Saturday, 24 August 2013

To An Exercise Wannabe, From An Exercise Newbie

My apologies if you visited to see a furniture before and after's just me banging on a bit about how I'm finding regular exercise :-) I've posted about eating clean (which you can read here) and thought now I'd broach the topic of exercise.

This post is mostly for anyone who doesn't exercise at all. Ever. Maybe you used to, years ago. But it's been a long time. Perhaps you've had thoughts about it though.
Fleeting thoughts about going for a walk - or even a run.
Maybe you've driven past people who are dressed in gym clothes and carrying their water bottles, obviously on their way to workout and it has sparked a thought.
Maybe the thought has lingered in your mind a little longer lately. It's not as fleeting anymore. You've actually started thinking about what exercise you could do - if you could be bothered.

That's how it started for me.
A fleeting thought about exercise which then turned into a full blown discussion with myself about what I could possibly do. Or what my body felt like doing. How it wanted to move.

Just to reiterate this post's title...I am an exercise newbie. I'm only about 11 weeks into this journey and my goal is just to let you - who fit in with the description above - know what I've found exercising regularly to be like. How I chose the exercise I do, how it makes me feel and how I stay motivated to keep doing it. So far.
And I am writing this from the viewpoint of losing weight and getting healthy...not because I'm training to win olympic gold in the 3000 metres ;-)

Firstly, I want to say that in my experience, exercise is not a hugely essential part of weight loss. If you want to be smaller than you are but still soft and spongey...then it is extremely possible to lose kilo's without any exercise at all. But if you want to be smaller AND firmer/stronger than you are now...then you need to exercise. Of course there are many, many other benefits of exercising which we all know, but I'm coming from the view of getting smaller, firmer, fitter and stronger.
(You can read about the experience I just mentioned, with a juice fast I did last year here and here) Knowing what I know now...I'm not a huge advocate of juice fasts anymore. But it does show that you can lose weight without exercise. I didn't start exercising until after the fast ended. 

Now, for me, I'm not as concerned with weight loss but more fat loss. I want some muscle! I want to be firm and strong! You don't get that without exercise.

So I guess having a goal was my first step. It's so much easier to stay focused and motivated if you have a clear goal. I have mine (it's very detailed) written down and placed where I can see it. Its a great reminder to keep going.
It's what motivated me to start in the first place.
If you don't have somewhere you want to be, you'll never take those first steps to get to this mysterious and undefined place.

Ok, so what exercise do I do?

I run and I do yoga.
And I, for the most part, love both of them. I love the challenge that running gives me and I love how my body feels during and after yoga. 
I felt drawn to these two things and had done for a long time before I actually started them. I'd even mentioned to people that I wanted to start yoga, but always had an excuse. 
Recently I made the connection between these two forms of exercise and things that I did and loved as a kid. I'm talking really young, like 3 - 8 years of age. 
I started calesthenics when I was 3 - and did it until I was 16 and I started athletics when I was 5 and in those early years, running (sprints) was definitely my forte. 
If you are wondering what exercise you'd enjoy - a key part to wanting to continue with an exercise is enjoyment - look back to those early years of life and what you enjoyed then. Maybe, like me, you'll enjoy them now!
I've also discovered that I'm a mesomorph body type - albeit an overweight one - and am suited to short, fast bursts of exercise rather than having stamina to do long distances.
You can find out your body type and more info on that here.

I generally run 3-4 times a week and at the moment I only run 3kms. The challenge I mentioned is my times. I'm happy only running 3kms for now and perhaps that is the mesomorph in me that likes the shorter distances! I always hated the 400 and 800 at athletics as a kid and barely bothered trying...I would walk most of the way!
3kms challenges me and I give myself a goal to improve my fastest time within 2 weeks. So far I've been doing that fairly easily. Whether its a good or bad thing, I am a competitive girl...its ingrained in me. Possibly from winning lots as a kid, I got a taste for it and now I love the win! I use the nike + running app on my phone which keeps track of my distance/times so I can compete with myself. I always win! Yay!
I love the feel of getting air into my lungs. I love the feel of puffing - which in between the songs I listen to while I run, I hear myself and I do really, really puff! But it feels good! I feel a little fitter each time and its a really good feeling. Once upon a time I would have reached for chocolate to try and get that feeling, but it doesn't even come close to this.
It's winter here at the moment and I go out for my run in the evening, so its usually cold...sometimes wet. But I find its the best time for me and I actually like the colder air getting into my lungs. Makes me feel more alive. I think its easier than dragging myself out into 40degree weather which I undoubtedly will do come summer time. ;-)
I've been running once in the morning and I didn't like it. I don't know what it was, and I know most people exercise in the mornings but it doesn't do it for me.

I do have trouble with stitches sometimes - always at the 2km mark - so if your a little more seasoned than me and have any tips for avoiding getting a stitch, I'd love to hear it! Also sore calf muscles! Yoga helps with that but if I haven't done it the day that I run, I get really sore calves!

I know I've mentioned on here before a little of my exercise routine and that the yoga I do is DDP Yoga. These are DVD's that I do at home, whenever it suits me.
DDP stands for Diamond Dallas Page, an ex-pro wrestler (no, I'm not into wrestling. At all!) who developed this particular brand of yoga after serious injury from being in the ring. It's kind of a mix of yoga, calesthenics and old school strengthening exercises. 
After ten weeks I can finally do his style of push ups - on my knees - I couldn't even do one when I first started. Now I'm aiming to get off my knees and do them fully!
DDP reminds you to breathe all the time during all the workouts (there's quite a few of them) which I think is important. I know I forget to breathe deeply in general throughout the day, so it feels really good to do it throughout these workouts. 
The deep stretching really improves my flexibility which helps with everything else I do throughout the day. From carrying groceries, lifting furniture or kids, whatever I'm doing...I seem to do it so much easier now. When I say stretching, its still a damn hard workout, its not gentle stretching. It's challenging. But it makes me feel fantastic. Some days I feel really sore (in a good way) the next day. Sometimes I don't. It helps me with my running too. If I've done yoga in the morning, my run just seems easier that night.

FYI, I haven't weighed myself for a bit, but last time I did (about week 9 I think) I'd lost 7kgs and I've started noticing some small changes, such as collar bones appearing (hello! haven't seen you in a while!) and shoulders looking squarer and definitely a flatter tummy. People I haven't seen in a while have commented on my appearance, which is always nice! Still a long way to go, but a little noticeable progress is plenty of motivation in itself to keep going.

I better stop'll all be falling asleep!! I said at the top I'd be banging on a bit...I think I've banged on a lot!
So, hopefully you get an idea of what its like to exercise when you first start out - it's all good I promise! Makes me wonder why I waited so long!

If you have any advice for me or any other exercising newbies - please leave a comment or shoot me an email. I love to learn and any tips would be much appreciated :-)

All the best on your exercising venture!

Courts xx


Monday, 19 August 2013

Before And After: Coral And Stainless Half Table

Before I show you my latest before and after, I would like to explain it a little. Bear with me, k?

I tend to go through creative phases...does that happen to you too?

First I loved antique furniture and now I'm more into mid century stuff. Once upon a time I would paint GT stripes on everything in sight and now I'm over that. There has been many other phases since then. 

At the moment I am in love with contrast.

What I mean by contrast is two (or more) polar opposites existing on the same piece.

For example: a person dressed in contrast might be wearing black pants and a white top - two contrasting colours. Which, btw, makes me look like a waitress if I were to wear black/white. I am suited to more blended colours but that is a whole other post...or ten ;-)
Another example of contrast is a person with quite dark hair putting a really light (or bright) piece/chunk/foil in for...contrast. :-)
Mixing feminine with masculine is another way to contrast. Or contrasting textures, like high gloss paired with dull texture. 

So in the spirit of my newest love...I give you -

The before -

This one has a couple of contrasts going on.
It's such a curvy, feminine piece so I chose this gorgeous coral colour and then added the stainless steel geometric shape to the top that is quite masculine. 
There is also contrasting textures going on here, with the distressed coral with some white peeping through here and there and then the full, sharp and geometric steel design.

For the stainless steel I used Rust-Oleum Stainless Steel paint -

Which comes in a box and has real stainless steel in it! See those little flecks in the paint above? Love it!! It gives the design so much more depth and interest than just silver paint (which I've used before) and it's also really tough and durable.
I met a Rust-Oleum rep (Hi Scott!) in Mitre 10 and he showed this paint to me - I wouldn't even have noticed it on the shelf, maybe new packaging is needed? - and the creative cogs in my brain started turning for different ways I could use this, other than painting a white fridge which is how this product is predominantly marketed. I do love a creative challenge!
So I made contact with the good people at Rust-Oleum and was given a tin of this to try...yay!!
Rest assured that even though I was given this product for free, I am under no obligation to sing it's praises here on extro. I am because I do truly (so far) love it!
I will always share the good stuff with you guys and if I don't love something...then you won't find me talking about it. :-)
I have one other project underway with this paint and lots of idea's in my head for other projects! It's a perfect way to bring some masculinity to a piece...or contrast if that's what you're going for!
You could also just paint a whole piece in this paint if you so desired :-)

FYI, this one is sealed with ASCP clear wax. I didn't seal the stainless though, I really love the look of it as is and figure it's so tough already that it probably doesn't need extra protection.
I'd happily sit stuff on it without fear of it scratching.

This one is for sale. (my email addy is in the contact tab up the top)

What do you think of this one?

Do you like a little contrast too?!

Have an awesome week, won't you?!

Courts xx

Friday, 16 August 2013

Before And After: Tea Trolley

A couple of posts back I showed you a dining chair that I'd painted for my mum in matte black spray paint. I really loved how it turned out so I ended up keeping it, (with her blessing) but I do totally feel guilty about it. 

Anyway, while she was here visiting, she found and bought this tea trolley I'm about to show you, which I agreed to paint for her. We chose a black to tie in with her black chair she would be taking home. (Insert guilty face emoticon here )

So in my guilted up state, I moved the trolley straight to the top of my 'list' and got it finished pretty quickly. With a little help from fast drying chalk paint of course ;-)

Here's the orange...I mean before -

I mixed up my DIY chalk paint in my fave black - Klavier by Dulux - and gave it two coats after a good cleaning, then distressed with my mouse and waxed with ASCP  clear wax.

Easy as that!

This is most likely going to be a side table at my parents, they've always kept their liquor behind closed doors. And of course, back in the day, their two teenagers NEVER went near those closed cupboard doors ;-)

How would you use a tea/drinks trolley?

Stock it full of liquor or something else?
I personally don't like trolley's so no chance I'm keeping this one! My mum has always wanted one so she was pretty excited to find this so I can't wait to see how she uses it.

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Courts xx

Monday, 12 August 2013

Before And After: Dining Chair


You may notice I have a new profile pic up...finally! I've been wanting to do it for ages as the other was two years old and I'm pretty sure it was ready for retirement ;-)
One of my personal photographers (Edie aged 6) took this one. Actually she took the last one too, when she was 4! She does so well to put up with her fussy mum! Nothing is ever any trouble for her, she has a big heart that kid.
Another change you might see is the addition of a 'Our House' tab at the top which has some pics (funnily enough!) of inside our house. If you are an avid extrovert reader, you may have already seen most of these already ;-) If better click on the tab so you can check it out!

Onto the chair!!

I found this chair for $6 at a thrifty and bought it to do up for my parents, thinking it would suit their decor/style. I love spending big bucks on them...I'm just really good like that ;-)

I finally got around to doing this chair recently and we chose good old black with a matte finish and no distressing.
I'm rather in love with a matte black finish at the moment - its just so...good!

I can't wait to share with you just how easy this re-design was to do! It is something I've never done before and I'm so happy with the results - this baby's paint is stuck tight (read: durable!!) and with no sanding!! It was a pretty glossy surface and I didn't touch it with sandpaper - at all! And It's not chalk paint. I would only use that if I was going to distress it.


Take a look first -

Nice, huh?!

Ok, so how did I do it without sanding?

It was so easy!

I'm sure you've already guessed that I sprayed it?! It's the easiest way (spray paint in a can btw) to paint a fiddly chair - you are limited with colour choice, but when black is the chosen're pretty well covered there!
And to get that black spray paint to stick...I'm sure you've also guessed that I primed it first - yes, but did you guess that I primed it with metal primer?
You can find it in hardware stores (I got mine from Mitre 10) and it'll be right near the spray paints. I used Dulux Metalshield primer which was grey in colour and is meant for metalwork projects. There are plenty of other companies that make them too, killrust for example.
I sprayed two thin coats on, following the directions for dry times, then...and this is need to let it cure before you spray your colour on.
Yes, this is the only downside when you want to get a project done quickly, but it's why it makes the paint stick so well. You must let it cure. This can take anywhere from a few days to a month. How do you know when paint has cured?
Its guess work really. As soon as it's touch dry, touch it! Somewhere that you won't see if it leaves a print is best. Touch it a couple of times and get a feel for what it's like when it's not cured. It'll feel tacky and still smell strongly of paint. Check it in a couple of days, then keep checking it as often as you like until it no longer smells like paint and is dry and hard to touch.
Then spray on your colour - this chair took one can - in thin coats again, allowing the correct drying time between coats that you'll have read on the side :-)

Then it's cure time again. You've gotta let the colour cure, same as before. Then you can seal it.
I sealed with Annie Sloan clear wax because I knew it would keep the finish still fairly matte (which is what we wanted) and would protect the paint work well.
You could seal it with a spray polyurethane, I haven't tried it in a matte finish so not sure how that goes. But if you wanted a glossier finish, then I'd definitely use a spray poly.

I didn't sand between coats - mainly because I wanted to see how it went without it - and it's great! I think whatever your surface feels like before you spray paint it, is what it'll feel like after you spray paint it. If you start with a rough-ish surface, you may wanna sand first to get it smooth to the touch, then spray.

Another tip, while I'm on a roll - if you have a piece that is quite glossy and you'd like it to be not-so-glossy, you can use a spray poly straight over the top in a satin or matte finish and it will look so good!!
I've done satin poly over glossy paint work and it turns out so much better than if I'd just freshly painted and sealed it in satin poly. I don't know just does!! Like I don't know why metal primer sticks to glossy timber furniture so just does!

Well obviously I had a lot to share today and I hope you enjoyed my tips if you read all that! No hard feelings if you didn't ;-)

Have a fantastic week!!

Courts xx

PS. We had my mum visiting for all of last week and as she was about to leave I said, 'I was thinking that black chair would look good at our table.'  And now it is! She didn't bat an eyelid...she knows me well. Thanks again mum, I promise next time I find something for you I'll actually give it to you. Maybe.

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