Haven’t posted on my other blog in quite some time, so I thought this topic was a good one for the Dispatch.com readers. Check out my post about bench pressing here!



dove you should charge

True statement. And I do charge. Problem is, I haven’t been very motivated lately to keep up on my health coaching business.

So when I saw this on the wrapper after opening the second Dove chocolate that I stole out of a co-worker’s stupid candy jar that I wish wasn’t there and can’t avoid, I thought, “Hmmmm. Maybe those Dove chocolate fortunate writers have some connections and we should start believing these things.” Afterall, I opened one the other day that said this: You know what? You look good in red. Guess what color my shirt was that day? And guess what my favorite color has always been. Maybe I should eat more Dove chocolates to help guide my life decisions. Or maybe they should pay me for this free advertising.

Anyway, I am a certified health coach and have been for almost a year now. I want to help people make lifestyle changes, lose weight, add exercise into their lives, learn how to eat healthfully and generally feel good. I have done it for others. I have done it myself. I can do it for you.

Contact me at todiforfitness86@gmail.com.

And forget that I used chocolate to sell my health-coaching business. (Dark chocolate is good for you!)


I may be mis-remembering, but I believe this Thanksgiving will be my first as the host and only cook for my whole family.

A couple of decades ago, my then-husband and I hosted his family for the holiday once or twice, but those were always potlucks. I vaguely remember cooking a turkey once. But mostly, my kids and I have dined at someone else’s house for our holiday meal. Or I had to work the holiday, in which case I would participate in a work potluck and the family ate elsewhere.

This year, the stars aligned: the kids weren’t going to their dad’s house, they would all be in town, I didn’t have to work, and we didn’t have obligations elsewhere. So I’m preparing a full Thanksgiving dinner for my 23-year-old daughter and her fiancé, my 21-year-old daughter, my 17-year-old son and my six-year-old, with an assist from my husband of course.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a dining table so much as a dining peninsula. Hmmm. Must procure an actual table.

I may be all about healthful eating, but I admit I’m not a fantastic cook. Because I work at night, we typically only eat two dinners a week as a family. Generally, they consist of: salmon; some sort of chicken; a soup or rice concoction; leftovers; or small, convenient things that any of us can throw together. Vegetables are in abundance, of course. There’s always one night of pizza or something not-so-healthy thrown in there, as well. I’m more about simplicity than gourmet, I suppose.

So I’m excited about this Thanksgiving. My super hilarious future son-in-law made a crack about having nothing but vegetables for Thanksgiving. He’s a funny guy. I’ll be sure to make extra brussels sprouts just for him.

Here’s the menu for a healthy, clean-eating vegetarian mom’s family on Thanksgiving day:

Main course

Turkey: While my 21-year-old and I may be vegetarian, I understand the rest of the family likes meat. So, yes, I will be making turkey, Brandon. You’re welcome. Lean protein is a necessity for every function in the body, particularly for muscles. I get my protein from various sources, including fish, greek yogurt, nuts and seeds, cheese and protein powder. Animal protein also has benefits because it’s considered “complete” protein and has all the amino acids your body needs. This is partially why I decided to add fish back into my diet after going veggie in 2010.

Side dishes

Mashed potatoes: Duh. I always loved mashed potatoes as a kid. So do my kids. But white potatoes are a very high-starch carbohydrate with little nutritional value. So how do you make these somewhat healthy? Use red potatoes, for one. Leave the skins on, for another. Red potatoes are lower on the glycemic index and provide many nutrients, particularly in the skin. Just don’t eat three cups of them.

Roasted sweet potatoes: I used to hate sweet potatoes. But I’ve grown to appreciate them both for their health benefits and their taste. Why didn’t I like these things before? They’re awesome. So I’ll be using this recipe. Sweet potatoes provide a ton of nutrients, including vitamins A, C and B6. Check this out. Again, moderation, as that sweet flavor comes from, you know, sugar.

Brussels sprouts with cranberries and pecans: I’ll be using this recipe, minus the gorgonzola cheese. Blech. Brussels sprouts = vitamins, antioxidants and phytochemicals. The cranberries offer a sweetness along with a strong supply of antioxidants, and the pecans are a good source of omega 3 fats and protein. I made these for a neighborhood party last year, and they were a hit (after the requisite smart-ass comments, of course).

Arugula salad: a neighbor made this for our annual fourth of July block party, so I’ve been hooked on arugula since. I don’t make it with everything she included, but the key ingredients are arugula, tomatoes, goat cheese, almonds and a dressing I create with apple cider vinegar, olive oil and dijon mustard. Throw on some chia seeds for a little extra fiber and protein. This is one of my go-to meals for work that I can throw together quickly. I may add a hard-boiled egg for protein, too.


Apple crisp: My mom makes the best version of this. Ever. I’ve taken her recipe and health-ified it a bit, using almond meal/flour with granulated stevia for the crumb topping instead of the white flour and refined sugar that her recipe calls for. I also use honey to coat the apples instead of brown sugar. The family loves it just as much as the original.

I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving meal, whatever it may contain!


We all falter this time of year, right? I mean, dang. All those cookies and pies and cupcakes and candies and parties and family get-togethers? It all conspires against our regular exercise and healthful eating patterns.

Well, I need help staying on track, too. So I came up with a three-month program to help you. Contact me here or e-mail me at todiforfitness86@gmail.com if interested. Let’s start now before we get into that trick-or-treat candy!

overcoming overindulging program

I had a bad week, fitness-wise.

During my planned six-mile run on Sunday, I felt my right hip/glute area tighten up. I didn’t misstep or do anything different, it just happened. I was able to continue running, but I cut it short a mile, and finished the last mile pretty slowly with some pain.

dumbbells top2The injury caused me to miss my normal workouts as I tried to figure out what was wrong and how to fix it. I saw a chiropractor, who I know will fix my tight muscles, misaligned hips and curved lumbar spine. I did upper body work on Wednesday, but that was the only training I managed. My normal week consists of three strength training days, one strength day with my trainer, a boot camp class and two days of running.

Not surprisingly, my mood plummeted. It didn’t occur to me until Friday – when I was feeling especially depressed and lacked energy – that lack of exercise was the primary culprit.

Endorphins are a powerful thing. Physical activity increases the release of these neurotransmitters, which help reduce stress, pain and generally make you feel pretty damn good. Some call it a “runner’s high”, but research has also proved that it takes relatively strenuous exercise to release endorphins. Light-to-moderate cardio won’t necessarily do the trick. But, anecdotally, I’d say we all feel better if we just go for a nice walk.

So, once I realized I just needed to get my exercise in (and the chiropractor told me the only thing I needed to avoid was anything that “hurt”), I went to my garage with my dumbbells and jump rope for an hour-long lifting session with a jump-rope finisher.

Boom. All better.


It’s difficult sometimes to see what some of my Integrative Nutrition classmates are doing with their health coaching certification and to not feel inadequate.

But we all have a different purpose. I know mine isn’t to quit my full-time job, rent out an office and go all out on marketing to attract dozens of clients, teach workshops and make health coaching a lucrative career. That would be awesome, of course, but I’ve come to realize that’s not the plan for me.

I have a couple of clients. I coach them on a part-time basis while maintaining the job that pays the bills. I’m fine with this, and I’m trying not to say things like, “I only have two clients”.  I have two clients who have seen results and are making healthy lifestyle changes. Boom.

tiffany card

One of my clients was doing quite well. She had lost a good amount of weight, and healthy eating and physical activity was becoming routine for her. As we approached the end of our six months together, she told me she was pregnant. This is what she wanted, of course, but obviously weight loss is no longer a goal, for now. But she is sticking with me during her pregnancy so I can help keep her on track. I know, firsthand, what it’s like to go through a pregnancy eating crap and without regular exercise. It’s why I am where I am today. She now has the tools to make good decisions. I’m just going to be there to make sure that continues.

I just had my last meeting with my second client. She has been so awesome to work with, I nearly cried when we hugged and said goodbye. During our six months together, she has lost 26 pounds, incorporated regular workouts into her week and tested a ton of different dietary theories while finding what works best for her. She has nailed down proper portion sizes and has a stable of resources to refer to when she has questions. She feels great and is full of energy and optimism. We may still meet from time to time when she needs additional help, but for now she’s going to give it a go on her own.

I love helping people gravitate toward a healthy lifestyle. It’s quite thrilling, actually. Whether it’s two people or 20 people, I’m happy.

So, now I’m ready to help someone else. If you’ve tried to lose weight or incorporate exercise into your life before without lasting success, you may need a guide to offer encouragement, accountability and support. This is the role of a health coach. I will listen to your struggles. I will give you workout tips and even at-home workouts to do on your own. I will take you step by step through gradually changing your diet and lifestyle to meet your goals.

Shoot me an e-mail at todiforfitness86@gmail.com if you would like to set up a free initial health coaching consultation.

Raise your hand if you feel stressed. Pardon me for using a trendy phrase, but … I know, right?

Honestly, this post is for me as much as it is for you. You know my obsession with health and fitness, obviously. But I, too, have stress. I’m not going to simply tell you to get more sleep, eat right and exercise. Easy, right? Well, no. I’m well aware that there are many things that get in the way of all that.

You have young children who require your supervision 24/7.

You have grown children whom you miss terribly.

You want children, but can’t have them.

Your marriage is unhappy.

You’re in a complicated relationship.

Your life seems like all work and no play.

You are overwhelmed with things you have to do, with no time for things you want to do.

You are experiencing health problems; or maybe it’s someone you love.

You must take care of your aging parents.

You don’t feel like you have any close friends. You’re lonely.

You have teenagers. Enough said.

You’re going through divorce.

You lost your job.

You hate your job, but don’t feel you have any other options.

I could probably add another 20 things to this list and you would all be nodding your head. These struggles affect your physical health as well as your mental health.

There are many ways to deal with it, so you just need to find something that works for you.

What’s been helping me lately is running. Not for speed or distance, but just running comfortably as long as I feel like it in the time that I have. Maybe you have some other form of gentle exercise that does this for you. Walking? Yoga? Tai Chi? Squeezing in just a few minutes of something like this will help ease some of the stress and perhaps divert your thoughts long enough to get through the rough spot.

I often use yoga as a warm-up or cool-down. During a recent strength workout, I couldn’t keep my mind off of something stressful and on my workout. So it was kind of lame. I decided to do some yoga afterward, and the mental clarity I experienced was pronounced. I’m not making this shit up. I honestly felt so much better physically and mentally after doing just 10 minutes of yoga.

I’ve also used meditation and breathing techniques to calm myself down, gain focus and get those stupid thoughts out of my head. Try some of Dr. Andrew Weil’s breathing exercises. I took a meditation course from Deanna Reiter, a trainer and yoga instructor from Minneapolis. There are many different styles – including guided and transcendental – but a good way to start is what she called “3 minutes before 3 o’clock”. Simply start with three minutes a day, sitting peacefully uninterrupted with your eyes closed, focusing on your breath. From there, you just extend the time. Here is a simple guide to meditation.

Herbal tea can also be calming, as can magnesium supplements like Natural Calm.

We all know we need seven or eight hours of sleep each night. But I’m not going to tell you to simply GET MORE SLEEP! Because, well, it’s not always possible. Dr. Weil recently wrote about circadian rhythms here. Ideally, we would all sleep between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. That’s when your body needs to recover. How many of you do that? I can’t go to bed at 10 because I work nights. I’m also a night owl and, even on my nights off, I’m rarely in bed before 1 a.m. Or maybe late night is your “you” time, so you’re going to stay up and listen to your music or watch your shows, dammit. So, go to bed late and sleep in? Maybe, but you have little kids who get up early or older kids you have to get off to school, so that’s not going to happen either. Or you have to get up early to workout before you go to work. Not many of us live in the perfect world where we can get ideal sleep. DO YOUR BEST.

The key with sleep, for me, is to make it good sleep. How do you do that? Get into a ritual before bedtime that doesn’t include running around like a crazy woman or staring at a screen of some sort: no TV, no phone, no computer or tablet. Drink some herbal tea or Natural Calm. Listen to some music. Do some calming yoga moves like these. PREPARE for sleep.

So I know some may say, “I don’t have time for this!” I really hate that excuse. We all have time for things. I have time to read books, but I don’t. I should, but I don’t. I do other things with that time. I actually read a blog post recently that listed reasons why women refuse sex (I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY YOU WOULD DO THIS). Soooo many women commented about not having time. But you have time to read that post and comment on it, then read all the other comments and scoff at them? Hell, you could have had a whole crap load of fun in bed in that time, ladies. Plus, STRESS RELIEF! So, seriously, you have time to scour Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and read blogs like this, right? You have time for your TV shows or books. You have time to watch stupid cat videos on YouTube. Your marriage, your kids, your job, your LIFE are all important things that require effort. Spend some time every day on stress relief. Your life with thank you. Again, I’m not perfect and I don’t do these things all the time. But I recognize when I’ve been slacking and I see the negative result. It’s hard work being healthy and happy.

Have other stress-relieving techniques? Share them, please!

I’m one of those people who personally feels meaning in song lyrics. (Warning: if you tell me to listen to a song, I’m going to read something into it based on the words.) Eminem’s ‘Til I Collapse is one of those songs on my running playlist that helps me not only because of the pace, but because of the lyrics, too. Regardless of how you feel about him or his music, Marshall Mathers is a poetic genius. The opening to this song never fails to get my adrenaline flowing and push me through at least four minutes of a run (I should probably put it on repeat, actually):

Cause sometimes you just feel tired

You feel weak and when you feel weak

You feel like you wanna just give up

But you gotta search within you

You gotta find that inner strength

And just pull that shit out of you

And get that motivation to not give up

And not be a quitter

No matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse