Monday, February 17, 2014

Perfectly Imperfect - why the journey to 'perfectionism' through extreme dieting - doesn't work

She's a Long one - but well worth it!  Happy #MondayMotivation ya'all!

As a representative for health and fitness - First for Women magazine - its important to me to give women the real truth about how to take care of their bodies. Extremes – whether in cardio or diet – never pay off. They aren’t sustainable – maybe for a few years, but not for life. I know - because I lived it.

I spent most of my life over 200lbs - lost 70lbs on my own and then decided I wanted to compete in a figure competition. One year later at 125lbs at 5'7", I felt I was the fittest I had ever been in my life! I got used to wearing XXS and feeling 'tiny'- something I had never felt before in my life. I wore a size 0 dress at my wedding and felt awesome in a bikini on my honeymoon – sounds great right?
Here’s the darkside – the side people DIDN’T see - I began to FEAR 'normal foods'- heck I was afraid of ALL foods, I spent HOURS in the gym because I was afraid I might start ‘gaining’ again – I even went to the gym for 3 hours a day ON MY HONEYMOON!

I avoided any social outings where food/alcohol was involved and hated what I was becoming- all in the name of what? Being tiny? My only focus became the gym, my body, food – the gym, my body, food. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Deep down I was miserable, unhappy, exhausted, HUNGRY and I knew something was wrong with the way I was staying ‘healthy’. I lost my menstrual cycle - the one thing that signifies a healthy reproductive and hormonal system in a woman. I began having trouble sleeping, digestive issues, an emergency appendectomy – yet I STILL didn’t admit something was wrong.

I placed top 5 in my first 3 fitness competitions - but one year later and several pounds of muscle lost, I wasn't winning any more competitions- after all, they are MUSCLE competitions, not get skinny competitions.
But WHY couldn’t I just STOP the madness – the hours of cardio, the minimal caloric intake? I was emaciated and my friends and family began asking me ‘are you ok?’ ‘You need to eat’, etc. I was only following my coaches plan – how on earth could I be unhealthy when I was following what my plan said?

My lifesaver is Kelli Hinshaw - my good friend and former teammate who had ‘seen the light’ – she began watching posts by a man named Dr. Layne Norton and sharing them with me, encouraging me to listen, read, absorb. She started ‘reverse dieting’ to rebuild her metabolic capacity, cut back on cardio, started living on ‘macros’ – which is eating the foods she wanted as long as she hit her macronutrient (carbs/protein/fat) goals for the day. Here was my thoughts the first 6 months of her sharing this with me ‘YEAH RIGHT! I cannot stop cardio – I will get FAT. I cannot eat honey nut cheerios, chocolate, pizza – I can’t eat ANYTHING processed or I will get FAT. It won’t work for me. Ever.’ Then the tailspin began...

I was in my ‘off season’ – not competing again until the following season – my calories were increased but I kept the same high amounts of cadio, and insane hours in the gym. I started having more than one ‘cheat meal’ and would freak out, go do 2 hours of cardio to get rid of the calories and start over. Binge, Guilt, Cardio, Repeat. Binge, Guilt, Cardio, Repeat.
This became my life. I KNEW I was in trouble metabolically and I knew I had to take the step towards better health. But that fear of gaining all my weight back haunted me like a plague. I was DEALTHY afraid of it – I wouldn’t keep peanut butter in the house, cereal (my former vice), anything Mexican food related, and I wouldn’t dare take a day off training. So why wasn't my body responding the way it was in the past? Simple math (calories in vs calories out) would suggest that all the cardio I was doing would keep me thin! What in the world was WRONG with me? 

In the words of Kelli, "Rip. The. Bandaid. Off." Ok – she was right. I slowwwwlllllyy started cutting back cardio, adding more calories and carbs and rebuilding my metabolic capacity. I remember watching one of Laynes blogs saying "who will have an easier time cutting down – the person who is maintaining with minimal cardio, higher calories and carbs, or the person who is doing 2 hours of cardio on minimal calories and carbs?" Bingo – that was the lightbulb for me.
I started reading about Ashley Swoboda: Athlete and Brooke Erickson - beFIT 'sfitness journeys and sobbing – realizing that what I thought could never happen to me, had INDEED happened to me and that I could also PROVE there is another way. 

I decided to reach out to Brooke regarding coaching and am so blessed to now be working with her toward the BEST health inside and out that I possibly can. I couldn’t ask for a better coach and it’s only the beginning! She is a true inspiration to me through similar struggles in her life and coming out on top – not just in fitness but in life! I LOVE both Brook and Ashley's vulnerability and honesty in their posts - they have reached so many this way and I am inspired to do that same.

So fast forward 8 months later from my thinnest at 117lbs to - A 25lb + gain (Yup!) that I have slowly but surely gained by reverse dieting, flexible dieting through macros, hard work and determination in the gym (and yes a little indulging!) and I am hitting PRs (personal records – 35lb side lats YES!) left and right and gaining muscle I never thought I could - but more importantly - I am ENJOYING my life, my incredible husband who has been there through it ALL, social outings- yes even wine and (gasp!) nachos! With the hours I am not in the gym, I am taking my dogs to the park with my husband, trying out awesome healthy recipes, blogging more often, catching up with old friends and LIVING my life. I LOVE going to the gym again – its not a 3 hour dreadful chore – it’s a constant drive to PROGRESS!

Is it hard on me mentally to gain? Yes. It most definitely is – you don’t spend your life overweight then gain some again without any mental effects…. I’ve been through it all – wearing my husbands sweatshirts, avoiding my ‘usual gym’, negative body speak in the mirror….but the BEAUTY of it all is – is that NOTHING is permanent where your body is concerned. It’s only temporary. This holds true for those of you TRYING to gain weight for a PURPOSE or those of you TRYING to LOSE weight as well! It’s ONLY temporary – anything is possible and you can do anything you want to do with your health and fitness goals WITHOUT going to extremes. At the end of the day, I am so thankful I have begun this process towards healing and better health – there IS ANOTHER WAY! I just wasn’t ready to accept it at first.

I've had some incredible support throughout my journey and am so blessed with all of you (you know who you are)- and WHEN my body decides it's ready to get back on stage with serious gains this time around, I'll be ready- and healthy. And most of all- I will be HAPPY - INSIDE and out. #iloveiifym #fitforlife

I HIGHLY encourage any of you reading this who are thinking ‘this is ME’ or even if you want to compete without going to extremes and are wondering what all this #macros hype is about – check out Dr. Layne Norton - watch his informative blogs and be ready to be blown away! Sohee Lee also has a GREAT ebook on 'How to Count Macros' and another great resource here , and   

Follow Layne Norton, Ashley Swoboda, Brooke Erickson, SiouxCountry, Lean bodies Consulting and so many more you will discover on all their networks on FB and Twitter.

Knowledge is Power.  And Perfectionism?  Doesn't Exist....THANK GOD! :-)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Have your cake....AND EAT IT TOO!


You can eat it!  You can have pasta!  You can have cake!  You can have quesadillas!  You can have pot roast with gravy!!  


Yup - its all in how you PREPARE the food - not the food itself.  People think 'pot roast is bad for you' - because images float in their heads of Mom's pot roast and potatoes swimming in butter and gravy from the fatty drippings (gross!) BUT - there are ALWAYS healthy alternatives!!

Start thinking about your favorite foods - then find ways to make them healthier!  

Remember weight gain/loss is all about numbers.  Make the things you LOVE and make them fit into your day!!  Today I had chocolate chip muffins for breakfast (yup!), cereal and milk for a snack (oh yeah!), dark chocolate cake (mmmmhmmm!), a burrito bowl (DELISH)....should I go on?  And guess what?!  I wont go over my macronutrient limit for the day (i.e.: the number of calories/fats/carbs/protein I need to reach my goals)

But it's all about how I PREPARE my favorite foods to fit into my day!

My chocolate chip muffins?  Made with Lillys Dark Chocolate chips that have zero sugar (made with stevia) and 55 calories for 55 chips!  Protein powder, coconut flour, egg whites, baking soda, sugar free maple syrup and viola!  You have healthy delicious chocolate chip muffins!  

My cereal?  Barbaras Bakery whole grain 'Honest O's' - only 100 calories a cup and 20mg of sodium (want a shocker?  Turn your cereal box around and read the sodium content!) with 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (30 cals a cup!) and 1/2 a scoop or protein - shaken and poured over cereal like milk!

My dark chocolate cake?  Along the same lines as the muffins but with unsweetened dark cocoa powder and heated in the micro in a round bowl sprayed with cooking spray.  Drizzle that bad boy with some almond butter and BAM - healthy cake!

Burrito bowl?  Oh yeah - brown rice, extra lean ground beef, shredded lettuce, salsa and avocado - mmmmm!  And its not FULL of fat and sodium like the restaurant versions but tastes JUST AS GOOD!

Here are some AWESOME healthy swap recipes that you will ENJOY but stay on track!!

Healthy Quesadilla:

1 Rudi's Gluten Free Fiesta Tortilla
2 TBS shredded lowfat cheese
1/2 cup baked, grilled or shredded chicken
2 TBS salsa
** spread salsa on one half of the tortilla and top with chicken - sprinkle cheese over and fold in half and place on a flat top griddle or pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Sear 2 min each side until cheese is melted - enjoy!!

Nutrition Facts:
Cals: 258
Fat: 7g
Carb: 19.4g
Protein: 27.9g

Healthy Pot Roast with Gravy!  (YES Gravy!)

1 Jones Creek Beef Grass Fed Chuck Roast (find at Wal Mart!  Most stores carry grass fed - because the cows aren't fed hormones and grains, the meat is EXTREMELY lean!)
4 red potatoes, quartered
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, diced
1 cup baby carrots, whole
a few springs fresh rosemary
1 Cup low sodium chicken broth (like Pacific Foods Low Sodium Broth)
Crock Pot
Unsweetened Almond Milk or coconut milk
2 TBS cornstarch

Pour broth in bottom of crockpot and place roast on top of the broth.  Cut small slits in the meat and stuff with garlic and stick rosemary sprigs inside the slits.  Place onion, carrots and potatoes around the roast.  Place lid on and cook on low for 4 hours.

For Gravy:
Once roast is cooked, take 1/4 cup of the drippings and place in small pan on medium heat.  In a small bowl, dissolve 2 TBS corn starch in 1/4 cup water.  Slowly whisk into pan.  Once combined, slowly whisk in milk.  Allow to thicken, take off stove and season with a little sea salt and black pepper

Nutriton Facts:
(4oz beef, 1 cup veggies with 1/4 cup gravy)

Cals: 213
Fat: 6.6g
Carb: 21.8g
Protein: 17.2g

Healthy Pasta!
1 package 'Pasta Zero' (made from shiitake mushrooms!  Near tofu in produce section - I found mine at Wal Mart!)
1 cup (about 4oz) extra lean ground turkey
1 cup zucchini, sliced
1/4 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced bell pepper
2 TBS hummus (I LOVE the Engine 2 brand from Whole Foods!)
2 TBS pasta or pizza sauce
2 TBS feta cheese crumbles
fresh or dried oregano

Rinse pasta well.  Pat dry and place in bowl.  Mix with hummus/pizza sauce.  Place pasta mixture in a sprayed oven safe plate or small gratin dish and top with veggies.  Sprinkle feta cheese over.  Top with dried oregano.

Place in 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Put on broil last 2 minutes to get cheese/veggies gold and bubbly

Nutriton Facts: (For the ENTIRE meal above!)

Cals: 225
Fat: 6.9g
Carb: 19.5g
Protein: 31.4g

Happy and Healthy Eating!
~ DNutritionista

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Doesn't = Candy!

Halloween is one of my all time favorite Holidays - but funny thing is - I HATE candy.  Seriously - I've never liked ice cream?  Thats a different story :-)

Many people I work with have what I call 'Cyclical Holiday Syndrome'.  What does this mean?  Well let me give you an example:

  • "Well its Halloween and I have to eat candy - so I will get through this week and start my healthy eating next week"
  • "Thanksgiving is in a few weeks so I might as well just wait to start my healthy eating until then right?"

Because then there is Christmas, Chanukah, New Years, Valentines, Easter.....the list goes on and on!  There will ALWAYS be something on the horizon where celebration and food is involved....but do you HAVE to give in?  


What you CAN do?  Change the way you and your family THINK about the Holidays by creating new and memorable traditions!

Some of my favorite memories of Halloween were visiting fun Haunted Houses with my friends and family, going on hayrides with hot apple cider, costume contests, fun family Halloween movies and Fall themed events like Pumpkin Patch parties and picking up leaves for craft/art projects.

Do any of those things involve food?  NO!  How about trying a few of them this season and skip the candy corn?

Some great ideas?

  • Be the Change!  Hand out non-candy trick or treats like Granola Bites or Fruit Leather or even 100 calorie pack pretzels or popcorn!  
  • Research family-friendly or even super spooky haunted houses in your area!  Some cities even do Haunted Tours of the cities most Haunted areas!
  • Research Hayrides (even Haunted Hayrides!) in your area for the whole family - or Pumpkin Patches for the little ones!
  • Hold a Pumpkin Carving Contest for your family or friends with the winner getting something non-food related like: "winner doesnt have to do laundry for a week" etc.
  • Make baked apples in the oven stuffed with lowfat granola and topped with cinnamon for a healthy Fall treat!
  • Rent scary movies or family friendly Halloween movies and make 100 calorie popcorn sprinkled with low fat cheddar sprinkle for a Halloween orange themed treat!
  • Take the family on a nature walk and gather colored leaves for an art project with the kids!
  • Host a 'healthy Fall Chili Cookoff' - all chili has to be made with extra lean ground beef or extra lean ground turkey and has to be healthy to be entered!  How fun!
  • Host a costume party and serve delicious clean treats like pumpkin oatmeal cookies made with oats/egg whites/pumpkin/stevia/cinnamon and peanut butter!  Veggie trays, fresh fruit, build your own healthy soft taco bar - the healthy food party table has endless possibilities!
Still think you need that candy?  Read up!

Top WORST Halloween Candy on the Market!

Candy Corn (AKA: Sugar and Artificial Triangles)
1 oz (Only 19 pieces!!)
140 cals
35g SUGAR!!!  (Enough to fuel your entire days intake in only 19 tiny pieces)

4 pieces
150 cals
21g sugar!! (Remember our bodies only process 30-35g per day from any and all sugar sources including fruit!)

'Fun Size' Candy Bars (AKA: High Fructose Corn Syrup Wax Straws)
1 piece
80-100 calories (for that tiny piece!)
4g fat
10g sugar (Have 3 and you have hit your sugar allowance for the day - not including the other foods you have ingested throughout the day!)

Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkin (AKA: Calorie Bomb)
1 Pumpkin
180 calories!
11g fat (almost ALL is saturated for this tiny treat)
18g sugar!!


Be GOOD to your body this year on Halloween - steer clear of the candy and plan some FUN with your friends or family in a different way!

In Health,

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The 'Clean' Tastes of Fall!

It's that time of year - the cool, crisp days reminiscent of playing in the leaves, football, warm soups and spicy pumpkin flavors - but the traditional recipes are sure to make your waistline grow with the change in seasons!

Try these incredible recipes that are not only delicious but CLEAN too (and your family won't even know they are healthy!)

Warm, Hearty and Healthy Chicken and Rice Vegetable Soup

3 large chicken breasts
1 container Pacific Foods Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth
4 cups water
2 cups chopped fresh spinach or kale
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper and 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, chopped
1 container fresh pico de gallo (try Whole Foods or Sprouts- yum!)
3-4 garlic cloves (I love garlic and sometimes use 5)
2 TBS each fresh rosemary and thyme
1/2 cup (dry) brown or wild rice
Spices to season: Bragg 24 Spice seasoning, black pepper, cumin and sea salt (use sparingly and taste periodically throughout cooking to add more if needed)

In a large pot, sprayed with cooking spray, sautee bell peppers and onion 2 minutes until onion is clear. Add chicken and sautee 1-2 minutes until slightly browned.  Add garlic and sautee another minute.

Add carrot, spinach, pico, rice, broth, water and seasonings - stir and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour (can also cook in a crock pot on high 2-3 hours if desired).

This soup is GREAT the next day after all flavors have combined and freezes/reheats beautifully!

Makes 6 servings

Nutrition Per Serving:
Cals 176
Protein 23.1g
Carbs 16.6g
Fat 1.6g

Creamy Pumpkin Oatmeal (SO easy and quick!)

1/2 cup Old Fashioned Oats or Instant Oats
2 TBS Canned Pumpkin (not spiced pumpkin - this has sugar added - just plain only ingredient Pumpkin)
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Spice
2 packets stevia
1/2 cup Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk

Cover Oats with water and cook in micro on high 2 min.  Stir in pumpkin, spices and almond milk!

Want to add some protein to make your meal complete?  Try 1 scoop or Raw Protein or 5 scrambled egg whites stirred into the oatmeal - YUM!  Add some healthy fats with 2 TBS chopped nuts

Nutrition Per Bowl (oats/pumpkin/spices/Almond milk without add-ins)
Cals 175
Protein 5.8g
Carbs 30g
Fat 3.1g

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tarrah's Top 3 Healthy LunchBox Foods

Its Back-to-School Time!  The madness and mayhem of busy schedules begin!  Don't want your kids noshing on the chocolate milk, soda and vending machine junk at school?  Pack their food JUST like you pack yours (or should be :-) )

Here are my Top 3 Power Snacks to pack in Kids Lunches!

1.) Solbites - all natural fruit and nut butter spread with whole grain crackers in an easy to-go pack!  Whole Foods or any other Natural Grocery store carry!  Just 200 calories, 5g protein, 10g sugar (none added)

2.) Think Thin Bites - all natural protein bar 'bites' made with nuts, nut butters, and all natural ingredients.  ZERO sugar, 100 calories and lots of tasty flavors!  Whole Foods, Kroger, even Wal Mart carry!

3.)  Justin's Almond Butter Pouch with Crunch Master Individual pack whole grain crackers - Just Almonds!  Great snack for kids on the go with the whole grain goodness of Crunch Masters Multi grain crackers!  250 calories for both and no added sugars!  Find at most ALL grocery stores!

Like my tips?  Contact me at or visit for details on custom meal plans and workouts!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tarrah's Top 3 Travel Tips for Eating Healthy on the Go!

Think you can't eat clean and healthy while you travel? Think AGAIN!  It's all in your preparation! Remember - 'Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail'

So you are traveling and want to stay clean and healthy but seen sure how with the meetings, family obligations, social outings, etc?  Here are my Top 3 Tips for Eating healthy while on the road!

1). PACK your food!

  • Maybe not every meal- but enough food for you to keep your metabolism high by eating often
  • Pack quick and easy things like Garden of Life's individual Raw Protein packets and a shaker bottle (found at Whole Foods), packets of almond butter, whole grain crackers, hard boiled egg whites and other easy healthy foods! 
  • My personal favorite? Packets of instant oats, almond butter packets and protein powder packets- get a cup of hot water and pour over oats, add almond butter and protein powder and viola! You have a complete meal with ratios of protein/carb/fat to keep your energy high and keep you going on your long travel days!
  • TSA allows ALL Food through security domestically- fresh, frozen, packets- just make sure any liquids are in 3oz bottles
  • Invest in a cooler like a vino temp rolling cooler that plugs into a wall outlet and fits into the overhead!
2.). PLAN out your trip!
  • Research and plan out some restaurants you know have healthy offerings 
  • When eating out, order your proteins cooked 'dry' with no butters/oils/sauces and your carbohydrates 'dry' like baked potatoes and sweet potatoes with no toppings. Order your veggies steamed and ask what alternatives they have for certain things (ie: brown rice vs white)
  • Order lean proteins like egg whites in place of eggs, sirloin in place of ribeye, chicken, fresh fish, shellfish, lean pork tenderloin and turkey.
3.) HYDRATE with LOTS of water!
  • Travel stress and long hours of sitting can cause the body to retain water- be sure to continue drinking the same amount of water you do ok normal days on your trip!
  • Restaurant and take out (even at healthy establishments) has excess sodium and will also cause your body to retain water- continuing to drink the recommended water amount each day will keep you from retaining
  • Travel stress can also cause digestive issues- keeping up on your water intake can help you to flush and detox you body and aid in digestion 
  • Tip: Bring a large water bottle with you in your carry on- or just carry it on the side. Ask a coffee shop in the airport for ice and fill it up once you are through security. You will have a water bottle to carry around with you on your trip!
Like my tips? Follow me on Twitter @DNutrotionista and watch me LIVE on the Today's Show this Wednesday, August 14 with Kathie Lee and Hoda- 10am EST where the Women's Health Next Fitness Star will be announced! Hear my story at 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Football Season Shape Up!

The goal of this workout is to get it done FAST but with INTENT and going your FULL INTENSITY!

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) not only burns calories but also helps to recruit muscle fibers and BUILD more muscle!  The more lean muscle mass you have?  The more calories you burn on an ongoing basis and the leaner you will be overall!

This football season, try this power and speed workout and get fit!

Try this on a football field, a track, the gymnasium at the gym, a large grassy area or a park!

Warm Up
Jog in Place 1 min
'Butt Kickers' 1 min (running in place kicking heels high behind you)
Military Kicks 1 min (kick leg out straight and touch toes, alternating legs)
Low intensity run 1 min


  • Football Fast Feet (squat position on your toes, move your feet as FAST as you can) 1 min
  • 10 Burpees (Standing - drop to push up position and perform a push up, get back to standing quickly and EXPLODE upwards into a high jump)
  • 10 Sprints with lunge back (EXPLODE into a quick sprint for 20 seconds then walking lunge back to start and repeat)
  • Quick Feet Step Ups (on a curb or step, step up and down alternating feet as fast as you can) 1 min
  • 1 minute plank
(Repeat sequence 2x)

Cool Down:
Cool down by running a slow paced run for 3 minutes 

Read, Set, GO Challenge yourself this week!

Be sure to tune in to the Today's Show to see me LIVE with Kathie Lee and Hoda this Wednesday, August 14th at 10am to see who will be crowned the Women's Health Magazine's 'Next Fitness Star'!!