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. 😉

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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. 🙂

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. 😉

Fall Fun Series II: Fashionably Whiffing It

Fall Fun Series II Photo

There’s at least one posting prompt I whiff every year in whatever blogging challenge I’m participating in at the time, and it looks as though 2017’s will be today’s theme of fashion in the Fall Fun Series.  I’m just not a very fashionable person.  Oh, I can turn it on – and out – when the occasion arises, but I’m a real jeans and t-shirt kind of lady, and I’ve got zero problems if those jeans and t-shirts come from Target.  Or Torrid, because I apparently have the fashion sense of a 13-year-old girl.

More than that, though, this year in particular, as I continue down this path of increased exercise, weight loss and general health betterment, I’ve found that I can barely keep a handle on my sizing from week to week, let alone season to season.  On average, I’ve dropped about five sizes in seven months, but there are aggravating outfit outliers (among them the American-made swing dress I purchased for a special Halloween event, only to heartbreakingly discover that I could lose another 50 pounds and still not fit into the damn thing.)  Clothing sizes are a giant crap shoot under the very best of circumstances; when you factor in weight loss that drops your boobs two cup sizes in a month while your tummy resolutely remains the size and shape of the Pillsbury Doughboy’s, you question the utility of trying to maintain a nice wardrobe in the midst of such bodily chaos.

Well, okay, I may have something to show you, an ensemble I sport when I want to take awkward arabesque gym selfies – neon accessories (shoes, iPhone case blocking out my face) and my favourite black and white (and red, and grey, and blue) striped leggings.  I think they look like Tim Burton workout wear (hmm, interesting collaboration possibility there.)  I spend time down in my building’s gym every day, and I at least attempt to look cute while I’m there (admittedly difficult when you’re sweating like some sort of livestock.)

Gym Selfie

Anyhow, for those two reasons, I have no (real) Fall fashion to share with you today.  No fashion for me, so NO FASHION FOR YOU!  But my fellow blogger friends will undoubtedly have some fun looks to show you; please do check out their posts by clicking on the links below. 🙂

Amanda at Thrifty Polished

Angela at Angela Kay

Jay at The Candle Enthusiast

Julie at The Redolent Mermaid

Michelle at Melting With Michelle

Sandra – me! – at Finger Candy (although I clearly have nothing to say on this subject!)