Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Weight Lifting

Today I am deviating from my normal Decorating Posts and answering a question I received from a reader about my exercise routine.  Some of you may have seen pictures of our home gym and my comment about loving this little weight bench and that my use of it has given me better results than anything else I have tried.

The Gym in our Previous Home

The Gym in our Current Home

So here are the details:
I really am a believer in weight lifting.  It all started when I was just out of college and teaching High School.  One of the other teachers invited me to work out with her in the school gym so I did.  When she started using the machines and lifting weights I was blown away by how much she could lift and how strong she was- and she was probably 20 years older than me!  I wasn't about to let an older lady beat me!  So I started using the machines and lifting weights as well.  I couldn't believe how quickly the fat started melting away.  Fast forward to a few years later after my first child was born, I wanted to start working out again so I joined a gym.  It was a small Ladies gym with only a couple machines and some really fun classes- so instead of using the machines I did the classes.  I was there doing a class EVERY DAY mon -fri. and did this for about a year and saw almost no results.  Talk about frustrating.  I'm sure I had improved my heart health and stamina but I wanted to lose inches!  So I stopped going and that is when my husband bought our little home gym from Walmart.  It was inexpensive and basic as far as home gyms go - but it works for us.  I checked out Walmart's site and this bench is similar to ours and is $275.  FYI: You have to buy the Plate weights separately. Click here for the link.

 Because of my pregnancies (and other reasons) there have been a lot of stops and starts in my life in regards to working out - but every time I have done weight lifting I have seen great results.  I still include a little cardio in my workouts but the majority of what I do is focused on building lean muscle.  I remember watching a morning show where they had the author of this book (click here for link) and he talked about how women should work out like a man does.  Men don't go to classes or even spend a lot of time on tread mills, they are always on the machines or lifting weights.  And those guys are in good shape - right!  Women are never on the machines or lifting heavy weights - they stick to the aerobics.  Doing only aerobics, or any kind of cardio, may work for some women - it just didn't work for me.  

I know the fear for a lot of women is that they don't want to bulk up like a man - but that is impossible, our muscles are different than a man's.  For me personally it has just made me more tone and taken inches and fat off.  

"Lifting weights is an essential exercise. Aerobic training is fine, but if you compare the amount of effort, it’s simply far easier to lose weight through lifting some weights than it is doing hours and hours of aerobic exercise.
The key is in lean muscle. As you lift weights, you develop it. It’s not bulky, it’s not big, and it’s not the kind of muscle you’d find on a bodybuilder. Nope, this is the kind of muscle that burns calories to maintain itself, that continues to burn those calories long after your workout is over." (quote found from this article)

Another great article I found is this one.

So wether you go to a gym or get a system at home just concentrate more on the weights.  I work out 4 days a week for an hour.  Even when I am on vacation - I do not miss a day of exercise.  Sometimes the entire hour is spent on weights, sometimes I will do the treadmill or eliptical for 20 min. and weights the rest, sometimes I will just do weights on my lower body the whole time or upper body the whole time, sometimes I won't do weights and just do toning the whole time like squats, lunges, push-ups, leg lifts, etc.  The important thing is to try to always be changing things up so that your body doesn't get used to a routine.  When you begin you won't be able to lift a lot of weight - but push yourself to see just how much you can do and over time increase your weight.  Basically you want it to be so hard that you can barely do about 15 to 20 repetitions.  

I know the other thing holding women back is not knowing how to use the machines - don't be afraid to ask for help at a gym.  Once you have used just a few machines you will understand how most all of them work, honestly it won't take you long to learn this.  When our home was being built, our home gym was packed away so I had to join a gym.  I found that "Anytime Fitness" was the best gym for me - it was cheaper than most gyms because they didn't offer classes or have instructors, just a bunch of weight machines for me to use. 

From my little home gym I am able to do 2 leg workouts (one for the quads and one for hamstrings), and 4 arm work outs, bench press, shoulder press, tricep press, and a Lat pull-down.  I also use a couple of 10 or 15 pound free weights to do a few different exercises for my arms.  It generally takes me an hour to do each of these weight exercises 2 times.  I like having a gym at home because there really is no excuse for me not to work out.  Personally I like to workout in the evenings when my kids are in bed.  That way I have no distractions and I often enjoy listening to a good book on my ipod or watching something on tv while I work out- so it is a good way for me to get in some "me time."  By the way I also like the fact that I then shower at night when I am done with my workout and when I wake up in the morning a shower is one less thing I have to do - I can just get dressed and go!  

So that is my workout routine.  Obviously the best way to loose weight is not only to work out, but also watching your diet as well.  For me sugar and sweets have never been a real temptation - but I love food, and portion control was my problem.  Instead of doing something drastic to my diet (which I knew I would probably hate and not stick with) I basically just started eating half of what I used to.  DON'T do this if you are already eating small amounts, I don't want to encourage anorexia- like I said I had a problem with portion control and was eating WAY too much.  For example at restaurants, servings are almost always very large and I always finished my entire plate.  I was often sick to my stomach I was so full.  Now if I go out to eat, I eat half my plate and save the other half to take home for another day (a win/win).  For breakfast I started only eating one waffle or pancake instead of two or more, and lunch is no longer a whole sandwich and chips.  I either do a half sandwich with chips or a whole sandwich and no chips.  Just making those simple changes along with my workouts allowed me to drop 4 pant sizes.  Everybody is different though and ought to find out how many calories they are eating a day and how best to keep their calories in a healthy range each day.  To quote the Biggest Looser "it's all about Calories in vs. Calories out."

As you may know I recently had a baby 2 months ago.  Because weight lifting is not too strenuous I was able to continue my workouts until I was about 6 months along, at that point I was too awkward to move!  By the way that is the longest I have ever worked out during a pregnancy.  I know that made my postpartum recovery the best it has ever been - you would think that since it was my 4th child and I am over 30 it would be my worst.  Not so.  As of last week I decided it was time to start working out again.  My muscles are on fire- but it feels good!  I am currently wearing all my pants that I kept from when I was my heaviest and I would like to get back down to my smallest pair of jeans again.  I gained 40lbs. during my pregnancy and have 15 lbs left to loose.  I will let you all know just how long it takes me to get there!  I have faith that this weight lifting thing is going to work again!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

DIY Sheet Music Artwork

I first saw this picture floating around Pinterest- I have since found out it is from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.  It is called "A Tribute to Music" and costs a pretty penny - $2000!  I loved it the moment I saw it (not so much the price though).  Well with the help of the copy lady at Staples - we figured out a way to create something similar!

Here is my version:

 First you will need two 8.5x11 sheets of music (you can print some off the computer or use a copy out of a music book).  Next I cut and pieced the two sheets together so that they created a new 8.5x11 with a horizontal orientation (I wanted my final artwork to be wider than it is long).  If you want your final artwork to have a vertical orientation than you can skip this step!  Next I had staples copy the music sheet onto 3 transparencies.  By layering the transparencies on top of each other you get a jumbled mess of notes!  Each layer should be shifted slightly down so that you can see the notes of each layer.  Staples can then take these 3 layered transparencies and copy it onto one sheet of paper.  Mine ended up being 11x11.  

Finally that was blown up to be 36x36.  Staples can only blow up your image to be 36" tall - it can be as long as you want though.  Since my image started out square, a 36x36 square was the biggest it would go. At this point you could frame the image or mod podge it to canvas.  Hobby Lobby sells a canvas that is 36x36 but when we tried that size in my hallway we decided it needed to be bigger.  So I found a 36x48 canvas at Michaels.  The full price was $80 so make sure to use a 40 or 50% off coupon when you buy these!  For an even cheaper DIY you could also find a large piece of artwork on canvas at a thrift store and mod podge the music over the top!

***UPDATE  you could also attach the paper to a piece of 1/2 inch plywood rather than a canvas.  You can have Home Depot or Lowes cut it to the size you need and it should only cost around $20.  Simply attach corner molding to the edges to give the artwork a finished look as seen here at Maison de Pax.

To fill my larger canvas I went to Staples and had them print me out another 36x36 sheet of music so I could piece the two sheets together on my canvas.  It worked great - because it is a jumble of notes you really can't see where I pieced it together.  I made sure my papers were lined up properly then folded them back halfway- brushed the mod podge on the canvas- then laid the paper back down, then folded up the other half and mod podged that side.  

Once all the pieces are glued to the canvas let it dry for about 30 min.  then apply a layer of mod podge on top of the whole thing.  

Once that is dry you can leave it "as is" or distress it with some sandpaper, glaze, paint, or coffee.

I simply used a couple of damp paper towels dipped in glaze and paint and just dab and wipe on different colors in different areas.  There really isn't a "technical" way to do this.  I also used the paper towels on the sides of the canvas so the sides matched the tone of the front.

And that's it!

Final Price: $50 for the canvas, and $13 spent at staples for the transparencies and two large 36x36 prints.  Not bad!

***UPDATE: One of my readers made a .jpg file that you can use to create this artwork!
Just click on the image below to make it larger, then you can save it to your own computer.

Monday, September 10, 2012

DIY bench with storage

I was really impressed with a project my sister recently completed so I had to share!
She found this dresser for just $10 at a garage sale.  She liked the color and distressing "as is" so she didn't have to touch that (nice!).

The only change she made was to cut it down- what?!

That way it could be converted into a bench - with storage!  Genius!  You will notice from the pictures she moved the top two drawers down and simply covered the existing dresser top with some foam and fabric, stapled it in place, then reattached it to the dresser/bench!  Who doesn't love great looking storage solutions?!  Especially ones this cheap and easy to make!

My sister found this idea on Pinterest - Man I love that Site!  I know some of you haven't  signed up on Pinterest because you don't have a facebook account (and don't want a facebook account). I felt the same way and so I signed up using Twitter.  It was very easy to get a Twitter account and I have never been back to Twitter since.  You don't have to do anything on Twitter and they don't send me any junk so it was just an easy way for me to get on Pinterest.  I highly recommend it!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Gallery Wall

One of the projects I have been working on lately is this gallery wall in my family room downstairs.  I have so many blank walls downstairs (since it was recently finished) so a lot of my posts lately (and pins on Pinterest) are all about artwork!
It is not finished yet but I thought I would share the results thus far.

It is always easier to create a gallery wall out of blank frames, come up with an arrangement you like then fill them with pictures.  To figure out an arrangement I like to lay out my frames on the floor.  I laid it out right by the wall so that I could visualize it in the space and to see if the scale was good left to right and top to bottom.  Most of my frames I got from ikea, the others were extra's I had waiting in storage for use somewhere.  When I went to ikea I bought tons of different frames just so I had lots to work with when creating an arrangement (you can always return whatever doesn't get used).  I ended up liking a mix of white and brown frames for this space since my walls have a lot of white and the furniture in the room is brown, so it ties it all together.

 Once I had my arrangement figured out it was time to start hanging!  As you can see below I simply take the papers out of the frames (most all frames come with them), mark where the nail holes need to be and then tape the papers up on the wall.  You can see below I started with the pictures in the center then filled in the right side, then the left.  I don't really measure things out to carefully and just go with my eye since it is a gallery wall and has a collected feeling anyway.

Finally once they were all hung I wrote down a list of all the sizes of pictures I needed (and whether they have a horizontal or vertical orientation) then started working on filling them up.

I already had a lot of pictures of my kids on hand so some of the frames were easy to fill, but for the bigger sized frames I needed to find or make something.  Like I said it's still a work in progress but I'm happy with it so far.  Instead of trying to just quickly fill the frames with anything (just to get it done) -I'm trying to patiently wait for inspiration on how to fill the rest of the empty frames so that I end up really loving the way the whole thing comes together.

 This cute Salt Lake City Temple silhouette picture above I found on Etsy (click here for link).  I then uploaded it to and had it printed.  To learn more about the temple click here.  My numbered hand hooks are from "All that stuff in the Barn" in Midway, Utah.  The picture hanger below is from Rod Works and the painting below was done by my 9 yr. old!

This Family Proclamation Subway art was also found on Etsy (click here for link) and printed out at Costco.  You can customize the color so it works with your decor.  
To learn more about the Proclamation to the Family click here.

The dates picture above I made using Picasa.  I saw something similar on Pinterest and figured it was simple enough for me to make.  The dates are from my wedding anniversary and each of my kids births.  I simply uploaded a blank white image to Picasa then clicked on the "Edit in Creative Kit" button.  I first resized it to 3600x3600 (which is 12x12- since that is the frame size it was going in)  Then using a couple different fonts and colors I typed the info in.  Really simple!  Once it was done I uploaded it to Costco and printed it out.

Once I figure out the rest I'll be sure to share it with you all!