Thursday, May 31, 2012

Some inspiration

Now that I'm back up in weight and have almost five pounds to go to hit my next weight-loss target, I thought some inspiration might be useful. I decided awhile ago that when I hit my next target I would reward myself with something of the clothing persuasion. (If you recall, the last reward was a book - which I didn't actually finish because I didn't like it. Sigh.)

I was going to go with a dress, maybe, or some pants but I decided that I wanted something that would last longer, would be an enduring symbol of having lost 10% of my body weight (hey, it's something to be proud of!). Then it hit me: a handbag! Something well-made and timeless, something I could carry now and for years to come, something I love and would be a treat.

At first I thought I'd get a Coach bag, as I've been lusting over them for awhile now. But then I stumbled across some photos of the new Roots collection and it hit me: a Roots bag! With the added bonus of it being a Canadian company, I knew that was it. So I hit up the website and picked out this beauty:

 It's the small Grace bag in Prince leather and I love it. It also has a long shoulder strap so I could wear it across my body, as I love to do with my handbags, though this style will look much better carried in my hand. I love the simple yet classic shape and the contrasting colours. And as long as I care for it properly, this is the kind of bag I could pass on to my kids. I'm only guessing here, but I feel like the name Grace comes from Grace Kelly, she of timeless and beautiful style.

So here it is - a little something to help me get to my next target. And it will be mine!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

WW Weigh-In #21

 Well, it's weigh-in day again, which brings a nice departure from all my focus on buying a house. Here's what the numbers have to say:

Last week: 184.8 lb
This week: 186.0 lb
Total gained ost this week: 1.2 lb

Weight loss target: 181.8 lb
To reach target: 4.2 lb

I'll admit, I was a little surprised by this. I didn't have the best week, food-wise, but I was thinking a half-pound loss wouldn't be unreasonable. I'm also realizing I need a new plan of attack, as I find myself stuck in the 80s - and not in a fun, John Hughes kind of way.

I've talked before about my happy weight and that maybe I'm nearing that and that's still possible. But I do believe that I can get down to 181.8 lb and that I should get down to there.

(As a reminder, 181.8 lb marks a loss of 10% of my body weight, based on my weight when I started WW. I really want to hit this target.)

It's often believed that it's easier to gain weight in the winter, due to comfort food and such, and to lose weight in the summer, because apparently people only eat salad. I'm sure this holds true for many, many people but it's actually the opposite for me. I find it easier to lose weight in the winter (Christmastime excluded) because I'm more likely to stay in and cook and make good food; I don't go out drinking as much; and it's not too hot outside to have the oven going all the time. In the summer I'm more likely to have a few beers, hit a patio and eat a burger and, the next morning, feel my few beers and need pizza. I hibernate in the winter but by doing so, I'm less likely to eat bad food.

Perhaps I need to pretend it's still January and eat like it's -20C?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Where would we store a stroller?"

It's interesting - and very personal - the questions that you ask yourself when buying a house. I'm fortunate in that I have someone to buy a house with, so we can bounce questions off each other; come up with worst-case scenarios involving family and friends coming over; and help point out smaller details the other may have missed. We're a good team but on the weekend this question came up:

"Where would we store a stroller?"

It seemed innocuous at first, but once we actually thought about it, it became much bigger. Wherever we move, we want to be able to fit a couple of kids in too and kids come with lots of extras, like toys and clothes and diapers - and strollers.

Before we started house-hunting we answered the "big" questions: what neighbourhood; how many bedrooms; could we make it work with one bathroom; parking is a must; easy TTC access is a must; we don't want to be house-rich and cash-poor so figure out our max limit and try to come in below it; we'd rather not go north of St Clair; we'd like to stay put for at least five years and maybe even up to 10. We had it figured out - until I brought up the stroller.

And that's the trickiest part of the house-buying process (at least for us [at least according to me]): not just how we're going to use it now but how we're going to use it later. 10 years is a long time, especially when buying with our budget but we'd talked about it and knew what we needed, what we wanted and what we could compromise on. But don't forget the stroller.

We're still looking - it has been barely a month after all. But we're pretty sure we've got all the answers we need now, both big and
small, and we'll make sure there is room for a stroller.

Monday, May 28, 2012

On buying a house

As we talk about and move towards buying a house, I find myself dwelling on the whole concept and the sheer magnitude of it. I mean, this is HUGE.

Sure, low interest rates mean there are lots of people looking and the idea of buying and flipping a house (i.e. not staying in it for long) is still alive and well, but it's a big deal. And it's so easy to be swayed by pretty hardwood or granite countertops or a soaker tub or any other high-end finish, and it's easy to look at a staged home and think it's perfect and fall in love with everything. We've done a bit of that, I have no trouble admitting, but we've also talked it out after seeing things and we're really good at playing devil's advocate with each other. And this is good because we're looking for a place we can be in for 5-10 years so that means discussing what the next 5-10 years could bring in our lives.

So not only are we looking at spending six figures on something; not only do we have to make sure our furniture will fit as well as the staging furniture; not only do we need to be sure we have what we need, as well as what we want; we also have to consider what our lives will be like in 10 years (and there's a very good chance that will include children). It's a bit mind-blowing.

Add in that houses stay on the market for, oh, about a week, and suddenly it's a lot of pressure. Since we own our condo we can wait until after we buy before we sell, so that's a bonus but we also have to act quickly on anything we like. That means lawyers and deposits and offer strategy - all in a matter of a few days.

We spent two months buying a car and it cost 1/20th of what we're planning (hoping) to spend on a house. Really, it's a purchase that's 20 times as expensive that we have to make 20 times as quickly. I've spent longer buying shoes.

I remember when I was planning to go to university, there was so much emphasis on making the right choice, not just of program but of school as well, because it was going to affect me FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Truth is, I switched majors halfway through second year, I opted for a 3-year degree and I went to college two years after graduating to get the skills necessary to actually be employable. So while university was a big, expensive deal it was nowhere near as impactful as I was led to believe. It was worthwhile, don't get me wrong, and it influenced many other facets of my life, but it didn't lock me into anything for any significant period of time. (Though my eight months of third year felt like a small eternity.)

When we buy a house, we can't just switch to a different spot six months later. With all the closing costs associated with a house (and when it's a percentage and you're dealing with Toronto prices, those can climb quickly), we're not going to move again in two years, unless absolutely necessary. While we're not looking for the forever home, we're looking for middle-term. And it's a huge decision to make. And it's a little scary.

But it's also a ton of fun - though I do get carried away sometimes. One place we liked I kept staring at the pictures and started picking out paint colours. In reality the house was a big no, but if it had worked out, I knew what colour the dining room would be! This helps keep me sane and happy and excited about the whole process - because if I spend too much time dwelling on the magnitude of this purchase, this decision, my head just might explode.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Slow and steady - but mostly slow

About two and half weeks ago I bought 20 boxes, small ones that would accommodate our books (we have a lot of books). The plan was to start decluttering now and get some stuff in storage so we're in better shape to stage the condo after we buy a house.

The catch? The "buy a house" part. It's been rather slow in the real estate market of late, at least the part that we're playing in. Almost four weeks went by with very little and the one or two that did pique our interest sold before we could even book an appointment. On the upside, there has been a bit more action of late but it's a finicky market so we'll see where that leaves us.

But at least we have boxes at the ready!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Breakfast of champions

For the longest time I didn't eat berries (or much fruit, for that matter). Since starting WW and knowing that all fruit is 0 points, I've become more open to fruity goodness - and it's a good thing. I've discovered I love strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Lately, I've been on a strawberry/blueberry kick, as evinced by my (slightly blurry) breakfast. 

1 cup spoon-sized Shredded Wheat, 2/3 cup skim milk and liberal handfuls of berries make for a delicious breakfast - all for only 6 points!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Long weekend fun

And what a fun long weekend it was! Even with a Tuesday print deadline, I didn't have to work on Monday so I was able to take full advantage of three whole days of time off! And it was glorious.

It all started Friday night.  I finished work at 8:30 pm, giving me enough time to hit up the LCBO and buy some delicious perfect-for-the-long-weekend beer. I grabbed a six-pack of Flying Monkeys Smashbomb Atomic IPA, a six-pack of Amsterdam's Boneshaker IPA and two bottles of Trafalgar Ales & Meads Irish Ale. The Smashbomb I'd had before but on draft, not bottled; I'm happy to say it's just as delicious when bottled. It's got a nice hoppiness to it but nothing too strong; it's rather delicious. The Boneshaker was a new one for the Beau and I and it was also really good, but very hoppy. It's the kind of beer you drink when you want one or two, or that you start with before switching to something a bit lighter. The Irish Ale was also really good, but more my Beau's speed than mine. So Friday night we tucked in with some beers and started watching Shutter Island. The Beau fell asleep before the end but it didn't matter - it was on Netflix so we just paused it until the next day. I love me some Netflix.

Saturday morning dawned warm and sunny and beautiful. I had been meaning to go bathing suit shopping for awhile and figured there was no time like the Saturday of a long weekend. While that may sound crazy, I was shopping in the 'burbs; Sherway Gardens was incredibly non-busy for a long weekend Saturday, which was perfect.

I had my mind set on getting a tankini for the summer. I'm not quite confident enough in my tummy to rock a bikini but I've also had trouble finding a one-piece that fits well, being long-torsoed. We're also planning a canoe trip this summer and I thought a tankini would be perfect for that: able to wear a bathing suit to keep cool and minimally dressed but also make it easy to pee in the woods. Now bathing suit shopping has never been a favourite activity of mine but I persevered and managed to buy two suits! There are bottoms that go with these, but they're just black (and I couldn't figure out a good way to hang them below the tops, so there you go).

Saturday night we finished Shutter Island (good movie, but works better as a book), then finally watched The Muppets, which as all kinds of amazing. I love me some Jason Segel. We also watched Chronicle, which is amazing and you should all go watch it right now. Right now!

Sunday brought with it a family outing to a Blue Jays game! It was a blazing hot day but lots of sunscreen made it okay. That and the foot-long, peameal-and-cheddar-cheese-topped hot dog I had. We lasted until the seventh inning when the nephews were ready to go (being toddlers, they did very well!) and the Beau and I were ready for some shade. We came home, showered and settled in for more TV & movies: The Killing (which is finally getting good but barely holding my interest) and  Bram Stoker's Dracula (which does not hold up 20 years later, though Keanu Reeves is hilarious).

Which brings us to Monday. We had planned to head to High Park but opted to stick closer to home and hit up the Discover Trails and parks near Old Mill. Even though we didn't have a view of Grenadier Pond, it was still beautiful and peaceful. We spread out a blanket, got into some snacks and read our books. Around us, people walked, biked, ran, played with their kids and relaxed like us. It was a wonderful way to wrap up the weekend.

The whole weekend was made all the more relaxing because we stayed in the city. The siren song of cottage country rang loud, but we opted to make minimal plans (our only commitment was the baseball game) and just do whatever we felt like for three days. We slept in, watched movies, drank beer, got LOTS of vitamin D, ate delicious food and enjoyed being with each other. It was perfect.

WW Weigh-In #20

Holy moly, it's weigh-in day again. Where did the week go? I guess this is what happens when there's an awesome long weekend in the middle of the week! (How weird is that, that I know think of the weekend as the middle of my week? But both my work week and my WW week start on a Wednesday and end on a Tuesday so it's fitting the weekend would be "mid-week". Fitting, but odd.)

I had a most wonderful long weekend but I'll save that for another post. Time to get to the meat of the potatoes* and check in with the scale:

Last week: 185.2 lb
This week: 184.8 lb
Total lost this week: 0.4 lb

Weight loss target: 181.8 lb
To reach target: 3.0 lb

I seem to have mastered the 0.4 lb/week approach. But no matter how small, it's still a loss and that's what's important.  I'm also beginning to wonder if I'm coming up on my happy weight. Yes, I would like to get down to 170 lb at least, but maybe my body is happiest around 180 lb. I'm not about to throw in the towel or anything, but I'm going to pay closer attention. After all, while I want to lose weight I also want to get to a point where I can maintain a weight I'm happy with but still enjoy life. That is what's most important to me and why I've been so happy with WW thus far (even when I've gained): I've been able to enjoy life!

What I really need to do is get myself toned up for summer (and start training for my zombie run). But that is also another post - maybe if I write down my desired workout plan I'll feel more inclined to stick with it.

....Wait, I just realized I'm only THREE POUNDS away from my next weight loss target! Wowza! I can do this!....

*Do you ever watch Storage Wars? If you do, you'll get where this line came from. If you don't, you should; it's awesome.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WW Weigh-In #19

This past week had my no-carbs-for-two-days experiment in it, some mostly good eating and very little exercise. So I understand why the numbers are thus:

Last week: 185.6 lb
This week: 185.2 lb
Total lost this week: 0.4 lb

Weight loss target: 181.8 lb
To reach target: 3.4 lb

Still, it's a loss so I'm moving in the right direction. Also, my daily points value changed - I'm down to 29! Seriously, how does losing 0.4 lb mean a drop in points?! I guess this is WW's way of getting me back on the 1-2 lb/week weight loss I signed up for.

I've been at 29 points before, right when I went on that month-long gaining binge. Let's see how well I do this time!

Friday, May 11, 2012

No carbs, no loss

I hopped on the scale quickly this morning to see if forgoing carbs for two days had any immediate effect on my weight. The result: no change at all. I'm still at the same as my Wednesday weigh-in, 186.5 lb.

I hadn't expected any huge change, I was really just curious. I'm also not sure if I want to continue with this. While it seems incredibly easy - and I did eat well the past two days - I was incredibly tired and sluggish all day yesterday and this morning. I could hardly get myself out of bed! Of course, I'm making a completely non-scientific, non-doctor-supported, hugely generalized conclusion by saying that two days of no carbs makes me sleepy and sluggish and blah.

So will I try it again? Maybe one more week; I honestly can't say for sure. I do know, though, that this is not something I want to do for the rest of my life so unless I start losing huge amounts of weight, I just don't think it's going to be worth it. And if I do lose huge amounts of weight, I'm sure I'll put a bunch of it back on as soon as I start eating carbs seven days a week.

And so it goes with the fad diets.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I tried it

That no-carbs-for-two-days thing. Today is day two. I hate it.

I feel sluggish and tired and all I can think about is bread. I thought I'd be okay if I ate almonds but an afternoon snack cost me 10 points! I'll cobble together some kind of dinner tonight that has spinach and eggs and zucchini and salsa involved and it will be delicious but it will be hard to stay away from the white cheddar popcorn.

I'm also going to weigh myself when tomorrow morning, just to see if there's been any discernible change. And then I'm going to have a breakfast sandwich on a beautiful, delicious English muffin.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

WW Weigh-In #18

Now this is more like it:

Last week: 187.4 lb
This week: 185.6 lb
Total lost this week: 1.8 lb

Weight loss target: 181.8 lb
To reach target: 3.8 lb

I'm back on track and feeling fine! I'm also in need of more coffee. Despite a grande (non-fat) latte, I need more of a kick. It's been a busy day! I had to pick up a package at the post office; check my storage locker and buy some boxes (we're already starting to declutter!); stop at Ikea to get a piece for my mom's cabinets; hit up Home Depot for my mom's Mother's Day gift (hello BBQ!); and then one last quick stop to pick up a few other items. Phew!

And despite the torrential downpour, I made it home not too wet. Time to make some coffee, put some laundry in and kick back with some TV.

Days like today are the best!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


A few random thoughts, late on a Tuesday night...

...I know I have to be patient in the house hunt, but I want one NOW dammit! Everyday we have new listings emailed to us and everyday we obsessively check MLS ourselves, just in case. So far, our dream home has not materialized. Apparently this kind of thing really does take time.

...I've been reading more about this study that showed women who cut carbs twice a week lose more weight than women who stick to a low-calorie diet. Of course, you have to eat reasonably the rest of the week, but I'm so tempted to try. Despite my whole "fad diets are for suckers" stance. I mean, what will happen when I stop cutting carbs two days a week? I don't want to end up as the Pillsbury Dough Boy. But it's so tempting!

...the Canadian Book Challenge wraps up at the end of June and I'm still seven books away. I was so gung-ho when it started. It makes me sad that I'm not more into Canadian writers. What can I say - I love my Brits. But I'll still get a few more reviews in before it's over (I hope).

...I really want a cheeseburger.

...for some bizarre reason, I have Gwen Stefani stuck in my head. And I'm not a Gwen Stefani fan. At all. I liked No Doubt back in the day, but not Gwen's solo stuff. I don't even know what inspired this song that I don't know the name of to get stuck in my head. Sigh.

...I need a new knitting project.

...I really want a pair of red pants, which makes me laugh, because when I was in second-year university, I really wanted a pair of red pants. I found some then and I'll find some again - 11 years later.

...I should find a blog template I like and stick with it. I change it because I get bored but I feel like it should be consistent. Alas, I have yet to find anything I like. If only I had the skills to make my own. It's a tough life.

...did I mention I want a house?!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Career crisis

Okay, it's not really a crisis, but I like alliteration.

First, let me say I still love my job. Lately it's been a bit stressful, but overall I work with an amazing group of people and for a great company that offers lots of benefits and perks. I really have no complaints. And I'm working in the industry I went to school for (how many people can say THAT nowadays!?) and I'm working for a major national magazine. Truthfully, it's all good.

But as we've been ramping up the house hunting, I've been thinking more about home styling, interior decorating and the creativity that allows and I've started feeling like something is missing in my life - the opportunity to be creative on a regular basis. That, combined with the fact that I LOVE home decorating and I keep thinking, "Maybe I should be an interior decorator!"

Of course, it's not that simple to just switch careers; I would need to complete a 4-year degree to become a registered designer, which I have neither the time, money nor inclination to do. And I'll be honest - I don't know if I have the guts to just start my own business.

A woman I used to work with recently did this for herself; she started a floral design company called Sweet Woodruff and, after checking out her website, I'm so excited for her and a little bit envious of her chutzpah.

This is something I'll be keeping in the back of my mind because I feel like I'd be more fulfilled if I was able to be more creative in my job. I've also thought about seeking out advice and I haven't eliminated that yet either, or even trying to get a job at a home decorating magazine. But since we're buying a house soon, a career change right now isn't the best thing. But it doesn't mean I won't make a change...eventually.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

On the hunt

We went on our first house-viewing expedition last night and it say the least.

After spending a year drooling over houses but being realistic about our budget and commutes, the Beau and I have a clear idea on what neighbourhoods we're looking at and what our maximum budget it. We've also accepted that housing prices in Toronto are what they are, so I'm not going to be bitching on here about the cost of homes. We've made the choice to live here, fully knowing what it will cost, and that's fine by us. (Though we don't look at real estate outside of Toronto, to keep the envy down.)

House viewed not exactly as shown (unfortunately)

That said, we went out last night and checked out some townhouses in complexes we'd been eying. And what an eye-opener it was. We want three bedrooms and have discovered that our definition of bedroom does not always align with sellers' definitions.

One place we viewed was a 3-bed, 3-storey townhouse, but of the three bedrooms, one was a loft space that we would have to use for a living room (as the living/dining shared space was not big enough for both living and dining) and the second bedroom would end up being an office/den. So that meant we ended up with...a 1-bedroom + den home, which is what we have now. Oh, and it had less kitchen space.

Does it have a living vroom?
We looked at another townhouse, which was a bust, and then a semi-detached home. The semi had a huge amount of potential (i.e. we loved it) on the first floor: separate living and dining, big kitchen, big back deck, lots of light. It felt good...until we went upstairs. First, the staircase seemed to have been narrowed to allow for main-floor remodeling, which meant it was awkward walking up as a person (never mind trying to get furniture upstairs). The upstairs bathroom had a great tub, but it was at the expense of toilet space; I could barely fit on the toilet and a niche had been carved out of the wall to allow the flusher to move.

The Beau and I had talked of getting a new bedroom set when we moved, but the master bedroom in this home would barely hold our bed - if we could even get our king-sized mattress up that narrow staircase. The second bedroom was wee. Lovely, but wee.

We were hoping the finished basement would have potential but the even narrower staircase (which I've dubbed the supermodel staircase) was not a good start. The basement was "finished" in that the cinder block had been painted and it would work, as long as you were 5'4" and under. The Beau is over six feet; needless to say he was cramped. And there was a bulkhead right around the corner from the staircase; if you took that corner too quickly, well, you didn't need that other eye, right?

C'mon Barbie, let's go party
But it was a still a great outing. When you spend as much time looking at MLS listings as we do, everything starts to seem like "the house". It's just as important for us to cross spots off the list as it is to see the ones with real potential. And it's amazing to see what the price differences are and to learn what the market value is. Plus it's fun. I'm sure some people would find it frustrating or discouraging, but we're in no huge rush and we've already decided that we'd rather wait for the right place than rush into the right-now place.

Our perfect home is out there and we know it. And spring is a busy time for listings so who knows what might come up next? We get listings sent to us daily by our realtor (who is amazing) so we're always aware of the latest and greatest/"greatest". And I'm excited to go see what we can see.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

WW Weigh-in #17

Well, it was as I expected:

Last week: 185.6 lb
This week: 187.4 lb
Total gained this week: 1.8 lb

Weight loss target: 181.8 lb
To reach target: 5.6 lb

It's a little frustrating when I think how close I was to my next weight loss target and that I've only gained since then - but I'm dedicated and focused on really getting back on track now. I'm going to log my points and make the right choices and get back into the exercising groove, because that's how I want my lifestyle to be. Sure, I've enjoyed what I've eaten over the past two weeks and I've luxuriated a bit in my laziness but I don't like how I look and feel when I do that (and how I feel is more important than how I look) so I'm going to keep working at making the changes to get to a place where I always like how I feel.

I didn't have time for a workout today, mostly because I spent 4 hours cleaning the condo. I scrubbed the fridge so good I don't need no weights! But housework counts for activity points and the place looks great, so it's a double win!

Here's to better results next week!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Til tomorrow

I'm a little excited for my weigh in tomorrow, but not because I think I'll have lost gobs of weight. I'm actually anticipating (another) small gain. Vacation was good to my taste buds!

So why excited? Because I finally feel energized enough to really work at getting myself to where I want to be. Maybe it's spring, maybe it's the sunny weather that's coming, maybe it's because of the small gains I've been having, maybe it's even because of my upcoming Zombie Run - but right now I feel incredibly motivated to get rid of this excess weight.

Today is also May 1, so it's a great time to unearth the initial excitement I felt when I started WW. I've also found a few new workout moves I'm eager to try, which should help my legs look better in skirts this summer, even if I can't walk due to sore muscles.

I'll be doing lots of upper body weights to try and get my arms nice and toned and all kinds of squats and lunges and some awesome interval training for my cardio. I've also got this idea in my head that I'll be in a two-piece bathing suit this summer. So, what the hell, I'm going for it!