Insanity Sandra and the Case of Too Many Renovations

Reno Collage

Right, so jumping straight into it, my life, as of late, has been a seemingly endless cycle of renovation-induced insanity.  We are installing new ceramic tile and carpeting throughout, and to cut down on the labour costs, I have undertaken the monumental task of ripping up all of our existing hardwood floors and ceramic tile myself.  It has been a dirty and difficult job, made all the worse by the fact that we are also having our bathroom redone, so, you know, no plumbing.  Compounding all of the above, I’ve also been dealing with tradespeople who can’t respect an appointment, tradespeople who won’t return my calls, period, and a very involved condo board.

So I’ve been busy doing non-nail art things, as the state of those poor nails is, well, abysmal.  But I suppose that’s what’s happens when you spend three days yanking splintered boards of wood off the ground with a two-foot-long crowbar.

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And so that is where I have been, once again with my apologies for flaking off on you kind readers and interested onlookers.  Years ago I stopped reading a blog by a woman I otherwise really liked and admired because she began every post with an apology for who-knows-what, usually a nominal absence of just one or two days.  It grew so irksome, I stopped following her blog altogether.  Now I find myself in that same position, and I’m apologizing for that, too!  Good lord, the only way I could get more Canadian right now is if I had a beaver tucked up under one arm (heh.)  Please don’t leave me, who will I talk to about Disney and twenty one pilots?

But I swear I’ve been up to more than just manning the phones, brute-forcing out an entire apartment’s worth of flooring and apologizing for things.  I’ve been reading A LOT (I’m nearly up to eight books for the year!) and planning all sorts of manicures for my Literary Inspiration series.

I’ve been trying to mind my diet and exercise and failing badly.  I don’t operate very well under stress, and food is a comfort when everything else is a half-finished mess.  I wish – oh, how I wish – I could get that drive back that I once had not so very long ago to do better, be better, but potato chips are so very tempting and my willpower has been non-existent.  Why can’t I get together?

I’ve been watching a lot of new (or new-to-me) movies and television shows.  This is remarkable only in that I’m a real “Well, why not Beetlejuice for the 137th time?” kind of person, but I’ve found all sorts of new favourites, including Crazy Rich Asians (oh my word, THAT WEDDING) and a super cute show on Netflix called Derry Girls about a group of teenagers living in Northern Ireland in the early ’90s.

Maybe it’s the chaos of the renovations.  Maybe it’s my lingering sadness at losing our beloved cat late last year.  Or maybe it’s just the way one inevitably feels when the six-month-long winter of our discontent is finally drawing to a close and you just don’t know what to do with yourself when you’re not living in a snow globe.  But I feel curiously flat and affectless, and I’d like it to stop.

Anyhow, please do bask in the half-finished state of our apartment and marvel, ye gods!, at the bare expanses of floor, for I am the Renovation Queen!  Hold the (Bathroom) Door, Plumbing is Coming, etc. 😉

Owning Up and Cutting Back

So here’s the sitch for any readers who may have come to this blog via some older posts I wrote about the complete overhaul I once made to my lackluster diet and exercise regimen – all of that weight I proudly spoke of shedding?  I have regrettably gained back so, so much of it.  My daily trips to the gym and/or the swimming pool for a few dozen laps?  I’ve worked out maybe five times in the last month and a half.  The improved, non-butter-centric diet?  Very much incorporating – or even just basing an entire meal around – butter once again.

For a while I blamed my newfound – and very much unwelcome – slothdom on the absence of our cat, Weegie, who passed away at the beginning of December.  I was practically incoherent in my sadness, and December was a blur of eating my feelings, and everyone else’s as well.  But I can actually trace the slackening of my resolve to our Labour Day 2018 long weekend trip to Disney.  I fell out of both my diet and exercise routines at that point and never really found my way back to them, so I can’t lay the blame solely at the doorstep of one very terrible Monday morning in December.

We also just returned home from another week in Disney World, where, despite walking over a dozen miles a day and being on our feet for 13 or more hours each day, we both put on a bit of weight AND picked up even more poor dietary habits – the hazards of vacationing in a place that features cheese-covered everything, with a margarita on the side.

Ears and Cocktails Collage

So for about six months now, it’s been a solid slide back to a place I very much do not want to return to, and it’s time to hit the brakes, throw the truck into reverse and…and I really don’t know vehicles well enough to be making driving metaphors!

But here’s the thing: I feel like crap.  All the time.  I’m actually writing this post at 4:00 in the morning, because I woke up with a sore head, back and tummy.  That’s what happens – or at least that’s what happens to me – when I’m not taking care of myself.  The headaches – a particularly troublesome affliction of mine my entire friggin’ life – that had once subsided have returned with a vengeance.  My back, once strong from daily exercise, throbs when I lay down for any longer than four hours at a time.  And without getting into the finer details, my GI system is a riot of gingerale/potato chips/pasta/fried food/butter-induced indigestion.  And I flirt with bouts of insomnia, an experience made ever so less appealing by the fact that it is no longer an act of meowing cat (my, how she loved screaming us into consciousness in the wee small hours of the morning) and now just an act of my own restless, bothered mind.

Also?  When I’m not taking care of myself, when I’m not making good health and dietary choices for my family, I begin to feel like life is going off the rails in all sorts of other ways, and that makes me very, very unhappy.  I’m a person who needs a loose framework of structure and order in her life, and I need a track on which to set my, uh, donkey?  Again, REALLY don’t know my driving metaphors.

But I feel like I’ve been a trackless donkey for far too long now.  So I’m making some changes.  Starting yesterday – fitting, since the last time I decided to kick my own arse, it was also at the end of February – I once again began monitoring my caloric input, while cutting back the bad and increasing the good.  I know what I should be eating to feel good and strong, it’s just a matter of reminding myself – repeatedly, because it’s a tough lesson to learn – that I feel so much better when I make responsible choices regarding my diet, and I really ought to put down that second helping of pasta.

To that end, I’ve once again subscribed to Hello Fresh, the meal subscription box I reviewed (spoiler: mostly favourably) in this post.  I maintain that Hello Fresh is not the least bit cost effective, and I’ve had a couple of very poor customer service experiences here in Ontario that left much to be desired.  But the recipes (we get the two-person vegetarian box) are creative and tasty, the ingredients are of excellent quality, and hey, I just plain old like it.  Also – and this is a big benefit to us right now as we aim to rein things in – the serving sizes are small, and feed no more than two people at a time, which pretty well ensures that you’ll be respecting those ever-creeping portion sizes, because there won’t be a bit of food left to sneak from the pan out in the kitchen.

Hello Fresh Collage

And starting up once again yesterday morning, I began a light exercise routine down in my gym.  Nothing more than a bit of walking on the treadmill for right now, but hopefully I’ll be back to swimming, weights and stretching soon.  Can’t say I love plodding away on a treadmill or an elliptical machine for many mind-numbing minutes at a time, but I do know I feel better – clearer, lighter, more productive somehow – when I exercise, so exercise I shall!  Also, could the weather possibly warm up a titch?  I’d really prefer it if my first swim of 2019 wasn’t a polar dip.  And that’s in the indoor pool!

Gym Selfie

So that’s where we stand here at the end of February 2019, with a mea culpa for the cached example of a past success that is regrettably no longer my present reality.  But I’m tired of feeling cruddy, and it’s time to return to a slightly more positive standing in my life.  And a huge part of that is remaining accountable to kind and interested people like you who may be struggling with, or have struggled with, diet and weight issues of your own.  So please do return to this space in a month’s time, when hopefully I’ll have all manner of inspiring wisdom to share with you about how I broke the dieting code or found the foodie holy grail (a never-ending fountain that dispenses calorie-less Linguine Carbonara, of course) and maybe we can get through this thing together. 🙂

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.

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.

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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.