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 🙂

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 🙂 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 🙂 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 😉

Gains in Losses

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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.

🙂