Four of the Best Foods You Should be Eating Regularly

By Rita Larsen, Elite Dietitian & Nutrition Counselor

For a long time, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has been speaking in very general terms to “eat a variety of foods.” Today, scientists are able to be more specific about their research in order to target those foods that will help you prevent certain kinds of illnesses and disease processes. These include heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers—and promote better overall health. You can look better and feel better, too, when you eat a healthy diet. So, consider putting some of these foods to use in your eating plan today, and every day!


Berries at Farmers Market

According to the American Cancer Society, foods rich in vitamin C may lower the risk of cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. The antioxidants in berries may help maintain normal communication of the neurons in your brain. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, and raspberries and blackberries are good sources too. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are also low in calories and high in fiber.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous Vegetables

Vegetables in this family contain compounds called glucosinolates, which are being studied for possible anticancer effects. A new laboratory study shows that compounds in cruciferous vegetables can selectively target and kill cancer cells while leaving normal, healthy cells unaffected. The family includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, turnips, radishes and watercress.


Nut bowl

Almonds are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that may help protect against heart disease and promote brain health. Some research suggests that nutrients such as vitamin E may be important in lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Nuts also are high in protein and fiber (but also in fat, so be careful with portion size).

Whole Grains

Whole GrainsIn contrast to refined grains, such as white flour and white rice, whole grains are rich in fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Eating whole instead of refined grains can help to lower cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin levels, decreasing the risk of heart disease. Eating whole grains can also reduce the risk of diabetes and improve digestive health. Refining wheat strips away significant amounts of vitamins B and E and virtually all of the fiber.

Courtesy of the American Cancer Society, and the Cotton—O’Neil Heart Center. Spring 2013, Heart Health News.

Sweet-and-Sour Savoy & Fennel Salad

Serves 4

Sweet Sour Savoy Fennel Salad


• 1 ½ cups thinly sliced Savoy Cabbage (about 6 oz.) [or Napa Cabbage]
• 6 Tbs. Olive Oil
• ¾ lb. Fennel Bulb (sometimes called anise) stalks trimmed flush with bulb and bulb chopped fine (about ¾ cups)
• ¼ cup Water
• ¼ cup Cider Vinegar
• 1 cup Orange sections


1. Using a sharp knife cut cabbage and fennel in strips as you would for coleslaw.
2. Mix well.
3. Mix dressing ingredients together.
4. Pour over salad mixture.
5. Section orange and add.
6. Let set in refrigerator for 1 hour.
7. Serve chilled.

Looking for more recipes to add to you cookbook? Or just general guidance on how to incorporate the above foods into your daily menu? Get in touch with Rita, our Registered Dietitian at Elite Sports Clubs! Also, make sure you follow our other Nutrition blog posts for more great tips!

Berries, cruciferous veggies, nuts, and whole grains! Oh my! Do you eat foods from all of these categories on a regular basis? Tell us in the comments!

Featured Member: Rebekah Schaefer

We’re extremely proud of our members. Over the years their work out agendas and sporting endeavors serve as healthy examples of how it feels to be Elite, and how exercise not only adds years to your life, but life to your years! Today we’d like to highlight another member’s accomplishments:

Rebekah Schaefer Elite Featured Member

The tremendous amount of support and encouragement I’ve received from Elite training staff and members has been an integral part of my journey in the last two years. So much positive reinforcement! Never underestimate the impact of a few kind words.

Our daughter was a lovely surprise, but after her arrival in 2008 I didn’t recognize myself. I’d never been heavier, and wasn’t feeling especially confident in my tight, size 22 jeans. A broken futon, a plethora of blood pressure meds and the threat of Type II diabetes provided the kick in the pants I needed to get healthier. With the expertise and guidance of Elite’s Registered Dietitian, Rita Larsen, I’ve dropped over 90 pounds and take only one blood pressure medication.

Spin is my all-time favorite group exercise class; Elite’s excellent instructors keep it interesting and challenging. I’ve enjoyed the intensity of TRX training since October, 2010. It’s ridiculously hard (and I really suck at it), but I’m much stronger than I was a year ago. My “bingo arms” are gradually diminishing! Hooray! I like to zone out while logging mileage on the treadmill or in the pool, and I’ve discovered that yoga isn’t as boring as it looks.

Most of my workouts would not be possible without Elite’s playroom and friendly staff that has cared for my kids since they were infants. Two hours of free childcare* preserves my sanity and helps me meet my ongoing fitness goals. It’s often the only chunk of “me” time I can carve out of a day with two small, very active children, Matthew and Annaliese.

In August of 2011 Rebekah was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She has since adapted her lifestyle and is fitter than ever! Rebekah has been an Elite Sports Clubs member for 16 years!

If you have an “elite” story to share about your own personal accomplishment or someone else’s please share it with us at or tweet it to us @MyEliteStory! We’d love to hear from you too!

What gave you the “kick in the pants” you needed to get healthier? Tell us in the comments!

*Childcare is included in all Family memberships at Elite Sports Clubs.

Personal Training and the “I Can’t Afford It” Excuse

Personal Training sessions can be more affordable than you think! Plus the cost is worth the immediate as well as the future benefits!

Think about the last time you or someone you know had an injury. How much did you spend on doctor visits or physical therapy to get back to your regular health? What if instead of looking at the cost of healthcare, you looked at how much it costs to PREVENT those injuries from ever happening? Personal Training is a way that you could pay to prevent those injuries and avoid all the hassle and inconvenience.

Personal Training Session

Personal training not only makes you strong to prevent future injury but professional supervision can ensure that you are completing the exercises correctly. We have heard multiple times about people performing a squat incorrectly or with too much weight, and they end up with knee and hamstring injuries. A knowledgeable trainer will create programs that are tailored specifically for one individual, because everyone’s bodies and goals are different. In addition, eating healthy in combination with training can help prevent many illnesses, including heart disease, one of the leading causes of death in America.

The bottom line–when you spend your money try asking yourself: How is this item or service going to benefit me now and in the future?

You might be saying to yourself “I can’t afford a personal trainer,” but making only a few lifestyle changes can help you to afford these services. First, you should create a budget based on how much training you want to receive. Most people meet with a trainer at least once a week although you could opt for bi-weekly or even just monthly meetings. You could also opt for semi-private or group training which can save you a significant amount of money (and offers a much more social atmosphere).

Example: Let’s say you go out Friday nights for dinner at a nice restaurant and a few cocktails, staying in one week per month could easily save you about 60 dollars–and many calories! That’s a personal training session right there!

Making simple lifestyle changes can not only help you save money, but also help you improve your health and prevent expensive medical bills in the future.

Get started with personal training today! Or check out our fitness schedule for small group training options!

Have you ever injured yourself exercising? Could that injury have been prevented with proper form & instruction? Tell us in the comments!

Take Your Workout Into the Great Outdoors

By Jason Liegl, Elite Sports Club-Mequon Personal Trainer

As the weather gets warmer we all like doing more and more activities outdoors. The great thing is that we can get a really good workout in as well without the use of any special equipment.

If you are out for a run or walk, you can add in bodyweight exercises. Squats, lunges, push ups, pull-ups (or arm hangs), jumping jacks or burpees are easy to add. Every time you get to a corner or some other landmark, do your bodyweight exercise.

Park Bench Ab Workout

Another option is using the park. While your kids are playing, you can use the park benches for things like pushups, dips, step-ups, and planks. These will all help you get your exercise in (a great way to squeeze in more activity to reach the suggested guidelines!) Add in a jog from the play area to the bench you are using to incorporate cardio in your strength training.

So, save the gym for your more guided workouts, either with a trainer or in a group exercise class. With just a little creativity, you can get a great workout in while enjoying the great summer weather we wait for all winter! (And make sure you are staying properly hydrated in the heat & sun!)

We understand the value of outdoor workouts at Elite Sports Clubs! That’s why we offer many of our small group training programs outdoors too! Check out Outdoor Boot Camp at our Mequon location, or Train Like a Trainer out of our North Shore location. We also have great set-ups for outdoor yoga utilizing our pool & backyard decks, plus TRX, boot camp, functional, and obstacle course training using our outdoor green space at all of our clubs and specially built structures at our Mequon & West Brookfield clubs.

What is your favorite outdoor workout? How do you utilize park structures for bodyweight exercises? Tell us in the comments!

A Spoonful of Sugar: The Cereal Trap & Guidelines for Sugar Intake

By Rita Larsen, Elite Sports Clubs Dietitian & Nutritional Counselor Sugar Cereal Photo

Every night, millions of Americans hit the sack for a 7-8 hour opportunity to recharge the batteries. As we sleep, our bodies work hard to keep our hearts pumping blood, our lungs breathing, and our brains constantly functioning. This takes work on the part of the body, and in the morning, our body is looking for nutritious nourishment. Why then do so many of us replenish with sugary cereals?

A large percentage of popular cereals on our grocery store shelves contain massive amounts of simple sugars. Simple or added sugars (or simple carbohydrates) are digested quickly and are usually void of essential vitamins and minerals. The American Heart Association was one of the first to issue formal guidelines on sugar intake.

Last year, the AHA recommended no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar for women and no more than 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons a day for men. They backed their recommendations with a scientific statement in the journal Circulation which stated, “…excessive consumption of sugars has been linked with several metabolic abnormalities and adverse health conditions, as well as shortfalls of essential nutrients.” The AHA did not go after any one type of sugar/syrup or manufacturer of sugar; its focus was instead on sugar consumption as a whole. There has been strong scientific data linking excess sugar above these limits and increased risk of heart disease and diabetes (Malik VS, et al “Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes” Diabetes Care 2010; 33(11): 2477-2483).

So how many grams of sugar should you aim for? As little as possible, but try to stay within the American Heart Association guidelines.

  • Women: no more than 100 calories per day which equals 6 teaspoons or 24 grams
  • Men: no more than 150 calories per day which equals 9 teaspoons or 36 grams

The majority of sugar-sweetened cereals contain at least 4 teaspoons of sugar per serving. More complex sugars occur naturally in fruits, vegetables and dairy products; these foods are nutritious staples of any good diet and are not a threat to your diet or health. The simple sugars you need to look out for are added simple sugars. In addition to the adverse health effects discussed earlier, added sugars actually cause us to eat more and thus, put us at risk for weight gain.


Most of us, however, don’t notice the effect that sugar may have on our appetite. We just know we’re never quite satisfied after our sugary breakfast and are usually looking for more unhealthy foods not long after having breakfast. Why? Processing and preparation do play a factor, but overall, added sugar consumption causes a spike in blood sugar and insulin followed by a crash.

Man at Vending Machine PhotoThis leaves us feeling even hungrier than we were before, and more likely to continue eating until we can find something to make us full. It’s not far off to say that having a can of cola or a candy bar will not make you full, is it? If you’ve ever consumed something like this in place of lunch on a busy day, you can feel it, literally. Perhaps you have a doughnut every morning on the way to work yet still find you’re looking for the vending machines not long after you arrive.

Whatever your sugar vice, the effects are for the most part the same and it leaves you wanting for more. You give in to your hunger, you eat more calories than you can burn, and before you know it, you’re up a notch on your belt buckle.

1-can of sweetened soda is absorbed within the body in 20 minutes!

Remember, you make the choices best for you! Have a great week, and let us know if you need help kicking your morning cereal habit!

Just getting started at changing your dietary habits? Check out these other nutrition & diet articles.

What was your favorite sugary cereal as a kid? Have your tastes changed since then? Tell us in the comments!