Weight Loss and Fitness

Mar 31, 2023

I've been getting so many questions about what I eat and my fitness routine the past couple of months. I suppose it's because I've been posting photos and videos in swimwear on Instagram. Honestly, I get asked the same questions in real life on a regular basis. I have no problem sharing what works for me to anyone who is interested. Keep in mind, I am not an expert. I feel like I learn new things all the time that has me tweaking my diet and workouts. These are just things that have worked for me.

How Many Calories Can I Have a Day?

Diet is the most important factor for weight loss. It's the reason why you hear that abs are made in the kitchen. The amount of calories you need per day depends on gender, height, current weight, etc. I like this BMR calculator. I prefer to use the sedentary number as a starting point. I track my calories burned through exercise with an Apple Watch and then add those to the sedentary number for a total of how many calories I can have per day to maintain my weight. If you don't have an Apple Watch or something similar, here is a walking calculator to estimate the amount of calories burned. You'll be surprised at how fast and long you have to walk to burn a decent amount of calories!

So now you know how many calories you can have per day to maintain your weight. What about to lose weight? The general rule of thumb is that a 3,500 calorie deficit per week (or 500 calorie deficit per day) is needed to lose one pound a week. So you can decrease your calories by 500, up your workout to burn 500 extra calories a day or use a combination of diet and exercise. For example, 60 minutes of cardio at 3.5mph results in a 220 calorie deficit for me. If I reduce my calories by 280 every day as well, I will meet my 500 calorie deficit for the day. Keep in mind if you are just starting out you will probably lose a bit more due to water weight. 

What to eat? 

A plan is completely necessary. You can also eat many of the same types of food you are used to, but healthier versions. If you like hamburgers, sub the fatty ground beef for 99% lean and take off  the top bun. Try veggies instead of fries. I have spaghetti squash and turkey meatballs instead of high fat ground beef and pasta. I eat a modified club sandwich almost everyday-one toasted piece of 45 calorie low carb bread, 0 calorie spicy mustard, lettuce, tomato and 4 oz of deli turkey. Google the calories, sugar, fat and carbs of your food items and tweak until you have come up with a daily meal plan that fits your goals without feeling deprived or hungry. Check out the diet friendly versions of bread, yogurt, etc for ideas. 

Here is my favorite snack! It's a high protein, low calorie yogurt parfait. 

It's also necessary to know what you can have from a fast food place in a pinch. I rarely eat fast food, but if I do I order a grilled chicken Market salad from Chik-fil-a with light Italian. I leave off the extra nuts on the side for a total of 205 calories. The soft taco from Taco Bell with grilled chicken, lettuce and tomatoes is only 150 calories. I will have two of those and it feels like a splurge despite only being 300 calories. I will also order any grilled chicken salad from a restaurant with some type of vinaigrette dressing without worrying about calories. 

Does it matter when you eat? 

Intermittent fasting is really popular right now, but I am not a fan. I don't believe in ever going hungry. There's a difference between "I could eat" and being hungry. I can always eat, but I only eat when I'm truly hungry. I do try and eat my heavier meals during the day and go lighter/carb free (or very little carbs) at dinner time. I am sedentary at night and don't burn off the calories which results in weight gain for me. 

Can you drink alcohol? 

I drink wine every night, but not a lot. I measure it before pouring it in my glass to keep me on track. I'm personally not a fan of liquor, but there are low calorie options. I recently found a zero calorie triple sec mix to make skinny margaritas. The only calories in the drink was 60 from the one shot of tequila.

What is your workout?

I do a combination of cardio and weight training. Cardio is solely to help me meet my calorie goal when I am trying to lose weight. If I am not trying to lose weight I only do cardio for 30 minutes a few times a week. I am a fan of Beachbody on Demand for weight training, particularly the 21 Day Fix. I do the lower body, upper body, Dirty 30 and ab workouts. I skip the yoga, cardio and pilates since my goal is weight training. I also push myself to lift as heavy as possible because this is where you will see what people refer to as tone. Toning is just muscle growth. Many women have a fear that heavy weights will make them too big and they just want to "tone." You have to lift heavy weight to tone (aka muscle growth) in combination with enough protein intake. There are also calculators online to help you figure out how many grams you need per day. It's a lot, which is why many people who workout with weights opt for protein shakes. My workout routine is constantly changing as I figure out which Beachbody exercises I like and don't like. I substitute exercises for others I prefer all the time. The best part is my workout is only about 30 minutes, and then I follow it up every other day with 10 minute abs. It doesn't have to take a lot of time. Actually, my routine is done in the time it would take to drive to and from the gym. 

Why is it important to weight train?

Weight training will change your body in ways that fat loss will not. I lost quite a bit of weight a while back and was disappointed that I didn't look the way I thought I would since I got so small. I basically looked the same, but smaller. Keep in mind that if you do have a significant amount of fat to lose that the muscle development might not be as noticeable so don't be discouraged. It's also an amazing feeling once you start to get stronger. I can't even put into words at how much better I felt about myself when I could lift heavier weight or not feel as frail, particularly as I am getting older. I won't lie, it was really difficult to get through my Beachbody program the first few weeks. It's surprisingly almost too easy now. Just stick with it and modify the exercises when you need to as well. Listening to my podcasts also helps me get through it!

Does it get easier?

Yes! I actually crave the healthy foods I regularly eat. When I splurge, it rarely tastes as good as I remembered. I realized that I crave what I am used to eating. If I fall off the wagon around the holidays I find it just as hard to get back on track because I start to crave those unhealthy foods. I have splurged enough finally to realize that I don't need an entire cheat day or even a whole cheat meal. I do not deprive myself of anything I want at all. I finally feel strong enough to take a few bites of dessert and be satisfied. I didn't trust myself before not to inhale the entire cake. It helps to have someone to share it with to keep that from happening too. Also, once you get enough items/meals in your diet that you like, you can finally start to eat healthy without being so mindful and diligent. It took me a couple of years to get to this point, but it will happen. 

Here I am on my last full day in Mexico. I didn't gain any weight despite eating at an all-inclusive resort for several days. Normally, I would be hiding my stomach by now. I indulged, but in small amounts. I also made sure to fill my plate with 90% healthy foods. I didn't feel the least bit deprived. 

Weight loss can feel like the hardest thing to accomplish, and the easiest when you get the hang of it. It's also ridiculously easy to forget how to eat after a few nights out, a vacation or the holidays no matter how much you think you have a handle on it. Don't beat yourself up when you slip up. Just get back on the wagon and chalk it up to a learning experience!

My Favorite Design Trends for 2023

Jan 16, 2023

I have noticed over the years that as I lean into and away from certain design trends that many in the industry have similar thoughts. I believe it's because we are inundated with the same looks for several years that we begin to crave something different. Here are a few of my favorite design trends for 2023.

A Vintage Mix

Traditional decor is coming back, dark wood and all. One thing I always do in my own home is mix contemporary and traditional. It's a way to extend the longevity of a room and give it a unique character. I paired my chinoiserie wallpaper panel with modern buffet lamps to balance the look of the room. It's also easier to change things out a few pieces that aren't your style any longer instead of redecorating an entire room. 

Moody Rooms

My house is light and bright so you may be surprised that I love a dark, cozy room. Here is a media room I designed for a client that's perfect for movie nights. Keep in mind the entire house doesn't have to be dark. Think about the vibe you want for each room. I usually suggest darker rooms for media rooms, master bedrooms or studies. 

Home Bars

Remember the wet bars from the 80s? Everything comes back in style, but usually better. This is no different. The bars are bigger with high end finishes and many have seating for guests. My prediction is that they will be combined with a TV area and/or pool table for entertaining. I do believe this means media rooms will not be as popular in new builds. 

home bar with dark paint
House Beautiful

Wall and Ceiling Details

Wainscoting, paneling, wallpaper, stone, beams, crown moulding, etc. elevates every room. I used shiplap and wallpaper in my laundry room makeover. The great thing is that it doesn't matter what your style is because there is a finish that will fit it. 

Mass Produced Pinch Pleat Curtains

I am so excited for this one! I have been saying for well over a decade this needed to be a thing. Previously, pinch pleated curtains were only custom made. I finally found non-custom pinch pleated curtains for my breakfast room on Amazon. I'm finally starting to see more pop up all over the internet now. 

One Dining Room

Many have been saying they don't need a formal dining room for several years because they go unused. I am not completely on board with that. I would personally give up my breakfast room first since I already have island seating. Regardless of preference, only having one dining area has become a request of many of my new build clients so they can use that square footage elsewhere. 

Design Trends I Would Like to See Go Away...But Probably Won't

Corner Fireplaces-If price were no object or we were staying here longer, I would center the fireplace on the wall. It would give us so much more room and the furniture would be much easier to arrange. 

Extreme Open Concept Spaces-I cannot tell you how many times I have had to mute the TV when someone is banging around the kitchen. There is only about ten feet between the sofa and the kitchen sink. I do like the look of an open concept to an extent, especially in smaller homes so it doesn't feel closed in. However, there does need to be some thought put into how these open rooms function. FYI, they are all like this where I live. 

These are of course just my predictions and opinions. I also predict that after a winter of straight leg and flare jeans getting wet from rain and snow that Gen Z will regret throwing out their skinny jeans. Sometimes jeans just need to go in the boots! 

Christmas Home Tour 2022

Dec 15, 2022

It's a Classic Style Christmas this year with traditional red making its way back into my decor. I was looking back at past photos and missed the red, especially paired with the blue and white ginger jars. I love how festive and cheery the house feels by incorporating red. Thankfully, it complements the blue and white I already have in my home. 

Let's get started at the front door with one of my favorite new things this year, these topiaries! They are real so I plan on having them around all year round (unless they don't make it which is a possibility with my black thumb). I love how cute they look with these red bows I added. It's also a hint of what is to come inside. 

I love the little peek at the Christmas tree from the front door this year. 

Classic green garland and red bows 

I kept the dining room neutral because that's what I had on hand. Actually, the centerpiece came about because that's what was sitting on the table waiting to be put somewhere. I just left it there and grabbed a few picks to intersperse between the tree topiaries. I later realized that I did the exact same table a few years ago. I guess it was still there in my brain somewhere!

Here is my new framed Gracie wallpaper panel. I've always wanted one of these. Are you surprised I chose green? Me, too. It just spoke to me. The buffet lamps are new as well. 

I happened to have a green ribbon on hand to give my horse a bow to match. I also added roses to my magnolia garland. It's such a pretty, romantic look. 

These pictures aren't the best because I tried to brighten them up, but made them look green and washed out instead. One day I'll figure out how to take photos of windows!

I will change it up for Christmas Day dinner because I have to put the leaves in the table to accommodate all twelve of us. I also prefer to have real florals as low centerpieces so we can see each other. I usually have three arrangements, roses with cedar. I'll also have cedar pieces as a garland interspersed with votive candles. Maybe I'll throw some ornaments in there. I will put it together the day before Christmas Eve and just do whatever strikes me in the moment. I'll also put my champagne and dessert bar on the buffet again soon. 

Let's go into the living room so I can show you not only my Christmas decorations, but my new DIY project! We built this wall of wainscoting the weekend before Thanksgiving. We started on Friday afternoon/evening and I finished painting it on Sunday night. It's the first time that we didn't do faux wainscoting. We actually put wood on the wall first instead of just adding trim boards over the drywall. In case you're wondering, the entire project cost $650 with paint. Not bad! It's much better than the $4000 quote I received from a contractor. 

This wall has been an eyesore since before it was even built. I hated the corner fireplace and asked the builder to center it on the wall so we could have a bigger living room and a more symmetrical look. I knew that it was going to be a two story blank wall with zero architectural detail. Well, the builder wanted an astronomical amount just to redraw it (which I should have just paid in retrospect) so we lived with it. I considered knocking out the fireplace or adding a media center. The five figure prices for both had me doing nothing. 

However, once I got the Frame TV last month I realized I didn't need a media center any longer. I just needed architectural detail. I played with several options, particularly the vertical shiplap like we did in the laundry room. I decided it was too casual for everything else in the room. This wainscoting is a classic look that goes with every style. We're actually thinking about doing the fireplace next and maybe even painting it a color. I'm still undecided on that. We definitely need someone to come in and frame that window because we don't have a tall enough ladder. I would show you a photo of how this wall looked before, but I rarely photographed it because it was such an eyesore. 

The Christmas tree is in a new spot this year because it blocked the TV. I was disappointed at first, but I love that I can see it from every room now. If the lights were to go out, I would buy two slender trees to go on both sides of the window. Considering this is the second year we've had it that probably won't happen. 

Mario enjoying the fire. 

The mantel with the blue and white jars is a similar look I did years ago. I did change out the magnolia garlands because they were getting a little tired. I chose a 9 foot garland that fit perfectly, but I should have gotten two 6 foot garlands because the needles all go in one direction so they kind of flail out on the left side. Oh well, I'll reuse it somewhere next year and buy two six foot ones. I do love the look of it though. 

This chandelier doesn't really go in the house any longer since I redecorated, but I still love the look of it all lit up at night. 

The garland is very realistic, but it definitely needs to be layered with either a second one or it needs picks. I happened to have eucalyptus picks on hand so I just stuck them in there for a fuller look. 

A closer look at the wainscoting and the Frame TV. I bought the gold frame separately. The finish on the TV is matte so it really looks like a piece of art. 

This tree was such a balance of red and white. I wanted a touch of red so I added and took away until it was just right. There are only three red ornaments on the tree. The rest of the red colors are ribbons and picks. I also added in mini blue and white ginger jar ornaments and tied them with red ribbons. 

I found ginger jar wrapping paper in red and blue on Etsy. I actually didn't buy any of it with a theme in mind. I just thought it was cute. 

The walkway looks tight here, but in person it's actually quite wide. 

My kitchen always looks best with pops of red. I didn't do much differently from a couple of years ago because I loved it so much. 

Isn't this tree cutting board the cutest? I found it on sale at Hobby Lobby for $7. It had a hole at the top for hanging that looked weird to me so I added a bell to it. It's even cuter now!

I didn't do much to the breakfast room. I just added dried boxwood garlands to match what was in the kitchen to the new buffet. The centerpiece is the same as last year. This room is still a work in progress, but it has come such a long way. I didn't even photograph it for years! I love it now even if there are still things to be done. 

It's fun to see the changes I've made over the last year in addition to the Christmas decorations. I didn't realize how much I have done. I can't wait to see what 2023 will bring!