Happy Fabulous Friday! I know, I just posted yesterday after a long hiatus and here I am again so soon. There’s a reason. I feel the need to share something with you all that occurred last night. It’s very personal, but very real. It’s something I didn’t see coming, especially right now. Bear with me though…

I’ve had a great week. I’ve been making some changes here and there and looking at my progress and really stepping things up lately. Last night I worked with my personal trainer, doing plyometrics for the first time. My butt was kicked, but I did it. I did every bit of it and didn’t complain (but I did make a bit of a snarly face when she mentioned burpees). I went home, cooked dinner, and decided I wanted a long hot bath to relax. I’m not a girl who takes long baths. The thought of it is great, but I just can’t sit in a tub of water for too long for some reason. Last night I turned on some tranquility music on one of the cable music channels. You know, the type of music that is playing in a spa or when you get a massage. Turned out the lights in the bathroom, but there was still light coming in from the bedroom so it wasn’t completely dark. As I laid back in the bathtub with my fabulous bath pillow behind me, relaxing to the music and completely freeing my mind of everything, I began to look at my body. I began to feel its differences and look at every part of me and how it is so different than it use to be. Before I knew it, my eyes were welled up with tears. Then, they were streaming down my face. I wasn’t sobbing. It was just a peaceful realization of accomplishment, change, and happiness. I was completely overwhelmed by this. I had become so “tough” I thought. Tough girls don’t cry. And why was I crying? It just all accumulated at once. Yes, I had seen my progress every day (or lack thereof some days), but some times we don’t truly sit back and see it for what it is. This isn’t me asking for a pat on the back from anyone, either. I don’t want or need that. I guess more than anything I wanted to share this because it was so out of the blue to me, yet so incredibly real. No one considers the emotional rollercoaster that a weight loss and health journey can be for one person. These were not sad tears at all. They were happy tears to celebrate how far I have come, and a salute to how much further I will go. It does not mean I had a moment of weakness. It means I am alive.


I’m Back…And Getting Better Than Ever!

No, you aren’t seeing things. I’m actually posting for the first time in ages! Sorry for the hiatus, everyone. I’ve had so much going on (you’ll see here in a minute) that I have failed to update in a while. I have a lot to share, though. Where do I start….

Back at the beginning of January I started considering how to change up my workout routine to produce better results. Prior to that I was hacking away at the gym generally 3-4 days a week with cardio AND running 3-5 miles one day per week. Who sees the problem there? I didn’t. The most I did to strength train was a 1-hour cardio weight lifting class 2-3 times per week. Although it was great, that was not what my body needed to get where I want it to be. A friend of mine, who is a fitness guru in my opinion, and incredibly knowledgeable in the area, created a training plan for me based on my goals. She even went so far as to create a meal plan for me too. It all rocked. After week 1, I decided I needed some help learning my way around all these weight machines. And even more, to force me into the free weight section that I was so dearly afraid to venture into. You know, the area where all those sculpted beauties and meatheads are? (I say that with love, y’all. I do.) So, I decided to start working with a personal trainer. I’ve stuck to this workout plan for about 7 weeks now. Let me first of all tell you, strength training is ADDICTIVE. And secondly, it produces results. Want proof? Ok. But let’s start at the beginning. I’m going to give you some before and after photos. This is not an easy thing for me to share with so many people, but I know that the proof is there and many others like me need to see it and learn from it. So, here goes.

First, on the left is me pre-paleo back in October 2013. This is me after losing 40lbs over the previous couple of years. It in no way represents the beginning of my journey (I would have never taken progress photos of myself back then), but it’s a reference point for you. On the right is a photo of me in mid January, probably 2 weeks into my new training plan. Two things to consider here – change of diet for the first couple of months as well as the change in training plan for a couple of weeks.


Now let’s break it down. Next is a before and after to show the difference in the first two weeks of the training plan. On the left is me after the first week of the new training plan, and on the right is after the second week.


See the difference? That’s the difference of ONE week, y’all. Ok, one more thing I have to share, because I never thought this was something I’d be able to do or see on myself. I had no sculpting to my upper body at all really, before January. Check this out. The before photo on the top was taken some time in October 2013. It’s not the same angle or whatnot as the one on the right, but it is a clear representation of the change in muscle sculpting. Below that is me yesterday. I never thought I’d have muscles to show! I’m very proud of my shoulders, and that bit of bicep, too.


Ok, enough of the photos. You get the idea. So, what is my training plan? Well, I could lay it out for you, but what works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for all of you, or any of you. Basically, what I do is cycle different muscles each day of the week, doing legs two times per week, and allowing for rest days. Then I always do 20-30 minutes of cardio after strength training. This is important for fat burning! My personal schedule generally looks like this:

Sunday – Heavy leg lifting day, followed by 20 minutes of cardio (I generally like the Stairmaster or Precor machine, or a combo of both)

Monday – Back & Biceps, followed by 20-30 mins cardio

Tuesday – I initially was using this as a rest day, but have recently started adding a run or sprints here. Loving it! Active recovery.

Wednesday – Chest & Triceps, followed by 20-30 mins cardio

Thursday – Leg day #2. I do something different than I did on Sunday, and today I’m trying out some plyometrics here.

Friday – Shoulders, followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio

Saturday – Rest!

I also incorporate abs into here on various days. I’ve learned that abs are like any other muscle though, you dont’ want to train them every day. So, I try to do them 2-3 days per week.

If I could share one more thing with you about this experience thus far, it would be to tell you not to be afraid of lifting heavy. I don’t care if you’re a woman. There is absolutely no point in lifting 2lb dumbbells. Start with what you can do and increase as you get stronger. Don’t be afraid. There is power in lifting heavy, power and change. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about it being addictive.

Until next time! And I promise it won’t be so long until then!

Let’s Wrap Up 2013!!

Is it just me, or was my mother right when she told me that time flies by faster and faster the older you get? It sure seems to. It seems like it was just yesterday that it was January 2013 and I was getting engaged, shopping for a wedding dress, and searching for what good health is for me. Now, here we are 12 months later about to embark on 2-0-1-4, and I couldn’t be more excited for it! 2013 was a pretty amazing year for me, but I have zero doubt that 2014 holds so much more in store for me than I can imagine. 


My holidays were spent in good ole Ohio with my fiance and his family. Due to our travels, we both agreed that we would take a slight detour from gluten-free/Paleo while traveling. I’m pretty sure I will never do that again. This was our first major “cheat” since starting about 2 months prior. When I say we cheated – I mean it was all cheat. There was fast food, cookies, fried foods…..you name it, we probably ate it. Cheating on paleo wasn’t a big deal to me. It was the gluten that killed me. My fiance doesn’t have the gluten intolerance that I have. He just felt kinda gross and his stomach was a bit affected by it. I, on the other hand, was having some pretty severe back aches, along with my stomach being very unhappy with me. This is all on top of me getting a sinus infection, and my fiance getting one too just as I was getting over mine. I don’t doubt at all that the gluten was the culprit for all of it. We should not have gone full force back into “regular eating”. We have both been so excited to get back home and into our routine again, including returning to Paleo, and the gym for me. Use my example to learn without making the mistake yourself – if gluten really does affect you as much as it does me, don’t tell yourself it’ll be okay because you will be miserable. Those gluten-filled cookies are going to taste good as you chew them up momentarily, but guess how long their effects will last on your body? A lot longer. All that being said – here’s my take on getting setback…


We all fall off the horse now and again. What matters is how quickly you get yourself off the ground and back up on it. Bring it on 2014!!! I’ve got a wedding dress to wear!!!


I have a few exciting recipes I am trying out this week too. For today’s lunch for myself and the beau, I made a great shrimp salad. For New Year’s Eve festivities I will be making Paleo Nachos (version 1 or version 2), and may even try my hand at some Piggies in a Blanket. Then there’s Chicken Pot Pie, Fried Green Tomato BLTs, and even Empanadas! I’m even considering making these Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Frosting too. Man, I can’t wait to try them all! 


So, take some time over the next couple days to reflect back on your 2013. What wonderful things have happened in your life? What even better things are awaiting you in 2014? I’d love to hear! 


It’s not all fairy dust and magical unicorns….

I’m a Pinterest nut. Pinterestaholic. Is there a Pinners anonymous? You get the point. If you’ve read my previous posts here or know me at all, you know I’ve been on this weight-loss and health journey for a while. Well, over a year ago I pinned the following image to my Pinterest board labeled “My Motivation”. My comment/caption was “Never apologize for your hard work! I hope I can say this in 8 years!”.


And here we are, over a year (probably closer to two) closer to said age. I am closer than I ever have been before to being considered “fit” and “healthy”. What she says is absolutely right. Now, it doesn’t mean that every person needs to spend an hour and a half at the gym five days a week, in my opinion. We all have our different goals, and it takes a different amount of work for each of us to reach them individually. But, it’s not all fairy dust, guys! You get out of life what you put into it. So, why do you expect to not work your tail off, but have it appear that you do? I can say this, because I was once the girl who thought she was working hard, when in reality she was slacking off half the days of the week and eating crap all the time.

Guys, I turned 32 this past weekend. I do NOT feel 32. In fact, I’d say over the past couple of years, I feel more like I am going backwards in time. I feel and look like I should have felt and looked at, say, 28. I am so incredibly thankful for the motivators, fitness coaches, and every supportive person in my life who has allowed me to not only get to where I am already, but will allow me to continue on this journey in the future. On a side note, you might ask how I celebrated my birthday – whether I had cake or ice cream, etc. I celebrated with 3 of my favorite things in life – gourmet donuts, Mexican food, and time with my fiance. There are certain times in life when you should celebrate the things that you enjoy in life, and allow your body to have a break and enjoy too. Not to mention, when you allow yourself occasional “cheats”, it helps to refuel your metabolism and confuse your body so it continues to work. I thoroughly enjoyed my birthday festivities, and look forward to seeing what this next year brings!

So, as I talk about how we shouldn’t expect to see results without the hard work – you may be asking what it is that I do to get the results I am getting. Well, before I explain, perhaps it would help to show you a before & current photo. Please understand, I have been running and active for a couple of years now. But, it wasn’t until I started my gluten-free journey and ventured into Paleo life, that I truly started seeing a difference. Sorry, I’m not in the same clothing to show the exact difference, but I’m also not a person who has ever taken full-length photos of herself. The first photo was taken just this past August. Pardon the mud, it was just after a mud run-obstacle course I did with some friends. The photo on the right was taken today.


Ok, so now that you see that there IS a difference, here’s a general outline of what I have been doing with my workouts.

Sundays – Run (usually between 4-6 miles)

Mondays – Body Pump (1 hour cardio strength training class) and usually followed by a 45 minute RPM/Spin class

Tuesdays – Run 3 miles and work abs/core.

Wednesdays – 45 minute RPM/Spin class and 1 hour Body Pump

Thursdays – Rest Day

Fridays – 45 minute Body Pump & 30 minute CxWorx (core class) OR Run 2-3 miles

Saturdays – 1 hour Body Pump IF I didn’t do it on Friday only, and 45 minute RPM/Spin class

My ultimate weekly goal is to burn an estimated 4,000 calories and do strength training/Body Pump class 3 times per week. This is important because I don’t only want to lose weight/fat, but I also want to lean out and gain some muscle. It’s definitely working. And as I’ve mentioned before, prior to eliminating gluten from my diet and starting Paleo, I was generally only able to do strength training twice per week due to my muscles staying sore and not recovering. However, since starting Paleo, I make it to strength training 3 times per week every week, and also have been able to increase my weight in every body part.

Tonight I will leave you with a recipe I stumbled upon recently and tried out today. Not too shabby, either. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to Paleo Tagalongs!!! Enjoy!

❤ Manda

Stop counting calories (and every other macronutrient) !!!

Y’all, I’ve just been blown away. As in, hello! Wake up! This could change everything. Evidently I wasn’t as proficient in what exactly paleo is all about. Hey, I warned you all that I was a newbie and I am still finding my way. So, a couple weeks ago I realized I need to get back to tracking what I eat to be sure I don’t go off the deep end here. We as humans have become so consumed with counting calories, it’s unreal. Reading my fat intake each day has really made me kinda, well sick to my stomach. So, I start researching what your average person needs to have in fat, calories, carbs, etc. on a daily basis for paleo. The #1 answer (other than that it’s different for everyone) is DON’T COUNT CALORIES. The only thing you should even consider being concerned with is your carb intake. I obviously haven’t dropped mine low enough either – but that’s partly because I’ve still been wrestling with the high fat consumption. It is still something that is bizarre to me – but I trust what I’ve seen so far, and thus have to make the necessary changes to do it right. Every reliable resource that I’ve read advises to concentrate on lean protein with every meal along with a couple servings of veggies, and to add healthy fats in. Your healthy fats should be coconut oil, nut butters, olive oil, nuts (not peanuts!), etc. Multiple sources I have read advise to keep your carbs at or below 50g per day. I’ve been balancing just under 100, up until today. You know what that means? That’s right. I’m kicking it up a notch. Lowering my carbs, and not focusing on anything else other than getting my protein and veggies. So to any of you doing paleo or considering it, please don’t make my mistake and worry about anything other than lowering your carbs and getting in your protein and fresh veggies!

Define Yourself

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with family, friends, and of course some yummy food. Back to reality, right? Let’s discuss what your reality is for a moment. If you’re like me, you keep yourself busy and on the go with work and taking care of others, and then finding time to fit in taking care of yourself. Part of taking care of yourself is something we, especially women, do not do though – positive self talk and encouragement. I would bet that most of you reading this probably don’t encourage yourself or talk to yourself in a positive way each and every day. It may sound silly, but the power of saying positive things is really incredible. Two of the most powerful words that I want you to start with are… “I am…”. I want you to think about what you are, in a way that will empower you and encourage you to do more each and every day to live your life to its fullest and be the best you.



Whether you write these words every day, or wake up and say them to yourself in the mirror as you start your day, make them a part of your daily routine. Encourage yourself. Define yourself. Allow yourself to be what it is you want to be. 


The last time I posted, I shared that I had converted one of my well-known cakes into a gluten-free version of the same (but not paleo, mind you). Well, everyone loved it. Everyone agreed it was even better than the original! We haven’t really tried any new and fabulous recipes in the past few days, so I don’t have any recipes to share today. More than anything it was on my heart to share about the power of words. I hope you have an amazing rest of the week! Start your positive self talk when you wake up tomorrow morning, and see how much better of a day you will have!

Have a Thankful Heart

Happy Thanksgiving,  y’all! I sincerely hope that you realize just how much you have to be thankful for today as you are spending time with your family and friends. Tell those around you how much you love and appreciate them, and how thankful you are to have them in your life. Hearing that can never get old, even if you think they already know. As you fill your bellies to your heart’s content, be thankful for your body and all it does for you. We take our bodies and health for granted every single day. Be thankful for what it enables you to do each day. Don’t rush through this day. Enjoy it. 


What am I thankful for, you ask? So many things. I literally have more things to be thankful for in my life right now than I can count. However, my family, friends, and fabulous fiance (love that alliteration, there, don’t you?) top the list. The number of people in my life that support and encourage me on a daily basis is just amazing. I’m also thankful for God placing it on my heart to make the search for what is a healthy lifestyle for me. A few years back I was a 27 year old weighing in at 200 lbs, with hypertension and high cholesterol, among a number of other health concerns. Now I’m breaking strides to be healthier than I have ever been. It’s all because He opened my eyes, and He gives me the strength to challenge this body every single day. 

What do YOU have to be thankful for? I’d really love to hear!


Want to know what I’m contributing to our family get-together today? Well, I’ve been a baker for a while and over the past couple years I’ve become known for my fabulous pumpkin cake. See, it’s a spiced pumpkin cake, torted, with cinnamon cream cheese in between all 4 layers, topped with a praline sauce drizzled over the top and down the sides. Is your mouth watering? It should be. So my only concern with making this a gluten-free goodie was the cake part itself! I searched all over for a good recipe, and thank goodness I found it. A blog called Gluten Free Goddess had one posted, so I took it and tweaked it just a tad. Her original recipe can be found HERE. Instead of making it a sheet cake, I made it into a layer cake. Each recipe made one 10 inch pan, so I basically doubled it. Instead of making my own flour, I bought King Arthur’s Gluten Free Baking Mix at Ingles grocery store. I also added Jello Pumpkin Spice pudding mix (1 box) to each recipe. When I couldn’t stop eating the raw batter (I know, I know), I knew it was going to be as good as the original, if not better. You see, no one else in my family is on the gluten-free ship, and if I told them that the cake was gluten-free, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t eat it. So, we are going to see what they have to say today! Try it out. It’s amazing. Please understand that by no means does gluten-free mean it is healthy, though! This is still a treat that should be enjoyed sparingly, if you are concerned about sugars, weight loss, etc. But please do enjoy, it is indeed so delicious. I’ll let you know what my family had to say in my next post.