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Halloween Candy vs Burpees

Category : Healthy Eating

It’s the first week of October,

stores are well-stocked with trick-or-treat candy,

but does that mean you need to stock your pantry?!

Be realistic, if you buy Halloween candy now will it actually be around on October 31st when the kids come knocking?

Leave the candy in the store until just a few days before Halloween….

otherwise, stepping on the scale might get a little scary!


Burpee Calculator source:

 This might help put things in perspective you love burpees, right?

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Healthy Lifestyle Tips: Good for YOU & the Planet

Category : Active Living, Healthy Eating

Earth Day is April 22.

Here are some tips to make you and the planet healthier!

Leave your car at home.

Not everyone is lucky enough to live walking distance from their place of work. If walking is out of the question, consider biking to work at least a couple days per week. If getting to work must involve a car, think about walking from your place of work to “run” errands (ok, you can walk) or go out to lunch.  The less you drive, the better!

 Be a locavore.

Locavores are people who pay attention to where their food comes from and commit to eating local food as much as possible. It is estimated that the average American meal travels about 1500 miles to get from farm to plate. Shopping at the farmers market, maintaining a home garden, or participating in a Community Shared Agriculture (commonly referred to as a CSA) are wonderful ways to support a local food system. Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included.

Living in Wisconsin makes this difficult during the winter months, however, it is always important to be aware. For instance, we used to purchase particular brand of bottled water which was shipped from Tennessee, that is until we realized where it was travelling from. It certainly does not make sense to buy water from Tennessee when we live in Wisconsin, a virtual oasis of ground water. Locally bottled water just makes more sense!

Eat organic foods.

Foods grown without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, factory farming, hormone use, and antibiotics on are not polluting the earth or your body. It’s hard to eat 100% organic…either what you want is not available or it’s too expensive. Don’t try to be perfect…instead, follow the 80-20 rule meaning eat organic about 80% of the time. You will feel good about your choices without driving yourself crazy.

 Eat less meat.

Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. Their goal is to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet. Visit for more information. According to their website: Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.

Reduce the amount of garbage you send to the landfill.

Two suggestions:

1)      Eat whole foods. They are better for you than foods which have loads of chemicals and filler plus they tend to require less packaging which means less garbage heading for the landfill.

2)      Compost. Not sure how? Visit According to their website, studies have shown that home composting can divert an average of 700 lbs. of material per household per year from the waste stream. If your flower beds are clay like mine they could use some compost: When mixed with compost, clay soils are lightened, and sandy soils retain water better. Mixing compost with soil also contributes to erosion control, soil fertility, proper pH balance, and healthy root development in plants.

 I hope that in recognition of Earth Day you will consider adopting some of these healthy lifestyle tips for a healthier planet and healthier body.

Do you have a health or fitness question? Contact me

Yours in Health & Fitness,


Karin Jennings is a certified personal trainer and co-owner of XO Fitness, LLC in De Pere.

Comments Off on Food Sensitivity Elimination Diet: Adding Dairy

Food Sensitivity Elimination Diet: Adding Dairy

Category : Healthy Eating

This is my mini-chronicle of following the Dr. Oz and Dr. Hyman Food Sensitivity Elimination diet.  The beginning of this series and the links to the elimination diet can be found in this link: Click Here.

So I added Dairy back on Monday, mainly so that I could eat the leftover pizza from Friday (which I couldn’t eat then due to tomatoes and dairy).   This was easy to add back in since we eat a lot of dairy, probably more than most people since we don’t eat meat except for fish.   I did notice that my bowel movements were noticeably looser, so perhaps I’m not digesting it as well as I think.  I’ll be paying close attention to how milk affects me.

Perhaps that’s not so surprising: Did you know that 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant and and therefore dairy is pretty much indigestible to them?  After being weaned from breast milk, we simply don’t have a need to digest milk.  Kind of makes you wonder about us humans.

I’ve been wondering about dairy ever since I read “Salt, Sugar & Fat” written by Michael Moss.  Did you know the government determined that it could not let the dairy industry fail and for that reason guaranteed that it would buy all the excess dairy?  The industry responded by producing far beyond what consumer demand needed, resulting in millions of pounds of processed cheese being stored in caves in Missouri.  Truth is truly stranger than fiction.  Read the New York Times Article -Click Here.

Recently, I noticed that while pretty much all fluid milk has rGBH free labels, pretty much no other dairy products like cheese, yogurt or cottage cheese are labeled.  That’s troubling because rGBH is implicated with increased risk of breast, prostate and colon cancer.  I did find this list that shows which brands are rGBH free. The important part of the list is which brands to avoid.

 Next up: Eggs!



Comments Off on Food Sensitivity Elimination diet: Nightshade Ratatouille

Food Sensitivity Elimination diet: Nightshade Ratatouille

Category : Healthy Eating

This is my mini-chronicle of following the Dr. Oz and Dr. Hyman Food Sensitivity Elimination diet.  The beginning of this series and the links to the elimination diet can be found in this link: Click Here.

OK, my evil plan was a success and I was able to eat my brother-in-law’s incredible marinara and amazing ratatouille at my Mom’s birthday. Let me rephrase that; In pursuit of the scientific study of my diet, I risked fatigue and potentially worse by adding nightshades back into my diet.  And I loved every minute of it and my only reaction was Yum!

So it turns out that Ratatouille is the perfect dish for testing out nightshade sensitivity.   This is because the two main ingredients are eggplant and tomatoes, two of the primary members of the nightshades.  Other nightshades include red peppers (both hot and sweet), the spices paprika and cayenne, and potatoes.  I don’t eat these every day, so I wasn’t expecting trouble.

I’ve never had ratatouille before and I have to say it was absolutely delicious.  Of course, my brother-in-law is an amazing chef, so that is a large part of why it was so good.  He said that he grilled all the vegetables first to give it that bit of smokiness, but otherwise followed a basic ratatouille recipe.

I found a highly rated recipe from, the bon apetit recipe website, that I will be trying.  Epicurious Ratatouille, Click Here.  It’s a great way to get those vegetable servings that Karin has been promoting during March nutrition month.

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Food Sensitivity Elimination diet: Adding Wheat back!

Category : Healthy Eating

This is my mini-chronicle of following the Dr. Oz and Dr. Hyman Food Sensitivity Elimination diet.  The beginning of this series and the links to the elimination diet can be found in this link: Click Here.

I have a family gathering this weekend (Happy Birthday, Mom!) and it’s not going to be easy being on the elimination diet.  Like it wasn’t bad enough that the only meat we eat is fish (yup, we’re pescetarians), but my brother-in-law is a seriously gourmet cook whose culinary skills I sorely do NOT want to miss out on. He’s making ratatouille as well as his homemade marinara and pasta. Wheat

So I have a plan. The first two foods I’m adding back are Wheat (so I can have bread and pasta) and Nightshades (Ratatouille has both tomatoes and eggplant).  Luckily, Wheat is Thurs/Friday and the Nightshades just happen on the day of the party.  Whew! Disaster avoided!!!

Days 6 & 7: Adding the big “W” -WHEAT back into my diet.  Unless you lack a heartbeat, you’ve probably heard all the hoopla about the benefits of eliminating wheat from your diet.  Many of our clients feel better when they don’t eat wheat.   There are also many people who have the very serious disease Celiac, which is actually an auto-immune disorder and not an allergy at all.   Randi Mann, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at Wise Women’s Wellness in De Pere, says that simply eliminating wheat would help people lose much of the weight they need to lose.

So I was a bit apprehensive when I added wheat back into my diet because, well, I really like bread!  It’s no small task to eliminate wheat given that it is in so many food products as a thickener or filler.  Kiss any typical convenience foods or salty snacks good-bye!

My worries were for naught: Adding Wheat back to my diet was so easy and dare I say “fun”?  Instead of the cream of rice I chose the Hodgson whole grain hot cereal instead with walnuts and strawberries.  Not only did it taste good, I felt just fine thank you!

The funny thing is that now that I’ve added bread back to my diet, I can’t really do anything with it.  Everything I make seems to be missing something, like butter or cheese.  We made pizza tonight and I had more of a very thin focaccia than anything else.  Oh well.  Tomorrow I add tomatoes back and then I can have an avocado and tomato sandwich, one of my favorites!  Of course, in a few more days it will be better with a slice of cheese… 

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Food Sensitivity Elimination Diet Days 4-5

Category : Healthy Eating

This is my mini-chronicle of following the Dr. Oz and Dr. Hyman Food Sensitivity Elimination diet.  The beginning of this series and the links to the elimination diet can be found in this link: Click Here.

Day 4:  Today is starting into the middle of my week and so far, I haven’t had the afternoon fatigue like I had it despite starting my day at 4am.  A little tired, but not the “can’t get off the couch” wave of exhaustion I was feeling in the afternoons.  I also attended another meeting in the late afternoon and stayed engaged throughout and never faded.  Yeah!

King Cake

Had to laugh about the piece of Mardis Gras King cake that I accepted from a client today.  Definitely NOT in the food plan,since it is sure to have eggs, milk, wheat, probably corn starch and who knows what else. I brought it home and happily fed it to the kids after school.  Not surprisingly, I found out later from Karin that Jack had a total melt-down over his homework.  They always have a snack after school, and if that was all he had…KA-BOOM!  Don’t you just love doing blood sugar experiments on your children?

Day 5:  Hump day:  A very tough day at the studio.   The phone was ringing off the hook while I was training clients.  I usually don’t answer, but if it rings with several separate calls within 10 minutes, and messages are left, it’s like an itch you can’t scratch.  Turns out they were all unique: a client and a trainer out sick, account questions.  All that is to say I didn’t have time to eat regularly, but I wasn’t crazy hungry either.  Another good day!  I have to fess up that I took a cat nap ~20 minutes but woke up refreshed instead of wiped out!

Just a side note:  I’ve been noticing that as I read ingredient labels how prevalent soy is.  It’s everywhere.  Many baked items like crackers have soy lecithin in them, soybean oil is fairly common, as is soy sauce.  All I can say is I’m truly happy that I’m not actually allergic to anything.  It would be a royal pain! 

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Food Sensitivity Elimination Diet: Days 2 & 3

Category : Healthy Eating

OK, I’ve been following the Elimination diet food plan pretty closely now and this is the evening of Day 3.  

Summary of Day 2:  Pretty good, productive day.  Mood was pretty consistent, fatigue was not an issue despite spending an entire day at home with the kids in the house!  Went the store and picked up some additional items, specifically more berries (love this addition) and water packed tuna to replace the tuna packed in oil (soybean oil -oops) I usually buy. (Yeah, I know you are probably surprised I buy the tuna in oil.   Fat goes up only 2g per serving (4g/can) to go with oil.  Suffice it to say that water packed is so dry that I’ll bet most people overcompensate with other less desirable fats (like mayonnaise) to make it moist enough to swallow)  FYI: Mayonnaise has 10g fat/Tablespoon and light mayonnaise has 3.5g/Tablespoon.  I’ll keep buying my oil pack even though it’s kind of gross to drain.

Today, Day 3 was notable because I was alert even after lunch and was 100% present during a meeting in a warm board room.  Anybody who knows me knows that these can be my biggest challenge.  Usually after lunch I get pretty drowsy any time I sit for any length of time.  No brain fog, no mood issues and my will-power to stay ‘on task’ and stay focused is notably better.  I’m liking this!

A few notes:  It was really weird to walk through the grocery store and realize how much I was choosing not to eat.  Really, prepared foods of any kind are pretty much out.  No sense in looking in the snack or cereal aisles!  With the exception of frozen veggies and meats, really nothing from the freezer department and most of the coolers!  It simplifies things in alot of ways.

Tonight I made the kids tortellini with spaghetti sauce and I couldn’t taste test.  That’s like the BEST part of cooking and my little ‘perk’ for being the cook.   Drat!

Admissions: I have not been perfect on the food list.  I mentioned the canned fish all had soy in the broth, but I figure if I was that allergic, a soy burger would hospitalize me!  I accidentally put potatoes into the butternut squash soup that I love and later found out it’s in the nightshades class with tomatoes and eggplants.  I have not cut out wine.  It didn’t seem to help the last time I cut it out of my diet for 2 weeks and I was noticeably more irritable and grumpy.  Ha!  So I’ve made the executive decision that there is no need to eliminate the ‘wine food group’.


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The Elimination Diet: Shopping and Day 1

Category : Healthy Eating

I’ve been chomping at the bit to start the elimination diet, so I started this morning.  Last night we had home made calzones which were terrific but also contained 3 of the foods that I’m testing for a sensitivity: Dairy, tomatoes, and wheat.   

So earlier this week I shopped for the elimination diet list of recommended foods and I have to say, it was pretty easy.  OK, finding the rice cereal was a bit difficult and I only located “Cream of Rice” next to the “Cream of Wheat”.  Actually now that I say it, “Cream of Rice” sounds like a pretty good swear word substitute;  Awww, CREAM OF RICE!!!  Ha!  I like it. 

Back to shopping, I picked up some blackberries, strawberries, and a bunch of pouches of Salmon and a few cans of tuna for lunches (I’m not cooking for lunch!).  I stocked up on frozen Salmon and Tilapia for dinners, two bags of baby spinach, a couple bags of raw unsalted almonds, and low sodium vegetable broth.  

The shopping list calls for Green Tea and I found a Green Tea with Mint.  That’s pretty exciting because I’ve never liked Green Tea but I love peppermint herb tea.  Guess what?  I still don’t like it.  The hint of mint made it a touch better, but it still tastes like grass.  Blech!  Oh well, I can get over the grassy taste as long as I get a little hit of caffeine.

Day 1:  I’m a little worried, because so far  this seems too easy.  I drank my green-grass tea this morning and made a serving of Cream of Rice which tastes exactly like Cream of Wheat.    I didn’t have any almonds right away and felt a little hungry only an hour after the Cream of Rice.  A couple handfuls of Almond and I was good throughout my early morning trainings.  Just for the record, I’m not trying to lose weight, so I’ll be doing what I always do: eat whatever it takes to keep from being hungry when I’m training clients or off doing stuff!

The hardest thing so far was not enjoying the huge spread of food and goodies at the Bay Nordic Youth end of year party.  I had some fruit (non-citrus) and waited until I got home to eat my Salmon and Spinach salad with strawberries.  Yum!  That was delicious and I was pretty proud of my use of the pouched Salmon… until I read the label and noticed that the broth used has Soy in it.  Dang!  I’ll have to figure that one out since soy is one of my target foods.

So that’s Day one in a nutshell.  Here’s my original post if you want to learn more about the elimination diet to establish your food sensitivities. -Ryan


Comments Off on I think I have a Food Sensitivity: Do You?

I think I have a Food Sensitivity: Do You?

Category : Healthy Eating

I think I may have a food sensitivity.  I’ve been getting increasingly fatigued in the afternoons to the point where if I take a nap, I have to force myself to get back up.  It’s not everyday, and I haven’t been able to figure out a pattern.  Could it be the food I eat?  Those who know me know my breakfast and lunch seldom change, and any food eaten too often could be the culprit.  Read on and I’ll tell you what I learned and the action I’m going to take.

Based on the Dr. Oz show that I recently watched, I learned that food sensitivities are a lot more prevalent than you would expect.  You may have one or more symptoms that appear and disappear sporadically and you would never suspect a food sensitivity as the cause.

Do you occasionally have headaches, fatigue, or experience weight gain? How about bloating, arthritis & joint pain, inflammation, diarrhea or constipation, addictive food cravings, mood swings, skin problems, ADD/ADHD, narcolepsy, & migraines?  Yikes!  And that is just a partial list of food sensitivity symptoms.

Let me point out that food sensitivities are NOT the same as a food allergy or intolerance.   A food allergy is where your body not only doesn’t recognize a food, but it actively creates anti-bodies to combat the foreign substance resulting in hives, breathing problems or worse.  A food intolerance such as lactose (dairy) intolerance is where your body cannot digest a food resulting in digestive issues such as diarrhea, bloating or cramps.  A food sensitivity is less immediate and usually less severe than allergies or intolerances, but the symptoms vary widely and may appear irregularly making it harder to establish the cause.

The good news is that if you have a food sensitivity, it’s not forever.  Once you identify it, you can remove it from your diet for 3 months and then re-introduce it to see if the symptoms return.

So, how do you know if you have a food sensitivity?  You eliminate the trouble foods and then add them back in slowly.  Here is your food sensitivity action plan.

  1. First, document the symptoms that you feel may be due to the foods you eat.
  2. Watch this episode of Dr. Oz with Dr. Mark Hyman for the details of the elimination diet.  It gives you all the details you need.  I’ve summarized the nuts & bolts of the diet below.
  3. Consult your doctor if you are unsure if you should try the elimination diet.
  4. Plan when you will start the diet and use Dr. Oz & Hyman’s elimination diet food list to shop for the necessary foods.
  5. Start the diet and follow it for 5 days!  During this time take special note of how you feel: more energy, better digestion etc…  Also note which symptoms disappeared.
  6. Continue the elimination diet but add one potentially sensitive food in any order (soy, citrus, dairy, eggs, corn, nightshades(tomatoes/eggplant), and Gluten/Wheat) at a time at each meal for two days and watch for symptoms to return.   One reference said to note both negative AND positive reactions to food additions as a sometimes a positive symptom like ‘more energy’ could be due to a stress response of the body. 
  7. Remove any foods that cause symptoms for 3 months and try to reintroduce the food to see if the symptoms return. 

That’s it.  It’s simple and straight forward and I’m going to do it starting March 3rd, 2014.  Are you?   Follow my progress via my facebook profile:  Email me at if you are joining me so we can share notes.



Comments Off on The only Brussel Sprouts I’ve ever enjoyed!

The only Brussel Sprouts I’ve ever enjoyed!

Category : Healthy Eating

We’ve been meaning to share this amazing recipe from Eben Erhard ever since he unexpectedly showed up on our door step one winter in December with a sample.  Truly the only Brussel Sprouts I’ve ever enjoyed.  If you don’t know Eben, he is the husband of our trainer Lori. 

Here’s a note from Eben:

“On a whim for Thanksgiving I decided that along with the standard boring side dishes, I should add something healthy to the menu and what’s not to love about Brussels sprouts?  Lots, according to some people I guess, but I was not to be deterred.  What I came up with seemed to be more than palatable.  I hope you will agree.

The lovely Brussels Sprout is a great fall vegetable and cool to grow even you are reluctant to eat it.  They take the cold temperatures of fall and store well making them a great late season food.  My initial sprouts came from the grocery store, but later I found some in their natural form at the Green Bay winter farmer’s market.”

Brussel Sprouts in their natural form

Brussel Sprouts in their natural form









Ingredients for Brussels Sprouts ala Eben:

1 – 2 cups of Brussels sprouts, halved or quartered depending on size.

1/3 T Coarse salt: Kosher Sea Salt

1T Olive oil

1 stalk celery

¼ cup chopped onions

1 small apple (or 3/4s of one if you are hungry)

¼ pepitas (pumpkin seeds – I used roasted with no salt)


Shake the Brussels sprouts in a sealed container with enough olive oil to coat and a scant ½ teaspoon of salt. 

Place on cookie sheet or other backing pan and roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Brussel Sprouts ready for roasting






While the sprouts are roasting chop up the onion, celery and apples into ¼ to ½ inch pieces. 

Other key ingredients

Other key ingredients clockwise: pepitas, celery, onion, apple








After the sprouts have been in the oven for 15 minutes, caramelize the onions with some olive oil over medium high heat.  After about 1-2 minutes add the celery.  Cook until the onions have a nice translucent quality stirring often.  Add Brussels sprouts, apples and pepitas and cook for a minute or so until the chill is taken off the apples and you are ready to serve.

Brussel sprouts-the finished product







Nutrition Analysis:  Makes 3  servings.  175 calories/serving including 6g protein, 16g carbs, 10g fat, and 4 g of fiber.