Monthly Archives: January 2013

January 31, 2013

I finished day 4. Normally I work out at 4:30, right after I get home from work, but today I had some errands to run so I didn’t end up getting around to it until 10 pm. Dave had to basically roll me into the bedroom to do the work out and he had to virtually stand beside me and make me do the motions but I got it done. I even managed to do nearly the entire thing without stopping. I only had to miss 2 arm raises the entire time. I’m definitely getting stronger.


I’ve thought a lot about taking a rest day to give myself some time to heal up, but I made a commitment to do 30 straight days of this DVD and I really don’t want to let myself down. After the 30 days I’ll take a few days off. I know 30 days is probably a lot without a break but I feel like if I don’t push myself at the beginning I won’t stick with this.

The Maritimes

When I was 20 years old my ex-boyfriend and his family took me to Nova Scotia with them to visit the town of Inverness. His mother’s family grew up there and one of her cousins had a beautiful, large house on the coast with lots of room for everyone to come and visit him. It was the town’s centennial, and kind of a big deal for Inverness. We all loaded into the car and drove 24 hours across Canada to go to a really big party. It was a great place and I saw a lot of really neat things, my favourite being when we accidentally watched Alistair MacLeod walk to get his mail across from a herd of buffalo. Maybe one day I’ll take this blog to a place where I tell funny stories but for now I have to stick to weight loss and fitness embarrassment to keep myself on track, so I’ll put Inverness’s charm on the back burner for today.

About 3 days into our trip the mother’s cousin took us to a ceilidh. This guy was maybe the coolest person I’ve ever met so I trusted that he knew best about what we should do while we were visiting. Now, I had no idea what a ceilidh even was but when someone is paying for you to do something you might as well go along with it. We got to this really small, crowded tavern-like place and found a table. The place was filled with the elderly and the very young and almost no one my age. I still wasn’t quite sure what we were about to get up to in this cramped bar when the music started and suddenly 80 people got up and formed a bunch of circles of around 8-10 people each. I watched in horror as I realized they were about to group dance. And not only were they about to group dance, they were going to make us trip the light fantastic with them.

They quickly split our group up among the circles and we were told to follow along, that it wouldn’t be that hard. It was a pack of lies and those lovely Maritimers were a pack of god damn liars. I have a really vivid memory of trying to dance strictly with my ex-boyfriend because we both had zero idea of what was going on. We learned quickly that if you’re going to be part of a dance troupe you better fucking learn the moves or you will be chastised out loud while the dance is taking place. At some point a boy of about 13 and I were partnered up. He was a chunky lad, slightly taller than I was, and this wasn’t his first rodeo. He stared at me with such intensity as we were dancing that I couldn’t help but laugh. He knew all the moves and he was trying so hard to get me to not mess him up. I’m sure he was being watched intently, family pride on the line. I still think about that kid. If I ever visit Inverness again I am sure I could pick him out of a lineup. That’s how long and close we had to dance with each other.

Around the 23 minute mark our group started to drop like flies. We were not mentally or physically prepared for this dancing onslaught. The songs go on for about 85 minutes each and you are required to dance the entire time. If you try and sit down, which, believe me, I did, they swarm you and demand you stand back up and keep going so as to not ruin their routine. All around me the elderly and the kids, who I just assumed I had to have been in better shape than, were busting move after move for what seemed like an eternity, while I had beads of sweat running down my face and arm pits. I was in way over my head. When at last the dance ended and we were allowed to sit I bolted for a table and refused to stand back up. I learned in that moment that looks can be deceiving and just because someone is old or chunky doesn’t mean they can’t, quite literally, dance circles around you.

(Basically what we were trying and failing to do)

January 30, 2013

Day 3 of 30DS complete. If I could do math at all I’d tell you what % that is, but once I gave a cashier $1.25 when my purchase was $1.60 and then when he looked at me funny, I took back some of it thinking I had definitely solved the case, so there is virtually no hope in me being able to calculate what % 3 is of 30.

Hitchens, my first born cat, likes to watch the whole time I work out. I’m pretty sure she is judging me because sometimes she looks like she thinks she could do more push-ups than I did. Harris, my second born cat, likes to lay on me after my post-workout shower. I’m warm, clean, and I can’t move around because I’m too sore. I make a perfect bed for her. Dave is normally not around to encourage me to work out right after work, so I have to rely on my cats to push me into it. They’ve been doing a pretty good job so far.

2012-12-29 13.17.00 (Hitchens, judging)

2012-12-21 13.40.29 (Harris, loving)

2013-01-21 18.55.59 (Dave and kittens)

The Scale

I really f’ing hate my scale. I know that I should focus more on how clothes fit and how I feel but every morning (and some nights) I jump* on the scale and get extremely down. I’ve taken to not wearing my glasses when I weigh myself, something about not being confronted with the number until I choose to be is helpful. I know getting the weight I want off is going to be a long process. Whenever I go up in weight any amount I get so frustrated. 1/3 of a pound sets me back mentally for days. I hate knowing that somewhere in my body more weight has taken up residence and likely thinks it’s pretty cozy in there. I wonder if I gained it in my arm, my gut, my thigh? I scrutinize myself in a mirror (when I’m bold enough to even look in a mirror) wondering where that fat deposit was, well, deposited and how long it’ll take me to remove it. Being overweight means constantly avoiding looking at yourself directly. I’ve gotten really good at not walking by mirrors. It’s a weird talent I’ve picked up that I don’t particularly like having.

So in February I’m not going to step on the scale. I’ll write down my measurements and my weight on January 31st and on March 1st I’ll take them all again to see how I did. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m also not going to shackle my mood to the number on a scale.

scale(I’d be thrilled with this #)

*Because I’m trying to shatter the thing.

January 29, 2013

Day 2 of JM30DS. What a jerk. My friends Kayla and Alana are both trying to do the 30 days too. I find it really helpful to know that 2 other people are suffering at various times of the day for the same reason. The weird thing is that around the 20 minute mark I feel always feel like I’m getting better at it. And the last 7 minutes I don’t completely suck. Or maybe I pass out around the 20 minute mark and I’m dreaming about how great I am doing. Either way, I’m getting it done. And, as my Dad would say, that’s the main thing. Only 28 days to go!

i work out

foooooooooooood :(

I read somewhere that losing weight is 30% working out and 70% watching what you eat. I really fucking hope that’s incorrect. Most days I work out so I can eat whatever I want and not feel guilty about it. Let’s work backwards and take a snapshot of What Steph Ate In The Last 7 Days:

  • Monday I ate a pulled pork slider and 3 pieces of home made bread.
  • Sunday I ate pork Hamburger Helper and 1 piece of cheesecake.
  • Saturday I ate cheesecake, spring rolls, pasta and a weird lobster/avocado salad that was kinda gross.
  • Friday I ate basically a whole cherry cheesecake and imitation KD.
  • Thursday I ate Indian buffet, French onion soup and chicken parm with gnocchi.
  • Wednesday I ate pizza, rice balls and 1 piece of KFC chicken.
  • Tuesday I ate a Philly cheesesteak sandwich and a chicken shawarma.

Looking at this written out makes me want to run and hide. This snapshot is a pretty accurate example of how maybe I don’t exactly have the best relationship with food. Growing up Italian is a blessing and a curse. My grandmother sure could cook and boy, I sure could eat. She would make soup pretty much daily and you could always count on finding spinach pizza, risotto, fish or pasta in her fridge. There were always fresh cold cuts and buns to make a sandwich with, and I was never told No. Food is a really big comfort for me. It reminds me of all those times in all those family kitchens that I don’t get any more.

My grandmother has been in a nursing home for many years now and hasn’t been able to cook in quite some time. When I eat a really good pasta fagioli soup I feel close to her, as weird as that sounds. When I eat a toasted cold cut sandwich with potato chips on the side, I feel close to Ron, my step-dad. When I eat deer sausage, I feel close to my Dad. When I eat a really good dessert, I feel close to my Mom. Since I moved to Mississauga and away from my family 2 years ago I think I’ve accidentally used food as a way to stay connected. Whether subconsciously or not, my Mom and I ask each other what we ate every day. I never thought anything of this until Dave told me it was a bizarre practice. What did it matter what we ate? I’m really not sure, but now whenever someone brings up food I’m a bit more cautious about the topic. Do I think my family inadvertently plumped me up? No. Do I think I should have been more responsible and not focused primarily on what I was going to eat next? Yes. Am I trying to make good decisions now? I don’t really know. Some weeks I’m really great, and some weeks, as evidenced by last week, I’m really crummy at making good decisions.

Food is a constant struggle for me, and likely always will be. My Pinterest has basically 2 boards: Food and Crafts. And let me tell you, Crafts was a pretty recent addition. Being more aware of what I’m eating is really the only way I’m going to be able to change how I view food and part of me really doesn’t want to let go how food shapes my mood but I figure the only way I’m going to actually hit my goal of losing at least 50 pounds is if I change how I eat and why I’m eating it. Dave always says “Food is just fuel, you use it to be able to do other things.” But Dave didn’t grow up in an Italian household and he’s never had a really great cacciatore, so while I’ll never cut out breads and pastas and cheese entirely I can at least try to be more aware of what food is supposed to be and how to take it one day, and meal, at a time.

me and nan (Me and Nana, 2012) ital food (Yum.)

January 28, 2013

I did it! Suck it, J-illain! It was a lot harder than I remember but 2 years ago I had already been working out for a month before I added Jillian into my routine, I think that might have given me a false sense of fitness. I got home from work today and put 30 Day Shred on my laptop. She was queued up and I was about to begin when I realized I had forgotten to find my 5 pound weights. I knew where the 10’s were but one does not simply do JM 30DS with 10 pound weights unless one wants to end up in the emerge. I ran around frantically trying to locate them without having to pause her intro. In the back of my mind if I paused her for even 1 second it would mean I would have to do the Shred for longer than necessary. Once I decide to do something it’s gotta happen in that instant or suddenly I’m wasting time.

She is as irritating as I remember her but by day 3 or 4 I’ll be able to mute her and just follow along without her banter and frankly I don’t think I’ve ever found a work out video/fitness person I didn’t find annoying. They’re just all so excited. I should have my own line of work out videos. I’d do a bunch of really awful exercises but I’d swear the whole time and the people following along behind me would be really mad and throw stuff at my head when my back was turned. I’d yell things like “I don’t *want* to do god damn jumping jacks either, but we might as well!” At the end of each video there would be a picture of me eating a no-bake cherry cheesecake with the caption “I work out.” Who wants to pay me to start filming it? Better yet, who wants to be my backup fitness squad? You get some cheesecake too. Until tomorrow, when Jillian smiles and says “You sure? You think you can handle it? We’ll see.” and I scream “You bitch!” 15 or 16 times at my laptop screen.

2013-01-28 17.24.00 (Sweaty and unhappy and sweaty)


I was trying to find a really great quote to open this post with today, but all the ones that I mildly liked still seemed really preachy and preachy is not something I go in for. It’s really hard to set goals for myself because I know that I’m probably going to break them at some point and then feel awful. It’s kinda like this blog. Either I’ll blog several times a week or I won’t at all and then when I remember to I won’t want to because I’m an all or nothing person. But I’ve been really good at updating for the first week since I started blogging so I decided I would set a small goal and see how I do.

On Friday I made a pact with myself (and Dave) that I would do Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred for 30 days starting Monday. If I do the full 30 day program Dave said I should reward myself with something really cool. I couldn’t figure out what I’d want but thought I should pick something now so I know what I’m working towards, giving myself one more reason to stick with my, ugh, goal.

On Saturday my friend Sam was in Toronto for work and showed me her FitBit. Sam is the most dedicated fitness person I know so if she says it helps her stay focused it’s definitely something I’m interested in. We talked a lot about what works and what doesn’t.  I told her how I really wished I was the kind of person who could get up at 6:30 am to work out, but Sam said I’ve got to find what works for me and if 6:30 am doesn’t fit, then I have to let it go and find something that does, even if that means working out at night and having to shower twice (I really can’t get over this). As annoying as it may be 30 Day Shred works really well for me. I did 15 days of it 2 years ago (I feel dumb even typing that) and at the end of day 15 I could do 10 push-ups in a row without wanting to die. I think that’s likely what fitness progress looks like, but I can’t say for sure having never been there before.

I decided that if I finished 30 days of Shredding with J-illain (not a typo, I really hate that B, she really does feel like a villain sometimes) I would buy a FitBit. Sam explained that if I had one we could challenge each other and keep track of how the other person was doing. I am the kind of person who needs accountability. As great as I feel after I finish a workout, getting motivated to start the workout feels like torture. I would log my food, and it would log everything else I did fitness-wise. My back and legs are really sore from cleaning our condo top to bottom yesterday, so I feel like I’m going to really love doing Jillain later on, but that FitBit is calling my name like the fitness siren it is and I might as well crash on those rocks while in pain than not at all.

jillian-michaels (Jillain, nice ankle tat)me and sam 2008 (Me and Sam, circa 2008)

Birthday Ups, Birthday Downs.

I turned 28 today. I feel old but I still get carded at the LCBO and Casino, and I’m still passing off a really old student card to a university I didn’t even attend to get discounts around the GTA, so maybe when people say age really ain’t nothing but a number they are telling partial truths. At least that’s what I’m going to tell myself as I slowly slip into my 29th year of being alive. I was never really into celebrating my birthday but the older I get the more I want to do really fun things and eat cake every day. I tried to make Dave celebrate a whole week this time but he wasn’t really going for it.

My Nono might be the only guy to have had 2 birthdays. Ontario “Butch” Tosato was born on the 30th of January 1922 but because there was no one around to sign his birth certificate it was never made legal. Eventually a doctor came around and signed it on January 31st, so every year we would make it a point to wish him happy birthday on back to back days. Being born in January so near to him always felt really special. Each birthday my Nono used to ask me how old he and I would be that year. I would add up the digits that I was, 2 + 8 = 10, then add those if they happened to be a double digit, 1 + 0 = 1, and I would proudly announce that he and I were both such and such a number, much smaller than our respective ages. I thought this was our secret that no one else could crack. Only my Nono and I knew our “true” age, and everyone else couldn’t possibly be privy to this insider information we had. Joke was on them, we weren’t getting older, or worrying needlessly about an arbitrary number, because we’d be 9 years old or less forever. My Nono passed away in February of 2003. He would have been 91 next week, and I miss him. Happy almost 1st b-day, Nono, thanks for always reminding me not to take age too seriously.

So tonight I’m going to eat pasta and cake and I might cry and I might laugh and I might not work out and I might fall asleep at 10 pm and I might celebrate again tomorrow. But when it all boils down, age ain’t nothing but a number, and I really am only 1 after all.

nono      SAVE0095       17-07-2012 2_30_04 PM

January 23, 2013

My brother in law is still visiting but I decided to get off my butt and hit the gym while he hung out with my partner. I feel really old/weird saying husband so Dave’s going to be my (lab??) partner when I need to mention him. When we got married the officiant asked what we wanted her to announce us as to our family and friends after the ceremony. I’m sure she meant something along the lines of “Allow me to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Clarke” but I made her say “Here are Steph and Dave” instead. Just because you get married doesn’t mean you can’t remain autonomous, I reckoned. The pic below is of us in a park outside of City Hall after we got married. He wore white, I wore black. We didn’t go in debt. Everybody won as far as I’m concerned.

I did 30 minutes on the elliptical but it felt like 100. The only other guy in our building’s gym was *pumping* the rap…wait for it…covers! And I don’t mean he was pumping like country covers of rap songs, no no, this guy managed to find 30+ minutes of people covering each others rap songs? Now I love rap music and it’s an OK soundtrack to work out to, but why do I have to listen to your choice of work out music! Put on some wireless headphones, buddy. Gym etiquette! The whole time I worked out I had to shove my head phones deeper and deeper into my ear canals. I did my 30 minutes and I got out of there. He wore purple, I wore purple. We both tried not to look at one another. Nobody won as far I’m concerned.

Next week I’m going to throw Jillian Michaels back into my life. God, I hate that woman. But when I was doing 30 minutes at the gym and 30 minutes of JM30DS I was so fit (or at least I was less flubby) and I have to do something to get back to that point. But not tomorrow, tomorrow I’m going to be really busy.

Tomorrow I’m going to be 28. Fit by 29? Get working, Steph!

P.S. I’m still mad my hair had to get wet twice today.