Mandy Boyle

NEPA-er with Moxie. Writer. Sometimes Actor. Nerdy Girl.

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Observations from a Few Weeks on MyFitnessPal

I finished my first few weeks of using MyFitnessPal (consistently).

A little backstory…

After taking a desk job in college, I started to put on weight (as is the custom in America). It was inevitable. Couple that with getting my first apartment with the Mister (which meant way too much cooking and eating accompanied by Netflix binging), and you’ve got a deadly combination. Truly.

About a third of us (maybe more) are obese in the U.S. alone. It’s crazy to think about. We eat a lot of garbage and we don’t move as much as we should. We opt for convenience. I’m guilty of it and chances you are too. But, there is hope. You can eat better and move more. You can make better decisions.

Right now, I’m participating in a weight loss challenge with my coworkers as a way to get me motivated into taking better care of myself. Making said better decisions.

And I’ll be real for a second: I want to like the way I look in my wedding dress this October.

We all have tools for getting healthy. Some of us join a group like Weight Watchers. Others follow a regimented diet or exercise plan. We try coaches, use apps, keep food diaries – all good things. I decided to start using MyFitnessPal to aid me on this particular journey.

A few weeks into using MyFitnessPal to track my food and exercise has been…enlightening.

The man in the center? On point. Photo by: Faces of Ancient Europe

First, I noticed that my portions were way out of whack. Like most people, I was overeating (even on the healthy stuff) but not paying attention to portion sizes.

I also noticed that my sugar intake was pretty high, mostly due to choosing fruits over veggies to snack on or include in meals. It was something I didn’t really think about until I started actually looking at it. Over time, it adds up.

Another thing I learned? I tend to eat the most and be hungriest around lunch time during the week while I’m working. On the weekends, I end up eating less or even fewer times throughout the day.

I crave dairy quite a bit. According to the medical experts on Pinterest, it means I might need more calcium. Or it could mean that I just like dairy.

MyFitnessPal is pretty nifty, but there are some things that are missing.

For one, I wish it tracked more nutrients so that I can know if I’m getting enough vitamins and minerals (cough, calcium, cough) – not just fat, sugar, protein, sodium, and carbs.

I also wish it could give hugs.

I could use more hugs while doing this.

Losing weight is hard, guys.

On the bright side, the people I work with are fabulous and we’re all supporting each other. We have an email distribution list where we can share tips, recipes, and motivation. We keep in touch on Facebook and check in on our progress at lunchtime. We encourage each other.

That kind of an environment makes it possible to do some great things – and I’m not just talking about losing weight.

But yes, MyFitnessPal, get on the hugs part. KTHXBYE.



Have You Ever (Actually) Kept a New Year’s Resolution?

Over the past week, I’ve talked a lot with friends, family, and co-workers about making resolutions for 2015.

When I was a kid, everyone in school got into making resolutions, but they really didn’t last long.

As I got into high school, college, and beyond, I realized that I’m just really not great at making that sort of a commitment to myself and keeping it. It’s sort of sad really, because if I would’ve stayed true to the resolutions I made as a kid, I would’ve been a lot healthier, a friggin’ millionaire, and probably curing cancer somewhere.

Alas, adulthood has descended upon me and thankfully, I’m not really getting myself down about resolutions. I feel like I do a lot better with making small promises to myself and trying to do little things every day to reach my goals. For example, putting procrastination aside to do something that’s been bugging me, or taking the time to actually get rid of the clutter that’s built up in my car/closet/life.

In 2015, there’s a lot happening. The Wedding (#teambrandy). Theater performances (including one the weekend of Jan. 23, 24 & 25, if you’re interested!). Another BlogCon. Code Camp. Exciting things at work. Friends. Family. Life. Eating. Sleeping. A mud run with my MoH. Lots of great things.

I’m going to approach 2015 with positive intent. Try to manifest some good energies and whatnot. Be grateful and present. Let go of any bad juju.

Today, while spending time with beloved friends and fellow theater ensemble members, I got the chance to do Alexandra Franzen’s Commitment worksheet. It was a very cathartic exercise. It felt good. I feel a little lighter. A bit more ready to take on the weight loss challenge that starts tomorrow at work. A lot more excited about what the year has in store.

Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t make or keep a resolution. Try focusing on something positive instead. Those little victories that happen every day but we rarely stop to appreciate.

You’re doing good, kid. You’re doing good. 


5 Weird Things I’ve Done Past 9:00 p.m.

I saw a writing prompt somewhere that got me thinking about the topic of this post.

We all do weird things that we probably shouldn’t do at an inappropriate time.

For me, the witching hour where I can either fall asleep or fall off the deep end lies somewhere in the neighborhood of 9:00 p.m.

Most nights, 9:00 p.m. is the time when I make one of three choices:

  1. Read for a bit before bed.
  2. Catch up on something I’ve procrastinated on.
  3. Fall down a Netflix/YouTube/Buzzfeed/Internet rabbit hole that inevitably ends with me still awake at 11:30 p.m. and Brent annoyed at the light my phone throws.

But, I’ve also caught myself doing some rather strange things at 9:00 p.m. that probably weren’t good choices at the time. Or they were just really frigging odd.

What did I do? Well, here’s a sample of 5 things I chose to do after 9:00 p.m. All true stories.

  1. Paint a mirror. This one is actually quite recent and started off innocently enough. I went down into our basement to switch laundry from the washer to the dryer. On my way down the steps, I noticed an old mirror that I had saved, thinking that I’d eventually paint it. Well, that night seemed as good enough as any. I switched the laundry, cracked open some paint, and went to town. It needs another coat. Now I just have to figure out where to put it.
  2. Taxes. Two years ago, I got the urge to get my taxes squared away and couldn’t wait until morning. I TurboTax-ed the shit out of that evening. In retrospect, it was dumb because I was tired and had to redo part of it (thankfully, I waited until the next day to actually submit them and double checked my work). As you can tell, I’m pretty wild.
  3. Clean out my car. Anything automotive after dark (unless it’s essential) is probably not a good idea. One summer evening, I was struck with the idea to get my disaster zone of a vehicle decluttered. Even with a flashlight, there was much cursing. Then there was Rubbermaid tub of said car clutter sitting at the top of my stairs. For a week. Or three.
  4. Cook chicken. Why, yes! Who wouldn’t want to prepare chicken for the next day’s dinner that far ahead? Bust open some bird and make your kitchen smell like dinner right before bed. Does wonders for your sleep cycle.
  5. Researched a major lifestyle change. Every now and then, I get a moment where I start contemplating life’s big questions. What am I doing with my life? Am I doing what I should be doing? What is my purpose? You know, the normal shit every 20-something decides to think about before falling asleep. So, then I start reading about living in a tiny house, or entrepreneurship, master of library science degrees, Ph.D. programs, paring down your possessions to just 100 things, hostels and how cheap it is to move to XYZ city/state/country/planet, chakra balancing and completely clean eating, copywriting and branding wizardry, writing plays, yoga retreats where you eat vegan food and do nothing but work, meditate and stretch in spartan accommodations with like-minded folks. Hours later, I’ve got 10 windows open on my phone, countless bookmarks, frustration, and that feeling that everything I’m doing is somehow pointless but still I do it anyway.

 Rabbit holes, people. Rabbit holes. 

 (and of course, write blog posts.)

By: Hugo

Not So Sweet Dreams

Oh no. They’ve started.

The wedding nightmares. The moments of sheer panic when I wake up in a cold sweat because I’ve shown up to my own wedding and I’ve forgotten a critical piece.

The other night, I had a series of (sort of) nightmares consisting of me forgetting something for the big day,  me running around feeling stressed, and me not being able to pay the bill. Subliminal messaging much?

My body is clearly telling me something. I need to slow down. I need to take a deep breath and relax. I’ve got some time to figure things out and anything can happen between now and then. I need to chill. I need to stop over-thinking everything. I also need to remember to be rational.

This is the part of wedding planning they didn’t tell you.

I consider myself to be a mostly practical, if not overly analytical, bride. I’ve weighed my options thoroughly. I have a clear idea of some of what I want and what I don’t want. I refuse to go into debt to pay for the big day. I’ve researched, researched, and researched some more. I’ve laid out my choices so that it’ll be easy to make them as I go along. All of these things I’ve known from the beginning – so why am I now falling prey to the craziness?

There’s a part of me that thinks that this an anticipation quirk.

Maybe it’s a buildup where nothing is happening so I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything.

Or maybe it’s the reading I’ve been doing after hours, looking at DIY tips and ways to save money while still having a kickass time.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve got pieces already figured out, like rings and a dress, bridal party and venue, my bouquet.

Getting married is feeling more real – and it’s a good feeling.

I feel good when I think about tying the knot with Brent, because there’s not another person on this little blue and green planet that I’d rather spend my time with. I’m not scared of our future.

What I’m finding myself to be frustrated with is the expectations and overwhelming amount of options. Everyone has been so great and so helpful, but with so many opinions, it’s hard to determine which way I want to go.

I need to practice those mantras I set down for myself when I first got engaged.

C’mon, Mandy. You’re smarter than this. You know that you shouldn’t be stressing yourself out.

And you know what? By the end of writing this, I’m already feeling better. I’m not feeling so scatterbrained. I know I’ve got this. It’s going to be a great day, no matter what.

Who gives a damn about what the ceiling looks like in the venue? Or what color the invitations will be. It’s. just. not. important.  (Yet everything around me keeps pushing and pushing saying that it is, even though I know it isn’t.)

I have to remember that despite what I see all over Pinterest and wedding blogs and everywhere in between, the details are great – but they’re not what makes the day. It’s about love and the future and all of those good things that make life worthwhile.

Let’s shift our focus to that, shall we?


We Picked a Venue! Now What?

Wedding planning fell to the wayside as soon as we started in on the house buying thing.

But before all that jazz, we made a huge leap in the wedding planning process: we picked a venue.

When Brent and I sat down to think about what we wanted in our dream wedding, we imagined getting hitched in something that looked like this:


When we looked at how much it would cost to coordinate a barn wedding (within a reasonable drive), we decided to look at other options. Maybe a unique venue like a museum or something could work?

But, that’s didn’t work out either.

We’re sticking to a modest budget when it comes to our wedding plans, as we’ve both resolved that we absolutely do not want to go into any debt for the big day. Thankfully, our parents are helping out, but we still wanted to keep costs in check.

When I started to run numbers for these sorts of occasions, it ended up being a lot more than those photos make it seem. A barn wedding? That’ll be $4K+ – just for the empty barn. For a day. Really.

So, we started getting creative. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many different venues I researched. I tried empty floors of old buildings, loft spaces, gallery spaces, airport hangars, museums, storefronts, historic sites, parks, picnic groves, country clubs, hotels, B&Bs, gymnasiums…you name it and I probably considered it. It all came down to three things:

  1. Would we be able to fit and host our guests comfortably?
  2. Would it be in our price range?
  3. Would it fit with the type of wedding we wanted?

Meeting all three criteria? A handful. Maybe. And that’s being optimistic.

One of the biggest challenges, I found, was finding a venue that was going to be within our price range and able to accommodate our projected guest list.

Thankfully, we did.

Appletree Terrace was a venue that I wasn’t sure of when I first started looking, but once I toured the facility (I had been there before in high school, so I hadn’t seen some of their updates) and discussed their pricing and capabilities, it was going to be a good fit.

Is it the venue of our dreams? No, but I’m sure that it met all of our criteria. Our guests will have great food, plenty of parking, and it’s easily accessible. We can get married right in the same place as the reception (another point on our checklist) and we know that it’ll be a great venue to work with.

Fun Fact: My aunt got married and had her reception at this venue! I’ve also dined here for sports team banquets (yes, I did that at one time) and can vouch for the food: it’s delish!

We committed to our date – 10/10/15 – and now…we wait and plan a lot of the other stuff. In January, we’ll go to meet with our venue to talk about menu and the schedule of the day. You know, the deetz.

In the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy the feeling of having a date and a place. Thank goodness.

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