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…or sometimes 40-45 minutes. For 30 days straight, no days off. That’s what it took to get these results. In this post, I’d like to share with you how in greater detail.
Note: No exercise/nutrition plan is a one-size-fits-all solution and I am not a health professional, just an average Jane sharing my tips on my way to figuring things out 🙂
Where to begin.. as a mom of 2, I find that my 30s has been a yo-yo of gains and losses, triumphs and disappointments. I’ve had all the excuses in the world, given into my sweet tooth way too often, and tried the latest diet fads just like everybody else, often finding that nothing consistently kept the weight off.
In the above left photo, taken November 2019, I was lackadaisical in my exercise routine and food choices. My workout plan consisted of commuting by bus and Go train to downtown Toronto for work, taking the stairs two-by-two whenever possible, and squeezing in a 30-minute gym workout at lunch 0-3 times a week (which I detested because I had to leave early and head back on time). Having access to all the dessert and fast food places was definitely not a setup for success (also the pizza & cake lunches for office birthdays, breakfast pastries and other snacks/sweets brought in by clients).
Then on March 12th, I started working from home due to the Covid-19 crisis. I reminded myself, hey, I’ve got all the time in the world. After that weekend (and my period) ended, I started doing free YouTube workouts every day for a month. Here is a summary of the important factors leading to my (positive!) results.
Lenten Sugar Fast
At the start of Lent in early March, I committed to cutting out sweets (all desserts, chocolates/candies, bubble tea, etc.) for the entire 40-day period. I suspect the lack of sugar was definitely a catalyst for my waistline reduction.
For a year and a half, working full-time in-office, it was very simple to commit to intermittent fasting. I would not eat breakfast until 11:00 a.m. and had my last meal no later than 6:00 p.m. after arriving home. Since WFH began, I no longer adhere to a structured fast. I had gotten up each morning, had my cup of Skinny Mint tea* (see below), a cup of yogurt, and whatever was in the kitchen for eating the rest of the day. We are in lockdown and cannot afford to be choosy, after all 🙂 I often snacked with the hubby late at night, but felt less guilty because they weren’t sweets!
Skinny Mint Tea
About a year ago I had ordered a double 28-day supply of Skinny Mint Tea, forgot about it, found the 2nd batch and started drinking it along with my Lenten fast and daily workout routine. Now, it barely curbed my appetite nor did I lose any pounds, but it did make me explode like an MF! There’s a “calming” loose leaf tea you drink every morning, and every other night before bed you drink a bag of the “strong” stuff. I highly recommend teatoxing only when you’re quarantined at home and NOT before commuting 1+ hours to the office, because the risk of explosion is high indeed! I did feel “refreshed,” however, in dumping that waste down the drain (literally).
As noted earlier, I did the majority of my workouts for an hour, sometimes 40-45 minutes only when PMSing, heavily menstruating or feeling otherwise broken down and tired (about 6 of 30 workouts). I simply YouTubed “1 hour workouts” and chose from HIIT (high intensity interval training), Tabata, GoodLife Les Mills (Body Combat, Zumba) and anything else that looked interesting, never doing the same workout twice per week.
I alternated a HIIT cardio workout one day with a routine involving dumbbells another day — I own a pair of 5- and 8-lb weights — for at least 3 days of weight training per week. When feeling “ick” I would do yoga (there are even workouts for PMS!), Pilates and light dance workouts. The important thing is if I was tired one day, I wouldn’t skip a workout; I’d just choose something light and fitting of my current mood and bodily state.
I visually associate fat loss to a microwave and a stick of butter: you can place the butter in there and stare at it all you want, but it won’t melt until you turn on the power and blast it 🙂 And it’s the same with our bodies: we need to turn up the heat and discomfort and pain and SWEAT!
Here are some of my YouTube favourites:
- POPSUGAR Fitness
- Sydney Cummings
- Yoga with Adriene
- Michelle Vo Fitness
Best of luck, thanks for reading, and do please share your own tips!
— DI 😉
It’s now Day 3 of my foray into daily blogging. I haven’t run out of steam yet, but I could very easily fall back into TV-mode and ignore this — OMG, HOUSE OF CARDS IS BACK ON NETFLIX — fighting to keep focus…
Luckily I’m writing about food and, mainly, the impressive breakfast I had this morning. We headed to The Grille on the Queensway in Etobicoke. It’s been renovated in the years since we’ve been last and looks pretty fantastic.
Let me be frank and say that for me, breakfast is the most difficult meal to enjoy meat-free, for obvious reasons. I don’t miss the taste of meat, rather the crispy, crunchy texture of slightly overdone bacon and the saltiness of fried SPAM swimming around in pools of runny yolk. So when I eat out for breakfast, I usually give Stella my sausage (about 20% of the time she’ll actually eat it), and opt for some kind of runny eggs with toast, home fries and coffee. Here’s what I ordered this morning:
Eggs Florentine ($12.99)
3 poached large eggs over cheddar cheese and sauteed baby spinach on English muffins smothered in Hollandaise sauce. Served with our famous homefries.
Three large eggs! I usually only eat one per sitting and not very often during the week. I ate one, gave John another, and took the third to go and ate it in the car when I got hungry later, with my fingers, because we didn’t have any cutlery, and we were picking up Dani from school, and my head was hurting, so I couldn’t wait to arrive all the way home to eat it, not in Toronto traffic.
I should mention that before I ate that soggy, sticky mess, the hubby and I halved a Hero veggie burger, which is conveniently down the street from Dani’s school:
Soul Burger ($5.69)
100% Vegetarian, gluten-free, non-GMO. Toppings are lettuce, pickles, ketchup, maple chipotle mayo and low fat mayo.
I really thought this was the bee’s knees of veggie burgers, until just last Saturday I tried…
Animal Feed ($9.99)
Panko crusted portobello mushroom stuffed with feta & cream cheese, deep fried then topped with lettuce, tomato & lemon herb aioli. (removed the tomato of course. duh.)
It’s the squirt-mushroom-juice-on-your-nice-shirt-but-don’t-care kind of good.
Of course there are other things I can quickly pick up but don’t bother taking pictures of, usually because I’m hungry and very angry about it, such as Burger King and Harvey’s veggie burgers, or Subway tuna, falafel or veggie subs. I will admit that salads are low on my list when eating out because BO-RING. Oh, and sushi, of course. Can’t forget the sushi!
Also, Whole Foods’ hot and cold deli counters offer amazing mock chicken General Tao and mock chicken curry salad, with many different kinds of kale and beet concoctions, stewed curry veggies, fresh soups, etc. Just be prepared to pay $30 or more for a decent-sized container (true story).
Hey… how did that get in there?! =)
This was at the Groundwork Coffee Co. in Hollywood, somewhere along the Walk of Fame. I just took a picture. Didn’t eat any of it. Fully regret that now. =(
Just a few days ago, I was surprised with an email from WordPress saying I had a spike in amount of visits that day. Oh! I was then reminded I had a blog to maintain that apparently people were still reading!
We are just returning from the Big Apple in Colborne, Ontario, located off Highway 401. We had passed the gigantic smiling red apple monument on numerous occasions throughout our travels to beaches or campgrounds, but never actually stopped to go in. Today, a very warm and sunny Sunday in May, quite a change from the chilly and rainy almost daily weather, we had gotten out of bed and wondered what to do. I suggested going to the Big Apple and then seeing where we would end up after.
It turned out to be a very interesting and quaint shop. Inside were several food offerings including apple pies, sandwiches, soup, hot meals, ice cream, fudge, and lots of other chocolates, honey and maple treats, as well as cute souvenirs and knickknacks. Had I been Dianne of just a few weeks ago, I’d have probably walked out with bags of fudge, maple candies and pies, but I recently cut processed sugar out of my diet (another blog post, perhaps).
So now we arrive at the real subject of this post: chicken. In the front of the Red Apple store is a mini-putt course and small petting zoo, where you can put a $0.25 or $1.00 coin in a machine to get a capsule of animal feed for the ducks, goats, and chickens. While John and Dani fed animals, I followed Stella as she wandered past the animals’ cages. There was one coop housing several chickens and hens. In their cage were bowls of feed and fresh water. The chickens themselves were sunning, grazing, snoozing, perched in their little house laying eggs. I thought, what a peaceful little abode they had.
I had never had the vomity kind of food poisoning, but there’s a first time for everything. I managed to finish off the last of my work and lie back down again. For the next three days, I was stuck on the couch, unable to eat anything but crackers with a few sips of water and Advil. Lots of Advil. I lost four pounds. Eventually, the headaches and nausea subsided and my appetite returned (as did the four pounds — boo). I could and would never forget what a painful and traumatizing experience it was. I thought back to what the cause could be and it didn’t take long to figure out it was the chicken. I suspect I had it defrosting in the fridge just a few hours too long. Because we’re a busy household and I was bedridden for those few days, I eventually remembered to clean out the slow cooker with the chicken still in it. Just having to open it, see that mess of bones and chicken bits and the smell — ugh — I knew I just couldn’t eat animal flesh any longer.
I had given up meat the year before, which lasted about four months. Now it has been half a year since I’ve stopped. Back to the present day, as we observed the peaceful chickens in their coop, I thought of snippets of a documentary John had showed me about chickens who are raised solely for human consumption in unspeakable living conditions. I was immediately saddened. In just researching an online article by PETA, I could barely finish reading and felt like crying a little, thinking about how happy Dani was to just feed these innocent little animals. I’m not advocating for vegetarianism or veganism or even pescatarianism by any means, but I just thought I’d share the article I read, in case it would appease your curiosity or tug at your heartstrings as it did mine. Here is an excerpt from that article:
Chickens raised for their flesh—called “broiler” chickens by the meat industry—are typically confined to massive, windowless sheds that hold tens of thousands of birds each. While chickens can function well in small groups, where each bird is able to find his or her spot in the pecking order, it’s virtually impossible for them to establish a social structure in such large numbers. Because of this, the frustrated birds often peck at one another relentlessly, causing injury and even death. Such intensive confinement also breeds filth and disease. A Washington Post writer who visited a chicken shed said that “dust, feathers and ammonia choke the air in the chicken house and fans turn it into airborne sandpaper, rubbing skin raw.”
I didn’t want to get into more detail than that, so follow the link below if you’d like to read the rest of the article:
So for the past three days and over the weekend I’ve gone meat (including chicken and seafood) and dairy-free. I went through three parties/functions with friends and family offering the most delicious looking fried chicken and squid, brownies, birthday cake, sushi, etc. but I did not crack! I ate what was available for me to eat: plain fried rice, potato wedges, deviled eggs, carrot sticks, plain rye bread, veggie sushi, and fruit. My regular coffee turned to coffee with sugar, and I didn’t deprive myself of soft drinks, though I had maybe only two glasses the entire weekend.
I have the holidays to blame for this sudden wanting to cleanse. Y’all are familiar with holiday eating already, and to add to that, the weekend after Christmas we celebrated my mom’s birthday at Denny’s for brunch, Demetre crepes and iced coffees for dessert, and Pizza Hut for brunch the day after. I was starting to feel all rotten inside. So here we are with this cleanse.
Last night (end of day three) I was feeling very nauseous. I had made myself a veggie stew with rice that I had eaten most of the day, with egg salad on pumpernickel toast for lunch. By night time, I had such a headache and thought I was going to need to vomit. I ended up grabbing what was closest to me: a bag of cheddar and caramel popcorn, and stuffed a handful or two into my mouth. Downing two Tylenols with a bottle of water, I went to sleep, waking up the next day feeling similar but not as terrible.
In my research, detoxification side effects are common, and exactly what I experienced: headache, nausea, hunger, fatigue. I ate some noodle soup for breakfast and started to feel better. I had my blood taken recently and was told I have low blood pressure and was possibly low on sodium, so the salty soup seemed to have helped. I’m feeling much better today, day four. I was only planning to go three days, but in my research read that once the terrible symptoms pass and the body starts to cleanse itself, it will feel amazing and more energetic. I did have some salmon cream cheese on toast and two plain cupcakes, so I fell off the dairy a bit, but I think I’m going to continue restricting the meat and “heavy” amounts of dairy for the next few days. I want to experience that clean and amazing feeling.
As for progress, I don’t think you can see much of it in the picture above. I had a seven-pound weight gain over the holidays, and I managed to lose two over the weekend. I still have a pregnant-looking gut, which I know I can lose with exercise (feeling so tired and sick, I wasn’t able to go at all this week yet), and I did experience some changes within. The husband can attest to my extremely nauseating and pungent flatulent powers. Lucky man.
I’ll keep you posted on how I do the rest of the week. I am HUNGRY though, so fingers crossed I make it to tomorrow!
This sexy contraption is called a Shoulders Back support brace which I purchased recently to sit for hours at my steno machine, as I’ve been told that I’m now two inches shorter than I’ve always known myself to be, and I believe I’m shrinking as my posture slumps forward due to mommy neck and trying to learn this alien language called stenography.
What I’d really rather be doing as my children are finally tucked away into bed are: 1) sleeping 2) watching continuous seasons of The Good Wife that I discovered on Netflix just a few days ago 3) reading my ten-pounder of a Stephen King novel (though to be honest, this gets the least precedence) 4) online shopping and 5) Googling people I grew up with in Calgary and other random people from my past just to see what they’re up to now (you do it too, don’t lie).
I always try to tell myself I’ll stay up and work until my husband gets home. Right now, it’s almost 12:30 a.m., so that gives me just about three more hours to go. I wish I could say I’d be continuously practicing, but I predict that one hour from now, I’ll be cross-eyed and snoring wide awake, but lauding myself for getting on the computer and attempting to work anyway.
Enough of the dilly-dallying already, self! To work I go!
I’m already tired.
OKAY, okay… enough wasting time.
In the beginning it’s just me
Living in the palm of your hand, clinging to each finger joint, trusting every motion
Knowing nothing and nobody else
Decisions over choices, judgments over negotiations
You rule the world
As I awaken to much more
You begin to shrink
I learn, expect, love hard, disappoint
Hate, laugh, isolate, rejoice
You try your best, but it’s never enough
Why isn’t it?
A woman of curiosity
Life large, exciting, limitless
How strongly we differ
I blame and aim higher
You blame and cower away
Would it ever get easier?
You did as you could
So when you cling to every joint in the palm of my hand
To the very end, I’ll love you
And you will still rule my world.
They remind me of life as a teenager. When ’twas the holiday season I’d move my pillow, blanket, and Elise (beloved stuffed lamb) into the living room as my temporary headquarters.
Dino, my lovable feline rascal, would run from the side to the front window, paws up against and nose poking out of the blinds, “fighting” a neighborhood cat who was so bold as to come knocking on our door. As a result of his war games, pieces of the blinds had broken off and left gaping holes throughout the years and, when adorned by Christmas lights in the darkness of the winter, became my favourite way to gaze out into the night.
I love winter. It’s always been a season of romance for me. Of the few noteworthy relationships I’ve had, each one had begun or fully blossomed in the wintertime. So as a high schooler, I would spend my evenings spread out on the couch, television on BET’s Midnight Love, chatting on the phone ’til the wee hours of the morning on many a school night.
The lights and music provided a romantic backdrop for many conversations with boys. Oh, how I loved our talks. When they called my home, I’d leave their caller ID info on my phone to keep track of who exactly I was talking to. If I didn’t like him, I’d delete his number off the log because I didn’t like seeing his name on my phone. I remember a few of those who kept calling, and wonder when or how they eventually stopped.
The me of today avoids speaking to anybody on the phone. There’s only one boy (and two girls) I talk to now, and it’s alongside one another in the warm, romantic glow of the Christmas lights.
About a month after I gave birth, I ordered ALL my summer clothes online in a size medium, and gave myself three months maximum to fit into them all. I’m happy to report that it’s mission accomplished 🙂
Let me reverse and tell you a little bit more about my recovery (if you haven’t read the horror story which was my second delivery, please see below post entitled “4 Months Old.”)
After being released from the hospital on day four, my journey to recovery began, and it was unfortunately not seamless. Due to the amount of blood I had lost, I was prescribed iron tablets three times daily, along with the two Advil and four Tylenol I was taking for the pain – the constant soreness in which I couldn’t even sit properly. What was most uncomfortable about my recovery was the constipation – the iron pills would make me constipated, I was warned, and the only thing I had to counteract that was one stool softener I could take daily. It was six days before I had a bowel movement, and it was not a complete or “natural” one. TMI alert – it was more like a bunch of little black pebbles than something I would call a relief. Every time I would push, it would ache, and sometimes I would irritate the wound and rip the stitching a little, causing it to bleed more. One time I took a mirror and glanced at myself “down there” and was appalled at how I looked – a gaping, mutilated hole bound by stitching. I know you wonder why I would bother looking, but I just had to know.
One thing that helped with the pain was sitting in an epsom salt sitz bath three times daily, 20 minutes each time. A sitz bath is a round, plastic tub you place over the toilet that is filled with water and connected to an IV bag-like contraption with a tube and a clamp. Basically you fill the bag with hot water and move the clamp blocking the water passage to allow hot water into the bath as needed, and the excess water pours out a hole in the tub and into the toilet. Now that we are well versed in sitz bathery, I’ll get back to my recovery story.
Eventually, as the weeks passed, I was able to decrease the amount of pain killers to only 2-3 per day. And although I was told to take three iron tablets daily, I only took one and tried to eat as much iron-rich foods as possible instead, such as red meat and beans. That really helped with the constipation, and I was more “regular” about 2.5 weeks after I delivered.
At my six week post-partum appointment, I told the doc I still couldn’t sit upright properly in a chair. This concerned her, so she examined me and discovered I had some granulation on my vagina. Granulation tissue looks like polyps, and formed as a result of my stitching healing “too well” or “over-healing.” I had only a small one, and she gave me two options: either she burn it off immediately with silver nitrate, or I could take Vagifem daily suppositories (a tablet on a stick inserted into the vagina) to lubricate the area and help it to shrink on its own. I opted for the Vagifem, because I was too terrified of any more pain going on (she had warned me the silver nitrate would burn and be very uncomfortable.) She did tell me, however, that I was able to resume any form of exercise, including sexual activity.
For the next six weeks, I worked out at Goodlife four times a week, first thing in the morning. I took any and every class from Aqua Fit, Body Pump, Body Flow, Pilates Mat, Yoga, Body Step, Body Attack, and Body Combat. I prefer classes because I respond better to being told what to do, instead of leaving myself to my own devices (and laziness). At first I cut out white rice and only ate whole wheat bread with every meal. I didn’t eat sugary desserts or anything deep-fried. As you can probably guess, this didn’t last long. As the weight melted off, I started to become lackadaisical in my food choices and concentrated more on portion size: eating smaller portions of the things I actually enjoyed. This included sugary desserts because of my notorious sweet tooth, but very limited deep-fried items. To this day, I haven’t had fried chicken, and I very rarely order french fries (one exception is Swiss Chalet, because it’s just not the same without them).
A month after my previous appointment, doc told me the granulation was very small now, and I could continue with the Vagifem or she could burn it off with the silver nitrate. She told me again that it would hurt but only for a brief while, so I said, what the hell, just burn that mothaf*cka off. She applied the nitrate, and when she was finished, I exclaimed, that’s it?! I didn’t feel a thing!
At four months post-delivery, I am now 133 pounds at my lowest vs. 178 when I gave birth, and three pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. As I mentioned earlier, my summer clothes all now fit, including two dresses I bought for weddings (one already passed, and the other is in three weeks). Though I am happy with the weight loss, my skin still hasn’t returned to normal, and of course I still have pockets of fat here and there that I could do without. I started off extremely motivated, but I haven’t been back to the gym in a month. I think it’s all starting to catch up to me now. I’m constantly tired for some reason. As soon as the kids are tucked into bed/crib at night, all I want to do is go to sleep, when I have tons of steno practice I could/should be doing, as well as some home workouts I found on Hulu (which I do about three times a week if I’m lucky).
I guess I’m trying not to be too hard on myself given the energy expended keeping up with two youngin’s all day, along with my other motherly/wifely duties. Once Dani is back to school in September, I think I’ll be able to return to the gym, and my studies, on a full-time basis again. One can only be optimistic.
You’re the kind and loyal counterpart to my impatient, sarcastic, and cynical being
You’re the voice laughing identically with and at me, because you share my silly sense of humour
You always forgive me when I’m being mean and angry and pick on you when I’m bored
You’re the voice of reason and stay collected, whereas I fly off the handle and spew obscenities out of my face
You tolerate my constant indecisiveness which would, should the tables be turned, annoy the heck out of me
You spoil me every day with little notions that are more valuable than materialistic possessions
You sacrifice your sleep for mine, not only when I’m tired from the endless day to day, but because I just love it so
You’re my best friend
You’re our children’s best friend
Everybody likes you
I could go on and on, but I don’t need to
I have you forever!
Your #1 fan.