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 😉

DisneyLIFE

fam at LEP

Happy 2015 everybody!  Thank you to all my visitors all over the world.  I haven’t been posting nearly enough as I should be, but that’s one of my resolutions for the new year.  Thank you again for all your support.

Orlando Florida family vacation:  September 20-27, 2014
There’s just something so happy and exciting about Disney Magic, and Dani just can’t stop talking about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

The weather was just perfectly suited to my taste: high in the mid 30’s (but not often) and low in the mid 20’s (mainly due to the rain, which came down 5 out of 7 days of the week).  In the dead heat of sunlight, I felt particularly suffocated because I’m not a “summer person.”  Plus, being pregnant, I’m always hot.  I welcomed the cooling sensation the rain brought, and strolling the air-conditioned malls almost every day was fun too, not to mention the swimming pools at the Orange Lake resort complex where we stayed for the week.

I shall rewind to day one and the adventures of happily married couple, adoring almost-three-year-old daughter, and 4-month-old baby swimming around in utero.  Leaving home at 5:30 am, we crossed the border and arrived at Buffalo International Airport around 8:00 am.  Flying out of BIA saved us at least $300-400 off typical fares out of Pearson.  We also parked across the street from the airport at the Hampton Inn for $5 a day, opting to take the $2.99 cancellation insurance (if something happens and your flight is cancelled or you can’t arrive within the next 24 hours, you’re not charged a late fee).  A 24-hour on-demand shuttle was ready at the door to take us over, and they provided us with a phone number to call a driver upon our return.  We were very pleased with the polite and efficient service.

Our first flight was to Atlanta, with a little over an hour to catch our connecting flight to Orlando.  No complaints or remarks to make here, as the flights and transitions were both speedy and smooth.  The first flight was under 2 hours, and the 2nd was just about one hour.  Even the wait at the rental car counter was fairly quick, although I’ll heed a warning here.  Car insurance for the week cost over $300, which was a surprise to us since we paid a third of that the last time we rented in Orlando.  Perhaps booking your car rental separate from a flight package and opting for their insurance is the safer bet.

After collecting the car seat and installing happy Dani into our black 2014 Ford Fusion (John wasn’t happy with the choice at all), we headed to Orange Lake West Village.  Our room exceeded our expectations.  We had used RCI exchange points to book and, listed as a Studio, it had a full kitchen minus the oven (stovetop, mini fridge, microwave, kettle, pots and pans, dishes, etc.)  To save some valuable shopping/Mickey dollars, we bought groceries at the nearby Target and Walmart stores and cooked a few dinners and even more breakfasts.

If you’re an Orange Lake timeshare owner, beware that you’re whisked to a separate desk to book your “return visit update” (aka Timeshare sales presentation).  The incentive was 50% the resort’s play-all-week package: mini golf, use of tubes for the lazy river, etc. for one hour of your time (we didn’t even end up buying it).

We dined at Ponderosa for our first evening (my how it has changed – pricey, and they eliminated the full buffet, boo hoo) and checked out some nearby stores i.e. Ross and Target, heading to bed early to recover from the 2.5 hours of sleep we had gotten the night before.

We were up early to catch our 8:00 am sales presentation, which we wanted to book first thing in the morning to just get it over with.  I’m extremely proud of Dani lasting the entire time, and of John and myself not upgrading or buying anything.  The last time we had attended such a presentation, we walked out with a timeshare =)  We had breakfast buffet at Sizzler, and after resting a bit that afternoon, headed to downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola Park.  We saw some swans and plenty of baby lizards (BUTIKI!  My favourite word!  LOL) and did some more shopping in the evening.

The next afternoon, after sleeping in again, we headed to Walmart to grab some groceries for the day: a barbecued chicken, salad, and some bread, and drove about 1.5 hours to Daytona Beach.  It was a perfect day: not blazingly hot or sunny, and quite empty on the beach.  If you’ve never been before, it costs $3.00 to park directly on the beach for the day.  Because it was overcast and rainy, there were only a handful of other cars nearby, which was just fine for us =)  On the way there, we passed the Daytona International Speedway and Vince Carter’s high school, for all you millions of Raptors fans out there.  =P

It was a lovely time.  Dani enjoyed playing in the not-so-packable sand and wading in the waves, although she caught and swallowed a mouthful of saltwater and vomited up some mushy strawberry remains (gross).  Afterwards, we headed to Toys R Us to pick up Dani’s Cinderella princess dress and the much coveted Shopkins, which were hard to find in stock back in Toronto and almost never available online.

I realize I’ve written quite a lengthy passage here, so I’ll save the rest for parts 2, 3 and maybe even 4 =)

Happy reading… don’t forget to come back!

the better way.

ttc

8:20 am on a sluggish, overcast Tuesday, and you just want to make your miserable-ass way to your miserable-ass work day. Suddenly, the announcement… the train is being stopped due to an onboard assistance alarm being activated. The majority of the passengers grunt in disgust, rolls their eyes, etc. and the morning has already been soured for them.

I’d witnessed this happening at least once every other day. What becomes an interesting yet unwelcome scenario is when the passenger who needs assistance is you. Such was the case over three weeks ago on my way to work.

It was a regular day. I normally board at the southernmost car, leaning myself against the door nook at the (front?) (?) (back) (?) of the train. Bent over and engrossed in my Stephen King novel, I look up after a while and suddenly feel very hot and flustered. I loosen my scarf, the world begins to spin, and before I know it, I open my eyes to see several strangers peering down at me, asking if I’m okay, and helping me up off the floor. They make way and walk me to a seat, all while the passenger alarm is ringing, and the train suddenly halts. Davisville station. Four stops from home. A nice lady in a TTC uniform, the driver, comes up to me and asks what happened. I’m mopping the sweat off my forehead with my scarf. She tells me it’s okay to feel ill, and don’t be embarrassed, because it could happen to anybody. I’m shocked and disoriented, because it’s happened to ME. I actually fainted for the first time in my life (okay, the second time, if you count that time in grade 8 when it was cool to make someone push your throat up against the wall and make you faint – yes, it works).

A very kind lady offers to come outside and sit with me until the medics and police can assess the situation. A policeman comes very swiftly, takes my ID, and asks me a series of questions, all the while very pleasant and accommodating. Then came the paramedics, who pricked my finger for a blood sample and took my blood pressure, which turned out to be low. They suggested I go to a doctor, and told me an ambulance was waiting should I decide to take it. I declined, fearing it a) might be an extra cost I didn’t wish to handle and b) was just too much melodrama for a mere fainting incident. After taking more information, the paramedics let me back onto the train, where I headed back home immediately, emailed my boss of said incident, and headed straight to emergency with my family. Long story short, after five hours of testing and general waiting, I was declared fine and allowed to leave.

Why I am writing this story today is because I was so touched and overwhelmed to have been treated with such kindness – by fellow passengers, TTC staff, the police, and the medics. I’ll admit, I was one of those jerks who was the first to roll her eyes at any delay. Now, I’m grateful for the time that is taken to ensure the safety of every passenger onboard.

I was scared to “TTC it” for a few days after but, ever since, I ride all the way to Finch and back south just to make sure I get a seat. Doesn’t hurt to be cautious.

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 III-Ciao Roma

Reflections of Roma

(black eye, sore scalp and all)
As I write this, we are on the bus direct from Paris Beauvais airport to Porte Maillot Metro station. It is 10:30 am here, and we’ve been up since 2:00 am preparing for a 6:40 am flight out of Rome. We’ve yet to eat anything, and once we reach Porte Maillot (a one hour, 15 minute-long ride) we’ll be on the metro and then the Paris RER train before we can check into our hotel on the other side of the map, near Disneyland (estimated travel time of an additional hour).  I think that’s enough “fore”ground information, so I can tell you all about our highlights of Roma.
I got teary-eyed our last afternoon thinking about leaving, and of how I’d miss all these beautiful cobblestoned streets, getting lost within them, and turning the corner to find something as spectacular as the Trevi Fountain (we ended up “finding” it at least eight times total throughout the trip), Vatican City, or the Pantheon.
The locals, few and far between in August (when they all head beach- and mountain- ward for their summer vacations) were very friendly for the most part. Dani was quite the celebrity, as she made even the sternest looking Vatican guards all goo-goo-ga-ga mouthed and making silly faces at her.
The splendours of Vatican City, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum really need no praise from me, as I’m sure it’s been written about thousands of times and depicted way more beautifully than I can describe.  Or more than I would perhaps enjoy to, since I’ve gotten less than three hours of sleep last night.
There are definitely things I will be glad to leave behind, one very important one I had already mentioned earlier: the lack of accessibility for infants in strollers.
When riding the metro, it’s faster to take your stroller up and down the escalators to save yourself a lot of grief.  We didn’t even bother bringing it along to the Vatican, which is very stair-ridden and crowded. It was a good decision overall, as we were able to take the “fast-track” route to the Sistine Chapel quite painlessly, with Dani content in Daddy’s arms all day long.  If you are unaware, the Vatican museums are gigantic, so unless you’re travelling with a bored, fussy almost-two-year-old, it is safe to say you can spend a half or even full day sightseeing in there alone. I have great admiration for those with art history knowledge, who can stare at a painting and know exactly which fabulous representation lies behind it. That’s not for me, however. I think museums are boring.
Another thing I don’t care for is the heat. I know people enjoy summer, and kudos to you all, but I get very dizzy and tired to the point of passing out when it’s too hot.  Plus, our hotel was a good 15-20 minute walk from the metro station (bless those dear souls who advertised that it was only a “short walk” away).  Add that to a 7- or 8-hour long day already, and you can see why we headed “home” early every night. I do wish we had taken some snapshots of the mighty Colosseum by moonlight,  however.
Rome is very dirty. There is graffiti everywhere, and not even the nice-looking Beat Street kind. There are no local regulations to pick up dog doody, so guess what you should be careful of before walking into it.  And gosh darnit, people smoke a LOT.  Stinky!
All in all, Rome is beautiful and rich in history, but old and inconvenient. This is my honest opinion only.
I shall leave you with some photos of our travels within this majestic city, as well as a picture of John’s black eye. If I could capture my aching scalp in a photograph, I’d do that too. Both are care of, and thanks to, our darling Dani. Apparently, she hit Daddy in the eye, and the next day I asked him wtf that ashy black sh*t was. Poor Daddy. And poor Mommy too. If you own or have ever owned a cat, you would know how they like to claw up their bed, a blanket, whatever, in order to cozy up for a nap. Dani does the same with my hair, only she yanks it really hard, smells it, and keeps it in her kung fu grip until she falls asleep.  It feels good mostly, but in the morning when I wake up, my scalp is throbbing and aching in patches. That’s what the final picture is of, when she finally slept at 12:00 am but woke up two hours later anyway when we were getting ready to leave. She will not be sharing any beds with us and it’s back to the crib when we get back to Toronto, but I don’t even want to think about that so good night it is… 1:40 am Paris, 7:40 pm Toronto.
Next post: Our arrival and first day in Paris. And: it smells like pee.
xoxo
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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 – 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 – 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 🙂