretty healthy entrĂ©e from the start. Turkey breast has more protein than chicken and about one gram of fat per serving. Read the label when selecting your bird to find one with few additives (especially those "flavor enhancers" that are mostly salt) and pick up a "pop out" single use thermometer if one is not already in your turkey. That is an easy way to avoid overcooking the turkey.  Select a stuffing recipe that focuses on celery and herbs rather than bacon and bread. Cook it beside, not in, your turkey so that it doesn't soak up fat from the turkey.

As to the side dishes, consider a spinach salad highlighted with pumpkin seeds or dried cranberries. Maybe use a bit of lime juice and some pepper instead of a heavy dressing.  This makes for a colorful and delicious contrast to the turkey and stuffing.

Instead of your normal cheesy potatoes, how about serving a nice butternut squash gratin? Lots of vitamin C and beta-carotene with a lot less fat and carbs. Add some sage and apple slices to keep the flavor peaking.

You don't have to skip the traditional green bean dish, either. Skip the onions and choose raisins, a dash of rice vinegar and a dusting of shaved Parmesan cheese. This dish can really earn the rave reviews.

How about some more color on the table? Try a quick roasting of carrots, parsnips, squash and shallots. You can serve festival of bright colors and fresh flavors with negligible fat content.

The annual bowl of cranberry dressing can be a lot healthier if you add in pears and cherries and cut way back on the added sugar. You still get that great sweet/tart flavor combo without the jolt of processed sugar.

Speaking of processed sugar, consider substituting maple syrup in your dishes that call for granulated sugar. It is a great alternative in the candied carrots and most pies actually taste better with that hint of maple. Your guests will wonder how you got so smart.

Your Thanksgiving dinner is not a place to think about dieting. With a few of these small changes, though, you can serve a table of wonderful dishes that all lean toward better health. Don't forget to be safe after you eat – observe a respectful period of football watching after your meal so that you don't strain a stomach muscle digesting all that good food!

The Victoria's Secret Diet

The annual Victoria's Secret fashion show is an iconic moment, displaying the height of fantasy as waif-thin models parade the latest in lingerie. Did you ever wonder, though, how these models prepare for this event, knowing that nearly every inch of skin will be on display? Top model Adriana Lima recently spilled the beans on how she gets ready, and no beans are involved. In fact, no solid food is involved.

Adriana Lima, born in 1981 in Brazil, has been a successful model from the age of 15. She became a Victoria's Secret angel in 2000 and the face of Maybelline cosmetics in 2003. Now 30 years old, she continues to be a top model. Adriana credits her childhood athleticism for keeping her in top form over the years.

Preparing for a Victoria's Secret fashion show is a very serious project for Lima. For several months before the show, Adriana takes daily workout sessions, toning and tightening.  As the show approaches, she moves the exercise routines up to twice daily.

In the nine days before the big show, Adriana eliminates solid food from her diet. She drinks protein shakes laced with powdered eggs and drinks at least a gallon of water each day. Coupled with the intense workouts, this triggers a dramatic weight loss. Two days before the fashion show she stops forcing her water consumption and drinks only as much as she wants. In the final 12 hours before the cat walk, she stops drinking all together. She credits this complete fast for dropping eight pounds before she straps on the feathery wings.

So, is this a diet for you? When is your debut as a lingerie model? Drastic diets like this are extremely hard on your body. The government's guidelines for healthy weight loss recommend consuming at least 1,100 calories a day. Adriana's diet is far below this level. The twice-daily workouts are not, in themselves, dangerous. Most of us don't have the luxury of that kind of spare time, though. The final 12 hour "nothing by mouth" fast is downright dangerous.

If you make your living modeling lingerie, the Victoria's Secret diet might be for you. For the rest of us, who only strip down for that special someone, there are many diets that aren't as damaging to our body. No solid food for a week and a half? That's one reason why I will never make it as a supermodel!

Have you ever tried to lose weight quickly? Click on the Comment button and tell us how you did it.

The Jenny Diet

Do you want to lose weight without starving yourself? Are you confused about which diet to try, and are looking for a professional opinion? What do you think of TV dinners? Based on your answers to these questions, you might be exactly right for the Jenny Craig Diet, called the Jenny diet by its friends. Selected by Consumer Reports as the best diet of the year, here is what you need to know.

The Jenny Craig weight loss program (they prefer 'program' to 'diet') started in Australia in 1983 and came to the U.S. a few years later.  The diet component of the program consists of pre-packaged, frozen meals. There are single-serving entrees, desserts, even snacks. This accomplishes a number of important goals. The caloric content of each meal is carefully controlled. The meals also give the dieter an idea of proper portion size.

Additionally, the meals are sensibly balanced for nutrition, meeting most of the government's guidelines for healthy eating. Some meals are a bit high on the sodium, but otherwise are right on track.  About half of the calories are from carbohydrates and another 20%-35% are from fat. There are plenty of minerals, vitamins and fiber, too, so you don't need to take a bunch of supplements. The Jenny Craig counselors suggest a daily multivitamin, but recent medical studies are starting to lean away from adding vitamins to a healthy diet.

The second leg of the Jenny diet program is jump-starting your active lifestyle. The Jenny Craig counselors teach simple lifestyle changes that can boost your calorie burn without requiring a gym membership or special outfits. Say, climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator. The goal is to shift your approach to everyday life to include some level of activity every day. Not only does that help with weight loss, but your cardiovascular health will improve.

The Jenny counselors also provide coaching on developing and maintaining a positive mental attitude. We have all faced situations where we feared failure and that expectation more than likely came true. The Jenny folks help counter that negative thinking and try to instill a sense of confidence and motivation. Maybe a diet buddy could help, too (hint, hint, check out WannaBuddy.com).

Will the Jenny Craig diet work for you? The pre-packaged foods help to limit your caloric intake and teach you a more modest expectation on serving size. The coaching on lifestyle and mental outlook changes are a big help for a lot of people, too. What really matters, though, is how you behave after the Jenny program is over. If you can transition from Jenny's frozen dinners to cooking on your own or eating out without jumping right back into high-calorie meals, things should go well.  Keeping active and positive is important as well.

Have you tried the Jenny diet? Click on the Comment button and share your story!

The Best Home Exercise Equipment

Are you getting tired of paying gym dues every month, only to get aggravated every time you actually do make it into the gym? Many people have chosen to stop renting their workout and instead put together an awesome fitness center right in their own home. Here are some things to consider before you get out your checkbook.

You should first decide how much space you can dedicate to your fitness equipment. If you have an extra bedroom or corner of a basement, space probably won't be a major factor in equipment selection. If you need to put your workout gear under your bed when it's not in use, however, you should focus on a versatile weight set and maybe a jump rope.

Also consider how the workout space will be arranged. Since boredom sets in pretty quickly, think about putting a TV or at least a sound system in the room. Any entertainment is better than listening to your own grunts and growls. Some up-tempo music or a workout DVD can make your exercise time for enjoyable, and therefore more likely to actually happen.

You should divide your workout investment between strength, flexibility and cardio support. Strength building can be as simple as a small free weight set, or as complete as an "all in one gym" device. For free weights, consider an adjustable set of dumbbells. These modern marvels let you select the amount of weight for your exercise through a series of weighted inserts, making one small package serve a broad variety of strength-building exercises. If you have the space and the checkbook, take a look at the Bowflex series of home gym machines. There are numerous models, from $450 to $2,000 that offer a myriad of exercise options within a space about equal to an office desk.



For increasing your flexibility, balance and coordination, balance discs, Pilates balls and stretch-out straps are inexpensive, easy to use and don't take a lot of storage between workouts. This is an area where an instructional DVD can be a real help. Be sure that your workout area has enough free space that you don't rearrange the bookshelf every time you do your stretches.

Cardiovascular support is the third leg of the fitness stool. Building cardio indoors doesn't have to be hard. A jump rope is an amazing tool for increasing your endurance and coordination.  If you have the room, an elliptical trainer or treadmill is a great addition to your home gym.  Again, some form of entertainment will help to keep these exercises from becoming deadly dull.

Most people find that their home gym investment is recovered in their first year without gym dues. You don't have to give up the social aspect, either. Get a workout buddy (hint, hint: WannaBuddy is pretty helpful there) and schedule a regular get together for fitness and catching up on the neighborhood news. Having someone depending on you makes it much harder to just skip the workout when you aren't filled with enthusiasm.

How is your home gym equipped? Do you have a favorite piece of equipment? Click on the Comment button and give us your advice on the perfect home gym>

The Freshman 15

Going off to college is stressful. For the first time, most students are totally independent. They decide when to get up, when to go to sleep, when to go to class, and when (and what) to eat. Typical expectations for that first year at school include new friends, a new appreciation for sleep, a broadened vocabulary, and an additional 15 pounds around the waist. Now it seems that the dreaded "Freshman 15" is a myth, just like those "best friends forever" proclamations in your high school yearbook.

Certainly, those dining halls with "all you can eat" meal plans can make you worry about putting on weight. There is the occasional alcoholic beverage consumed, too, although never by anyone I know. Late night runs to the 24-hour taco shack or cramming for finals with a cheeseburger in one hand can make you believe what you've heard about the average freshman gaining 15 pounds. To validate this widely held belief, researchers from Ohio State University studied over 7,400 freshmen from across the country.

The results of the research are surprising. Going to college does make you gain more weight than not attending. But it turns out to be a difference of about half a pound. Wow. About the weight of my slide rule. So much for conventional wisdom.

Only about 10% of college freshmen gained 15 pounds in their first year and 25% actually lost weight. The study did find that men gain a bit more weight than women on average, 3.4 pounds versus 2.4 pounds respectively. This could be because of the tendency for men to drink more alcohol than women. Over their entire college career, men gain about 13.4 pounds while women gain about 9 pounds.

For students who do gain weight, the primary correlation was found to be beer consumption. Those students who gained the most weight also reported drinking an average of 6 beers a week. Students hoping to avoid the freshman 15 can follow a simple strategy: just say no to those keggers and everything will be fine.

Now, go back to your dorm and study!

Phentermine For Your Diet?

People are always searching for the magic bullet for their diet, that one perfect pill that will melt away their extra pounds while they snack on ice cream and candy. To some, phentermine is that magic pill, reducing hunger pangs and pumping up your metabolism. Is it the right way for you to lose weight? Here are some things to understand before you decide.

Phentermine is a stimulant that is prescribed by your doctor. As part of a diet and exercise program, phentermine can decrease your appetite to make it easier to reduce your caloric intake. Working much like amphetamines, phentermine works on your central nervous system to suppress your feelings of hunger.

A decade ago phentermine became well known because of its association with another diet medication called fenfluramine. This combo, called Phen-Fen, was found to cause a fatal lung problem called pulmonary hypertension and damage to heart valves. There's nothing like a few diet-related deaths to really jump to the top of the newspaper. Use of this combination has stopped, but you should be very clear with your doctor about all of the other medications that you are taking. Using MAO inhibitors, like Furoxone, Marplan or Nardil can interact with phentermine in dangerous ways. You should also avoid phentermine if you have heart or coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, overactive thyroid, glaucoma or diabetes.

Taking phentermine exactly as prescribed is very important. It can be very dangerous to take more (or even less, actually) than prescribed. The directions on your prescription label should outweigh any advice from friends or diet gurus. In most situations you will be instructed to take phentermine once in the morning, although there are versions tailored for taking twice a day. Do not split or crush the time release tablets because this will cause the drugs to enter your system more quickly and not last all day. Neither of these are good outcomes. Since phentermine acts like a stimulant, don't take it in the evening or you might have trouble falling and staying asleep.

Phentermine is also addictive. That means that you will only be prescribed it for a small number of weeks. Long-term use is not recommended. Further, you should not abruptly stop taking phentermine without consulting your doctor. You could experience withdrawal, which will not be pleasant. Stay in contact with your doctor throughout your use of phentermine, so that your reactions and progress can be monitored.

Will phentermine work for you? Most people find that their appetite does decrease. This makes dieting quite a bit easier. On the other hand, many people also find that they experience difficulty sleeping, dizziness, dry mouth, irritability, racing pulse, heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. This puts the diet into perspective, too.

So do you need a little help to get that diet going strong? Have you tried phentermine? If so, click on that Comment button and share your experience.

Starting A Book Club

Reading a great novel is wonderful.  Sharing the story with others is even more wonderful. That has led to many book clubs across the country. If you haven't tried a book club before, now may be the perfect time to join.  It is an inexpensive activity with great rewards, plus you can meet some fun people with similar interests. A lot of people use WannaBuddy to find a book club buddy, so we thought it would be useful to share a few thoughts on starting your own book club.

Although it is easier to join an existing book club, many times that isn't possible, because of conflicting schedules, differing tastes, or just because you think that starting a new one would be fun. Leading a book club can be rewarding and even a nice addition to your resume.

Before you start your search for club members, think about what type of club you really want.  What genre of books will you choose? Where, when and how often will you meet? Will you lead each discussion, or will that role rotate among the club members? How quickly will you move through each book? Once you have this framework somewhat figured out, it is time to find some members.

Of course, WannaBuddy is a great source for finding book club members. Don't overlook the old-fashioned flyer in the library and bookstore, though. We can't ignore the people who haven't discovered WannaBuddy yet.  You should try to get a few more members than your really need for your club, because people inevitably drop out or move away. A few more members is always better than a not enough members.

Once you have your membership, plan your first meeting. Get agreement on your first book in advance, and plan at least a half hour more meeting time than normal.  Don't forget the snacks and beverages; they really get the conversation started.

Spend some time up front at the first meeting getting agreement on general ground rules. Talk about the framework that you developed when planning the book club and make sure that everyone is comfortable with the decisions. You may decide to tweak some things after the group talks about it a bit. Get everyone on board now so that you don't have dissention later.

Do spend some time at the first meeting actually discussing the book! You want your new club members to get a taste of how the group will interact and what level of discussion they can expect. You might want to be prepared with some background information on the author, the period and setting for the book, or other additional context that can add a lot to everyone's appreciation for the book. Check the publisher's web site to see if there is a reading guide to help you along.
Before your first meeting breaks up, talk about how you will communicate between meetings and the time and place of your next meeting. You can use the Event feature of WannaBuddy to keep everyone organized or start your own blog page for the group. Anything that works for everyone, so that nobody feels left out and everyone can chime in.

Starting a book club can be a lot of work, but the rewards are definitely there for the taking! Find a good book, some like-minded friends and get going!