Category Archives: News

Do You Know These Synonyms for Sugar??


Check your food labels for these words. They are all a form of sugar and are carbohydrates.

Sucrose                               Hydrolyzed Starch           Sugar Beets

Fructose                              Invert Sugar                       High-Fructose Corn Sweetener

Glucose                               Corn Syrup                          Maple Sugar

Maltose                               Honey                                   Molasses

Dextrose                             Cane Sugar

Maltodextrin                     Agave Nectar

Do you know the dangers of chronic high-sugar diets?

We should all avoid adding sugar during food preparation. Reviewing the last 5 days of my own food journal I see that my total sugar intake ranges between 45-65 grams. I did not add any sugar – this is mostly from vegetables and fruit and natural sugars in whole foods. The typical American consumes 34 teaspoons of sugar or 136g per day. I don’t actually mean eating teaspoons of sugar but sugars in bread, bagels, cereal, dried fruit, juices, etc.

Chronic high sugar intake can reduce the body’s ability to handle carbohydrates which reduces insulin sensitivity. This leads to excess fat gain and an eventual consequence of poor carbohydrate tolerance is borderline or full-blown diabetes.

High amounts of sugar in the blood, caused by chronic high-sugar intake can cause binding of sugar molecules to blood proteins. This is called GLYCATION. Glycation has been linked to the following:

Premature aging


Altered Vision, cataracts, retinopathy


Vascular disease

Erectile dysfunction

Kidney disease

Joint pain and arthritis

So WHAT should we do?  Get your 8 – 12 servings of vegetables and fruit daily, do not eat processed food instead fresh whole foods, check labels and enjoy treats in moderation. We can all enjoy an ice-cream in the summer – it is all about moderation and finding that happy & healthy balance.

5 Simple Steps to HELP AVOID INJURY

team mantra 2013

An injury to an athlete or your client can cause a wide range of emotions including denial, anger and depression.  They may also feel fear and anxiety about losing those gains and feel like they have lost their identity. Unfortunately not all injuries can be avoided but we can take simple actions to help avoid what we can. Listed below are my simple suggestions:

1. WARM-UP PROPERLY! By warm-up I do not mean hop on a cardio machine for 5 minutes, step off and then swing your arms and legs around in funky windmill movements (I see this so often in the gym). I believe you need to start with stationary mobility (ball release and foam roll), followed by dynamic flexibility and then activation. Taking the time to warm-up before EACH workout could save you from weeks of lay-off due to an injury. Make sure you are foam rolling properly – work on specific tight areas and hold the foam roller on trigger points for about 20 seconds. Fast rolling over your body will not relieve the knots. YES, it will bring blood flow to the area but you want the knots to release to get those muscles to their optimal lengths. Remember LENGTH-TENSION RELATIONSHIPS which refers to the length at which a muscle can produce the greatest force. My warm-ups usually take about 15 minutes. Detailed below is what a leg day warm-up looks like:

a)Ball release – Use a small ball to stretch and mobilize the soft tissue and the joints of the foot. Slowly roll the ball back and forth between the toes and the heel. Followed by hamstring pin & stretch technique with a softball.

b)Foam rolling – I roll my gluteal area, I-T band, lateral quad and lateral hamstring, thoracic spine and lats.

c) Stationary mobility – spinal rotation, roll backs, kneeling hamstring stretch with foot rotations & FABER stretch. I am moving during these mobility exercises but they are all done on my mat.

d) Dynamic flexibility – spider mans with rotations, pigeon stretch, down dogs, walking calf, walking lunges with rotation, lateral lunges for adductors. All done moving across the floor.

e) Activation – clamshells with band and bridges or leg lifts, planks, etc.

NOW I am ready to squat and deadlift!!

2. VOLUME – Have a plan and do not over train. I see people training for 2 hours at a time – this is not necessary. Have a proper training program for the week and look at total volume. Remember you don’t have to do every single exercise to make the gains – be wise!

3. DELOAD WEEKS – I’ve mentioned the importance of deloads weeks in a previous post. Look under my training updates from the post dated 1/20/14 for further information! Deload weeks are a MUST and should be scheduled into your training routine.

4. SLEEP & REST – I make sure I get to bed early and aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. I also rest daily by either having a nap or just rest with my feet up for 20 minutes. I listen to my body and when it needs a nap, I take one! Not only does adequate rest helps prevent injuries, but experts say that well-rested athletes are able to train harder and more effectively, getting more out of training sessions. Rest is an important part of proper training and can make you stronger!

5. SUPPLEMENTS & NUTRITION – Proper nutrition can affect your performance and there is plenty of well-researched and documented facts to prove it. However there is little research on whether or not your diet can prevent injuries. I believe proper nutrition can help you recover, therefore reducing your risk for injury. I plan my macros for the day around my workouts to make sure I have the fuel I need before my workouts and the proper fuels afterward to recover. I also take BCAA’S and creatine when I am in show prep. A well fueled, rested and properly trained body will continue to run at peak performance!



Motivational Quotes


Tara & Michelle June 2011 post workout – BEFORE I started training for my 1st bodybuilding competition.  I think I still look like a runner here!!!!

My good friend and client is moving to Iowa at the end of this month. During my 1st show prep (2012) she would text me weekly motivational quotes. When you are hungry and low on carbs, these gestures mean a lot! I am so glad that I kept them on file and can now share them as they are motivational for everyone, not just competitors. The last 2 are my favorite – I will miss Michelle’s witty sense of humor!


“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” Gail Devers

“Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.” E. Joseph Cossman

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot

“Be miserable or motivate yourself. Whatever needs to be done, it’s always your choice.” Wayne Dyer

“Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul.” Douglas MacArthur

“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Before you put on a frown, make absolutely sure there are no smiles available.” Jim Beggs

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”   Henry David Thoreau

“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough”.   Og Mandino

“There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.” Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“Belief creates the actual fact.” William James

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Thomas Jefferson

“God doesn’t require that you succeed, only that you try.” Mother Theresa

“Life can be pulled by goals just as surely as it can be pushed by drives.” Victor Frankl

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

“Follow your honest convictions and stay strong.” William Thackeray


“If you lose those measly 8 pounds you will never have to worry that your thighs are the only ones clapping for you on stage. “ Michelle Parra

It is time again for MARCH MADNESS…….

march 2012march 2013                                 March Madness 2012                                         March Madness 2013


March Madness 2014

Every year my clients participate in my MARCH MADNESS CHALLENGE so I thought I would share the idea again for you to try and/or share with your own clients.   It is hard to believe that March is just around the corner.


*For the month of March you need to exercise 6 days a week allowing one day of complete rest. Exercises can include your days lifting, training with a trainer, taking a class, going for walks, skating, skiing, swimming, etc. If you already work out 6 days a week then challenge yourself each workout – add a set, up the weight or add that one extra hard rep (you can always do one more rep).

*keep track of your workouts and progress.

*EXTRA BONUS – set a goal and work towards it for the month.  Example, lose 2-3 pounds, try to set a new PR or work up to a set mileage goal for rowing or running.


*My clients who participate purchase a small gift – this can be anything – something funny, journal, workout socks, spa goodies, books, gift certificates, etc. They bring the gifts in wrapped during the 1st week of March. I hold the gifts.

*at the beginning of April we have a TEAM WORKOUT.

*I bring the wrapped gifts to the TEAM WORKOUT and participants get to pick from the gift basket as a reward for their hard work during MARCH MADNESS.


*round up your family and friends.

*have FUN – buddy up and work together.

*set some goals and aim for success!!

This year I am holding an extra challenge.  Each participant is keeping track of how many burpees they can do during the month of March.  The winner receives a free training session with me.  You could set a goal for a certain number and then reward yourself with a massage or some other reward you would enjoy.

Good luck!


Tara’s Holiday Survival Tips


I cannot believe how fast this holiday season has approached. I guess I’ve been a bit busy with 4 competitions, traveling and now WOW here are the holidays. I want to share my survival tips with you to help you have a healthy and happy holiday season.

Holidays should be considered a time for celebration with family and friends. Unfortunately, they have become synonymous for eating an abundance of fattening foods. It’s almost as if we’ve come to accept that we are going to put on 10 pounds during each holiday season. Celebration doesn’t have to mean gluttonous eating or deprivation for that matter. It’s time to bring the focus back to the purpose of the holiday. Enjoy your friends and family, the time off and the traditions of the holidays. The key is to go into the holidays with a plan! Below are 12 tips to help you create a plan to succeed during this holiday season.

1) Be ACCOUNTABLE for what you are eating. I know if I have to log the food into my food journal it will keep me honest. It may surprise you how quickly those calories can add up!! So to help, know what types of foods will be offered and what you are going to choose to eat. Let’s face it; in general, you know what types of foods are on the Christmas, Hanukkah, and Party dinner tables. Plan ahead of time!

2) Don’t go to the table telling people you’re “eating healthy this holiday season”. There’s no need to bring attention to your food choices. People will feel that you are not enjoying yourself or that they should feel guilty about what they are eating. You’re more likely to have success if you keep it low-key.

3) Fill your plate heavily with vegetables, fruits and lower fat foods. Start your eating with these foods and then eat your favorites. This way you won’t be so hungry for the calorically dense foods. Besides, your relatives and the people around you are only going to draw attention to your food choices if you have an empty plate or are picking at food. This way, you are eating! Your plate is full and you are enjoying the foods you’ve chosen. No one should feel sorry for you, including you!

4) Don’t say yes to all that is before you. You don’t need to pick at every gift basket that’s left at your desk or eat your way through the holiday buffets. Choose wisely and carefully. Many food gifts that I receive will go into the freezer and I will enjoy them over time – NOT all at once.

5) If you’re cooking, try not to nibble throughout the day. All those little bites add up.

6) If you’re cooking, try some new lighter recipes. Use high quality, fresh ingredients and the foods will taste great. You just don’t want to tell your guests that they’re lighter until after they’ve already enjoyed it. We’re predetermined to think that healthy food can’t be good.

7) If you’re not cooking, offer to bring a dish. Bring something that you know you can fill up on without the guilt. I love to make a roasted veggie salad. It is easy – roast up a big pan of veggies in the oven with a bit of olive oil (I spray it one) and garlic. When its cooled put over a bed of lettuce. Homemade cranberry sauce makes a great dressing.

8) Moderate your drinking at the holidays because it most often leads to the worst choices. Alcohol will slow down your metabolism and your good judgment. Try a wine spritzer instead of champagne. Or just try to limit yourself so you can enjoy your holiday fully! Remember alcohol is a carb – I prefer to eat my carbs vs drink them.

9) Have a healthy snack before you go to a holiday meal. Don’t go to a party on an empty stomach when you get to the party and you’re already satisfied, you’re less likely to eat as a reaction to hunger.

10) Get your exercise and maintain your workout schedule. Plan a family walk after meals. My family and I always go for a walk after Christmas dinner, it is a fun way to see the neighborhood lights and decorations. When you take care of yourself regularly with exercise, your desire for unhealthy foods tends to decrease. But remember you cannot out-exercise a bad diet. Do NOT go and do 2 hours of cardio to off-set a bad day of eating. Life HAPPENS and one day of bad eating will not make you fat, just like one day of dieting will not make you skinny.

11) If at first you don’t succeed, don’t throw in the towel. Most of us tend to eat out of control after we give in to that initial temptation. Don’t assume that because you ate a piece of cake that you now have to try every type of pie on the table. Accept your choice and then move on. Do not allow that one treat to cause a binge.

12) Control Stress – We often eat as a result of stress or emotions. The holiday season can be a tiring, stressful time. Make sure to take time for relaxation and exercise so that you’re not prone to eating for stress management.

I hope these tips will help you survive the 2014 Holiday Season!

Enjoy your time with your family and friends.

Have a safe and happy Holiday Season!!


1st 2014 Competition Completed

dfac 2014

I am in the midst of my competition season and thought I would give a quick update on the completion of my 1st show.

I competed in Miami, FL at the DFAC World Finals on November 1st. There were 11 female pro bodybuilders in the line-up and it was an honor to be on stage with such a competitive group of athletes. It was a long and tough pre-judging but I loved it!  I believe we were on stage for over 20 minutes. I really like how DFAC conducts their pre-judging! They first judge on symmetry (relaxed poses front, side and rear) and then do another round for muscularity (front & rear bicep & lat spread, side chest & tricep, most muscular and thigh and ab). The head judge explains what is happening, calls the poses very clearly and makes it easy and non-stressful. The finals are always so much fun in the DFAC organization. They do the show up right with lights, music and fog. Finals consist of another round of posing, our 1 minute posing routines which counts for 1/3 of our score and a pose down. The pose down is fun and gives the judges time to tally the scores.

I ended up placing 2nd overall which was a huge honor and accomplishment. Of course I am very pleased with my results but more importantly I am pleased with the improvements that I made on my physique and know that I brought a better version of me to stage. As Eric has taught me it is not about placing or winning but really about learning and improving.  I am also happy that I met some amazing fellow athletes that I respect and admire. I really couldn’t have asked for a better experience!!

Now onto the next competition on 11/8/2014……

Fit & Fab Event at the River Valley Club

fit & fab by Tara
In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month I will be hosting another Fit & Fabulous Event at the River Valley Club (RVC)!
Two years ago RVC members donated items in exchange for a group training session led by ME.  I was able to make up over 50 gift bags for women to receive while receiving chemotherapy.  The bags were greatly appreciated and I received many notes of appreciation from the recipients.
Tina Kebalka, RN & Director for 31 Gifts has 20 bags to donate. Our goal will be to STUFF the bags.
So mark your calendars for Saturday October 18th.  I will offer two group training sessions and the cost will be a donated item (s).  Training will be at 7:30am and 9:00am for one hour in the Group Training Studio at RVC.  You get FIT while we help women feel fabulous & special!
Items Requested:
Small fleece blankets
Lotion and shower gels (no shampoos or hair products)
Make-up (no mascara)
Note pads & pens
Candy, mint, gum
Nail polish
Please RSVP – let me know that you are attending and which class the 7:30am or 9:00am.
Please spread the word and bring friends, family members, neighbor, etc.  NON-members are welcome!!!!
If you cannot attend but would like to donate an item(s) you can leave items with me at anytime. 
Thank you!
In memory of my beautiful sister-in-law, Audrey Davies.  I miss you everyday!!!!

Fall Harvest Special at Yankee Farmer’s Market

This is a bodybuilders dream – GOOD QUALITY MEAT ON SALE!!!!

meat sale

Just in time for holiday cooking & cool weather…A hearty sampler of Pasture Raised Natural Meats (Fits into about 4 cubic feet of freezer space). YOU COULD SPLIT THIS WITH FAMILY, FRIENDS OR A FELLOW COMPETITOR!!


Chicken Package (25-30 lbs of mixed turkey and chicken)

¼ Pig (30-35 lbs of mixed pork)

Buffalo Freezer Teaser (20-25 lbs, a variety of buffalo)

Regular Package Price: $659.99 (5% discount)

Purchase by October 20th and save even more-

10% package discount &  Only $629.99

This special requires order and payment by October 20th.

After October 20th, Package price with 5% discount will be effective at $659.99

Please allow approximate 2-3 week lead time for package pick up or shipping.

On-line Orders to be shipped:

Shop on-line  – after you have shopped & selected your shipping option (last step) SELECT YES when prompted ‘Are you a TARAPRO Member.’ They will track your purchases for the incentive program. You will receive store credit for the 12th month based on the average purchases you made over the year. THEY CAN SHIP RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR ANYWHERE IN THE USA!!



Got MEAT??

Buffalo, Beef, Chicken, Pork, Venison, Lamb

I am very excited to announce that I have been sponsored by Yankee Farmer’s Market in Warner, NH. This is going to be a GREAT working relationship because Yankee Farmer’s Market is a huge part of my training & nutrition. I purchase all of my MEAT from them – it is good, healthy, lean protein. As a personal trainer I encourage my clients to make healthy food choices and already have most of them ordering their protein from the Farm. I believe you have to practice what you preach and anyone that knows me knows how passionate I am about my food – I blame my Italian heritage.

This is an exciting opportunity for me and YOU!!! HOW? Well they are offering an incentive based program for continuous purchasers.

On-line Orders to be shipped:  Shop on-line, there is no MINIMUM or MAXIMUM amount – after you have shopped & selected your shipping option (last step) SELECT YES when prompted ‘Are you a TARAPRO Member.’ They will track your orders with this code for the incentive program.  You will receive store credit for the 12th month based on the average purchases you made over the year. THEY CAN SHIP RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR ANYWHERE IN THE USA!!

RVC Members, Staff & local friends:  I will organize a monthly pick-up and delivery. Place your meat order anytime on-line before the 1st Thursday of every month and I will pick up the order on the 2nd Thursday of every month and bring to RVC. Make sure you use the CODE TARAPRO delivery to RVC– this will let the Farm know that it is part of the pickup and delivery. Orders will be ready for you to pick up after 2pm. You will receive the benefit of the incentive program too. Mark your calendars!

My favorites are the ground bison (makes GREAT burgers, tacos, chili, etc.), bison maple breakfast sausage, bison bacon and the pulled bison (ready to eat just needs to be heated)!!

Now start shopping and don’t forget to use code TARAPRO.


veggies 2

This is perfect timing for a VEGGIE CHALLENGE as gardens are in their peak season right know! Why am I doing this – I want to make you healthier!!!
Eating vegetables provides many health benefits that are vital for the maintenance of your body and provides important nutrients such as potassium, fiber, folic acid, and vitamins A, E and C. They may also lower your risk for some chronic diseases such as heart disease, including heart attack and stroke, protect against certain types of cancer, help reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

That paragraph should be enough to convince you to eat more veggies but just in case you need more nudging here are a few more reasons: a) veggies are high in vitamins and minerals which make you feel healthy and energized b) they are naturally low in calories so you can eat them guilt free c) they offer variety since there are so many different veggie you can always have something different to eat d) veggies are high in fiber which provides a feeling of fullness with fewer calories e) Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy f) Vitamin C keeps teeth and gums healthy and aids in iron absorption AND g) THEY TASTE GOOD.

So here is my CHALLENGE to YOU – add 2 cups of veggies to your diet every day for the next 14 days and see what happens. Some suggestions *maybe replace a starch with veggies, EXAMPLE instead of crackers and hummus have veggies and hummus *instead of a whole baked sweet potato at dinner have ½ and add veggies *instead of eating that bagel or chips or sandwich have a salad loaded with fresh veggies and lean protein.

Need a list of veggies?

My go to veggies right now are (while I am cutting for show prep): asparagus, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, spaghetti squash, really any squash, spinach, kale and red onions. I have a large zucchini ready to be stuffed with ground bison and tomatoes.

Please let me know how it goes!! I hope you take the challenge on and continue to do past the 14 days!!