Hello Delicious: A Week of Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh Collage

A few weeks ago my husband came home bearing a $40 off coupon for Hello Fresh.  Hello Fresh is one of those meal kit delivery services where you make your weekly selections from a range of menu options, and then the assembled ingredients are delivered to your door some days later, to await your magical culinary touch.  I’ve been really curious about Hello Fresh and other outfits of its ilk (Goodfood, Red Apron) but, frankly, frightened off by what I consider to be an unequitable ratio of value to cost.  As in I think it’s a pretty poor one.  But with a coupon that covered more than half the cost of a week of Hello Fresh meals, the time seemed right to satisfy my curiosity and give this fun delivery service a try.  Here’s how our week of Hello Fresh broke down.

First, because Mr. Finger Candy is a vegetarian, we went with the veggie meal plan.  Hello Fresh offers three different plans – family (predominately meat-based entrees), pronto (quickly prepared dishes) and veggie.  All of the plans are available for either two or four diners, and you can choose to receive three or five meals a week.  We went with the three-meal veggie plan for two people at a cost of $73.99.  With free shipping and our $40 off promo code, that brought the cost down to $33.99, or $5.67 a plate.

Hello Fresh is a subscription service, although you’re free to cancel your subscription penalty-free at any time (provided, of course, your latest box of grub is not already on its way) or even suspend your subscription for a period of time.  The latter is particularly helpful if you’re perhaps going to be away from home for a while, or even if you just don’t care for any of the coming week’s planned meals.

Your three (or five) meals come wrapped, by the individual recipe, in a brown paper bag, and the brown paper bags are themselves boxed up in a large, insulated cardboard box lined with disposable freezer packs.  The excess packaging issue (or the perception of excess packaging) is one that Hello Fresh seems to be acutely aware of, and they appear to be making every effort to pack their goods in recyclable and biodegradable packaging made from sustainable sources.  In addition, they offer free pick-up and shipping on the ice packs, should you not wish to cut them open and dissolve the contents down the sink (or, alternately, to slice them open and play around with the semi-frozen, 99 percent water-based solution contained therein.  It was just like trying to hold handfuls of frozen lubricant, an activity I already clearly indulge in a lot!)

My first nit to pick, however, is not with packaging waste, of which there was, all things considered, precious little.  It’s more that I had arranged my day in order to accommodate a delivery window of 8 am to 8 pm, only to discover, well after the lunch hour, that our order had in fact already been delivered, and was at that very moment leaning (and melting) against my front door, where it had been sitting, in a very hot and humid hallway, for anywhere between one and four hours.  The contents of the box, our meals, were just fine and none of the ingredients had spoiled, but the bottom of the main box was approaching sodden and had to be disposed of immediately, because it reeked of wet cardboard death.  A simple knock on the door just to let me know the delivery had arrived is all that was required here.

The three vegetarian meals we received included a pasta dish (Rigatoni in a Blush Tomato sauce with Basil Oil and Torn Bocconcini), a Thai-influenced entree (Thai Massaman Veggie Skewers with Basmati rice, Eggplant and Cremini mushrooms) and a salad (Mixed Bean and Veggie Panzanella Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette.)  There’s some indication on Hello Fresh’s website that you can in fact choose the entrees you’d like from any given week’s menu (say, for instance, you’re not super jazzed about Thai cuisine, and would prefer another one of the dishes on offer) but the policy isn’t clear and I wasn’t able to make any changes to our order.  Which is just as well, because I absolutely would have jettisoned the veggie skewers, as I’m not that fond of Thai food, which would have been a shame, as they were utterly delicious.

Each recipe took about half an hour to 40 minutes to prepare, and produced one plate (or bowl) of food per person and nothing more; we absolutely did not realize next-day leftovers from these recipes.  Having said all that, the recipes were nicely laid out and easy to follow, and I even picked up a couple of new cooking tips from the rigatoni dish (and I thought I knew all the pasta tricks!)  I especially liked the “exactly what you need inside” approach to the ingredients; as I puttered about my kitchen tossing exactly 18 cherry tomatoes with precisely one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar from the miniature, two tablespoon-bottle provided, I felt like I was the star of my own little cooking show.  Of course, it helped that I was addressing an audience of one curious cat and one curiouser husband as opposed to just talking to myself in the middle of the kitchen.  Let’s see how each entree stacked up, shall we?

Rigatoni in a Blush Tomato Sauce with Basil Oil and Torn Bocconcini

Rigatoni 2

This was so delicious, I could have eaten both bowls myself, and then probably a third just for total overkill measure.  I had not the most optimistic of hopes for this dish; as a lifelong pasta devotee, I just assumed I had already enjoyed (or made) all the great pastas in the world.  Also, it doesn’t get much more straightforward than cherry tomatoes, basil and cheese.  So how delightful was it to find out I was completely mistaken on both scores?  Because this bright, fresh, super flavourful pasta dish was not only unexpectedly scrumptious, but making this recipe also taught me a few new tricks – first, that fresh basil can sometimes be a tough old thing, and a minute or two in a hot, blanching bath will do it wonders, secondly, that I’m drowning my roasted tomatoes in liquid when just a tablespoon or two will suffice, and thirdly, I don’t use either vinegar or my broiler enough.

Rigatoni 3

But making this incredibly delicious pasta – indeed, all three of the dishes – laid bare what I consider to be the one and only flaw to the Hello Fresh service – namely, that the very small portion sizes do not represent good value as set against the per plate cost.  When I pulled the ingredients for this recipe out of the bag, I had a great laugh at the comically small amount of dried rigatoni.  Look at how teeny weeny it is!

Rigatoni 1

However, looking at it in a more positive light, making these recipes also exposed one major obstacle to my plateaued weight loss efforts, that being that I’m wildly overestimating my portion sizes.  A single serving of this rigatoni dish clocked in at 727 calories, and as I’ve already indicated, I not only thought the portion sizes were tragically tiny, but that I could have eaten about three times as much.  So a cool 2,200 calories in pasta alone.  Which may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but could I have eaten both bowls?  Yes, absolutely.  Which may account for at least some of my inability to move the weight loss needle in any significant way for some months now.  Creeping portion sizes are a real dink.

Thai Massaman Veggie Skewers with Basmati Rice, Eggplant and Cremini Mushrooms

Skewers 2

Well, this was an unexpected hit!  As in I had expected to hate it, because I really, really dislike Thai food, just to an unbelievable degree.  But I’m always game to try something new (I’ve eaten – and sort of enjoyed? – duck testicles, for pity’s sake) and I’m so glad I did, because this dish was incredibly delicious.  I think I cooked the spicy peanut butter sauce down just a tad too much (it was decidedly thicker than the one pictured on the recipe card) but holy crow, who cares, it was great.  I particularly loved the bright flavours of the cilantro-lime basmati rice, and prior to this, I would have gone to the mat over my hatred for basmati rice.  But this was a particularly inoffensive basmati, neither too flowery, nor too starchy.  Like the rigatoni, I’d make this yummy dish again in a heartbeat.

Skewers 3

However, about an hour after eating, both Mr. Finger Candy and I were utterly famished; like, gnawing the chair rail molding hungry (no, just us?  We do have a lot of decorative molding in our apartment.)  These veggie skewers were so delicious, but once again, there was simply not enough food.

Skewers 1

Mixed Bean and Veggie Panzanella Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette

Salad 2

Finally, we come to the dish I was the least enthused about (bean and bread salad, really?) and while it was tasty, it was my least favourite of the three recipes, in large part because this kit was missing the Italian seasoning blend, a somewhat crucial component to a salad where the only other flavour is LEMON!!!  Oh my gosh, so, SO lemony; too lemony.  I cobbled together a vaguely Italian-ish seasoning blend from spices in my pantry, but that’s somewhat defeating the whole “exactly what you need inside” principle Hello Fresh literally prints on the outside of their bags.  What would you do if you didn’t have any of those spices in your kitchen?  Eat intensely lemony bean and bread salad, that’s what.  And while I actually quite enjoyed the hearty beans with the fresh, crunchy vegetables and the toasted garlic bread cubes (the smell as they were toasting was utterly intoxicating) I thought the vinaigrette could have benefited from both the missing Italian seasoning blend, and a tablespoon or so of dijon mustard.

Salad 3

Geez, I also forgot that one half of one of the mini cucumbers had gone mushy, requiring me to substitute a handful of cherry tomatoes from the fridge.  Delicious, but again, quite besides the point.  Presumably because of the beans, this dish was super duper filling.  And I’d absolutely make this dish again as well, just with a few necessary flavour adjustments.  This recipe really represented the poorest value for the money, though, and I would not have been happy paying the full plate price ($11) for such a dish.  Heck, I’m not sure if I was happy paying $5.50 per plate.

Salad 1

The too-long, didn’t-read version breaks down like this: I see a lot of utility for a meal kit delivery service like Hello Fresh for many, many people – those who hate to shop and would prefer if someone else did it for them (me!), those with little cooking experience or a very pared down kitchen (definitely not me), people who travel a lot and never keep a fully stocked kitchen (occasionally me), home chefs looking to juice their repertoire of recipes (very much me; I’m always on the lookout for a great vegetarian meal), travelers staying in suites with kitchens who may wish to make their own meals (never, ever me; I’m not cooking after a long day at the Disney parks!), those on restrictive diets seeking to strictly monitor their portion sizes (should be me, apparently) or those looking for a unique wedding or other special occasion gift (not me anytime soon that I know of, although I’d gladly accept such a gift!)

Ultimately, though, I think the main reason a person might continue on in their Hello Fresh subscription is because they have a lot of disposable income and they don’t mind spending it in this fashion.  Because for all of the positives – and there are many, many positives, overwhelmingly so – the price-to-value ratio is so skewed, I think you just have to enjoy the experience of a meal kit delivery service; nothing more complicated than that.  And if you do see value in something like Hello Fresh, that’s awesome; if we could afford it, we would have continued on with our subscription.  But as it was, the increasingly budget-conscious person I’m becoming derived little pleasure from knowing that I could have made four times the amount of pasta using $30 worth of full size ingredients that I got off my own butt and bought at the store.

So would I use Hello Fresh again?  In the words of one of my personal heroines, Mabel Pines of the animated TV show Gravity Falls, yes, definitely, absolutely!  With the caveat being that it would have to come along with a pretty major discount to offset what I consider to be the one stumbling block to the service – the prohibitive cost.  Otherwise, I loved the entire experience – it was fun, produced really tasty meals and was a nice little break from the usual.  One and three-quarters of a thumb up for Hello Fresh from this blogger.

Advertisements

Literary Inspiration: I’ll Have What She’s Having

I'll Have Collage

Cute manicure inspiration aside, I don’t have a lot to say about this book, I’ll Have What She’s Having: Adventures in Celebrity Dieting by Rebecca Harrington.  I chose this book to satisfy the to-be-read requirement in my friends’ reading challenge, predominantly because it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for the past two years, longing for precisely that, but also because I was in desperate need of a light, literary palate cleanser after The Handmaid’s Tale.

Following the sort of “I’ll do crazy crap for a year and then write about it” literary craze that started with Julie Powell’s Julie & Julia, I’ll Have What She’s Having tosses writer Rebecca Harrington into the deep end of the celebrity dieting world as she attempts to emulate the weirdly restrictive eating habits of, among others, Madonna (macrobiotics), Karl Lagerfeld (Diet Coke), Marilyn Monroe (raw eggs in milk!) and Greta Garbo (pure, ear-splitting dietary insanity, with a heavy emphasis on a make-ahead (and apparently never-eat) celery loaf.)

I'll Have 1

That all seems like fertile ground on which to mine a lot of excellent observational comedy, if I may mix my metaphors.  Yet I’ll Have What She’s Having was stubbornly flat, more a recitation of the unpleasant facets of these diets (the social isolation, the prohibitive costs, the biological disruptions) than any sort of insight, humourous or otherwise, into those same issues.  I was looking for something light, but this was just slight.  Clocking in at 161 pages of very large text and an inexplicable number of double-spaced paragraph breaks, it felt like a feature length magazine article that was needlessly stretched into a full length book.

The inside cover art did provide some pretty great nail art inspiration, however.  Can’t ever go wrong with bold graphics of food against a star-printed background.  That’s, like, right where I live!

I'll Have 3

Positive Steps: A Dieting Story

Irregular Choice Collage 1

I’ve been having all manner of difficulty lately staying on track of my fitness and diet goals.  Oh, I’m still going down to the gym and the pool for almost-daily workouts, sometimes even with Mr. Finger Candy or my mom in tow, but I’ve been eating such garbage, and lots ‘n’ lots of it.  I’d wager in the first year of my “Turn things around or you’re gonna die” regime I dined at McDonald’s (a favourite, because that’s where the golden delicious fries live) perhaps just three or four times.  I went there three times over this past long weekend alone. 😦

So that’s all kind of suckiness that I’m attempting to set right here at the beginning of this shortened work week.  No more eyeballing it, no more creeping portion sizes, no more crap dietary decisions.  No more McDonald’s, at least for the time being.  Instead, I’d like to see a return to the sensible – and very casual – diet and exercise “plan” I’ve been following to great success these past 15 months (you know, up until the high caloric affair that was The Great Quarter Poundering of Victoria Day Weekend 2018.)  I’m just a happier, better functioning human being when I keep a reasonable eye on body and soul, so that’s what I’m going to do.

As always, though, motivation is key.  After all, if I had such a limitless font of the stuff in the first place, I wouldn’t be here right now!  So this past weekend I went looking for something to juice the old motivational gears, evidence that what I’ve been doing has been working – a formerly snug tee, a formerly snug necklace, a formerly snug (insert the item *HERE* because everything was snug.)

Irregular Choice 7

Including my shoes!  Because you actually can gain quite a bit of weight in your feet.  Which is why these kawaii cuties from Irregular Choice have been banished to the top shelf of the front hall closet for the past six years – because they simply do did not fit.  I’m one of Cinderella’s step-sisters, but instead of greed and avarice, I was kept out of these slippers due to my extreme love of butter.

Irregular Choice Collage 2

But they fit now!  And I was beyond excited yesterday when I found them, jammed them onto my feet (no surprise here, but they are muy uncomfortable) and discovered that not only could I fasten the Mary Jane straps across my arches, but I could also stand up in them AND shimmy around for a bit (before the daggers in the balls of my feet demanded I stop.)  Victory is mine!  And so is a whole pile of positive motivation to keep on keeping on.  I truly never thought I’d wear these shoes not just again, but EVER, because they have never fit.  I’m as happy as a gilded, googly-eyed cupcake on a pair of four inch heels.

Irregular Choice 3

Or my fingers!  Because, you know, nail art.  I think this manicure turned out wonderfully, if not totally impractically.  But sometimes in beauty – and footwear – you want to take the more is more approach, and these nails, and their inspiration, definitely qualify as MORE.  Love it all, and glad to be back on track in so many different ways.

Irregular Choice 2

Weight-Less: A Dieting Story

Blue Lips in Ottawa

Good morning, and welcome to the final day of February!  Do you know what else today is?  It’s the one-year anniversary of the sweeping changes I implemented to my diet and exercise habits, which as of this post has netted me an I’m-so-proud 80 pound weight loss!  I’d love to say I lost 100 pounds in one year, or even 85, but January and February have both been stinkers – despite the amazing progress I know I’ve made, I’ve really had to fight to find the motivation to go down to the gym every day.  Coupled with some not so stellar dietary habits I picked up down Disney way (sure, it’s fine to eat a massive entree with no real thought as to its caloric content when you’re walking seven-plus miles a day, but not so much when it’s just you working on your blog at home) I haven’t seen any real movement on the scale.

Ah, but all the other nice little perks are there, the things I fought so hard for this year and that I’m only now really getting around to appreciating.  The somewhat shapely curve of my biceps (I even have biceps?!  Neat!)  The extra spring in my step.  The expanded clothing choices.  A return to fun makeup and hair care.  Little to no exertion sweat.  Physical endurance, flexibility and a newfound ability to play casual games on my phone whilst nearly breaking out into a run on the treadmill.

And every day – no really, every single day, and I know you believe it, because I never friggin’ shut up about Disney any more – I think back with no small degree of wonder to our back-to-back trips to Disney World.  This time last year the thought of going to Disney – hell, the thought of even getting an airplane seatbelt cinched around my bulk – was incomprehensible and deeply terrifying.  Like, I may as well have just proposed a quick jaunt to Mars, such was my disbelief that I was ever going to be in good enough physical shape to tackle a trip to my favouritest place in the world.

But I *did* have the confidence to know that if I just kept plodding away at things, I’d get there.  And then one Fall day my husband said, “Let’s go to Disney World, this weekend” and with no small degree of wonder, I realized that we could.  I wasn’t at my “goal weight” (I actually don’t have one; I think they’re counterproductive) but I felt physically strong, and like I maybe wasn’t going to have a problem with that seatbelt after all (and I didn’t!)  And without getting too hippy dippy on you here, the whole trip (and its Christmastime follow-up) did wonders for my dieting spirits (so long as I can shake that mega-entree-and-a-cocktail habit I fell into whilst Disneyside.)

So the diet and exercise thing and my obsession (it’s okay, you can call it an obsession) with Disney kind of go hand-in-hand.  Because aside from just wanting to do something smart for my body and soul, IT’S my motivation – I want to continue having fun in the Happiest Place on Earth, as many times a year as I can, and I can only do that if I’m feeling strong and healthy and well.

So yay, me am proud!  Of, um, me.  Also rockin’ the Disney athletic wear these days – easier to stay motivated when that motivation is stretched across your bod or supporting your arches.  Here I am down in my building’s gym in my new favourite Turkey Leg varsity tee.  I have no idea what that odd humanoid creature is painted on the wall behind me, but I do know that it’s freaking me the crap out.

007

And thanks to an awesome heads-up from a cool Disney blogger friend, I nabbed these Haunted Mansion New Balance running shoes.  Yeah, I’ll let that sink in for a moment – Haunted Mansion running shoes.  I really love me some unconventional, novelty footwear, but these might be the best shoes I’ve ever purchased.  I’m ecstatic to be their owner (and at a 75 percent discount, no less, as they’re a 2017 release and I purchased them with just one week left to go in the year.)  I’ll have some inspired-by nail art up on these guys soon, but for now, let’s just bask in their incredibleness.  Haunted Mansion running shoes, yo!

Shoes Collage

So there we have it, my One-Year State of the Weight address.  I hope to have just as great news, if not better, to share with you again next year. 🙂

Goal Goals: A Dieting Story

Mansion Shot

For me, (a) major treat is a…trip to Disney World, one of my favourite places on Earth, and a spot I’ve been avoiding since gaining ALL the weight.  I think about that still-very-nebulous vacation every day as I’m thumping away on the treadmill, imagining that each on-the-spot step is actually me hauling nimble ass towards the Haunted Mansion for the first of the day’s 13 straight rides.  It’s wonderful motivation, an achievable big dream I can almost reach out and touch.  It also sort of has a smell (popcorn, Dole Whip, propane and chlorinated It’s a Small World water, in case you were wondering.)

That was me four months and 30+ pounds ago, still dreaming about that let’s-face-it-it’s-probably-never-going-to-happen trip to Disney.  Something was always going to get in the way – most likely an incapacitating back spasm or my inability to walk more than 50 feet without breaking out into a sweat.

And that picture above?  That’s my husband and I a week and a half ago standing triumphant in front of the Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion following our 13th ride.

I was, frankly, astonished when Mr. Finger Candy came home three nights before our anniversary and declared that we were going to Disney World to celebrate, no ifs, ands or buts.  But I was positively gobsmacked when I realized that yes, we could go, we could go – and did go! – practically right that minute precisely because MY butt was no longer the issue!  And neither was my back, or my energy levels or any one of the other dozen or so minor ailments that had been unfairly derailing our lives for years.

You guys, I DIDS IT!!!  And not only did I do it, but I’m overjoyed to report that barring the usual (foot, it’s always foot) pains that invariably go along with a 16-hour day at the world’s busiest theme park (we walked at least seven miles our first day at the Magic Kingdom, or 33,371 feet) I had zero – I repeat, zero! – problems with mobility related to either my weight or general health.  And our feet actually fared quite well, thanks to our Lieutenant Dan-like approach to theme park foot care.  Won’t lie, I side-eyed the super slim, toboggan-type capsules on Space Mountain something fierce, but the only problem I had there was insufficient legroom.  Then again, Space Mountain has always been a cramped ride; no idea how my husband fit all 6’3 of himself in there (“Uncomfortably!” he says.)

We had the very best time on this impromptu little trip, and I’ve returned home feeling stupendous; so proud of myself.  And seriously pumped up; ready to tackle the next little bit of my weight loss journey, because the work never ends.  Bit of a bummer, that, but doable when you realize that when you put in the work, you can actually make your dreams – even the kind of bonkers ones – come true. 🙂

PhilharMagic

One Determined Kitty: A Dieting Story

HK Collage

A friend recently commented, quite sweetly, that she was inspired by the determination with which I’ve thrown myself into my weight loss and exercise goals (this on the heels of my admission that I had pre-gamed my Thanksgiving dinner by taking a big, long swim the morning-of.  And actually, the really nutso part of that story, which I did not share with my friend because it made me sound (rightfully) bonkers, was that the pool heater had been out for repairs for about a week at that point, and so the temperature of the water was *maybe* 30 degrees?  Above zero, that is.  By the time I got out an hour later, I had lost most of the feeling in my left foot.  Now, tell me, is that determination or just insanity?) 😉

Anyhow, her sentiment was so lovely and made me feel like a million bucks – moi, determined, inspiring?  Why, thank you!  But also in the back of my head I was sarcastically thinking, “Bull-SHIT!” because those are both adjectives not typically used to describe yours truly.  I am the person you come to when you want to discuss the costuming of cats or Tim Burton’s use of mid-century suburban architecture or exactly how much Nickelback sucks (lots!)  But determined, inspiring?  Surely only if we’re talking determined to sit on my butt for as long as possible, potentially inspiring YOU to get off yours.

But as you know, my life has undergone a bit of a sea change in the last year – gone are the days of epic sittin’-around, as well as chips-for-11-pm-dinner and butter as a garnish.  Those bad habits have been replaced with daily exercise and mostly sensible nutrition, and for it I’ve been rewarded, as of this post, with a 70-pound weight loss, as well as a whole host of other fantastic, no-BS health bonuses (as in they actually happen if you put in the effort) such as increased energy, brighter, clearer skin, and a general (and much-needed) improvement in mood and attitude.  And no humblebragging (just outright bragging!) but I suppose those really are things to find inspiring, because yes, they took a tremendous amount of determination to achieve.

But it’s been hard.  It’s been really, really hard.  So far I haven’t harped too much on the drawbacks of sensible nutrition and increased exercise (the former being boring and the latter being both boring AND painful) because to date, I’ve been enjoying the positives far more than the negatives.  But my weight loss efforts have plateaued recently, despite my better attempts to switch things up and course correct, and I’m finding treading water – sometimes literally, provided the pool is warm enough – to be a frustrating chore.  I know one day the scale will budge; until then, I’m choosing to concentrate on the positive tangibles – that I’m nearly down another dress size, that I don’t get immediately winded climbing any more than five steps at a time, that I might actually be developing something approaching defined biceps?  The mind, it boggles!  I can also now once again do the splits (right leg forward only, but I was always crap on my left) and lay flat on the floor with my legs out to either side in a forward split.  I’ve recently even begun adding a bit of cool-down ballet barre work to my routine – nothing works the old thighs like a mess of plies, tendus and arabesques.  Tap is also fantastic cardio, although your neighbours WILL look at you as though you’re bonkers if they walk into the gym to find you really, ahem, Puttin’ On the Ritz.

But no matter where the scale is steadfastly hovering, all of the above is made easier when I look cute and feel great – somewhat non-natural states when you’re getting all red-faced and sweaty on an elliptical machine at seven in the morning, true, but nice clothes do make a difference.  A massive difference when you realize you’re now swimming in one of your favourite pairs of leggings, and a slightly smaller – though no less important – difference when you catch a glimpse of your toned legs in your new camo workout pants and vacuously, yet proudly, think to yourself, “Damn, dat ass!”  And sometimes – oftentimes – that’s enough of a boost to put some steam in your treadmill steps for many, many more workouts and self-doubts to come.  Clothes make the person and all that.

HK Workout Wear 1

Although what does it say about a person when she willingly garbs her 40-year-old bod in licensed Hello Kitty wear?  That she sees herself getting stylishly svelte in Sanrio-sanctioned spandex?  Based on that last sentence, it might say she has a problem with alliteration, but otherwise, I see no wrong here.  Whatever tickles your fancy, and if your fancy is telling you to work out whilst covered in baby pink bows, who are you to deny it?  I clearly didn’t deny MY fancy, which is how I wound up with this stupendously cute Hello Kitty workout set from Torrid.  I buy all my workout clothes from Torrid – they’re a plus size retailer (an offshoot of Hot Topic, actually, hence all the goth-type branded merch and stacks of Manic Panic.)  I’ve had a ton of stylish success with Torrid’s gear – everything fits to standard measurements, the pieces are all well constructed and feature moisture-wicking materials and reinforced seams, and as a nice little bonus, everything is available in dozens of cool styles and patterns (strappy camo, racerback galaxy print, cut-out neons, as well as tons of not-so-basic black.)  It is workout wear manna for the chubby girl set, and as stated, it has made ALL the difference.  Because if I’ve got to walk in place for half an hour with nothing more to do than listen to Weird Al and stare at my own legs in the mirror as they shush back and forth, I might as well be looking at something adorable.

HK Bra Collage

And since I also spend quite a bit of time on the treadmill with my hands up around my phone as I delete what seems like endless reams of photos (dangerous little bit of multi-tasking there, deleting photos whilst nearly breaking out into a run) it also helps if my fhalanges are looking their finest.  For these very Kitty-esque nails, I topped Whimsical Ideas by Pam’s Tutu Sweet with two basic plastic bow charms that I outlined in black polish for a starkly framed, comic book-type of look.

HK Bow Nails

Now back to the gym, this time lookin’ Hello fine. 😉

Motivation Manicure: A Dieting Story

Motivation Manicure Fingers

Or “How to Persevere with Your Long-Term Health and Dietary Goals When Your Motivation is Beginning to Wane.”  Except that is WAY too long a title, so Moti-Mani it is!

Regular readers and casual dropper-byers alike may remember that I’m now four months into a rather major overhaul of my family’s general health and wellness.  As in we possessed neither of those things, and I was inching dangerously close to a pit that had nothing at the bottom but razor sharp rocks.  Also diabetes, stroke and heart attack, but I thought the pointy rock thing was apt.

So I hitched up my pants (hahahahahahaha, there was no hitching, silly!  I couldn’t even get my pants BUTTONED) and decided to do the only thing I hadn’t yet tried – make a real, concerted effort to save my own bloody life.

Nearly four months in, I’m pleased to report that I’ve shed a little over 40 pounds and four dress sizes.  Better yet, I now sleep through the evening (or at least as long as my cat will allow.)  I don’t get winded walking up a flight of stairs.  I no longer wake feeling like a UFC match took place in my stomach during the night.  My skin is bright and (mostly) clear.  I have lots of energy.  I no longer sweat while eating.  Or breathing.

And while those are all FABULOUS side effects of a healthier approach to diet, exercise and general wellness, remembering to appreciate those seemingly minor gains for the major motivational milestones they actually are is a trap all of us fall into at one time or another.  We have a tendency – in all aspects of life, really – to dismiss the mundane inanities of everyday life in favour of THE BIG SHOW.  We live for those big moments, and that includes the things we feel passionately about, the things that motivate us.

How that tends to manifest itself in the dieter’s mind is a fixation on a major, end-of-diet treat (an expensive vacation, a crossed-off item on the bucket list, a five-star tour of France where you do nothing but eat cheese for 10 straight days, I don’t know your life!)

For me, that major treat is a ludicrously expensive, long and splashy trip to Disney World, one of my favourite places on Earth, and a spot I’ve been avoiding since gaining ALL the weight.  I think about that still-very-nebulous vacation every day as I’m thumping away on the treadmill, imagining that each on-the-spot step is actually me hauling nimble ass towards the Haunted Mansion for the first of the day’s 13 straight rides.  It’s wonderful motivation, an achievable big dream I can almost reach out and touch.  It also sort of has a smell (popcorn, Dole Whip, propane and chlorinated It’s a Small World water, in case you were wondering.)

And that’s what this manicure is, the nail art representation of a beautiful dream that I’m taking much-needed steps towards making a reality every single day (me standing on the Hub grass of the Magic Kingdom waiting for one of the evening’s innumerable fireworks bonanzas as the sun sets in a pastel sky behind Cinderella’s castle, but of course.)

Motivation Manicure Bottle

But plans of dream vacations will only take you so far, as being so far off in the distance themselves, they can begin to feel unattainable – gigantic dreams turned pipe dream. With a long, hard slog ahead and no clear horizon in sight, it’s just far too easy to give up altogether, particularly after suffering a (completely normal and unavoidable) setback.

So I’m choosing instead to also celebrate those little, in-the-middle victories – the increased energy, the improved mood, the sleep-filled nights.  Because it’s good to always keep your eye on the big prize, but it’s also worth checking in every now and then with the smaller successes as well.  They’re the real motivators, and the real reason to continue doing just what I’m doing – because it feels good, and because I feel good. Nothing more complicated than that. 🙂