Friday, January 28, 2011

40 minute Double KB's

Thursday morning I did a little bit of everything...HV snatches, HV swings, some KB swing drills in a beginners class and then to end my workout the only thing left was doubles. One thing I love about doubles is that no set lasts longer than 30 sec, and like my "5 x 6 " workouts, you get alot of work done quickly and without much notice....the attention is on completing 5 sets at a time.

In this variation of a 5 x 6, instead of grouping the combinations in 5's I alternated a 30 sec. combination of, 1dbl swing, 1 dbl clean with the 30 sec long cycle presses. This turned a "5 x 6" into "2 x 5 x 6" , or "10 x 3"...I haven't decided what sounds easier!

2 12kg's

1 sw/1 cl x 8, 30 sec work/rest
cl/pr x 6, 30 sec work/rest
x 5 = 10 min.

1 sw/1 cl x 8, 30 sec work/rest

cl/ push pr x 6, 30 sec work/rest

x 5 = 10 min.

1 sw/1 cl x 8, 30 sec work/rest

cl/jerk x 6, 30 sec work/rest

x 5 = 10 min.

there's a 30 minute workout...but I needed just a bit more. Here's a "2 x 10", 15 sec intervals addition, using all of the above combinations.

1 sw/1cl x 4, 15 sec work/rest

1 cl/pr, 1 cl/pu pr, 1 cl/1 jerk, 15 sec work/rest

x 10 = 10 min.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Can you eat the same, exact, meals everyday?

I can. I can because I love evey meal I make for myself. Narrowing down some of my favorites to 3 or 4 is easy because I make my own meals. Who has time to make something different every single day? By making large amounts of the same foods you can simply pack up a few days worth of portions at the ready, and by making the same meals, you become efficient at preparing your foods quickly.

In the past two years I have strayed away from the "luxury of no choice", as Tim quotes me in the book 4HB. The luxury of no choice is when you preplan your meals in order to take away the descision making in order to focus on other things besides food. I eat the same basic foods everyday, a salad, a soup or stew or chili (in the cold months this is 2 of my 3-4 meals), a smoothie, and some kind of snack. Pnb and veg, nuts and raisins, lentils or farro and raisins, seasonal fruit, etc.

Eating the same basic foods everyday is not eating the same exact foods everyday! After reading 4HB I was reminded of some of my "dieting philosophies" and this particular very important and successful habit. This philosophy applies to 4-5 days out of seven. I have always been a believer in a high calorie day, followed by a low calorie day. The "high calorie" day is also known as the "cheat day", or the binge. I have written about this many times, but will retouch on the subject in another blopost.

Because I don't have a formal job my schedule is all over the place! I have too many choices, and so, like my menu, it changes everyday. It's easy to lose track, or to wait too long to eat, therefore getting too hungry and overeating. Sure, I have food at the ready in my fridge 99% of the time, but it's not preportioned. So when I get too hungry I serve myself bigger portions. Also when I don't have preportioned meals, I'll grab a handful of nuts, dried fruit, crackers, cheese, etc., while waiting to heat something up. Oh, and let's not forget the candy! I'll be honest and tell you that I have a few pieces of my favorite chocolate carmels in the mid-mornings, mostly inbetween a double yoga class (not first thing!), or at bedtime...aren't I spoiled?

So, for the past few weeks I've gone back to eating the same exact meals for at least 1/2 of my day, and now I'm ready to add in a little more structure. Why do I need more structure? Because as I mentioned, I have other things to focus on, and food isn't one of them!

I can tell you right now what my meals M-F will be this week.

cabbage salad (protein and dressing may vary)
spicy beef and veg soup
butternut squash and cottage cheese smoothie

raisins, or prunes
1 serving of nuts or pnb
1 piece of fresh fruit
1-2 glasses of red wine with dinner

oh....and my morning coffee and cream....and maybe a couple chocolate carmels!

I already have enough prepared and portioned foods for today, so this morning I'll be preparing to restock the rest of the week. I will pressure cook my beef soup, pc my lentils and shred more salad ingredients.

One of the keys to eating the same meals everyday is to chose foods that you love and look forward to eating, and fit within your nutritional and caloric parameters. (I can fit wine and a couple of pieces of candy into my!)

PS picture above is a meal I had at my WCBFF house, Jen M., in Santa Barbara this past Nov. I taught Jen how to pressure cook pork shoulder (Fawn, my MWBFF, taught me!), and she served these tacos with a beautiful large salad. I could eat this everyday, no problem!

pps wcbff is west coast best friend forever, and mwbff is midwest best friend forever, lol!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dr Oz Episode Monday 1/24...set your DVR's!

I just got an email from the asst. producer of the Dr. Oz show....the segment will air this next Monday, Jan. 24. Don't get too excited though! I have no idea that the 2, or so, seconds I was on camera will make the final cut at all! But look for me in the video trailer that proceeds the opening shot, suggesting the comparision to Michelle Obama's arms!

Lucky me!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Bright Side, but don't blink!

Wow, did I really fly to NY and back, have limos, drivers, a gorgeous hotel, meals paid, oh, and get a chance to be on a popular national TV show? Yep! But that's not all....

Mark and I snuggled into our bed about 1:00am Saturday morning after our whirlwind 32 hour trip to NY to tape and episode of the Dr Oz show, (we were in some kind of vehicle, plane or car for half of that time!), and after less than 5 hours sleep I was on my way to teach, and train, 4 of my Saturday classes. Of course everyone wanted to know what happened, and I felt it my obligation to cut to the chase and let everyone know that it was a very short, less than short, non talking, glorified live "before and after" shot of me for about 1 second at the beginning of the don't blink, or you'll miss me!

One of my students kept saying, "Look at the bright side!" Well, I wasn't trying to come across as disappointed or unsatisfied, because so much good stuff came from this's just that everybody had such high hopes...maybe higher than I did, so I gave it to them straight first.

On the brightest side Mark and I got to meet with my literary agent, Steven Hanselman, and his wife, Julia, in person to talk about my future book. That alone was worth the trip! I got to go to NY City! I got to be on a TV show and see the inner working of how it's all put together. I won't be so nervous next time....and there will be a next time! Not only did I get another second or two on camera, but the show replayed an edited version of Tim's promotional video trailer, in which I was the only athlete shown, and my part was slowed down to last longer. Tim also mentioned me by name, and they focused the camera on me coming in from a commercial break,,,,again, don't blink! And let's not forget I met Dr Oz.

So, I hope I didn't come across as ungrateful, because I don't feel that way at all. I have only one complaint. I didn't get to talk about the KB Swing and how it changed my body, therefore changing my life. If I wasn't so sold on how much this could help so many people based on my own real life transformation then I really wouldn't give a care. This is only the beginning and I'd do it again in a NY minute!

Video above is of me and the other 4HB guest Brianna, making the final wardrobe fitting. If you look in the mirror behind me, you'll see Dr Oz's side view pass by behind Mark (who's taping, lol). Picture to right is Mark, Steven Hanselman, and me in the resturant at the Omni Bershire Hotel (3 blks from NBC studio, Rockefeller Center)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

1200 Swings...old school style

Thursday morning, before Mark and I left for NY and the Dr Oz show, I decided to look back to the very first workout I posted on my blog over 4 years ago and repeat it as a way of comemorating all of my hard work these past few years that have got me to this point. I tried to tape a short demo, but the batteries on the flip ran out just before I started to's what I did get on tape...

Here is the original post to a 1200 Swing workout,

As I re-read this training post I was surprised to see the 20kg used for much of the workout, as I rarely swing even the 16kg anymore. Even more surprising is my comment on how easy I felt the workout was, because it was far from easy this time! I'll have to write a blogpost about differences in how and why my training has evolved into what it is today...but one of the reasons is that I train as I teach, which means I swing and snatch probably 3 times more than I did 4 years ago.

This workout is all 2 hand swings, and all done equal work/rest ratio. If you think it sounds easy then try it and let me know how it goes for you! Old school, "Tracystyle"...jeans and all!

I finished the workout with "5 x 5" double bell swing/clean/press combinations, which I'll share and post another time.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

No Expectations

Just got back from tne Dr Oz taping in NY City, and I knew the focus of the episode was going to be Tim's book 4HB, not me, so I went into it with no expectaions....well, that's a bit of a fib... I did expect to say name, maybe? Well, that was too much I guess because I was only identified as one of "two women", lol! That's TV!

Once they requested that I wear a dress I knew I would NOT be swinging a kettlebell, but I thought kettlebells would at least be mentioned! Except for showing my part in the national video trailer for the book, where I'm swinging the kettlebell, it was barely mentioned. Unfortunate. But no worries, this is all just getting started! And, I'm still over the moon, proud and excited that I was invited at all. As soon as I know the date it will air I'll post it here and on facebook.

I'm off to teach my Swing classes this morning with only about 4 hours sleeep, which goes to show you...even if you fly across country to tape a national TV show, you still have to show up in the gym the next day...well, you do if you're me!

It was a great trip for a number of other reasons which I will write about this weekend. More to come, this story is just the beginning, not the end.

pictures above: Me in the lobby of the Omni Hotel. Waiting to go into taping at the Dr. Oz show, all made up...I forgot how small my hips look in a dress!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action! Dr. Oz...and more good, no, great news

Tomorrow afternoon Mark and I are flying to Rockefeller Center, NYC. Why you ask? Well, it appears I'm going to be on the Dr. Oz show! Woo hoo! Can you believe it? Dr. freakin' Oz! Tim Ferris is going to be a guest, and on Tim's recommendation, the producers agreed I could represent a part of his book that would appeal to their audience. Of course I'm nervous, mostly about saying something silly, or silly sounding. That's why I'm taking my manager with me! Mark always knows what to say and he helps give me the confidence I'm going to need....

because there's more good news....

It also seems as if I just signed a contract with Tim's Agent, Steven Hanselman, to start writing my own book! I've got a contract, and I've got an agent...I've got an agent! I've been giggling for days!

I'm so behind on a few other projects I need to finish. My workout DVD's are at the top of the list....those are in the final editing. But I already have a kick ass high volume snatch workout planned for Saturday morning... We fly into SF from NYC at 11:00pm Friday night and we won't get home until midnight. a few hours later I'm teaching classes starting at 7:30am....geez, the makeup from the show will still be on my face, lol!

As soon as I know the date the show airs I will post it on my blog and on facebook. Oh, but before then I'll have pictures and maybe a small video of part of the experience.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Why I Cook at the Crack of Dawn, and Hungarian Style Stews

Until recently I hadn't been cooking nearly as much as I once had, and I explained in an earlier blogpost that I had started to turn snacks into meals. It may have had something to do with traveling so much the last part of last year....packing nuts, dried fruits, veggie sticks/pnb, cheese, crackers, and other things that I could carry on a plane, or onto the field at Certs. But I was still cooking and preping all meals and snacks. The only time I purchase food is when I'm out of town, or when I eat cookies, and/or candy...I don't make those!

My favorite time to cook is first thing in the morning. For me, that means between 5:00am and 6:30am, Mon., Wed. or Fri., as I ususally attend yoga at 7:15am on those days. I'm never hungry that early so I'm never tempted to "taste" too know how "tasting" can turn into a meal sometimes, especially when it's hot, fresh and smells so good! And the last thing I want to do is put a lingering savory taste in my mouth, like garlic, or have any bulk or fiber from veggies in my stomach minutes before practicing yoga!

The biggest challenge is not getting the capsaican oils from any jalapenos on my hands because it reactivates in the heat of Bikram's, or getting the smell of garlic and onions out from under my hands are in front of my nose in "eagle pose"!


"Hungarian Style"

I have this thing about using canned tomatoes during the winter months so I try and make soups and stews without tomatoes instead using basic veggies and different spices. For the past two weeks I've been making a super quick and chunky "Hungarian style" stew. What makes it Hungarian style? Paprika of course! I also included two other veggies I rarely use for stews and those are red bell, and cauliflower.

The first time I made it with pork, and the second time I used chicken...I liked the pork more, but you can use beef also. If you use a pressure cooker it can be done in less than 30-40 minutes total! (chicken cooks faster than pork shoulder). I have to confess that I added garbanzo beans to the first batch...I don't think garbanzos are Hungarian!


I kept these big and chunky

roasted red bell pepper, diced small

2 tbl smoked paprika
2 tbl sweet paprika
2 tsp red pepper flakes



I cut the protein in small chunks and browned them in the pan first with a small amount of olive oil. I then sauteed the onion and celery for a few minutes before adding the paprikas and red pepper flakes directly to the hot pan of veggies to cook for a few seconds. I then added the carrot, red bell and stock, along with the meat and that's it. (If using any kind of bean or grain, add them at this time...pre soaked beans of course)

....whoops, I lie! If you want to add cauliflower florets, then add them at the end if using a PC, to cook in the residual heat, or about 10 minutes before the end of cooking time if using a traditional pot. (same for cabbage)

I used my PC, so it took about 10 minutes to come to high pressure. The pork took about 20 minutes, and the chicken about 12 min at high pressure. If you are using a traditional pot, then the cooking time will be longer, 1 - 1 1/2 hour for pork shoulder, but only 30 minutes for chicken thighs (chicken breast meat takes even less time...but the veggies take longer, so I would never use chicken breast meat in a soup, or stew).

I did not use garlic! For some reason it just did not appeal to me for this recipe. Oh, and you desreve better than some of those old stale spices you've had in your cabinet for years now. Treat yourself to some high quality fresh spices.

Picture at top you can see the time on the clock! This was taken after I added my stock, but before I put the lid on to cook. Second picture is after I added the spices to the onion and celery, before the stock and rest of the ingredients. Last picture is the chunky veggies. Not having to dice the veggies smaller cut my prep time to less than 5 minutes!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"Creating Space" Hamstring Stretch

"Creating space" is the concept of this hamstring stretch. Here is how Mark explained it to me;

"Instead of trying to pull yourself over, you are trying to lift up and seperate the pelvis from leg bone, creating space in the joint without actually having to lengthen the muscles any more by "stretching".

Once I bend forwards and down, towards my toes as far as I can, #1 I relax and back off a bit, then #2 I try to lift my entire pelvis up towrds the ceiling away from my legs....#3, I relax and back off. #4 again, I lift my pelvis away from the the top of my legs, but then I try and lengthen the distance from the back of my heels , up the back of my legs to my butt. Since we spend about 1 minute in this part of the pose, in the heat, I can ususally acheive it in the second set, and it improves all of the time.

More words of wisdom about "stretching" from Mark:

"Breathe and back off, breathe and back off. If you keep constant tension on a muscle it become a contraction therefore it's strengthening not stretching. The idea of lengthening the muscle is to get them to relax, not to get into a "tug of war". The end psition of every stretch is a contraction, avoid this...back off before the muscle contracts."

Gaining more flexibility in this area has also allowed me to get into other poses that were limited by my tight hamstrings.

Friday, January 7, 2011


I am always the first person to admit that I'm one of the luckiest people I know....and I've written about being able to ride coattails to my brilliant husband, Master RKC Mark, to every Cert he is scheduled to teach at. One most recent occasions was Level 2 RKC last Feb. in San Jose, and because I was lucky enough to be "a fly on the wall" during that Cert, I decided to, myself, train and attend Level 2 in St Paul later that same year. The rest of my "Level 2" story is yet to be told, but that's for another time....

The inspiration for this blogpost is that during Level 2 RKC, I saw how relevant some of the skills taught could cross over into some of the other physical parts of my life, especially my yoga practice. At my Level 2 Cert, I learned a hamstring stretch that has changed my yoga life.

I'm lucky enough to have the time to train kettlebells, and yoga, and really whatever else I could have an interest in. I currently don't make enough time to go for walks, but I have added in a Vinyasa Flow yoga practice that is very challenging for me, as it requires strengths that I have yet to develop. I do believe in "crosstraining", but it's all about priorities! If I could only do one thing it would be the kettlebell swing...period.

Back to the point of this blogpost. Because my hamstrings are as tight as a drum, I have always had difficulty in forward folds, whether standing up or sitting down. Everything I do, except for yoga, tightens up my hamstrings. So when Pavel showed us a hamstring stretch that "creates space", and I tried it, I knew a whole new world just opened up (literally) for me.

Here are a few pictures of my practice in one of the first poses in a Bikram's yoga practice...the last part of "half moon", which is a forward fold. In this pose the full expression is when your forehead touches your shins with your legs "locked out", and then your forehead touches your toes....OK, so the forehead to the toes will take a bit of time. These pictures were taken after my 9:30am practice...9:30am is way different than 7:30am for this old gal!

My point is that I think it's important that one choses a variety of training skills to deveolp well rounded physical abilities. But as I witnessed while working in a high end Fitness club too much variety make one a "Jack of all trades, but Master of none"!

Most people take "crosstraining" way too far. What is it that your body needs? Pick a couple of things, if time and motivation allow, and work towards "deep skill"..."mastery"..."full expression", etc. You get the idea.

The concept of "crosstraining" is to pick a couple, or a few, different genres that compliment each other. Not do something new until you get bored and then pick something else.

In my perfect life this is the order of physical exercises I chose....for me (you decide what you need)

kettlebell ballistics

kettlebell grinds

yoga (Bikram's...I explain soon in another blogpost)

yoga...any other style, besides Bikram's




Lucky for me I don't have to do anything I don't like, and I "like" all of these for different reasons.

What do you "crosstrain"?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Can I Just Workout?

If you ask me what I do, I'll say, "I teach Russian Kettlebells", I am not a personal trainer. I happen to know the world's best personal trainer and I could never put myself in his category! I may not know everything there is to know about training, but more importantly, I know what I don't know. What I do know is that most people, once they make the decision to start "working out" again, just want to work out. When I was ready, what I wanted was to sweat, and feel like what I was doing was making a difference.

I base my classes around the ballistic kettlebell movements, the swing and the snatch. But I also use some of the other movements like the clean/press, and squat, in more of a ballistic way, with the help of interval training. This is how I train myself, this is what I love to do and anyone that has taken a class with me can see I practice what I preach. Mark has always said that most trainers train others the way they train themselves.

Of course there's so much more to being a good trainer, teacher and coach than simply giving someone a "good workout". I like to think that anything I lack in knowledge I make up for in hope, and inspiration. You can always count on me to show up and just workout!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lady Comrade of the Year....2010...and beyond....

I was in shock, or disbelief, when I checked my facebook messages about being "tagged" on a Dragon Door TV episode....

....and "Female Comrade of the Year is Tracy Reifkind".... what? Are my contacts dirty? What am I reading? I can't comment until I'm sure this says what I think it says! What does this say?

I had to go to DD TV to watch, and make sure, I had it right! There I am, "Female Comrade of the Year". I was elated to say the least! But, before I get into all of that I want to also congratulate Mark Toomey for being honored as my other half, "Male Comrade of the Year". To be in his company is a double compliment.

OK, back to me!

I was on cloud nine! I felt that being recognized by the people who know me was so much more meaningful than to have my picture and story read by completely anonymous readers of a best selling book....thank goodness I don't have to chose. I've got it all!

2011 is going to be a year of fun, fun, fun! I started out the day with a freakin' fun workout/challenge of a 10 minute 1 hand switch, snatch test with my favorite students, and now? Well, let's just say...I've got plans to play up this title of "Lady Comrade of the Year"...mark my words. No one will have as much fun as me this next year. Stay tuned...

Thank you to all, and anyone, that had anything to do with this honor. I am so thankful for where I started, all 250+lbs of me, to where I am now. Miracles do happen.

I will not sink into the background, nor should you, nor should anyone.

PS Hey Amanda...where can I get a bustier like yours?

You Know I'm Going to Have to Train for It Now!

GOOD-NESS! Today, 01/01/11, Meg snatched her 50,000th rep! Congratulations Meg! Meg would prefer to not be in any pictures or videos, but too bad for her! This was momentous, in a couple of ways. 50,000 snatch reps within 1 years time (for a non professional KB instructor) is momentous, but....

Of course I couldn't make it easy for her, so I decided to try, for the first time ever, a 10 minute snatch test using GS rules....only 1 hand switch allowed! (Girevoy Sport) Oh, and every one else in class was coming along for the ride!

I'll write a blogpost about the whole experience soon, but for now I want to celebrate Meg. Her commitment to training, not just 50,000 snatch reps is the message. She, along with a few other students, has not missed a workout in...forever! So as she raised her other arm in celebration with her snatching arm, I reminded her that she is now half way to 100,000 snatch reps, lol!

I think both her and I were surprised that we could not go the distance w/12kg.... I myself lasted 7.5 minutes and totaled only 133 snatch reps (67 L, 66 R) before the strength of my hand just couldn't take anymore. Meg got to the 8.5 minute mark with 146 total. The other two woman in class went after us w/20lber. Mina got 150 in the same 7.5 minutes as me, and Sabina was the only one to go the entire distance of 10 minutes, sprinting at the end to 175 snatch reps!

What a morning! I've not been this excited about a challenge in a long know I'm going to have to train for it now....this was fun! Crazy fact....this was the least amount of snatch reps we've done in Saturday class in a long time, but none more satisfying! Next time, I'll die before I put the bell down until that 10 minute timer goes off....good-ness!