Amanda Farley from Amanda Fit Life

Considering today is International Women’s Day, I could not be happier to feature the amazing woman I’m about to talk about. She is one of the most supportive, inspiring and amazing women I know. Amanda Farley. Where do I begin with her? If you’re not familiar with Amanda, she’s the fabulous lady behind AmandaFitLife on Instagram and the blog Amanda Fit Life. I won’t lie, the first thing that attracted me to Amanda was her killer taste, as in…TASTE BUDS. I stumbled across her Instagram account and was immediately obsessed with her snack plates and very Christina-esque dinners of salmon, perfectly crispy brussels sprouts, and loaded sweet potatoes. Her account made me drool, hard-core, but beyond that, I quickly fell in love with the words in her caption. The girl behind the food. I could immediately tell she was my kinda gal.

Then Instagram stories surfaced, and I was like, OK. This girl is my soulmate. Amanda puts a smile on my face every single day with her hilarious shenanigans, major real talk when it comes to self-love, food, and fitness, and overall positive personality. We quickly realized how much we had in common – from the deep stuff like our ED and overtraining pasts to the lighter issues in life like how annoying Nick is on the Bachelor and how desperate we are for Game of Thrones to return. Amanda is someone I know I can always turn to for support, love, and a fresh perspective. She is someone I can text or call and get DEEP with in 5 seconds – we don’t care about small talk. There’s nothing I appreciate more than this girl’s realness and sincerity. She is such a positive voice for women in this community, and such a source of inspiration and strength. She’s not afraid to address important issues that other people don’t want to talk about, and she has the ability to make you feel safe and not alone.

So, let’s get to know the girl behind the ‘gram, shall we? I mean, I could spend hours stalking her photos of perfectly chewy cacao chocolate chip almond butter cookies and beautifully swirled yogurt bowls, but there’s so much more to her than delicious food. She’s pretty damn special.

Introduce yourself to my readers! 🙂 

Hi loves! Christina already said it, but I’m Amanda, the tall blonde gal behind AmandaFitLife on Instagram. Christina and I recently connected over the last few months due to our similar pasts with eating and exercise, which I’m so thankful for…it’s so comforting to know you’re not alone.  Plus she loves GoT, being a grandma just like me, and sweets. Yup, if you know me, you know I have a massive sweet tooth. But here’s a bit more about me besides my deep love for chocolate…I was born, raised, and still am living in upstate New York.  I’m currently a full time student in school pursuing a degree in business management and eventually nutrition and dietetics.  When I’m not studying my buns off, I love running, perusing the aisles of Whole Foods, and spending time with my family, friends, and the love of my life, my golden retriever, Cooper.

When did you first get into healthy eating and fitness? What got you interested in it?

I first dove into health and fitness during my freshman year of high school.  I, like every other girl during their teenage puberty years, wanted to lose a few pounds because it would A) make me look better (or so I thought) and B) make me happier (or so I also thought).  As I’ve grown and gone through plenty of ups and downs with health and fitness, I can honestly say I’ve never been in a better place than I am now. I’m closer to finding that balance between health, fitness, and happiness. So, I’ve made it my mission to show others that healthy and happy is possible.

 How did you first get into blogging?

 I started reading blogs back in high school and as my interest grew, so did my motivation to start one. I eventually decided to when I wanted to have a place to share more than just photos of my food. I wanted to share my thoughts, as well, not just a pretty picture of peanut butter because, yes, while that’s nice, there’s so much more to me than just my food. I’m a person with a hell of a lot of feelings and thoughts.  I decided to turn my blog into an open book and write it all down because I knew that if I were struggling with some of these things, there had to be others out there who were too, so maybe I could help in some way, even if it was in the slightest bit.

I know you’ve struggled with an ED in the past. Could you give a short version of what happened?

Yes, I did! Okie, so super quick run down of it…as I mentioned, freshman year, I wanted to “lose a few pounds,” but that spiraled into obsessive and restrictive orthorexic tendencies. I recovered from it, but still had some lingering issues. Fast forward to senior year of high school, I relapsed into a deeper ED because I was looking for some form of control with college quickly approaching. Now zoom forward to today…free of restriction, over exercise, etc…what you see is what you get with me, and that’s an ED-free, happy as can be Amanda (omg, I’m the next Dr. Seuss).

 What do you think was the biggest factor in your recovery? 

 My mom. One hundred percent.  While recovery is really a matter of the individual making conscious decisions every day to be stronger than their ED, my mom gave me even more strength than I thought I had. Her patience with me still amazes me to this day. Her willingness to do whatever it took to get me to a better place. I could go on and on. But ultimately, I decided that I not only wanted to recover for myself, but also for her. Her selfless love is what carried me through my darkest days and that is something that I will forever be grateful for, and she is the reason I am the young woman I am today – she taught me that happiness is a choice. 

Why do you think EDs have become so prevalent?

I think EDs have always been around, but have become more apparent and have been made more aware to society because of social media.  Think about it…young children are being handed iPhones, then they hop on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, whatever the site, and see all of these images of idealistic “healthy” bodies.  And before you know it, they’re Googling ways to “lose 10 pounds fast” which eventually spirals into an unhealthy obsession. I say it like this because that’s exactly what happened to me and I fell into the trap.  It is so easy to, it’s scary, which is why we need more beautiful and genuine individuals like Christina getting the message out there that health and fitness is not about eating the least amount of calories possible while working out for hours on end.  Like I said before, healthy and happy is possible. 

What advice would you give to someone who’s struggling?

I have a few things…one, as you’ve probably heard before, you are not alone.  So many individuals, especially young women, struggle with finding a healthy relationship with food, exercise, and themselves. Yes, that too – we all need to work on our self-love.  But, find comfort in knowing that others are going through the same thing as you.  Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help or advice, especially on Instagram.  There are so many accounts that are so willing to do so.  But, the caveat is that you need to be willing to change.  Others can do all that they can to help, support, and love you, but change comes from within.  You have to be the change you want to see.

Second, when you get caught up picking out all that flaws you think you have and you’re beating yourself up because you’re a little extra bloated today, stop, take a step back, and think for a second.  Your body is so much more than just looks. Think about all the things that are happening right now to keep you alive.  All the reactions, processes, and so on that are keeping your heart beating…yeah, it’s pretty amazing. The body is amazing.  And you only have one body.  So, you better respect the hell out of it. You don’t get a second chance.

What’s your philosophy about food and fitness now? 

I love this question so much because my food and fitness philosophy has changed so many times, but I’m finally on the way to figuring it all out.  Hell no, I’m not perfect and every day I’m still learning, but two things I live by now are to 1.) eat real food and 2.) workout because I love my body and am able to, not because I hate it.  I spent way too many years putting fake, low calorie crap in my body and running on end only because it would make me skinny.  But now, I focus on eating real foods that give me energy, make me feel and look good, while also moving my body because God has given me the ability to do so. Having a healthy body is a privilege.  So, before you go swearing off this and that because of some stupid reason and forcing yourself to do workouts you don’t enjoy, think about those who are less fortunate than you and don’t have the option to eat healthy or are incapable of moving their bodies. Hello wake up call.

Tell me about how your relationship with running has changed over time. 

I also really love this question because my relationship with running has changed so much as well, especially in the last few months.  All through high school, I played soccer, so I was always running. It’s funny though, I always dreaded conditioning or sprints during practice. However, after my senior year season ended, I felt like I needed something else to fill that void. So, I picked up running and fell in love. It started out innocently, just doing it because I truly did enjoy it, but then it turned into an obsession, something I had to do.  I was stuck in that phase for a while. Yes, while I still did enjoy it at times, there were days where I really didn’t want to run but I forced myself to because I “had” to in order to “stay in shape,” “not get fat,” and blah blah blah.

However, this past summer and fall, something changed.  A few injuries and a cold kept me from running consistently for a few weeks and it was then that I had this a-ha moment…that running doesn’t define me, and instead of making it something that must be done, it’s turned into something that I want to do.  I’m honestly so grateful that I got sick in early fall because it showed me that running isn’t the end all, be all in my life and it saved me from losing my passion for it.  I have lots of plans and goals for running, but this reignited passion and enjoyment I have for it now is something I wholeheartedly appreciate and will not take for granted again.

What’s your exercise routine like now? 

I usually workout six days a week, Monday through Saturday.  Obviously running is involved a few days of the week, usually four to five, with varying distances on weekdays and one long run on Saturday morning.  Then I also incorporate weight training. I love the feeling I get from lifting heavy shit.  It makes me feel like such a badass.  Plus, being strong is so much better than being skinny.  It’s so damn rewarding.  I also set aside fifteen to twenty minutes every night to do a good amount of stretching, foam rolling, and some light yoga.  Stretching is key y’all – I know it can be a pain in the buns, but don’t skip it.  Also, just to note, I am a huge advocate for listening to my body now, and if that means I need to take an extra rest day, I do.  Listen to your body; it’s smarter than you are.

What would your last meal be? 

Alrighty, here’s the scoop.  I’ve got to break it down into a three course meal because when it’s your last meal, you’ve got to go out with a bang.  Course one…give me a huge hunk of salmon, a bowl full of crispy, roasted Brussels and carrots, and a tub of hummus. Course two includes roasted salty cinnamon Japanese sweet potatoes with a jar of Crazy Richard’s peanut butter nearby for dipping (and spooning).  And last, but not least, a pint of chocolate coconut milk ice cream with more peanut butter and Eating Evolved dark chocolate crumbled up on top. I warned y’all…I like my sweets.

You’re the queen of the snack plate. Describe your ultimate snack plate. 

Ultimate snack plate includes apple slices with peanut butter, preferable a honeycrisp or pink lady apple, lots of carrots and baby cukes, one or two kinds of hummus, Jilz Crackerz for some extra crunch, and a piece of dark chocolate to end with.

What’s a day in the life like?

Now that my spring semester classes are back in session, my weekdays start pretty early, around 5 o’clock AM.  I’m awake and working out soon after (I’m a morning workout person…if it doesn’t happen first thing, it’s not happening at all), then I get cleaned up, make some breakfast, and am out the door (with snacks in tow). After classes, I might stay on campus to get some work done or hang out with some friends, then I make my way home, go straight to the kitchen for food first, and finish up any other assignments or things on my to-do list for that day.  The days fly by though, it scares me sometimes.  As for the weekends, things are a bit slower, but I still try to stay busy because I love it. I’m up early again, especially on Saturday for my run, then the rest of the day I’ll run errands, spend time with my family and Coop, and try to have some “me” time.  One thing remains constant though; each day ends with a big bowl of sweets before bed.  Lately it’s been roasted sweet potatoes with peanut butter, granola, and dark chocolate.

One thing that frustrates both of us is how people respond when bloggers show that they’re eating ice cream or other desserts. What do you say to people who ask you how you’re going to “compensate” for having something sweet?

Oh my gosh, it makes me want to scream haha. I still remember this one time I had my friend over and we made loaded bowls of ice cream and the backlash and messages I got (i.e. how many miles are you going to run tomorrow to burn that off?) were so upsetting and frustrating.  First things first, this is my body. What I decide to put into it is my choice. If I want to load up on some ice cream, I’m gonna load up on some ice cream.  Second, I’ve been there and done that with restriction and foods being “off limits” before, and it’s no fun. If I want something, I have it. Everything in moderation (but sometimes the whole pint is okay too). Three, if you’re working out solely for the purpose of burning calories, you need to take a step back and think about what you’re doing.  It is miserable living a life like that all the time.  So, let go of the stupid rules you make yourself follow and start doing what works for YOU. I’ll do me while you do you.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start living a healthier lifestyle but doesn’t know where to start?

The first thing I would do is just start making little swaps here and there.  It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation, it can be gradual.  But pay attention to what you’re putting in your body.  Take a look at the ingredient list.  Is there a bunch of junk in there that you don’t know what it is and can’t pronounce? Mmm then maybe it’s not the best idea to put it in your body because your body will have no idea what it is either.  Continue to make tiny changes and eventually it’ll all come together.  Also, READ.  Educate yourself.  Do research.  You’d be amazed how much information is out there, you just have to start looking.

Do you have any tips for people who have a hard time juggling fitting healthy eating and fitness into their lives along with school, work, and a social life? A.K.A. time management tips? 

 If it’s important to you, you’ll make time for it.  So, if you want to eat healthy, squeeze in a workout, and get all the other things on your to-do list done each day while still maintaining a social life, plan. I have a planner with all of my important dates, assignments, etc. written down to make sure I stay on top of things and don’t forget what’s going on each day.  Also, meal prep.  It seriously saves me so much time during the week.  Being able to just open my fridge and throw a bunch of already prepared food into a bowl is so nice. Plus, it’s a lifesaver when I’m hangry.  But in all honesty, eating healthy is not time consuming.  I don’t buy that excuse one bit. Like I said, if it’s important to you, you’ll make time for it.

What’s an Instagram lie (or a few, if you want) that you wish more people knew the truth about? 

There are a few, but one that probably annoys me the most is that Instagram doesn’t show everything. You could see someone post their “three” meals for the day and find yourself comparing to them and thinking, “Well, if they ate that little/much, then I should eat that little/much.” Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. No, Instagram does not show EVERYTHING. For me personally, I am literally eating all day long. I am such a hungry person and if I had to post everything I ate, wow, that would be obnoxious. But the point I’m trying to make is that keep in mind that you’re not seeing the entire person’s meal, or life for that matter. Instagram stories has made the “behind the scenes” of an Instagrammer’s life a bit more accessible, but still, a lot of times it’s only the “highs” and “good times.” Just keep that in mind.

What’s one random fact not many people know about you?

I’m actually part giraffe. Lol, kidding…kinda. I’m super tall – technically I stand at 5’11’’, but I always round up and say I’m 6’. I love being tall, too. It’s weird, I’ve always been asked if I resent being tall and I’m like, “Uhh no, it’s awesome!!” I’ve never been told I can’t ride a rollercoaster. I’ve never had trouble reaching items on the top shelf of the store. And yes, I still rock heels regardless of my height. You gotta own it.

What’s your favorite go-to, quick and easy meal? 

 I have a couple different ones lately…but usually it’s a mix of rice cakes (I’m pretty addicted), eggs or deli chicken, hummus (always), apple slices, and something sweet, like a piece of dark chocolate or a protein bar (Squarebar, RXBAR, and Perfect Bar are my top three).

You ALWAYS know how to brighten my day. You’re the queen of positivity. When you’re feeling down, how do you bring your spirits back up? 

You are an ANGEL, that makes me smile so much, thank you. When I’m feeling down, I kind of let myself sit with it for a little while, have a pity party for X amount of time, and then I say, “Alright, let it go and move on.”  I try to keep things in perspective and remember that there’s always a reason why something happened.  Whether or not I see it in the moment, it will eventually show itself to me and I’ll understand why I had to go through the sadness, struggle, etc. Also, my mom…can you tell that I adore this woman?  When I’m not able to pick myself up, she is always there and says exactly what I need to hear to feel comforted and snap out of it. Momma, I love you!!

What are your goals for the future??

Honestly, I’m still figuring it all out and a lot of times I get anxious and scared about what the future has in store for me, but I remind myself that it’s about the journey, not the destination.  And more importantly, that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.  I do know that I want to earn my bachelor’s degree in business and possibly continue on to become a registered dietitian, but at the moment, I’m taking it day by day, which ironically is very difficult for me since I’m such a Type A, plan-crazy person.  In the end, though, I want to help others somehow, some way.  I guess my end goal is to combine my passion with a career, that way it will never feel like work.  And, of course, my main goal in life is to be happy…genuinely, wholeheartedly happy.  Happiness is a choice, remember?

Thank you so much to Amanda for this interview – she poured her heart and soul into it and I truly could not be more grateful. Hopefully this left you feeling inspired, less alone, and ready to kick ass today. If you’re not already, be sure to follow Amanda on Instagram (@amandafitlife) and check out her blog for all of her delicious recipes!

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