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 😉

that chick(en) tho.

chickens apple

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!

My last post was nine months ago, and of course that’s way too long. At the suggestion of my hubby, who is way more versed in social media than I am, I agreed I would try and post daily, no matter how insignificant or wayward my thoughts would be that day. So here we are!

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.

Backtracking to six months ago, as some of my friends and family are aware, I had given up eating meat, so beef, pork, poultry, etc., the exception being seafood (which I doubt I will ever give up).  The reason for this was because back in December, I had an “incident.” Yes, another of my infamous food-related incidents. Basically, my in-laws were over one night to watch the kids while I did some editing work due that evening.  I had been slow-cooking chicken quarters since that morning, and some six hours later, I figured they were done cooking, turned off the power, and dunked in a fork for a taste. I ate some of the skin and a few pieces of meat, which had completely fallen off the bone. They didn’t taste particularly unpleasant, but did give off a slight flavour of liver and were way too mushy, so I plunked the fork into the sink and went back to work. I had given Dani a small piece to try, but she didn’t like it either.
About an hour later while sitting at the computer, I started to feel hot and sweaty and my stomach began to tighten. It was around 9:00 p.m. and time to put Dani to bed, so I sent the in-laws home for the evening and did just that. Soon afterwards, I felt queasy and my stomach swelled to four months pregnant size. I called John and asked him to come home from work immediately. My own work would have to wait. Shortly after he arrived, I ran to the bathroom, stuck my head into the toilet bowl, and vomited violently. I vomited so long and so hard my jaws locked and my neck and shoulders tensed and cramped. Exhausted, I just fell to the side and started weeping. I needed help getting up and laid down on the couch.

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:

https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/chickens/chicken-industry/

I never stopped eating meat as a result of inhumane treatment to animals, but now that I’ve already stopped, there’s just more fuel to the fire to stay away for good (let’s hope).