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.



How to love yourself and still be happy for others.

This is a blog post I’ve been wanting to write for quite some months now, after losing one of my closest friends by finding out she had blocked me on Instagram. When I tried to confront her about it and asked if I had somehow done something to upset her, she literally had no answers for me other than “I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore”.

Deal with what?

I literally had no idea. Never found out to this day. She had started her own nutrition company, so perhaps that had something to do with it? But I was always SO supportive of her business and her endeavors with schooling. We had been close through a LOT of things, in both of our personal lives. One of the lowest points of my life, where I was literally kicked out of my house, I went to her and she let me sleep in her bed and we talked about it all night. I mean, I literally never thought that one day she would just wake up and DECIDE that she didn’t want to be friends anymore.

But that was only the beginning.

This has been a reoccurring theme in my life, particularly with other women. And what I’ve been thinking about constantly is the WHY. Why can’t some women just be happy for other women without feeling the need to tear them down behind their backs? Is it insecurity on their own part? I suppose you can’t be happy for someone else’s success or relationship when you are unhappy with your own. But it still truly sucks (for lack of a better word) when you think you have a friend, only to find out that they simply cannot be happy for you and just cut you off like you meant nothing.

First world problems, right? I’m rolling my eyes just reading this back to myself.

But it’s true. It happened then, and it happens now. My circle is so small these days, and to be honest with you, I’m happy keeping it that way. I’m tired of these fake girls pretending to be my friend only to talk about me behind my back, or compare themselves or their relationships to me. I just can’t handle it anymore.

So how do you become a “good” friend? Well, “good” can be defined by many different things. But in my opinion, first and foremost you have to be able to be happy with yourself, in order to be happy for someone else. Whether it’s their success, their relationship, or whatever it is… it’s important to be secure with your OWN life, so that you don’t project your own insecurity onto someone else.

You can still love your own life and celebrate someone else’s success.

You can still love your own relationship and enjoy your own.

Stop worrying about everyone else’s business, and focus on yourself. Learn what makes you happy. Learn how to plant seeds in your own relationship and water it so that it grows. Be kind. Don’t lie.

It doesn’t take much to be a good friend.

Work For Change Podcast: Becoming FREE

Last week I did a podcast with @obese_to_beast and @jeanglaude and we got onto the topic of how sometimes people can be different in real life than they are on social media. Not bad. Just meaning that you have no idea what’s going on behind closed doors (aka not being posted on social media). And I used to be one of those people 🙋🏼‍♀️
There was a time period about two years ago when things on my social media started growing, and I felt as though I had this “image” to uphold, you know? Like I needed to always be encouraging, positive, never talk about how I really felt, etc. and let me tell you – that was so emotionally and mentally draining. Here I was, pretending to be happy and ~inspirational~ meanwhile I was falling apart and trying to put a mask on so no one else would know.

The moment that I met Austin, I took that mask off and revealed myself to him entirely. Terrifying, but honestly the best thing I ever did. Not only is it incredible to have that support system both on and off social media, but I’m not ever living a lie. Austin knows and loves all parts of me, and it allows me to be fully transparent in all aspects of my life..which is SO FREEING. I have truly never felt more “me” than I do now, with his love. It allows me to be imperfect, weird, and show all the things that I was once embarrassed of, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

→ to hear the full podcast, search “Work for Change” podcast on iTunes or


Balancing structure & enjoyment

Team cookie or team donut?

Being a nutrition coach, I hear things regularly from clients feeling that they “failed” or they “cheated” by eating _______ (insert favorite food here) and they have to “get back on the wagon” (cringe. My least favorite saying) because they had a date night, wedding, etc. You get my point.

But here’s the thing.

Life is not always going to be structured. I mean, sure, you could live a life where you literally never leave the house, only eating your cooked foods with zero deviation or enjoyment whatsoever. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to live my life that way. Nonetheless, you are going to have celebrations in your life – and that’s a constant. Every year: your birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving (a holiday literally surrounded by food), weddings, there are always going to be these types of events. That’s not including date nights with your significant other, family nights, and well – just the regular old nights that maybe you just don’t feel like being super strict or you want to enjoy a night of eating something you don’t normally eat.. and guess what? THAT’S OKAY.

As I have always said, there is a time and place for being strict/rigid.. for example: weightlifting meets (cutting weight for a weight class), preparing for some type of competition or event, trying to hit a specific goal that you have been working towards, or simply for the matter of practicing discipline. I do feel that there should always be a time where you practice discipline, and not give in to cravings (otherwise how else would you learn how to say no to things when you need to?) BUT – and there is a big but – it is so incredibly important to learn when and how to be flexible and enjoy your favorite foods in moderation.

Over the last few years that I’ve been tracking macros off and on, I truly believe that the reason I have been able to balance discipline with flexibility is because I’ve learned when to loosen the reigns, and when to pull them back in. Do I track my macros every single day with absolutely zero deviation? No. Do I turn down a Hurts Donut every now and then? Also, no. The key? In my opinion, is that I don’t eat one donut that then turns into an entire box of donuts, that turns into a week of “falling off the wagon” *cringe*. I’m sure this comes with practice (just like anything in life) but the ability to have control and understanding that one donut, or one meal, isn’t going to ruin your progress, is so important.

Now, if you’re someone who physically can’t do this – and when you eat the donut/meal/whatever it is, you find yourself obsessing over it, trying to compensate the next day, or do an extra workout… I highly suggest that you seek professional help or perhaps choose to not track macros at all if it brings you constant stress/anxiety like that. I don’t want any of my clients (or anyone reading this) to live a life like that, because it truly isn’t worth it. Life is much too short for that. So in this case, what I’m writing doesn’t apply to that end of the spectrum.

However, I think if this is something that you want to be able to do long term – live a healthy lifestyle – the first thing is to accept that it’s not always going to be perfect. Nothing ever is! When you get the opportunity to celebrate someone’s wedding, birthday, or maybe just the love between you and your spouse, you should celebrate THAT. Not the food, not use it as an excuse to go absolutely overboard and eat everything in sight, but enjoy what you want to enjoy, and move forward. The more you are able to practice this, the more you will be able to relax around events like those in the future; because let’s face it, there are going to be plenty!

Last night, we had a family date night/bowling adventure and ended it off with some Hurts Donuts. I’ll be DAMNED if I ever sat out on something like that just because it didn’t “fit my macros”. Sure, if I would have known the week prior and I REALLY wanted to try to “fit one in” beforehand I could have attempted, and again, there may be a time or place for that – but not always. Austin and I got a box of 6, along with the whole family, and we broke them up into little bits so we could try a bunch of different ones. It was almost like I had a big multi-flavored donut, and it was SO WORTH IT. Delicious, sugary, and not something that I eat often. Did I get a stomach ache in the middle of the night? Yup. But did I wake up today with guilt/shame or trying to eat less to make up for my over-consumption of calories last night? Hell no. I’ve been doing this long enough to understand that one night of sugary consumption isn’t going to change my body composition. It literally has taken me 5 years to get to where I am now, and it’s not going to just magically go down the tubes because I had some donuts last night.

I think oftentimes living this, living with Austin, and seeing how he doesn’t even think twice about nights like that – has done wonders for my mental health. So I hope that by sharing these types of things with you guys, it will help someone who may be struggling with the same thoughts. At the beginning of my journey, I definitely struggled more with this because I felt as though I was going backward every time I had one of those nights with donuts, foods I don’t usually eat, etc. But after time, I realized that it’s the long term consistency over the years that gets you to where you want to be; not the one night of donuts you indulged in!

So if you have one of those nights – maybe indulged a little more than you wanted to, or had a few too many donuts… RELAX. Bump up your water intake, get back to your regular meals, and remember that it’s okay to enjoy these things now and then!

Have a great Sunday!



August 3rd, 2018.


I was sitting in the first aisle on the plane for this flight. That last hour when we started descending into Chicago, I honestly felt like I was going to crawl out of my skin. The thoughts in my mind were racing, my hands were shaking, and I just remember texting Austin saying, “can you believe this is it?” “this is really happening!” as I sat there smiling looking at my phone.

When we landed, I unbuckled my seatbelt so quickly – I was totally like one of those annoying passengers that stands up as soon as the plane lands. When the jet bridge door opened, I truly felt like I was in a dream. I was in an unfamiliar place, about to walk into this moment that we had been talking about and imagining what this very feeling would feel like. As I walked through Chicago O’Hare, I remember feeling like everything was silent. There were so many people – so much movement – and yet it felt like everything was frozen, and I couldn’t hear anything. As I stepped onto the escalator that was leading to the downstairs/passenger pickup area, I could physically feel my heartbeat in my throat. I stood there in a sea of people, looking straight ahead. I had no idea where Austin was coming from, or what he was wearing. After what felt like 2 hours (and was probably only about 6 minutes, ha) I saw his eyes above everyone else. I can tell you with all sincerity, the second that our eyes connected and he smiled at me, I felt something that I have never felt in my entire life. I dropped all of my bags and just ran. Yup, just like the Notebook scene where Allie jumps into Noah’s arms. We didn’t care one bit. That very first moment was just between the two of us, no cameras, and it did really feel as if it was just him and I in the room full of probably thousands of people.

I knew then.

Our first picture together outside of the airport

People ask me all the time, “how did you know?” and my mind just always initially goes back to that very first moment at the airport. I felt so peaceful, both physically and mentally. His arms around me for the first time felt like I had been waiting for that feeling for years, and when I finally felt it, it was like “ah, that’s what I was looking for.” I honestly don’t know how else I could describe that moment, because to me it was an indescribable feeling. I just knew that it made sense, and the weekend proved that even more.

Obviously, this was not the first time that we had talked, so we knew our connection was strong from the very beginning, but I don’t think either one of us expected to feel as comfortable as we did during our first “initial” meeting. It felt as though we had known each other for YEARS. When we got to the hotel room, I remember sitting down and just looking at him while asking, “Is this real?” “are YOU real?”

We put our playlist on and danced in front of the window overlooking the city, and I don’t think I had ever felt so happy in my entire life than I did at that moment. I knew I had made the right decision. This was what it was supposed to feel like. Screen_Shot_2019-07-31_at_7.27.JPG

We spent our time talking, laughing (seriously we were obnoxious the entire weekend), recording things, eating snacks; I mean it when I say we both felt as though our souls had been connected before. Everything was easy. As it got late on Friday night, we laid in bed watching Netflix and enjoying each other’s company – something we still love to do on our weekend nights – and it was perfect.

Everything about that weekend reminded me of why it’s so important to follow your heart. I am so incredibly thankful that I listened to that voice in my head, and that feeling in my gut. It led me right to the absolute love of my life. My soulmate. My best friend. Ah, and I’m crying now while writing this. Dang, I had made it so far!

I can’t believe it’s been a year from this very weekend. I still look at Austin the way that I did the minute that I saw his eyes across the airport, and he still gives me butterflies when he picks me up and holds me close. I knew that I loved him during that weekend (but I’ll save the story of when we first said it for another time!) but I NEVER knew that I could love someone this much. As much as it has grown since that weekend, it still continues to grow every day.

I don’t even think “thankful” suffices for the appreciation that I feel to have such a wonderful partner in life. Every day I fall more and more in love, and I just didn’t know this type of love existed.

Cheers to the weekend that started the rest of my life, with the love of my life. IMG_9351.JPG

August 2nd, 2018


Yes, 2018.. 365 days ago from this very day. I remember it like it was yesterday. I could barely sleep because it was the night before Austin and I were going to meet in person for the first time. I remember the looks on people’s faces and the judgment. I was for sure “crazy” in their eyes; how could I possibly know that this person was right for me after never meeting him in real life?

I don’t know what this “feeling” was, if you want to call it a feeling. But the day that I had “met” Austin for the first time (via social media of course) I had this very strange feeling that I had never felt before. I can only describe it as like, an intense push or gravitation perhaps. It was as if an angel was watching over me when those feelings started flooding in, and she was like “yes – exactly”. Was I skeptical at first? Of course. I had just recently been hurt, and I had been feeling lost for quite some time. I actually vowed a few months prior that I was done opening my heart up because I was afraid to commit myself to anyone and get let down again. Yet all of that went out the window the moment that Austin and I spoke. I vividly remember reading a quote earlier that week that said:

Don’t think – just feel. If it feels like home, follow its path.

And that was it. Austin felt like home. From day one, I just felt like I could be 100% my true, authentic self. I held nothing back. We had conversation after conversation about life, dreams, passions, prior experiences.. you name it. I just couldn’t believe it. “How is he real?” I asked myself that at least 50 times per day for the time leading up to when we met in person for the first time. I didn’t let the “what if’s” enter my mind. I just let the feelings continue. I followed them. We followed them. And before we knew it it was August 2nd, 2018. I laid in bed that night imagining what the very first moment would be like. Would I be nervous? Would it be like it has been when we were talking from far away? The calls, the texts, the FaceTimes, would it be the same? I had no idea what to expect. I just knew what I felt – and that was enough for me.

I had never been so sure of something in my entire life. Whatever this feeling was that we had – this connection, it was enough for me to drop everything and follow it. I didn’t care what anyone thought. I didn’t care about the past, I didn’t care about anything other than the emotion that i was feeling.

So what happened on August 3rd? Stay tuned 😉



BUILDING MUSCLE – What’s The Truth?

Wow. Where to begin with this post? For starters, I have been in the fitness industry for roughly 6 years now – and MAN have I seen a lot of myths, fads, trends, etc over the years. The one thing that has seemingly remained consistent, however, has been the lack of knowledge around gaining muscle. I feel like I hear these things literally every day:

“I want to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time”

“I’m trying to replace my fat with muscle”

“I want to gain muscle but I don’t want to gain weight”

“I just want to be TONED but not muscular”

And those are just a few. So I’ve been contemplating for a while on how to approach this topic without making it extremely boring – for one – while still helping people LEARN in a fun, lighthearted way. Because honestly, I understand that this entire topic is frustrating. You don’t know who to trust, you don’t know what’s true, and it can be extremely overwhelming with all the information out there on the interwebs. Lol.

Anyway, if you have 30 minutes to watch this video..I really think some people out there will benefit from it tremendously. I can’t tell you how many people have come to me after trying fad diets that had them on less than 1200 calories per day, confused as to why they’re not gaining muscle.

I cover everything from my personal journey of building muscle (FIVE YEARS, PEOPLE!), some misleading/fake information on social media, 10 common muscle-building myths, and then ended the video with a Q&A from my Instagram post. And yes, of course, I got asked if I have taken testosterone lol. It never ends!

baby boy! (1)

Click HERE to watch the video!

I really hope you guys enjoy this video. If you could subscribe to my channel, it would mean so much to me!




One of my all time favorite things that I no longer eat due to stomach sensitivities is regular, good old fashioned pizza. However – my favorite food “genre” if you will, is BREAKFAST. I could literally eat breakfast for all three meals and be satisfied. Anyone else?

This is why I’ve created a super macro-friendly, customizable breakfast pizza courtesy of Trader Joes “lavash bread” (because honestly, I have yet to find a suitable replacement) and it is SO. FREAKIN. GOOD. You have to try this on a slow Sunday morning: it’s one of my absolute favorite recipes.



  • In a square pan, spray lightly with coconut oil spray (or any type of spray) and lay your lavash bread down. Place the pan on the stove top over low/medium-low heat.
  • I prefer to use salsa as a “sauce” for the pizza, but you can use whatever you’d like!
  • Add spinach or veggies of your choice. I sometimes like to add cherry tomatoes and mushrooms, and then cover with a lid to let the spinach wilt.
  • I also heat up some Applegate Natural’s chicken sausages and add two of those to the pizza as well.
  • In a separate pan, start cooking some eggs or egg whites. Either works, but just scramble them to the point of right before they are cooked. You don’t want them to be too dry!
  • Add those to the top of your pizza and then top with your choice of shredded cheese. I personally love the Trader Joe’s almond cheese, and it melts just like real cheese!
  • Take the entire pan and put it in the oven on “broil” for a few minutes (everyone’s oven will be different) and watch the edges. Once they get a little crisp on them, it’s good to go!
  • I like to top mine with some avocado slices and italian seasonings. Sometimes I’ll even add hot sauce if I’m feeling spicy 😛

Macros: 37g Protein, 47g Carbs, 14g Fat 

Happy Sunday!

Did you know Austin and I “met” through an almost unread DM?!

..well, kinda. Lol. What’s even crazier is we actually have a mutual friend in St. Louis – Bonnie. Honestly if it weren’t for Bonnie, I may have never opened Austin’s message. And the best part? He was responding to an internet troll calling me a man. In fact, I remember it like it was yesterday. He told me that I needed to “get down to my birth weight” 😂😂😂😂 wut. Honestly I avoid my unread DMS like the plague (especially from guys, no offense my dudes) and I had JUST gotten out of a very unhealthy relationship so I was like, “oh hell no” 😂😂 but here we are almost a year later! I picked up my life and moved across the country for this dork, and now we’re doing podcasts and stuff. Click the link below to get a little glimpse of our relationship – past, present, and future. And for the love of God, stop asking us if we’re going to have kids! 🤣🤣🤣🤣