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!

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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.

Feeling Melan-collie? Just Pug-get About it!

I don’t know about you but anytime someone talks about dog shows I immediately think about one of the best dog movies of all time: Best In Show. It is because of this movie that every time I see a bloodhound I blurt out “How you doin’, hound doggy?” in my best ventriloquist impression. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I suggest you do so before The National Dog Show Presented by Purina airs this coming weekend of November 16-17th on NBC. You may find some difficulty discerning between the movie and real life! 

Earlier this year, Purina conducted a survey of pet owners to generate a list of the fifty most popular dog breeds in America. I am not going to cover all fifty breeds and their rankings in this article, but I would love to point out which breeds were found on the list. 

Ranked at the 50th most popular breed in America is the Bloodhound! “How you doin’, hound doggy?” Okay, I’ll stop. The Bloodhound is descended from European (Belgium, UK, France, Scotland, and England) hounds and were originally bred for hunting. Starting in the Middle Ages, Bloodhounds were employed to track people by scent. A secret to their strong sense of smell? Their extra skin folds help trap scents from the ground up to their noses! 

Another very intelligent and active dog is the Collie, which is ranked as the 40th most popular breed in America. There are two types of collies out there; the smooth coat and the rough coat (think Lassie). Collies are known for their high intelligence levels, but did you know that we can trace the lineage of modern collies back to one dog? Now you know.

I know I made an assumption that you would be familiar with all the dogs that made the top 50 list. However, this breed may be one of the few that you haven’t heard of or met before. The 30th most popular breed is the Vizsla. They look like a golden version of Weimaraners, if that helps. These tan, short coated, and sporty dogs are descended from dogs in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Vizsla typically become very attached to chosen individuals.

This next breed, ranked at the 20th position on the list, surprised me. Being surrounded by dogs all the time, I would have guessed that Shih Tzu would be higher up on the list. I suppose my point of view would be biased working in grooming facilities, since they need that regular maintenance. The name Shih Tzu means “little lion,” and actually originated in Tibet (not to be confused with Tibetan Terriers, but you can see the similarities between them). In my experience, most Shih Tzus have wonderful and funny personalities, with very expressive faces.

Number 10 on the list is the German Shorthaired Pointer; yet another very smart breed often employed for hunting. GSP are great bomb sniffing dogs as well, just as the US Air Force, who utilizes their skills. This breed is a result of a combination of multiple breeds. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact lineage, but it is believed that they originally derived from a German bird dog. Other breeds believed to have contributed to the GSP include the Spanish pointer, English pointer, the Dalmatian, the Weimaraner, the tracking hound, and the Vizsla. That’s a pretty impressive heritage!

I think we can all agree that the top 5 breeds have definitely earned their positions. Coming in at number 5 is the English Bulldog. We’ve all seen the videos of bulldogs riding on skateboards, but the origins of this breed are a bit more gruesome. They were bred for bull baiting in the UK from 1206-1835. Being low to the ground gave these dogs an advantage at grabbing the bull’s snout. Many dogs were injured or killed while this sport was still legal. Once it became illegal, however, the Bulldog almost faced extinction. In more modern times, bulldogs are great for apartment living and require little exercise.

There’s no better breed to follow up the Bulldog with than the French Bulldog, at number 4. Also, very popular in city settings due to their small size and low energy temperament. This breed actually originated in England, and were bred as companion animals. Created out of the Bulldog breed, the sole reason for the French Bulldog is to love us! They make wonderful babysitters and are actually very sensitive to the way humans speak to them (i.e. criticism vs upbeat tones). If you plan on taking your Frenchies out on the lake with you, make you to equip them with life vests, because this breed cannot swim.

For years, Golden Retrievers have been consistently ranked in the top popular breeds and this time around is no different. At number 3, this breed has a reputation for being family-friendly pups and natural athletes. Golden Retrievers are well-rounded dogs, being great companions, hunting partners, travelers, and swimmers. They are able to adapt to any adventures their human counterparts take them on!

Growing up with a former police officer, my father insisted that the only dog we would have in our family was the German Shepherd. Ranking as the 2nd most popular breed in America, this breed is known for their intelligence, loyalty, protection, and playfulness. When I was young and both of my parents worked, I would often go home from school to my favorite babysitter; our German Shepherd, Roxie. I always knew I would be safe with her. World War I brought this breed West from Germany, and are dedicated workers. Depending on the region they were bred in, there are five different types of German Shepherds; each having their own body structure and coat conditions.

This leaves us with the number 1 most popular dog breed in America. By process of elimination, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that this position goes to the Labrador Retriever. The original purpose for breeding this dog was for fishing. Most labs love swimming so this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. They are typically very fast dogs, with very happy personalities. They live to make us humans happy. Perhaps this contributes to their long lives that Labrador Retrievers often reach. In fact, the oldest recorded Labrador Retriever was 29 years old. Great with families and highly adaptable, we could all learn the key to happiness from Labradors!

Like I said, these breeds are already familiar to most of us. As much as I love all the different breeds out there, the thing I look forward to most when it comes to The National Dog Show is the more rarely seen breeds out there. The dogs shown have worked their way up to this competition in the name of their breeds. I skimmed through the full list of the breeds that we will see in the upcoming dog show, and have selected five that I think are uniquely beautiful.

The first on my list is the Xoloitzcuintli, or Xolo for short. If you can pronounce that without looking it up please send audio clips. The Xolo is also known as the Mexican Hairless Dog. Yep, hairless. If you’re thinking of a Chinese Crested in comparison, the Xolo has even less hair! They were bred for hunting, and require application of sunscreen outside. Like most hairless breeds of animals, they typically also have specific bathing needs. 

I also want you all to keep an eye out for Dandie Dinmont Terrier. Just saying that breed aloud will most likely make you smile, but once you see one you will definitely smile. Another hunting breed (primarily otters and badgers), Dandie Dinmonts look like a combination of a Bichon Frise and a Corgi, with some Schnauzer sprinkled in there somewhere. They are great companion animals, but are typically not pack dogs so they prefer people over other dogs.

I’ve been told stories in my family about the next type of dog I want to point out. I’m combining the Puli and Komondor into the same category here, only because they are both known for their high-maintenance dreadlocks (corded hair). The Puli is smaller and bred as a herding dog, while the Komondor is larger and employed as a livestock protector. My great-grandmother has a Puli, so my mother has told me about how much work it was keeping up with their grooming needs.

Cirneco dell‘Etna is the next breed you should all look up. This is one of the world’s oldest dog breeds; with an Italian name and very Eqyptian-style look. It is believed that these dogs were brought from Northern Africa to the Mediterranean by the Phoenicians. There is Sicilian currency from the 5th and 2nd centuries that depict the Cirneco on coins. The Cirneco is a breed that has survived purely from natural selection. Everything about this breed intrigues me.

Finally, the last dog breed I’m going to discuss is the Leonberger. If Shih Tzu means “little lion,” then Leonberger has to mean “big cat,” according to my own opinion. These massive dogs can be very intimidating, but are usually big sensitive pups. They have a lot of talents, including great therapy dogs, as well as search and rescue dogs. They originated in Germany, and almost became extinct due to World War I. The revival of the Leonberger is credited to two breeders who managed to find the last remaining 25 dogs, of which only 5 were able to reproduce. Another impressive background story!

Well, there you have it. I’ve given you plenty of information about a number of dog breeds, as well as a lot of homework for you all. So, while you’re watching Best In Show you can get your phone out and start searching google for pictures and facts about the above breeds, before The National Dog Show airs. While, I don’t typically encourage paying such high prices from breeders because there are thousands of homeless animals in shelters, if you have a purebred dog you know that they can be susceptible to health issues. If you think your dog is dealing with food or environmental sensitivities, we specialize in hair analysis testing at 5 Strands Affordable Testing. We also have tests that help determine nutritional deficiencies, metals and minerals tests. All we need is a hair sample to test and you will get answers.

I look forward to viewing The National Dog Show next weekend with you all!

We just released a Pet Treat Test that tests for over 60 items. Check it out: https://www.5strands.com/product/affordable-pet-treat-test-50/

Donuts Make You Go Nuts

Who doesn’t love to indulge in the occasional doughnut…or two? Many times, we find ourselves craving the sweet, fried, satisfying taste we get with each bite of a freshly made Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ doughnut. While we’re delighting in the taste of the deep-fried food, do we stop and consider how much we’re hurting our body? Chances are, no. When we fulfill that craving and consume the sugary dessert, it could contribute to a number of health risks like weight gain and diabetes. Instead, we should try to find other tasty, healthier treats to eat.

Reader’s Digest Editors (2017) listed doughnuts as one of the worst foods you can eat because they contain the “unholy trinity of unhealthy ingredients…trans-fat, sugar, and refined flour.” In order to make us a little more conscientious of the possible health risks of eating doughnuts, here are a few reasons why we should resist the cravings:

 

  • LOADED WITH SUGAR. This sugary food can be quite addictive like many other sweet treats because it contains a lot refined sugar in it. Oddly enough, whenever we eat sugary foods like doughnuts, neurotransmitters excite the brain just like it would if you were to have cocaine. Dopamine receptors spike and over time of constant doughnut consumption, tolerance levels rise, and you crave even more sugar in order to reach satisfaction. Some people have classified sugar as a drug because, like a drug addiction, may people will have cravings, binges and even withdrawals.  
  • LOADED WITH FAT. Along with lots of sugar, doughnuts contain a large amount of trans-fat, which is an unhealthy fat. Doughnuts can contain up to “10 to 20 grams of fat each and between 250 to 300 empty calories” (The Worst Foods You Can Eat, 2017). This can raise your cholesterol levels and can increase your risk of having heart disease or a stroke.
  • DOES NOT FILL YOU UP. Some people love having a doughnut with their morning coffee. They are comfort food for some, but they are also empty calories that should be avoided. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so consuming that much sugar, carbohydrates that turn into sugar, and fat so early in the morning is not the best choice of a meal. No matter how many doughnuts you eat, they will not fill you up, but instead cause you to have an unnerving stomachache, which no one wants at the start of their day. 
  • IT’S HARD TO EAT JUST ONE. As previously stated, doughnuts contain loads of sugar, so it is very hard to only have one at a time when there are many different flavors and fillings to choose from. Just ask your local police officer! If having just one doughnut were so easy, then they probably wouldn’t have the option for you to buy a dozen at a time and mix-n-match what kinds of doughnuts are in that dozen.
  • COULD CONTRIBUTE TO MULTIPLE HEALTH ISSUES. Due to the high amounts of sugar (carbohydrates) and trans fats, eating doughnuts on a consistent basis could contribute to a number of health risks like weight gain, Type II Diabetes, heart disease and stroke. When blood sugar levels are spiked and bad cholesterol levels are increased multiple times throughout the week, over time, these levels could contribute to multiple health issues (Picincu, 2018). 

 

Many of us enjoy a tasty, satisfying doughnut but we should always be mindful of what

we are putting in our bodies and asking ourselves, is it worth the risk? I’m not saying that having a doughnut once or twice every so often will contribute to health issues but too much sugar and trans fat consumption can eventually hurt the body. Instead, turn to more natural sugars or healthier dessert options to fulfill your sugary cravings, and try not to go nuts for doughnuts!

 

References

Editors, R. D. (Ed.). (2017, November 17). The Worst Foods You Can Eat. Retrieved 

November 1, 2019, from https://www.thehealthy.com/food/the-worst-foods-you-can-eat/.

Picincu, A. (2018, December 18). Health Effects of Doughnuts. Retrieved November 1, 

2019, from https://www.livestrong.com/article/471877-health-effects-of-doughnuts/.