Monthly Archives: April 2014

10 Tips to Fight Cravings and/or Binges


We all have those moments when we CRAVE something. The urge is so strong that we lose all sense and blow whatever gains we’ve made. I am so strong willed when in show prep mode that I would never think to give into those cravings. But I will be honest, I do give in during the off-season. My goal during my next off-season is to be better and follow my own tips below:

Ensure You Are Eating Enough of the Proper Calories  Make sure you take in enough for breakfast and lunch so you do not approach the afternoon on empty.  This will create killer cravings and binges – make time to eat the proper meals and snacks.  KNOW when your weak times are and plan a snack. Example, I like to snack in late evening so I always plan out enough macros to allow for a good bedtime snack.

Wait 15 Minutes When a craving hits, it takes over your world but it doesn’t last long. Distract yourself for 10-15 min. by cleaning the house, filing those papers, playing with your kids, walking your pet, or running errands. You´ll feel productive and forget all about it.

Stay Hydrated Water acts as a natural appetite suppressant by keeping your stomach full and fending off dehydration, which can lead to false cravings and hunger. As an added bonus water helps your body metabolize stored fat by helping the kidney´s flush out waste and it prevents bloating. Water is one of the best craving busters – you can even try warm water or tea.

Balance Your Meals You’ve probably already heard this but eating high carb meals usually trigger cravings for more carbs and sugar. Balancing your meals with protein and a little healthy fat will satisfy you more and reduce cravings big time. Eat protein and carbs together!

Get Your ZZZ’s Sleep deprivation and fatigue often lead to carb cravings because carbs are your body’s number one source of energy. Getting enough sleep or making up for lost sleep with a good nap can prevent serious dips in your energy levels that often lead to cravings.

Exercise It Away Life can get pretty hectic and stressful and a little treat sounds like a good pick me up but just think of the calories and the guilt. If you want to make yourself feel better, go for a brisk walk, climb flights of stairs, do 100 crunches, do jumping jacks, or drop and do burpees.  You’ll produce some feel good endorphins and forget all about that treat. Remember it takes over 500 burpees to burn off 1 large serving of french fries. You cannot exercise away a bad diet.

Brush It Away A thorough brushing and flossing distracts you and leaves you with a minty taste in your mouth, one that you won’t want to ruin with the taste of food. Plus think about how impressed your dentist will be next time you go in for a check-up.

 Write It Off Keep a journal and you’ll be amazed how often you turn to food in times of stress, depression, anxiety, fatigue or just boredom. A food/mood journal can be extremely helpful in figuring out patterns and devising coping strategies for those stressful times when you would otherwise turn to food. A journal also keeps you honest and it makes you accountable to yourself. Nobody wants to write down that they ate half a pan of brownies or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.  Writing those entries and seeing the actual fat and carb grams and calories will snap you right out of the craving.

Quick Tips Chew gum to keep your jaw busy, step on the scale to shock you out of eating that cookie, look at pictures of yourself – the ones you don’t want anybody else to see, call a friend or your trainer, etc.  I know if I go to Facebook I will see enough motivation to stick to the program!

Treat Day Plan on ONE day of the week that you can have a treat meal, snack, whatever. In my world these are called high-carb or refeed days. I plan these days out and look forward to them. It helps to know that treats are ahead. Lately my treat of choice is peanut butter pop-tarts? Other times it has been a burger with a large plate of home-made fries,  ice-cream, biscuits, etc. I make my craving of the week  work into my diet (macros) and knowing that I have something to look forward to helps.  Makes it taste that much better!

Hope this helps….


No Bake Energy Bites by Julie


On occasion I crave a sweet treat and my friend, Julie Christian, is the one that helps me out.  I cannot bake but Julie is an excellent and creative baker and is able to make macro friendly treats for me!  She has become smarter and only gives me portions that I am allowed:)  These energy packed bites are one of Julie’s tasty creations!

Per Bite:

Calories             110

Protein                  3

Carbs                    12

Fat                          6

Ingredients & Directions:

Mix the following together in a bowl

*80g Old Wessex 5 grain Oats

*60g Chocolate chips

*90g Peanut butter

*50g Ground Flax Seeds

*75g Raw Honey

*1 tsp Vanilla

Makes 15 Balls

You can make this a higher protein snack by using P28 peanut butter but be sure to adjust the macros.



Turkey & Cranberry Panini – LOW CARB


Calories             280

Protein                 40

Carbs                    21

Fat                          4

Ingredients & Directions:

*1 Joseph’s Lavash Wrap (100 calories, 10gprotein, 14gcarb & 4gfat)

*5 oz all natural turkey breast

*drizzle 1 TBSP of WALDEN Farms Pancake syrup over turkey breast

*top with 1/2 cup my cranberry sauce (see post from 4/23/14)

Wrap up and place in hot Panini press – crunchy sweet YUM!!


Cranberry Sauce


I go through phases of eating things non-stop. My current obsession is cranberry sauce! Before I post the easy meals/recipes that involve cranberry sauce I thought I should first post how to make the sauce. I make a bunch at once and just store it in the fridge so it is easy to grab and create.

Serving per ½ cup

Calories              28

Protein                  0

Carbs                     7

Fat                          0

Ingredients & Directions:

Mix the following together in a medium pot

*20 oz. fresh cranberries

*3 TBSP truvia

*1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Cook together on medium heat until you hear the cranberries popping and they start to look mushy. I cook for about 10 minutes. Then place into large bowl and let cool a bit before storing in fridge, EASY!

Stay tuned for cranberry recipes. For now it’s great on toast or on top of chicken.


Benefits of Eating EGGS


WHY EAT EGGS? Besides being tasty, high in protein and they can be prepared in so many creative ways here are 5 reasons to keep cracking them open:

1. TO SLIM DOWN – studies have shown that dieters who eat eggs for breakfast achieve a 60% greater weight loss then those who begin their day with a calorie-equivalent breakfast.  Researchers theorize the quality of protein in the eggs help control appetite.  There are about 70 calories in a whole egg (with yolk), 17 calories in just each egg white and 7 grams of protein.

2. TO PROTECT YOUR HEART – Numerous studies have debunked the link between eggs and heart disease. A unique protein found in egg yolks blocks platelets, which are the cells responsible for blood clots, from clumping together inside blood vessels thereby minimizing heart-attack risk.  So add a yolk into your egg white omelets! I don’t everyday but a few days per week for sure!

3. TO FIGHT INFLAMMATION – Eggs contain choline which playing a key role in brain health and helps keep the body’s circulatory system clear of compounds that could cause inflammation (reduces muscle swelling after hard workouts).

4. TO MAINTAIN BONE STRENGTH – Eggs are one of the few natural sources of bone-building vitamin D. One egg supplies 10% of the daily value.

5. TO KEEP YOUR VISION SHARP – Yolks contain the pigment lutein which helps prevent age-related macular degeneration.  Spinach and other greens contain higher amounts of lutein BUT eggs provide a more absorbable form.

Here are just a few examples of ways to prepare eggs:

egg white pancakes (see my recipes), egg omelets with veggies, egg white french toast, egg sandwiches, egg whites in a wrap with cheese and salsa, poached eggs, hard boiled eggs, hard boiled egg whites mashed up with mustard like egg salad sandwich, fried eggs, etc.

A new egg recipe will be posted soon!!!

Chocolate Strawberry Protein Fluff-LOW CARB FROZEN TREAT



Calories               205

Protein                   25

Carbs                       15

Fat                             5

Ingredients & Directions:

*1 scoop (32.3g) chocolate casein protein powder (I use Core Pro Chocolate Delight Protein Blend)

*1 cup FROZEN strawberries sliced in halves

*1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Put protein powder and almond milk in bowl and blend well.  Again, I use my Cuisinart Smart Stick.  At first it will seem very hard to blend BUT the longer you blend the more it creates.  Then slowly add in FROZEN strawberries and keep blending – the more time you blend the better the fluff.  My bowl goes from almost empty to full AND THIS TASTES LIKE FROZEN YOGURT!


Use casein powder

Use frozen fruit

BLEND for time

I just bought a peanut butter ice cream flavor powder that I am going to try with a frozen banana. YUM


Tips for the NEWER Competitor

I thought I would share some funny & difficult lessons that I have learned along my journey……

SUSTAINABLE – We all love the way we look when competing but that look is not sustainable!  People tell me all the time how great I look when I am show ready but I rarely hear those words in the off-season.  Everyone wants to look like a magazine cover but does not understand what it takes to maintain that look.  Your biggest hindrance to growth can be trying to have that shredded look all the time.  You cannot be super-lean year round or year after year.

NUDITY – You need to overcome the fear of nudity.  I wore a suit during my first spray tan because I couldn’t stand the thought of being nude infront of someone.  After seeing the spray lines, I realized I needed to be nude.  I’ve become more comfortable – this is evident by the fact that I had a male spray tanner last year.  The “bend over” tanning scene was brought to a whole new level. Terrence – are you reading this??

SPRAY TANS – This one is messy!   A few tips a) as soon as you get back to your room get naked (yes again) and air dry some more.  Set your room to a cooler temperate and dry.  B) make sure you pack rag sheets or blankets to sleep on.  I purchased a large brown blanket  so I can wrap up in it when sitting and then use it for sleeping.  C) for females –  you do not want drip marks so I’ve learned peeing in a bottle or large cup and disposing in the toilet is the best way to go.  I know it sounds gross but it is so much easier.  I couldn’t figure out WHY I seem to drip only when I am spray tanned – finally figured out that stuff is sprayed everywhere – need I say more.

HAIRLESS – Get used to the fact that bodybuilders are hairless from the eyeballs down.  Take it all off!!

HANGRY – (my friends term for hungry and angry) You need to learn to control your anger (moods) when hungry.  I’ve said some doozy’s to my family and clients.  I think I am improving each time and trying to be more aware.  Lesson here is that just because you are committed to this training and diet doesn’t mean the ones you love need to suffer. I think I should start a list of some of my more memorable comments.  Example, me yelling to my family “I can hear you crunching” as they are eating in the closet because they were afraid of me.  Or me yelling at my clients during group training “don’t make me repeat myself or else you will pay for it (and they did)”.  At the end of that workout they looked like they went through a tornado.

DIETING & BEING SOCIAL – This is a hard one to learn.  Just because we are dieting does not mean that we should pass up on social events.  It can be hard at times to watch your family or friends eating and drinking but remember it is not the food and drinks that make the memories; it is being there and participating.  Life is short – embrace it!

MACROS IN THE OFF SEASON – I confess that this is the hardest lesson for me to learn and have not exactly mastered yet.  Just because you are finished with your competition season doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want and not track your food– you need to track macros year round regardless of what stage you are in with your training. The ever famous words –REVERSE DIET!

PROTEIN FARTS – This one is funny!  During the peak of my 2013 show prep my husband of 20 years slept on the coach for the FIRST time because I gave him a dutch oven.  Do not give dutch ovens when eating lots of protein and veggies.

LOSING WITH GRACE –  Before you compete you need to figure out WHY you are competing.  You need to learn that you cannot or should not ever compare yourself to anyone else.  You need to compete to be your own personal best each time and cannot stress about the judges results.  The focus needs to be making your own personal improvements each time and enjoying the brief time on stage as it goes fast. I’ve been that sore loser that said the judges were wrong – my ego was wrong! Go out there and be supportive and have fun being YOUR best.

OVER-TRAINING – Remember you grow while you are resting.  If you don’t provide enough rest and recovery time, you will never grow.  I de-load train every 4th week and listen to my body when it feels tired and REST.  I’ve also learned that you do not have to do EVERY exercise in the books!  Example, I was nervous because my coach, Eric, didn’t have rear delt flys in my program.  His answer  was “you do dumbbell rows, that hits the rear delt enough”.   I do not use leg presses, hack squats or any of  those leg machines, I just squat. Think your program through!

SUPPORT  SYSTEM – You do not have to do this on your own.  Hire a coach that knows what they are doing – I use Eric Helms with 3DMJ.  Hire a trainer to keep you honest and give you that extra push,  I have Anthony Vorachak.   I am also lucky to have my family, friends and some fellow competitors that I can reach out to.  Surround yourself with good support systems and use them.    The best part is having someone to celebrate with you!!

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Paul & I celebrating after I won                                My roadies – Nancy Tsongalis &

my DFAC pro card                                                           Julie Christian



Spaghetti Dinner – LOW CARB & FAT

image  spag squash

Calories               294

Protein                   39

Carbs                      30

Fat                             2

Ingredients & Directions:

Cut spaghetti squash in half and scoop out seeds

Place face down in baking dish and bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 375

When cooked scoop out 2 cups (300 grams) of squash into frying pan

Add ½ cup tomato basil no salt added spaghetti sauce

Add 5 oz. broiled diced chicken breast

Sautee together  with Vik’s Garlic Fix seasoning (best garlic spice!!!! I order on-line from the Tea & Spice Exchange – their crazy chicken spice is AWESOME too)


Team Tara Group Workout 4/5/14

image  image  image  image

My clients completed their annual March Madness Challenge (working out 6 days a week for the month of March) and celebrated today with a group workout and gift exchange.  I am proud of my team for their participation and hard work.  The group workout started off with a 2 minute  burpee challenge.   They had to see how many burpees they could do and Cassie Armstead won with a total of 36!!

Team Photo Above: Congrats to Cassie Armstead,  Cinny Bensen, Milagros Canfield, Julie Christian, Kathy Doherty, Sherry Edmonds, Christine Gosselin, Susan Hardy, Stephen Kantor, Arlene Mahler, Janice Pilon, Valerie Truell,  and Ann Waterfall.

Chicken & Pumpkin Casserole


Calories               257

Protein                 32

Carbs                     27

Fat                          2


*1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree

*1/2 diced tomatoes (canned no salt added)

*cinnamon, allspice & truvia to taste

MIX together in baking dish then add:

*1 cup RAW chopped zucchini

*1/2 cup RAW chopped red pepper

*7 RAW asparagus spears chopped

*4 oz. COOKED chopped boneless chicken breast

Combine all of the ingredients in baking dish and bake at 375 for 30 minutes