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. 🙂

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Cozy Time Sweets

Bath Sweets Collage

I recently unearthed a container of old, favourite clothes that I had banished to shameful storage after I had gained, and retained, all the weight.  I have no idea why I saved some of the items (the thermal shirt with the stars is cute and all, but…) although others are more clear (the cat ear’d hoodie I wore on my first date with Mr. Finger Candy.)

But I clapped with joy when I pulled these old (yet barely ever worn) Nick & Nora flannel jammies out of the box.  Mr. Finger Candy gave me these maybe our third or fourth Christmas together?  I LOVED these pyjamas!  And then I forgot all about them.  Which happens when you somehow manage to gain so much weight, you outgrow your gigantic flannel PJs and are forced to relinquish them to the purgatory of the basement storage locker.

Which is where they would have stayed had I not lost 85 pounds in the last year and completely overhauled both my shape and my health.  Making it the perfect time to pull that container of old, favourite clothes straight out of purgatory to see what might fit.  Which was actually a ton of stuff!  Including these wonderful jammies.  I washed them up straightaway and then started to plan a warm, cozy bath with some likewise forgotten bath and body products.

Yummy Jammies

I mentioned last month that as part of my low-buy no buy I was also going to try to use up that which I had already bought, but not yet got around to using.  So drawing inspiration from my newly found PJs, I dug a whole mess of candy sweet things out of the beauty bin and drew myself one sweetheart of a bath.

Bath Sweets Main Photo

There’s a little bit of everything here – a three-wick candle in Bath & Body Works’ Vanilla Bean Noel, a favourite sugar cookie scent tinged with a touch of musk.  A tiny wax pie slice, sugar scrub and lotion from The Bathing Garden in Sugared Pie Crust.  A bar of soap from Dreaming Tree Soapworks in Bewitched, a creamy vanilla-raspberry scent.  A tiny, cupcake-shaped bath melt from Bomb Cosmetics in Cherry Pie.  Mmm, a couple of spritzes of Demeter’s Vanilla Ice Cream cologne, a scrumptious, toasty warm waffle cone scent I already use all the dang time.  A cotton candy-scented bath bomb gifted to me from a kind friend.  And finally, a post-bath cup of tea using this delicious Binx blend sent to me by another kind friend (named after Binx the cat from the movie Hocus Pocus, it contains catnip!)  Oh, and a couple of food-shaped wax tarts from The Bathing Garden because the PJs practically demanded it. 🙂

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!)

Summer Swatches

Summer Polish Collage

The craft stores may already have their Halloween decor on clearance, but I think there’s still lots of time left on this summer thing.  And for once, I can’t say that’s a bad thing – unlike previous years, I haven’t had a terrible problem with the heat.  And while I’d say that a major contributing factor has been the wetter-than-usual (and therefore cooler-than-usual) summer we have been “enjoying” in eastern Ontario this year, I think the lack of profuse sweating may actually be due to my rather profound weight loss – about 50 pounds since the end of February!  Also probably the hour-long swims I enjoy four or five times a week – a crack of dawn swim in my building’s indoor pool seems to bring my core temperature down to something approaching normal for the remainder of the humid day.  Totally awesome side benefit to this weight loss business; I highly recommend.

I also recommend this collection of sweet summer polishes that will see you through the final sultry days of the season in polished perfection.  Drawing from a wide array of indie vendors – Polish Me Silly, KB Shimmer and Painted Polish among them – there’s a nod to every great and vibrant thing about the summer, from gorgeous oceanic hues to drippy cherry popsicles.

WatermelonSquidding Me

First up we have Whimsical Idea by Pam’s Wacky Watermelon (here over Pure Ice’s lime green, Wild Thing) and Different Dimension’s You’ve Gotta Be Squidding Me.  I’ve used Wacky Watermelon in a few different manicures over the years, but Squidding Me is one I rarely pull out of my box of magic nail tricks.  And I really have no idea why, because it’s a gorgeous one – smooth jelly finish, and that flamingo pink hue shot through with purple shimmer?  Lush and vibrant, yet tremendously flattering, even for us pale, pale lasses (although I’ve no doubt it would look stupendous-er on those with darker skin tones.  Which is literally everyone else in the world.)

Lost MarblesSprinkle On

Taking a nod from the boardwalk, we have the two lacquers I always think of as my “bubblegum ice cream” polishes, Polish Me Silly’s pink I Lost My Marbles and Dollish Polish’s custardy yellow Get Your Sprinkle On! Get Your Sprinkle On! has always been a favourite – I think it looks like french vanilla ice cream topped with rainbow jimmies.

Whispering WavesMermaid

You’ve Gotta Be Squidding Me makes another appearance in this manicure as a fun, flamingo-hued base on which to layer another Whimsy, this time turquoise glitter Mermaid, alongside A England’s lush aqua holo, Whispering Waves.  This mani makes me smile – it’s very South Beach.  Somewhere in Sarasota there’s a granny rocking a velour tracksuit in these exact colours. 😉

Jello ShotChasing Rainbows

The white polish in this manicure, Painted Polish’s Chasing Rainbows, reminds me of colourful shells washing up on a white sand beach, while the pink polish, ILNP’s Jello Shot, reminds me of melted cherry popsicles. Also its namesake, the deadly, deadly jello shot (*shuddering in remembrance of hangovers past.*)

Citrus SmoothieBelle of the Mall

Finally, we have another manicure featuring a favourite polish, KB Shimmer’s coral pink glitter, Belle of the Mall, and Candy Lacquer’s Citrus Smoothie (once again over Pure Ice’s Wild Thing), a mad mix of citrus-hued glitters that remind me of sweet fruit salad.  Belle of the Mall is such a great polish; awesome consistency and the coolest Hawaiian Punch hue.  It’s summer in a bottle, just like all of these polishes!)

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. 🙂