Introducing TARA!!

Tara Lewallen

I could never be a dentist… Don’t get me wrong, dentists are important and necessary but just the thought of them, causes many people to have sleepless nights, sweaty palms, and anxiety attacks.  I guess you could say my ego would not be strong enough for that occupation. Instead, I wanted people to love me, to be happy to see me, to be disappointed when our time together is over and to be eager for our next appointment. So, there was only one (legal…LOL) career choice for me… I had to become a massage therapist.

In Webster’s terms, a massage is “an act or instance of rubbing and kneading part of the body to loosen up muscles and improve circulation.” But a massage is so much more… It is a complete mind and body experience that is unfortunately deemed by many as an unattainable luxury. It is for the rich, the pampered and the spoiled, for the people with perfect bodies, for women only… blah blah blah. The stereotypes are endless. On the contrary, I believe that a “good, well-connected” massage is the god-given right, privilege and necessity of every human being that walks, crawls or rolls around on this beautiful earth. It is powerful tool that can truly keep both your body and mind tuned up and working properly.  Just read the long list of massage benefits below and you will see what I am talking about.

According to the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals’ webpage, Massage:

-        Relaxes and softens injured, tired, and overused muscles.

-        Tones and stretches weak, tight, or atrophied muscles

-        Alleviates pain therefore reducing dependence on certain medications

-        Improves range of motion

-        Increases joint flexibility

-        Enhances the immune system by stimulating lymph flow—the body’s natural defense system

-        Pumps oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.

-        Improves the condition of the body’s largest organ—the skin.

-        Reduces stress (Almost 90% of disease today is considered by experts of be stress related)

-        Lessens depression and anxiety

-        Helps athletes of any level to prepare for/recover from strenuous workouts

-        Promotes tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks

-        Reduces post-surgery adhesions and swelling

-        Reduces spasms and cramping

-        Enhances the quality of sleep

Most people are surprised to know that all of these things can be attained through a simple massage. It’s amazing… right? But before you pick up the phone and dial the nearest day spa, please know that all massages are NOT equal. In fact, the most difficult part of this whole processes is finding the right practitioner for you… the trial and error process can be time consuming, disappointing and very expensive. That is where I come into play. As a Certified Massage Practitioner with my very own private office space, I am absolutely dedicated to and passionate about:

  1.  Creating a safe, secure and clean environment for my clients
  2.  Listening intently to what their needs and expectations are
  3. Talking in detail about health histories and injuries
  4. Performing connected massages that are not only enjoyable and relaxing but effective
  5. Creating a treatment plan that is both affordable and realistic for their lives

I am passionate about what I do and I am completely client-centered! That is what sets me apart from the rest. I consider my hands the middle-man between your body and your health. We work in harmony together. I love my job and take it very seriously! So if you are considering adding massage to your health routine, please give me a call. I know that your time and resources come at a cost but so does your youth, vitality and overall health. Massage is not a cure-all miracle but it certainly is an investment to the wellness of your body and the quality of your life. So set up an appointment and see how amazing you feel after your first session… You are definitely worth it!

How to Fit a Balanced Diet into Your Busy Schedule – 8 Tips

Welcome to a typical day at the office. Most of us know it well. You’re not even at your desk yet, and your mind is already preoccupied with emails to answer, phone calls to return, and meetings to attend. Before you know it, lunchtime rolls around and you’re running on nothing but caffeine. By this point, you’re fighting hunger pains, so you head to the vending machines as a temporary solution, or maybe you grab something unhealthy at a nearby fast-food place or roach coach. Four or five hours later, the hunger hits you again and the cycle repeats itself. Does this day sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. These days, a mere 8-hour workday is becoming less and less common. A lot of us are working additional hours at home, on our laptops, and via our smartphones. With crazy hours like these, the best way to make sure you stay on track nutritionally is to prepare yourself a week’s worth of healthy meals in advance. Here are a few tips for doing just that.

  1. Master the grocery store. When you arrive at the grocery store after work, you’re starving and in a hurry to get home. Without thinking, you find yourself drawn into the bright, shiny, end-of-aisle displays like a moth to a flame. Before you know it, you’re about to fill your cart with 10 frozen pizzas for $10.
    Stop! Change direction. Go straight to the produce section and select enough lettuce and fresh vegetables to make a salad that’ll last you all week. It’s best to avoid the center aisles, which contain all the processed foods you want to avoid, and keep to the perimeter of the store. This path will lead you to healthy choices like veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, lean meat, and poultry.
    The items being promoted in the aforementioned end-of-aisle displays are rarely healthy food options. Keeping this in mind will help you walk past these traps and head straight for the good stuff.
  2. Cook out on Sunday. Roast a bunch of chicken, make a big stew, and grill some veggies; you’ll have a great meal on Sunday and enjoy the leftovers for the next few days.
    Another thing to do on Sunday to prep for the week is to wash and chop all that lettuce you bought while strolling the perimeter of the store and put it in a zip-lock bag. With this combination, you’ll have fresh, healthy food to put into meals all week.
  3. Make over your leftovers. Reinvent last night’s chicken for the next day’s lunch. Throw it in a tortilla with some salsa for a yummy burrito. Heat it up with some curry seasoning and chickpeas. Put it in a whole-wheat pita pocket or between two slices of whole-grain bread with crisp lettuce and your favorite seasonings for a healthy sandwich. Toss it into that great salad you prepared, along with some fresh or grilled veggies. The possibilities for different, great-tasting meals are easy—and limited only by your imagination.
  4. Prepack your snacks for work. You may not always have time for a full meal at work, and that’s OK. The night before a busy day, measure out foods—nuts, dried fruit,  sliced veggies—you can graze on all day. Measuring the portions in advance helps assure that you won’t accidentally snarf down an entire 1,000-calorie bag of trail mix.
    Another great approach to snacking that’ll help satisfy you until your lunch (or dinner) rolls around? Some of that protein you cooked up on Sunday, in convenient snack portions. Quick bites of chicken, beef, or tofu with the seasonings of your choice make for a great snack option. And having fresh, lean protein rather than packaged, processed snack items will not only help curb cravings; it’ll also give you sustained energy and help you fight hunger throughout the day.
  5. Hydrate in fashion. Instead of going through tons of plastic bottles at your desk, buy yourself a fancy water bottle. Busy people often forget to hydrate properly. In addition, the average American drinks 57 gallons of soft drinks each year! You can avoid the temptation to purchase soda by refilling a beautiful fashionable water bottle. On a budget? Wash out a glass water, juice, or milk bottle and make that your go-to reusable water bottle.
  6. Be smart about beverage calories. The average American consumes around 400 calories a day in liquid form! This includes soda, sport drinks, energy drinks, juice, and flavored ice teas. You can be smart by making sure any calories you drink are in the form of a meal replacement rather than a hydrator. Water’s still the best hydrator out there.
  7. Combine forces. The total price of ingredients is much higher when you’re buying smaller items and amounts. Cooking for one can seem inefficient, especially when your produce is spoiling and you have to deal with the guilt that comes with throwing away a bag of spinach, or a bundle of brown bananas. Combining forces with a roommate, a coworker, or a friend who lives nearby can help cut costs. If your friend is also health conscious, you can gain support from and give advice to one another.
  8. Don’t go fad-hopping. Will all the new diets, food crazes, and “miracle” supplements popping up, it’s easy to feel confused or insecure about your current choices. If your plan is working, just stay the course. If you want to try something different, message me and we’ll put something together that will work for you, but don’t hop on the latest trend just because your workmates are all talking about it at the water cooler. Do your homework. Read critiques. Talk to people who have tried it for longer than a weekend. Ask yourself, “Is it healthy? Does it involve whole, real foods? Is it realistic?” Finding and keeping a diet that supports your lifestyle will more likely result in long-term success.

Remember, fitness is not just a program, its a lifestyle.

6 Holiday Tips For Staying Fit

So how are we supposed to get through the holidays without gaining weight? Here are six effective ways to get yourself ready to beat the holiday bulge.

Keep exercising. Most fitness trainers will tell you the slowest point of their year is between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Sure, their clients schedule workouts with the best of intentions, but then they cancel them for parties and gift shopping. It’s hard to remain balanced when you have a million things to do and gifts to buy. Yet the greatest gift you can give yourself is to stay focused on your fitness goals and get your workout in. Shopping getting in the way? Do it online and save some time. Parties getting in the way? Just show up later. Who cares if everyone else is a couple of cocktails ahead of you? You’ll be healthier, and you won’t have to worry about the embarrassing YouTube® videos in the morning! Just stay consistent, even if it’s inconvenient. You’ll be much less likely to look like Santa (both belly-wise and red-nose-wise) at the end of the month.

Eat before parties. Most holiday parties don’t focus on low-fat, low-calorie refreshments, so unless you’re organizing the event, the best damage control is to show up with a full (or at least almost full) tummy. Make sure you eat your meals and snacks throughout the day, and try to eat a healthy meal before attending any party. If you’re going straight from work, prepare a healthy and filling snack to eat on the way. You’ll be a lot less likely to swim in mayonnaise dips and pigs in blankets if you’re full.

Get junk out of the house. The majority of people don’t get into their car at midnight, drive to the store, buy the ingredients for cookies, bake them, and then stay up to eat them. But if those homemade cookies that Linda in accounting made for you are already on your kitchen counter, you better believe you’ll find a way to justify it. Frankly, at 12:30 AM, after a rotten day, for most of us there’s nothing like a few cookies to drown our sorrows. The secret is to get the garbage out of the house. Send it to work with your significant other, donate it to a bake sale, re-gift it to your 100-pound friend with the perfect metabolism, or just dump it in the trash. Arlene from the customer service department will never know. If you have holiday dinner leftovers, box them up for your guests individually and send them home with them. If your family still sends you that sausage or cookie assortment, invite a bunch of people over for a pre-party party and serve ‘em up before the drinks. Try not to be wasteful, but get the less-than-healthy temptations out of your reach.

Offer to prepare healthy fare. This suggestion won’t be well received by those of us who’d rather spend Thanksgiving sitting around watching football than toiling in the kitchen, but if you do the cooking, you have the control. Your family could have a tasty and satisfying meal without ingesting thousands of calories and fat grams. The way the turkey is prepared, the type of stuffing, how vegetables are made, whether the cranberries are real, and countless other things can make or break the healthiness of a meal. There are tons of cookbooks out there that can help you out. Yes, it does require a bit of work. But you can handle it!

Choose wisely and proportionally. Something occurs during a holiday meal. It’s like a Las Vegas buffet—we feel like we have to eat some of everything. We feel almost like those foods will never exist again, and this is our last meal on the planet. This year, why not try to eat only your favorites, as in two or three items, and keep the portions to the size of your palm? If you’re still hungry, try to fill up on veggies (preferably ones that aren’t drowned in butter or cream-of-mushroom soup). If you want dessert, lean toward a small slice of pumpkin pie (220 calories) as opposed to pecan (a heftier 543), leaving out the hydrogenated non dairy whipped topping if possible. If you’re going to have an alcoholic beverage, go with a flute of champagne (100 calories) as opposed to that rum-laced eggnog (with more than four times more calories, at 420). Just a few wise choices will save you a ton of calories, and probably a significant amount of heartburn as well!

Don’t beat yourself up. Quite possibly the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up over a bit of holiday indulgence. Yes, it does stink to backslide after working your tail off. But sometimes it doesn’t stink as much as dealing with your mother when you turn down her brisket and potato pancakes. Sometimes, we don’t have time to go to work, buy a Christmas tree, decorate it with our kids, make dinner, oversee homework, tuck kids in bed, and spend an hour working out. We can only do our very best. Mentally beating yourself up will only make you feel worse, which never helped anyone get back to their fitness program. So if you happen to gain that 1 extra pound this holiday season, be part of the rare group who actually follows through with their New Year’s resolution and manages to shed it again. A week of hard work and a slight calorie deficit should do the trick. Resolutions don’t come easier than that!




One of the best exercises ever: The Burpee

The exercise known as the burpee  is now accepted as one of the best full-body strengthening moves for all athletes , but especially for runners. The burpee is a high-intensity exercise that engages the core, triceps, chest, shoulders, back, hamstrings, quads and fast-twitch muscles. Good luck finding an exercise that engages this many muscle groups AND taxes your heart as well!! This is what makes the burpee a great exercise for all athletes, but especially runners. It not only builds muscular strength, but increases lung and heart strength, all of which are essential aspects of a well-rounded runner.  Burpees can easily be incorporated into any training program, including running programs.

Strength & Conditioning Clinic

Come join us for a Strength & Conditioning Clinic on 8/31 at Encanto Park in Duarte, CA.  Start time is 5:30pm and the clinic will last approximately 60-70 minutes. Bring your own water and yoga mat (if desired). We’ll be doing a Sweatworx modified version of the Spartacus workout for beginners! Hope to see you there.