Good nutrition has been a lifelong passion for New Milford resident Patti Garland. "That's what brought me to fitness," she said. "You can't exercise your way out of poor eating. My father had health issues -- colitis -- and I saw him heal himself with good food and supplements."

Her commitment to a healthy lifestyle helped make Garland the cover model of this month's HealthyLife magazine.

Although she worked in corporate America for years, fitness and nutrition were always important life components -- she taught her first fitness class at age 19. Today, Garland, who's in her 50s, is owner of the Curves fitness studio in New Milford, and a certified massage therapist, health coach and nutrition counselor.

A graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she said people need to enjoy what they eat but also remember that food is fuel for their bodies. "If we can think that way, it really takes care of everything!"

After being named cover model, Garland answered a few questions about her lifestyle choices and the importance of good health and nutrition.

Q: So tell us, how do you fuel your body?

A: I eat extremely healthy -- lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. I don't follow any specific program. I think deprivation is awful. So I eat a lot of good, delicious, healthy foods so that, as a result, I don't really have cravings. ... And I have a boatload of energy because of it.

Q: What nutritional advice would you give our readers?

A: Find a way to eat nutrient-dense foods throughout the day. Oftentimes people are nutrient-deprived because we're so busy and making poor food choices. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but most people start with sugar or carbs.

Q: Do you have any guilty pleasures?

A: Potato chips! Sometimes there's some emotion attached to those guilty pleasures. My mother loved potato chips. I know they're sinfully bad for you. But the homemade potato chips at the Hidden Valley Eatery are worth the trip to Washington (Conn., that is).

Q: What is your exercise philosophy?

A: We need to find something that's pretty simple, that's manageable and can be a part of our lives for the rest of our lives. My favorite type of exercise is interval training because it's both cardio and strength training in 30 minutes. When I have some extra time I love yoga, but I'm a basic kind of person. I believe in simplicity so it's just your basic, simple yoga. I don't need to make it super complicated because it's augmenting my normal workout.

Q: What book are you reading now?

A: "The Hunger Fix" by Dr. Pam Peeke. She's the same author who wrote "Fight Fat After Forty." This book is basically about food addiction. She's an M.D., so it can be somewhat scientific, but I'm a lifelong learner. I also like to read fiction, but just haven't had time lately. My favorite authors are Vince Flynn and Stuart Woods. Both kind of the drama/terrorist/mystery kind of thing.

The January issue of HealthyLife is now available. For free home delivery, visit; 203-731-3360