New Year, New Habits

Everyone is in full NEW YEAR, NEW YOU mode and while I do love a brand new year I am struggling with the new YOU part. When I was personal training, January was always a sudden influx of new clients coming in wanting to be all gung-ho with their resolutions only to fizzle out by Superbowl Sunday.

Committing to a NEW YOU is a major undertaking and most who attempt will fail - this isn’t to be a buzzkill, but the honest reality. My suggestion is to break up with your old, bad habits. You aren’t broken or need fixed, instead you need to break up with your old ways. Our habits are what ultimately define us.

The habit of sleeping in because we stayed up too late watching tv, the habit of skipping a workout because the weather is bad or the habit of choosing a unhealthy carryout because you don’t feel like cooking something healthy.

All of these things are habits that we’ve fall victim too and don’t be too hard on yourself - it’s super easy to do and we all at one point of the year fall into a bad habit and/our routine. (keep reading for my tips on how to breakup with your bad habits)


If you want to uncover a NEW YOU, you need to form NEW HABITS.

How does someone do this? You crowd out the bad habits and start with easy BETTER habits.

  • Does your barista know you by your car? - Dust off your coffee pot and make a to-go coffee at home (saving your time, calories, and money)

  • Instead of eating lunch out every day - Brown Bag It Instead

  • Not eating enough veggies - Give smoothies a try to pack in veggies (download the smoothie lovers guide here)

  • Keep skipping your workouts - Maybe it’s time to find a new type of workout or an accountability buddy to re-spark your love for moving your booty!

  • Claiming you don’t have enough time, but you’ve seen the latest episode of GOT, Outlander, FBI, all three Chicago’s (Med, Fire, PD), and Big Bang from this week?

    • You, my friend, have time to meal prep, workout, read personal development, get a handle on your budget, clean your house, take the dog for a walk, and still be able to catch up one of the episodes above. Trust me… I know this one first hand!

My point to all of this is… we fall into a pattern of bad habits because life gets in the way, it’s human nature and it can be corrected. Start with simple basic changes and you will begin to crowd out a handful of bad habits in no time.

Remember, you don’t need a brand new YOU, instead focus on creating an improved YOU!

My full-time gig

Health and wellness hasn’t always played the role in my life that it has within the past 4 years. Prior to attending IIN, becoming a personal trainer and exploring the world of wellness I was and still am a full-time photographer.

For as long as I can remember and as cliche as it sounds, photography and becoming a photographer was all I thought of. I always dreamed of traveling and documenting the world through my lens. After college graduation I had dreamed of moving to NYC and pursuing a fashion photography career, but instead I met my husband and launched AKP in 2003.

As it happens for many photographers I was asked to photograph a few weddings for family friends and created a full time career traveling up and down the East Coast and Internationally photographing weddings & events. When I wasn’t traveling I was photographing Lancaster County High School Seniors. Side note: I actually dreamed of moving to NYC and becoming a fashion photographer instead of wedding & portrait photographer.

In 2014, I decided to take a brief hiatus from photography to explore the world of health & wellness but if I am being fully transparent, my heart & soul never felt as complete as it does when am behind my camera and working with my clients.

So, that’s it… my full time gig is being a photographer who helps women embrace their own definition of beauty.

Last October (2017), I was able to turn the key and step into my own natural light studio just outside of Downtown Lancaster. It’s always been a dream of mine to have a studio space to play & create until my heart is content and after 14+ years in the photography industry that dream has come true.


Write here…

Inspired by the Wheel of Life

This website & blog has been weighing heavy on my heart and as I was journaling, the idea to blog in relation to the Wheel of Life hit me. If you aren’t sure what the Wheel of Life is - here is a link to the original post and freebie download.


Each quarter I complete a new Wheel of Life to determine how things are going and if there is an area of my life that needs a little extra TLC.

The Wheel of Life is divided into segments or wedges:

  • Home Environment

  • Physical Activity

  • Career

  • Creativity

  • Spirituality

  • Relationships

I want to take the blog into the direction in 2019 playing off the segments that align with the Wheel of Life so I can touch on more topics and areas that excite me. Simply writing about diet and exercise isn’t providing the whole picture. I want to address struggles in career being a self employed business owner to discussing finances and the role that money plays in our health & wellness. And let’s face it, what blogger doesn’t want to talk about fashion, travel, and food so those topics will also be popping up too!

I know this blog and website has taken a lot of twists and turns throughout the past few years, but I’m really excited to share the things that come up in our household and lives.

Bring on 2019! Who’s with me?!



How many of you get anxiety and a bit more stressed around the holidays?!?! Family dynamics, crazy holiday gift giving stress, insane parking lot madness.... 


yeah, me too!

Over this past year, I’ve worked hard to find alternative ways to combat my anxiety, be a social butterfly, and keep my stress level super low. My secret weapon has been using CBD on a daily basis.

My day typically starts with a drop or two of 500mg Peppermint MY SOUL CBD in my coffee (I’ll admit, I’m a peppermint mocha girl any time of the year - I’m so not team PSL), and I’ll apply muscle & joint cream post workout or post photo shoot to avoid any aches or pains that cause irritation at night.


Of course, I could take prescription meds to keep my anxiety away but I quickly discovered that the medication I had been on left me feeling numb to my emotions, always feeling tired, not enjoying workouts, gaining weight, and quite honestly, not feeling like myself - almost as if I was going through the motions, but not really enjoying anything.

After 8 months of taking my daily dose of anxiety medication I decided to cycle off (totally not following doctors orders, but hey… I had to try it on my own). When I felt a bit of panic or anxiety set in, I decided to focus on how CBD could become part of my daily routine. I began to feel like my old self; happy, full of energy, clearer mind, and ready to get back to doing what I love; working out, cooking, standup paddleboarding, and running my business.

To say that I am an advocate of using CBD would be an understatement. We’ve even introduced CBD to our anxiety filled 130# great dane who suffered from anxiety and being a bit overprotectiveness when people come to visit.



My side effects from using anxiety meds:
feeling numb to everything
emotionally blah
weight gain
foggy & hazy Brain




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falling off the wagon - exposing my embarrassment & being vulnerable

The past year has been an incredible struggle for me in my health & wellness journey.  

In full disclosure, I'm embarrassed at how far I've let myself slide into old habits. For most of the year I was either recovering from an anxiety attack or making big career decisions(deciding to let go of coaching or fully relaunch my photography business). 

Yesterday (October 17th), I looked in the mirror and for the first time in a very long time I  didn't like what I saw. I saw a girl who was falling back into her old habits, making excuses, and failing to want to put in the effort.  The reflection staring back at me was the old Amanda (the 220 pound, Amanda) the one who was in denial about her weight and health, the one who ate whatever she wanted without a care, and the one who gave everything to everyone but herself. 

As I sat in the chair at the hair salon yesterday, I saw her (the old Amanda) and she whispered to me… this is your WAKE UP CALL, don’t waste it.

Part of me wanted to say it’s all or nothing, but that’s not my current reality. My current reality is rebuilding a business, working part-time (with full-time hours), managing a household, trying to be a good wife & daughter. So, I have to figure out whatever this “new normal” is. Does it mean I am working out 5 days a week one week and maybe only 3 times the following? Am I following a strict eating plan or one that gives me a little freedom? Those are things that I haven’t figured out, but one thing is certain - any more of what I have been doing is unacceptable. I’ve come to far to only come this far and when I step on the scale the number blaring out me breaks my heart because I feel like I’ve let myself down.

I keep hearing that voice saying… get up, get off the floor, you got this.


You can have all of the education and certifications in the world...

…but if you don't have heart it's meaningless. 

I've been on a hamster wheel since 2015 trying to make holistic coaching work. I've invested a ton of cash in courses and working with mentors along with spending countless hours designing a website, sending out weekly newsletters and trying to come up with a witty caption to accompany photos on social media. 

I've downloaded my fair share of 6-figure blueprint plans from top coaches in hopes to find a magic bullet for making this coaching thing work. I kept telling myself it shouldn't be this hard, I am educated, I have certifications, but what I failed to see is that I didn't have heart. 

You see, coaching isn't my first love or my second. While I loved studying health & wellness as a hobby or outlet from my creative life, it doesn't inspire me like my first love, photography. 

I can't go a day without dreaming up a new photoshoot concept, styling a client, or scouting a location. With coaching, those feelings never tugged at my heartstrings or made me feel alive. So there it is... all out in the open. 

Part of me thought why is this even important to share, but then it dawned on me that so many people stick with shit they don't like simply because they paid for it or because they are trying to make someone else happy or proud. You don't have to prove anything to anyone, only yourself and if your heart isn't in it (whatever IT is) run toward whatever does set your soul on fire. 

For me, what lights me up and makes me happy is being a photographer. It's WHO I AM since my first introduction to a 110 camera in the gift shop at Dutch Wonderland to taking photos at Penn State games with an old film 35mm camera that wouldn't work below 40 degrees and now with the opportunity to travel the world with a laptop and digital camera. I hope that my passion for photography never dies and that I am able to press the shutter until my final days. 

Find a career or hobby that gives you the same feeling and never let it go.


Boy, do I wish I could go back in time and not waste all of the time and energy I did when I first attempted my journey of health and wellness improvement. I made some HUGE mistakes when I first decided it was time to change my relationship to health & wellness. I’m sharing the 7 areas where I screwed up with the hope that you won’t follow in my footsteps and make the same mistakes.

Reality Check: watching late night TV and scrolling social media for a quick fix feels like the greatest solution at 1am, but I promise you with every ounce of my heart & soul the answer to your problems isn’t in the Wait… if you buy now we will double your order.

MISTAKE #1: Throwing Money At Quick Fixes.

I can't even begin to tell you how many thousands of dollars I spent on shakes and pills. I've literally tried every weight loss program on the planet and none of them provided me with the "claimed" results - the only thing I ended up with is a depleted bank account. Of course, I am going to get some pushback - did you really do the program, you must have done something wrong, you didn’t give it your all. Truth… maybe, maybe not. Here’s why those options failed.

Rather than buying into quick fix products, I needed to understand why I was making the poor food choices to begin with. Along with understanding why I couldn't get off my tush and workout when I KNEW that was the outcome that would work. Until I had a clear understanding as to WHY I was creating these habits, my weight wouldn’t change, I wouldn’t have more energy, and I wouldn’t be closer to my goal.

PRO TIP: Stop spending money on shitty products with promises. You have to fix yourself because no matter the claimed outcome, you won’t make lasting changes. Oh and don't even think about calling me a hater because the products didn't work...let's be real for a minute: investing in a program that is attached to a subscription based product more than likely means that you will yo-yo right off the moment you cancel your order! #boom!

MISTAKE #2: Waiting Until Rock Bottom Before Seeking Help.

Some might argue that you need to hit rock bottom in order to muster up enough courage to seek help. Get over yourself, stop being stubborn and reach out for help. The truth is... if you aren't seeing results than something isn't working. End your self-sabotage/yo-yo lifestyle once and for all! Which leads to point #3

MISTAKE #3: Failing to Invest in Support!

I'm blown away by the amount of health advice that is provided from those who have little to no knowledge behind being a coach or providing nutritional support. I've seen this with several MLM business models where their product advocates are called "coaches" when many don't have a certification or education within the health and wellness realm to be calling themselves a coach.

On a personal note: I shelled out a lot of cash for a custom meal plan (provided by a well-known local trainer)only to request that the plan not include grains (it did!) and when I reached out for support, the "trainer" was MIA failing to return calls or texts.

Find a coach that is willing to work with you over the phone, in-person, skype, via email and text. This is an incredibly vulnerable time in your life and having someone who has been in your shoes and understands your struggle will help you far more than the jacked and ripped Instagram celebrity that just wants "fans".

MISTAKE #4: Not Lifting Weights Soon Enough.

I am going to call out my momma on this one. She embedded into my brain during my teen/high school years that lifting weight would make me bulky. Sorry momma, that just ain't the case. I wish I would have explored lifting at a much earlier age and/or at the start of my journey rather than being a cardio junkie. Now, I would rather do burpees, deadlift, and back squat than cardio!

MISTAKE #5: Not Sticking To What Is Working For YOU.

Once you begin to see shifts (weight loss, muscle definition, looser fitting clothes, etc), it's easy to take your foot off the gas and revert back to your old ways. In the past year, I've bounced around from diet to diet - counting macros, plant based, paleo, gluten free, grain free, intermittent fasting, and even following the crappy diet from Mistake #2. For the three years prior I knew that eating whole foods, drinking green smoothies and taking my vitamins worked for me, my lifestyle and my body - yet, I was looking for the next best thing - hey, I'm human and look for the easy button too from time to time.

MISTAKE #6: A Sub Category Of #5

Don't become fixated on what anyone else is doing. It's super easy to get sucked the latest fad diet or workout craze. I fell into this trap by following an excessive amount of fitness people on youtube - hence leading down the road of counting macros and adding confusion to my life.

Unhealthy comparison began to consume me. Rather than focus on how far I'd come and celebrate progress, I was was comparing myself to their highlight reel. I neglected to add that I run two businesses, have a husband, family, and dogs to juggle daily where many of these youtuber's have made their life youtube. Right or wrong - it doesn't matter - as long as you are sticking with what works for you and aren't comparing yourself to anyone else.

MISTAKE #7: Giving A Damn About What Someone Else Has To Say About YOUr Diet And Lifestyle.

When we (P and I) decided to transition to whole foods eating we took a lot of shit from our family and friends! At first I let it bother me, but the results (physical, emotional, mental) couldn't be argued. I no longer give a damn if someone is unhappy that I brought my own food or declined plans because my workout or meal prep came first. Oh and when we take a new recipe to share... we rarely come home with leftovers, so my shit isn't weird after all!

Can you relate to any of these mistakes? I'd love to hear how you overcame those mistakes, leave a comment below!



I want to be radically transparent for a moment to talk about body image and how it keeps so many women, including myself, behind the camera rather than celebrating our own definition of beauty.  

We live in a world of over photoshopping, perfectly styled outfits, hair, makeup and this crazy idea of perfection.  It's causing so many women (and men) to struggle with body image and feel a need to compete with each other even if we think we aren't.  

Sadly, I've fallen victim to this myself starting back in my 20's when my business was at its peak. Professionally I was riding cloud 9 but personally, I was sinking fast in quicksand.  I wasn't healthy, my skin was a wreck, and let's be honest my weight was out of control.  I'd compare myself to the stunning bridesmaids or guests at the weddings I was photographing.  

I'd do whatever I could to fade into the background while I was photographing weddings, I rocked all black like it was no one's business and did my best to conceal my weight gain.  Thankfully, lugging around a lot of camera equipment can help buffer problem spots. 

My wake up call came in the mail mid to late 2009 when a client had sent me this photo. Taken during the cocktail hour by a guest. I was mortified at the girl staring back at me in the photo. I couldn't believe I let myself get to this point.  I was an athlete in high school, I had a successful business, but I was in denial about my health. 

Bare with me, this post is about embracing who you are... I promise I am getting there. What I came to learn is that I gave food way too much control over my life and in turn my poor body image continued to multiple.  It wasn't until I had a true heart to heart with myself that something needed to change.  So... I enlisted help from a coach to help me transform my eating habits and in turn, I lost weight to the tune of 60+ pounds.  

Rather than embracing who I was during this time in my life, I was filling my mind and body with so much negative self-talk and truthfully self-hate, that it is no wonder I packed on MORE pounds.  In order for me to embrace my own definition of beauty... I had to find it from within.  This is different for everyone, but I found myself on the floor of the gym covered in sweat, tears, and a bit of blood.  Or in the kitchen where I completely restructured my/our diet to give me energy rather than deplete me. 

And because I am being transparent - Recently, I have felt myself slipping back into my old habits with the relaunch and expansion of the business.  Trading healthy eating and morning workouts for blogging, catching up on edits, or responding to client emails. 

So.... what I have decided to do is embrace my own definition of beauty and plan an upcoming photoshoot.  Yikes, I am putting it out there.  More than likely I won't have 6-pack ab's or a popping booty, but I will have a healthy glow and so much confidence about myself because I fully intend to embrace who I am at this photo shoot.  Love handles and all.  

Here's my challenge to you... EMBRACE YOUR OWN DEFINITION OF BEAUTY TODAY!  And if you aren't ready yet... what can you do today so you can embrace your beauty tomorrow?  

One final thing... don't hide behind the camera because you aren't happy with how you look at this moment in time.  If something god forbid happens to you, your loved ones aren't going to care about your weight, gray roots popping through, or any other ego induced idea you think about yourself. Instead, your loved ones will cling to the memories that accompany those photos - not the thoughts your ego is pumping into your mind.