an hour a day

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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 Joe sharing my tips on my way to figuring things out ūüôā

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 focussed heavily on leaving early and heading back without being late). Having access to the all the dessert and fast food places was definitely not a setup for success (also the pizza & cake lunches for monthly office birthdays, breakfast pastries and other snacks/sweets brought in by clients).

Then on March 12th, I started working from home due to the obvious 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.

Intermittent Fasting
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 ūüôā 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 out buttwater like a mothaf*cka! 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 crapping your undies is high indeed! I did feel “refreshed,” however, in dumping that waste down the drain (literally).

YouTube Workouts
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.

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 ūüôā 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:

  • FitnessBlender
  • POPSUGAR Fitness
  • Sydney Cummings
  • HASFit
  • Yoga with Adriene
  • Michelle Vo Fitness

Best of luck, thanks for reading, and do please share your own tips!

— DI ūüėČ

Lady in White

image image imageAs of 9:00 am Saturday morning (3:00 am EST) we are in Malaga, Spain. Our last day in Paris was the usual: tiring but beautiful, with visits to the Notre Dame, the Galeries Lafayettes (mainly for a coffee atop the 7th floor panoramic terrace, as shopping is tres cher) and Au Printemps department stores, and the Sacre Coeur, ending the day off with Dani running around Les Jardins Tuileries and riding the carrousel.

Seeing the magnificent white Basilique du Sacre Coeur sitting atop that hill reminds me of my late Aunt, known affectionately as Tita Peng. ¬† She was a simple and inspiring lady. She had devoted her life to God and only wore white, which is why I thought of her yesterday. She passed away in 2004, in my first year (2nd attempt) of college. ¬† In my early years after first moving to Toronto from Calgary, she was always so kind and supportive. Ever since our arrival, my mother’s 4th eldest sister had always been my favourite. ¬†Though she was never officially ordained (pretty sure that’s not the right word, but there isn’t any wifi for me to google it so it’ll do), we always thought of her as a nun, and were actively part of her prayer group called¬†Rufina’s Family Crusade. We would bring the Mother Mary from home to home and pray the rosary together, and we had even taken a pilgrimage to Montreal to visit churches and spread our word. I remember sleeping in a cot in a bare-bones monastery there, and that it felt cold and quite eerie. There was nothing on the bed other than a sheet and nothing on the walls, so I stuck a small prayer card of St. Joseph on the wall above my head with some toothpaste to protect me.
¬†I also remember doing processions in the streets of downtown Toronto. My aunt always talked to and never turned away from the homeless, bringing them food and an ear to listen whenever they needed one. She didn’t even own a television in her apartment.
Going through my rebellious years, I would fight with my mother a lot, and I remember one incident when my mother told me to get out of the house. For a week I did, staying with my boyfriend at the time. ¬†Then I received a call from her, telling me she was sorry and to return home because she loved me (she had never, ever in my memory admitted she was wrong, nor apologized for much of anything). ¬†I later learned this was under the influence of my Tita Peng. ¬†After hearing of our fight and the harsh words exchanged, she was appalled at her younger sister and told her to call me and tell me to come home right away. Now, I was a pretty wild teenager who partied many late nights, yet my aunt never doubted that I had my head on straight and I’d make something of myself. In my eyes, she was the only great influence in my life who really knew and believed in me.
I thought of you, that beautiful white presence atop the hill, Tita Peng. I wonder if you can see for yourself, but in case you can’t, I’m working very hard. I’m trying to be the best person and mother I can and I think you’d be proud. I wish you were here to see for yourself. ¬†Danica would have loved to know you, too.
I miss you every day.
Love, your Di-Di

Trip Trippin’ Part IV – Bonjour Bon Bons

Wellll let me say that our transition from the Beauvais airport to the Port Maillot Metro station was not a difficult one – Mommy walks really fast so we beat the lines to get the bus tickets and were on the next available bus before those lines got ridiculously long. ¬†THEN came the stress I’ll call the Paris Metro Stroller Haul. ¬†It’s not that difficult to get around the subway system, rather just like Rome, accessibility is another issue. ¬†There are faster and more efficient elevators, but they’re not on every floor in every station (at least not the ones we’ve been in). ¬†Thus, we again began the juggling act of Dani, backpacks, carry-ons, stroller, and the like up and down many flights of stairs. ¬†This time with less sleep than ever. ¬†One of the exits was strange, because you had to insert your luggage and stroller through a hole in the bottom left of the partition before going through the small turnstile yourself. ¬†This took some strategic planning but we managed somehow without having to stuff Dani or our own butts through the hole ūüôā

After tons of sweat and passing through many a urine-stank-soaked elevator, we arrived at our hotel 1.5 hours early, so we went to a Chinese restaurant across the street for lunch and to kill some time. ¬†That was a big mistake. ¬†Snobbiest waiters ever, who had these “get out of my way” looks about them when Dani got up to walk around. ¬†They seemed annoyed that we weren’t speaking French, and took forever to deliver our ultra-chintzed, child-sized portions that ended up costing 20 Euros, or $28 HARD-EARNED CANADIAN DOLLARS! ¬†For LUNCH! ¬†Man, I’d have a shitload of fried tentacles, chicken’s feet, scramp rolls, tripe, siu mai, etc. etc. back home (Tremendous or Perfect, take your pic. ¬†HOLLA!) for that much. ¬†Now, I never, ever, get homesick. ¬†But one thing I’ve been missing here (okay, two) are Timmy’s and FOOD. ¬†GOSH all we ate in Rome was pizza and all we’ve been eating here is sandwiches and crepes. ¬†We’d like to branch out into the smaller neighbourhoods and experience more of the local tastes, but when working with a child’s schedule and temperament, we’re lucky to sit and grab a bite at all! ¬†That goes for shopping as well. ¬†We barely bought a thing in Rome and we haven’t hit the department stores or any of the shops on the Champs Elysees (not like I’m able to fork out hundreds of Euros as it is).

I start to miss Rome when I see how SOME (not ALL) people look irritated when they see Dani running around. ¬†Others think it is cute and will smile and wave at her, but that’s rarer than the former. ¬†Also, it seems like no one waits in line, rather just rushes in and out of whatever lineup, doorway, subway train, etc. like it’s every man for himself. ¬†In Rome, your children are LOVED. ¬†Most people of all ages stop and smile and chat to your child, and there isn’t one time that a seat wasn’t offered on the subway because we were pushing a stroller or carrying her. ¬†I have yet to see that here, although most of our servers and the shop keepers have been very nice. ¬†Perhaps we’re just picking up the vibes of irritated locals during busy tourist season ūüôā

On day 1, after we finally checked into the hotel, we took a nice long nap, were out the door by 10:00 pm, and hit the city. ¬†We visited the Louvre, Palais Royale, and even the local carnival for some crepes and churros. ¬†Photo ops along the way were inevitable. ¬†The next day we slept in, made it in time for our Seine city bus tour (as you can guess, we got lost, LOL – prepare for PLENTY of getting lost whenever you’re in a foreign land), went to the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower, to Leon de Bruxelles for some dinner on the Champs Elysees, and then back to the Seine for our evening cruise. ¬†We had booked this tour (which includes the bus tour/Eiffel Tower visit/Seine River cruise) through Viator. ¬†Our Disneyland (which is where we went today) tickets were booked through the same supplier. ¬†Let me exercise some caution. ¬†When you order online, you’ll be emailed a voucher with a barcode. ¬†Do NOT mistake this for your ticket. ¬†We were lucky to find out in time that you need to go to Information and exchange the vouchers for actual tickets before you can join the excursion. ¬†I’ve seen some people turned away and have to re-enter really long lines for this reason. ¬†Also, don’t mistake your printed RECEIPT for a voucher, either. ¬†Mommy had a dum-dum moment and for that, we had to return to our hotel after already getting to Disneyland. ¬†Dani had a nice nap in between this fun little setback and the lines had disappeared when we got back, so it all worked out in the end. ¬†Heh. ¬†Heh.

I’ll stop blabbering away now. ¬†Tomorrow we will spend our last day in the red light district (woo-hoo!), visiting the Sacre Coeur- my favourite, and what I find to be the most beautiful place in Paris- and the department stores Galeries Lafayettes and Printemps for some shopping, if we can get there in time. ¬†All in all, Paris is beautiful as always. ¬†We’ll be very sad to leave tomorrow night.

Pics are below.

Au revoir for now.

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Trip Trippin’ Part One – YYZ

I am SO PROUD to announce that our check-in at Pearson was swift and almost hassle-free.

I’ll compare that to our Florida trip last year, quite the nightmare on the contrary. Dani was only 11 months at the time, and though she couldn’t yet walk or run around, she was quite cray cray in the Customs lineup. I guess it’s more irritating to deal with US boarding, because we had to struggle with our cart of luggage pushing Dani all the while, and at security we had to remove our shoes. This year, flying internationally, we didn’t have to go through Customs and we were whisked to the wheelchair/stroller accessible line, not having to remove our shoes like before.

Back to Dani in the Customs lineup ‚Äď about halfway through the jam-packed queue, she started screaming and crying hysterically because we couldn’t carry her like she wanted. You can imagine all the stares and comments we got from nearby patrons until, literally 2 rows away from the front, they parted the way and let us ahead. Gee, thanks for noticing… eventually!

Back to today ‚Äď we were at the kiosk to print our baggage tags as we’d checked in before leaving home in order to proceed to the bag drop (limited lineup) but, lucky me, no tags printed out and I was told to stand in line with the rest of the less-prepared mofos (LONG lineup). Dani was already starting to fuss shortly after entering, but after devouring one Kinder Egg (we have a limited supply of 5, for extreme freakout instances only) and a pack of Mum Mums (sadly, she finished them all and didn’t share with Mommy), she fell asleep. We successfully lifted her out and back into the stroller to pass security without any hitches, and she even stayed asleep for a while after. The heavens were shining on us today!

That was around 3:00 pm. It is now 5:30, and Mommy and Daddy have already inhaled a double-patty-jalapeno-mushroom cheeseburger avec frites with some of Mommy’s favourite gummy candies, and she has just woken up. Sitting in Daddy’s lap eating a hot dog (eating = stuffing large pieces into her cheeks and somehow chewing and swallowing), she is happy as a clam.

Just 2.25 hours til takeoff ūüôā