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Trimarni is place where athletes and fitness enthusiasts receive motivation, inspiration, education, counseling and coaching in the areas of nutrition, fitness, health, sport nutrition, training and life.

We emphasize a real food diet and our coaching philosophy is simple: Train hard, recover harder. No junk miles but instead, respect for your amazing body. Every time you move your body you do so with a purpose. Our services are designed with your goals in mind so that you can live an active and healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Trimarni Blog

A blog dedicated to exercise, nutrition and my life

Filtering by Category: "holiday eating"

Nutrient-dense event-day creations

Marni Sumbal

Salads don't have to be boring unless this is your idea of a salad.

And certainly, you don't have to be the party-pooper if you bring a plant-strong meal to a holiday event. Certainly, there will be plenty of options to enjoy a little of everything and of course, I want you to enjoy your options and feel great about whatever you put into your body. But, perhaps, as you happily indulge in some occasional treats/eats, you may inspire others by your delicious, nutrient-dense creation.

Growing up as a competitive swimmer, I was never a salad eater and didn't really focus on eating a lot of veggies..... unless they were drenched in ranch dressing and covered with croutons and cheese.  And even though I became a lacto-ovo vegetarian at the age 10ish, my definition of plant-strong was "I don't eat meat" that meant, bring on the cheese and anything that doesn't have meat or fish in it!

Oh how times have changed. Still a competitive athlete but I have a great appreciation of how plant strong meals can give the human body a powerful dose of nutrients.

So, in honor of any event/party that you may be going to tomorrow or in the future, here are 3 of my many favorite plant strong creations for you to enjoy!

Have a great 4th of July and be safe.

Mango-kiwi fruit salad
3 kiwis (sliced)
1 mango (cubed)
10 baby carrots (chopped)
1 small apple (chopped)
1/4 cup grapes (halved)
1/2 large lemon juice (or small lemon) for dressing

To cut kiwi's:
1)Cut kiwi in half.
2) Use a spoon to remove skin from kiwi
3) Turn skin inside out.
4) Cut off the ends.

To cut mango:
1) Cut segments out around the core
2) Use a sharp knife to make a grid on mango segments.
3) Use your thumbs on skin-side to pop out the top of mango segment.
4) Cut off cubes with knife.

Carrot, Coconut and Raisin salad

1 bag pre-cut matchstick carrots
4 tbsp shredded coconut
2 tangerines (sliced, seeds removed) + juice
1 pear (chopped)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cranberries
1/2 lemon (juice)

Cucumber Tomato salad

1-2 large cucumber - halved then sliced again in half (I made it look extra pretty by scraping a fork on the outside of the cucumber before cutting it)
5 roma tomatoes - halved, then sliced again in half
2 ounces block mozzarella cheese - cut in small cubes
Pepper, pinch of salt, pinch of sugar
2 tbsp balsamic or any vinaigrette
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Tips for 4th of July "event/holidy" eating and recipes

Marni Sumbal

You name it - cook-outs, holidays, fund raiser, birthdays and weddings - food is often the central ingredient. Because of many food-centered events, it is extremely common for individuals seeking fitness, diet or body composition changes to stress about social functions due to the lack of control and unknown ingredients when it comes to eating food prepared by others.

To the disbelief of many, you can keep your body in good health and still enjoy the holiday eats. So when it comes to eating around the holiday's (ex. 4th of July) you should be able to enjoy the occasional treats without feeling guilty, restricted or frustrated but with your healthy relationship with food. That is - you should always feel better after you eat, than before. Be mindful to not overeat as we all know, it doesn't feel good and for many, when you overeat you say to yourself "I never want to do that again."
What to do if you are planning the event? A well-prepared event planner should always consider creating a healthy event atmosphere, being mindful that your "yuck" may be someone else's "yum."

Here are a few food tips for a great event:
  • Create a buffet of dark leafy greens with all toppings in individual dishes for guests to create their own plant-strong meals.
  • Place dressings, sauces and toppings on the side with easy-to-pour/spoon items for portion control.
  • Home-cooked desserts are often more appreciated than store-bought .
  • Use non/low-fat plain yogurt, fruit purees and applesauce to lower the fat and calorie content when baking with oil, butter, eggs or sour cream. Ex. replace 1 cup butter with ½ cup butter and ¼ cup non-fat yogurt or instead of 1 cup oil, use ½ cup oil and 3/8 cup non-fat yogurt (1).
  • Add veggies and fruit (ex. carrots, zucchinis, apples) to dips, sauces, baked goods and anything else that can become more powerful in nutrition.
  • For every starchy appetizer, double the number of fresh fruit and veggie selections. Ex. for a bowl of pita chips, have a dish of seasonal fruit and a veggie plate of bell peppers.
  • Use smaller utensils for serving higher-calorie options such as nuts/trail mix, casseroles, dips etc.
  • Limit the punch and soda and allow guests to make their own spritzers with sparkling water and 100% fruit juice varieties. Place water at every seating area for your guests to stay hydrated without the calories.
  • Although smaller plates certainly reduce portion size, it is hard to eat a plant strong meal on a 4" plate. Provide larger bowls close to the plant-strong options and use smaller plates near the more calorie-dense options.
  • Label food items by their name or ingredients, particularly for those who have dietary intolerances or any other restrictions.
  • Focus on variety (plant and animal proteins, healthy fats, whole grains and of course, lots of fruits and veggies).
  • Don't overwhelm your guests with too many new overwhelm your guests with too many new food options but at the same time, introduce others to a few new flavors by preparing a home-cooked dish inspired by your favorite blog or cookbook, rather than purchasing a dish at your local grocery store.
  1. Source:
(article written by me from a past Iron Girl article)
Looking for a few good recipes for the upcoming 4th of July holiday?
CLICK HERE for 3 of my delicious creations, including my watermelon salad, fresh bean salad and Red, White and Blue inspired shortcake.

    Happy Valentine's Day!

    Marni Sumbal

    I think we all recognize that we should give love on a daily basis to the people in our life that mean the most to us.

    Although this holiday can make it easy for us to go out of our way for the ones who we love, we should not forget that the most important person in this yourself. It's not selfish or arrogant to love yourself and with all the body bashing that you may do on a daily basis, it's time to give a little xoxo to your body.

    Sit down and write yourself a thank you letter. This experience will change your life.....or at least change the ways you think or act with your body.

    Here's one of my letters:
    Dear Body

    Here's a poem I found that may help you get started:

    Let’s start a revolution.
    Let’s be BOLD.
    Let’s love our tummies,
    our wrinkles, and curves.

    Let’s celebrate our hips and thighs
    And all the parts of us that magazines say
    are too big or too small.

    Let’s applaud our flaws and scars,
    and enjoy that we don’t have to be
    air-brushed perfection.

    Let’s say “I love my body”
    and mean it,
    and feel comfortable in our own skin.

    Let’s eat a meal and not feel guilty,
    and exercise because it feels good.

    Let’s listen to our bodies
    and follow our intuition.

    Let’s set our own
    standards of beauty-
    and open our eyes
    to how gorgeous
    we already are.

    - Unknown

    And after you write your letter you will need a yummy dessert to feel great about. Here's my Good-for-You Brownie recipe. 

    Lastly - I want to send a big thank you to all the inspiring Trimarni nutrition and coaching athletes that have come into my life.... wanting to improve health, change body composition and/or improve performance. Thank you for letting me into your life and for the opportunity to help change your lifestyle.

    The holidays - Czech style

    Marni Sumbal

    I love the holiday season - it all starts around Thanksgiving and then we get to celebrate a New Year. The last two months of the year sure do make it seem like time goes by rather quickly because before we know it, we will be approaching 2014!

    Last night I was thinking about the holidays and why things are so special around this time. When you only get to celebrate something once a year (holiday, event, birthday), things are much more appreciated (or at least they should be). The time that goes into cooking, the extra effort to show someone that you care about them and the planning that goes into making sure that everyone is happy and safe. I could go on about why I feel that we should enjoy the holidays and not feel restricted, guilty or depressed when it comes to the diet and exercise routine but it really just comes down to understanding that every year we get the privilege to enjoy the holidays because we have made it through another year.
    I'm sure most of you flip on the Christmas Story on TBS around this time of the year and watch at least one showing of the movie as it airs for 24-hours straight. If not the Christmas Story, one of my favorites, the National Lampoons Christmas Vacation would be among the all-time holiday favorite movies.
    I'm sure you have seen one of those movies dozens of times but yet every year, you watch it again and laugh as if you are watching it for the first time. After 364 days, you forget little details but are quickly reminded of why you enjoy watching it - because it makes you feel good. Sure, you could watch the movie anytime during the year - April, July...but there's something special about watching a movie that was meant to be enjoyed around the holidays. Watch it too much throughout the year and come December, you will be burnt out and may even be annoyed as to the thought of watching it again.
    This is a good example as to why I enjoy having those "occasional" times in life to enjoy different things - food, places, events. It just makes everything that much more special knowing that a year or so has passed and the same (yet new in a way) opportunity to make more and new memories is gladly welcomed.
    Since Karel's family lives in Czech Republic, the holidays can be a sad time for him as I am sure you would feel the same way if you haven't been home in 13 years. One day, I hope to share Karel's story of how and why he came to America with only a backpack and wanting a better life for himself but for now, I am happy to share pictures from our Czech Christmas. I really enjoy experiences in life that present an opportunity to make memories. Every year since Karel and I started living together, we make his traditional Czech meal which includes fish, potato salad (w/ root vegetables) and Vanocka (Czech Christmas bread - similar to Challah). Of course, there are a few modifications (tofu for my protein and no fish soup made of Carp like Karel had when he was in Europe) but overall, the traditions are still there and it is a nice opportunity for Karel to share stories w/ me as I enjoy his family traditions. Of course, no Czech Christmas would be complete without cookies so every year we anxiously await a package from Karel's mom, filled with homemade Czech cookies. This year, she did not disappoint as we were amazed by the 26 different varieties of cookies, all prepared with love. Karel's mom started on the cookies near the end of November/first week of December and mailed them to the US about 2 weeks ago. She packages them very tightly in a container and although most of them are beautiful when we get them, it's the broken ones that taste the best!
    Always keep in mind that through a balanced active and healthful lifestyle, you can make memories every day. Therefore, no matter what holiday you choose to celebrate or how you choose to do it, it is during the holiday season that we are quickly reminded that our daily lifestyle is a direct result of our daily actions. Always enjoy yourself on a daily basis but consider how you can find comfort in saving a few things in your life for the special occasions. For most people, life brings stress, busy schedules, uncontrollable emotions, exhaustion and restless evenings. It's easy to get too wrapped up the hype of living and forget how to slow down. Even through that busy time, sometimes we find ourselves gravitating towards those "occasional" items and not really enjoying them like we should.
    The holidays should be a time of happiness, love, good health and relaxation- thus a perfect and appropriate time to take full advantage of those occasional items that can be enjoyed with a healthy mind and body.
    Thank you for checking out our pics - Happy Holidays!
    A taste of "winter" - Sunday's first workout included removing frost from the car.

    My homemade Vanocka. This year it came out better than ever and tasted great! I'm still struggling with the dough and getting it to rise properly so the bread was a little dense but still delicious!
    I follow this recipe. One day, I will make it with Karel's mom to see how the expert makes it.

    I LOVE this picture. Karel took this on 12/24 when he got home from work. I was still working at the hospital and I couldn't stop laughing at our "guard" dog. No one has a chance trying to steal our Czech cookies!

    Plate 1.

    Plate 2. The two plates are only 1/2 of the amount that she sent. We will try to pace ourselves this year...although we always say that and it never happens. They are SO good!

    Karel's homemade potato salad. So delicious! The flavor is unbelievable!

    A beautiful dinner spread, shared with my Czech hubby. I always love to hear his stories like when Karel was young and he would steal cookies from his mom as she was making them. Of course, telling her that he is just making sure they taste ok when he was caught.

    Campy in his new fleece and enjoying his new toy.

    Campy exhausted from destroying his toy in less than 5 minutes. Mission accomplished for Campy.

    Too much fun....sleeping and thinking about all the memories he made this year.

    Thanksgiving Day - in pictures

    Marni Sumbal

    I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Considering that I speak about mindfulness all the time when it comes to sports and eating, this holiday was no exception that I was able to practice what I preach. Because of our exhausting weekend last weekend, we opted out of a Turkey Trot today. Also, with a lot of fabulous food yesterday, it was a wonderful opportunity to savour our food and to not finish the meal stuffed. Just the perfect amount of the dinner + dessert to nourish our body and fuel for our ride this morning.  I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and felt thankful for good  health, friends, family, food and love.
    My relatives are in town at my parents (north of Clearwater/Tampa)  so after we made our 3.5 hour drive on Wed morning, we headed to Clearwater Beach to hang out with the family. Karel and I use to live just outside Clearwater before we moved to Jacksonville in 2008 so it was nice to see familiar sights and to reflect on great memories when we were dating. Karel moved to Clearwater Beach after he moved to the U.S. in 2000 so he had a lot of memories in that area.

    Loving my new Oakley Women Clothing! Thank you Oakley for helping me style my active lifestyle.

    After a long day of traveling, Campy was pooped. Luckily, he had two friends to nap with before bedtime.
    On Thursday morning, Karel and I had a run on our schedule. I had lots of athletes (coaching and nutrition) trotting before their Thanksgiving feasts and everyone had a great time! From 5Ks to 10 milers - it is wonderful to see so many active individuals showing how thankful they are to be able to use their body.

    As for us, we slept in and around 8am, Karel and I headed out for a fartlek run. Karel designed a great interval set for us and 9 miles later, our legs were ready for a windy "recovery" 1 hour bike ride.
    The fartlek set was specific to pacing:
    Main set 3x's:
    4 min @ half marathon pace (6:40 min/mile for me) w/ 2 min walk
    2 min @ 10K pace (6:20 min/mile for me) w/ 1 min walk
    1 min @ 5K pace (6 min/mile for me) w/ 30 sec walk
    30 sec sprint (well - my body doesn't know how to sprint so I was excited to see 5:30-5:40 min/mile for 30 seconds on my garmin 910Xt).
    4 min EZ walk/jog recovery, then repeat

    The main set was 45 minutes and eventually we will work our way up to an hour of intervals,  with modifications as to the recovery and as we get closer to the IM, we will include longer intervals at a pace more specific to the long distance running. As for now, I am working super hard on my speed for the run so that when it is time to focus on tempo, my body will love the slower pace (thus a more efficient and stronger body).

    After french toast and eggs for  breakfast, it was time to prepare my lentil loaf and broccoli slaw for my two contributions to our Thanksgiving dinner.
    Lentil Loaf1/3 bag mixed bean mix (raw) and 1/2 bag lentils (raw) - soaked overnight
    1/2 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
    2 cups boca veggie meat
    3 eggs (1 whole, 2 whites)
    1 bag frozen onion, bell pepper mix
    Marinara sauce
    Panko bread crumbs
    Shredded cheese - cabot sharp
    Spices - oregano, onion, rosemary, tumeric

    1. In crockpot, cook beans, bean mix, lentils, veggie meat and onion mix, covered with water. Cook for 6-8 hours on low heat.
    2. Drain water and store in Tupperware container until ready for baking (I did this a day ahead of time for easy prep on Thanksgiving).
    3. In casserole dish, press bean and lentil mix until 3/4ths full (you will likely have leftovers). Spoon marinara on top.
    4. Scramble eggs and pour on top of marinara. Gently fold marinara and eggs into the mean mix.
    5. Sprinkle a light layer of bread crumbs and season.
    6. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, covered.
    7. Remove from oven and sprinkle w/ shredded cheese.

    My mom's sweet potatoes (not canned) w/ roasted marshmallows

    My broccoli slaw w/ garlic, lemon tahini dressing (I will share recipe in my next LAVA Plate not pills article) with slivered onions, sliced mango and canned apricots (without the juice).

    Marni-friendly stuffing (prepared outside the bird)

    My 19th Thanksgiving day meal as a vegetarian. It gets better and better every year - yummo!
    The homemade cranberries (prepared by my uncle) were made w/ sugar, fresh cranberries and orange juice.
    We had a few other items on the table but none of them were vegetarian friendly so that means more for everyone else :) Thankfully, everyone enjoyed my slaw and lentil loaf.
    My mom's homemade chocolate and mint bark creation with toasted almonds. This recipe can be found on the back of the Nestle Toll House Winter Limited Edition bag (dark chocolate and mint morsels).
    Another of my mom's creations - apple and cranberry cobbler.

    Campy's Thanksgiving plate. Consumed in less than 2 minutes.

    Waiting patiently for "accident" floor-droppings of turkey leftovers.

    What a wonderful Thanksgiving! I  hope you enjoyed your day as well. I'm so lucky that we were able to share this day with my family as it has been a long time since we were all together.

    Campy passed out early after enjoying his Thanksgiving feast.....perhaps this was a valuable lesson that we should all enjoy our "occasional" treats a few times during the year for they are best enjoyed when we "treat" ourselves for having good daily habits that keep us healthy and well, all year long.

    As for today (Friday).......
    What a great day for making more memories! Eight of us headed to the Tampa/Florida Aquarium for a few hours to visit with the creatures under the sea. As a lover of the water and for all creatures, I love any opportunity to be close to nature and the sea. Nemo and Dori say hello.



    Holiday Eating: Mission possible

    Marni Sumbal

    For my November column on Iron Girl, I choose to take a different approach on holiday eating "tips". If you google "holiday eating tips" you will likely come across pages and pages of links to eat this, don't eat this, do this, don't do that. Can we all agree the nutrition and exercise tips are out there but not much has changed in the past few years??


    As you know, my approach to the diet and exercise has little to do with the act of exercise and eating but more so with the approach. I believe that in order to change habits, we need to address the habits to be changed, the outcome we will receive when we change them and most importantly, why it is important to change habits. I also believe in changing lifestyles. Changing the way people live life, act and behave.

    The other day I received an email from one of my friends and former nutrition athletes who is a mom of a few teenagers. Her son was mad at her for wanting to hand out raisins on Halloween. I laughed because I thought it was a great idea but I could just see myself at 14 or 15 years old, doing the same at my parents "Uggg, you are so embarrassing mom!" hehe

    She wanted some "healthier" treats so I suggest dark chocolate Hershey kisses or mini Hershey bars. But I wanted to digress.....

    Why is it on holidays that we want to or feel the need to watch what we eat so carefully? Why is it that so many people excuse the office candy bowl munchies that calls your name every around 3pm, 365 days a year? Why is it that many people feel the need to have dessert after dinner, every night, 365 days a year? Why is it that so many people feel guilty when eating something indulging on a holiday or special event (ex. birthday, celebration) but that same "regret" gets unnoticed when eating sweets at home due to mindless eating/snacking, 365 days a year?

    If you eat well most of the time, you don't have to worry about the rest of the time.Consider your thoughts before blaming your actions, when it comes to holiday (and daily) eating.

    Holiday Eating: Mission PossibleBy Marni Sumbal

    If you’ve ever tried to stay on track with nutrition throughout the winter holiday season, you can forget the saying “it’s as easy as pie.” Weight gain, stomach distress, lethargy and poor body image are a few of the many common side effects of approaching the holidays with an unhealthy relationship with food and the body.
    Do you feel out of control with holiday sweets? With 365 days in a year and only 3 federal holidays between November and January (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day), consider that your anxiety about preventing the typical holiday weight gain may be a bit exaggerated. Perhaps it is the added stress about an overabundance of seasonal holiday food (much prior to the actual holiday), alongside the unintentional weight gain from January until November, that causes you to feel uneasy about the holiday festivities.
    Do you feel better after you eat than before? If so, there’s absolutely no reason to worry about a few trivial added pounds over the holidays. Instead of speaking poorly about your body in front of the mirror (thus forgetting what your body has allowed you to do in life, like crossing finishing lines), find enjoyment as you indulge in your grandma’s cobbler, prepared with love and memories. Whether you are eating a balanced, wholesome diet or enjoying the occasional treat, never forget the importance of mindful and intuitive eating. As you eat for fuel and for health, eat with a plan and a purpose.
    Instead of adding to the hundreds of tips available on the Internet on the topic “Healthy Holiday Eating,” here are a few tips to overcome the anxiety that comes with having an unhealthy relationship with food.
    Instead of saying……
    1) “I shouldn't eat this,” say
    “I am so thankful that I have an opportunity to enjoy some occasional treats (prepared with love) with the people who I care about the most in this world.”
    2) “It doesn’t matter if I eat that, I already ruined my diet,” say
    “I am really proud of myself for being able to regret, reflect and change my past habits, which will ultimately help me reach my short and long term goals.”
    3) “I may as well have another because I already cheated,” say
    “I am thankful that I have a balanced diet where no food is off-limit. Because I eat well most of the time, I don’t have to worry about the rest of the time.”
    4) “I'm being so bad,” say
    “Knowing that my daily habits such as not going into a meal starving, eating balanced meals, snacking nutritiously with a purpose, drinking plenty of water and focusing on wholesome foods are helping me to control blood sugar and reduce cravings/overeating, I feel great because I know I will stop eating when I am satisfied and will be well-fueled for my next workout.”
    5) “I am going to be so fat after this,” say
    “I know that my weight fluctuates throughout the day and not all is lost or ruined in one day or in one meal.”
    6) “Uggh, I need to find a diet to help me lose weight, fast!” Say,
    “I know that an extreme diet is not a lifestyle. I want to create balanced eating habits in order to live a quality life in order to reduce my risk for disease, to help increase longevity and to improve my fitness. If I cannot address my weaknesses on my own, I will seek out a qualified professional (ex. Registered Dietitian) to help me in my personal nutrition journey.”

    Final reminder: If your body is in good health, recovering from injury/illness/disease or if you are overcoming obstacles in your life, spend your energy on being thankful for living another year. Never forget that food should not be your life. Use food wisely and let it enhance your life.

    Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N

    Marni works as a Clinical Dietitian at Baptist Medical Center Beaches, is the owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC and provides one-on-one consulting in the Jacksonville, FL area. Marni is a Registered Dietitian, holding a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN). As an elite endurance athlete, she is also a Level-1 USAT Coach and a 5x Ironman finisher. Marni is a 110% play harder, Hammer Nutrition and Oakley Women brand ambassador. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Runner's World, Fitness Magazine, Bicycling Magazine, The Florida Times-Union Shorelines, Lava Magazine, Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes to, USAT multisport zone and Lava online.