Food and Wine Time!

Food and Wine Collage

We went to Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival this year, and it was incredible – a food lover’s paradise of signature Disney dishes and lovingly crafted cocktails.  I had no patience for Epcot when I was a kid, and even when we attended the Food and Wine Festival on our honeymoon 14 years ago, we didn’t care much beyond snickering at the little boy who queried his father as they walked by the Canada booth, nearly hidden for the cloud of salmon-scented smoke belching from its sides, “Dad, is that REALLY what Canada smells like?”

But in the 14 years since then Canada has refined its offerings, and we’ve grown a little, too, right into the kind of people who love a food and alcohol festival that offers grownup fun in a gorgeous setting.  Epcot is beautiful and packed full of unique cultural and educational opportunities; you just have to be willing to look beyond the rides to see how much more there truly is.

Food and Wine 14 - Goodies

But this time we came ready to boogie, and we sampled so many scrumptious, decadent, amazing things!  That is also coincidentally the reason why my next post is going to be all about how I’ve really lost sight of my diet and exercise goals whilst living part-time in the vast fishbowl that is Disney.  You can sort of justify eating this way when you’re walking 12-plus miles a day, but in the really real world, the one where you sit on your butt for 12-plus miles a day, you cannot.  I’ve found it hard – have been finding it hard, actually, since our Labour Day trip back at the end of August – to drop the indulgent dietary habits I’ve picked up down Disney World way, and I’m feeling rather displeased with myself for it.  I exercised such discipline in the first year of my “Get your crap together” regime, and one or two blips aside, I felt wonderful, in body and mind, for well over a year and a half.

But since then, it’s been a struggle, and crash weight loss while at Disney aside (you kind of can’t help but lose weight when you’re walking that much every day, bit of shrimp scampi dip notwithstanding) I’ve not been paying much attention to my diet, I’ve hardly been exercising and I think it all sucks.  I want to do better.

But first I’d like you to watch this long-ish video I made for our YouTube channel, Park or Perish!, detailing our experience at our first Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.  So pull up a chair, grab a wee glass of your preferred poison (a Bloody Mary if you’re watching this in the AM; you know it’s what we’d do!) and enjoy watching two people shove food into their faces in 90 degree heat!  We overeat for your entertainment and delight!  And then we try to rein it in for OUR betterment and delight.

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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

Cherry Blossom Mickey

Cherry Blossom Mickey 1

Again with the Disney stuff, I know!  Yeah, yeah, I’m a broken record.  But a busted clock is right twice a day, or something like that.  Besides, our little customized vacation booklet (for our vacation in six months’ time; Disney are masters of the slow jam tease) arrived today and I’m getting ex-ci-ted!  We made up a list this week of all of the food items/experiences we’d like to try on our next trip, and the somehow incomplete list is 46 items strong.  And one of those I have listed as “Eat everything at Epcot Food & Wine.”  So.

However, you needn’t worry too, too much about my dieting motivation in light of all this gorging talk – the Disney Force is still very strong with my workouts, as evidenced by this pre-workout shot of me in my favourite Turkey Leg varsity tee.  Yes, that is a lot of Stephen King on the shelf behind me – things you already knew. 😉

Turkey Leg Workout

Anyhow, these cherry blossom nails with not-so-hidden Mickeys are in celebration of the fact that I may be able to stop griping about the other thing I’m always banging on about, and that’s the crap weather we have been, um, enjoying this protracted winter.  Because with temperatures predicted to be in the mid-teens this weekend, it looks like spring might actually be here to stay.  So cherry blossom season, just ever so slightly delayed.

Cherry Blossom Mickey 2

I say that now, of course.  I mean, I’m sure it’ll snow in July or something, just to spite me.  Yes, just to spite ME, I’m sure. 😉

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. 🙂

Fall Fun Series II: The End

Fall End Collage

So, Fall Fun Series year two final grade for one Miss Finger Candy?  C minus.  You know, if she could just buckle down and stop talking to everyone and everything she’s seated beside, she could really turn this year around (nothing my parents ever heard during parent-teacher conferences, nosiree!)

Okay, so I whiffed the Fall Fun Series.  With the exception of series MVP Michelle of Melting With Michelle (who continued posting even during the lead-up to her end-of-October wedding!) we all dropped the ball a little as work and family obligations and unfortunate, unexpected problems with both derailed some of our best blogging intentions.  And while I can’t speak for the other participants, I simply wasn’t feeling the autumn spirit this year (at least not until my spur-of-the-moment Halloween trip to Disney World; funny that it took leaving my cool weather, leaf-strewn home for Florida’s “faux” Fall for me to regain that spark.)

But I also have much to be thankful for as the autumn draws to a close.  Great friends, close family, neato husband, snuggly cat, a roof over my head, comfort and safety.  Also an arse that no longer requires its own postal stamp.  And without trying to sound too conceited (but probably failing) I like to think I have at least some of those good things in my life because I worked hard to achieve them.  Luck always plays a role, but so does effort and determination.

And so the second-to-last Fall Fun Series prompt was to thank yourself for something good you’ve done for you, yourself and I.  For me, that was taking a hard, critical look at my lifestyle choices and realizing that if I didn’t turn things around, I was going to wind up the very definition of a life unfinished.  My world had petrified, and I was in dire need of a swift kick in the pants.

Working It

So I kicked those pants, really kicked ’em into high gear, and many months later I’m feeling healthier, wealthier and more wise than I have in about a decade (well, maybe not wealthier; increased activity does not always come cheaply, particularly if your activity of choice is visiting Disney.)

And so today I’m thankful for having seen the diabetes forest for the trees, for having pulled back what was barreling towards irrevocable and for putting me first.  Sounds selfish, but by not taking care of myself, I was relegating absolutely everyone else in my life to the bottom of the list.  Actions speak louder than words and all that not-so trite stuff, and what my actions were saying was that nobody else mattered, because I hardly mattered.  I’m thankful for having rejoined the human race so I can share this weird, maddening world with you all. 🙂

Au revoir, Fall.

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

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. 🙂