Life of a Serial Dieter #3 – 2 Month Update

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Well here we are again, I am officially 2 months into this new health & wellness adventure.

This past month has been quite the emotional journey for me.  I have hit some emotional and physical plateaus.  You know those times when it seems like the freaking number on the effing scale is just not moving..AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Sadly, this has been my reality for this month, but is it sadly?

I think this plateau has forced me to look inward and really feel what I am feeling, discover what the source is and how I am going to ‘healthily’ deal with it instead of my go to of going to my good old friend – delicious, sweet mother of god, delicious mouth watering FOOD!

Sorry my mind wandered a second there, but I am back 🙂

Now not to say the scale hasn’t moved this month it has, just not nearly as much as I thought it would.  So my effort in being transparent with this whole journey here are my stats for this month:

  • Weight: 239.6 lbs
  • Right Arm: 14 inches
  • Bust: 44.4 inches
  • Waist: 41 inches
  • Hips: 47 inches

So this means, I lost 1 lb of ‘weight’, lost 1.5 inches in my bust and lost 1 inch in my hips and actually gained an inch in my arm.  So what does this mean? This means my body is changing, muscle IS being converted from my fat, as seen from the inches lost and not actual weight on the scale.

That effing scale has been the bane of my existence for the majority of my adult life and I need to redefine this relationship. That number does not define me!!!!

For the first time I can honestly tell you all truthfully, my goal for this journey is for my body to tell me how it wants to be defined.  I am doing the right things to be the best version of myself and I am noticing it transform but not in the ways that you might think.  I have increased my strength significantly since I started.  When I started the free weights I was using at most 10lbs, and now I have graduated to 20 – 25 lbs depending on the exercise.  That is huge!

I now have an increased endurance, speed, stamina and ability that I did not have when I started.  I can now RUN my mountain climbers instead of walking my legs in and I actually jump my body back into the push up position when I do a burpee now.  For me that is significant.  I no longer feel confused and out of place when I go into the gym, I look and feel like I belong, and you know what, I FUCKING DO!!

I am sleeping better and have better focus and thought processes.  But more than anything, at the end of all of this, I want to be able to truthfully define what being ‘healthy’ is for me.  Not a sliding scale defined for all women, but what it means for ME, Dina Arsenault, single, 44 year old woman living in Niagara!  I hope for all of you who read this, you can find what that will mean for you as well.  I really do 🙂

Having the stamina and strength to live an active lifestyle is such a different goal and mind set for me.  But, if that means my body weight does not change at all, so be it, because the definition of health is not whether I fit into a size 2 or not, but it IS defined by how the quality of my life has improved. And you know what, it already has improved for me; for the first time I am making my health and wellness a priority in my life and not something that can be dismissed as irrelevant or something to do later.

I matter, and so do all of you!

So, I made a decision, for this update anyways, I have decided that instead of posting a pic of me to go along with this, I would refrain from that and honour the other things I have discovered about myself this month and let this update be about those improvements over the physical ones.

So I have one month left on this 3 month plan and I wonder what I will discover about me and this process this next month?

Who knows maybe I will  finally find a way to make Kale so I can eat it without gagging…Mmmmmmm nope I don’t see that happening 😛

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Anywho, as always, thank you for coming along with me on this crazy journey and I throw this question out to all of you, how do YOU define healthy for you?

I  would love to hear your insight!

Until next time,

Love and Light I send to all of you!

Regards,

Dina xxoo

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The Internal Responsibility of Taking Care of Your Aging Parents

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Before I delve into this week’s topic of choice, I first just would like to say a heart felt THANK YOU to everyone who read, liked, commented and shared my last blog ‘My Dear Jane Letter To The Child I Choose Not To Have’, the level of honesty and bravery in your own stories, community and support that out poured from all of you was just so touching and overwhelming.  It did not go unnoticed and I am truly humbled and grateful for all of you 🙂

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Now onto today’s blog!

As some of you may already know or even by my blog title page, almost 3 years ago, I made the big decision to pack up everything that could fit into my 2009 Dodge Calibre and drive my life back here to Niagara  from BC for a fresh start and to help with the day to day responsibilities of taking care of my aging Mom and Stepdad.

Now don’t get me wrong my parents are not invalids, they are still quite self sufficient, they can drive, dress, bathe, do light housework, the basic day to day stuff we all do.  Hell, my 79 year old stepdad just started a brand new tire business a couple months ago, so you can say he is still doing pretty darn good!

But, both do have some pretty serious health issues and my Mother’s balance is way off, which means if she needs to do any significant walking she must be accompanied by either a cane or a walker.  She has fallen before and with her being older and still quite over weight it is quite difficult to get her back upright and onto a chair or stable surface.  The down low cleaning neither can do, heavy lifting is out of the question and memory lapses have become quite more prevalent.  Don’t get me started on the constant struggle to explain how to send an email, check an email, read and or write a text message with either one of them, cause seriously, I don’t know why I haven’t bought stock in wine by now..lol..

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On the plus side, the little town we live in was chosen to do a study on how to make our little canal side town more Age Friendly with services, structures and programs which is a pleasant thing to consider for not only those who are older but for all of us, as we will all be my parents at some point and wouldn’t it be great if facilities and programs were already in place to make that transition much easier.

But I digress, now put starting a brand new business and a new health and wellness program that are both quite demanding of my time and what do you get, a different Dina, a Dina I need to look within and figure out.

Let me explain, like I had mentioned before, when my Mom asked me to assist her with emails or my stepdad with text messages, instead of just graciously helping I get this overwhelming feeling of frustration, a feeling of almost anger at the fact that they still haven’t figured it out even after the countless times I have explained it to them.  Now don’t get me wrong I always help, but lately I had to step back and really feel what I am feeling and try to figure out why?

They are my parents and I love them with all of my heart, yet when they ask for help I almost get resentful, and that is not me and I don’t like it.  It almost feels like it is just one more task to throw onto my overflowing plate and the more they ask of me the shorter my patience gets.  It is like I am running on this hamster wheel and I just don’t seem to be getting to my destination no matter how hard I try.  And as they get older, their needs and demands will be getting more and more.  How will I deal with that?  Will I be able to deal with that?

I think at the root of all of this, is the knowledge that I won’t have my best friend around forever, she will be 77 this August and maybe her getting older is forcing me to have to come to terms with the inevitable, her death.  Now I fully believe that she will be around for quite some time but that thought does linger and it is hard for me to admit. You see, I already had to deal with the death of my Dad at a very young age and I know what that did to me, so the mere thought of going through that again scares the shit outta me.

So maybe my resentfulness is rooted in this fact?  I have always been the one to look after others, I have an innate nurturing gene, maybe its because I am a Cancer, who knows, coming home to take care of my parents was a natural transition.  But maybe, at the root of all of this is learning how to take care of me; what are my needs, my wants my desires?

Like most women, I put others before me; my friends call me the Mother Hen always trying to help them get what they need, or help them make things better for themselves. Never usually wanting anything in return.  I get more joy in seeing my loved ones open presents I get for them then getting ones for myself.  Maybe, this inner resentfulness is me telling me you deserve some of this too, you matter, you have value and you need to start acknowledging and validating this?

Maybe it is all of the above, I don’t know, but what I do know is, I am not going to just sweep this under the rug, I need to do the internal work and come to terms with whatever I figure out, good or bad.  We are all worth the work, it just a matter of pulling up the sleeves and getting messy and dirty doing it.

The responsibility of taking care of the very people who raised you really has welled up a lot of internal thoughts and feelings that I thought I had worked through.  But, I guess new life challenges will bring old insecurities to the surface to test if you truly have put those demons to bed.

Hey, that can be my new moniker, Dina, Demon Slayer, it has a nice ring too it don’t-cha think 🙂

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Thank you for reading.  If there are any topics you would like me to cover, just let me know I would love to hear your feedback!

Until we meet again,

love and light I send to you,

Love Always,

Dina xxoo

A Dear Jane Letter to the Child I Choose to Never Have

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Recently, I had the honour to treat my wonderful and vivacious Mama this past Mother’s Day.  I was able to score a table for the annual High Tea Mother’s Day Event at a local winery here in Niagara, Creekside Estate Winery.

We were seated inside the wine cellar, surrounded by barrels of last years vintage reserves, beautiful linens, delicious treats and other gorgeous smiling and laughing mothers and their children enjoying themselves, putting the spotlight on Mom, the one person who usually gives the spotlight to others.

Once our time was over, we went back to the car and it hit me, I am never going to be giving birth to my own children, a decision I had made a while ago for my own reasons, but will I still be valued or ‘honoured’ as a woman?

Now before, you all chime in with your comments on the value of a woman or how we are more than the sum of our parts, sentiments I resoundingly agree with, let me first explain where I am coming from.

How many of you have been asked by your relatives, or loved ones, “So when are you getting married and starting that family?”, “When am I gonna hear that pitter patter of little feet?”, “You aren’t getting any younger you know”, “I want grand-babies before I’m too old to play with them” etc.

All pretty much the same thing; You + Babies = Happiness.  But, does it truly mean ‘happiness’ for everyone?

Now don’t get me wrong, there was a time in my life when I did very much want to have my own children, have the opportunity to give birth to my own offspring, teach and raise them to be productive and compassionate members of society.  But, I knew that it had to be on my terms, I had to be in the right relationship, a loving nurturing and healthy relationship with a partner I wanted to share the experience of raising a child with.  I knew that I NEVER wanted to have kids for the sake of having them, because that is what was expected of me.

Sadly, that relationship never came around.  As I got older, the need to procreate or the chime of my ‘biological’ clock seemed to diminish.  So now I find myself in my 40’s, single and still ‘barren’ a term used to  refer to women like me in the past; yeah charming.

Out of all of this, a bigger picture has come to light for me, why am I as a woman still being valued by not what I can cognitively contribute to society, but by what my uterus can reproduce or contribute?

In 2016, why are we still reducing women down to selective body parts?  Are we not a whole package that should be valued and respected as a complete entity?

I have value, not merely because what I can reproduce biologically but, by what I can contribute to society as a whole; intellectually, compassionately, selflessly and lovingly.

The comments that are STILL made to me to this day, “Are you sure?” , “Don’t you want to feel like a complete woman?”, “How will you ever feel fulfilled in your life?” are alarmingly mainly uttered by other women.

Why are we as women not rallying around the apparent need for personal choice?  Why do we even feel the need to comment when someone makes a life choice that differs from ours or just plain goes against the societal norm?

OK I will say it, I am selfish. I want to concentrate on me and what I need to be a better person, better daughter and better friend.  I want the freedom to pick up and travel anytime I want, have items in my home that are breakable and be OK with that.  I want the financial freedom to go on vacations, go out for dinners, sleep in and be frivolous if I choose.  I want, no I need to put myself first and I am not ashamed to admit that.

I like my life and having a child will completely derail that, and I shouldn’t be condemned because this is how I chose to live.

I have nieces, nephews and goddaughters that I have the privilege to interact with, bestow my life’s knowledge upon and more importantly love unconditionally.  But, at the end of the day they will go home with you and I will go home childless, and I am completely at peace with that.

Please don’t confuse this blog as a rant to condemn the virtues of Motherhood, because that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I respect and admire women who consciously make the life choice of motherhood.  Your selflessness, patience and dedication are something to be revered and admired.  All I am saying, is that this admiration and respect should also be bestowed on those like myself, who intrinsically know what they want out of life and what they want is a different path; a path without children.

So there you have it, I am a childless woman by choice, a decision I made with introspection and self awareness, so please stop asking when I am going to procreate and instead maybe ask me, how I am, what I have been up too or how I plan to contribute to society on my own terms?

Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings. I welcome your feedback.

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Until next time, love and light I send to all of you always,

Kindest regards,

Dina xxoo

Life of a Serial Dieter #2 – 1 Month Update

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Well I can’t believe a whole month has flown by since I embarked on this new health & wellness journey.  I wish I could tell you that it has been an easy one, but as you all know making a significant life change is never an easy undertaking to say the least.

Eating 6 times a day has been a real struggle for me.  I am not used to eating that often.  I am supposed to have protein rich smaller portion size meals 6 times a day with supplements.  But me being me, I do not always make this quota.

Fun Fact about me, when I get engrossed in a task, all elements of time fade.  Literally the next time I look up, sometimes 6 hours have passed and I have literally forgotten to eat at least 2 of my 6 meals.  But, instead of catching up on these nutritional requirements, I just skip them altogether.

I know, I know before you all berate me on how unhealthy this is and how once I do eat again my body being put in starvation mode will just hold onto whatever calories you give it and, I will either not lose but instead actually gain weight which in turn defeats my objective of dropping dress sizes; yes I am well aware.  But, like I have said before and I will say it again, I am a work in progress and I am still trying to figure out this new path and mould, and shape it into my own.

6 seems to be the magic number because I have been embarking on a muscle confusion workout plan as well that has me working out 6 days a week.  Very difficult and exhausting, but I am proud to say I have NEVER missed a workout.  Being told I would be doing 1000 Mountain Climbers in one sitting, or 500 squats in the same sitting or run 3 miles, I would have told you you are nuts and then go sit my ass on the couch with a pint of heavenly hash ice cream.  But you know what I DID DO IT!  Not very graceful or elegant, but in my own clumsy but determined way I showed myself what I am capable of achieving beyond what I used to think was physically possible for my wobbly and chunky frame.

It really is mind over matter.  I have a mantra where if I start to doubt if I can complete a workout, I repeat “how bad do you want it” over and over again, and from what seems like no where this serge of energy erupts and I complete tasks which used to seem insurmountable before.

But as they say, the proof is in the pudding, here is me starting this health & wellness journey April 11, 2016:

  • Weight: 247.8 lbs
  • Right bicep: 13 inches
  • Bust: 46 inches
  • Waist: 44 inches
  • Hips: 49 inches

Me Today:

  • Weight: 240.6 lbs
  • Right Arm: 13 inches
  • Waist: 41 inches
  • Hips: 48 inches

That makes a total of 7.2 lbs and 4 inches lost!  I am hoping for 7 – 8 lbs lost in the next month and maybe 5 – 6 inches, sweaty and sore fingers crossed!

I am changing, I can see it both physically and emotionally. Change is scary but not so scary as staying the same, becoming stagnant and missing out on amazing opportunities, situations and adventures that sometimes only come around once in a lifetime.

I want to grab my life by the proverbial balls and ride it until it comes to that screeching halt, lipstick smeared, hair wild and a beaming grin from all the crazy adventures I fearlessly ventured on!

Will you join me?

Until we meet again, love and light I send to you all always!

xxoo Dina 🙂

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Orange Cranberry Pumpkin Spice Loaf – For Those Times You Need A Little Warmth & Comfort

Baking ingredients on a wooden board, top view

May the Fourth be with all of you today!

I think I just revealed the more nerdy side of myself, ah well, it was bound to happen at some point!

We are officially in the Spring season now in the Niagara region even though I don’t think the weather temps got that memo as I sit here in a sweater and slippers typing this, Brrrrrrrr. So it got me thinking, what are one of the things I love to do to not only warm the cockles of my heart but my tummy as well, BAKING always does the trick!

So for today’s installment I will be writing about a go to recipe my family and I love, Orange Cranberry Pumpkin Spice Loaf.  It has all those great Christmasy smells and flavours and the ability to give you that comfort and warmth no matter what time of year.

I have to make a confession I did steal ok ‘borrow’ this recipe initially from Anna Olson’s cookbook ‘Sugar’, which I will be honest is so worn and battered from so much use, it really has become one of my baking bibles.  Side note:  I actually got to meet her at a women’s conference last year and made a complete fangirl of myself, but that is a whole other story.

Anywho, I do play with the spices depending on my mood, sometimes I add nutmeg or ginger or turmeric or extra cloves etc.  Baking really is a science and you must measure so that the magic can happen in the oven, but once you understand what spices work well with you can then play around with flavours and really start making recipes your own!

So here we go, from my family’s kitchen to yours,

Orange Cranberry Pumpkin Spice Loaf

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups All Purpose FlourIMG_20160313_192029_resized
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • cinnamon
  • cloves
  • ginger
  • 1/2 Cup unsalted Butter, Room Temp
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Canned or Roasted Pumpkin Puree
  • Zest of an Orange
  • Vanilla
  • 1 Cup Orange Juice (Real Or Bought will work)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Cranberries, Fresh or Frozen ( I have used re-hydrated Dried Cranberries as well and it tasted great)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Sift together flour, baking soda and powder, salt and spices and set aside.  I didn’t put any quantities for the spices because as I mentioned this is where you can really play around with flavour, I have added nutmeg and all spice to the flavour profile before and it gave it this wonderful warmness.  Again, play around with what you like in your flavour profile but do note I have never gone over 1 tsp for any spice so as not to over power.

In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Do note, once in a pinch I did substitute brown sugar for white and it gave it a nice molasses richness which was lovely as well.  Add eggs, one at a time, and stir in pumpkin puree, orange zest and vanilla.  Stir in orange juice.  Add dry ingredients in 2 additions and blend until just incorporated.  Fold in cranberries.  Spoon batter into a greased loaf pan and bake in the center of the oven for 60 – 75 minutes until a tester inserted into the loaf comes out clean.  Try and allow to cool before slicing but I tell you it will be hard as it will leave your house smelling AMAZEABALLS!

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So there you go, my and well Anna Olson’s recipe for Cranberry Orange Pumpkin Spice Loaf.  Do give it a go and let me know how it goes.  I always welcome feedback and would love to hear about how you liked the recipe or how you changed it up to make it your own.

Who knows, it might just make a perfect addition to your Mother’s Day brunch this Sunday, just saying. 🙂

Until next week, PEACE OUT!

Love Always,

Dina xxoo