Hard work? Not so much.

Being on social media, my life (and my relationship) is always in the spotlight. Although some days are harder than others, I don’t regret it one bit. I have learned – both through triumphs and tribulations – important and valuable life lessons that I have had the privilege of sharing with you all throughout the years.

I have been in a relationship where I didn’t love the person nearly as much as they loved me, I have hurt people, I have been hurt even worse, and man, have I learned about what’s important to me.

Of course after going through probably one of the darkest times of my life, I met Austin shortly thereafter & so many of you have watched the growth within myself over the last year and a half. I often get comments like, “couple goals” or “omg I’m so jealous of your guys relationship” “I hope I find someone like that” etc. While I didn’t necessarily “do” anything for this relationship to blossom into what it has, I can tell you what I certainly did NOT do.

I did not change myself or become anything that I am not.

I was honest from the very beginning. About my demons, my struggles, my goals, what I had been through, I mean.. you name it. I was an open book. I didn’t hide any part of myself from Austin. I had done enough of that already in the years prior.

And to be honest with you, our relationship has ALWAYS been easy. I see people all the time on social media saying things like –

Relationships are hard work. You have to fight every day to make it work.

If I’m being honest? I don’t believe that. Prior to Austin, I had spent years TRYING to make things work. Trying to either change myself, change the other person, change the circumstances, or change SOMETHING because it just wasn’t working. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying our relationship is perfect! Nobodies’ is. BUT. What I will say is that our relationship is easy. In the year and a half that we have been together, we have never argued or become nasty with one another. We have never raised our voices at or spoke ill towards each other. Neither of us has compromised what we believe in for the sake of the other person. Generally speaking, our relationship has been easy.

We make the conscious choice to communicate with each other every day and express our love in different ways.. and obviously, life can sometimes just be, well, LIFE. So it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. But I certainly don’t sit there feeling exhausted at the end of the day thinking, “wow this relationship is really so much work and I have to try really hard to enjoy it”  It’s truly the opposite.

Austin + Manders
It’s easy. 

At the end of the day, I love the person that I am when I’m with Austin & I love who he constantly inspires me to be. I love that I don’t have to worry about trying to constantly make the relationship work every day. I love that we have a very simple view of love, trust, and our relationship in general. Maybe I just lucked out here, but I have been in a situation in the past where I constantly felt drained, or like we were running in two separate directions. I know what it’s like to have to do a lot of “work”  to make something work, and I don’t think that simply loving someone constitutes as work.

I truly wish that I would have learned this earlier on in life. Because growing up in a household where all I ever did was see chaos, arguing, crying and hurt from a relationship, I just thought that was normal.

Now I’ve learned that that’s not normal. Or at least, it will never be my normal.

xo

pictures by @Ironandlacephoto

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)..so 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!

THE TOP 5 NUTRITION MYTHS DEBUNKED:

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?

MY TAKE ON FAD DIETS LIKE RP STRENGTH, WHOLE 30, KETO ETC:

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!

THE TOP 10 MACRO TRACKING MISTAKES YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW YOU’RE MAKING!

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!

xo

Manders

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.

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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.

xo

Manders

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.

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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.

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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

Organic
Non-GMO
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.

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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:

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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!

xo

Manders

“IT’S NOT THAT SERIOUS BRO.”

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. 

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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.

AND THAT’S OKAY!

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.

xo,

Manders

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.

xoxo

Manders