Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Slow Carb Diet Friendly Meatloaf! Yes, it's true!

OK, so I'm not going to lie....I've been testing recipes trying to get into Tim Ferriss' next book, "The 4 Hour Chef"! Of course I'm taking into consideration the rules of the Slow Carb Diet and mostly I've been testing pressure cooker recipes. While testing a recipe for Lentils w/Mushrooms I dug deep into my pantry and pulled out a couple of packages of dried mushrooms I buy from the Asian markets. Dried mushrooms are really inexpensive in Asian markets but the variety is limited. I find Shitake the most common at the Korean and Japanese markets while Porcini seems to be predominant in the Vietnemese markets.

I use dried mushrooms mostly for beef and barley soup w/mushrooms or mushroom soup in the fall and winter months and usually I don't find myself using dried mushrooms in
the spring and summer. But since my focus has been on Slow Carb Diet friendly recipes in the PC, dried mushrooms are a perfect pantry item to use in the PC. They easily rehydrate while being cooked under pressure eliminating the "pre-soak" step while adding a ton of flavor.

So how did I go from lentils and mushrooms to meatloaf? Well, I remembered how I used to make fish crusted with mushrooms years ago and to do that you take dried mushrooms and crush them in a spice grinder (coffee grinder especially used for spices, NOT coffee!) until they resemble bread crumbs.....hmmnn....bread crumbs.....viola!

Slow Carb Diet Friendly Mushroom Meatloaf

1 lb ground meat (I used full fat ground beef)

1 onion diced
2 celery stalks diced
big handful of baby spinach

Cook onion and celery until translucent in 1 tbl olive oil, and then add spinach to wilt in residual heat. Cool and add to ground meat along with:

1 egg
1 oz dried mushrooms, crushed in spice grinder
1 t. kosher salt (if using iodized or sea salt use slightly less)

Mix all ingredients together and form into a loaf, cook at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until a meat thermometer comes out 165 degrees.

I normally would make a meatloaf 1 1/2 - 2 lbs, but I only had one pound of ground beef. If using more ground meat add two eggs instead of one, and double the amount of dried mushrooms. You can use a mixture of ground meats, like pork and beef, turkey and pork, lamb and chicken, but DO

NOT use all lean meats or your meatloaf will be dry as a bone! Also I find that 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to every pound of meat has never failed me as far as the correct seasoning. Black pepper is up to you....I find black pepper pairs well with mushrooms. Sorry, no ketchup! But it's so delicious you won't miss it!

You can use this same mixture for meatballs, only use chopped spinach if adding greens, Of course the veg addition is always only optional, but not in my house! I add extra veggies to everything (even my smoothies!)

Lentil and Mushroom recipe coming soon.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Monday Morning

The more time I spend around people that don't workout at all I start to vaguely remember what it was like to fill my day with all kinds of other things to do, and you know what? The list of other things you can do is endless. Sometimes I wonder if I spend too much time, too much of my life, focused on food and exercise. But I always come to the conculsion that if I wanted to do other things there are plenty of hours in the day, and it all comes down to prioritizing and organization. My priorities are not the problem but I do admit I lack organization. Some of the other things I think I'd like to do fall victim to "not enough time", but what I really mean is "I don't make enough time"! If you don't plan to succeed then you plan to fail.

It's easy to fill my day with the two things I love to do, food prep and training, but there are many other things I love to do and people I'd love to do them with, but not at the sacrifice of myself. I now know the difference of what it feels to be healthy, strong, and fit, and if I'm not healthy and feeling good about myself then all the other stuff is just "filler". I don't have to chose, I have enough time for it all. But not everyone feels like they do.

What are the things you do in your life, the things you fill your day with that are not supporting getting healthier? Your job takes too much time? Family obligations, or your kids and their activites take up too much time...I can's the thing.... If you surround yourself with others that don't prioritize health....let's not even include fitness, although they go together....then it's near impossible to make it a priority for yourself. I really do not understand how unsupportive most people are to good health. If you want to spend time with other people "unhealthy and unfit" rules.

There are only so many hours in the day and if you chose to spend some of those hours with other people then you are more than likely going to spend them eating junk and/or sitting around. Let's take the obvious like throwing a party or going to a party. Who says you have to serve junk foods, or enormous unlimited portions? It would be almost freaky for a host to say that there's only one serving per person! Usually everybody encourages of 2nd's, 3rd's and more! "Help yourself! Oh, and take some home too!"

If someone wants to spend time with me they will be going for a walk, get dragged out to the garage for a swing lesson, get a lesson in cooking and/or food prep, eating good foods, or invited to a yoga class!

Before you think that I'm uncaring and not understanding of what it's like for most people let me remind you that I used to be "most people". Just because I'm in the minority now doesn't mean that I forgot what it was like. What I'm starting to recognize is that "like attracts like". The more unhealthy people you hang around the more likely you are one of them. The more healthy people you hang around with the more likely you are, want to be healthier.

Mark told me the other day that the number of overweight people in the world out numbers straving people! There are more overweight people in this world than there are people starving....sorry, I had to repeat it.

Although I started this post yesterday morning, it's now Monday morning and I'll be off to yoga early. The weekend is past and the "slate" is's not too late to start over...even if you start tomorrow, on a Tuesday! If not now, when?

Friday, September 23, 2011

How to Progressively Scale My "100" Swing Workouts

Here are some suggestions on how to scale the last "100" workout I posted a couple of days ago. I already worked out the timing, and made some adjustments to the end of the workout if you wanted to add more swings, or more training time.

1st rotation = 40 swings
15/15 x 4 = 2 min (all levels)

2nd rotation = 80 swings
30/30 x 4 = 4 min
(30/30 x 4 = 4 min, intermediate)
(30/15 x 4 = 3 min, advanced)

3rd rotation = 120 swings
45/45 x 4 = 6 min
(45/30 x 4 = 5 min, intermediate)
(45/15 x 4 = 4 min, advanced)

4th rotation = 160 swings
1.0/1.0 x 4 = 8 min.
(1.0/30 x 4 = 6 min, intermediate)
(1.0/15 x 4 = 5 min, advanced)

total workout up to this point
20 min = 400 swings
(17 min = 400 sw, intermediate)
(14 min = 400 sw, advanced)

video shows last 2 rotations

5th rotation
10 2 hd sw
20 tr
1/2 sw ld x 3 (30 reps)
5/5 x 4 (40 reps)
5 min = 100 sw
(4.25 = 100 sw, intermediate)
(3.5 = 100 sw, advanced)

6th rotation
5/5 x 1
1/2 sw ld x 2
30 tr
40 2 hd sw
5 min = 100 sw
(4.25 = 100 sw, intermediate)
(3.5 = 100 sw, advanced)

total workout
30 min = 600 swings
(25.5 min = 600 sw, intermediate)
(21 min = 600 sw, advanced)

If you are training at an intermediate level and you want to make this workout closer to 30 minutes then I suggest you push yourself slightly and repeat the last rotation at the advanced level intervals of only 15 sec.. This will add 100 more swings and another 3.5 minutes to your workout for a total of 29.0 minutes and 700 swings.

If you are training at an advanced level I challenge you to repeat the last two rotations without any rest between the four combinations, taking 1 minute rest between the two sets. That means you end the workout with two 100 rep sets, adding 6 minutes and 200 more swings for a total of 800 swings in 27 minutes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

NEW! The Latest Classic "100" Swing Workout for Beginners

In my Tuesday morning class I usually lead everybody through 30-40 minutes of swings followed up with the last 10-15 minutes of snatches, or lately squats, but yesterday I surprised my class, and myself, by leading them through a workout of over 500 snatches (532 to be exact, not counting swings!). I still had to get my swings in though!

I took a short walk to think about how I was going to get them done. I needed to swing the 12kg for at least 20 minutes before my Max workout with Mark which I knew I would be swinging the 16kg for 10/10 x 50 instead of snatching....I've renamed tha workout to "Max swing O 2" lol. Anyway....I will post video this week about how to scale this routine for Intermediate and Advanced levels and talk about program design, but here is the Beginners version...enjoy!

NEW Classic "100"

I'll be repeating this one a few times as the week goes on. basically it's 4 sets of 10, 4 sets of 20, 4 sets of 30, 4 sets of 40 and then one set of 10,20,30,40 twice.

10 2 hd sw x 4 (15/15 x 4 = 2 min)

20 2 hd sw x 1
20 tr x 3 (30/30 x 4 = 4 min)

30 2 hd sw x 1
30 tr x 1
1/2 sw ld x 3 x 2 (45/45 x 4 = 6 min)

40 2 hd sw x 1
40 tr x 1
1/2 sw ld x 4 x 1 (40 reps)
5/5 x 4 x 1 (40 reps) (1.0/1.0 x 4 = 8 min.)

20 min = 400 swings

10 2 hd sw
20 tr
1/2 sw ld x 3 (30 reps)
5/5 x 4 (40 reps)
5 min = 100 sw

5/5 x 1 (10 reps)
1/2 sw ld x 2 (20 reps)
30 tr
40 2 hd sw
5 min = 100 sw

30 min = 600 swings

PS if you've forgotten what "1/2 sw ld" is then revisit this blogpost,

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekend Corn-a-thon (the feelings and fear of not having enough)

Whew! Last night as I finished my third 6qt batch of corn chowder. I was beat, my feet were tired from standing all day, my hands dry from doing dishes and I still have corn left to deal with. It's my own fault, and I'm not complaining it's just sometimes I wonder how I let the residual chilhood feelings of not having enough, or not getting enough creep into my adult life.

I bought a case of corn on Sat., that's 48 ears of corn. 48. It was the last week to buy the best local white corn at the Farmers' Market and then it would be gone forever (I'm being purposely dramatic). What will I do when I run out? So I bought a case planning on freezing a big stash of chowder, kernels and cobs for stock. Oh, and I bought a 20lb box of tomatoes too!

I know why I do this, it's not because I'm going to run out of food for goodness sake. I do this because I'm afraid that I will. Or, I'm afraid I'll run out of what I want. Or I'm afraid I'll need more and I won't have it. The core feeling is fear, and I don't like acting out of fear....but as I recognize how I let it happpen I do it less and less all the time, isn't that great? I think it is.

In fact it's this feeling of running out, not having, or getting enough food that I believe is what led me to establish the habit of overeating. I know it's the feeling that leads me to still overbuy food for sure (48 ears of corn for instance) Combine that with the fear of throwing food away "wasting it", and before you know it over buying and overeating become habits that grow bigger, stronger, and less conscious. I was not eating because I was hungry I was eating because I was afraid.

Here is something I repeat to myself if I find myself feeling anxious and fearful about this, "There's enough, there's enough, there's enough. Enough of what? Enough of everything." Not just food, but let's start there.

When I see candy or cookies on sale and I want to buy them all I remind myself that I don't need to because there's enough. There will always be more where that came from.

When I'm at a buffet and I start to load up my plate with stuff I know I can't eat, or go back for more after I'm already full, I remind myself that there's enough. As Mark always says "It's a meal, not a party!"

When Whole foods or Costco is giving aways free samples, I remind myself there's enough. I can afford to buy anything I want, and I certainly don't need to stuff free samples of foods in my mouth that I wouldn't buy anyway.

I'm not saying that I don't react to old feeling of lack, I've got over 12 qts of corn chowder that proves I do! But being able to have the awareness of why I make the choices I do is as important as the choices I make. At the end of the day everything I do is a choice, even the way I feel is a choice.

Everyday I feel more in control of the feelings I want to have. Feelings like trust and hope, excitement and luck. Feeling safe and taken care of, smart and competent.....and gratitude that I have an extra freezer at Girya!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Making Your Own Spice Blends

I don't know if you all buy your spices in bulk, but I find that you can save alot of money and if you put together your own spice blends you can save alot of time too!

As I wrote about in my last blog post I make a ton of chili. Mark likes it, Gabe likes it, it's fast, highly nutritious with the addition of a ton of veggies, and talk about versatile. Pick your beans (or no beans) pick your protein, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, sausage....the possibilities are endless. The great equalizer is chili spices. The only spice you really need is red chili powder.

My basic blend is always:

2 tbl red chili powder
2 tbl paprika
2 tbl oregano (ground or leaves)
2 tbl cumin
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf

I almost always have these spices in my pantry. If I'm missing one, it's not a big deal. The only other thing I add to my pot of chili is one or two canned chipotle peppers that I keep in the fridge.

Other additions can be your own personal taste.

garlic powder
onion powder
chipotle pepper powder
cocoa powder


Since I've been testing recipes I stocked up on my chili spices at the Mexican market. For $.99 a packet I usually refill my spice jars as I need them. It never occured to me to refill my spice jars with the blend already measured out until the other day! DUH! But then again I never make pot after pot of chili. Although it only takes minutes to measure out, most of the time is spent retrieving all of the spices from my cabinet, if you do it ahead of time it takes 1 second.

I was able to pre-fill about 10 spice jars. I'm so happy, and I'm ready for the next pot of chili. Now that I'm comfortable with using dried beans, my PC and I are only about 30 min away from the next batch!

Slow Carb Friendly, Vegetarian "Holy Trinity Chili w/ Red Beans"...oh and it's fat free too!

I've been testing a lot of recipes lately in my pressure cooker (s), specifically in my 4 qt PC, mostly Slow Carb friendly, and mostly different kinds of beans. As much as I use my pressure cookers there is still much to learn about it, like cooking unsoaked beans....dry beans. And although beans are not my "slow carb" choice, instead I prefer lentils and split peas, I cook and prepare more than my share of beans because I eat soup, stews or chilis on a daily basis.

I'm not a vegetarian, not even close, but because my meals are vegetable dominant most everything I make could be vegetarian minus the meat! I set out to test a chili recipe that would be fast and easy for a someone without a lot of kitchen experience. I wanted to design a recipe that did not require good knife skills and that did not require too many extra steps. So for the first time ever I used my food processor to chop the vegetables.

I did this for two reasons. I wanted to use the vegetables to flavor the chili as well as to thicken it. Originally I did not want to use tomato or any kind of tomato sauce or paste....that's the part that didn't quite work out! But I discovered one thing that I hadn't counted on which was it ended up being fat free....not that I believe in fat free meals, but if you add meat that's where you get some fat, or if you keep it vegetarian, and by saving a few calories from fat, you could top it with cheese, or sour cream.

I've made chili a thousand times and probably never the same twice. Chili is a very forgiving "stew" because the amount of spices you use pretty much can cover up any kind of mistake you could possibly make! Chili is defined many ways. Some say no beans (which could never be vegetarian of course), some say no tomato (I happen to be in this camp), some say no ground meats, some say no veg other than onion, but what they all agree on is spice! Chili has to have chili spices, that's what makes if chili!

Back to my "Holy Trinity Chili". After writing my blog post about mirepoix I was thinking how green bell peppers get a bad rap alot ot times. Green bells technically are not ripe yet, when they ripen they turn red, so especially raw, green bells may not have alot of fans. Personally I find green bells to make a nice addition for many stews and chilis, so I decided to focus this recipe on the South's holy trinity instead of the french carrot. And since I was using the South as my inspiration I also used red beans.

Holy Trinity Chili w/ Red Beans

chili spice mix

2 tbl chili powder
2 tbl smoked paprika
2 tbl dried oregano

2 tbl cumin (ground or flaked or combination of both)
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf

1-2 chipotle chilis (canned)

1 lg onion
3 celery stalks
1 lg green bell pepper
1-2 red bell peppers
1 14.5oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 garlic bulb (bottom 1/3 cut away)

1 1/2 c. red beans (dry and unsoaked)
4 c. water (or veg stock)

First thing is to assemble all of your ingredients as the recipe goes fast. Measure out dry chili spices, and have the chipolte (s) ready. Chop onion, celery, green bell and red bells into large chunks before putting them in the food processor. Process until small pieces, but don't pulverize them, do not turn them into paste! Open the can of tomatoes and measure out your beans. The garlic is a no brainer, just cut off the bottom third, the whole thing will go in the PC, no need to chop.

OK, heat your 4 qt PC. When the bottom of the pan is hot add your dry spices and toast for 1-2 min until fragrant...this happens fast! Add chipotle and toast with spices another minute, add chopped veggies. Mix spices and veggies, cook 3-5 minutes to soften. Add tomatoes with their juice, bulb of garlic, red beans and 4 c. water (or stock).

Lock the lid on PC, bring pressure to high. Lower heat to maintain high pressure and start timing 25 min. (dry beans take longer). Let the pressure come down naturally, about 5-10 min, open lid and test beans to make sure they are done. (I did this recipe twice and the first time they were not done at 20 minutes, so I added another 5 minutes).

Take out whole garlic bulb, bay leaf and chipotle chili (s). Mash with potato masher to thicken and season with salt and pepper.

NON VEGETARIAN Either brown some ground meat or sausage beforehand, (or a combination of both...I used chorizo), or in another skillet while chili is cooking and add to chili after it's done.

NON PC Basically the same recipe only with canned beans, drained and rinsed. After all ingredients are in the pot, bring to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer (slightly uncovered), cook for 15-20 minutes to blend all of the flavors and proceed with recipe.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tracy's Newest 10 rep Swing Combination, one and one, two and two (1/1 + 2/2) Revised!

(9/11) I finally came up with a official name this morning.....maybe it took writing it all down for the light bulb to go off. The new official name is "1, 2 swing ladder" it will be written in the future as "1/2 sw ld", one, two, swing ladder, one two swing ladder...that's it!

I've been using this new swing combination since last year thinking I would include it in some new material for a "Programming the Swing #2", but decided to share it now, publicly, because it's been such a great addition to my routines I didn't want to wait any longer.

This 10 rep swing combination fits inbetween "transfers" and "5/5", so the order is,

10 2 hd swings
10 transfers (H 2 H)
1/1, 2/2

One of the reasons why I haven't written about it is that I'm still trying to come up with a name for it besides "1/1, 2/2" (one and one, two and two) seems as if I could come up with something better and easier to describe it but I'm just 1/1+ 2/2 it is!

Here's how it adds up to 10 reps:

1 swing R, 1 tr, 1 sw L, 1 tr, 2 sw R, 1 tr, 2 sw L, 1 tr. Ten reps total (see video)

All of my swing routines are based on 10 or 20 rep combinations, and previously the combination between one hand transfers and 5/5 one hand swings was "swing transfers". Swing transfers can only be used in 20 rep increments so as to evenly work both R and L. I needed something that could go into 10 reps evenly.....lucky me I swing a ton and came up with this 1 and 2 swing ladder. I love it when stuff works out!

As I mentioned I've been using it alot...alot, alot! It's just one more progressive variable to mix things up and make training fun! Here is a simple beginners workout using this combination, all work to rest ratios are equal. Whatever your skill or cardio endurance level choose the appropiate bell and it will be hard enough!

10 2 hd swing x 2 sets (15/15 x 2 = 1 min)
10 tr x 2 sets (15/15 x 2 = 1 min)
1/1 + 2/2 x 2 sets (15/15 x 2 = 1 min)
5/5 x 2 sets (15/15 x 2 = 1 min)

total 80 swings, 4 min.

20 2 hd sw x 1 (30/30 = 1 min)
20 tr x 1 (30/30 = 1 min)
1/1 + 2/2 x 2 (30/30 = 1 min)
5/5 x 2 (30/30 = 1 min)

total 80 swings, 4 min

10 2 hd sw, 10 tr x 1 (30/30 = 1 min)
10 tr, 1/1 + 2/2 x 1 (30/30 = 1 min)
1/1 + 2/2, 5/5 x 1 (30/30 = 1 min)
5/5, 10 2 hd sw x 1 (30/30 = 1 min)

total 80 swings, 4 min

10 2 hd sw, 10 tr, 1/2 sw ld, 5/5 x 4 sets (1 min. work, 1 min rest x 4 = 8 min.)

total 160 swings 8 min.

400 swings, 20 min.

Enjoy, there's more to come, much more!

Non ingredients, the one big ingredient, and Corn Chowder

I'm not sure I'll get to the farmers market in time to buy some corn before it sells out, if not I'll have to make an extra effort to get to a different market tomorrow morning. I have an alternate plan however....if Ican get a box or two of tomatoes then it'll be tomato soup as this weeks "stock up" cooking project.

I spent most every morning this week testing and writing recipes. It's actually been really fun and exciting and I wish I had a reason to do it more often, maybe I will in my future. Anyway, listing the ingredients for a recipe is easy compared to writing the instructions of what to do with them, in other words how to cook! If you are not an experienced cook looking over a list of ingredients can be overwhelming if there are more than just a many is just a few? That's when it occured to me that if I could group ingredients together to make them one standard ingredient, and list them as such, a recipe wouldn't look or seem as complicated or time consuming.

Oil is usually the first ingredient in any cooking recipe. Does oil even need to be listed at all? It should be a non ingredient. At a certain point you should know that you've got to start with a little oil in your pan for a saute. What kind of oil is personal preference unless it drastically alters the taste of a recipe or the perfomance of the cooking (if you need an oil wi
th a high smoke point because of super hot and fast style of cooking would be an example) It should only be "not listed", in other words, if for some crazy reason you don't need it, then the recipe should say so!

Salt...and pepper. Really? Seasoning your food as you go along should be a should be a habit. Food needs seasoning (salt). If you watch any cooking show you will see the Chefs seasoning at each step, after the addition of each ingredient. Especially at the very end, the last thing you do is.....taste, and adjust the seasoning. Salt and pepper? Non ingredients.

Garlic. You either like garlic or you don't....and who doesn't? I can see not liking raw garlic, or too much gar
lic but in savory dishes if you like it then use it. Garlic should be a non ingredient.

Red pepper flakes. If you like a little heat, like we do, then a pinch of red pepper flakes is conducive to all kinds of flavor profiles from Mexican to Asian, Italian and maybe even Hungarian!

Now for the one big ingredient....onion, celery, carrot. The French call it a mirepoix (meer-pwah). Most every savory dish starts with mirepoix, at least my recipes do! It's common in about every style of cooking in many countries. In creole cooking it's know as "Holy trinity", "refogado" in Portuguese cooking, "soffritto" in Italian, "sofrito" in Spanish and "suppengrun" in German.
This combination of vegetables are known as aromatics and if you don't think they make a difference try making a soup, stew, sauce or stock without them! Oh I'm sure that many types of regional cooking has their own non ingredients, what is an ingredient that you always use? An ingredient that is within arms reach of your stove?

Corn Chowder

chard stems
yellow bell pepper
jalapeno (fresh)
yellow summer squash
stock (or water)

Corn chowder is basically a vegetable stew whose main ingredient is corn. No other vegetable should overpower the corn flavor so I made my own corn stock to bump up the corn flavor even more since I use a ton of other ve

All veggies are cut into a small dice, added to the pot in the order I listed, and seasoned with a pinch of salt before the next ingredient is added. First saute the onion, celery, chard stems (totally optional), and peppers for 5-8 minutes, add carrot, summer squash and corn. Barely cover with stock (or water).

If you are using garlic or red pepper flakes, or both they should be added after the first veg saute and before the last veg addition of carrot, squash and corn.

Although I used my pressuer cooker you can simply bring the chowder to boiling in a big soup pot (with the lid on), turn the heat down, slighty uncover and cook until all the veggies are soft.

When done cooking use and immersion blender to make the chowder smooth and creamy leaving it as "chunky" as you want to your own personal taste. Season with salt and pepper.

I could give you exact measurement of each veg, I could give you exact measurement of stock, I could give you exact cooking time, but it all of the comes with experience so try it on your own! You don't have to use chard stems, summer squash or peppers, the important veggies are the mirepoix and the corn. Let me know how it goes....or share one of your favorite veg chowder ideas...."ideas" not recipe!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Progressive Max

Mark and I have been training the Max Vo2 snatch protocol for so long we have so many nicknames for it! My favorite is "Snatch Vo2", but most of the time we simply call it "Max". We don't train it for specifically for it's intended maximally increase and improve your ability to uptake and get oxygen to your least I don't. Although I did in the beginning as we tested the theory out. The best thing Max did for me however was what it does for alot of other people, Max gave me a program, rep for rep, of what to do. People love being told exactly what to do and sometimes I'm no different!

A long time ago however my cardio endurance surpassed Max using the 12kg w/8reps per workset and I went on to do a version, progressively, with the 16kg. Without going through the trouble of looking up those workouts (I think Meg and I did them in the Fall of 2009) I accomplished around 50-55 sets of 7 w/16kg starting with 15-20 sets w/12kg for a total of close to 80 sets.

Right now my cardio does not get to the target rate using the 12kg w/8reps per 15 sec and I've developed workouts that I call "Beyond Max". Sure, I could use a heavier bell and I've done some Max workouts w/14kg, but my strength is comprimised with so much ballistic kettlebell workouts that I couldn't possibly do a Max workout with the 16kg right fact I cant believe I ever did it!

Since I got back from Hungary and now that Mark and I train Max on Tuesdays (I teach a 50 min swing class first) I need to up the antie in some way. The fun part of designing progressive workouts is that it keeps your mind focused on the goal not the work.

7/7 x 10 w/12kg
7/7 x 10 w/14kg
8/8 x 10 w/12kg
5/5 x 20 w/16kg

The reason why I start out with 7's (7 reps per 15 sec) is that my hands have been fried lately, and what I mean by "fried" is that my left hand especially has been dry and cracking from so much KB's (more than most I'm sure!) so it's been greatly affecting the strength of my grip. I just went ahead and taped up before the workout started....I've never done that before today.

Anyway, I started with 10 sets of 7 (5 sets R, 5 sets L) to warm up, mostly my hands, and then I increased the intensity with the added weight of the 14kg. After 10 sets of 7 reps w/14kg I went back down in weight but I took the intensity up with speed, 8 reps per 15 sec and did a total of 10 sets that way. Finally I went on to the 16kg. I knew I only had 20 sets left for the workout and it was my intention to only do 10 sets of 5, but I was feeling good and stayed with that weight and rep count until the end for a total of 20 sets.

Could I have done 6 reps per interval w/16kg....maybe. But that's not the point. The point is not to get a PR every workout. I still have to train some version of this next hurry. I had already done almost 600 swings w/24kg earlier and I'm trying to cut back anyway!

Try mixing up a Max based workout in blocks of 10 sets using various weights and rep counts! Use mine as an example if you want that's why I blog these things!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mellow Yellow

I finally took some pictures of the 3rd batch of corn chowder I've made this summer. The first batch had those awful tomatillos....nah, it wasn't that bad, but I could see (I mean taste) the possibilities. The second batch was so dang yummy and it disappeared so quick I knew I'd have to make another a.s.a.p. Good thing so I could have another chance to take pictures and make slight adjustments to the recipe. Adjustments? Well, if you cook like I do, as good as a recipe turns out you never really repeat it exactly, always trying to make it better or different in some way.

All three corn chowder soups started with homemade stocks made in my pressure cooker. I used the corn cobs with my veggies and meat bones, the first two times I used pork, and this last time I used chicken. Alot of times when I make stocks I cook the meat at the same time, seperate from the finished recipe. For instance I added about 10 chicken thighs to my corn cob/veggies, brought the pressure to high and cooked the chicken for 10-15 minutes. I then release the pressure, take out the thighs, let them cool for a few minutes, harvest the meat from the bones (I just pull it off!), put the bones back in the PC, bring the pressure back to high and cook the chicken bones, cobs, veggies for another 25-45 minutes. The longer you cook it the richer if gets. I'll put the meat back in after the rest of the soup is made. (same with pork or lamb or any kind of meat I use that has a bone in it)

Seems like alot of work? It's really not. The exact timing is not that important, I don't have to measure anything, I don't have to cut anything, and in fact I just throw the chicken thighs in skin, bone and all. The hardest part is at the end when I have to strain the stock, wait for it to cool and then put it in the fridge. One of the advantages of doing it like this is that I can easily lift the cold fat that floats to the top the next day. It is time consuming but not "work consuming". Besides using corn stock bumps up the corn flavor so much it's worth it....all from cobs you would normally throw out.

I made the stock and cooked the chicken Friday night knowing I would be going to the farmers market on Sat. What I needed, besides corn, was more yellow veggies to help make my chowder thick without using potatoes, cream, or more corn! (corn is a strachy veg and I count it nutritionally as a grain) I chose yellow chard, just the stems, yellow bell, and Maribel gave me a couple of yellow squash from her garden, but the veggie that was going to thicken up my chower was carrots. Of course I used my usual onion, celery and jalapeno but I knew those would not affect the color of my chowder. No red bells, no greens, not even red pepper flakes! (I used the whole jalapeno, seeds, ribs and all....hoo'ee! Spicy!)

Two weeks left and then the corn will be gone, the season over.....I think this corn chowder will be my "tomato soup" of the past three years! (I haven't made one stinkin' batch of tomato soup yet and it's Sept!)

This soup is so good, every bit as good as the last batch and better! I'll post the basic recipe tomorrow or the next day.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bored with Bikram's.....lessons in letting go....

Until recently (like this week!) I've been having a hell of a time getting myself through my Bikram's practices with a good attitude (anyone that knows me personally knows that I can come across a little bitchy) Ninety minutes is a long time to listen to bad instruction much less spiritual and metaphysical philosophies you don't agree with. I don't know when it all started to get to me...more than normal....

What I mean by normal is that I've known since I started, since my first class, that the instruction was lacking. In the very first breathing exercise you place your clasped hands underneath your chin and raise your elbows until your arms are next to your here's the good part....then you drop your head back....way, way back, open your mouth and exhale as you bring your elbows together to touch in front. Pretty harmless huh? Well it may be if your traps aren't as tight as drums or if you've got good should, neck and chest flexibility.

I remember asking the teacher after class, "When you say drop your head back do you mean just drop it?" And she answered, as she threw her head all the way back as if she was just decapitaed, "yeah, just throw it all the way back". Somehow this did not seem like good advice. Call me crazy but isn't your neck something you should treat more cautiously?

So the other morning in class as the teacher was leading us through the beginning breathing exercise she kept telling this one woman to drop her head all the way back. "Drop your head all the way, all the way back.....just drop it all the way back.....can't you just drop your head all the way back?" I thought to myself "NO! SHE CAN'T! DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT IS TO DO?" Sheez... Not everbody has that kind of flexibility in their neck for God's sake! It took me months if not a year to be able to do that!

Back to the story.... This is just one small example of what drives me crazy. No awareness of how hard alot of these poses are for most people, and to top it off no knowledge of progressions and how to really teach someone the skill of yoga. And alot of times false intruction spreads like a virus among teachers with blind trust. I found myself not being bored with the practice but bored with the Bikram cult.

Back to the real story (enough bitching)....

As I find myself getting more and more irritated and hoping the teacher doesn't catch me rolling my eyeballs (that has actually happened...yikes), I asked myself, what was this supposed to teach me? Getting frustrated, irritated and angry wasn't how I wanted to spend my time, besides what am I really getting all worked up about? As I started to calm myself I started repeating in my head, "let it go....let it go....let it go..." "Let it go" Let what go? Let it all go. Let go of all the stuff that you are wasting your time feeling bad about. I've got better things to do with my time. So I challenged myself to see how long it would take me to start feeling better. How fast could I let those feelings go and focus back on what was important to me, to improve my practice.

My irritation and anger was not the fault of anyone else, especially not the fault of a teacher who was there spending her (or his) time leading a class through something that they believe will make a persons life better....and I do too. It's not the fault of a teacher who is truly there to help. I'm grateful for their passion and enthuasim that they share with so many others. I'm grateful to all of them for showing up everyday so I can practice. They are not responsible for my happiness and good feelings, no one else is, I am! Everybody does the best they can until they realize they can do better, even Bikram teachers! Once I realized I could do better I did.

How fast can I let go of some of the other stuff that "bothers" me? Some of it so small in the grand scheme of things, in fact most of it. For me Bikram's is not just a yoga practice but a practice in letting go.