Making Amends & Reintroducing Myself

Some of you reading this may be familiar with AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and the 12 Step program. If you’re not, the 12 Step program was created by Bill Wilson and the Oxford group in 1938 to help individuals struggling with alcohol addiction. It has essentially become the building blocks of sobriety.
You may be wondering why I’m mentioning alcoholism as someone who’s been sober my whole life, so I want to tell you a little more about my story, and how I ended up here. Through AA, and through those I’ve loved dearly suffering from addiction, I discovered ACOA: Adult Children Of Alcoholics. Although my search started from wanting to support someone I love, it opened up a door to finally allowing me to explore who I am deep down and heal some of my, very open, wounds.

In January of this year, as I sat on my therapist’s couch during marriage counseling, I had a complete breakdown – and realization. For almost my entire life, I’ve been doing what everyone else said I should do. I’ve been feeling how everyone else said I should feel. My feelings throughout my childhood were constantly invalidated, causing me to fear expressing my actual emotions and desires even well into my adulthood. Especially in my early 20’s, I became someone that I truly didn’t even know (or like). I engaged in behavior that was so far against my morals and values, and continued to get myself into situations and relationships that were extremely unhealthy. I then realized that in order to keep myself “safe”, I needed to mold into the person that someone else needed me to be at that time. I desperately craved normalcy, a family, love, and to be heard. But the only way that I felt I could get that, was by becoming a person that wasn’t actually me.

I tried to convince myself of so many things. Have you ever heard someone say that they “believe their own lies”? I genuinely thought that I could trick myself into believing that I was truly happy, or that I felt a certain way if I just tried hard enough. If I projected this happiness, this family, and this love hard enough..maybe I would actually feel it. And trust me when I tell you: I wanted to. I wanted so badly to feel what everyone else said I should feel in a heterosexual marriage. In fact, I felt extremely ashamed, ungrateful, and guilty for NOT feeling that way. I had everything that people seemingly would want, why was I so unhappy? And as I sat next to my then-husband on that couch, I realized just that: it was what other people wanted. Not what I did. In that moment, I knew that I had become someone to fit into someone else’s life, and not to compliment my own. I made excuses for things that were really important to me, ignored red flags, disregarded my own political beliefs, morals, and feelings about basic human rights for the sole purpose of wanting to be loved and to have a family; to “show the world” that I was happy. But in doing that, I really wasn’t being honest to anyone – or myself.

When I started my divorce process in March, I was also starting the process of truly embracing who I am; promising to never hide parts of myself for the sake of protecting others again.
Since then, I have worked endlessly on becoming a better version of myself, while learning to accept myself for who I really am – which includes what I believe, and what I allow in my life.

Step 8 in the big book is to make a list of all the persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all. While I’ll spare you my (very long) list of people I’ve harmed, I think it’s important to recognize that I understand and take full responsibility for the hurt that I have caused – especially over the last 8 years of my life. I know that in finding myself, I also ruined other people’s lives, and I feel immense regret for that. If I could go back in time and know then what I know now, I would have done things very differently.

Step 9 in the big book is to make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Although I am unable to make amends to some people/previous “family” who have cut off all contact with me, I am including them in this writing. This may seem like a general apology, but my true hope is that by reading this and seeing me now living by my true principles, you will understand.

The first person that I need to make amends to is myself. A bit unorthodox for the 12 Step program, but it’s important that I recognize how I did not align my choices in life with what I really believed, which ultimately caused me a lot of hurt. I lied to myself for years about what I actually felt because I didn’t want to be rejected or abandoned. I just wanted to fit in so badly. I thought at that time I wanted that beautiful family, white picket-fence life that everyone around me put on a pedestal. I kept my mouth shut during conversations when I should have spoken up. I went to religious gatherings/events that made me want to gauge my eyeballs out, just to make someone else and their family “love me”. But were they loving ME at my core? My beliefs? My traumas, or my quirks? No. They were all loving this version of myself that I created for safety. For fitting in. For literally everyone else BUT ME.

I then projected that version of me to over 150,000 people. I spoke words to you, in hopes that I would believe them myself. In all honesty, I didn’t want to get more hate online than I already had been getting for years. So I tried to do absolutely everything in my power to avoid that. So again, I stopped speaking when I should have opened my mouth. I shared things that at the time I really didn’t believe, with the intent of appearing happy and fulfilled. So my second amend is to those of you who followed me: especially from 2018-2021. If you’re still here, you’re probably witnessing a different Manders. While some people are truly happy for me (and I appreciate it) I know there are a lot of you who are confused or angry. Unfortunately, I’ve learned over the years as I’ve grown a following, if I say too much or too little – it doesn’t matter. People will hate me, say things that aren’t true, and believe things that are out of my control. I quite literally almost stayed in a relationship for the sole purpose of being afraid of “what people would think” if it failed.

And that’s how I got here.
I don’t feel that I owe anyone an “explanation” for my life choices right now, but I do feel that I owe apologies for my past. For not living true to myself, and for trying way too long to uphold an image of myself for fear of what others would think if they knew the truth.

Step one in ACOA is saying the words:
“We admitted we were powerless over others and our lives have become unmanageable”

I didn’t want to come out now and say I wasn’t straight because I knew the rumors and untrue accusations that would follow.
I didn’t want to publicly admit that something I thought I wanted, turned out to be not at all what I wanted once I was in it.
And even when I was long out of it, I was still holding on so tightly to the idea that I could change the beliefs of others. I wanted to control the narrative again, in hopes that I wouldn’t be painted as a decietful/spiteful person.
And ultimately, this constant seeking of trying to change everyone’s beliefs about me truly made my life unmanageable.

It’s been 7 months since my marriage ended, reading and hearing things about me that are wildly untrue, and I’m done defending myself. Becuase I’ve realized it doesn’t matter “how” I tell someone something, I truly am powerless over what they will think about it or how they will react. So if me telling you this now makes you think differently of me, or makes you think that I did something I didn’t – that is your belief and I can only hold space in my heart for what I know is true.
And what’s true, is that I’m finally embracing the truest, most authentic ME and I’ve never been happier.

So in honor of National Coming Out Day, Bruce and I made this video to invite you into my heart to see firsthand me breaking down the walls of who I once thought I was, into finally accepting the woman I’ve always been.

The new Manders

Be more predictable
Be less political
Not too original
Keep to tradition, but stay individual
Dirty but washable
Winning but stoppable
All that I’m hearing is you wanna
Make the impossible possible

Is this what you’d all prefer?
Would you like me better if I was still her?
Did she make your mouths water? Ugh

I know the part I’ve played before
I know the shit that I’ve ignored
I know the girl that you adored
She’s dead, it’s time to fucking mourn
I can’t spoon-feed you anymore
I can’t spoon-feed you anymore
Dinner’s served, it’s on the floor
I can’t spoon-feed you anymore
You’ll have to eat me as I am

Demi Lovato – Eat Me


It’s been a minute since I’ve written a blog, but I get asked quite frequently about my favorite skin care products, routines, facials, etc, so I wanted to break everything down and give you a glimpse into how my skincare has evolved over the years!

First and foremost,

I just want to stress the importance of starting with your skincare from the INSIDE OUT. If you have some intolerances, allergies/sensitivities, struggling with an autoimmune disorder, or just maybe don’t have the best diet – I highly recommend starting there. Try to focus on having your diet be mostly whole, nutrient dense foods, lots of color to your diet, and most importantly: hydration! These are essentially the foundations, and then of course if you do dive more into any intolerances, it may be beneficial for you to experiment with removing dairy or gluten from your diet. Of course, as with everything, everyone is so different so you need to figure out what works for you. Not everyone needs to cut out dairy or gluten!

Next important thing to talk about is SUNSCREEN. Holy moly this is something I REALLY wish I paid more attention to in my teens and early twenties. I was a huge idiot and used to tan in tanning beds, out in the sun, and with no sunscreen. And trust me when I tell you, I’m suffering the consequences now with permanent sun damage on my face and chest that I’ve been working on treating with laser (I’ll get more into that later on).

Tula protect & glow sunscreen

This has been my go-to facial sunscreen for the last year and a half, and I absolutely love it. It’s SPF 30, and it has a non-comedogenic formula which won’t clog pores or leave a white cast. I also can just wear this alone and it leaves my skin with a really nice glow.

Think of skincare like a pyramid:

I think the biggest thing that drives me crazy about people who promote skincare products (there’s nothing wrong with that, I’ve been with Tula for 5+ years) is that they don’t give you the FULL picture. It’s not JUST the Tula products that have transformed my skin. Yes, having a quality skincare routine is HUGE, but keep in mind sometimes people aren’t showing you everything else that’s going along with their skincare. It’s honestly so much like the fitness & health scene! So lets get into those skincare products:

  • Tula gentle milk cleanser : I use this morning & night, depending on how my skin is that day. I have super dry and sensitive skin so this helps keep my skin balanced with not over stripping.
  • Tula pH balancing toning pads : I like toning pads because I can physically see anything that’s left on my skin after washing my face but again, it doesn’t strip my skin or make me feel dry & tight.
  • Paula’s choice niacinamide enhancer : I put this on before moisturizer, since I can’t use a lot of intense acids or glycolics daily. If I’m having more of a breakout week, I’ll go in with the Tula glycolic resurfacing toner
  • I am also prescribed a retinol serum from my dermatologist, but I can’t use that nightly because it literally flakes my skin to death. So I use every other night, or every 2 nights.
  • Tula plumping & firming moisturizer : My favorite moisturizer for day and night
  • Another thing I really love are the Tula probiotic gummies that also support hair, skin, and nails. My hair girl always says she notices a difference when I take these daily!

Lets talk masks:

For acne/spot treatment – GlamGlow super mud detoxifying clay mask
For resurfacing/brightening – Tula brightening & exfoliating mask
For calming/soothing – Origins out of trouble mask
For over deep hydration – Tula overnight repair mask
For spot treatments (I can’t use benzyl peroxide) – Paula’s choice BHA 9 treatment

I also have one of my holy grail way-too-expensive-of-a-product product that I SWEAR by, my bestie turned me onto it and I use it at night before I start my night time skin care routine after I get out of the shower:

Let’s talk TREATMENTS:

This is also another touchy subject for people because not a lot of women want to admit they get botox or fillers. Personally, I’ve been getting Botox since I was 22 and I don’t regret it. I also have filler in my undereye crease and smile lines. This is something that I do about once every 5-6 months (for Botox) and the filler I haven’t had touched up since I first did it. But that’s why you’ll see my forehead looking smooth and unwrinkled!

For chemical peels/facials/laser treatments, this is going to be something again that is super individualized and will depend upon your skin concerns. My routine is:

  • Hydrafacial + Dermaplaning: once every 4 weeks
  • Chemical peels (sometimes added into the Hydrafacial depending on my skin) as needed
  • Laser genesis treatment: once every 4 weeks
  • Pico laser (for sun damage): once every 2-3 months
  • Botox: once every 5-6 months
  • Filler: once a year

Overall, everyones skin is SO different and it’s important to find what works best for you and your own skin type! Remember that all of these things work as a system, so if you’re trying to solve cystic acne by just changing products, you may want to start from the bottom of the pyramid. Your sleep and stress are also a huge part of your skin too! Same with things like alcohol and drug consumption. You can’t just put a bandaid on those things.

I hope this helps!



I’m sick and tired of this.

I get these comments almost daily, to the point where I’m about to turn off the words for “voice” & “change” on my Youtube and Instagram – and I’m absolutely fucking sick and tired of it. Not because these people are just ignorant (and also don’t have any true indication of what a female looks or sounds like when they are actually on testosterone) but because this is actually something extremely upsetting to me.

First of all, what ever happened to: “don’t point out something about someone that they can’t change in 10 seconds or less” ?!

Second, I’m going to address this for the final time in this blog post. So when people continue to comment this, I can go ahead and refer them to this post.

I started my social media when I was 19/20 years old. I don’t know about you, but when I was younger, I used to elevate my voice a LOT to try to sound “cute”. Like, kind of Ariana Grande status just because I thought it would make me more attractive. A lot of females probably did that subconsciously too, but of course, their entire lives aren’t blasted on the internet for strangers to judge – so they would never know. As I got older, that got old too. I just stopped doing it. I still can elevate my voice to this level if I wanted to – but it’s just not me. I am almost 27 years old now, and apparently a lot of people don’t know this.. but YOUR VOCAL CORDS CHANGE AS YOU AGE. Just like taste buds, your body, your skin, etc. Things change as we get older. This is not a revolutionary concept. I’ve even had my speech language pathologist explain this ON my Instagram when I was working with her when we discovered that I likely had polyps/nodules. Her name is Kristie Knickerbocker for those who want to perhaps educate themselves.

Back in 2018, when I visited Iowa in the winter for the first time, I started developing a pretty bad cough. When I went to the doctor after getting back to Florida, my PC physician told me that it was likely just from the change in humidity/temperature since I had never gone from that hot to that cold in such a short time frame before. I wasn’t “sick”, so he told me to just wait it out and drink lots of water.

Fast forward to December 2018, I noticed the cough was still persisting. It got worse when I laughed, or when I would be coaching at the classes at the gym. My voice would kind of “give out” and it hurt to yell. I got bronchitis in January of 2019 after my trip to Florida – again another time I thought it was just the change of weather based on what my doctor said prior to the trip. However, once my cough STILL persisted after bronchitis, I made an appointment to my ENT down in Florida. At this point it had been 4-5 months of dealing with this weird dry cough, and I felt like there might be something wrong.

Those of you who ACTUALLY know me, know I love singing. It’s one of my absolute favorite things in the world, and was my true passion long before fitness/nutrition. I started noticing that I wasn’t able to hold notes for as long, and I was “running out of air” when I would sing more difficult songs. This was something that made me extremely upset, as singing was my one “outlet” that I still had from my childhood that genuinely made me so happy.

After seeing my ENT and getting a live video scope of my vocal cords, he told me that it appeared my false vocal cords were “banging” together due to being inflamed. He said it’s normal after bronchitis, or yelling a lot (crossfit coaching numerous classes per day) and just general use of my vocal cords. He said singers deal with this a lot, and I needed to rest my voice and it would likely go away on its own.

Obviously, I didn’t rest my voice completely as I should have, but it wouldn’t have mattered, because after another YEAR of dealing with this cough coming and going, I decided to seek out a speech language pathologist who specializes in vocal cord injuries.

I know that these people are insinuating steroid use with their comments, but let me just tell you a few things:

  1. These people have never truly seen what a female looks or sounds like when taking testosterone.
  2. I would never take anything SUCH AS TESTOSTERONE which could potentially ALTER MY VOICE solely because of how much I love singing. I’m not a fucking moron. I know that women who take testosterone for sports have those side effects such as loss of hair, horrible acne, voice deepening, etc.. none of which I have aside from the raspiness of my voice.

Let’s also just add that it’s not like I’m over here deadlifting 600lbs, or squatting 300lbs, running 7 min miles or adding 30lbs of muscle in one year lol.

If I LOOKED like a roided out crossfitter, okay sure, I could honestly understand where the comments were coming from. But for the love of God – I’m an AVERAGE crossfitter who has gained 25(ish) pounds in ALMOST 6 YEARS!!!!!! I STARTED CROSSFIT WHEN I WAS NOT EVEN 21 YEARS OLD. So yes, my body has changed, and I’VE WORKED HARD FOR THIS. What a concept.

Once I got working with Kristie (the SLP) she diagnosed that I likely had polyps or nodules after working with me for over a month and doing vocal exercises/breathing treatments. I had to be referred to Iowa State University for a full videostroboscopy by a vocal cord specialist.

The treatment for this? Surgery to remove the polyps. The cost? You don’t even want to know. And no, it’s not covered by my insurance because it’s not “medically necessary”.

So yeah. THAT’S why my voice sounds a little raspier or a little deeper. And YES, I’m fucking upset about it. I’m insecure about it as it is, not only because I feel like I sound like a smoker sometimes, but also because this has taken away one of my favorite things in the world – singing.

So before you go and comment something ignorant, rude, “just an observation” or INSINUATING that I’m taking steroids, remember that there’s someone on the other end of that screen. You have no idea what they’re going through, or what’s causing the issue that they MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO FIX.


Let’s get one thing out of the way before we get into this blog post:


Yep. So if you’re reading this thinking that I’m about to drop the best “fat loss” secret, welp.. I’m not. I’m here to let you know what’s important, what you could probably live without, answer some common questions, and explain what certain supplements are used for.

Let’s start with the basic: protein. If you’re looking to improve your protein intake, protein powder is a super simple and effective way to do that. However, there are SO many different TYPES of protein out there, not to mention, so many companies their protein is the best for FAT LOSS or MUSCLE GAIN. *eye roll* I cannot tell you how many supplement companies I’ve seen showcasing a generic protein powder, labeled as some magic fat burning, muscle building powder. This could not be farther from the truth!

Let’s get one thing straight: protein powder in itself does not CAUSE fat loss or BUILD muscle. You could have a diet full of protein powder, and if you’re not eating enough or your training is not conducive to muscle growth – you’re not going to be gaining muscle. Protein powder does not “BURN” fat, and it certainly is not a magic supplement.

As simple as I can put it: protein powder is PROTEIN in the form of POWDER. Period.

Now, there are different TYPES of protein powder that are used for specific purposes. I’m listing my personal favorite brand of each of the following supplements, solely because I trust their ingredients and they do not make any unrealistic claims.

Whey Protein ISOLATE : A fast-digesting unrefined protein, with 98% lactose removed. This specific protein is 98% lactose-free (as compared to regular whey protein) so oftentimes those with digestion issues can tolerate Isolate protein more so than whey. This is the case for myself as well, and this has become my go-to protein choice for my shakes.

Whey Protein: If you want to get super technical, cow’s milk is made up of two types of protein (whey and casein) and whey protein is the mixture of those proteins isolated from whey. You know like, when you open a cup of yogurt and there’s liquid on the top? That’s technically whey protein. I will say: NOT ALL WHEY PROTEIN IS CREATED EQUAL. Just like with anything in life, quality matters. The purity of the whey will also vary from company to company. There are a lot of different ways to check the “value” of a companies protein (that’s a whole nother blog post of its own) but I would start by checking out their ingredients. If you see a lot of synthetic additives, loads of unhealthy sweeteners and artificial flavors, I’d suggest passing on that one.

Casein Protein: Again, LOTS of different types of casein protein, but for this one specifically, Micellar Casein is the slowest absorbing protein of them all. Made from all five of the milk proteins which basically just gives you a gradual release of the amino acids. People typically take Casein protein at night, since that’s the longest period of time they go without eating.

So hopefully that helps you narrow down your choices of protein powder! As for everything else, I’m just going to share with you my personal choices and what I use them for. I don’t think you need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on supplements, but they can certainly help in certain areas of your health. Think of it as a pyramid:

The base of your pyramid should be your caloric intake and food choices. Whole, nutrient-dense foods, then eating in a caloric surplus or deficit (according to your goals), then macronutrient breakdown, then sleep, THEN supplements. Supplements should never be the base of your pyramid. That being said, this is my own personal “stack”

R&R – This is by far my favorite supplement to take. It’s been a part of my night time routine for months now, and the quality of my sleep has improved tremendously and I wake up much less throughout the night. It’s a blend of magnesium, melatonin, Gaba, Kava and B Vitamins. I take 3 every night about an hour before bedtime.

Berries & Greens – Long story short, this is a way to get some extra micronutrients in. If you’re someone lacking on your veggies or fruits, this is a great (NOT GRITTY) way to sneak some in, and my personal favorite is that it’s made with a probiotic blend so it’s easy on my stomach.

BCAAS –  Amino acids! Again, not a magic supplement, and to be honest with you, I drink these SOLELY because I love the taste. Fresh lemonade is my favorite and it’s not too sweet. One of my least favorite things about supplement flavors is when they have an obscene amount of artificial sweetener and taste “fake”. This doesn’t at all, and tastes super fresh. Every single person I’ve recommended this to has loved it as well!

I personally don’t take a pre workout! I know that’s probably one of the more popular supplements out there, but I just stick to my iced coffee. The simpler the better honestly.

Hopefully this helps narrow down your choices for some supplements that you may have been searching for! I care about the quality of my products, digestibility, and taste of course, This has been the first stack that has checked off all of those boxes for me, so I wanted to share it with you guys.

Hope you are all staying safe and healthy during this time!



Important videos for you to watch this weekend!

I just recently took a poll on Instagram, asking people if they knew they could “search” someone’s Youtube channel for specific keywords or titles, turns out 79% of people didn’t know you could do this! Of course I will admit, especially being a creator myself, there are some videos of mine where I’ve included information in the video that wasn’t necessarily in the title, or vice versa – so sometimes even I forget where these videos are.

Anyway, I went through some of my favorite Youtube videos that I put a lot of work in, either from the educational/information side of things, or the things that I find myself getting asked ALL THE TIME (like the raw to cooked meat weight conversion, or how to enter a recipe into MFP) I decided to dedicate a blog post to these videos, with their descriptions so you can reference this post if you need to! Or heck, even send it to someone who may be new to fitness!

Screen Shot 2019-10-26 at 5.52.55 PM.pngClick here to subscribe to my channel!

To start, I don’t know if everyone knows this either, but I do have playlists for things like reviews, favorites videos, full days of eating, and the ever-so-popular: MEAL PREP MONDAY!

Click here for “Full days of eating” videos

Click here for “Meal prep Monday” videos

Click here for “Favorites” videos

Click here for “Fitbit/Fitness watch review” videos

That raw to cooked meat weight conversion I was talking about? I got you!

This might be one of my all-time favorite videos that I’ve ever done.. and it’s for SURE a truth bomb. If you’re someone who’s said “I want to lose fat and gain muscle” or “I’ve lost fat but I’m not TONED” – please watch this video:

Similarly, during a training video (where I take you through a good workout) I discuss the truth about getting lean!


I get asked about my chicken thigh cast iron skillet recipe literally almost every day, good news.. it’s in a full meal prep video 🙂

Struggling to figure out when you should adjust your calories or macros?


How to log a FULL recipe or large batch of something (like chilli or soup) and enter it in MFP to get the proper macros for each serving:

Have a question about meal timing?

Struggling to stay on track over the weekend? I highly suggest planning out your meals ahead of time.. and here’s how I do it!


And last but not least, the video that I refer back to all the time to see not only how far I’ve come.. but reminds me of a really rough time in my life and how I got through it. So if you’re struggling with something, whatever it is, this video may help you!

That’s all I got for you this weekend. Maybe you’ll have some free time to get through some of these videos, and if so, let me know what you think!



How a silent follower turned my entire week around.

I had been having one of those weeks this past week. Probably started with the lack of sleep; I was definitely feeling a bit grumpy, not to mention it just started getting cold here in Iowa, and I was just not really in the best of moods. I actually woke up on Friday and I was like, “man I just wish sometimes I could be normal and not feel pressured to share every detail on my life on social media” you know?

I totally understand, trust me.. I put myself out there, this is what I get, blah blah. But sometimes it’s just SO frustrating to feel misunderstood, or know that people are saying things about you that are untrue. I swear, there are so many days where I just want to delete every form of social media and not worry about people “watching me” anymore.

So earlier in the week, this girl messaged me on IG and said she was in town and asked if she could drop into our gym on Friday. I welcomed her and told her that I coached the 3:45 class that day. She didn’t say anything else to me; just that she was in town, and she was hoping to drop into a class.

Fast forward to Friday, this super small (BUT SUPER JACKED) girl comes into the gym, and after introducing herself, I realized it was the girl from Instagram. She was pretty quiet at first, took the class, we chatted a bit throughout the workout and overall it was a pretty chill afternoon. I asked her if she wanted to stick around for our little version of the “Friday Night Lights” and do the Open workout with me, to which she said she would. We talked a little bit more, and then eventually did the workout side by side. After dying on the floor for about 10 minutes afterwards (lol) we moved over to the corner of the gym and just started talking. And I mean, TALKING. She’s been in medical school forever, now applying for a sports physician position up at Iowa City, has an awesome husband,  We were just going to town chatting it up. I couldn’t even tell you how we got into the conversation that we got into (we were all over the place chatting about things) but  she had mentioned at one point during the conversation that she was afraid I would think it’s weird that she knows so much about me and I didn’t even know who she was.

Erin & I after 20.1 

But in all honesty, I wasn’t thinking about it like that at all. We were talking as if we were real friends, not some weird “social media person” thing and it was SO cool. We clicked instantly, and the entire time that we were talking, I just kept thinking to myself how awesome it was that she wanted to come in here and work out at my gym just because she follows me and felt comfortable enough to do so. Then she proceeded to tell me something that literally made me erase everything negative I had JUST been feeling about social media.

She told me that she has been following me for FOUR years, and seen me go through a lot. She said that I was the only “Youtuber” that she’s consistently watched because she feels like I’m just a real person, and I’ve always stayed true to myself and inspired her in that way. I’m not joking, I literally started crying. LOL. Tears were flowing and I just gave her the biggest hug because I felt like I truly needed to hear that this week.

I mean honestly, how cool is that? She was a complete stranger to me (as many of you are) and yet she felt inspired by me, continued following me over the years, and then dropped into my gym and we had the most amazing time together just bonding and talking about life.

Yes, social media has made me cry (and not in a good way) and made me want to give up entirely, but these moments are what inspire ME to keep going.

So to Erin, thank you so much for choosing to drop into my gym and reminding me that social media is not ALL bad.

And to any of you who follow along silently, support me, or just stick around because of the dogs 😉 I appreciate you so much. I am just a normal person who somehow grew a decent social media following and I NEVER want that to change me. I said this in one of my very first Youtube videos, and it still holds true to me:

I don’t care if I have 100 followers, or 100,000 – I want you to know that I’m just a 25 year old trying to figure life out like the rest of us. And my only goal is to positively inspire people to be better in any way that I can. Whether that’s through food, the gym, the dogs, laughter, mental health or whatever it is, I want to be a source of positivty for those that choose to follow me.

I know not everyone will like me, and that’s okay, but at the end of the day – I just want to remain true to who I am and continue to be the best possible version of myself.

I love you guys so much.



My new favorite protein bars!

Yes. This deserves its own blog post because they TRULY are that good.

I’ll tell you right off the bat, I’m not really a protein bar kinda gal. I prefer to eat my protein sources through whole foods, and I really don’t drink protein shakes much anymore unless I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to prep a full meal. However, I came across these bars and was instantly intrigued by the macros, ingredients, and the fact that they are lactose and casein-free (which would explain why they don’t hurt my stomach at all!) and I’ll be honest, I had very low expectations. At these macros, when I saw the package I thought there was no way in heck these would be good. built-bar-protein-and-energy-orange-chocolate-creme-brand-diet-stage-maintenance-solid-foods-weight-loss-type-gluten-free-bars-bariatricpal-store_734_grande.jpg

Typically a give-away is that bars low in fat and higher in fiber taste like absolute crap, and I’ll be the first to tell you I’m SO picky about the “protein-taste”. For reference, I think Quest bars are absolutely disgusting, as well as Level 1 bars, Detour, Syntha 6, Muscle Tech, you name it. I’ve tried TONS just trying to search for a bar that doesn’t have a nasty protein/gritty taste, has good macros, and doesn’t hurt my stomach.

Nugo Bar is a close second, although the macros on these Built Bars are better, I still genuinely enjoy Nugo Bars – they are just completely different texturally.

My #1 favorite flavor: coconut 

So let’s get on to the texture. Legit milky way. If you like Almond Joys, the coconut flavor tastes EXACTLY like that, minus the coconut flakes. It’s not a fake coconut flavor, and also not overpowering. One of my followers told me to put them in the fridge before eating, and man.. were they right. The cool dark chocolate coating is SO GOOD right out of the fridge, and the soft inside is unlike any other protein bar I’ve ever tried. It’s not “sticky” like a quest bar, but it definitely has a bite to it when you eat it directly from the fridge.

A neat comparison of popular protein bars! 

I know you’re probably thinking with how much I’m selling this that I’m being paid to say this: NOPE. This is 100% my opinion, and I’m not being compensated for this review in any way. THESE BARS REALLY ARE THAT GOOD!

My favorite flavors in order:

  1. Coconut
  2. Peanut butter
  3. Pumpkin
  4. Mint Brownie
  5. Raspberry
  6. Salted Caramel

I was not a fan of the banana one (tasted too much like a banana laffy taffy) or the orange; just don’t like orange mixed with chocolate I guess. But I’m still looking forward to trying the strawberry, black chocolate cherry, mocha, and double chocolate. I doubt I’ll buy the lemon, just because I’m not a fan of lemon mixed with chocolate either.

So there you have it! I’m obsessed with these bars.

Unfortunately, they aren’t sold in stores (yet) – so you can only get them online BY CLICKING HERE.

If you order these, let me know what you think! I can’t believe I just recently discovered these guys. I definitely won’t be on the hunt for a new protein bar for a WHILE, I can tell you that much!


Is “healthy” always synonymous with “low calorie”?

This is something that I have been wanting to touch on for quite some time, and when recently I was given the opportunity to solidify my thoughts on this topic – I knew I had to write about it.

The food industry is notorious for labeling things as

Farm Fresh
High-quality ingredients 

and it’s easy for people who are striving to eat lower calorie (or just simply eat in a caloric deficit) to gravitate towards these types of foods because they seem “healthier”. While this may be true to some extent, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the food is low calorie at all.

This week I was able to get behind the kitchen of one of my favorite local lunch spots. It’s one of those “mom & pop” type places, and they have TONS of delicious foods and treats. They also use the same terminology to advertise their sandwiches as using the “highest quality, local, farm-fresh ingredients” and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that at all, I wanted to see just what all was in this sandwich – and how much.

Screen Shot 2019-10-05 at 6.38.49 PM

I’m sure a lot of people would look at this sandwich on the menu and think, “Oh, chicken breast, fresh avocado, farmers cheese, mixed greens.. this is healthy!” but again, I don’t really know if people are using the term “healthy” with low calorie – or perhaps THINKING it’s low calorie just because it has those fancy terms in it.

So I started weighing everything out, and ingredient by ingredient, I logged the sandwich into MyFitnessPal. Both the owner AND I almost fell over when we got to the final calorie breakdown. Would you believe me if I told you that this sandwich would run you almost 1,000 calories?

Yup! This bad boy came out to about 960 calories. 

Macronutrient breakdown:

Screen Shot 2019-10-05 at 6.41.28 PM

You’re reading that right! This sandwich from a local bakery is nearly double the calories of a McDonald’s Big Mac. Before you come at me with “BUT FAST FOOD IS SO BAD FOR YOU AND FAKE MEAT AND CHEMICALS AND PRESERVATIVES!” I know. I don’t doubt that for a second, but I’m strictly referring to calories/macronutrients here, and if you’re trying to eat lower calorie, you would have been better off going through the drive-through, lol.

Now, I’m not trying to scare you into NOT going out to eat with places that don’t have their nutritional information available, there’s always a time and place for that, but this is more just so to educate you on how easily these types of things can add up calorie-wise. I always suggest for my clients to leave extra room in their macros (if they’re trying to make something at a restaurant fit their macros) for things like sauces, higher fat meats, cheeses, and other hidden add-ons that you may not think about.

I just want to bring attention to the fact that these things, often labeled as “organic” or “non-GMO” are not always synonymous with “lower calorie”.

Organic: produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.

Non-GMO: food that is made without ingredients that were derived from genetically engineered organisms.

Healthy? Sure. I mean, whatever your definition of “healthy” is 😉 but just know what to look for when you are reading menus, labels, or anything that seems to be listed as a “healthy” option!




Quote from my boyfriend, Austin Teel.

If I could only tell you how many times he’s said that to me over the last year. I admit, sometimes it frustrated me and I would often think to myself, “YEAH WELL, we all don’t have your genetics SIR.” Ha. In all seriousness though, it has been hitting me a lot lately and especially during times where motivation is low or I’m just not feeling like I want to work out or track my macros, or whatever it is that week.

And let me tell you: IT HAPPENS. If you think you are going to start your health/fitness/wellness/weight loss journey and motivation will just increase with time – yikes. It’s a rollercoaster, my friend. Some days will be great..and some days, well, they’re just not going to be and you’re going to want to give up or question why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Sometimes I fake it till I make it, I’ll be honest. I’ll just go into the gym, maybe complain a little bit (lol) and do what I have to do – but I’m not happy about it. I think this is just a result of many years of discipline. But there are other times where I just need to step back and remember what Austin has told me: It’s not that serious bro. 


I know a lot of you can relate when you feel down on yourself for doing not-so-great in a workout, or having some event that caused you to overeat over the weekend or not hit your macros. So here are some things to ask yourself:

  1. Does your life DEPEND on you hitting your macros or weighing a specific amount?
  2.  Are you getting paid to look a certain way? i.e is this your career?
  3. Are you attempting to compete for money or in a serious sport where you need to be as strict as possible?

Chances are the answer to all of these questions is no. 

So here’s the thing: the way you train or eat should be compatible with your lifestyle. If you are a single mom, have 3 kids, working 2 jobs and have a LOT of life stressors, do you think trying to compete in a weightlifting meet and cut 10+ pounds in a month is the best thing to put yourself through? In MY opinion… probably not.

Now, I’m not saying these things CAN’T be done! They absolutely can, and I have PLENTY of clients who can attest to overcoming challenges/obstacles of life while still being able to maintain an extremely strict diet because they have very specific goals that they are trying to achieve.

What I am saying though, and who I’m talking about is the rest of us. The NON-games athletes, the people who are just trying to live healthier lives, sure maybe looking to lose some weight but overall just trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle and feel good about themselves. So with that, you are going to deal with things like weddings, birthdays, celebrations, promotions, I don’t know – I can think of so many different things that people use food or alcohol to celebrate with. Does this mean that you should go ham at every single event, or every weekend and feel like crap after eating an absurd amount of food? no. That’s not what I’m getting at here.

What I’m trying to encourage is the FLEXIBILITY that is after all in the name of the whole “flexible dieting” thing. If you are eating well for the majority of your intake, this doesn’t mean that you can never enjoy things that you truly like. What kind of life would that be? Or never go out to eat because you don’t know how to track what you’re eating?

The truth of the matter is: life is always going to throw you some curveballs. Both regarding fitness and health, and in many other aspects of your life! The goal is not to just shut down completely, or go overboard, but to use your knowledge and skills of health (perhaps from tracking macros) and apply it to your current life circumstances. Because let me tell you, there are going to be plenty of times throughout your life when you just won’t FEEL like working out, or tracking your macros, or turning down someones dessert at work.


Things are not that serious. Enjoy your life. Don’t look back and wish you would have enjoyed certain things a little bit more.

With that being said, you also have to be realistic about your goals because of your lifestyle and choices. If you are going hard every weekend with eating out, drinking, and probably eating in a surplus – you can’t be upset when you don’t see the scale change, know what I mean? It’s all about the real-life approach to this and taking responsibility for what you are doing (or what you are not doing!)

The sooner that you can accept this, and also that it’s not that serious 😉 the easier your health and fitness journey will be.



From living at sea, to being grounded on land.

If you have been following me for a while, you probably know that I have been in and out of therapy for the majority of my life. Recently, since moving to Iowa, I’ve been going once a week and sharing openly about it on social media. I just feel like mentally, I am in the best place I have ever been and I am so proud of how far I have come. Because let me tell you, it has been an extremely rocky road for me over the years.

Yesterday in my session, my therapist (he always has the best analogies I swear) said something to me that resonated with me so deeply, I had to share. We were discussing a lot of my own personal growth over the last few months since starting with him, and I made a comment about how even though the anxiety is still there, I find myself realizing more and more that this world I now live in is real. It’s not chaotic, I’m not hiding myself from the person I love, and I sometimes even have a hard time believing that everything is the way it is. So he replied:

“Sometimes when you’re in such a terrible situation for so long, you don’t realize how much it impacted you until you’re no longer in the situation…even years later. It’s like if you lived at sea. You would feel the waves rocking every day, maybe get sea sick, but it would just be another day at sea exactly like all the other days. Then when you finally get to land, you’re like, “holy shit this is what it feels like to be grounded?” and sometimes, your mind will play tricks on you. You will feel like you are still rocking, or you will get scared of something that you don’t actually have to be scared of since you’re no longer at sea. But the mind and the body remember things, and you can’t help that. So when you reach land, and you’ve been on land for a while, the rocking slowly starts to fade. You appreciate being on land so much because you feel so secure. And that’s kind of what it’s like when you find yourself and you feel comfortable with who you are, and who you are with.” 

Manders + Austin

And I know there is always that fine line of letting a relationship BE your entire life vs. letting your relationship ENHANCE your life, so please don’t misconstrue what I am saying here. Austin helped me grow in this sense without even realizing it. This relationship did not CHANGE me, it ALLOWED me to be ME, and somehow Austin fell in love with me for that. It allowed ROOM for individuality, not control or conformity, and planted seeds in both of our souls that helped us blossom both individually and together.

Each day I wake up incredibly thankful that I get to love such a wonderful human being, but also that this human being chooses to love me every day despite my flaws and imperfections. But more importantly, this bond that we have created is truly indescribable. My best friend, the person I want to laugh with and share stories with every day, this is the person that helps me become a better me. The best part? I didn’t NEED him to do that. I simply opened myself up to him, and he helped me plant those seeds. I am stronger now on my own because of this. I am more secure now more than ever with who I am as a person, and also who I am not.

Manders + Austin

I wasted so much of my life “at sea” if you will. Unsure of a lot of things (myself included) toxicity, thinking certain things in life were “normal” that in my opinion, absolutely should not be. This relationship does not define me, but rather, encourages me daily to express myself in my truest self, and never holds me back from any of the beauty that life has to offer.

So I suppose the purpose of this blog is obviously to also express myself 😉 but to encourage you to get off of the rocking boat if you’re on it. I spent years of my life rocking, being terrified, and only realized how wonderful being on land is once I was off.