Happily Ever Amanda

Getting fit, getting married & everything in between!


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October 7th, 2013 Posted 4:19 am

I’m watching a program called Betrayal, which is what brought this to mind, not for any other reason. 🙂


What would happen if you cheated.


Cheating is the ugliest thing you can do to a person. Unforgivable. I don’t know how anyone who’s been cheated on could ever do that to another person; it’s truly the emptiest a person can be made to feel. But I digress. Nobody likes the “What would you do if I cheated?” convo, which is mostly why I’m saying this here. At the risk of making you feel like you have permission to sleep around, in the event that you cheated, I wouldn’t want to be told. I’ve given this a great deal of thought. If you cheated on me, I’d be faced with the decision to stay or leave you. I love you far, far too much to ever conceive of leaving you, and I admit I think I’d be too weak to leave, even when I’d tell someone in the same situation to do just that. I’d rather just be blissfully ignorant of the fact that my perfect happy little life isn’t as perfect or happy as I thought.

That’s the problem.

If you cheated and I knew, I would stay with you, hating myself for my weakness, and never truly forgiving you. And then I would hate you for making me hate myself. I would downward spiral, and in the end you would leave me. That is how I see that playing out.

And no, I don’t wonder what you’d do if it was me that cheated. It’s an impossibility. Truly. You may have to worry about how bitchy I’ll be during menopause, but cheating is one thing you never have to worry about. Love you more than words can say.

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What Gets Me Through

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September 21st, 2013 Posted 7:59 pm

The flames lick at my muscles
Burning, consuming
Over the sound of my pounding heart and heavy breaths, she sounds so far away as she coaches
It hurts, I want to stop, but I don’t.
Well that’s a stupid question. He does, of course.
The dress, the dream, wanting to be beautiful
Tired of hearing “But she has such a pretty face.”
God that really fucking burns. In my head I have to make that fire my friend.
It burns up my fat, my weakness, and I am rebuilt stronger.
Like a phoenix that is reborn from the ashes.
Think of how far you’ve come, how far you’ll go
Think of how proud you’ll be standing at the altar in that stunning gown, size 10.
10. Jeez. The only part of me that has ever fit a size 10 is my feet.
No, think of how proud he’ll be.
I can’t. Yes, I can. Whatever it takes. Get mad.
Fuck you decline lunge, only 5 more.
The more it hurts, the more it works. C’mon Amanda, just finish it. FINISH IT.
3 more.
And 1. It’s done. Over. And now I’m a sweaty puddle on the never washed mats at 24 hour fitness
But I don’t care. I won another battle, today.
Another battle toward taking control of my life, my health, my future
Yeah, me too, Morgan, me too.
Obesity is not a disease; it’s a choice, and I choose life.

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The things I never say

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August 21st, 2013 Posted 8:38 pm



I love you the most in the dim light of morning

I love how very predictable you are. Why do women crave spontaneity in men? I love knowing that every time I dip my head to lay on your shoulder, you will lean over and kiss my hair every single time.

Why are people so afraid of the lines on their faces? I love your laugh lines and crow’s feet…it’s written on your face, more and more every day, just how much you smile, and laugh, and love.

You have this way of radiating kindness and understanding from your eyes. I bask in your warmth and thank God for giving me the heart and the brain to recognize what a perfect partner you’d be for me.

I feel guilty because I want to marry you before you leave me 5900 miles behind, because somehow that will make you feel more mine, that I’ll have to worry less. Silly, Amanda! You’re his and he’s yours, and not even 59 thousand miles could get in the way of that.

I will miss that squeaky chair when you replace it. Somehow it feels a part of our life, our routine. When you aren’t with me, I worry. Maybe it’s not always at the forefront of my mind. My brain finds a way to do it in the background, without my having to think about it. Like blinking or breathing, worrying has become an involuntary bodily function. I don’t stop worrying until you come home every night and I hear you sink into that squeaky chair, and then I can breathe again.

I love that you challenge me, inspire me, light a fire under me, and at times infuriate me.

I feel like a failure when I’m not always in the mood for sushi.

I love how seamlessly I fit in with your family. Your home feels like my home; just another of the many reasons why I know you’re it for me.

I never tire of your hands on me, your kisses, or your company.

I love watching you with Lilly, hell even with our cat, and thinking of what a wonderful father you’ll make someday. I look forward to being round with your child, and creating new life out of our love.

I love everything about you, even the empty ice trays and watching the back of your head as you pound your mouse relentlessly, and scream at Joel about six pooling and cheese.

These are the things I feel and never say. When I’m cranky or difficult, just know that while nothing ever seems good enough to eat for dinner, you will always be good enough, better actually, for me.

engagementphoto2   engagementphoto11


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Ain’t no party like a zoo party…

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August 21st, 2013 Posted 7:41 pm

If I’ve never mentioned it before, I am a zookeeper. I’ve worked with all different kinds of animals, from eagles to alligators to giraffes. Today we had a little party at work to celebrate the return of another keeper who has beat cancer and after 11 months, has finally been cleared to go back to work. It was a very happy little party, and I did my part by baking these:

monkey cupcakes

Monkey cupcakes!

Coincidentally, a reporter and photographer were there from the local newspaper to do a story on the zoo’s director who will be retiring. The photographer saw my cupcakes and took pictures of them. Wouldn’t that be a hoot if my cupcakes ended up in the paper?!

If interested in recipe, it’s the easiest thing in the world. I used my favorite boxed cupcake mix, funfetti this time, with a dark chocolate frosting. For the little faces, I used regular sized Nilla wafers to which I cut off about a 1/4 of the cookie with a chef’s knife. For the ears I used Mini Nilla Wafers, and cut them in half. And I used black and red sparkle gel icing to draw on the eyes, nose and mouth. Best if eaten the same day, as the cookies will get soggy.


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How weight loss and fitness has changed me

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July 19th, 2013 Posted 8:14 pm


2010Jan 2013CurrentlyTarget Weight
Age: 25 Age: 28Age: 28Age: Hopefully 29
Height: 5’11 Height: 5’11 Height: 5’11 Height: 5’11
Weight: 274 lbs!!Weight: 261 lbsWeight: 232 lbsWeight: ~175 lbs
Body Fat: 44%Body Fat: 40%Body Fat: 37%Body Fat: 20-22%

The journey to my current (and permanent!) lifestyle of fitness, health, and clean eating has been an arduous one, that’s for sure. I have been heavy my entire life. I come from large people, and with the help of toxic ideologies such as “being overweight is genetic” and “obesity is a disease,” I never believed that anything else was possible for me. By 8th grade, I was a size 14. By high school, I wore size 22 jeans. Luckily, I’m pretty tall for a chick, so I carried the weight pretty well, as well as a fat person can. Nevertheless, nothing is as torturous as going through adolescence being significantly overweight—something I will do anything to help my future children avoid.

Don’t treat yourself with food. You aren’t a dog.

Obviously, it’s a cycle, right? You’re depressed because you’re fat, then you use food to help cope with all the bad feelings, over and over again. I’ve learned over the past year that I’m an emotional eater, and I also eat out of boredom.  When I was happy, I’d “treat” myself to something indulgent, like a bowl of pasta. When I was sad, I’d console myself with something terrible, like one of those king-sized drumstick supreme ice cream treats. These are awful habits that I’m still working really hard to break, because it is so true that once you learn why you eat, it’s much easier to develop healthier habits.

But as usual, I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let’s start with some history. My journey to health started shortly after I met Mitch. When I met him, he was not far from 400 lbs, and I tipped the scales at about 260. It wasn’t long after we started dating that he said he wanted to make a change, join a gym, get healthy, etc. I, of course, was supportive. I told him to do it for him, but that I’d love him either way. But really, when somebody that heavy says that they want to lose weight, my first internal reaction is ‘Uh huh. Sure. I’ll believe it when I see it.’ But I didn’t know him as well as I know him now. And that was 120 lbs ago. #soproud


Mitch jumped on the fitness train long before I did. He got a personal trainer that he saw twice a week. He started reading these books by Timothy Ferriss (“The 4-Hour Body”) and started adapting the Slow Carb Diet into his lifestyle, and while I’m sure it took some time, but so quickly it seemed the weight starting falling off of him.  I was there for all the milestones. When he broke into the 200s for the first time. I photographed his first 5k race. (This summer he will compete in Tough Mudder—a brutal half marathon obstacle course.) Watching his clothes go from 3x to large..I was there for all of it. I was, and still am, bursting with pride for him, but I was also a little (a lot) envious of all the positive attention he was getting. I also hated being on the sidelines while he was making such extraordinary changes to his life, and that’s probably when the fitness bug bit me, too.

I started very slowly. I started coming to the gym with him, but would only do cardio. Mitch tried for months to talk me into having a consultation with a personal trainer. I had previously had a terrible experience with one, so for a long time, I wouldn’t hear anything of it. I was eventually persuaded, and that’s when I met Morgan—my personal fitness hero.

I can’t imagine the patience it must have taken Morgan when I first started training with her. I was whiny, I was unmotivated, and I couldn’t even do a squat without wanting to die. My diet was also complete shit. I went and saw her for an hour, then would come home and stuff my face with bagel bites.  But I stuck with it. I’m not sure why. Probably because Mitch was so proud of me for making the effort, and I couldn’t bear to let him down. My insecurities were also screaming at me that if I didn’t lose the weight, he’d leave me for a skinny chick. Or worse! He’d end up being smaller than me, and that was intolerable. And that’s how it continued for the first several months—me barely hanging on, seeing pretty non-existent results because I wasn’t putting much into it. And then it clicked.

As time went on, I was starting to change, and I didn’t even realize it! My progress at the gym was improving by leaps and bounds, and I found that I was no longer doing it for Mitch, I was doing it for me. That’s when I really broke through. At first I started just making small, but smarter decisions about what I ate. When we went out to breakfast, I’d have cottage cheese and fruit instead of toast and potatoes. And before I knew it, I was looking down at my lunch and saw 4 slices of lean deli turkey, half an avocado, a hard boiled egg, a string cheese, and a handful of blackberries. Who the hell am I, and what have I done with Amanda?


My old size 22s!  ^^

I know, I know. 4 slices of turkey? Who eats like that, right? The funny thing about crappy food is when you stop eating it, you stop wanting it! (And no, that’s not just something Jillian Michaels says to get you to put down the cheeseburger.)  If you abstain from junk food for a little while, and then eat it, it actually makes you feel like total crap. You don’t rush back to a food that gave you food poisoning after you stayed up all night puking, right? In the same way, you don’t run back to greasy, sugary foods once you learn to love clean eating. Don’t get me wrong, I have a serious sweet tooth, but it’s easily satisfied with a square or two of dark chocolate, fro-yo or a Skinny Cow Fudgsicle.

Strangely enough, while my weight loss has made a huge impact on my body and general health, it’s made even more significant improvements to my mind. It’s changed the way I think about everything. Eating healthy becomes satisfying, not a sacrifice. Working out becomes compulsory, not a hassle. I don’t wish to look like one of the skinny girls on the cover of a magazine; I am actively making that happen. It’s an inevitability, not a fantasy.

It’s an amazing feeling to look in a mirror and like what you see, but knowing that you dig deep, and work really fucking hard to achieve that—that’s the true reward.

In taking an interest in my physical health, I drastically improved my mental health as well. My self-esteem, body image, my confidence—all of it is soaring, and it’s positively affected every aspect of my life as a result.

This is going to sound cheesy as hell, but you can’t truly love yourself if you don’t take care of your body. It’s your vessel, and you only get one! I love that Mitch loved himself enough to get healthy, because he easily added another 30 years to his life. He gave me 30 more years with him, and I am grateful for that every single day. And finally, I love myself enough to give him a few more old and gray years with me.

Wrapping this up, getting healthy has changed me inside and out, and I shudder to think of the fat, sluggish, self-loathing person that used to live inside this body. She will never return. In the future, I will wear an obscenely tiny bikini on my honeymoon, because 11 months from now I will be smokin hot. I will try to inspire those around me to love their life enough to get healthy and be active, and I will love Mitch enough to take care of myself so that we’ll be spotting out of state license plates until we are too old and blind to read them.

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Posted in Fitness & Health

Allow Me to Introduce Myself…

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July 19th, 2013 Posted 4:40 pm

My name is Amanda Ailand, for now. In 324 days, I will be Amanda Zamara, and this is my attempt to document the transition from Miss Amanda Ailand, the early years, to Mrs. Amanda Zamara, happily ever after. What does happen after I get carried off into the sunset? I guess we’ll see.

proposal photo

What being engaged has taught me about myself…

I think I was a worse bridezilla before I got engaged, come to think of it. Mitch (aka the fiancé) told me to start a Pinterest page with all my favorite engagement rings, so that when the time came, he’d have an idea what I would want. #Brilliant. This worked out wonderfully and he really did give me a big, dreamy, sparkler, but I digress.

the ring

I was sooo uptight about getting proposed to…I wanted the romance, a hidden photographer, the works. After the ring was on, I think the newly betrothed euphoria set in, and I found myself planning a wedding I never in a million years thought I would have or want. Boy how things change. When the wedding in your head is a fantasy that was cultivated with only yourself in mind, and some imaginary fiancé, that fantasy goes out the window when you have a living, breathing fiancé with a larger than life personality. Make no mistake; this was in no way a sacrifice. Mitch is my partner in life and love, and it’s not my wedding, it’s our wedding, and I wanted to be certain that he had as big a stamp on our big day as he wanted. The result: A Super Mario themed wedding. #whathaveidone? But seriously, I love that we are having a fun, light-hearted, quirky, geeky wedding because that describes us to a tee.

Maybe it was that pesky newly engaged euphoria I mentioned, but my inner control freak took a vacay, and I gave up a lot of the control over the planning. For one, I booked an all-inclusive venue. This meant while I basically let an event coordinator choose all the vendors, I got to make the decisions on specific details about the cake, the flowers, the music, the colors, etc. Would I have chosen a different bakery to do the cake? Probably. But well worth not having to be on the phone with dozens of vendors for the next year, and stressing out about making 37 different deposits. We wrote one check, and it was the best decision we could have made.

Secondly, I let my bridesmaids pick their dresses. I picked a color and a fabric, and gave them carte blanch over the styles they chose. The mix and match dresses will make the girls look their best, and be comfortable, and it also adds to the relaxed vibe of my wedding. Besides, what 3 girls with different complexions and body types look good in the same exact dress?

Ladies, we’ve all seen Say Yes to the Dress, and all those silly wedding shows. The most common problem they all have is that they try on 100+ dresses, and ruin their own experience getting all frustrated and stressed out because they think the right dress somehow comes with a sign. That you’ll “just know.” I thought the same thing, that when you put on that perfect dress, the sky will open up and angels will sing. Girls, that doesn’t happen, at least not for me. I ended up purchasing the first dress I tried on, but I didn’t get “that feeling.” I tried on about 10 more dresses, each more beautiful than the next, but none as beautiful as that first dress. I faltered. How can I buy my wedding dress when it doesn’t make me cry happy tears and glow from within? Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s the dress’ fault. I tried on that dress 3 times before pulling the trigger. What convinced me was I decided to look at it critically. I asked myself what I loved about the dress. Absolutely everything. I asked myself what didn’t I like about the dress? Not a thing. That’s how I knew it was the one. It turns out that some of us just aren’t that weepy, and at the end of the day, it’s just a dress! #Perspective!

So Amanda, what have you learned from being engaged?

  • Wedding planning is what you make of it! It’s actually fun when you let go of the control, and have a little perspective. Your wedding is the one day you’ve dreamed of your entire life, and it should absolutely be special and magical, but it’s just one day and one party. The next day you’re going to wake up with a hangover and eye boogers, and if you were a bridal nazi for the past year, now what will you do with all that extra time and negativity?
  • I think the wedding dress says a lot about the person wearing it. I like to think of myself as a pretty over the top, boisterous person but my gown is quite simple and elegant. The entire experience surprised me about how low-key I can be, and I liked that! I also realized that micro-managing every detail of every aspect of your wedding doesn’t make a perfect wedding, it just makes a very cranky bride.
  • It is so important to make sure your partner is equally represented on your special day. I am so excited about having a wedding that clearly shows both of our playfulness and geekiness, and will be so beautiful and memorable at the same time. Not to mention, the fiancé is a lot more cheerful about writing the checks when he remembers the theme of our wedding is his passion.

Next time: How weight loss and fitness has changed me.

Posted in Weddings