Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

Find What Works For You!


Tips for Finding a Fitness Program

You know why I think blogs are so great? Because it allows human beings to connect with one another on a level of “relate-ability” (yes, I will make up words if I want to!) that you can’t always get from friends and family. I was just talking to a friend about a blog that I recommended she read. We were commenting on how it’s great to be able to read about others who are going through similar things as you. Every person is unique. Everyone’s situation is unique. But just when you feel that you are all alone in the world you talk to someone or read an article or blog and you find commonalities, and within those commonalities you can find inspiration.

Remember that epiphany I had about needing to exercise? At one point, I started to feel like I was the only person in the world who struggled to eat right and exercise (ok I knew that wasn’t true, but you get the point)….especially the exercise part…I mean really how hard is it to go outside and take a walk or throw in an exercise DVD and get to work? These days we are constantly bombarded with information. Eat this, not that. Do this workout, not that. Look at this skinny girl. Look at that ripped guy. It is never ending and it can be a real downer sometimes. Even with all of this information at my fingertips, Old Me just couldn’t seem to find my place in the world of fitness, but stumbling upon others who shared similar struggles inspired me not to give up. What made me successful this time is that I genuinely considered what I NEEDED…not just what was popular, not what my friends or family were doing but really considering my NEEDS. Then based on my needs I made goals for myself…that is, what would I accomplish through an exercise program?

Work For It

A few weeks ago I posted about starting CrossFit and what lead me to it. Mainly I thought about what would make me successful…I knew I had an issue with boredom, lack of accountability and lack of knowledge of fitness beyond cardio equipment…mix all this up with my introverted self and I was sure to fail in a regular gym. So I looked for something that would provide me with:

~Variety (different WOD…workout of the day, every time)

~Mixture of weight training and high intensity workouts (knowledge is power! No more treadmills!)

~Coaches (to teach me and hold me accountable)

~Social group (the support of other members is unbelievable!).

I love CrossFit (and can’t believe I just admitted that…*wink, wink*) and I feel like I have finally found something that works for me and that I will stick with in the long run. But I am not telling you that you should go out and join your nearest Crossfit box…I am telling you that you need to do what works for you and that may involve trying different things and keeping an open mind. Here is the perfect example…although Hubs and I started out on our fitness journey together we are complete opposites…he loves the gym, putting in his ear buds and blocking out the rest of the world. He has his routine and has done an amazing job learning what mix of cardio and strength training works for him. Prior to this, he also considered Crossfit but after we shopped around he knew it wasn’t going to meet his personal needs so he looked at other options.

Do the thing you think you cannot

So if you are ready to take that first step and start exercising make sure you take the time to figure out if something is right for you or not. If your heart isn’t into it, you will not succeed and you will be back to that couch potato you loathe!

do what you always do

Here are some tips on how to find the right program for you:

  • Research – Talk to others about what they like and their experiences. Read about different types of exercise programs and the pros and cons of each. This means reading reputable journal articles and making sure the information is from a trustworthy source. Then when you know about the benefits, read blogs and personal opinion pieces to see what other people are saying and experiencing.
  • List Your Needs – What do you need in an exercise program to be successful?
  • Set realistic goals – What goals do you want to achieve through your exercise program? Do you want to gain more energy, lose weight, and gain muscle? For example, my main goal was to workout at least 3 times per week and to gain more energy. I had to consider whether or not a crossfit program would help me achieve this goal.
  • Shop around – Don’t be afraid to call around or drop in at different places. Most gyms will give you a free tour and allow you to observe. Some will even allow you to “drop-in” to a class. Make sure you are asking a lot of questions and take into account the feelings you get about the place (trust your gut!). Do you feel comfortable? Do the staff/coaches/trainers seem knowledgeable? Are they friendly? Are they condescending and arrogant? Do you feel intimidated?
  • Consider online support – There are a ton of free fitness groups on the internet, including on Facebook. I can’t recall how I stumbled upon this, but prior to going on vacation over Christmas I was a little nervous about not doing Crossfit for over a week! I joined a free online “accountability group” that was run by a fitness and life coach for the 10 days prior to Christmas. The purpose of the group was to stay accountable with fitness and nutrition even during the holidays. Not only did it provide me with support but it gave me ideas about other exercises, DVDs, programs, etc. that I could do when I wasn’t doing Crossfit. I am still involved in a similar group that is more ongoing and I find it very beneficial.
  • Try and try again – So even if you follow the steps above and decide to start a program you may find that it’s not working out like you expected. This means it’s time to re-evaluate and find something else. Don’t try to stick with one thing that you don’t care for because this will probably lead to failure. And most importantly, don’t give up on exercise all together. Try other things and keep looking until you find what works for you!

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you can do it

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Feel Good Friday


I’ve been thinking about my blog and what direction I want to go with it. I am happy that I shared my experiences with detoxing from sugar and getting headed on a path to a healthier life. This blog is definitely still a cooking blog because that is what I love to do, but I think I will incorporate my fitness and wellness journey as well. I hope to inspire those who are like “Old Me” and too lazy, scared, unmotivated, etc. to really take their physical health seriously. So I’m thinking about a Feel Good Friday post where I’ll share my opinions, advice, workouts, articles or whatever I feel like (probably will just complain about how sore I am!) that relates to being healthy.

As far as the blog goes I am not going to be removing or changing my old posts. Some of those recipes are far from being “clean” but this blog is about cooking good food. Some of it may be good for you, some not as good for you, but “New Me” is all about balance. As a matter of fact I won’t be posting strictly healthy or clean recipes…I will be posting whatever I feel like deserves to be shared. As an individual it is up to you what you do or don’t put into your body….remember this word: “BALANCE”!

I want to also say hello and thank you to my new followers. I have had an influx lately and I hope this will continue. It means a lot that I am reaching people out there in this big world. Make sure you head on over to Facebook and “Like” my page. It is also a work in progress but I will be sharing some interesting stuff on the page as well as my blog posts.

Anyway…for my first “Feel Good Friday” I leave you with this fun “at-home” workout that I came across on Pinterest (the original source is greenthickies.com). I used it when I was travelling over the holidays and it definitely gets the job done!

At Home Circuit Workout

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A for Effort?


My first “month without” has come to a close. I have to say it was much harder than I thought it would be…especially since I chose alcohol which I do not consume that much of to begin with and because it is a short month.

Wine with dinner anyone?

Wine with dinner anyone?


I considered being dishonest, but the truth is I slipped up two times…but hey 26 out of 28 ain’t bad, right? In percentage terms that is a 93%. If this were a test in school I’d still get an A. So I’m not going to beat myself up over it.
My first slip up was early in the month and I just genuinely forgot about this little goal I’d set for myself. It was a Friday and all I wanted was to have a nice date night with my Hubby after a long and hard week of work and school (and continued stress due to life without a kitchen). We tried out a new restaurant and without even thinking I ordered a glass of wine to compliment by filet mignon salad. Oops!
Date NIght
My second slip up…was not necessarily a slip up but a conscious choice I made when I had my stove back for the first time and was able to make us a decent meal. I had picked up some delicious Espresso Vinegar, some grass fed organic New York Strip Steaks and went to town. I just could not indulge in an amazing meal without a glass of wine! Oops, again!
Kitchen Remodel
Anyway, as this first month has come to a close I am proud of myself. Overall I did not feel any different or better and will continue to indulge in my wine, in moderation of course.
Now it is on to the next: Sugar/Sweets/Candy. This month is going to be a real challenge. I love sugar and sweets so it will be a true test of my willpower. However, I am counting on feeling better not having toxic sugar in my body. Talk to me in 30 days & I’ll let you know!!

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Time for New Year’s Resolutions


I am completely not into New Year’s Resolutions. You are probably wondering “why are you talking about new year’s resolutions a month after you’re supposed to make them?” Well it’s simply because I decided I did want to do something meaningful in 2014…I just don’t think it’s beneficial to try to do that on January 1st. Why not give yourself a month to adjust to the fact that it is a whole new year? Or maybe that’s just the procrastinator in me…or the fact that 2014 did not start out so great! In any case, better late than never!

Last year I set out to try to make myself a better person overall…I didn’t really set any specific goals, but I think I did pretty good with this. In 2013: I started grad school. I lost 25 pounds (let’s not count the fact that I gained back 10 between November and now!). I made some internal changes to have a more positive outlook and be a more pleasant and happy person. I worked to improve my communication skills (is this a job application?). I attempted to be a better wife. Some days were better than others, but I have to say I did show personal improvement…and even though there may have been days and even weeks and months that I reverted back to my old ways, I did not beat myself up about it or let it get me down. I just brushed it off and got back on the horse.

Enjoying a cinnamon apple martini @ Bonefish Grill!

Enjoying a cinnamon apple martini @ Bonefish Grill!

So for 2014 I want to continue my self-improvement but I don’t want to set “resolutions” which I will undoubtedly break. I am also a person who struggles with long-term commitment so when I came across some other blog posts that talk about “a month without”, I really liked the idea. (Be sure to check out my page with all 12 months!)

So I decided that starting February 1st (this was supposed to be written & published yesterday…still need some work on that darn procrastination!) I was going to give up one thing each month to improve my health and well-being. Most of the things I chose have to do with my terrible eating habits and poor nutrition. I am hopeful that the great feeling giving up my vices provides me after 30 days will ultimately lead me to cut down dramatically. The end result will hopefully be an overall healthier me I’ll be able to control myself better and not over do it with my favorite things (which are mostly bad for me!).

You see I’ve accepted a few things in 2013 that I will continue to follow in the years to come. I’m sure many of you may already know these things or follow them. Such things as, there is no such thing as a diet. You must be in the right mental state to lose weight. You must eat healthy normal size portions (I refuse to say “small” because that makes me think of deprivation) and you must eat whole foods. You can still treat yourself once in a while and it is not the end of the world. There is no such thing as a “restricted” food (or drink) so long as you do not over do it! You do not have to join a gym or hop on the crossfit bandwagon to get exercise…you can walk your dog everyday or run around like a lunatic with her in the backyard. You can feel better and less stressed out simply by getting enough sleep and maintaining a positive frame of mind.

So to start off my year of “withouts”, in February I am going a month without alcohol. I assure you this is not because I am an alcky…I enjoy a glass of wine (ok 2 or 3 glasses) with dinner on the weekends or as long as I don’t have work. I also like to try different martini recipes now and then. So this actually won’t be so difficult since I don’t indulge every day (like my #1 addiction…diet coke!).

cinnamonapplevodka1

I leave you all with this Apple Cinnamon martini recipe. You will need to prepare this in advance, since it takes some time to infuse the vodka with the apples and cinnamon. I left mine sit for about a week, but within 3 days or so you will get a good flavor. Just remember the longer the better, but be careful that your apples don’t start to disintegrate.

cinnamonapplevodka2

Apple Cinnamon Martini

Apple Cinnamon Infused Vodka

  • 1 bottle of good quality vodka (I used SKYY)
  • 3-4 apples, cored and sliced thin (I used my mandolin to get them really thin)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

            Divide the sliced apples between two large jars, filling about 2/3 of the way full. Add 1 cinnamon stick to each jar. Pour the vodka evenly into the jars. Seal. Let sit in a cool dark place for 3-7 days.  Strain vodka into a container and enjoy.

Apple Cinnamon Martini

  • 3 oz. Apple Cinnamon Infused Vodka
  • 1 oz. Honey Simple Syrup
  • Splash Domaine De Canton Ginger Liqueur
  • Ice

         Fill a shaker with ice. Add all ingredients, shake well and pour. Top glass with a slice of apple.

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