Healthy Mind + Body

10 things my parents taught me by age 21

20160430_132216630_iOSGoing to college wasn’t a choice for me: it was mandatory for me to succeed in my goals.

Going to a college six hours away from home? Now THAT was a choice.

Leaving my family was a choice. Keeping in touch or choosing to pick up the phone or even answer their messages was a choice. Staying close was a choice.

Growing up, I lucked out. I grew up in a family that sheltered me, guided me, cared for me, fed me, yelled and punished me when necessary but celebrated me when it was necessary as well. Disagreements arose and frustration occurred often between my parents and I, but so did jokes, laughter, and family outings.

I remember in 2012 my parents dropped me off to college with my roommate and boyfriend at the time and all I could say was “Ok bye, see ya, leave…NOW!” And was off doing my own thing. Sure, my family and I were close, but it wasn’t to where I planned to call them every day or check in weekly. Homesickness seemed non-existent to me. Seeing them only twice a year at Christmas and my birthday in June didn’t seem as though it would pose a problem.

Throw in a heartbreak that I never thought would happen, 40 + hour workweeks while attending an honors college, and the depressive thoughts that could prevent anyone from leaving his/her bed and you change your mindset real quick.

Looking back at that, I’ve been out on my own for nearly four years and my relationship with my parents has changed for the better. No, I don’t call them everyday and update them on my every move, but maybe once a week or so I’ll let them know I’m still alive. I’ll fill them in the latest date I’ve been on, talk to my dad about the latest workout I’ve been trying or maybe some new ways to alter my diet, and maybe even post on their face book and actually acknowledging their existence Winking smile 


So Sue and Luke, this post is a shout out to you guys. Here are the top ten things you both have taught me that I’ve realized at age 21.


10. Don’t underestimate yourself:

The hundreds and hundreds of times I’ve applied and been accepted into programs, leadership groups, awards, and scholarships still blows my mind. My self esteem and confidence has always been on the low side, but you taught me to believe in myself.

9. Pick up your things and put them back where they belong

Dad, remember that time you threw my baby doll’s ballet slipper in the trash because I didn’t pick it up when I was done with it?  I cried (and I’m still not over it!) Now I’m 21 and I’m not over the fact that my friends, room mates, partners, and co-workers cannot simply use something and put it back where it belongs instead of leaving it lye around the area. Thanks for making me development this trait!!

8. Don’t fear change

Moving nearly every year gave me the opportunity to learn from new environments and make friends with new faces. I’ve learned that pursuing new career paths and taking up new and unfamiliar opportunities can get me further in life than I believed it ever could.

7. You are beautiful

Beauty is more than the physical traits of a person. It’s their mannerisms and quirks; their personality traits. My parents made sure I knew that I was beautiful whether I believed it or not.

6. Watch what you say and who you say it to

Every time I vented or gossiped about a certain girl/boy growing up, my mother remembered every detail of it. Years later when I would bring him/her up, she could remember the previous stories I told about that person. So watch what you say about someone and who  you say it to—once it is out there, there’s no getting it back.

5. Never discourage someone’s likes, dislikes. If anything, encourage it

My mother never turned her head when I told her I wanted to dye my hair. From black hair, to red hair, to black tips, maroon tips, blue streaks, she was there when I wanted these things done. She encouraged my all black wardrobe growing up and would even find clothes to add to the collection. My dad came with me to get my lip pierced although he thought it was the farthest thing from a good idea. All of my likes and interests never aligned with my parents, but they never once told me how “wrong” it was to feel a certain way about things. Now I live everyday listening to people’s perspective and interests and finding and enjoying why they feel certain ways. I’ve learned to be accepting and encouraging because of my parents.

4. Work first, play later

This is NOT the case for everyone, but I hope my future children develop this mindset. Jumping off the bus in elementary school, I would come home and immediately empty out my purple Winnie the Pooh backpack and begin my homework before I even THOUGHT about knocking on our next door neighbor Sara’s house to see if she wanted to play outside on the swing set. fifteen years later and I still have that mindset—do all my homework, email all my clients, prep all my meals BEFORE I even think about going on pinterest and getting lost in a world of recipes for an hour (or four…hehe)

3. Always wear your seatbelt

Every time someone comes in my car, whether they are significantly younger or older, or whether I get in THEIR car, I always make sure the seatbelts are on…even if we’re just going from one parking spot to the next. Growing up with a police officer father will really engrain things in your mind. other similar ideals include: do not drink and drive, do not get in a car with someone who has been drinking, always wear your helmet (even when you’re a 21 year old biking to class…) and never talk to strangers (unless you’re in a grocery store helping them choose the best type of cheese or BBQ sauce)

2. Your true love may be someone who is your complete opposite

Everyday I wonder how in the world my parents ended up together. A ginger and a brunette…an overall health and fitness enthused man and a “I’ll eat what i like” perspective woman…a short tempered and “one hour early is late” mindset filled man with a relaxed tempered “5 minutes early is good enough” woman…where are the similarities? I’m only 21, but I’ve spend countless times X’ing out people who had no similarities to me, or who fell into my mold of the ‘mohawk –tattooed-fitness enthused alpha male that chances are I passed up several people that could have treated me way better than I have ever been treated previously. with that being said I also learned to let love find you, and not push for something that isn’t there anymore.

1.  Try your best in all that you do

Perfectionism can really mess with your mindset, but after hearing my father constantly tell me that as long as I try my best, that’s all that matters, I’m slowly becoming more accepting of that thought. Sure, I’m still hard on myself when I don’t get the highest grade, or get the award or whatever it is that I am aiming for, but as long as I learn from my mistakes and try my hardest, that’s all I can really ask of myself.


Reflection Friday: What I learned from my First Bikini Competition


20160330_215030000_iOSI’ve slacked this whole week with posting due to the overwhelming schedule I’ve had, but I think this post may be one of the most beneficial ones I write.

Friday: Driving down to Pittsburgh for my spray tan:

After my meeting with the interns and clearing up all of the odds and ends of things, I drove down to the pittsburgh area where I was spray tanned by Olympia Tan. I chose to do the tanning through the venue that was affiliated with the show. Pricey? Yes, but it was ENTIRELY worth it. The day of the show that provided us with more touch ups, shine, bikini bite, and they were such a nice group to work with. They ensured I looked my best and that there were no drips or lines. They even got me in a whole hour before my appointment was scheduled! Talk about luck right?? After my tan I waited around the hotel for an hour or so until check in/weigh in at 6pm. I was so nervous that I dropped my coffee and it landed on some girls feet! Luckily she was so sweet about it and we started talking; she told me how this was her second show and that I shouldn’t be nervous. We got some cool swag bags and t shirts at check  in filled with lots of supplements and protein bars that I couldn’t eat…..#peakweekproblems. It was about 7pm and all I wanted to do was go to sleep, so I did haha! My coach told me how I’d be in bed early and I didn’t believe her. All of the carb depletion really got to me.


Saturday: Show time!

I went back to the hotel at 8:30AM to get some bronzer/touch ups done on my tan. I also got dressed in the hotel bathroom and did my makeup there . Some people get their hair/makeup done, but I chose to do it myself. I don’t usually wear makeup or do anything to my hair, so I was too nervous for anyone to do an awful job and ruin my day! I drove on over to the venue and waddled on over with my huge isolator fitness lunchbox and carry on bag that contained my shoes and suit and other paraphernalia and found a seat in the back. In an hour was the competitor meeting, so  had some time to change and practice posing and redo any mascara that smudged, which is inevitable with my unsteady hand. I came back to a few guys that were sitting near my lunchbox and ended up having a great conversation with them. The competitor Matt had done about six shows and is really progressing in the bodybuilding field, and his friend Chad came as support. I looked like a loser sitting all alone but soon enough I knew my friends and fan club at the gym would show up. Tip I learned: TALK to people!! seriously—go network! Talking to Matt and Chad ended up being the highlight of my day! We discussed different diets an techniques, as well as personal stories that weren’t non-fitness related. It was so nice to have my nerves calmed before we all headed backstage to get ready. Lacey and the gym women showed up relatively soon, just in time for me to go on stage!


As a first time competitor, you can say I had NO idea what I was doing! Without a posing coach I was all alone up there, but I think I did fairly well for going into this whole show blind. Prejudging  I entirely failed haha, I think I was so nervous I could feel my smile shaking the entire time on stage. But I didn’t trip, I did remember to move my hair to the side, and I was always smiling Smile  The two classes I competed in were True novice (never competed before) and collegiate (<25 years old and taking college classes). What really pissed me off was that there were 3 girls who competed in true novice who actually had competed before….and competed with Lacey in previous shows!!! Entirely unfair! But hey, I can’t be salty forever! After I got off stage I was like wow…..that was SO easy. I can’t believe I was so nervous! Prejudging ended around 2:30 and Lacey and I had 2.5 hours to kill before finals, so we sat and chatted with Matt and Chad for a while, until Matt wanted to get coffee.

So that began our journey to find a coffee shop in a town we had never explored. And this involved walking around (luckily it was 66 degrees, because I was walking around in a bikini and a robe) for about a mile looking for this coffee shop that I googled…which ended up being this run down shady looking place in the middle of nowhere. But nonetheless, it was the best time of my life. Walking in, all of the african americans in the room looked at me and were complimenting my tan, stating how black is beautiful. The tan and outfit was a great conversation starter. All of the people in the room were interested in what was going on in town this weekend. We all grabbed our coffees and sat down and just relaxed until finals at 5.




20160330_215032000_iOSSaturday: The end result and take away message

Getting 2nd in the collegiate division baby! All of the girls on stage in every class looked phenomenal! It was bad to say that I was ashamed with how I looked because everyone else topped me big time! After watching all of the women, it only makes me want to try harder and eat better to become like them. I’m so proud of everything that I accomplished and I’m looking forward to my next show in April. Going to bring it even better (and more posing practice is needed). We all celebrated by grabbing food at Red Robin afterwards as a cheat. Mine was a grilled chicken sandwich with unlimited broccoli (accompanied by an entire row of cinnamon bun oreos Winking smile and chocolate covered pretzels…and some of Laceys french fries obviously)


Things I will take away from my experience as a first time NPC bikini competitor:

  • Practice posing….more than you think you need too. Posing is so important! Doing things the right way will hide as well as accentuate the areas you want.
  • 80% nutrition, 20% exercise: dieting is key. Cheating is ineveitable in small doses, but staying on track on your diet is so important
  • Get a coach: Unless you feel confident in your abilities regarding nutrition, I suggest getting a coach
  • Talk to people! Talk to people in your class, the judges, compliment the girls, everything. Not everyone will be nice of course, but it doesn’t hurt to try to network
  • Smile—no one likes someone who is flat faced on stage
  • Don’t overcheat the night after the show—my cramps after my meal was awful!! Well worth it of course Smile but driving 1.5 hours home after that meal was painful!!
  • Take as many photos as possible—you’ll want to remember it forever.



Weekend Wrap-up: Bikini Suits, Spicing up the house, and Sundays

Thursday: I was able to get a few extra hours in at my job to make some $$$. After an amazing lifting session, I headed to work and cut up fruit (the usual). Afterwards I went back into the gym for my second round of cardio and just wasn’t feeling it.

Does anyone else ever do 2-a-days and just hate the second session?

I think it’s because there are way too many people there for my liking at 3-5pm that I just can’t get in the mood to workout!

20160312_210448917_iOSFriday: Super busy Friday! I usually never work fridays at the grocery store but I volunteered to help out a day shift, which entirely threw my day off! I got to the gym at my usual 3:45AM time, then had a client at 7:30, and then had to be at work at 10. A lot of running around, but I did manage to have a successful friday. MY BIKINI CAME IN! Smile And even better….it fit! Now only if my abs could pop out any day now I would be happy Smile Good thing my second show isn’t until next month, I still have time to grind and kill it on stage. I need to relax and understand that this whole bikini competition thing is a learning process—I won’t master this all in one day (or one show). Granted, I’m doing everything on my own with my coach, it’s tough not having a huge support system but luckily I found some women at the gym who have given TONS of advice to get me through prep and walk me through the process.


Saturday: work work work! Usually my weekends only consist of work, but lately I’ve felt overworked—not just with a job, but in LIFE. I feel like my anxiety is getting a bit out of control; feeling at a loss of time and that I don’t have enough time is something I constantly say I will work on, but still struggle everyday on it. I’ve been seriously feeling depressed lately (and I dislike using that word because I know it is a true illness that I don’t want to misuse) but I really have been feeling pretty low. Here are some of the things ive been trying to do that really have been helping me:

  • adding bright colors to my apartment
  • reorganizing my room/apartment
  • listening to peppy music each morning
  • starting my day at the gym
  • buying flowers and adding that to my house


Personally, I just think I need more color in the environment I live in. Spicing up the house with color REALLY affects my mood, for the better. Try it out! I even was productive and went to walmart and returned some things, picked up photos for my room AND bought a bright colored bedspread!


Sunday: An easy day at the gym this AM: cardio + some chest and bis. My chest is feeling a lot better than it has been; straining/overtraining is the worst! Especially chest—you use that muscle in nearly everything you do! Tonight will just consist of a nice relaxing bikeride for some fun cardio + some homework on the porch. Let’s hope the weather stays relatively nice. It’s only 6:30AM and I hear the birds chirping already.


Make today a good day!


Workout Wednesday

20160217_110004000_iOSDo you ever….

have those days where you know for a fact you completed everything but you are absolutely stressing out over NOTHING? That’s me on  a typical day, and that was definitely me yesterday. After being called off of work I laid in my bed all day at my laptop working on assignments, projects, research, my portfolio, my presentation, etc. I finished everything that “had” to be done but for some reason I could not get rid of that super anxious/stress vibe! I think it’s because it’s that girly time of the month and I’m at a lack of chocolate Sad smile  My roommate Christyna’s mom bought me swiss chocolate and all I want to do is dive into that ziplock bag of them!!! And this morning all I wanted to do was snoooooze! I wasn’t even tired, but I had to lay in my bed and talk to myself; stating how I needed to get up and kill my workout so I didn’t have to do it later. And killed it is exactly what I did:

Back and Tris/30 minutes of cardio. Coach wants me to do back bis AND tris, but combining all of those in a short 1.5 hour period was not happening this AM.


Workout for back and tris this AM:

  • medium grip lat pull down superset w/ cable rows
  • wide grip lat pull downs superset w/ tricep pulls (rope attachment)
  • the iso chest/back machine superset with tricep pulldowns (bar attachment)
  • single arm iso back superset with dips
  • skullcrushers superset with barbell tricep curls
  • rope attachment face pulls superset with seated rows
  • 30 minutes run/walk cardiooooo!

In regards to diet, I’ve been fairly good for how much of a carb queen I am Princess Counting down the weeks until I can eat my iHop cinnastack pancakes!

After freaking out and mentally stressing all day, I headed over to the IUP campus to present on eating disorders. Can’t wait until next week when I can do it again. Photographers from The Penn (the school paper) showed up, so that was a nice surprise. Afterwards I headed over to Shawn’s house because I seriously needed a venting session. Sometimes talking is the best medicine. Although I’ve spent most of my life using isolation as my source of “stress relief”, I find that surrounding myself with a person or even a few people can really be beneficial.

also it probably helped that Shawn bought cinnamon bun oreos yesterday and I totally stole half of one, no shame there though!! (Sorry coach!!)


On that note of spending time with people, after I come back from work today,  Lacey (figure competitor) and I have a nice coffee date planned. Girl time = always appreciated!! Especially from those who know exactly what you are going through.

Off to work!!


Cold Hands Warm Heart 5K & Quick/Easy Healthy Snacks

20160212_134220000_iOSHappy Saturday!! Unlike my usual Saturday of working the 7-3:30pm shift, today’s morning consisted of biceps & cardio followed by getting showered and dressed for my Uptown Fitness Cold Hands Warm Heart 5K Health Fair! Wow that was a mouthful. Today the interns are taking part in the 3rd annual health fair hosted my a local gym in town. My room mate works at the gym so she’s going to be there doing fitness demos and helping put the program together. The interns are putting together several stations regarding heart health, such as limit your fats, antioxidants, watching your sodium, etc. My station is the limiting your fat one & we’re making sunflower butter! I’m really excited to see the turnout of this event.


Repping my IUP Dietetics tumblr this morning as I’m getting dressed and eating my egg whites. At this event there are also going to be food demos and a heart healthy cook off. As I’m still on prep, I can’t be consuming these meals so I’ll be sure to pack a lunch with me. After this event I WISH I could spend time to myself and relax but working on my portfolio for my management rotation will persist throughout the day. Good thing I already hit up the gym.


One of my friends from college contacted me asking if I could recommend to her some quick and easy snacks to take on the go to class and work. After thinking about this for a little bit I was able to brainstorm a few ideas for her:

– tuna and crackers

– pb and jelly sandwich w/ WW bread

-turkey and cheese sandwich w/ WW bread

– celery, carrots, peppers, hummus

-hummus & crackers

– Tuna on WW bread

– Greek yogurt + fruit

– overnight oats: 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup water + lots of fruit of top. leave in fridge overnight and grab in the AM!

– Cheese stick + crackers/piece of fruit

– stay away from canned soups and frozen meals. convenient, but not really healthy

– hard boil eggs the night before (or cook chicken). Throw in a salad of leafy greens, peppers, cucumbers, cheese, etc.

-salads: you can do so much with them!! load them with veggies and add a protein (eggs, turkey, chicken, tuna, steak, whatever you have on hand)

-cottage cheese + fruit

– yogurt + whole grain cereal

– air popped popcorn + handful of nuts in a baggie for class.

-Cereal is awesome!!! 3/4 cup of cereal + milk + a butt ton of berries on top = throw in a to-go mug and there’s breakfast!! Aim for a high fiber/protein cereal, like bran flakes. its bland but the fruit really adds to it!

-I personally steer clear of bagels. Serious energy killer on myself

What are some of your favorite on the go snacks?


Count Ingredients Not Calories!

20140922_110750608_iOSCheck out my new article here on how to spice up and healthify that sodium bomb of a meal that we all know as ramen

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As I finished off one of my favorite protein powders, Nutrex cookie madness, I decided to do some research in regards to my FAVORITE topic ever: Peanut butter. Peanut butter is my favorite, go to snack. 2 tablespoons being 9 grams of protein is pretty good, but the 190 calories per serving always kept me from enjoying myself. Plus has anyone ever read the labels of your typical Jif and Skippy and Peter Pan brand?? chemicals chemicals sugar oils and chemicals.

What happened to simply just peanuts and some salt?

I went over to Walmart and turned around nearly every peanut butter jar in the aisle to find that over 75% of the jars ingredients list were more than 4, sugar usually being the second ingredient. That was until I found Krema brand. For only 2.49 I was able to buy this 16 ounce jar with only two ingredients: peanuts and salt. Some people think it’s frustrating to have to stir the oil that’s on top, but my favorite tip?

Stir the peanut butter up, then store it in the refrigerator. You wont have to stir it again after that!

Another one of my favorite peanut butter products includes PB2. Now, as a peanut butter fan, it’s tough to just stick to 2 tablespoons. Especially when I eat nearly 3-4 apples or bananas a day, I’ll want to dip them in something! PB2 is a powdered peanut product (peanuts, sugar, and salt) that, when mixed with a tablespoon of water, you have your very own low calorie peanut butter. What I usually do is mix the prepared PB2 with a little tiny blog of my all natural Krema peanut butter just to add a little more substance to the mixture.


Always look at the ingredients labels! You never know what you’re consuming.


9-20-14 Shoe Candy and Research Articles


Nothing says “Treating yourself” like a brand new pair of shoes! I went to the Gingerbreadman Running Store on Philadelphia street and bought a new pair of running shoes. My last pair were getting extremely run down, so I decided to opt for the same pair except a different color scheme (I managed to match them to my shirt as well!). Craig from the running store always tells me: “Tabitha you can’t buy a pair of shoes by color, it’s all about how they feel”

Well I lucked out because these Nike’s feel great, look great, and are perfect for my severely over pronated feet. Felt good to go for a run with these new babies! I started Week 2 of Kayla Itsine’s BBG and it was killer today. Leg and cardio day is the hardest and most painful one, yet at the end you always feel so accomplished.  I did two gym sessions today and am now all cozy and relaxed typing up this blog post while reading a few articles for my research project. I’m so excited to begin! Although this material is currently dry, I definitely can’t wait to begin the hands on activity.


Today I also had the opportunity to work in the deli from 9-1pm. I had a lady come asking about kale—she wanted to try the superfood kale salad that I was selling in the display case. I offered her a sample and she said she enjoyed the blueberries that were mixed in it but she just couldn’t get past the bitter taste. My eyes lit up with joy as I gave her so many recommendations on what to do with kale: throw in smoothies, add a few leaves in your salad, juice them, make kale chips, etc. I told her all the health benefits of kale and that she can mask the bitter taste if she really tries.

You know how rewarding it feels to speak to a customer about something your passionate about and have them thank you for your service? Out of all the things I accomplished today, I definitely have to say that experience was the most rewarding one of them all.


9:19:14: What i love about fridays

20140919_234722000_iOS Lately I’ve been waking up in that “sleep all day” attitude, so once again I hit the snooze and fell back asleep for another hour. Did that ruin my day? No way. After I finally woke up, I threw on a sweatshirt and biked on over to my class. Luckily  I only had one today, so that meant the rest of the day I had to soak up my alone time! How did I manage to spend my day off?

-Ran a few miles around the Mack Park track until my feet caught fire

-Bike 10 miles

– Grocery shopped ( more bananas for my protein shakes yesssss!)

– Finished my lesson plan for my FDNT 364 class

– anddd worked on my blog for my FDNT 364 class.

Now I get to cozy on up with a cup of coffee and review some articles regarding leptin levels in cells for my research project. You want to know what the best feeling in the world is? Doing absolutely nothing. That’s what. Feeling as though you constantly have to do something every single second is such a disastrous feeling. Being able to just take a deep breath and sit for a minute, knowing you don’t ‘have’ to do anything is easily an incredible feeling.

And that’s what this Friday has consisted of: me, all alone, enjoying the company of my cup of coffee.

Hope you’re all enjoying your weekends and have great plans ahead of yourselves. Don’t forget to treat your bodies right! Smile


Thirsty Thursdays: Nutrex Protein Powder


Woke up and got all my items together for the gym when I realized I could not find the most important piece….

my gym key.

I was getting frustrated; it was 5’oclock in the morning and there was no way I could go for a run outside without getting hit by a car. I risked it and ran over to the gym, hoping there would be someone entering by the time I made it over there, and boy was I in luck! Two nice women were walking in right in front of me and held the door for me, I couldn’t have chose a better time to get there. Sometimes we have to realize that we are set back a few minutes from our schedule for a reason; it’s all about fate. I got my LISS and cardio in on my day 6 of Kayla Itsine’s Bikini Body Program! Yesterday was full body workout day and I can still feel my thighs burning, and it only makes me want to work harder.



After my session this morning I used some of Nutrex’s cookies and cream protein powder. I combined:

1/2 cup of almond milk

1/2 of a banana

1 scoop of protein powder

3 tablespoons of walden farms chocolate syrup

BAM! Delicious! The first time I used this powder I really wasn’t a fan, but after finding the right combinations, you truly enjoy the taste. I’ve discovered that adding a banana to protein shakes truly ups the taste of most flavors by giving it a creamy, thick, consistancy.


Off to class, then work, enjoy your Thursday!