Look Like a Billion Bucks for Free

Ever see women who look like they really have it together?

Hair is always perfect, clothes are always stylish, shoes are always to die for, nails are always beautiful, skin is glowing, and makeup is pristine.

Then there is me.


Don’t get me wrong- I try.  But I feel so guilty spending tons of money on myself with 2 kids at home.

{Oh, sorry, kids.  No new socks this winter.  Mommy needed another pair of knee-high boots.  I only had black ones and they didn’t match this outfit.  Thanks for understanding.}

The result:  nails get manicured once or twice a year, facials on special occasions, skin that looks as tired as I feel, makeup that gets applied in my car (if at all), flip flops, pony tails, and a closet full of hodge-podge finds from TJ Maxx.

After talking to other moms, it seems a lot of us feel like we’re too busy putting out kiddie fires (hopefully not literal ones) to really plan and put ourselves together.  Not to mention the college tuition daycare costs that keep us from Jimmy.  Jimmy Choo.

I’m here to give you hope.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or time to look like a billion bucks.  (See that?  I allowed for inflation.  We’ve been saying that we want to look like a million bucks for decades so I changed it.  You’re welcome.)

For me, the wake-up call began about 2 years ago.  I’ve never been “heavy” but I’d stopped working out and stopped thinking about what I was putting in my body.  I was eating shat.  To those who knew me it was obvious.

{Example of what my husband would say: “Uh, honey, did you just grab that donut out of the trash and eat it???”

Me: “Shut Up.”}

I was depressed.

My son has asthma but as a baby he hadn’t been diagnosed yet.  We just knew he was sick ALL THE TIME.  My husband’s job isn’t flexible so it was (and still is) up to me to take off if the kids get sick.  I felt like I had to constantly choose between my career, which I’d fought so hard to build, and my new baby, which I loved more than I could describe.  I resented having to work.  I resented my job.

The stress of knowing that work wasn’t optional for me but neither was being a mom was overwhelming.  If I’m being honest, I just wanted to disappear.

I spent most of my life fighting.  I fought to excel, I fought for relationships, I fought to compete in the corporate world, I fought to maintain my career while I moved around as an Army wife, I fought for my babies, I was tired of fighting.  I’d given up.

One day after a really bad day I bought a scale (side note: don’t EVER buy a scale on a bad day).  I’d gained 12 pounds after initially working so hard to lose all of the weight I gained while pregnant with Roman.  I’m 5’1” and very small-boned.  12 pounds on my frame is preeeetty noticeable.  I realized that if something inside didn’t change then my body and emotional well-being would continue to suffer.

The morning after I bought the scale I downloaded an app that can track the calories you eat.  I realized I was eating almost 1,000 calories a day more than I should have.

The day after that I downloaded several exercise apps.  I also started using my gym again.

My priority was me as a member of my family.  My family is #2 only to God.  If I didn’t start treating myself as a member of my family I knew it would start to affect my parenting and my relationship with my husband if it hadn’t already.

{Hey, E, your face is red again.  Are those- yep.  You need to address those hives.}

I didn’t set a goal to be Mrs. Hardbody.  Or Mrs. Universe.  Or Heidi Klum.

I just wanted my daughter to see her mom care enough about herself to get healthy so she would have a positive female example in her life.  I wanted my son to see his mom make herself a priority so he’ll know that in the future it’s ok for his spouse to do the same.  I wanted my husband to see his wife try again.

I wanted to feel good about myself again.  I was done wanting to disappear.  I wanted to live.  I wanted my kids and my husband to see what it looks like when a woman lives life happy and unapologetic.

I’m happy again because I’m deliberately living my life instead of feeling like I’m just along for the ride.  I haven’t even lost much weight.  But I work out more.  I still have treats on occasion but I’m smart about it. (Not including the 6 “fun sized” bags of M&M’s I devoured last night.  We all have weaknesses, right?)

I cook more and I cook healthy meals.  I have shortcuts so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.  I no longer come home at 6 pm on a week night and cook until 6:30 or 7, eat, give the kids a bath, and put them to bed without having much time with them.

My friends are a priority again.  Having fun is a priority again.  I don’t allow myself to make excuses anymore for being boring.  I’m a grown-ass woman.  I’m in charge of me.

I started trying to look like I care about myself.  It doesn’t cost anything to hold your shoulders back and lift your head high.  Confidence is free but sometimes hard to find.  We should all have it.  We all deserve it.

Smiling… FREE.  I have a bad case of resting bitch face.  Being more aware of it took time and effort.  But that’s free, too.

Running was my nemesis.  Running was the Beverly Leslie to my Karen Walker.  It was the Dr. Evil to my Austin Powers.  The Robby to my Joe Dirt.  You get the idea.  I was gonna beat it.  (That’s what he said.)

My first goal: a 5k.  I downloaded Couch to 5k and learned how to run.  I ran every night in my neighborhood after I got the kids to sleep.  My neighborhood is just one little street.  I’m sure I looked cray-zee running up and down the street a thousand times every night.  I didn’t care.  I did it.  And now I LOVE running.  I made it my biatch.

That app was free.  Cost to get in shape = $0

Hair… my hair and I have always had a love-hate relationship.  In the 3rd grade I begged for a perm.  (Stop laughing.)  My hair is very fine and VERY straight.  And I have a ton of it.  First of all, there wasn’t enough room on my head to hold all of the rollers.  Secondly, my hair was too heavy.

The lady left the stuff on my hair as long as she could but the perm didn’t take.  The next day my mom asked for her money back after showing the lady that there were no curls to be seen anywhere on my head.

A no refund policy meant that she gave me another perm in an attempt to “guarantee satisfaction.”  The second perm left me with holes burned in my scalp.  And burned hair.  No Bueno.

I’d given up on curly hair or hair styles of any kind.  I’d only ever had a hair style that lasted more than a day on two occasions.  The first time was when my lovely friend Sheb did my hair and it lasted beautifully for THREE DAYS!  Three days of glorious curls and compliments.

The second was a few months ago.  I decided to give Drybar another shot.  The first attempt resulted in my hair falling within an hour of leaving the salon.  This time ANOTHER THREE DAY HAIR ‘DO!!!!

Luckily, I watched what she did.  And I practiced.  A lot.

Now I do my own blowouts.  I went from having to wash my hair daily and always pulling it back in a ponytail to washing it once every 2 or 3 days, spending 30 minutes to an hour every 3 days styling it at night once the kids are asleep and that’s it.

Cost of my blowouts = $0

No more salon manicures when I can afford it.  I do my own now.  And I love it.  If you paint your own nails once you’ve more than paid for the $8 bottle of polish.  Bella loves our girl-time painting nails.

It definitely helps that my babies are a bit older now.  I was far too overwhelmed, especially when Roman was a baby, to attempt a lifestyle change.  But I can say that I feel pretty again.  I’m happier now because I’m making myself a priority.

To all my new moms who are overwhelmed and haven’t showered in a week, you’ll find your rhythm.  No one tells you how displaced you can feel as a new mom, especially a mom of more than one baby.  Take baby steps.  Five minutes here and there can help you feel like a woman again!

Anyone else have beauty shortcuts?

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Have Pretty Nails AND A Latte

Here’s the dilemma:

Your nails look like crap.  You don’t want to spend $20 plus tip at a salon to get a traditional manicure because you know it will last 3 hours before you chip the polish trying to dig your kid’s toy out from behind the TV console.  You don’t want to spend $40 plus tip at a salon to get a gel manicure because you have to eat this week.  Also, what if you want to change your polish?  That’s another $25 plus tip.

Can’t take that stuff off by yourself.

(Believe me, I’ve tried.  Pinterest is a liar.  I walked around for 15 minutes with cotton balls dipped in acetone stuck to my nails with aluminum foil after scrapping off the top coat only to have big patches left that wouldn’t come off.)

Ladies, I’m about to become your new BFF.

I introduce to you Sally Hansen Miracle Gel nail polish.  I don’t usually shamelessly plug products but this stuff is AMAZING.

But, E, I don’t have a UV light.

Don’t need it.  It cures in regular light.

But, E, I don’t want to scrape that junk off of my nails!

Don’t have to.  It comes off super easily with REGULAR nail polish remover.  BOOM.

But, E, I like the way gel lasts for weeks.

This stuff will last for weeks if you aren’t tooooo hard on your nails.  If you are hard on your nails, it will still last for at least a week.

But, E, I’m horrible at doing my own nails.

Paint it messy then jump in the shower after it dries and scrub off the extra.  OR dip a cotton swab in polish remover and go over it.  I paint my own nails like an overly excited 18-month old.  I get it.

But, E, I-

Stop.  Trust me.

Chances are you’ve seen this new product without realizing how awesome it is.  It’s mixed in with the other polishes at stores but sometimes it has its own display, too.  Look for MIRACLE GEL.

You need 2 things: the color and the top coat.  Each around $8 at Target.  Don’t forget the top coat.  That’s where the magic happens.

You have 48 colors to choose from.  If you need more than that, you’re too high maintenance and I can’t help you.  I can, however, recommend a good therapist.

Just kidding.  This stuff also works with your own polish!  The “official” Sally Hansen site tells you it won’t.  But it will.  Just slap on several coats of your fave polish, WAIT UNTIL IT’S COMPLETELY DRY!!!!!!!!!  Then apply 2 coats of the Miracle Gel top coat.

Make sure your nails are clean.  Then paint 2 coats of color on your nails, letting each coat dry before applying the next.  Once the second color coat is dry, brush on a coat or two of the top coat.  It comes in a black bottle but it isn’t black.  Promise.

These are my nails.  I painted them five days ago.  No chips.  I did have one nailmergency when I thought there was a chip and I picked at it until I peeled the polish off.  Oops.  But it was quickly rectified because I can touch up at home.  Eat it, D Nails.


That’s it.  Enjoy your fancy, expensive-looking nails.  Enjoy the compliments.  Enjoy knowing you can pay your bills this week.  Enjoy knowing you won’t internally cringe when your kid asks you to fish his Power Ranger toy from the bottom of the toy box.

You can also wash dishes with ease but I won’t tell if you keep your hubs thinking it’s detrimental to the aesthetic of your beautiful nails.

What’s your beauty shortcut secret?

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