Category Archives: Health

Puppy updates (“Pupdates”) & Life, In Progress

It’s been awhile since I wrote a blog entry, and since the last one was such a doozy (My Journey with “The Puppy Blues”) I really owe it to my readers to give an update.


First thing’s first: My Update on the Puppy Blues

Since I wrote my blog entry on my “Puppy Blues” (which was shared a ton of times with lots of visitors to my page- yay!) I had many people approach me and tell me how worried they were about me. Maybe it’s because I share so much on social media that tries to be positive and uplifting, but stopping and admitting that I wasn’t okay seemed to really upset people.

I also got several people who messaged me and sympathized with me, which was so nice! It made me feel like I wasn’t alone, and it helped me get through that tough initial time. Whether you extended a hand because you were worried about me or if you had a similar experience, thank you. The reaction over my last blog entry was more than I expected, and it helped me to feel that sense of connection as we adjusted to a new “normal”.


My Update on Cooper

Oh, Cooper. Our little black ball of fluff. Since I wrote the last blog entry, things with Cooper have been ten times better. He’s had some health issues (puppy UTI, tapeworm) from incidents along the way, but I’m happy to say that he’s healthy and a really happy, good dog. My phone has two sets of main pictures now: pictures of my garden and pictures of Cooper.



Everyone loves him….especially us.

We’ve been taking him to doggy day care 1x/week, puppy socializing classes 1-2x/week and family member drop-ins 2x/week. He’s such a good dog, and while we’re still working on his puppy behaviors (play biting- especially biting my husband), he’s so smart and friendly and a great companion. I know we are still adjusting, but things have definitely gotten better with Cooper since I last blogged.



I will say, though, that the past 6-8 weeks have brought out a new side of me. I can’t determine if it’s permanent or not. I have a balance of extroversion to introversion in my personality, and I’ve been much more introverted over the past few months. I don’t see the need for checking Facebook (unless it’s with my team of coaches or jaw surgery clients), and I don’t necessarily see the need for sharing my life’s journey at this time. Maybe I’m growing up, or maybe I’m going through a phase. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m now creating social media content for a large-scale organization, too (which is such an honor), thus taking my “creative energy” and re-directing it to another source.


I don’t know, honestly. But what I can say is that I’m going through a phase in my life where I don’t necessarily plan on sharing every little thing on social media. I love blogging, though, and plan to share my journey throughout the summer on my blog (subscribe if you want these updates!). I also plan to work on some creative projects for jaw surgery clients. But in terms of my health & fitness journey….I’m just so sick of seeing the quick fixes that it drains the creative energy right out of me. (Just being honest!) I’m going to keep following my nutrition plan of simple, easy eating; I’m going to keep exercising from home and being in great shape as a result; and I’m going to work with the people who actually want to see change in their life. If this sounds like you, then please message me, and we’ll link arms together this summer. Otherwise, you may see less of me than you used to.


Stay tuned on my blog for more Puppy Updates/”Pupdates” and my journey, and until then, have a wonderful first official week of summer!


In peace & good health-


[UNBELIEVABLE] Brown Butter Carrot Recipe

Lately I’ve been on a carrot kick. The carrots in my region have been so affordable! One of my local grocery stores had carrots for $.69 for a 3-pound bag. That yields a lot of vegetable servings for .69 cents! So I’ve been playing around with recipes and I think that this one, by far, is my favorite. I’m considering headed out to the grocery store just to buy more carrots and make it again. Does that sound a little crazy? Even if it does, I’m fine with it. This brown butter carrot recipe is that good.

Now, this is not a 5-minute dish, but in 30 minutes or less, you’ll have some tender, caramelized, savory carrots that you’ll eat before your husband tries to get some. (Oh, did I just say that? Whoops…)


Brown Butter Carrot Recipe


  • Whole carrots
  • 1-2 tbsp Ghee (clarified butter) or regular butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Dried rosemary



  • Wash, peel and dice carrots. (I strongly recommend a mandolin for this step, as a mandolin cuts down on cutting time exponentially.)
  • Heat pan to medium heat; add 1-2 tbsp of butter. I used clarified butter (ghee) for health reasons and for its nutty taste. (For more info on ghee, click here!)
  • Heat butter until it melts; wait until it begins to brownImmediately add carrots and salt. (For more info on browning butter, click here)
  • Cook carrots in butter, stirring consistently on medium to slightly medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until carrots begin to brown on one side.
  • Add rosemary for an additional few minutes of cooking. Enjoy!



Now excuse me as I go to the grocery store….I have more carrots to make.

Did you like this brown butter carrot recipe? If you make it, share it on social media with the hashtag #amandaplazek and I’ll check out your take on this savory, healthy, delicious recipe!


In peace & good health,


The Cost of Jaw Surgery in the United States

Today I’m going to share my experience when it comes to the cost of jaw surgery in the United States, but before I do, allow me to introduce myself! So as many of you know, I got jaw surgery in February 2014. When I was in the midst of the jaw surgery planning process, I didn’t find as much support as I would have hoped. In fact, any documentation from jaw surgery were graphic, horrifying pictures of people post-op! It was enough to scare me out of the process entirely. As a result, I’ve worked to pay it forward and help as many people ever since. With my jaw surgery support group, The Smile Diaries (click here to apply), and my YouTube channel (click here to subscribe), I want to keep helping as many people as I can!


Let’s address the topic of the day. When it comes to documenting my jaw surgery journey, I get asked constantly: “What is the cost of jaw surgery”? “How much did your jaw surgery cost?”


The honest answer to this is…”I can’t tell you how much your surgery will cost!” Technology and methodology is completely different across the world. The cost of jaw surgery depends on too many factors for me to tell you how much yours will cost. But I’ve found that the cost of jaw surgery in the United States can be estimated depending on some crucial questions to your health insurance provider. And so, without further ado, I give you my most recent jaw surgery YouTube video.


In this vide I address things like:

  • Things to ask your oral surgeon
  • Things to ask your health insurance provider
  • Budgeting options for your jaw surgery
  • Is your oral surgeon in-network or out-of-network?

and more. I hope this helps! Watch and enjoy:



Do you want more videos like this? Then click here and subscribe to my YouTube channel!

Do you have questions about the cost of jaw surgery? Reach out to your oral surgeon and healthcare provider! They will help you best. Good luck!


Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University: Am I a Budget-Buster?

As you know, I am currently following Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. I feel like I’m out of my league when it comes to budgeting. I know that it takes 3 months to really get the swing of things, but this week was a struggle when it came to groceries.


If you know anything about me, you know that I love grocery shopping. I love picking out the foods that we can afford (because of Aldi, my favorite grocery store) and imagine what I will craft this week with them. But because I spent half of our weekly food budget on meats, I didn’t have much left over for the fruits, veggies, dairy and eggs that I get at Aldi.


Alas, and alack. I threw caution to the wind and I went over the weekly budget.


What does this mean?? I felt like a failure immediately, but I’m working on giving myself some grace. Here’s how I break it down:

I spent $126.95 on:

-10 lbs of lean ground turkey meat

-4 pounds of chicken breast

-a huge container of Parmesan cheese (thanks, Sam’s Club)

-a week’s worth of eggs (6 dozen, to be exact. yes, we go through 6 dozen)

-2 lbs of coffee grounds

-a week’s worth of fruits & veggies

-1 carton of almond milk

-2, 16-ounce containers of organic baby spinach

-6+ bags of frozen vegetables


…plus more. But there it is. A week’s worth of groceries (and more) for us. The meats will actually bring us through next week, which ate our budget plenty this week.

But let’s theorize that every single grocery item above is consumed this week. That would break down to:


$126.95 / 7 days / 4 meals per day / 2 people = $2.27 per meal.


If we were to remove one of the 5 lb containers of ground turkey that will not be eaten until next week, that breaks down to:

($126.95 – $12.95) = $114 ($14 over budget)

$114 / 7 days / 4 meals per day / 2 people = $2.03 per meal.


Is that too much math for you? It might be for me!


Either way, I’m over-budget this week. Rats.


I have to admit, I’m feeling a little bit like a failure on this first week of budgeting. I mean, come on! It’s the first week, and I’ve already gone overboard.

But on the same token, it’s just the first week. It’s given me a chance to see what we typically spend on our groceries each week. Next time I’ll know better.


I think this blog entry would be under “The Setbacks” section, but soon I hope it will be a “triumph”!


Onward and upward! Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is not conquered in one day.

Interested in what I’m doing with Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University? Subscribe to my blog and see how I do in week 2!

Posted on February 10, 2017

Filed under Dave Ramsey Financial Peace, Health
Comments Off on Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University: Am I a Budget-Buster?

The Easiest, Most Delicious Roasted Sweet Potato Recipe

So recently I attended the Pennsylvania Farm Show and had one of the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever eaten. It was soft, and the texture was incredibly smooth. “I could eat this every day!” I thought….and I have almost ever since.


Turns out that sweet potatoes are a great post-workout recovery food! The amount of time it takes to prep the sweet potatoes frustrates me sometimes: washing the skin, peeling the potatoes, and cutting them into little cubes (from a 3-lb bag of potatoes) can be daunting when you don’t have much time on your hands.


However, I discovered this recipe and fell head-over-heels in love with it. It takes less than 10 minutes to prep, and as long as you’re okay with letting the potatoes roast in the oven while you watch television, then you’re good to go.


Here’s the recipe video and breakdown:



Feel free to print this out and save it for yourself!





Did you like this sweet potato recipe? Share it with a friend!

How to Stay Motivated Throughout the Entire Year


I hear from people almost every day that say, “I wish I could be fit like you, but I can’t.
[insert excuse here: “I don’t have time”; “I can’t afford it”; “I don’t have exercise equipment”; “I don’t like to exercise”; “It’s just not for me”, the list goes on.]”


I used to feel the exact same way. I was never athletic growing up, and exercise did not come naturally to me. I had to develop motivation after many (many) attempts on my own.

Here are some of the ways I’ve found motivation so that my New Year’s resolution is still going strong, even at the end of the year:

1. Focus on the fact that this is a permanent lifestyle change, not a 3-week “phase”. 
If I miss a day or two on my workout schedule or I fall off the nutrition wagon for a week, I don’t quit. I forgive myself (although it can be incredibly challenging), I hit the “reset” button and I move on.

2. Follow a researched and effective workout plan. 
I am a fitness instructor, but even I know my limits. I don’t claim to be a certified personal trainer (yet!), and I don’t claim to have researched exercise science. I believe in following a safe, effective plan that I can do from the comfort of my own home. Trying to create my own program does not give the results I want! I’ve found that I see the results I want when I take my ego out of the equation.

3. Follow a nutrition plan. 
This is another one where I am humbled sometimes. I don’t find the results I want when I think I know everything about nutrition. However, I do not believe in “dieting”. (refer to #1!) My nutrition plan is exactly that: a plan. If my plan changes because I went out of town for a few days with my family, then I do the best I can. I bless and release, and let it go.

4. Celebrate the little victories. (spoiler alert: They don’t necessarily revolve around the number on a scale!)
Did you follow your workout calendar to a “T” this week? Give yourself a dance party and unwind with a magazine and a clay detox face mask!
Did you do well on your nutrition plan this week? Great! Paint your nails and watch “Parks and Recreation” or whatever you like.
Did you have a crappy week taking care of yourself? Oh well. It happens to literally all of us. Read those quotes I put above (or google some of your own). One week does not have the power to ruin your entire year.

5. Get connected to a team who’s got your back. 
Making a permanent lifestyle change for yourself is much easier when you connect with others. I am a coach to help people across the United States and Canada find a way to connect, motivate, uplift, and support each other.

Don’t have time to go to a gym? Pop in a 25-minute, scientifically-researched workout in your living room. Let us know when you’re done, and we’ll be there, cheering you on. Boom.

And there you have it! Some of my thoughts halfway through the month of January 2017.

Want to kick it into high gear, even though it’s not January 1? Not a problem. Email me at and let’s get started. Life is easier when we work towards bigger things together!

Wedding Trends and Tips for 2017


When I’m not being a fitness coach, I am a church organist! Yes, I know. You probably expected an 80-year old named Marilyn to play your church organ, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, I’ve been working at a church that is famously centered in our city to house beautiful, panoramic views. As a result (along with a fabulous church culture), we have a lot of weddings each year.


I calculate that since I started at this church 8 years ago, I have played about 450 weddings. This year alone I played for 83 weddings. Yes….Eighty. Three. 


I meet with almost every single bride that gets married at my church. I help them through the last 3 months of their wedding, and end up playing the music as she walks down the aisle. The entire process is a responsibility I don’t take lightly.


As an organist for so many brides (and a bride myself in 2015), I’ve seen a lot of things. It’s true. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed as trends coming in, trends leaving, and advice for any 2017-2018 brides. Read onward, and email it to anyone who got engaged over the holiday season!



Things that are trending (in a good way)

  • Bridesmaids trends: think pink (not necessarily matching)
    The color of this year was blush pink, especially in summer bridesmaid dresses. There was a weekend when I saw the same shade of blush on two separate set of bridesmaids! Brides still love the look of having different styles in the bridal party. This allows for the bridesmaid to pick the silhouette that they think is most flattering.


Blush definitely had its moment this year!

  • Wedding Dress trends: Sleeved wedding dresses, less strapless, low backs and lace. One of my favorite personal trends! Wedding dresses are becoming more and more modest, and unique sleeves made its hayday this year. Low-backed dresses with form-fitting silhouettes stole the show this year, combined with a more modest look in front. From intricate beading to the demand of lace, wedding dresses definitely don’t look cookie-cutter these days.

Allure Bridal style 9167


  • Bridal Party Trend: bridesmen”, “men of honor” and “best women”. Bridal parties are catering more towards the bridesmaids as the bride’s friends, and the groomsmen as the groom’s friends.


  • Ceremony Music: Bach Cello Suite no. 1 made a huge statement this year. I had three brides hire a cellist just to have this song at their wedding! It’s a beautiful piece, and if it speaks to you, consider investing in a cellist for your ceremony so it can be done:

  • “Please don’t take pictures during the ceremony”: I think this came after the previous years filled with people holding up their huge iPads during ceremonies. It became comical:

Source: Corey Ann Photography

Source: Rachel Whyte Photography

And lastly, the most interesting thing I’ve seen all year:

    • Streaming your Wedding Ceremony on Facebook Live: This one was kind of surprising to me, as historically you invited the people that you wanted to witness your wedding ceremony. However, I’ve seen it used several times when family members couldn’t attend (or people loved sharing their joy). Here’s an example from a wedding where the bride was from Lebanon. Part of her family couldn’t be there, so she streamed it on Facebook so they could watch it from home. (Note that the ceremony was in English and Arabic to accommodate both families):




Things that may be on its way out (or you may not need)

      • Ceremony Music: Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” and Mendelssohn’s “Bridal March”. These two songs have been used so many times in TV commercials, movies, and everything in-between. In fact, many Catholic Dioceses do not allow the use of these songs because of their completely secular (non-sacred) nature. Ask your ceremony musician for some joyous, “fresher” takes on the bridal entrance and departure:


      • The Unity Candle: There was a definite decrease in use of the Unity Candle in weddings over the past two years. While it has no liturgical significance in a Catholic wedding, it is a nice symbol for those who want to use it. However, you are still married either way!

      • Aisle Runners: Aisle runners used to be a way of announcing a bride’s entrance; however, they have since become liability issues and end up getting torn easily and quickly. This might be one that you can skip in the budget.

      • Short, Teeny Bridesmaid Dresses: There was a time a few years ago when bridesmaid dresses got smaller and smaller. I once saw a bridesmaid pull up her dress, then pull it back down to cover her legs! On behalf of every bridesmaid out there, I want to thank you for allowing more fabric to be a part of your bridesmaids’ dresses.

      • Homemade, DIY bouquets. Homemade bouquets made from brooches were really big a few years back. This is a great way to save money (or include some heirlooms/personal items that mean a lot to you), but when it comes to your bouquet, flowers still seem to be the way to go.



      • Kids In Wagons: There was a trend a few years ago where children under the age of 2 were wheeled down in wagons. I didn’t see this in 2016, and to be honest…I’m alright with its departure.

        Source: Pinterest

      • Cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes: Cupcakes made its way into our hearts in a big way in the early 2010’s. While there are still cupcakes at weddings, we’re seeing less of them than we had in the past decade.

      • Trinkets for Wedding Favors: Many people are opting out of giving a trinket at wedding receptions (they did just pay $60+ for your dinner, after all). In lieu of a trinket favor, consider donating to a charity you both feel passionate about.

Photo: Joe Appel Photography




Things that don’t matter as much as you may think:

      • Pew Flowers for the Church: Pew bows for a church wedding may not be worth what your florist may charge you! For my DIY’ers, a simple loop of tulle can be enough to make a nice touch. Or find out if your church has pew bows that they can lend you for free!

      • Choosing your Ceremony Prelude Music: This is the music before your ceremony that sets the tone as your guests arrive. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: you don’t hear it, and your guests barely do too! It’s meant to be talked over, and your musicians are okay with that. Let your ceremony musicians pick some appropriate songs for prelude music.

      • Wedding Program Design: People love wedding programs. Any wedding brings together a group of people who are Christian, non-Christian, Jewish, Atheists, and everything else under the sun. That’s okay! They are there to support you two. Ribbons, sequins, and fancy embellishments don’t necessarily matter on a wedding program, but the order of the ceremony does. People refer to that program the entire time, so if anything, typing up the order of the ceremony encourages people to participate (if needed).

      • Kids under the age of 3 in the Bridal Party: Everyone is different, and everyone has different reasons of putting children in the bridal party….but from my experience, the kids cry. They almost always cry when they walk down that aisle alone, with hundreds of people watching them.



My Advice for Brides (and the Bridal Party) on The Big Day

      • Eat enough during the day. Dear God, Eat. I’ve seen too many bridesmaids collapse during a wedding because they hadn’t eaten enough for the day. I’ve been in weddings and I know it’s tough to get enough to eat, so I would strongly recommend it to your bride (or sneak a few protein bars in your purse). You’ll thank me later.

      • Be as invested in your ceremony as much as your reception. Now, I know I’m a church organist so I have to say this, but really. If you believe that what’s about to happen to you and your significant other is one of the biggest things of your life, then reflect on that. Get involved in the church where you’re getting married (if you’re a church-going person). If you’re getting married in a field, then sit down and reflect on the music or scripture or poems that you want to reflect such a sacred moment. I’ve met too many couples that want to “get the ceremony over with”, but really, the second celebration can’t happen without the first.

      • There will be one major thing that goes wrong, and that’s okay. I’ve seen it all, and the couples still get married!


That’s all for now! With another full  year of weddings, I’m sure I’ll have more trends to report in a year. But in the meantime, share this post with your fellow brides and grooms, and ramp up for Wedding Season 2017!



Coming Soon: the January Newsletter!

Over the past few months I’ve been priding myself on my monthly newsletters. I love having a connection with you, my readers & followers, so I started to reach out to those who subscribe to my mailing list!


And so this morning I am writing my January Newsletter to my followers, and I’m very excited!

I’m working on some great things for January:
-the Top 5 things you should aim to do for yourself in 2017;
-a brand-new recipe they only get access to;
-some fitness tips to ring in the new year,
and more!

If you want to get this newsletter too, it’s always free!
Sign up by clicking here. I want you to join the party!

Posted on December 28, 2016

Filed under Health
Comments Off on Coming Soon: the January Newsletter!

[unbelievably good] Cinnamon Roasted Pecan Recipe

Christmas is less than one. week. away.

How did that happen!?

I myself am running around like a chicken with my head cut off….but I recently found a moment to make roasted cinnamon pecans.

They are unbelievably good! If you need a gift idea, this one is sure to wow any family member (that is, if they aren’t all eaten by you first!)

Before I release my newest blog entry, I wanted to give you first access to it! Here you go… roasted cinnamon pecans:

-1 egg white
-1 tbsp cold water
-2 1/4 cup pecans
-1/2 cup white sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

-Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.
-whip egg white and water together with whisk until the egg white starts to get just a little stiff. (I use my judgment on this one. If it looks like there is enough egg white mixture, I just go to the next step.)
-fold in pecans; use spatula to fold in and make sure all pecans are coated.
-add sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Again, fold through all pecans in bowl to make sure that each one is well-coated.
-pour pecans on parchment paper-lined pan.
-cook for 60-75 minutes, checking every 15 minutes and moving pecans with spoon/spatula as well (so they don’t cook in one huge cluster).
-cool and enjoy!



I also woke up with a sore throat this morning (lovely), so just in case you need tips to beat that cold, check out my blog entry from last year. I hope it helps you as much as it still helps me!


Stitch Fix Box Review #3: One More Try

I’ve tried two different Stitch Fix boxes (Box #1 review & Box #2 review can be found here) and after the last box, I decided to stop getting automatic shipments. Stitch Fix, however, has excellent customer service. They offered to waive the $20 styling fee if I would give them one more try. I gave them feedback that my items were too basic, and so they wanted to see if they could give me more unique pieces that fit my style. I took them up on that offer…and 10 days later, my Stitch Fix box arrived on my doorstep.


Amanda Plazek Stitch Fix Box



Here we go! A little fashion show of all the items I received:

1.The 41Hawthorn Pintuck Blouse: $68




Did it fit the “unique” factor”? I’d say so! it had that nice magenta color that I enjoyed from Box #1 , but the ruffling, pintuck look just didn’t do it for me. It also fit strangely, as it was too short in the front.

Verdict: Return. 


2. The 41Hawthorn Stud Detail Blouse: $58




Again, a more “unique” piece due to the studs! I liked the length, and I do like 3/4 shirts, But this one just wasn’t me. I’m more of a sequins vs. studs person. 😛

Verdict: return. 


3. and 4. The Kensie Collarless Blazer ($88) and Renee C Elvira Pencil Skirt ($54)



The price was right on the pencil skirt, but that was pretty much it! I actually didn’t mind the blazer much. Styled right with a scarf and sweater, it would have been right up my alley! But I already have a 3/4 length blazer that looked very similar (but had a collar!). The pencil skirt, however, was one big no. No, no, no. Just…no.

Verdicts: return and return. 

5. The Donna Morgan Jersey Shirt Dress ($118)




Ah, the crowning glory of the box. I pinned this item on my Pinterest board months ago, so I was really happy to see it in my box! I was a little apprehensive, though, because I don’t wear jersey dresses or shirt dresses. I don’t feel that they are flattering on me….but I was wrong with this one. It was comfortable, the pattern was unique, the sleeve length was great, it was machine washable…the list goes on. I was in love.


Verdict? Return! 🙁

But why?! Two reasons: 1) We are getting into the cold winter season where I live, and I live in chunky sweaters. No layering piece looked right with this jersey dress when I tried it on. 2) I couldn’t legitimize $118 for this dress. Maybe in the spring/summer, but alas, not right now. Oh, beautiful dress, I’m so sorry.



What I’ve learned from the Stitch Fix Process

  • Customer service is so important, and Stitch Fix is literally in the business of listening to their customers. I was happy to see that transcend to the feedback of the overall system as well.
  • Brand awareness doesn’t necessarily have to matter, but I’m still a brand junkie. I’ll admit it. I love J.Crew because I can depend on the length of each garment. Stitch Fix showed me that 41Hawthorn- a brand I had never heard of until this process- makes items with longer torso lengths as well.
  • If anything, Stitch Fix makes you think outside of the box and bring a fresh perspective to your wardrobe. From now on, I plan to go to Pinterest and see if I can get inspired for a new look for the holidays!
  • Stitch Fix is great for someone who doesn’t necessarily like to shop. I do, so I don’t necessarily see the value in this as much. 😛
  • At the very least, it’s fun. I looked forward to getting that box every time, and it felt like Christmas each time too.


Want to give it a try yourself? Click here and get started!


Have you ever tried Stitch Fix? What did you think? I’d love to hear from you!

in peace and good health signature