Best Laid Plans


Time to bring on the “before” pictures!

As I mentioned in my previous post, we recently purchased a new home (mess).  Located more in the heart of Los Angeles than our last home, our 1940s fixer currently sits at 1130 square feet and is a two bedroom one bath.

Our new Hollywood fixer is quite the project.  Not only are we fully renovating the house, we are also doing some minor additions to add to the square footage.  With the expansion, we needed to bring in the big guns along with our general contractor this time around.  We have been working with an excellent architect (Myrle at MDM Architects for any Los Angeles locals), and he and I have come up with some great solutions to maximize the floorpan and really make it work for our family.

Below is what our floor plan currently looks like:

Existing FP


And, here is what our floor plan will look like in a few months:



In addition to making the home more functional for our family, it also tacks on an extra 200 or so square feet.  A little crazy, huh?  Lets break this down…

Hall Bath


The original hall bathroom has been a problem.  All of the sinks in the house have been tilted at a 45 degree angle, removing so much usable space.  The door also opens directly into the toilet, which I imagine is awkward to say the least.




In this bathroom, everything needs to go.  Not only is it aesthetically disgusting, but the subfloors and drains have been destroyed over the years.  When you walk inside of the bathroom, the carpet (yes, carpet), gives beneath your feet, letting us know that there are structural problems lurking underneath.

To open it up, we are also reversing the location of the vanity and the toilet, and squaring off the vanity itself so that we gain that extra corner of living space.

Master Bedroom



Right now, the master is very… grey.  And, while I am always a lover of grey, for once I don’t mean this in a good way.


Right now, there are only two windows in the space, and they are right next to each other at a 90 degree angle.  In order to add more light to the space and also even it out, we are going to be adding one more window on the opposite side to frame out where the bed will go.  We will also be adding french doors to the back wall to add an extra entrance to the backyard.


The existing closet in the master is tiny, so we will be adding a walk-in closet to the master bath.  Meanwhile, we are going to remove the closet that stands and add it to the floor area of the room. In addition to taking out the closet, we will also push the entrance doorway further into the hallway, which will add a full two feet to that side of the room.


Master Bath


This is the big one.  In order to make this house work for our family, and to add value for resale, we need to add a second bathroom.

Below is what our new bathroom looks like now.



See that inset patio?  Yeah.  That will be the new bathroom.

Since we are starting from scratch, we are able to pull out all the stops and add in what we want, which is really exciting.  Double sinks, a separate tub and shower, walk in closet… it will be epic.  (And, this means I finally have a place for that clawfoot tub I bought years ago!  Although, it will need a new paint job to coordinate with this house.)

You’ll also notice the wide doorway entrance into the bath area.  The name of the game with this house is wide doorways and open space, which should make our tiny home feel much larger than it really is.

Speaking of opening everything up…

Kitchen, Library, and Laundry



It’s impossible to talk about these three rooms separately as they are so closely linked together.

I need a big kitchen – that’s not really negotiable when we are looking for a house.  So, in order to allow for this extra large, U-shaped kitchen with an island, we are adding a corner to the house and building out five feet into the laundry area.  We are also stealing three feet from the library side to further expand the space.

Right now, the laundry area is a long, awkward, empty room, so I’m sure it won’t mind giving us a few feet for the kitchen.


IMG_4197We will be removing the window and adding a glass door next to the washer and dryer for backyard access.  It’s probably for the best that you can’t smell these photos, because the subfloor reeks of pet urine.  We are very much looking forward to replacing that and adding floors.  We also need to move the plumbing for the washing machine as we will need the appliances to sit side by side.


The kitchen will be blown open to say the least.  One of the renters clearly updated the cabinets at some point of time, but they are the cheapest of the cheap.  The tile is also cracked and breaking apart, and whoever DIY’d this mess forgot to add grout.


The last remodeler of this home clearly loved their corner sinks… say goodbye, sink!

This library entrance from the living room will be opened up with a five foot doorway.


… And we will remove the purple.



Yikes.  Unfortunately, we discovered that the textured wall is not paneling, but drywall.  I had no idea they even made drywall this way, and it is terrifying.  If it would have been real paneling, we would have kept it, but alas, it was not meant to be.  It will all be removed and replaced with ordinary drywall, and this will also give us the opportunity to add insulation to this room.

Living Room


Considering everything else that is going on with the house, the living room is getting off easy.  Overall, it’s in pretty good shape.  The room definitely needs a fresh coat of paint and the floors to be refinished, but the bones are good.  Believe it or not, underneath the ugly gold facade is a beautiful brick hearth that needs a good cleaning.  (And a bong.  The last renter left a bong for us in the fireplace.  Ugh…)  The mantle has seen some abuse from the last 30 years of tenants, including nails in the face , but it’s nothing some good wood filler can’t fix.  We are also adding in recessed lighting to brighten up the space.

Ever’s Room


Like the living room, Ever’s room will be an easy update.  Refinished floors, a fresh coat of paint, a new ceiling fan, and a small closet update will finish it off.  Oh, and new window treatments, of course.


Clearly, we have a lot to do.  And, not only are we living in the renovation again, but we are living in it with a toddler.  Wish me luck, friends.  And, send alcohol.




Comments Off on Best Laid Plans

Filed under Renovation Realities

Onward And Upward

… And then we bought another house.  A fixer that we’re completely gutting from top to bottom.


… And before that, I had my son, Ever, nearly 21 months ago.

There.  Now you’re all caught up.  Let the renovation documentation begin.



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Filed under Renovation Realities, Uncategorized

Curtain Call

Wow… where to start?  Perhaps with a “where have you been?!” update.  Well, for the last 5 weeks I have been on location helping out the rest of the visual effects team at my company to supervise a movie we’ve been working on.  It’s been long hours on set, plus I still have to be at the office whenever I’m not on set to catch up on all of the work I missed throughout the rest of the week.  So, lots of 6-day weeks, 70 hours a week, and it hasn’t left me with a whole lot of “blog updating” time.  I appreciate you guys being ever so patient with me, as usual.  After a month of writing nothing sometimes I’m shocked I still have readers at all!

Secondly, today is my one-year blogiversary, so Happy Birthday, OPD!  About 150,000 views and 60 posts later, I’m still here, and I appreciate all of the support, the comments, the encouragement, and everything else that you guys provide that keeps me going.  I’ve gone through some serious ups and downs with the blog… sometimes updating 3 times a week, sometimes updating once a month, all depending on time and inspiration.  I’ve made the decision that I’m not going to write anything unless I’m really inspired about it.  Quality vs. quantity.  I’d rather give you guys one really cool project plan rather than 10 iffy project plans.  And, since I’m doing this for fun, because I enjoy it, I’d like to keep it that way.  Fun.  If I stress myself out about getting another 20 posts out a month, it’s not fun for me anymore, and I’m sure you guys could read it in my tone if I’m not really feeling it in the post.

Last words before I actually get going on my post… a few updates on things that I promised I’d keep you updated on.  The plants in the backyard are now totally dead.  Experiment failed.  The plants in the front yard, however, are still thriving.  I’m starting to think that the backyard is a soil issue rather than a me-being-awful-at-taking-care-of-plants issue.  Although, I’m sure my negligence doesn’t help.  I’m still loving our red door, Gaby and Andres are talking about coming over for another build after we finished their awesome kitchen island, and I’ve managed to go down another size.  (Hooray size 2!)  Meeting with my trainer is the only thing in the entire world that de-stresses me, so at least my weight is on track, even when the rest of my life seems a bit insane!

Okay… back to business.  I totally splurged the other day, and I must share because I love them.  We have had some house guests over the past few weeks, and we were looking into getting new sheets for one of our guest beds at Crate and Barrel.  As we’re poking around, sheets are very conveniently located right next to window treatments and hardware, and I spotted these.  Finally, the perfect curtains for our bedroom!  I was looking for a pattern that I absolutely loved with grommets, and these fit the bill.  The grey is very slightly darker than our walls, so they blend in yet still add a bit of soft texture. They took a few weeks to arrive at our house, but I was finally able to get them up.

We’ve been having a serious sun issue in our bedroom.  I can’t sleep in at all, and I think that’s partially due to the fact that the sun streams in super bright every morning.  We have the light shades over the windows that we installed a while ago, and they help, but it’s really not enough.  Plus, when we have house guests, anyone standing in the kitchen can look straight through the atrium window into our bedroom.  As much as we enjoy having our family and friends stay with us… we don’t like them that much.

On a quick side note, I’m not totally sure how people install curtain rods without a ton of tools.  On the instructions, it said that all you needed was a screwdriver and drill, but I call shenanigans.  I had out my drill, hammer, bit set, level, measuring tape… I had serious gear.  Then again, I like things to be precise.  (I don’t want un-level curtains after all!)  So, after about an hour of futzing, they were up!


Perfection.  They don’t block out all of the sun, but they definitely make a serious dent, and I’m sleeping much better.  (Perhaps partially due to the exhaustion of coming home from set at 6:30AM after working all night, but I won’t account that into the awesomeness of our new curtains.)

My other splurge of that day was the curtain hardware.  I really liked that this style didn’t have any super fancy finals.  It’s very streamlined and contemporary, which I think goes really nicely in our soft grey bedroom.  We like to keep our bedroom very minimal, and this fits into that.

Also, here’s a quick close-up at how our shades and curtains fit together.

I’m kind of in love.  After looking for the perfect curtains for months, I’m so thrilled with these.  I’m even going to say they were totally worth the splurge.  (My sleep is priceless, after all.)

On a totally different note, I also bought myself a little present that arrived on Friday:

Does anyone else have one?  I’m pretty excited to play….


Filed under Renovation Realities

A New “Bed” for our Plants

The great curb appeal upgrade continues!  For those of you who are my “facebook fans“, you already know that Friday was a 2-cart kind of day.  (Also known as the day that you stand in the loading zone looking at the Toyota Matrix asking yourself “will all of this fit?”).

Spoiler alert: it did fit!  It was kind of a miracle.  We’ve actually had much more difficult times getting plywood to fit in there, so the plants were kind of easy by comparison.

Anyway, we have had this ugly patch of dirt/grass on the right side of our walkway that’s sat untouched for quite some time.

We did have “The Great Daisy Incident of 2010” when we first moved in.  We tried planting a bunch of gerber daisies out front.  They lived for 2 days.  The nice man who mows our lawn and takes care of our grass said that we probably “shocked” the plants.  Oops.  So, since said “incident”, we haven’t even tried planting anything over there.

But, since we now have the pretty red door to welcome us every time we come home, and we’ve kept the backyard plants alive for over a month, we thought we’d give it another try.  This time, with drought resistant succulents and a raised bed with new soil.  Sounds a lot easier for people with black thumbs, right?

I started out by purchasing 5 cedar pickets, which are naturally rot resistant, and cutting off the “dog ear” top.  Then, I basically created a perimeter using the pickets, screwing them together using my Kreg Jig.  I thought that I would need to screw them into stakes them into the ground, but since the area was a a bit of a box anyway it seemed to stand by itself just fine.  Since the area by the house was just the concrete foundation, I didn’t need to add any wood back there as there was no wood siding that would need protecting from rot.

Once the boards were in surrounding the area, I put down some landscape fabric to keep out existing weeds and also to hopefully kill all of the grass and whatever else was growing down there.

They sell these pretty sweet little metal pieces that look a lot like giant staples to keep the landscape fabric in place.  You just poke them through the fabric and pound them into the ground with a hammer.

Once the fabric was down, it was already time for plants!  Brad joined me at this point and helped me put the plants where we thought they should go.  We wanted to make sure we had a “plan” before we begun planting.  We bought 20 succulents, 10 larger and 10 smaller, and alternated between sizes all the way down the row.

Then, we started pouring in the soil and planting.  We used a special soil that was specially made for cactus and succulents.  I guess it drains quicker and therefore is less likely to kill your plants?  Somehow?  I think?  Anything that could keep them alive with zero maintenance is worth purchasing in my mind.  I’m the only person I know that can easily kill a cactus.

I realized as I was taking final pictures that there was no good angle to really see the whole finished product, but here are some partial images that you can put together.  It looks WAY better than the original patch of grass/weed/dirt.

The framing of this picture feels mildly awkward, but at least you can see our new plants in relation to the scale of the front of the house:

Slowly but surely we’re getting a more “welcoming” entrance!  Some of the succulents even kind of look like flowers.  Which makes me feel like I’m growing something a little more fancy than a cactus.

The best part about this project was that it only took about 2 1/2 hours start to finish.  And, I was going pretty slow.  There was lots of futzing with where the plants were going to go and recalculating how much soil I overbought.  (The answer is: TONS.  Like, I bought 20 bags of soil and only needed 10.  I totally underestimated how much space the plant would take in the soil.  The husband got a good “I told you so” in for that one.)  So, after I returned a LOT of soil, the whole project turned out to be about $250 for all of the plants, soil, fabric, staple-like things, and pickets.  But, since the pickets in total were only $10, those are hardly even worth mentioning.

Any of you guys doing anything exciting to up the curb appeal of your house?  Or, is there anyone else out there that’s gotten bitten by the planting bug?


Filed under Backyard Bliss

Paint it Red!

I’ve been in a bit of a creative funk lately.  Do you guys ever get that way?  Where you’re just feeling uninspired?  That’s how I’ve felt for about a month.  Work has slowed down a bit, and even though we’ve still been incredibly busy with a ton of family coming into town and a quick Disney vacation (I’ll share more about that in a later post), I just haven’t felt inspired to create anything.  Very unlike me, and very weird.

Then, Saturday morning, I just woke up, rolled over and said to Brad, “I want to paint the front door.”  By now he knows better than to challenge any of my crazy ideas, so I think I got a sleepy “mmmhmm” in response, which I took as a “sure, whatever makes you happy”.

Just like I’ve felt a bit uninspired, the front of our house has felt a bit uninspired as well.

So much… beige.  And brown.  And white.  And non-colors.

Walking into the entry didn’t exactly feel like a warm welcome, either.  Between the lack of plants we can’t grow on the right side of the walkway and the beige on white on brown color scheme, there’s just no “pop”.

After a quick jaunt to Lowes, we picked up a can of Allen and Roth’s Front Door Red (perfect name, huh?).  I already have a ton of paint brushes on hand and several foam rollers left over from Tubby, so the only real expense to this project was the $10 of paint.

The original plan was to remove all of the hardware on the door to make painting super easy, but it was a bit trickier to take off than originally assumed.  When we tried to remove the handle part, we realized that from the inside there was a stopper that had been pounded in.  No screws to remove it easily.  So, I decided to just leave it on and paint around it.  It didn’t end up being that big of a pain in the end, but it would’ve been way easier to have just completely removed it.

Once I started painting, I realized that I’m too short to be able to see the top of the door well enough to cut in.  So, I did a quick tape job around the glass.  The edges were super easy, and then when I got to the curved top I simply ripped up smaller pieces and then traced around the trim with a small box cutter to remove all of the excess tape.

As I was painting, I remembered Young House Love‘s paint mantra “thin and even layers”.  Well, some layers were a bit more even than others, but I kept it super thin so there weren’t any splotches as I went.

Speaking of thin and even layers, Brad initially tried to help me on this project.  I gave him the roller thinking that would be easier than the “cutting in” portion.  As he held up a goopy roller filled with paint ready to attack the door, I thanked him for his assistance and suggested that this was not the project for him.  I heard him go back in the house and say to Piper: “pup, we’ve been fired”.  Poor husband.  He’s really great at jobs that require brute force, like hole digging and demo, but things that require patience and exactness are maybe not his forte.  I’m also a bit bossy.  A bit.  Just saying.

First coat of paint and it was looking like a lovely splotchy mess.

That was when I realized that I probably wasn’t going to finish this project in three coats.  In fact, it took seven.  Seven coats of red paint with the primer baked in.  I was about red-painted out by the end.  Here’s a quick progression of the more noticeable coats so you can see how the additional coats made a huge difference.

Pretty crazy, huh?  SOOOOO many coats of paint.  Thank goodness it was only one side of one door.  But, it definitely adds that “pop” of color that the front of the house needed.  Not so beige anymore!

While there’s still quite a bit of work to do in the front yard, like actually planting something near that walkway and replacing the gate in between those ugly concrete posts, we really love the red.  Such a big difference for $10!

Have you guys had an inspiring summer?  What gets you guys in the mood to be creative?  Whatever it is, share it with me, please!  I could use some creative energy!


Filed under General How-Tos

The Great Plant Experiment of 2012

For once, this was not my idea.  It was Brad’s idea.  I take no blame for the outcome of whatever happens to these poor, helpless beings.

Since 4th of July was on a Wednesday this year, it seemed as though no one really had plans.  Even as I’m back at work today, asking everyone what they did on their 4th of July has seemed pretty lackluster.  It was almost like having an additional Sunday in the middle of the week.  (Are you guys finding this as well?)  Not that I’m complaining, I love Sundays in the middle of the week.  And, you know what I like to do on Sundays?  Home improvement things!  Yay!

We have a tiny area in our atrium that’s a mound of dirt right now, but I have big plans for it.  The first part of the plan is to put some sod in the mound of dirt so that Piper can come in and out and use it as a restroom if we’re gone for the day.  She’s so little that she can sneak under both of our side gates, so we can’t put in a doggie door to the outside.  Plus, I just don’t feel good about having a doggie door.  Too many people can get in through them.  It freaks me out.

Anyway, we went to Lowes to buy sod, and they didn’t have any.  Apparently their shipment comes in on Fridays.  Lame sauce.  But, we’re standing in the garden department.  With all of the pretty, green, easily killable things around us.  And then we had a conversation that kind of sounded like this:

Brad: We should get some plants for the side yard.
Me: No. No plants. You remember what happened last time. (Reference to the Daisy Incident of 2011 where they lived for less than 5 days after planting.)
Brad: But, we can get different plants. Desert plants.
Me: We’re going to kill them.
Brad: But, look at this one.  Isn’t it nice?
Me: Ooh, I like that one…

And that’s how I got shanghaied into buying more plants that we will probably kill.  And, in no time, our cart looked like this:

I can just see them quivering with fear.

We made sure that the plants were “tolerant”, which I took to mean “tolerant of our negligence”, so we shall see what happens.  But, anything is an improvement to our current side yard.  When people come over, I hope they don’t look out our living room windows and see it.  It is an abyss of dead weeds and home to the ugliest retaining wall ever.

Believe it or not, this is after we “cleaned out” the side yard.  We had some 6 foot weeds in there.  (At least we can keep those alive easily!)  The other problem is that we previously threw a ton of wildflower seeds back there hoping they would grow.  It looked like a flowery mess for about a month, but then they all died, leaving us with a hoard of dead plants.  We filled up our green trash can with weeds and dead plants no problem last Sunday.  This is the only (half) living plant left from that endeavor about a year ago:

So, in went the Kangaroo Paw (our personal favorite and the one with the most chance for survival due to its desert, low maintenance nature).  We also put in some “ground cover”, hoping that it will slowly take over.  Once again, not sure if that’ll work or not, but, hey, worth a try.

We also planted a Dwarf Lime Tree.  (Skinny Margaritas at my place in a few summers?)

And this fancy tropical plant that was a total impulse buy.  It was 50% off and just looked sad.  So, I decided to take it home.  It is probably the most likely to die first.

And, here’s what they all looked like planted so far:

Still looks pretty terrible, I’m not going to lie.  But, this is more of an experiment than anything.  We’ve vowed that if they stay alive for 2-3 weeks we can buy a few more and slowly fill up the space.  We also have to put rocks down on the ground to get rid of that miserable space below the retaining wall.  I also have thoughts of painting the shorter retaining wall.  Maybe something fun and colorful and crazy.  Red?  Yellow?  Grellow?  Thoughts are happening.

In the meantime, I woke up this morning and they were all still alive.  They have survived the first 24 hours, so that’s a good sign.

How did you guys spend your 4th?  Any BBQs?  Poolside lounging?  Or, is anyone else crazy like us and took on an unexpected project?


Filed under A Very Strickman Holiday

Gaby Kitchen Island

Hello busy busy busy summer!  So much has happened this month.  Between us going to Tucson to visit my Dad for Father’s Day, working, training, having birthday parties, planning bridal showers, and being the most dutiful matron of honor to my best friend Brina that I can be, there hasn’t been a whole lot of time for building.  But, with some very special new building friends, I am so proud of this new kitchen island we built!

Gaby and Andres, two of the kindest people I’ve ever met, needed an island to add storage and functionality to their kitchen.  Gaby loves all things Restoration Hardware (which automatically means that we are soul mates) and really liked the look of Restoration’s Salvaged Wood Kitchen Island.  There were three problems with the island: 1. It’s $3000.  Holy crap.  2. It was way too big.  3. They really wanted drawers for additional storage.  So, together we came up with this project plan.

One of the best parts of building this island was that Gaby was able to find this stunning reclaimed wood.  We used a mixture of pine and oak for a  “patchwork” look.  We wanted it to feel like someone really took whatever they had to piece it together.

Check out this detail on the top from the milling.  You can’t fake that!

Here’s another angle so that you can see how the drawers seamlessly fit in:

On a side note, we also had a very helpful assistant, their pup, Africa.  Poor thing pooped out about 5 minutes in.

I had so much fun building with Gaby and her husband, Andres.  Even though this was their first build, within about an hour it felt like we had been building together forever.  I can’t wait to have them back to build something else!  (There are talks of a bed in our future…)  But, man, they’ve gotta whip that dog into shape!  Then again, this is about how much fun Piper has in the garage:

Yeah.  That’s a yawn.  She is clearly her father’s daughter.

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Filed under Building Plans

Getting Started: Miter Saw Basics

As promised, here is the start to OPD’s new “Getting Started” series.  (Yay!)  Believe it or not, this video has been done for a few months.  (I know, I know…)  I’m just now getting around to posting it.  It’s kind of weird looking back, actually.  I’m a lot thinner now… and my hair is now blonde… and shorter… and I’m wearing a sweatshirt, which would not be a good idea right now at the end of May.  Anyway, yes.  A long time ago.  My apologies.  Please don’t judge me.  Or my really terrible acting abilities.  I am much more comfortable behind the camera.

I meet so many people, particularly women, who get so excited and intrigued by the idea of building but have no idea where to start.  I don’t know about you guys, but I took dance and film classes as my electives in high school, not Woodworking 101.  So, I’m hoping that these videos can show you exactly how easy it is to use tools and make beautiful furniture for less.  (And maybe make using a saw a little less scary.)

The first tool we’re starting with is the Miter Saw, mostly because it’s the safest and most easy to use.  It ensures exact, straight cuts on dimensional lumber and is probably the quickest method of cutting.  I’ve built several pieces of furniture using only a miter saw, and it’s a great one to start with if you’ve never used a saw before.


Filed under Getting Started

Simple Sink Console

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!  I hope you all are having a wonderful day, celebrating with family and friends and remembering what is important.  It is also my mom and step-father’s anniversary, so Happy Anniversary, you crazy kids.

I love sink consoles.  I think they add so much character to a bathroom while getting rid of that “builder grade” feeling of the built-in.  As with most furniture items from Pottery Barn, I always look at their sink consoles and go: “Wow!  That is so cute!  And, that would be SO easy to build!  Why are they charging $2,000 for that?!”  You guys may remember when I hacked Napoleon a few months back, and since I’m very busy planning our VERY near future bath remodel, I was in a bathroom kind of mood.  So, here you go!  Here are the plans for Pottery Barn’s Classic Single Sink Console.

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Filed under Building Plans

Size 4

I know that you guys come here for building plans and home improvement reading, but today I’m taking a slightly off course topic due to a momentous occasion that happened over the weekend.  For the first time (possibly ever), I went jeans shopping and fit into a size 4.  I’m pretty sure confetti dropped from the ceiling when I was able to easily button them up.  (Ladies, especially, you know what I’m talking about.)  So, for today, instead of home improvement, I’m talking about SELF improvement.

After I got married, I put on some “love” weight.  When I was coming up on my one year anniversary, I realized that I had put on 10 lbs since my wedding day.  That was my reality check moment that it was time to start taking better care of myself.  If I kept gaining 10 lbs a year for a few more years I would be in some serious trouble.  Especially since diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and being overweight naturally runs in the women’s side of my family.  I want to live long enough to renovate quite a few more houses.

So, last October, I signed up to get a trainer at my gym, 24 hour fitness.  She taught me how to eat and what to do, and I realized that I had been doing everything completely wrong.  Yes, I was eating a salad, but with all of the cheese that I had on it I may as well have ordered a Big Mac.

My first question to anyone who has successfully lost weight has been “how did you do it?”.  So, for today’s post, I’m going to share how I did it.

BTW, as my dear friend Stacy says, everyone loves a good before and after.  So, as embarassing as this is, here is my “before” and “after”:

Ugh, just looking at my chubby picture makes me cringe.  And, yes, I change my hair color probably about as often as I change my socks.  As a side note, neither one of these pictures has been photoshopped, other than to format them.  Anyway, lets get to it, shall we?

Step 1: I Changed My Mindset

Here’s the industry secret that no one in Hollywood talks about.  Everyone knows that magazine and promotional photos of celebrities are photoshopped.  Yes, every single picture.  I even photoshop all of my furniture pictures to give them a little extra “pop”.  (Adjust the brightness here, color correct there… you get the gist.)  What they don’t tell you, is that all of the actors and actresses have beauty work done in picture, too.  I can’t tell you how many “digital facelifts” the companies that I’ve worked for have done.  We’ve cleaned up acne, made people thinner, removed “turkey necks”… the point is, even the people who are paid to be perfect, well… aren’t.

So, instead of focusing on being “skinny”, I focused on being “healthy”.  I will never be a size 0.  It’s not in my genes.  I can only be the best, healthiest ME.  I stopped focusing on the scale and the numbers and started focusing on what I was able to do.  When I started working out again, after not going to the gym for about a year, doing 15 squats was hard.  Now I’m doing 15 squats, 3 reps, while holding a 45 lb bar.  I’m stronger and faster than I’ve ever been, and the more I keep at it, the better I’ll be.

The other thing to keep in mind, is that between my “before” and “after” picture, it’s only a difference of about 7 lbs.  I’ve replaced muscle with fat, and since muscle weighs more, it makes the weight loss seem minor.  I weigh more than I did when I got married, but I’m a size smaller.  Bottom line, I haven’t let the scale dictate my success.

Step 2: I Stopped Eating Crap

I’m a vegetarian, and there is a good and a bad way to be a vegetarian.  You either eat a lot of vegetables, or you eat a lot of bread and sugar.  Clearly, I used to be the “eat a lot of bread and sugar” kind.  When I wasn’t getting enough protein, I would replace protein with carbs to get energy.  This was a bad idea.  Here are the easy ways that I added more veggies to my diet:

  1. I bought a juicer and started juicing for breakfast.  It seriously changed my life.  Before I have even gotten to lunch I have already eaten multiple servings of fruits and vegetables.  My favorite juice is 4 leaves of kale, 3 handfuls of spinach, half a cucumber, 2 apples, one lemon, and one lime.  Nom nom nom.
  2. I eat one salad as a meal every day.  Usually, it’s dinner.  The favorite is a ton of spinach, half an apple, and a Gardein Chick’n Scallopini.  (It’s basically a seasoned chicken breast, but for vegetarians.)  I also make this salad dressing to go with it.  It says to put it all in a blender, but I just put it in a ziplock container and shake it all up.  Seems to work just fine and make less dishes.

The other thing that no one told me before my trainer, is that I needed to stop eating starches before bed.  Bread is okay, just don’t eat a ton of it and don’t eat it at the end of the day.

Lastly, I didn’t take away any of the things that I love to eat, I just replaced them.  I have a sweet tooth, so I eat a lot of low fat frozen yogurt.  (My personal favorite right now is Menchie’s Cake Batter swirled with Red Velvet.  OMG.)  100 calorie packs are great snacks when I need chocolate.  And, I let myself have a little bit of mac and cheese on the weekends… but instead of Velveeta, it’s Annie’s Organic Shells and Cheese, which is lower in fat.  You get the point.

Lastly, I love beer.  Give me a good Shock Top at the end of the day and I’m a happy girl.  But, clearly beer is not the best thing for you.  So, instead of living completely without it, I’ve just cut down substantially.  I still drink with my colleagues on “Friday Hooters Lunch” (yes, that’s a thing), I just don’t also have a beer when I get home from work.  (Is it weird that I’ve become a work only drinker?  It sounds very Mad Men, doesn’t it?)

Bottom line, I try to find balance in what I eat and what I do.  Which brings me to…

Step 3: I Work Out

I know that a lot of people have very little expendable income, but if there’s one thing I can recommend, it’s to get a trainer.  I still would have no idea what I was doing if it weren’t for my awesome trainer, Zabrina.  She holds me accountable, punishes me when I don’t log my food, and challenges me to constantly be better.  What a lot of people don’t know about a trainer, is that you don’t necessarily have to go three times a week every week.  Even if you go once a month, he/she will set up the rest of your work outs for you.  I have a calendar that tells me 5 days a week what my work out needs to be.  It’s awesome.  So, today, for example, I know that I have to go do 40 minutes on the bike, Alpine Pass level 9, and then i also have to do 20 minutes of elliptical at a level 6, 8, 10, 8, 7, changing the level every 4 minutes.  It takes all of the thinking out of it, and all you have to do is… well… go do it.  Bottom line… you can still get the benefit from a trainer and save a TON of money.  And, in my opinion, an investment in yourself is always a good investment.

My goal is always to work out 5 days a week.  Sometimes I only make it 4, that’s kind of the way it goes.  But, I make time for it.  I saw a pin on pinterest that quoted Gwyneth Paltrow saying: “The reason that I can be 38 and have two kids and wear a bikini is because I work my (expletive) ass off.  It’s not an accident, it’s not luck, it’s not fairy dust, it’s not good genes.  It’s killing myself for an hour and a half five days a week, but what I get out of it is relative to what I put into it.  That’s what I try to do in all areas of my life.”  Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?  We put so much into being the perfect wife/mother/employee/child/everything that it doesn’t add up not to put that much effort into our health.


Anyway, take what I say with a grain of salt.  I am not a health professional, just a girl who got fit with some great, professional advice.  But, this is what worked for me.  I’ve put in the effort in and kept a realistic attitude about my lifestyle.  That’s my big secret.

I’m also hesitant to say my picture from the weekend is an “after” picture.  I know that my health will be a work in progress forever.  Once I say I’m “done” is when I’ll let go and start sliding backwards.  But, overall, I’m happy with myself right now, and that’s what matters.

PS – thank you for listening to my off-topic post.  I realize that it’s been a while since I’ve posted plans because Tubby has taken center stage, but I promise to post new plans for you later this week :-)


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