Best YouTube Ab Workouts

Stephen and I are in wedding preparation mode, so besides healthy eating and minimal drinking, we’re also working out a lot. In addition to our separate gym-going, we do an ab workout together every day. We alternate finding a video on YouTube, trying to find different variations to keep things interesting. The video times range from eight minutes to 15 minutes (usually on the shorter side).

It’s incredible that we’ve been doing this for three months and every time I search “abs” or “ab workout” on YouTube, different videos pop up that I’ve never seen before – even if they’re not new or recent. There are so many to choose from.

I have now found my favorite videos and instructors. If you’re so inclined to do some ab workouts on your own, below is a list of my favorites:

Lots of instructors mention the importance of tucking the hips under and pressing your lower back into the ground to protect it. I learned all about tucking the hips under in barre classes, but Stephen never really heard the phrase before. This girl, Maddie, explains it better than anyone else. Her videos and workouts are great because they’re challenging but doable, and not only does she keep a timer in the corner of the screen, it also beeps when it’s counting down from 3, so you always know exactly how long you have left in an exercise.

Fitness Blender workouts are very clear and easy to follow. They are no frills, no music, no personality; but good ab workouts.

QuickFunAbs – The video and sound quality is not very good, but I like this British guy and his socks. And at the end of his routine, someone off-screen throws him a water bottle. It makes me laugh every time:

There’s nothing I can’t stand more than a chick working out with her hair down. Not only does Pamela look too pretty while she’s working out, she NEVER smiles. On top of that, her ab workouts are so hard and she never stops moving. It’s insane. So while I can’t stand her and I call her names every single time I do one of her ab workouts, mad respect.

Blogilates: Cassey Ho is a sweetheart. She’s got a great personality and explains the moves really well. Her workouts are hard and the video quality is really good. She’s got so many videos. Below are three of my favorites, but you can check out her YouTube channel here for a whole slew of them.

Rebecca Louise: is the best!!! Rebecca Louise is absolutely adorable and I love her workouts. Sometimes, Stephen and I struggle to get through them because we laugh too much. She’s sweet and encouraging and rarely stops talking. #IcanfeeltheburnRebecca!

Rebecca Louise’s YouTube channel

 

The Wedding Diet

I don’t like the word, “diet.” For the same reason I don’t own a scale and only weigh myself at the doctor’s office at my yearly check-up: because it messes with my head. It immediately makes me feel bad about myself and definitely brings on all sorts of feelings of unhappiness and self-loathing.

But you know it’s coming when you plan to get married. The Wedding Diet. Even if I don’t say it out loud, I’m thinking it. And if I don’t say it, Stephen’s saying it. He does not have issues with food or a poor relationship with his body, so he can say “diet” all he likes.

I have made leaps and bounds in the whole food and body image thing over the past few years. I’m mentally and physically healthier than I’ve ever been in my life. Mentally because I don’t count calories or obsess over ever morsel I put into my mouth. Physically because I’m consistently working out, eating real food – and cooking a lot, too – drinking much less than I used to (so not every night – way to go, me), and not eating late-night snacks (that’s a big one).

Still, I can’t help but be pulled into the idea that I need to look my best on my wedding day, and by best I mean, the best I’ve ever looked. Initially, this scares me, because I’m afraid that I’ll fall back into unhealthy habits. Afraid that I’ll become obsessive, count calories, and torture myself. On the contrary, I have grabbed hold of the “Wedding Diet” mentality with fresh, healthy eyes.

When I did the 7-Day No Late-Night Snacking experiment (in three parts: Part I, Part II, Part III), I found that when I didn’t eat a snack, it did feel terrible in the moment. It made me feel so anxious and like I was depriving myself of something I needed. It made me very irritable. The next day, though, I would be elated. I would feel good. So I realized that a little pain now is a healthy thrill later, and that is way better than the reward for eating that snack. So now, when I think about eating that snack, I also think about how I’m going to feel the next day. I never used to be able to do that. I couldn’t see past the beautiful green ramekin with two servings of Cheez-its in it and a glass of wine with a show on like Revenge or Gossip Girl to go with it. I looked forward to it so much. I looked forward to it every day. It was like I earned those Cheez-its and that wine and that show.

But then I’d feel like shit the next morning. I’d hate myself. I’d feel depressed. And by noon, I’d look forward to it all over again.

So now I’m on a Wedding Diet, which I hope turns into a permanent change in lifestyle, because I feel great. People say that getting married is the best diet, and I’m surprised at how true that has been for me. I’ve had every intention to be doing the things I’m doing now, I just didn’t have as much motivation. What is the diet? It’s not really a food thing. I eat everything. Sure, I try to eat healthy and cut out sugar when I can, but I will also happily eat steak and potatoes, burgers, wings, even fried food sometimes (even though I said I was definitely going to cut out fried food – oh well). It’s less about the food and more about how much and when I’m eating it.

FOOD. I try to stop eating when I’m full. No matter how much is left on my plate. This is still hard for me. I always feel like I need to finish my plate. It’s this innate feeling that I don’t want to waste food and weirdly, that I’m never going to eat again. I also have been trying to eat slower. I’ve always been a fast eater. I attribute this to growing up in a family of five where if you didn’t eat fast enough, you definitely wouldn’t be getting seconds if you were still hungry – sometimes not even firsts.

GYM. Obviously, I’m working out a lot. I’ve always been a gym goer, but I haven’t always been so excited about it. I LOVE working out, now that I’ve found what I love. I go to a gym that offers bikram yoga and inferno pilates. Best of both worlds. So on top of going to the gym five or six days a week, Stephen and I are doing a 7-10min ab workout together every day. We alternate each day who has to find a video on YouTube. It’s actually kind of fun, and it’s only 10 minutes out of the day so it’s easy to motivate ourselves. Plus, I’ve been working on creating my own workout.

ALCOHOL. I have become such a light-weight! And I love it! I used to throw back three glasses of wine a night, easy. Now, I sometimes go a whole week without drinking.

LATE-NIGHT SNACKS. Finally, the late-night eating. I don’t eat after dinner. It started with – “I try my best” to not eat after dinner. I did that for a couple months. I wouldn’t want to torture myself, so I’d snack on dried mango or pistachios. And you know that as soon as I’d be conscious in the morning, my first thought was that freakin’ piece of mango I ate the night before that I didn’t need. And was that really worth it? Most times, no. Sometimes, yes. Either way, I tried to be as kind to myself as I could, because making changes is hard, and building healthy habits takes time.

Now, though, as we’ve gotten closer, it’s become a finite decision to not eat anything after dinner. This is probably the biggest and most effective change I’ve made. Sometimes when I think I’m feeling hungry but really I just want a snack, I think about how I’m going to feel when I wake up the next day. I also find that complaining helps. Just constantly telling Stephen, “I’m hungry,” to which he replies one of the following: “You’ve done a 24-hour fast before,” “It’s OK to be hungry,” or he simply laughs and shakes his head and tells me, “You’re so dramatic.”

The Pacemaker App

When trying to create a workout, the most important thing to me is the playlist. I want it so badly to be so perfect. I want the beat to drop exactly when we change moves and/or exactly when the exercise gets harder. I want to see people’s faces light up when they hear the song and I want them to forget how hard they’re working because they’re having so much fun.

Is this possible?

In order for me lead an awesome workout, I can’t be thinking about the music. I need it to already be in place. That said, Spotify will just not do. It does now have a great feature of cross-fading songs for up to 12 seconds, but I never want to play an entire song in my workout. A whole song is way too long. People will get bored. Boredom is not an option.

Sure, I could just hit “Next” whenever I need to, but I am already trying to keep up with which exercises I’m doing, and how long I’m doing them, and how I need to explain them clearly. Also, I don’t like the abruptness of hitting “Next.” I want one song to flow into the next. I want people to hear when the song changes and be like, “Oh damn, did you hear how that just faded into the next song? That was FUCKING AWESOME.”

Maybe this is too much to want. But I have felt this before in a workout. It IS possible.

But how?

On one of our last nights in Charlotte before we move to Wilmington, Stephen and I go to dinner with one of his Orange Theory instructor’s, Zach, and his girlfriend. Stephen seriously loves this guy. I can tell that he’s an amazing instructor by his personality. He’s super positive, encouraging, and again, there’s something contagious about his energy. I come to the dinner with questions about how he figures out music for his workouts. It is then that I learn about the app, Pacemaker.

Pacemaker is a DJ app that costs $35.99 a year. I would like to say that it’s awesome and I love it, but in reality, I wanted to throw my phone across the room many times while trying to utilize this stupid app.

Here’s my back-and-forth with it:

It’s awesome because you can cut the song wherever you want; it sucks because you HAVE to start the song from the beginning. Sometimes the beginning of the song is just not what you want!

Awesome because you control how to fade and how long to fade; it sucks because you sometimes have to just try cutting it and see how it works – it doesn’t let you go to a specific time to cut it… you just have to click the button when you reach the point you want to cut and you have no idea how it’s going to sound when it fades. It’s incredibly frustrating. Sometimes it takes forever to get it exactly where you need it.

Awesome because you can download all your music through Spotify; sucks because you can’t download your playlist, so the only way to play it is through the app, which means you need to be connected to Wi-fi (I later find out that this is only with T-Mobile, which naturally, is what I have). Also sucks because every time you make an edit, you need to not only save it, but “Publish” it. I learn this the hard way. I think it’s saved, but because I don’t “Publish” it, I lose everything. Like, two hours worth of editing music together.

I am so sure that there is an easier way to use this app. I always, always, always have the tendency to do everything the long way. If you tell me it’s shorter to do it another way, I don’t care. Even if you tell me it’s easier (probably because it’s shorter), I don’t care. I will probably tell you that the long way is the way for me because I understand it. In this case, I wish someone would tell me the easy way.

All that said, I FINALLY put together a playlist for my workout. I’m using my bachelorette party as a run-through before the wedding, but who am I going to do it for as a run-through before my bachelorette party??

Stephennnnn! I need you!!

Chronic Effing Pain

I’ve been living with chronic pain for most of my adult life. I only recently started calling it chronic pain because I kind of just all of a sudden realized I’ve been in pain since college.

It’s mostly in my neck, and then spreads to my upper back and shoulder blades. LMonny is the first person to make me realize I’m constantly in pain. It’s 2012 and I’m home in New Jersey. I probably mention something about having anxiety when LMonny points out this thing I always do. She mimics me, bending at her neck, turning her head back and forward, side to side. I’m immediately embarrassed and feel like I’m looking in a mirror. I DO do that all the time. I must look like an idiot.

Since then, I have decided that the pain is all in my head. There is probably nothing wrong me. I just have anxiety.

But lately it’s gotten worse. In late October, I wake up one morning and notice a real change. I feel like I maybe slept on my neck wrong. The pain is more acute and isolated on the right side. Still, I consider this my life. And continue on with this pain until February. Now, the pain is spreading to my back and shoulders. I heat it – which relaxes me temporarily.

I lay in bed at night, and there’s a dull ache that tingles all along my upper back, in between my shoulder blades. If I bend forward, it aches. If I bend backward, it aches. If I lie still, it’s the worst. It is finally at this point, that I decide to go to a doctor.

I tell the doctor about my pain and how I read Dr. John Sarno’s book, Healing Back Pain. …you know Dr. Sarno? “No, I’ve never heard of him.” Oh, well, basically, the pain is in my head. So I’m sure there’s nothing actually, physically wrong with me.

Why doesn’t she know who Dr. Sarno is? C’mon.

She takes an X-ray. I tell Stephen, I really hope they find something wrong with me. He tells me, “I really hope they don’t find something wrong with you.”

He doesn’t get it. If they don’t find anything, then I’m right. It’s all in my head and there’s nothing I can do about it. And I’m a head case. Stephen seems to hope that if they don’t find anything, they’ll still be able to help me figure out how to handle the pain. Doubtful.

The results are in. The doctor first informs me that there’s nothing too alarming, but she’s surprised – for my age – to find some arthritis in my neck. She basically says there’s not much I can do about it. She writes me a prescription for a mild muscle relaxer to take before bed, and refers me to a local physical therapy office.

When I arrive home, I tell Stephen my doomed news. I have arthritis and there’s nothing I can do about it. He hugs me. Then I say something completely unrelated – I can’t remember what – and he gets frustrated by me. I stare at him. “I’m 34 and I have arthritis.” He rolls his eyes. I’m going to milk this arthritis thing for as long as I can, which apparently, isn’t for very long.

The following week, I go to the physical therapist. I have never been to physical therapy. In college, so many players had to do physical therapy for various injuries. There was always something so cool about it. The trainers were cool, the whirlpool was cool, it was like a club I could never be apart of, because I never had an injury.

Now, I’ve made it. I’m in the club. Reception takes me into a large room that looks like a gym, with bikes and free weights and gadgets. People who work here walk around the room with rolling desks that have ipads on them. I am approached by a guy around my age who will be my physical therapist. His name is Ryan and he reminds me of Mafee, from the HBO show, Billions. He takes me into a smaller office and we get right to it.

I tell him about my pain, how long I’ve had it, and how I’m sure it’s not real – again referring to Dr. Sarno. After the second time I refer to my pain as not real, Ryan asks me to stop saying it. “If you’re having pain, then it’s real.”

If Ryan is anything, he’s informative. I wasn’t expecting this to feel like a class, but it does, in the very best way. And he is familiar with Dr. Sarno’s work, thank you very much. In the most basic of terms, he explains that our bodies learn to protect themselves from pain. In order to do that, we produce pain to prevent further pain. So it doesn’t really matter what’s going on in our tissues. It’s not about our tissues, it’s about our nervous system.

He also tells me that nearly everyone has arthritic changes in their spine as they get older. So the fact that my X-ray turned up with arthritis in my neck means very little (I guess it’s time to stop complaining).

Now he starts drawing on a white board. He shows me my nervous system at the bottom of the graph. At the top of the graph, is where my body feels pain. In between, is this huge gap called the buffer area, where you’re safe. Where there is still not enough pain to hurt you. What has happened with me – and many other people – is that my body has gotten so accustomed to protecting me from pain, that it thinks pain is happening way more than it is, so that buffer area has gotten smaller and smaller over time.

What we hope to achieve in physical therapy, is to very slowly start to “poke the bear.” (He says this so often that it’s stuck in my head.) In order to poke the bear, we will do exercises that will push us right up to that line, so it’s getting our nervous system to not feel like it needs to go into protect mode – so it can say, OK, that’s fine, you’re fine, we’re OK.

He then tells me the supposed bad news. “This is not a quick fix. It takes a long time.”

How long?

“A year.”

I relax. A year is not long. I’ve been in pain for like 12 years. If my pain could be gone over the course of the next year? That would be a miracle.

Now Ryan wants to check out what’s going on with me. I sit on a table, and he stands behind me. Tilts my head to one side, presses down, asks me how it feels. Then the other side. Nothing hurts, but just feels really tight and I feel like I don’t want to be turning my head that much. Then he presses down on the top of my head. “How does that feel?” I shrug. Fine. Then he puts his hands around the base of my skull and pulls up.

Heat floods my body and I feel weak. My arms tingle and it shoots all the way through my fingertips. I try to breathe out a long, slow breath, but I can feel the panic coming. “Oh God,” I say. “I’m really hot.”

Ryan comes around to face me and I completely lose it. I’m sobbing but reassure him that I’m fine.

It didn’t even hurt, I just got scared. “Has this happened to you before?” Yes. Once. I’m still crying as I try to explain and catch my breath. I was in a lot of pain so I want to a massage therapist about three years ago and he was massaging my neck when I got really hot and passed out. It just reminded me of that so I got scared.

Jesus. I really am a head case.

Ryan is unfazed. He has me lay down on my back. He places his fingers under the base of my skull and I just lay there, allowing gravity to press my head down into his hands. I feel better.

He proceeds to educate me about pain in the body and I eagerly try to understand everything that he’s saying. He sends me home with homework, which I LOVE. Watch these videos, do these exercises, and come in twice a week.

I go home and watch the videos. These people are being interviewed before and after their horrible back pain. The video quality is crap, and the sound isn’t that great, but I am glued to these videos. And all of a sudden, for the second time today, I’m crying.

I cry because I feel hope. I didn’t think it was possible to live without pain, but maybe, just maybe, there is light at the end of this tunnel.

Bedtime is Stupid

I hate bedtime the way an eight-year-old hates bedtime. I kick and whine and pout before turning into a loopy, weird, wide-awake version of myself that only seems to exist after 10pm.

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I will jump up and onto Stephen. Anything that comes out of my mouth is funny, and I’m laughing at everything – mostly how funny I am.

Stephen is, without fail, always surprised by this change in personality that happens every single night. “Weren’t you just tired like 20 minutes ago?” Probably. But now it’s bedtime, so I’m wide awake.

That’s not to say I hate sleep. I love sleep. But the physical act of going to bed and trying to fall asleep is torture. I literally lay in bed and stare up at the dark ceiling as Stephen’s breaths get longer and deeper. I think about EVERYTHING. When finally, I start to drift, my conscious mind realizes that I’m drifting and jolts me back awake. ‘Not this time, Sonny!’ is what I imagine it saying. And THEN, because I have to completely make myself miserable, not only will I think about things, I will think about scary things. I don’t know why I do this to myself. Maybe I am so afraid of having bad dreams – because I have bad dreams almost every night – that I think how I’m going to have bad dreams and what they will be. Here’s how it goes in my head:

‘I just want to sleep. I know I’m tired. I need to go to sleep so that I can get up at a reasonable time and have a productive morning. Do not start thinking about scary things. Don’t do it! Don’t you dare imagine that scene from Saving Private Ryan. La la la la la la I can’t hear you. Think about happy things. Flowers and sunshine. Not that scene where the two guys are fighting a very long fight. The good guy is winning. I’m sure he’s going to win, but then the bad guy starts winning, and now he’s on top of the good guy, and he’s got a very long sword hovering right above the guy’s chest, and now, instead of fighting, the good guy tries to plead with the bad guy. He says, “Wait wait wait wait wait.” God dammit! I just imagined the whole fucking horrible scene!!! You idiot. Now your heart is pounding and you’re going to have nightmares. Way to fucking go.’

Oh yea, I forgot that I also then berate myself after I have the bad thoughts. That scene really is so horrible. I don’t even like to think about it now, in the middle of the day.

My sleeping pill days are over. I don’t like how they make me feel. I don’t like feeling drugged. And it’s always difficult to wake up the next day. And I just don’t want to take them. I want to fall asleep and wake up like a normal person. So I drink wine.

I’m kidding. Sort of. Wine doesn’t actually help with sleep. It might make it easier to fall asleep, but drinking wine close to bedtime actually makes your sleep a lot worse (unfortunately). Besides, I haven’t been drinking.

Today is Day 16 no drinking. That’s the most consecutive days not drinking in my entire adult life. A little sad but let’s call it a victory. Prior to this, the longest I’ve gone is one week. Somehow, going longer has felt easier than that one week. I think it’s because of expectations. Stephen and I have decided to not drink for 3 1/2 weeks.

It’s been really nice, actually. Now, instead of “winding down” after dinner with some wine and TV, we go to our respective rooms and work on things we need to work on. For Stephen this could be consulting work, listening to podcasts, doing his own research, or currently, checking something off our long wedding to-do list. For me, it could be writing, working on the fun workout I’ve been creating, or checking something off our long wedding to-do list.

I look forward to having this time. Most recently, I spent my time after dinner putting together a playlist for the night of the Welcome Cocktails. This consisted of picking the songs, then compiling them into a list on Spotify, then putting them in order, and then listening to them in order to make sure that one song flows smoothly into the next with Spotify’s nifty 12 second cross-fade feature. At 10:45pm there’s a knock on my door. I open the door with a big smile on my face. Hi!!

Stephen laughs with a look that clearly recognizes that nighttime Lindsay is here. “I’m exhausted, I’m going to bed.” I stand up to hug him. OK. I’m wide awake. I’m going to work on our Welcome Cocktail playlist.

Stephen goes to bed. I compile a list of 85 songs. When I finally check the time, it’s 1:17am. Motherfucker. I need to go to bed. I don’t feel tired, but I must be tired, right? I climb into bed around 1:30. And so begins my struggle. I might as well should have just stayed up. Just kept listening to music until I could finally get sleepy and pass out on the floor. That would be better than this. Laying in bed, hoping to get tired. Hoping to get some sleep.

Bedtime is so stupid.

 

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!