Category Archives: Antioxidants

Michele Ackerman Interview

Michele Ackerman Interview

Intolerance Testing for the Elite Over 50 Club

I recently had the privilege to talk to a wonderful women by the name of Michele Ackerman. Michele has been in the fitness world for over 20 + years. As she is currently now in the elite over 50 club, she is the living testament that you are never to old to take your health, nutrition, and fitness to the next level.To many people think they are doing just great on their own and are eating healthy and clean diets along with training and muscle building. However, as we should all know by now, eating healthy is individually subjective! That is where having an open mind comes into play and Michele is that kind of women. She is always looking for ways to better herself. She found our testing process and is so enthusiastic about the benefits of implementing the results that she has now joined the team and will be sharing and selling the product to friends, family, and other people in the fitness world.

 I would like to share an interview with Michele to share some of her personal information and what she thought about taking the test. I hope you enjoy the information and can learn from her. I know that she has given me motivation to jump back into exercise again!


Elaine: Michele, Can you tell me how you got started in fitness and competitions?

Michele: I competed in my first physique competition in 1993 when I was 30 years old, as a bodybuilder. It was a dismal failure. After employing the keto diet typically used by bodybuilders, my 5’ 7” frame weighed a mere 112 pounds, not the kind of physique that wins bodybuilding shows.

I assumed physique competitions were out of the picture for me until this thing called “figure” came along about 10 years later. The ideal appearance is athletic — not too much muscle and not too lean. Friends from the gym convinced me to give it a try. So, at 41 years of age, I took the stage again as a figure competitor in 2004 at the National Physique Committee (NPC) Peggy Sue Classic.

This past year, I transitioned from figure to the “bikini” division. Though my physique has changed very little over the past 15 years, the sport has. Every division — women’s physique (formerly called bodybuilding), figure and bikini – has become more muscular in appearance. I believe I can now be more competitive at a higher level in the bikini division than figure.

Elaine: How many competitions have you competed in and how did you place?

Michele: I have competed in about 20 different shows in several bodybuilding federations over the years. Most of my competitions have been in the NPC, but I have also competed in the National Gym Association (NGA) and the Drug Free Athletic Coalition (DFAC). I have competed in primarily regional shows, but also competed at the NPC Masters Nationals in 2016.

Some of these shows are tested for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs); others are not. NGA and DFAC use urine tests and polygraph to ensure athletes are clean. I have taken a hard stance on PEDs from the beginning. I want people to get a realistic impression of what the human physique can be, without the use of drugs.

Regarding placings, I always say: if you compete long enough, you’ll stand at the top of your class and at the bottom, especially if you stretch yourself and move to the next level. Often, I learn the most from my disappointments. I have yet to tie it all together and present my perfect package. But I learn every time I step on stage and am getting closer!

I have won classes at the NPC Natural Cincinnati (2014), NPC Natural Northern (2015), DFAC Cardinal Classic (2015), NPC Natural Kentucky (2017), NPC Elite Physique (2018), NPC Natural Northern (2018) and NGA Monster Mash (2018)

Elaine: How did you hear about our Intolerance Testing?

Michele: I heard about Intolerance Testing from a fellow bikini competitor who had worked in the Intolerance Testing booth at the Arnold Classic in 2018.

Elaine: What made you decide to try our Intolerance Testing? 

Michele: My friend was very successful in reducing core inflammation after she made diet changes based on her Intolerance Test results. I knew the primary change for her prep this year was diet and was amazed at the changes in her physique, so thought I’d give it a try.

As well, I was having challenges losing weight during competition prep and suspected foods I was eating before my competitions contributed to bloat on stage.

Elaine: What did you think about the test results?

Michele: The test is one of the best investments I have ever made in my health, not just for physique competitions but for my overall health too. I consider the results to be Michele Ackerman’s specific blueprint for better health. I will retest again in about nine months to assess how changes in my diet impact results.

Elaine: Was it difficult to implement in your routine?

Michele: It was not a challenge for me to implement a new routine, largely because of my stance on food and because I have been meal prepping as part of my routine for many years. I view food first and foremost as sustenance and then as pleasure. Sure, I want to eat food that tastes great, but it needs to meet goal-one first.

My strategy was to take out everything — and I mean everything — on my list and see where I stood five weeks out. It took me about 10 days to phase out every “no” on my list (level 3, level 2 and level 1). I frequently visited the Intolerance Test website to determine what foods were tested and could be in my diet and learn where food additives (E series) are commonly found. I developed a grocery list of can-do foods to help with shopping.

I also switched up my supplement program. I stopped taking a multivitamin because I was deficient for some nutrients (vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B7 and others) and near toxic for others (iron, magnesium). I now purchase vitamins and amino acids of which I am deficient separately and try to address deficiencies naturally through food in hopes of better absorption. I also stopped eating food packaged in tin because tin was listed on my heavy metals test.

Elaine: Do you have any tips to offer?

Michele: For this to work, I feel you need to be open-minded. When I sent off my hair samples, some asked, “What will you do if you find your favorite foods on the list?” I told them I would be thrilled to find suspect foods. What I did not expect was the extensive list I got. Though my diet was squeaky clean by most standards, nearly two-thirds of what I was eating was being rejected by my body – solid, nutritious foods, just not ideal for me and likely over-consumed.

So, some of my favorites had to go (wheat, oats, pineapple, apples, whey protein, citrus and sugar of ALL forms and more). But, there are tons of foods I CAN eat (peanut butter, dates, peaches, pears, rice, chicken, cheese, eggs and more). I didn’t mourn the loss of some of my favorite foods, but rather celebrated the fact that I have a tool that can help me develop my own plan for better health.

Another aspect of test I appreciate is that it doesn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Often people assume they are gluten or lactose intolerant. For me, the test revealed specific dairy foods and grains that are problematic. Though I am sensitive to cream, sour cream, whey and butter, I can tolerate milk and cheese. I have substituted spelt and rice flour for the wheat and oat flour I had previously used in baking.

Some also ask if I will be adding foods from my no list back into my diet when I’m not competing. Not a chance! I feel so much better that I have no desire to put them back in.

Elaine: Did the test results help you to feel better and did you see any results?

Michele: By making changes in my diet, I feel “lighter” overall, with less bloating in my abdomen and less inflammation in a knee that has caused me problems over the past two decades. I also lost a couple pounds when I made changes initially.

As well, for the first time since I have been competing, I am able to see my oblique muscles run the entire length of my mid-section. I attribute this to diet changes since this was the single biggest change I made this year.

Elaine: Do you think the Intolerance testing will help other people in the fitness world?

Michele: I believe the Intolerance Test can help others in the fitness world. It often takes multiple shows, testing different diets and foods to determine the best way to “peak” for a show. Everyone processes foods differently, and even the same person can process foods differently from show to show. In the years since I first competed, I have learned the keto diet is a no-go for me. I also learned that I can lose muscle mass eating tons of protein. I keep notes from season to season and consult them frequently in hopes of getting it perfect at some point.

Striking the right balance of protein, carbs and fat in the right amounts with the right level of activity is the challenge for each of us that steps on stage. Though there are dozens of different theories on pre-contest diets, I think the test can help to eliminate problematic foods from the onset. It can also help to address deficiencies, so an athlete can be running on all four cylinders.

It’s Getting Hot in Here.. ;)

When many of us think of things we can do to help our bodies be in optimal health, we think of eating healthy, exercising, staying hydrated and sanitizing our hands on a consistent basis. I’m sure many of us wouldn’t initially think of utilizing saunas to aid in our overall well-being. Well, saunas have many beneficial properties, and there are many types of saunas that are specifically constructed for many purposes that promote a healthier mind, body and spirit.

Many of us may be familiar with what a particular sauna looks like, but do we really know how beneficial they can be for us? Before I list the different kinds of saunas, here are but a few benefits from Top 11 Healthful Benefits of Sauna (n.d.) of why we should incorporate the use of saunas in our lives:

  1. FLUSHES TOXINS. We are all exposed to toxins around us-whether they be from the foods we eat or environmental elements. With that being said, we should do our best to purge our bodies from these toxins and sitting in a sauna is a great way to do that! The heat from the saunas open up our pores and activate our sweat glands that cause us to sweat a great deal. Because sweating in a sauna is a deeper kind of sweating, we are able to eliminate heavy metals in the body like copper, zinc, nickel and mercury.
  2. CAN HELP FIGHT AND PREVENT ILLNESSES. Because of the heat from the high temperatures, we are not only sweating out toxins, we are also killing harmful bacteria that is in and on our body. This is why it is important to take a cool or cold shower after leaving a sauna in order to close the pores to prevent other toxins from getting back into the body. You add eucalyptus or other essential oils to the water so when the steam forms, it helps clear symptoms of illnesses like sinus infections or congestions.
  3. CAN IMPROVE CARDIOVASCULAR PERFORMANCE. Although using saunas is very calming, it can increase your heart rate to a rate that is similar to what it would be if your engaged in aerobic exercises. With your heart rate increasing at a healthy rate, more blood is being pumped into the body. Regular use of a sauna can also aid in reducing high blood pressure because of the increased blood circulation and release of endorphins due to the calming feeling we get when in a sauna.
  4. AIDS IN PHYSICAL RECOVERY. After an intense workout, it is great to detox in a sauna afterwards. Blood circulation is increased, toxins are being eliminated from the body and we are more relaxed and calmer in a sauna-all helpful factors that aid in physical recovery. Saunas aid in relaxing the muscles and reducing soreness and inflammation, and can give us a tranquilizing feeling when we’re wrapped in its warmth. Also, growth hormone increases tremendously, which aids in reducing muscle atrophy after a strenuous workout.
  5. HELPS BURN CALORIES. Even though you are only sitting or laying down in a sauna, you still sweat quite a bit. Whenever we sweat, we are using energy, as well as accelerating our heart rate, which causes us to burn calories. Use of a sauna will not necessarily make you lose weight, but it could certainly help with shedding additional calories after a good workout.
  6. CLEANSES THE SKIN. With the increased deep sweating you get from being in a sauna, it cleanses the skin from toxins in the epidermis and allows the dead skin cells to be replaced. This creates smoother, clearer skin and can give you a natural glow because those toxins have been sweated out of the body.
  7. RELIEVES STRESS. As previously stated, being in a sauna is like being wrapped up in a warm, calming blanket. When eliminating the toxins in the body, it not only cleanses the body but also helps clear the mind. Endorphins are released and it helps restore your mind and body to its more optimal health. Adding calming essential oils, like lavender, eucalyptus or chamomile can also help reduce stress in the mind and body. 
  8. CAN AID IN A DEEPER SLEEP. Not only do saunas help reduce stress, but they also promote a deeper sleep. Since saunas increase your level of relaxation, your mind and body are put at ease. They prepare the body to wind down for the day/night which aids in a more restful, deeper sleep. Many people who used saunas on a regular basis reported having deeper, quality sleep.
  9. CAN BE USED FOR RECREATIONAL/SOCIAL PURPOSES. Going to a sauna alone is the norm at times, but it can also be a fun and relaxing social activity that you can do on with friends. It is a quiet environment that allows you to have more intimate, mindful conversations with old friends or new friends that you meet there. Since endorphins are released when you are enjoying the sauna, you are more likely to be more open to meet others and have nice, quiet conversations.
  10. CAN BE CONVENIENT. Saunas can be found at your local gyms, spas and wellness centers, and can even be built into our homes. They also have foldable, portable saunas that are relatively inexpensive, so you can take it with you when you travel for work or when you go on vacation! I know I will be getting a portable sauna in my home soon!



Once again, these are but a few benefits of why you should start using a sauna on a consistent basis. Here are a few types of saunas that were built for specific purposes from “Different Types of Saunas” (2017):

TRADITIONAL FINNISH SAUNA: This traditional sauna is lined with wooden slats 

and consists of benches, heated rocks, a bucket of water and a ladle. The humidity in the sauna is controlled by adding water to the heated rocks. 

DRY SAUNA: This type of sauna can be found in some of your local gyms. A dry sauna is similar to the Tradition Finnish Sauna because it also has heated rocks, but there’s no bucket of water or ladle present. 

STEAM BATH: This sealed sauna is built with glass, acrylic or tiles with a low temperature and 100% humidity, which makes it feel hotter inside than it really is.

INFRARED SAUNA: This sauna is very different from the other three due to the fact that there is no humidity. You are basically sealed in a heat glove which warms up your body temperature. 

So as you can see, saunas can be a very effective way to promote our optimal health and well-being. They can be found in some of our local gyms, at spas and wellness centers, and even in some of our own homes. Also, since we are detoxing and sweating whenever we sit in a sauna, it is important to properly hydrate in order to replenish the body with the water that was just lost. Hopefully we are all now more aware of the many helpful ways a sauna can aid in our health and go out to find our local sauna in order to incorporate it into our lives. 


“Different Types of Saunas.” (25 Sept. 2017). Retrieved October 11, 2019.

Finnleo. (n.d.). Top 11 Healthful Benefits of Sauna. Retrieved October 11, 2019, from

Vaccines + Heavy Metals

Talking about vaccines is a very sensitive topic for some, especially during a time when communities are dealing with measles outbreaks. I had my cat Simon vaccinated against Rabies and FVRCP (Distemper) as a kitten and in his youth, but he’s eight now and has not received vaccines in about five or six years. Don’t worry, I may be extreme about Simon and his health, but I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I just think there is no need to over vaccinate our animals. There’s no way that would be acceptable with our human children, so how has it become normal to vaccinate on a regular one or three year basis? We have the ability to test their titers to ensure that they have the appropriate amount of antibodies, so we don’t need to continue to put poison into their little bodies.

In March of 2018, I was taking care of a dog I had known for the last six years. At the end of the walk, we had our usual routine; he sat nicely while I got him a treat to balance on his nose and attempt to catch it as it falls. If I was lucky I would also get a face full of kisses. This time went a bit differently, however. Instead of kisses, he very calmly grabbed my face with his mouth, and I realized I could not move. I couldn’t open my mouth, or pull back. He had punctured my top lip and nose. I had to stay as calm as possible, so I felt for his mouth and opened it with my hands. The last thing you should do when a dog sinks his teeth into any part of your body is to pull away! It was a very dramatic scene after that, but I made my way to the hospital where I received about thirty stitches in my top lip.

At the time, I worked part time for a pet nutritionist and she just happened to be attending a seminar about vaccines the same time this incident occurred. I mention this because I found out that the dog had received all of his booster vaccines a week earlier, and they can exhibit symptoms of vaccine reactions up to twelve weeks after the fact. The main reason why I believe this dog was having a vaccine reaction was his demeanor. If this was a “dog attack,” he probably would have gave me warnings to back away, or tried to shake or let go just to turn and bite me more. None of those things happened. He was very calm, did not growl or make a sound, and it almost seemed like he had lock-jaw and could not let go of me. Once I was able to get his mouth open he ran away and hid. This seemed like very odd behavior.

While I was in the hospital, they gave me a tetanus vaccine. It had been about eleven years since the last time I needed one, so the doctors felt it was necessary. Understandably,  I was very sore from the trauma to my face, but that tetanus shot really made my arm achy the following day. I’m an adult and this was all very tiring for me, so imagine puppies who go in to the doctors for their spay or neuter surgery, and then also receive a handful of vaccines while they are still under anesthesia. Their little bodies are trying to mend itself from surgery, plus now we have injected them with poison. I can imagine how traumatic that can be for them in the days that follow. 

One veterinarian office I worked for had designated days where they only did appointments with the technicians. This meant that if an animal needed additional services after their doctor’s visit, like injections, fluids, wound care, etc. the veterinary technicians would administer it and there wasn’t another office visit fee to pay. This is a great way to spread out vaccines rather than giving them to a dog or cat all in the same visit. If I had received three or four vaccines the day I went to the hospital, I’m sure I would have felt very ill after.

Can vaccines really cause an animal to lash out and bite? More common symptoms that animals experience from vaccine reactions tend to be lethargy, swelling or soreness at the site of injection, fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, hives, and seizures, among others. Not only could these symptoms cause an animal to act out, but changes in behavior can also be an effect of a vaccine. Why? Because of the ingredients in them. However, I recently learned that the ingredients in vaccinations is proprietary information. In other words, manufacturers do not need to divulge that information to the public. Susan Thixton (The Truth About Pet Food) has a wonderful article where she breaks down the ingredients we know of, but it really is hard to say what exactly we are injecting into our dogs and cats.

Among these ingredients, I cringe the most at aluminum, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and mercury or thimerosal. The latter is a preservative that contains mercury. There are other variations of thimerosal, so don’t be fooled if you do some research about vaccines and don’t see mercury clearly stated as an ingredient. Years ago people began talking about the link between aluminum and dementia or alzheimers. I know I switched deodorant brands without question, and I rarely use aluminum foil when I cook. There was also a change in thermometer manufacturing in the US to no longer use mercury. We are already aware that these substances are most likely not good for us, but we need transparency in our vaccine ingredients.

Let me go back to my question as to whether or not behavioral changes would occur in animals. The owners of the dog in my unfortunate experience immediately contacted their trainer. I insisted that this was a vaccine reaction and they just refused to accept that. Well, mercury was used in the millinery industry from the 17th century up until 1941. The process to make hats was poisoning hatters with mercury, causing an illness known as mad hatter’s disease. The medical term for this disease is erethism, and it affects the entire central nervous system, causing people to act very strange or insane. My sister is a custom milliner in Brooklyn, and I’m very grateful that method is not still used today.

If people exposed to mercury on a regular basis were essentially poisoning themselves, and becoming insane, why would it be so far fetched as to think the regular doses of vaccines we administer aren’t doing the same to animals? Not to mention our organ systems that filter everything that goes into our bodies are going to be affected in a physical manner as well. 

Luckily for us, there are veterinarians fighting to change the way we vaccinate our animals. One of them is Dr. Karen Becker. She discusses this topic in depth, and often to help spread the word about Vaccinosis. Vaccinosis is generally acknowledged more among holistic veterinarians. The symptoms I listed earlier in this article are not considered in the definition of vaccinosis. Those reactions to vaccines (vomiting, fever, etc.) are acute symptoms that can occur after a vaccine is administered. Vaccinosis encompasses the long-term effects that vaccines have on animals. Dr. Richard Pitcairn defines it as: “Vaccinosis is to be understood as the disturbance of the vital force by vaccination that results in mental, emotional, and a physical change that can, in some cases, be a permanent condition.” I’ve included the link to Dr. Becker’s article about vaccinosis below and I strongly recommend reading it.

From listening to Dr. Becker’s podcast and reading her articles, I’ve also learned about a fellow veterinarian, Dr. John Robb, who is also trying to change the way we vaccinate pets. He is based out of Connecticut, and has fought very hard to bring morality back to veterinary medicine. He discusses at length his experiences of this industry choosing profit over the health of many canine and feline patients. In fact, he and his wife invested their retirement fund to start an organization called Protect the Pets, in order to increase awareness and fight to change vaccination laws in the United States. He is a huge advocate for titer testing, which is a simple blood test to determine if an animal’s immunity is strong enough against particular disease, and allow pet parents to avoid over-vaccination. In human hospitals, titer testing is actually quite common. Again, I’ve included more information about this for you to read.

Since I work in the petcare industry, I constantly find myself at odds about vaccines. Working in dog daycares and grooming facilities, state officials require us to obtain proof of vaccines in order to provide our services. I’ve seen people literally go to a clinic and come back the same or following day with proof of vaccines. People don’t think twice about the way their pets may feel or about the affects these injections may have. We need more awareness about titer testing, especially for older animals or those with compromised immune systems. I’ve told pet owners that if they don’t want to vaccinate, but still want the services, they should ask their doctors for a titers test. Many times a letter from the doctor with proper reasoning as to why they feel the animal does not need vaccines (i.e. history of reactions, allergies) is acceptable.

It is perfectly acceptable to go to your veterinarian and tell them you don’t want to do yearly vaccines anymore, and would prefer titer testing. Dr. John Robb’s Protect the Pets organization actually offers affordable titer testing for pet owners. Check out his website (link below) to see how you can order a titer test. Review the prices before heading to your next exam, because if your veterinarian wants to charge you significantly more, you have other options! It is not required that you vaccinate throughout your pets’ lives!

The next step I recommend you can take is to test the heavy metal content in your pets’ body. 5 Strands recently came out with a new test for our pets; heavy metals! I know that when I saw my personal results for heavy metals I researched how to detox the body and did just about every method. Our four-legged loved ones deserve that same treatment. They can benefit from a detox just as much as us. The physical and mental clarity that comes with detoxing heavy metals from the system is amazing. It could save you money in the long run by possibly avoiding illnesses associated with heavy metals, but it could also help our furry loved ones live longer and healthier lives. It’s a very easy, non-invasive procedure, requiring only ten to fifteen strands of your pet’s hair. Your pets never have to leave home, since you can mail in the hair sample and wait to receive an email with the results!