A New Workout

There are so many different types of workout classes these days, and I have tried many of them: yoga, barre, sculpt, bikram, spin, CrossFit, Orange Theory, Barry’s Bootcamp, etc. There are things that I have liked about all of these classes, and things that I have not.

The more I’m exposed to different classes and teachers, the more I start to pay attention to what pumps me up and what doesn’t.

It’s not until I go to a yoga sculpt class at CorePower in Charlotte, that I start to actually think about what it would be like to teach. And it’s because of the instructor. Her name is Tarole and she is everything. She’s bubbly, strong, motivating; and her energy is absolutely contagious. Her classes are so hard, yet always fun at the same time. I find myself pushing myself harder in her classes. I notice she plays the music louder than other teachers, too, AND her music is not only so good, but every action we do always matches with the beat. It’s incredible how much harder I push myself just because of the music.

Slowly, I start to imagine a new workout. One that incorporates all the things I like from all the different classes I’ve taken, and one that doesn’t include what I don’t like. Here are my thoughts:

Sculpt: Love the strength exercises, hate the yoga flow.

Barre: Love the tiny movements, hate the planks and music is generic and lame.

Bikram: Love the balance and stretching poses; don’t hate anything – I love bikram, but it’s a serious workout without music. I want to create a fun workout with music.

Spin: Love the lighting and the music, hate the spinning!

CrossFit: Love the team aspect; hate the heavy weights.

Orange Theory: Love the competition aspect, hate the rower.

Barry’s Bootcamp: Love the in-your-face instructors, lighting, and loud music, hate the heavy weights.

With all this in mind, I start to form my workout. The following are the most important points:

  1. MUSIC. It’s got to be loud, fun, and the beat needs to match the movements.
  2. ¬†STRETCHING. Stretching is so often overlooked in all the above workouts (except bikram) and I don’t understand because it’s so essential and feels so good. There will be stretching incorporated at the beginning, middle, and end of my workout.
  3. ¬†ACCESSIBILITY. Incorporate moves that aren’t too difficult, and always have modifications.
  4. BURNOUT. Loveeee a simple movement that seems easy, but starts to burn after you do it long enough. Bring on the burnout moves!
  5. FULL BODY. Move through each section of the body for a full body workout.
  6. HAVE FUN. It’s got to be a good time. People should enjoy working out!

But what and who am I making this for? It’s not like I’m trying to get certified and ACTUALLY teach a class. I’m making this for myself. But I’m not motivated enough to make it only for me. So I think. Where can I showcase my new workout?

My wedding! This will be great. It will be something fun to do during the week that doesn’t involve drinking – I know that we will all need a break from drinking. It just so happens that the villa where my family is staying has an attached outdoor yoga/dance floor. I couldn’t imagine a more magical place to lead a class.

As I begin to try and create this thing, one of my biggest struggles is which to create first – the workout or the playlist. The movement has to match the beat, so I need to make sure specific songs match specific exercises. I spend an obscene amount of time trying to find awesome songs that also go with my movements AND make sense for the flow of the workout, ie how far along we are in the workout.

Rookie mistake #1. In hindsight, this was ridiculous. Obviously, I should be creating the workout first. There are a gazillion songs out there. No matter what movement I’m doing, I can find a song to go with it.

In order to make sure it’s actually a good workout, I have to do it, along with the songs, for the correct amount of time, before I can move on to the next thing.

Rookie mistake #2. So that glute exercise I’m trying to nail down? My ass is on fire after 15 minutes and now when I try to start it again, there’s no way I can tell if it’s a good workout or not because I’m dying after 10 seconds.

Because of these two mistakes, it takes months to get anywhere. Thankfully, mistakes lead to knowledge. Through all of my practicing, I learn that most exercises should last either 30 seconds, 45 seconds, or 1min, depending on how difficult it is. Songs should last about two minutes for two reasons: there’s usually a nice break after two minutes, whether it’s the first two minutes of the song or the last, and right about the two minute-mark is when people start to get bored with the song.

Once I finally have a structure for the workout nailed down, I can put together a list of exercises that I like without having to get up and physically do them (but I usually do).

Now that I can feel something start to come together, what better to place to have a run-through before the big wedding week than my bachelorette party?

I’ve got two months to get this ready for the girls. Now I’m really motivated!


Colorful Walls

When you own a home, you can paint the walls whatever color you’d like.

I have been living with white walls for the past seven years, and I am itching for a bold accent wall. I’ve been dreaming about it.

I remember the first time I looked at paint swatches. I was in high school, and I finally had my own bedroom. My brother had just gone off to college, and the middle bedroom was mine. Sure, I had to leave the door open at night because I was terrified to ACTUALLY be alone without Sarah in the room with me, but I loved my independence. Mom said I could paint the room whatever color I wanted. I didn’t actually paint. I’m sure she did, but I could pick the color. I was ecstatic. I picked a bright orange-y, yellow, gold color. It was called Kumquat. And it was so cool.

It wasn’t the whole room. The top half was white, but the bottom half was all Kumquat. It felt like my room. My space. It was what I wanted and I liked that feeling of ownership.

After college, when I moved to Hoboken and lived in an apartment with five of us all together, I learned that when you rent, you are allowed to paint, but when you move out, you have to paint the walls back to white. So mostly, people leave them white.

I really wanted to paint. “Just one wall, guys.” The group seemed fine with it (as far as I can remember), so the biggest wall in our main living area went from white to a dark maroonish-purple color.

In my bedroom that I stayed with my then-boyfriend, I again wanted to paint one wall. He was indifferent, so I chose a bright, royal blue. Big, bold colors to liven up the space. There’s just something about painting the walls a different color that makes it feel infinitely more home-y.

I didn’t know anything about painting. I don’t really know how I learned. Probably just asked my Mom a million questions, went to Home Depot and asked the people that worked there another thousand questions. The walls I painted weren’t high, so it really wasn’t all that difficult. It was fun. It was satisfying.

This is the first time since then that I’ve had the opportunity to paint. I’ve been fantasizing over a deep green living room and Stephen knows it. He doesn’t feel about painting the way I do. He would be perfectly content keeping the walls the light gray that they are. Thankfully, he trusts me and sees how excited I am at the prospect of it, so he’s all in. Just two accent walls. That’s all.

I have every intention of painting myself, but Stephen takes one look at the incredibly high corner of the ceiling of the wall that we’d like to paint, and tells me that we should hire painters. I scoff at this. But then I realize, 1. We don’t own a ladder and 2. There’s no chance I’m painting on a ladder.

We (I)’d also like to paint the downstairs bathroom. These ceilings aren’t high, but the space between the vanity and the wall is so tiny that I really have no clue how to paint in there. So we compromise. Painters will do the living room and downstairs bathroom. I get to paint our bedroom and the guest bedroom.

Originally, I want a red bathroom. Stephen is more on board with the green living room than the red bathroom. I start to agree when I notice that the tile in the shower is all grays with a little bit of an almost seafoam-y color. Some type of blue would do much better in here. We agree on Hampton Surf. It’s definitely bold – a more coastal blue color. Stephen loves it for our beach-y home. It’s more fun to decide on a color when both of us are super excited about it.

The painters come – two men. I want to watch them to get some tips. I kid you not, they paint both rooms in two hours. It’s incredible. I think that Ivan is going to start putting tape all over the sides and corners. But he doesn’t. He doesn’t use ANY tape. He just starts brushing and rolling and for a moment I think, he’s a magician. Because this is insane. We are using very bold colors here and he’s just free-handing it. I’m actually mesmerized as I watch. I’m not going to learn anything from him because I can’t do what he does. Nobody can.

Now that we have the living room and bathroom painted, I feel no rush to paint either of the bedrooms. I’m not itching to paint either of them any certain color, so I’d rather wait to be inspired. For now, I am obsessed with our newly painted rooms.

Our house is really starting to feel like home!

The Wedding Dress: Part 5

I take both wedding dress tops into my new, local tailor. Her name is Suji and she’s very sweet. Stephen found her on Yelp, and the first time we drove together to her storefront, there was a sign on the door saying that they were closed because of damage from the hurricane, but you can call this number for service. We consider going somewhere else, but Stephen thinks it might be nice to call and support a local business. (He’s pretty great.)

At her apartment, we are welcomed by Suji and her husband, Son. He doesn’t speak English as well as Suji, and when I ask him his name, I think he says Son. I ask him to spell it, and he laughs, as if to agree with me. I leave it at that.

Suji has already hemmed our curtains, fixed a bathing suit for me, and gotten a zipper unstuck out of a brand new dress with tags on it, that I didn’t even want (I was stuck in that dress for 20 minutes – not my finest moment). She’s been great so far, and assures us that her store will be up and running soon. I don’t mind coming to her apartment, though. She has enormous portraits all over the place of her and her family. They look straight out of the 90s, a la “Glamour Shots.”

I try on the size 4 and the size 6. I still can’t tell which one I should get. The 4 is a little snug, but it already feels better than the last time I tried it on. The 6 fits, but there’s a little space between the material and my armpit that doesn’t happen with the size 4. Still, Suji recommends I get the size 6, and she can tighten it up a bit. I can’t decide. I still have 30 days to return the size 6, so I walk out of Suji’s apartment with both tops.

After about 25 days (it’s now April… I’m getting married in May), I try them on again. Now I know for sure. The size 4 is still a little snug. I’m keeping the 6.

I call Tierney at BHLDN and she’s not there. This time, I allow one of the other people who work there to help me. I explain – as quickly as I can – the situation. I am then told that it’s no problem – I will be sent a return packing label and will only be charged $5.99 for the return shipping.¬†I’m not sure why it’s now OK for me to not have to return it in store, but I don’t question it (I just confirm three times that I will get a full refund).

I return the size 4, happy to finally have my actual wedding dress finalized. Now I just need to get the skirt hemmed and the top straps tightened.

I go back to Suji and try on the dress with my shoes. They’re nude. Suji asks, “These are the shoes you’re wearing for your wedding?” Yes. “These shoes?”

Suji doesn’t like my shoes. It’s OK. I’m used to everyone telling me “You’re weird” and “Why do you have to be different?” and “Can’t you do anything normal?” when it comes to my wedding.

She’s also positive that the top of the dress should go over top of my skirt. She tries to pull it out and for a split second I actually question myself, like, have I been wearing it wrong this whole time?

But, no. It looks stupid the way she likes it and beautiful the way I like it. It’s a shame that every moment someone questions what I want for my wedding doesn’t end like this – with me so sure of myself.

Finally, Suji has the dress pinned in all the right places. It will be ready on April 25. We leave on May 10.

Nothing like figuring out my wedding dress until the very last moment!!!

The Wedding Dress: Part 4

The top of my wedding dress doesn’t fit. I don’t understand! Why why why why why why why???

Thankfully, Stephen’s not home this time, so he doesn’t get to see my panic. I try to talk myself down. You got this. You’ve got two months. YOU WILL FIT INTO THIS DRESS.

Later that night, I talk on the phone with Nina and explain to her what I’ve been telling myself all day – it will be fine. I just have to lose weight. She’s deadpan on the other line. “You need to order a size 6 now.” Something about hearing her say it brings me back to reality. I am equal parts relieved that I don’t have to stress about squeezing into a top that is too small, and terrified that I won’t be able to exchange it because I am well over my 30-day free return (OK, maybe it’s 40% relieved, 40% terrified, and 20% pissed off that I can’t fit into a freaking size 4).

The next morning, I call Tierney, the BHLDN stylist who has helped me all along. I need to speak to Tierney, and only Tierney. I don’t care if someone else can help me. I don’t care if they have all my information on file. If I’m going to sound like a crazy person who’s panicking two months before her wedding, I’d rather do it with someone who knows me. Tierney has seen me naked. She knows me.

Tierney is completely calm, sweet, and empathetic as I freak out and try to tell her everything – including my feelings which are not pertinent to her helping me – in one breath. She assures me, “We will get you down that aisle!” I relax and pull my shoulders away from my ears.

“I talked to my manager. Good news – if you want to order the size 6, of course we can place that order for you, and then if you want to take the 4 back, we’ll be able to accept your return – in store.”

Tierney further explains that if I return by mail, I won’t get my full refund. She makes a suggestion: “Are you coming to New Jersey between now and the wedding? For a bridal shower or anything like that?”

I want to groan. Well, Tierney, no. My mother would love that, but I am not having a bridal shower. (Because bridal showers are dumb.)

Could I send the dress to my Mom, and have her return it? “No, you have to be the one to return it.”

Maybe I should have a bridal shower…

But again, Tierney assures me, “We don’t need the 4 back anytime soon. Just whenever you can. Don’t worry about it. Once you decide what you’re going to do, call me and let me know.”

I hang up the phone, relieved and perplexed because I really have no idea the next time I’ll be going to New Jersey/Philly. Do I really have to plan a trip, just so that I can return the top of a dress??

The size 6 top arrives quickly and I immediately try it on. Tierney warned me that there might be a big difference between the size 4 and size 6 top, but wouldn’t you know, it feels pretty good?? Unbelievable.


It’s Time to Move On

Stephen is not a depressed person. At all. Ever. But the closest I ever see him to depressed, are the days following the news of not getting the gray townhome that we so badly wanted.

He’s quiet, withdrawn, and constantly on Zillow. I am extremely, extremely bummed out, but I’m trying to stay positive. It was the first time we physically went to look at homes. I’m sure that this process can take a long time for people. It just wasn’t meant to be. We will find something. And if we don’t, we’ll rent until we do. It will all be fine.

Stephen, though, is torturing himself. Wondering how much the people bid who got the home. Thinking we should have put in a higher bid. Constantly looking at the pictures of the townhome that was supposed to be ours. Finding new homes that don’t match up to the one we already found. Realizing how great the price was and how there’s nothing else on the market for that price in great condition.

By the fourth day, I have a talk with him. It’s time to let this go. We have to move on. Stephen agrees. Everything will be fine. If we can’t find something else soon, then we’ll rent until we do. We have a plan.

He goes upstairs and sits at his computer. Shortly thereafter, he says, to himself or to me, “That’s weird.”


“Our townhome just went back on the market.”

He should really stop calling it our townhome. And why is he looking on Zillow again?

Just then the phone rings. Stephen tells me before he answers it, “It’s Happy.”

Our realtor. I gasp a little as he answers the phone. What happens next is a tiny miracle. I can actually hear Stephen’s spirits lift. I can hear him smiling as he talks and listens to Happy as he paces back and forth. When he hangs up the phone, I stand waiting for him at the bottom of the stairs. He barrels down and we stare at each other smiling.

What happened???

“Apparently, one of the people who purchased the home didn’t get to actually see it, and when they went to see it, decided they didn’t want it. The seller is offering it to us for less than the list price.”

I scream. Stephen and I throw our arms around each other and jump up and down for longer than normal. We can’t stop laughing and smiling and celebrating.

We got it. That tiny, beautiful, newly renovated gray townhome in the best location is ours.

We’re going to be homeowners!

The Wedding Dress: Part 3

I thought my wedding dress was all figured out, but now BHLDN doesn’t have my size for the skirt. AWESOME. So what are my options?

  1. Pick out a different skirt in a size 4.
  2. Pick out the same skirt in a different size – they have both the size 2 and size 6.

I decide to do all three options. As long as I return the ones I don’t want in 30 days, they’re no extra charge. So I order the size 2, the size 6, and I pick out another skirt in a size 4. The other skirt is more expensive but looking online, I think I might like it more than the original. It’s got a high slit, which I love, but it’s fuller, heavier, and has a train, which I don’t love.

The dress comes in. I try on the top and zip it up. I am able to zip it up, but holy crap, I can’t breathe. I’m afraid that if I breathe all the way out, something is going to snap. Stephen witnesses this and I can feel myself about to freak out. I tried this exact size on in the store in early November and it fit perfectly. Now, after our week-long vacation in Puerto Rico, then Thanksgiving and Christmas, it doesn’t fit!!

I try to calm myself down but I can’t stand that Stephen is seeing this not fit me. He tries to tell me that it’s going to be fine. I try to tell myself, too, but I can’t help but feel horrible about myself for gaining weight, and panicked that I won’t fit into my dress. I take it off and am resolute – I just need to get rid of the holiday weight. I will quickly get back to where I need to be and everything will be fine. It’s totally fine.

As for the skirts, who was I kidding thinking I could squeeze into a size 2? That’s out. Oh, and isn’t this perfect – the size 6 pretty much fits me. Insert eye roll here.

I try on the new one – the size 4 with the slit. It’s tight. Are you kidding me? Did I really go up a whole size in less than two months? I hate myself.

Which skirt do I like better? I want to like the size 4 better. I decide to bring both into the tailor and see what she says. I try on the top and hold my breath, then put on the size 4 skirt. I stare at it in the mirror, wanting this to be it. I tell her that if I go with this skirt, I don’t want the train. Then I try on the size 6.

Yea, this is it. I like the weight of this skirt. And, eye roll again, this size 6 fits me better than the 4. I ask if it would be possible to put a slit in this skirt. She doesn’t recommend it, saying that it will collapse and I wouldn’t even really be able to tell that I have one. That’s fine by me, it’s not like I need the slit, anyway. I love how pretty this skirt is, just as it is.

“Are you planning on losing weight?” She doesn’t say this in a rude way. It’s more like, ‘Oh, bride-to-be’s always try to lose weight for their wedding. Is that what you’re doing?’ Without any shame I answer with a resounding, ‘Yes,’ so she tells me to come back in March. I then show her Mom’s veil. This is the first time I’m seeing it together with the dress. The lace in Mom’s veil matches the top of my dress PERFECTLY. I think it’s long and ask her if we should cut it. She looks at it and tells me that it’s a good length. Perfect, actually. And since I don’t have a train, the veil will look nice when I’m walking down the aisle.

This is great. I’m getting the cheaper skirt and I don’t have to make any changes to the veil. I come home feeling good. I pack up the size 2 and size 4 skirt to send back, then store the size 6 skirt and size 4 top in my closet. Now I just have to get back to a healthy diet so that my top doesn’t feel so tight. No problem.

Fast forward to March. I have not tried on my top since late December, but I have been doing incredibly well in the healthy living department. I feel great. I don’t own a scale, so I don’t know how much I weigh, but I know that I’ve lost weight. I can tell. I decide to try on my dress.

I put the top on and feel dread course through my body. It’s still tight. I still can’t breathe.

Kill me.



The Gray Townhome

Stephen and I go to our favorite spot for lunch – Tower 7, right off the beach – to talk things over before we decide if we want to put in a bid on the gray townhome. I don’t want us to make a rash decision. We just came down here for the day to look at places, we don’t need to commit to anything yet. But as we talk about the pros and cons, we very clearly start to imagine our life together there, and it kind of seems like the perfect place for us. Now we’re eager to get the check and get out of here.

Back at Happy’s real estate office, Stephen and I go through the process of making a bid on the townhome.

This is so stressful. I have no idea how this all works. There’s a list price for the home, but when we look at other units in the complex, we see that they’ve all sold for less than the listing price. Should we go under to account for this? But the one we want is so much better than these other ones! Not to mention, it’s a 3-bedroom. A lot of these other units are only 2-bedrooms. We want a good deal, but we also don’t want to lose it.

After much discussion – mostly between Stephen and Happy with me watching them, clasping my sweaty hands on my lap and feeling helpless – we decide on a number. It feels like we’re gambling. I don’t like it.

Happy makes the call. She can’t tell on the phone where the seller stands. All we can do now is wait.

Stephen and I jump into the car and head over to a mortgage lender recommended by Happy. His name is Brad and he’s handsome and friendly and engaging and I immediately feel comfortable around him. I’m positive that he’s gay, like no chance that he’s not gay – and then he starts talking about his wife and kids.

I also thought Colton was gay and was SO MAD when he was named The Bachelor – because he’s gay and all these women are fighting for his love on the show. Turns out, he’s definitely not gay. He’s super duper in love with Cassie. So I should probably stop.

We go through this whole thing with Brad of getting a mortgage for this home, but we don’t even have it yet. It seems like bad luck.

Over the course of our 3.5 hour drive back to Charlotte, we go from really, really, really liking the townhome, to really, really, really not being able to live without this townhome. It’s PERFECT. It’s literally exactly what we want and need. It has everything and more. We start planning everything: what we’re going to put in each room, how we’re going to decorate, which walls we’re going to paint. I can see it all. I can see our future in this place.

We get home, exhausted but giddy at the prospect of buying our first home. We can’t help but feel like it’s ours. We make a plan that when the seller comes back to us to counter, we will go all the way up to the listing price. That’s how bad we want it. It’s totally worth it.

The next morning, we get a call from Happy. The seller has decided to go with the other buyer. Doesn’t even ask us to counter. Doesn’t give us the opportunity to do anything. Doesn’t tell us why.

To say that the wind has been taken out of our sails would be a gross understatement.