Comments Off on Fall Fitness Routine

Fall Fitness Routine

Category : Active Living

by Karin Jennings The trouble with summer is that people tend to be very inconsistent about exercising. This happens for a multitude of reasons: a) it’s hot; b) the kids are home;c) week-long vacations and travel; d) relying on outdoor activities like gardening and walking for exercise.

Now that it’s Fall, it’s time to get your fall fitness routine together!

How to start? ”Back to School” and “Back to Fitness” have a lot of similarities. The “Three R’s” of fitness include: 1) Regular Routine, 2) ‘Rite it down, and 3) ‘Rithmetic.

1) Regular Routine

Consistency is the key to success. Schedule your exercise. “I am going to get in shape this fall” is far too vague. Instead, say “I am going to exercise for 30 minutes three days a week for the next 4 weeks.” You should consider being even more specific and schedule the days you will exercise on your calendar. Notice how this statement is measurable in couple of ways (minutes of exercise & days per week) it also has a time frame of 4 weeks. Remember that nobody’s perfect, if you miss a day try to reschedule it as soon as possible. Progress, not perfection should be your mantra.

2) ‘Rite it down

Three things you should consider writing down:

Your goals.

Post them somewhere you can see them regularly and act upon them. It is important to review your goals daily…for one minute. Spencer Johnson, M.D., in his book The One Minute Mother gives us this motivational quote: “I take a minute, I look at my goals, I look at my behavior, I see if my behavior matches my goals”.

Record your workouts.

It may seem silly, but most grown-ups are just as motivated as grade-schoolers by something as simple as a chart on the wall with gold stars. Try this at home: Place a calendar which is dedicated to keeping track of your workouts in a prominent location such as your refrigerator. Everyday you workout give yourself a star on the calendar. You may also want to record your time, distance and/or the activities you completed. How many minutes and/or miles you complete weekly or monthly? This will keep you motivated to keep moving.

Record what you are eating.

If one of your goals is to lose weight, a food log is an excellent way to get started. Studies show that writing down everything you eat throughout the day can double your weight loss. This works because it makes you much more aware of what you are putting in your mouth.

3) ‘Rithmetic

A lot of us are motivated by the numbers. Most people feel they MUST weigh themselves, however don’t measure success by that number alone. Here are some other numbers to consider:

Body composition

This is the ratio of fat to lean body tissue and it is much more important. This can be measured with a skin fold calipers or a bio-impedance device. If you would like to have this measured by a trainer at our studio please let us know.

Inches lost

It’s tricky to use a tape measure and because it’s hard to measure at exactly the same spot the next time, so instead identify a piece of clothing that’s a little too tight right now and try it on again in 4 weeks to see if it fits better.

Measure your fitness

How many push-ups you can do without stopping, how many chair squats you can complete in 30 seconds and how long can you stand on one foot?How long does it takes you to walk/run a specific distance such as one mile (works best on a track)? Re-test every four weeks and you will be impressed with yourself! Turn over a new leaf…follow the “Three R’s” and get your fall fitness routine in shape! autumn_leaves_png3601

Comments Off on New Year’s Resolution Success

New Year’s Resolution Success

Category : Exercise, Healthy Eating

A University of Scranton study suggests that only 8% of people achieve New Year’s Resolution Success.

How can you make 2017 a success?

  • Set behavior based goals
  • Track yourself on a daily/weekly basis
  • Reward yourself for sticking with it
  • Forgive yourself if you’re not perfect
Read more New Year Resolution Success 2017

Comments Off on Halloween Candy vs. Burpees

Halloween Candy vs. Burpees

Category : Healthy Eating

It’s the second 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?

Comments Off on How Skinny is your Kitchen?

How Skinny is your Kitchen?

Category : Healthy Eating

Is your kitchen helping or hurting your weight-loss efforts?

Did you know that the average woman who keeps a box of breakfast cereal visible anywhere in her kitchen weighs about 21 pounds more than her neighbor who doesn’t? How about that having potato chips or crackers  in plain sight causes you to weigh 8 pounds more than your neighbor who puts them out of sight (or better yet don’t keep them in the house!)

Recently I read an article by Brian Wansink, PhD author of “Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life”. In his book he provides a 100-point checklist to evaluate your kitchen. However in the spirit of “taking baby-steps” and not trying to change everything at once I wanted to start by sharing the 10-point checklist he offers in his article “Food-Related Behavior Change Made Easy”.

How many of the following are true in your home?

  • Salad and vegetables are served first before the entrée and starches are brought to the table.
  • The main dish is pre-plated and served from the stove or counter (not family style).
  • Your dinner plates are 9-10 inches in diameter.
  • You eat sitting at a table with the TV turned off.
  • There are two or fewer cans of soft drinks in your refrigerator at any one time. (Doesn’t matter if it’s diet or regular soda).
  • Your kitchen counters are organized (not messy).
  • Precut fruits and vegetables are now on your middle refrigerator shelf.
  • At least 6 single servings of protein are in your fridge: Hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, string cheese, tofu, etc.
  • Your snacks are kept in one inconveniently located cupboard.
  • The only food on your kitchen counter is a fruit bowl.

How many did you check? If you checked seven or more, congratulations, you’re doing great. If you scored less than seven which ones can you change in the next week?

You eat what you see first, so the ONLY food that should be on your kitchen counter is a fruit bowl!

You eat what you see first, so the ONLY food that should be on your kitchen counter is a fruit bowl!

P.S. Learn more about Dr Wansink’s book “Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life” at

Comments Off on Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast

Category : Healthy Eating

Who knew mashing avocado on toast was trendy? Certainly not me…I’ve been making avocado toast for years because it’s quick, easy, delicious and nutritious.

I was very surprised to learn from a client (who travels a whole lot more than I do) that avocado toast is “a thing” on both coasts and here in the mid-west we’re missing out!!  I accidentally invented avocado toast (for myself) years ago because it’s a great substitute for some less desirable condiments such as mayo or butter.

Please, don’t worry about how many calories are in an avocado. The health benefits of the avocado far outweigh any concern you may have about the fat content… it’s monounsaturated fat which is “heart healthy” plus a little fat goes a long way toward helping you feel full longer so you will actually consume less calories throughout the day.

What’s so great about avocado?

  • They have more potassium than bananas
  • They are high in monounsaturated oleic acid, a “heart healthy” fatty acid that is believed to be one of the main reasons for the health benefits of olive oil.
  • A 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving of avocado contains 7 grams of fiber, which is 27% of the recommended daily amount.
  • Numerous studies have shown that eating avocado can improve heart disease risk factors like Total, LDL and HDL cholesterol, as well as blood triglycerides.
  • Avocados are high in antioxidants, including Lutein and Zeaxanthin. These nutrients are very important for eye health and lower the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
  • They are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as B-vitamins, vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin E and vitamin C.
  • One of my favorite breakfasts...avocado and egg sandwich

    One of my favorite breakfasts…avocado and egg sandwich

Comments Off on Avoid Weekend Weight Gain

Avoid Weekend Weight Gain

Category : Healthy Eating

Are you “good” all week, but sabotage your weight-loss efforts on the weekend? Avoid weekend weight gain with the tips below! Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis studied how weekend behaviors affect weight loss. The study involved 48 healthy adults aged 50 to 60 years. Prior to starting these programs all participants were found to consistently gain weight on weekends, but not weekdays! In fact, the average weekend weight gain would have led to an extra nine pounds over the course of one year. The researchers divided the participants into 3 groups:
  • Group 1 (diet group) took in 20% fewer calories each day but didn’t change their activity level.
  • Group 2 (exercise group) increased their daily exercise regimen but didn’t change their diet, to have a comparable energy deficit as Group 1.
  • Group 3 (control group) did not change their diet or activity level.
What happened? During the year-long program both Group 1 and Group 2 did well during the week, however on weekends the diet group stopped losing weight and the exercise group gained weight due to higher calorie intake. According to Susan B. Racette, PhD, assistant professor of physical therapy and medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis,  “We thought weekends would present a problem for some people attempting to lose weight, but the consistency of our finding before and during the interventions was surprising. Subjects in the diet group lost weight during the week, but over the weekend, they stopped losing weight because they were eating more. Ideas for minimizing weekend weight gain We all tend to worry about the holiday weight gain, however it certainly seems we need to be wary of weekends. Especially since there are 52 weekends each year! Maintaining a consistent effort throughout the weekend is extremely important to successful weight-loss. Here are some ways you can minimize the impact of the weekend:
  • Eat before you go grocery shopping Many people do their week’s grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday, do not go to the store hungry or you will most certainly put things in your cart on impulse.
  • Keep healthy snacks on handy in the car Whether you are traveling or running errands, carrying a healthy snack will keep you out of the drive-thru lane.
  • Keep a food journal A journal will make you more mindful of what you are putting into your mouth. A recent study found that food journaling actually doubled weight-loss efforts!
  • Limit eating out Try to avoid fast food all together. If you do eat out remember to eat reasonable portions and eat all your vegetables.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption There are a lot of empty calories in alcohol. It also reduces your inhibitions to eat junk food AND makes you feel hungrier.
  • Plan to get some exercise Schedule in exercise either one or both days. If you are away from home and no equipment is available simply put on your walking shoes and get moving!
After the weekend, reflect back…
  • Which tactics above did you try? Did they work?
  • What did you do well?
  • Ask yourself: What can you do better next weekend?
Have a fit & healthy weekend! Karin

Comments Off on Spring Fitness Tips

Spring Fitness Tips

Category : Active Living

If you hibernated over the winter here are some Spring fitness tips to help you get started!


Start Slowly


Our best advice is to start slowly to avoid injury.  The idea is to “Spring” into fitness; not SLAM into fitness. Begin with three days of cardio exercise and two days of strength exercise.


Cardio recommendations


Start with walking or another low-impact exercise.


You can do this outdoors if the weather permits or use indoor cardio equipment either at your home or our studio. Warm-up your ankles such as tapping your toes, heel raises, and ankle circles.

Week 1 20 minutes on three days of the week
Week 2 20 minutes on four days of the week OR 30 minutes on three days.
Week 3 20 minutes on five days of the week or 30 minutes on four days.
Week 4 30 minutes on five days.

Once you have built up to five days per week, stick with it. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.

Having trouble finding the time?

30 minutes is only 2% of 24 hours!


Strength Training recommendations


The America Heart Association (and XO Fitness) recommend strength training two non-consecutive days each week.


Consulting a certified fitness professional is definitely a good idea because good form and proper exercise selection will improve your results and reduce your risk of getting injured.  As your body adapts to the extra demands of strength training you may eventually want to add a third day of strength training.


Stretching recommendations


The BEST time to work on your flexibility is AFTER your workout because your muscles are warm and pliable.  Many people blow-off this part of the workout, but flexibility training is just as important as cardiovascular and strength training. Most important stretches for most people include those for your hip flexors and chest/front of shoulders. Try these!

Comments Off on High Intensity Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training

Category : Exercise

How hard should you be working out?

That is a good question! Make the most of your time, don’t  zone out…instead, zone in on your intensity level.

At XO Fitness we use 4 Zones:

Zone 1: Easy Warm-up & Recovery

Zone 2: Challenging, but comfortable

Zone 3: Challenging, but uncomfortable

Zone 4: Breathless; not maximum, but winded

There are many ways to monitor your intensity level. This method was developed by Nautilus Institute. Recent research indicates that this method might actually be one of the most accurate ways to monitor intensity because it takes into account each person’s  individual differences in fitness, heart size and experience.

Try High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

5 minutes: Warm-up in Zone 1

5 minutes: Zone 2

10 minutes: Alternate one minute in Zone 1 and one minute in Zone 3. (Zone 4 if you have been training a while)

5 minutes: Cool-down in Zone 1

Challenge yourself with a High Intensity Interval Training workout twice each week. You will burn more calories and improve your endurance much more with High Intensity Interval Training than if you hang out in Zones 1 & 2 during your entire workout!

Low Impact/High Intensity Interval Training (modified for beginner/intermediate fitness enthusiasts)


High Impact/High Intensity Interval Training (for intermediate to experienced fitness enthusiasts)


Want more exercises like these? Contact Karin at XO Fitness


Comments Off on Hangover Recovery

Hangover Recovery

Category : Active Living

Here are some tips to help with hangover recovery. Let’s face it, most of the time you are careful to eat and drink in moderation, but there are lots of parties this time of year and lots of opportunities to over-do-it. If you wake wake up with a food and/or beverage hangover here are some great tips from Mark Verstegen & Pete Williams authors of Core Performance for Women: What to do the day after…
  • Do not feel guilty for your indulgences.
  • Start your day off with water, green tea, a multi-vitamin, fish oil and a great breakfast.
  • Get in a workout. Sweat!
  • Jump right back into your schedule of eating 4-5 meals/day
  • Go to bed early so that you can get at least 8 hours of sleep
The important thing to remember is not to let this one day bender derail your good habits. After all, that one off day represents just 0.27 % of the entire year. What matters most is how you eat the following day. By employing these simple strategies, you’ll avoid a tailspin of poor nutrition and jolt you metabolism to start burning strong again! Have a Happy & Healthy 2015!!  

Comments Off on St. Brendan’s Irish Root Soup -Low Fat version

St. Brendan’s Irish Root Soup -Low Fat version

Category : Healthy Eating


St. Brendan’s Irish Root Soup

We really enjoyed St. Brendan’s Irish Root Soup and they shared their recipe with us!  This is truly one of those comfort foods that cold fall weather seems to trigger, and boy, was it ever good when we made it this week!  We’ve been tweaking it ever since we got it because the original recipe calls for 2 cups of heavy cream.  While that’s OK for the occasional celebration meal, we felt we should try to create a low fat version that we could enjoy guilt-free a couple times a month. We succeeded!
Awhile back, one of our clients (Thanks RuthAnn!) shared with us the mind-blowing book “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us”.  In it, the author Michael Moss show us that there is an ideal amount of sugar (called the bliss point) that can be added to food; too little is no good and too much is a waste.  The same is true for salt, finding as we come accustomed to salt the more we prefer but that too little salt can take a once savory food to being nearly inedible.  The clincher is when it comes to fat.  For fat, there is no optimal level at which too much fat is less desirable.  More is always better and researchers determined that if there is a bliss point for fat it is somewhere beyond heavy whipping cream!  They also found that people could not discern the amount of fat in a food, often wildly underestimating how much fat was in it.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Back to St. Brendan’s magnificent soup.  Was this a case of unnecessary extravagance?  You be the judge!  Here is the XO’d version of St. Brendan’s Irish Root Soup.
2T Olive Oil
1T Butter
2 lb Carrots peeled and diced
2 whole Leeks diced, then washed well (originally Whites only diced)
6 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
Sauteed Leeks
Sauteed Leeks
2 lbs Sweet Potatoes, halved and roasted (see note)
4 cups Vegetable Stock (originally Chicken stock)
1 can evaporated milk (24g fat) or 2 Cups fat free half & half (zero g fat) (originally 2 cups Heavy  whipping cream, 176 grams fat!)
2 T sugar (We omitted this altogether as unnecessary with the carrots and sweet potatoes)
Salt and pepper to taste.
Per the original recipe: Parboil sweet potatoes and then oven roast at 350 on a cookie sheet using parchment paper until brown.  (I have skipped this step altogether and boiled everything until soft, but I have to admit the BEST version was when Karin followed these directions to the letter AND we use the evaporated milk…  Will have to try again skipping this step and using evaporated milk to see if this step is worth the extra effort.)
Heat oil and butter in large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, leeks, garlic and sweet potatoes. Saute until the leeks are translucent, about eight minutes, Add stock and evaporated milk or half & half.  Cover and simmer about thirty minutes. Stir occasionally. 
Either puree the soup in batches in a blender or simply carefully use an immersion blender (best tool ever) to puree soup.  Enjoy!
Made with Fat Free half and half, this recipe is about 122 calories per cup.  Made with evaporated milk 135 calories.  Made with heavy cream, 211 calories per cup.  You decide which is richer, I can’t tell a difference!