Monday, October 31, 2011

My Journey to Freedom...out with the old...and dusty!

I have no idea how the next few months, weeks, even days, will play out but I'm in the midst of a crazy ass clean out, de clutter, purge, give-away and so many thoughts are running through my mind that I'm just going to have to post them as they come up....

The first thoughts are those of letting go. Like I said I can't go into all the details but "letting go" has so many meanings, too many, and I'm not into spending too much time psycho analyzing. I already know all of my life's bullshit that lead me to this place....sometimes it's a good thing for bullshit because the outcome is going to be grand! Just when I thought things couldn't get better!

The one subject I'm not going to compare this purge to is losing weight. I know the analogy of surrounding yourself with "stuff" is used to describe how we surround our bodies with fat, but I lost 120lbs while living with, and still collecting, tons more stuff than I currently own. To be perfectly honest I had the buying and collecting tendencies of hoarder, my living room once looking more like a storage shed than a home but that changed years ago.

Over the past 3 years I've emptied out a 16' x 10' storage space, donated 3 truck fulls of stuff to Goodwill, given boxes and boxes of clothing away, not to mention half of my kitchen tools and gadgets and now I'm in the home stretch....I can feel it, but more importantly I can see it!

As I enter this new and bright time in my life I started to search out blogs and articles about other people that had done what I want to do...get rid of stuff, but I din't find the results to be inspiring! That's when all of a sudden it hit me....I'm not interested in other people that focus on the "problem" by working on a solution, I'm interested in people that are living it. Like losing weight, de cluttering is something we all know how to do....throw the shit out! Get over it. Move on.

I then switched my attention to "minimalists'" People who are focused on the lifestyle of living minimally. I don't really care how they got there, just that they are there and what it's like! It's possible and I know it feels like freedom.

Until this new journey comes to a conclusion I hope to write about the experience, not as a way of giving advice or "tips" but to stay in touch with what's really becoming important to me in my life. I want so much to have my family grow around me, in an uncluttered and organized environment. I want to have friends over, (heck I want to have friends!) to share good food, wine and talk about life and training. I want to be able to travel teach and speak without wondering what kind of mess I'm coming home to. I can see it, I can feel it, it's happening right now.

PS I made an appointment on Friday to have my TV picked up by Salvation Army...who know what else I'll have them haul out of my life! I'm not planning on replacing it anytime's more of a dust magnet than anything else.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Brussels Sprouts Salad w/apple & Lemon Maple dressing

Here is my favorite salad these days using raw, shredded brussels sprouts. Because of the time of year I chose to use maple syrup as the sweetener. You could also use cider vinegar instead of lemon, but I find the lemon to brighten up the maple flavor. If using honey as a sweetener then I would suggest using cider vinegar.

Brussels sprouts are a hearty vegetable, like cabbage, so if making and dressing this salad in advance it will still last for 2-3 days in the fridge. If you want to make it for the week then dress it with only lemon to keep the apple from turning and add mayo and maple the day you are going to eat it.

Use a mandoline, or food processor with fine shredding disk.

15, or so, large brussels sprouts, shredded
1 lg apple, julienned, or small dice (I used Honeycrisp)
Italian parsley

Dressing (two options)

lemon juice (I used 3 lemons, I'm guessing it was about 1/4 c. which equals 4 tbls)
4 tbl mayonaise (good quality, or if you are my friend Fawn, homemade!)
2 tbl maple syrup

4 tbl apple cider vinegar
4 tbl mayonaise
2 tbl honey or raw sugar

I do not make the dressing seperate, I simply squeeze the lemon over the veg and distribute first. Then I add the mayo and maple syrup. I mix that in next and let the salad kind of "marinate" in the fridge until I'm ready to eat it.

In both of these dressing options you could stretch and increase the amount by adding 2-4 tbl of plain yogurt. Try it without first, but if you find you like your salad "wetter" without too many more calories go ahead and try the plain yogurt addition.

Oh and always season with salt!

Add a protein of your choice, I used shredded roasted chicken (and some crumbled bacon is a bonus!). This salad was inspired from my visit with Fawn last week. Apples in the salad and mayo as the base of the dressing. Fawn seems to be into roasting and eating a lot of chicken so guess what I'm doing lately? Yep, I'm on my third chicken of the week!

Friday, October 28, 2011

"The Swing" Ta-Da! Surprise, Surprise!'s official! Actually it's been official, but now it's really official! Here is the cover of my book, "The Swing" on Amazon. Available for pre-order and it looks as if a Kindle version will also be available (hopefully on audio too!) Release date of March 13, exciting! The whole experience has shot me over the moon and it's barely getting starting (fingers crossed).

Originally the release was predicted for right after Christmas but that was changed a month or so ago. I prefer the later release because it gives me a little more time to get ready and I think the audience that will be looking for something new after the onslaught of New Year's diet and fitness books run their courses will be just as large. Barnes and Noble increased their original order so you'll be seeing my face when you walk into those bookstores! And speaking of my thrilling is it to have my image, an such a powerful image of me swinging, on the front cover! It's very unusual for a first time author, non celebrity, to have their picture on the cover! Lucky me!

"The Swing" is more than a diet and fitness book, I hope. It's my own personal story of how it's never too late to transform your body, your mind, and your life as I did. The kettlebell swing was the exercise that helped transform my body in a way I never could imagine. And learning how to teach this amazing skill has transformed me into a different kind of person.

Many times I hear, read and see stories of people that have lost tremendous amounts of weight go on to become personal trainers. I don't consider myself a personal trainer I consider myself a kettlebell instructor and motivational speaker. I also often say "If there was something better (than the kettlebell swing), I'd be doing it!" And as I mentioned in my last post, being in shape, getting in shape safely, allows you to try other things, other sports, in addition to improving your quality of life. The kettlebell swing is the safest and fastest way for practically anyone, age, weight, or condition,to change their physical health, their bodies, level of cardio fitness and confidence. I know no other exercise that regularly turns people into feeling like a bad ass, me included. But the kettlebell won't swing itself! (Mark's phrase)

I hope more people than ever will pick up my book, pick up a kettlebell and start to live the rest of their lives stronger, body, mind and spirit, than they ever thought possible. To find the inner athlete, the inner bad ass, the person they always knew they were, the person they were born to be. It's never too late, YOU CAN DO IT!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

If You Don't Plan to Succeed, You Plan to...well, Not Succeed!

One of the reasons why I did not attend the RKC Bodyweight Cert this past weekend is because I did not train for it. I don't regularly train planks much less pushups, or train a handstand skill. Although I have recently learned how to do a headstand and find myself upside down at least once or twice a week. My point is no matter what kind of "shape" you are in, if you don't practice other skills then don't be surprised if you can't do them. One of the best parts about being in "some kind of shape" whatever that may be (if you train something on a regular basis), is that you can practice and learn new skills easier and faster. I always say that my kettlebell training sets me up to try and train most anything else....yes, even running....if I wanted to....but I don't.

I have not yet incorporated "formal" scheduled walks as part of my weekly training. I think walking is an important part of a kind of "everyday fitness" and believe it or not you can get out of shape to walk! If you don't walk on a regular basis, much less at all, then don't be surprised if you find yourself huffing and puffing a little picking up the pace to simply catch a green light crossing the street!

So I admit, I don't schedule regular walking which I define as 3-4 deliberate two-plus mile walks a week, and ideally one long 3-4 mile walk. Deliberate describes walking for the sake of exercise, not strolling....decent quick pace but not all out race walking. Tuesday is the only day that I have a deliberate 45 min walk between workouts while I'm waiting for Mark to finish up with a client. But I do plenty of walking besides when I get a chance at a solid 2 miles. no problem.

One of the ways I walk more is I plan my errands around our small downtown area "on foot". Girya is in downtown Palo Alto and there's not a day that goes by when I don't find myself needing to go to the bank, post office, market, for coffee, or....Lululemon! I map out a route in my head of the furthest possible ways to walk one or two miles and end hitting a couple of errands near the end. The market and a cup of coffee (my reward) are usually my last stops (no body likes to have to pee half way through a walk...argh!)

Another way I get more walking into my week is that I'll chose to walk to my neighborhood market when I have only a few things I need. Most times I don't need anything really, but I am more motivated when I feel like I have a job to get done and I can always think of one or two things we need. Just this past Monday I walked to the market with a rather large, or should I say heavy, list of groceries thinking, "ah, I can carry them"....two 6lb chickens, 5 lb onions, four 1lb containers of cottage cheese, 1 qt milk, a lg head of cauliflower and lots of other was so heavy that I had to weigh my two bags when I got home just out of curiosity...30lbs! Good thing I train kettlebells!

Another way I plan to walk is if I have any appointments that require "waiting". Yesterday I took my car to be serviced and was told it would be 1 1/2 hours! yikes...what to do? Walk of course. Oh sure I could have brought my computer, or used the courtesy computers at the service center, but instead I walked a giant loop stopping at a favorite nearby wine shop next to last ( whatcha think 4 bottles of wine weigh? I say about 12lbs!) right before picking up some bar-b-que ribs and brisket for Mark. When I got back I only had another 10 minutes before my car was ready.

So what's all this got to do with planning to succeed? On my afternoon walk in PA today I was thinking about how much I enjoyed being able to run errands on foot, how lucky am I? Yet so many, most I bet, never think to do the same. Most people, me included at one time, would always choose to drive, heck when we have to park too far away from the Mall we get upset! What is the excuse? I don't have time, probably #1 reason.

Not having time and not making time are two different things. No one has time if you wait until the last minute and it's common to put things we don't want to do off until the last minute. As if somehow that makes it a legitimate excuse. Everyday I start thinking in advance, how can I, or where can I walk today? I can always seem to carve out at the very least 20 minutes. Same with lots of other things that set me up for a successful healthy lifestyle.

You can't wait last minute and without a plan. Health and fitness doesn't just happen, you make it happen. One of the things I hear more often than not is "I'm so out of shape!" Geez, I wonder how that happened? No body is a victim of being "out of shape". All anyone has to do first is to start moving their body regularly....just move it!

If you or someone you know does no kind of exercise then beginning some is an absolute chore, a bore and downright painful sometimes. But what are the choices? Don't think that doing nothing is not a choice. Don't think that letting your body become weaker and less healthy everyday is not a choice, because it is. If you don't plan to succeed, you plan to fail.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Do you ever come back from a trip, or a visit with a friend or family member, full of inspiration and new ideas for change in your life? And then what happens.....? So much stuff this past weekend very well could inspire me to make some changes...but will I?

Let's start out with the reason Mark and I went to St Paul. The RKC Level 3 Bodyweight Cert taught by Pavel, Mark and Max Shank. Wowie zowie.....a serious success! This was a Cert I was never really interested in attending myself. I knew what was involved from talking with Mark as he was getting his material ready and organized over the past few months. Interesting stuff, but "stuff" I know I'm not good at, or that I was willing to train in order to be a good participant in time. I'd rather hang out with my best bud Fawn, and come and go as I pleased. And let's face it anytime I want to learn I live with the Master!

Sure handstand push ups, front levers, "L-sits" on rings, etc... are skills some may only dream of but bodyweight exercise is so much more dimensional than those advanced skills. Bodyweight exercises like push ups, pull ups, dips, headstand and handstand against a wall are surely attainable, at least to some degree for most people and if trained regularly what kind of physical changes would one see, and feel? I'm not talking about a gold medal performance but what about feeling more control and confidence with how you are able to move your body?

Speaking of handstands....Fawn took me to practice Iyengar yoga with her longtime teacher William. I had a great time and learned lots! William helped me get into my first two handstands (against the wall)...ironic that I was doing handstands as Mark was teaching them? Anyway....although I had been practicing Iyengar for a couple of months hoping to attend a class with Fawn during this months visit, and I was not having a good time of it. Now I see the practice in a different way and have pretty much decided to continue learning it.

Speaking of Fawn....where do I start? I should write a completely separate blogpost about Fawn! I did not have enough time with her, and it's my own fault. There was so much for me to do in such a short amount of time. I always come home with new recipe and food ideas and this trip was no exception. I'm actually glad it was Fall during this visit because the seasonal food options are less and visiting Fawn in the middle of an abundant Spring or Summer would have just left me even more overwhelmed! I did not get to hang out in the kitchen with her but one interesting salad she was making included lavender from her garden.....darn....where am I going to get some lavender? (I'm going to have to go out foraging in neighbors yards!)

I'm so full of thoughts it feels like so much to process. It's Monday morning and I'll be off to start my day, my week, a slightly different person than last week, even more appreciative and full of life's possibilities.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fawn's Students Rock!

I had a freakin' blast Saturday morning leading Fawn's students through one of my swing workouts, soon to be known as "The Wave" and a new current favorite "Sinister"....which became known as "Sinister in St. Paul"! Swinging with over 20 people in unison was cool stuff! Fawn has been working with them all in preparation of my visit and it was impressive. We ended up swinging 980 reps in less than 50 minutes!

Tons of fun!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Swing Workout "One Minute Sets", Beg / Inter / Adv

Here is the workout I scaled for three of my Sat classes. I'm calling it "One Minute of Swings". Here I use five,, 40 rep swing combinations for 1 minute worksets.

In the first rotation the rest period starts out with the shortest interval, increasing by 15 seconds between each of the 5 one minute worksets, ending with only 15 sec before the 2nd rotation.

The 2nd rotation starts with the longest rest period, and decreases the rest intervals by 15 seconds between each of the 5 one minute worksets, again ending with a 1 minute rest before rotation #3.

The third rotation only give 15 sec, never longer, never shorter, between each of the 5 worksets, with a 1 minute rest before the next work set.

The forth and last rotation has NO rest between the five 40 rep sets, it's a continuous 200 rep swing set....OR as it turned out this past weekend a continuous 100 rep swing set. (I'll explain at the end)

Here's is my #1 "beginning level" warm up, shown in video, and another, #2 intermediate level warm up. Both of these "warm ups" are perfectly suitable as a workouts in themselves if you are not yet comfortable with swing sets up to 40 reps/one min long. Just repeat it 3 times for a total of 600 reps in about 30 minutes. These are all "equal work/rest" intervals (shown in parenthesis)

"One Minute Sets"

Warm up #1 (video demonstrates this Beginning level, working up to one last 1 min long set)

10 2 hd sw x 4 sets (15/15)
10 trans x 4 sets (15/15)
1 swing, 1 tr x 10 x 2 sets (20 rep sets 30/30)
5/5 x 2 x 2 sets (20 reps sets, 30/30)
10/10 x 2 x 1 set (40 reps, 1 min/1min) (repeat x 3 if this is your workout)

200 swings, 10 min

Warm up #2 (Intermediate/Adv level)

20 2 hd sw x 2 sets (30/30)
20 tr x 2 sets (30/30)
1 swing, 1 trans x 20 x 1 (40 reps, 1 min/30 sec rest)
5/5 x 4 x 1 (40 reps, 1 min work/30 sec rest)
10/10 x 2 x 1 set (40 reps, 1 min work/1 min rest) (repeat x 3 if this is your workout)

200 swings, 9 min

Rotation #1 (video, intermediate and advanced levels)

40 2 hd sw x 1 (1 min work, 15 sec rest)
40 tr x 1 (1 min work, 30 sec rest)
1 sw, 1 tr x 20 x 1 (1 min work, 45 sec rest)
5/5 x 4 x 1 (1 min work, 1 min rest)
10/10 x 2 x 1 (1 min work, 15 sec rest, start next rotation)

200 swings 7 min 45 sec.

Rotation #2 (Intermediate level)

40 2 hd sw x 1 (1 min work, 1 min rest)
40 tr x 1 (1 min work, 45 sec rest)
1 sw, 1 tr x 20 x 1 (1 min work, 30 sec rest)
5/5 x 4 x 1 (1 min work, 15 sec rest)
10/10 x 2 x 1 (1 min work, 1 min rest, start next rotation)

200 swings, 8.5 min

rotation #3 (Advanced level)

40 2 hd sw x 1 (1 min work, 15 sec rest)
40 tr x 1 (1 min work, 15 sec rest)
1 sw, 1 tr x 20 x 1 (1 min work, 15 sec rest)
5/5 x 4 x 1 (1 min work, 15 sec rest)
10/10 x 2 x 1 (1 min work, 1 min rest, start next rotation)

200 swings 7 min.

rotation #4 (Advanced level)

40 2 hd sw x 1
40 tr x 1
1 sw, 1 tr x 20 x 1
5/5 x 4 x 1
10/10 x 2 x 1

200 swings 5 min.

rotation #4, alternate (Intermediate and Advanced levels)

20 2 hd sw x 1
20 tr x 1
1 sw, 1 tr x 10 x 1
5/5 x 2 x 1
10/10 x 1 x 1

100 swings, 2.5 min

In my first class we did warm up #1, rotation #2 and #3, and alternate #4 for a total of 700 swings in just under 29 min.

In my own workout, after 200 16kg snatches and 226 12kg snatches, Meg and I did rotation #1, #2 and alternate #4 with the 16kg for a total of 500 swings in 18 minutes.

My 3rd and last Advanced class we did all of these rotations starting with warm up #2, rotation #1, #2, #3, alternate #4. A total of 900 swings in about 35 min.....and that was after 30 minutes of snatches!

I chose to do #4 alternate with Meg because that's all we had time for....and we ended up going 1 min over into the next classes time. I chose #4 alternate again for my last class because, do the math! To be honest I didn't have a 200 continuous swing rep left in me at that point....although I'm completely confident my class could have done it...

I did however first do the same workout I did with Meg to end my own Thursday morning training two days earlier, except ending with the original 200 rep set, using the 16kg for a total of 600 swings, 20.5 min.

A Bore? A Drag?

Kind of related and unrelated.... In my blogpost about Lyfe Kitchen I wrote about "healthy" eating out and Maribel brought up a good point. She commented about how since she eats healthy on her own when she does go out "health" is not the priority. I thought that was a good point. I mean, are we trying to stay healthy or "perfectly healthy". Unless you hold and live by extreme standards of "organic", 'local", "sustainable", etc, oh and let's add constantly counting calories, 100% of the time (and if that's the case you better grow most of your own foods and for sure cook and prepare them) then laboring over what to order when eating out, trying to make the perfect healthy choice is well, boring and a drag.

I've written my concerns about becoming a drag many times in past blogposts. The kind of "drag" that complains when eating out about calorie count, about unhealthy foods, about what other people are choosing at other tables, etc. Or maybe I'm the one to order customized food unsatisfied with the menu choices or maybe not trusting the kitchen/resturant with my health. I've also not wanted to become someone that pretends to have the highest of standards and then go on a 1/2 price fun sized Snicker's binge the day after Halloween!

I was reminded of what it sounds like to be with this kind of person/people this past Saturday.

Mark and I live 1 blk away from a Foster's Freeze and we've been known to take a walk down the street, every once in a while, late on a Saturday night, for a soft serve ice cream....or a cheeseburger. Well, this past weekend that's exactly what we did. There we sat on the tiny little stools in front of Foster's Freeze enjoying our first PBJ Twister....omg it was seriously yummy! Anyway, along came a group of about 5 or 6 friends, I'm guessing they were around my age, or slightly younger, 4 men and 2 women. As they stood in front of the menu board laboring over which meal to order or skip in favor of a Twister or Sundae, the women especially started talking about the calories in the food choices. They talked about how much fat was in this, how much sugar was in that, which bad choice was worse than the other! Are you kidding me? You are at Foster's Freeze! What do you expect?

To top it off, and I don't want to come across too snobby but, they were already overweight, some more than some others, and I'm pretty sure non of them exercised on a regular basis... As I sat there "sleaze-dropping" I couldn't help but roll my eyes and be bored by the whole thing...geez... But this reminded me of my own same boring behavior. I never want to be a bore or a drag. I've got to relax or don't eat out and freakin' complain about it for God's sake.

I'm guilty of the same behavior and I don't like it! We all eat out at different times for different reasons. Most people eat out because they don't cook or prepare foods themselves and it's the only option they give themselves. Me? I eat out when I have to, and on the rare occasion when I chose to. When I'm at a resturant I'm going to stop complaining, I'm going to stop over analyzing menus, and I'm going to stop talking about calories.....promise.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pre Meditated Swing Routine

For once I know, basically, what swing routine I'm using in my three Saturday classes this morning. It's based on my progressive rest ladder using 5 sets of 1 minute long, 40 rep swing combinations.

40 2 hd swings
40 transfers
1 swing/1 tr x 20 (40 reps)

In my first class I never start out with 40 rep sets so I'll break the warm up period into smaller swing rep sets but using these same combinations. Since it's an Intermediate level we will increase the difficulty, progressively, by decreasing the rest heavier bells.

My second class is my own advanced level workout. After we snatch (probably heavy today) we will do the same workout with a heavier bell (w/16kg) and short to NO rest periods!

My third class will start out with 40 rep swing sets. I'll return to my "swing weight bell", the 12kg but the routine will progress faster into short rest periods and end with one 200 rep swing set (no rest).

Before the weekend is over I'll post video and interval instruction for all three. I don't have a name for it yet but I'm thinking I'll call it "Progressive 40". I did the advanced version on my own Thursday morning and it was tough...not sure I could do it again with the 16kg...of course I can!

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Tough Crowd

Mark and I went to eat at a new "fast food" restaurant that opened up right across the street from Girya in Palo Alto called "Lyfe" Here's what Lyfe Kitchen's facebook page says about their concept:

LYFE Kitchen is a transformational, socially-responsible “lyfestyle” brand whose acronym stands for for Love Your Food Everyday. Follow us at @LYFEKitchen!

There really is alot more information about how Lyfe started, but I'm not a reporter so I invite you to gather up more info by google-ing them if you are interested in more details. Basically I became interested because Chef Art Smith is one of the co-creators.

Being a "foodie" myself, I am familiar with who Art Smith is and what has happened to him in the past couple of years. First of all Art was Oprah Winfrey's Chef, enough said. But what's more amazing than working for Oprah, much more amazing, is that Art has lost over 100lbs himself!

I've seen Art on numerous Cooking Shows most recently on "Top Chef Masters" a couple of years ago before he lost weight. Last year he returned to the Top Chef show as a judge for one of the challenges, most notable half the size as the year before. Of course I knew how he did it....he started eating right! No mystery. Good God if a professional Chef can't figure out how to eat right then who can?

The big trend everybody is starting to focus on about good health and eating is a "plant based" diet. I figured this out years ago and 100% credit it with the success of my own weightloss and lifestyle change. I consider my own diet to be plant based, but that doesn't mean plants only! I've written for years how I compose a meal based on vegetable first, protein second, fat, and then carbs. Sure I eat meat, alot of meat but I also eat more veggies than most vegetarians. And not to say that I don't have a "carb" meal without any veg like oats, or yogurt, but that's only one meal out of four daily meals.

Back to Lyfe Kitchen.....

I stopped by Lyfe Kitchen earlier in the morning to pick up a menu so I could decide ahead of time knowing Mark and I would come back after our training that afternoon. As usual, nothing on the menu excited me or impressed me enough to ever think about changing it out for any of my own homemade meals or foods....I'm a tough crowd! There wasn't anything on the menu I couldn't make better, bigger, less calories, more nutritous and cheaper myself....but I'm lucky that way. If Lyfe's philosophy is to "Love Your Food Everyday", well I already do!

I ordered barramundi with edamame, mushrooms and spinach in some kind of broth. Basically fish was OK. (I should of ordered the fish tacos that Mark had) When I was leaving the restaurant one of the Servers asked me
about my experience. I hesitated, but prefaced my comments with the fact that I had high standards.

I'm not a fan of edamame, in fact I don't care for it at all. It's a "non" flavor, they're soybeans and I consider it a carb....there are many other carbs I would chose over edamame. But I always try and choose something I would never cook at home. I never cook fish, and I've explained why in many past blogposts, so that's what I based my decision on.

Here's what I shared with the Server.....

The fish was just OK, the broth was actually good but not enough of it...its just broth for God's sake give me a little more! I think there was a couple of leaves of spinach, a decent amount of mushrooms and way to much edamame, but still only about 1/3 c I would still didn't eat it all. She told me I could ask for the adjustments next time and the kitchen would accommodate my requests. Normally I would "custom" order had known what to expect, but I won't be back need.

What I didn't tell her was how I thought the restaurant was way overstaffed, but I do recognize it was opening day and they wanted to make sure the customers were taken care of...but "too many cooks in the kitchen" (no pun intended) made the service confusing. They had one counter for credit and debit card payment and one counter for cash...really? Did this make it faster? Not in my opinion.

And I didn't find it to be "fast food" at all. In fact the
only reason why I didn't order something else or have my food adjusted is because I didn't want to wait anymore, I was HUNGRY!

Although there is no need for me to ever go back I can see the value for other people not in my situation. I guess some of the foods are better choices, especially the vegetarian and vegan choices, but in my opinion you could walk two blocks to Whole Foods and get just as many choices, faster food and cheaper! Yep, Whole Foods would be less expensive!

Mark and I spent $28 bucks! $12 per main dish and $2 per drink (I had tea, Mark had a cooler), and we were still hungry when we left.... We both grabbed one of the cookies I keep in the fridge at Girya for the ride home!

On a positive note....I had tons of fun training clubbells alongside my favorite trainer and sweetie!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Go Where the Good Training Is

Sometimes I make things way more complicated than they need be....

I have two main practices....kettlebells and Bikrams yoga....anything else is a bonus. Yes, I walk at least 30-45 min+ twice a week and I also have on my schedule an Iyengar yoga class twice a week, which is a new addition (Mon & Fri), but my main training is spent on the first two practices. In the three days of Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I total at least 6 hours of kettlebell ballistics. Sun, Mon., Wed. Thurs. and Fri., I practice Bikrams yoga, sometimes double sessions (I only take Bikrams off Sat. and Tues).

Recently I've had a love/hate relationship with Bikrams yoga, but that's another story.... This story is about how I overcame a stupid obsession about saving a buck $.

I live close to at least 5-7 yoga studios that offer Bikrams yoga classes....high quality problem! Which studio should I have my practice at? One offers this, one offers that.....location, price, convenience, consistency, heat, etc.... How could I spend my money in the best way? How could I save the most amount of money? If I'm only thinking about money $ then I must be out of my mind.....

The average monthly UNLIMITED CLASS memberships are around $100 bucks a MONTH (give or take a few $$), and considering I charge $90 for 1 hour PT then what the hell could I complain about? Good God! Sure, I'm not getting one-on-one personal attention, but I am getting 90 minutes of someone else's time, someone else paying for heat and humidity, someone else paying for the water, soap and shampoo I use after class, and someone else paying somebody else to clean it all up! High quality problem! With great relief I decided to own as many unlimited memberships at as many studios that I wanted! Small price to pay for piece of mind.

so now I have a choice of 4 studios....owning some kind of membership to all....

Without a doubt one studio particularly has consistent teaching (leading), consistent heat (freakin' important), and convenient schedule.....but it's location is twice as far. Twice as far means 15 minutes further away and therefore further back home....again, am I crazy?

Many of my regular students drive 20+ minutes to get to Palo Alto where Girya I appreciate it? You bet I do! Bottom line? Go where the good training is, because let me tell you, good training is few and far between! I appreciate the time and effort some of my regulars put into showing up every week, sometimes twice, three times a week to train with me...seriously guys THANK YOU! Once I realized that I could afford not trying to save a buck my life became that much easier. If you think about all the crap you waste money on...let's get real here.... I often compare it to a large pizza! $20+ bucks for one freakin' pizza that does you no good, but yet you never blink an eye at the cost. Within one months time how much $$ money do most people spend on convenient foods?

I decided my main Bikrams yoga membership will be at Bikram Yoga Mountain View. Newly opened by owner Cynthia Wehr. I chose this location and studio for my main practice even though its further away, 30 minutes total time there and back, because of the studios consistent teaching and consistent heated environment. The new showers, locker rooms, and Brita water filters are a bonus. I do own 3 additional supplemental Studio memberships but it's a small price to pay in reality to what I value most.

What do you value? What price would afford you piece of mind and consistent health?

picture above: Bikram's "floor bow" alongside Mountain View Bikram Yoga Studio owner Cynthia Wehr. I chose to ask Cynthia to demonstrate alongside of me for this pose because it was Cynthia's example of "floor bow" that I recognized what I was lacking.....

One day in class as I was kicking up in this pose I couldn't figure out why it seemed as if my feet were so far out of my vision. I could see in the mirror that I was kicking as high as some of the more advanced practitioners but I still couldn't see my toes. It was at this time in class, by chance, I looked over and and noticed Cynthia's floor bow.....her neck extention was so much greater than mine.....ah-ha! The neck extension! Not the leg extention! I started to focus more on stretching through my chest (ribcage) extending all the way to my neck (chin). Within a couple of months I saw my toes, and that was over one year My entire two feet!

Learn from what the best do naturally! Oh, and go where the good training is...small price to pay.

Double Standard

One of the most often things I hear from others that have lost weight is that friends and coworkers will say, "Don't lose too much weight now!". This drives me crazy. Whose business is it anyway except maybe those closest to us, like our family? And who decides what losing too much weight is? Making the comment like "You're getting too skinny!" is the same as "You're getting too fat!" Neither is nice. And I find it especially insulting coming from someone who's never been fat.

Of course no one wants anyone to go anorexic, but no one wants anyone to go "obese" either. What kind of person comments to someone else that they are getting fat...."Gee, you've gained some weight, don't gain too much now." In fact, rarely, if ever, does anyone comment about weight gain, but it's complimentary to notice weightloss. My favorite is "Wow, you've lost a ton of weight". Does anyone know what a backhanded compliment this is? Why can't we just say, "You look great!" Or, "What have you been doing, you look better than ever!"

Is it more rude to notice and comment on someones weight gain or is it more rude not to say something? Is there a nice way to show concern? I can't think of a comment that would come across as caring and not insulting or embarrassing. So many times when I notice someone significant weight gain I do feel as if I want to say something, but only to try and it ever appropriate? Where's Dear Abbey when I need her?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Twelve Weeks that Changed My Entire Life

I consider cooking one of my hobbies. I'm always interested in learning all I can about it, so I do it often and I do it alot! In fact I'd do it more if I could eat more! If I had the time, or if my life was different, I'd think about going to culinary school, not because I want a career in the food industry, in fact I never want to work in the food industry, but it's always been a dream of mine to immerse myself in that kind of learning situation as a way to hone my skills and improve at a greater pace. Going to culinary school in another country would be off the charts cool too!

I didn't always have an interest in cooking. I wanted to be a good cook but it never occured to me how one becomes a good cook. My mother didn't have a mother that cooked, and my grandmother's mother didn't teach her to cook, and so on and so on. Growing up my definition of a good cook was anyone that could cook a turkey! (I now know the proper term is "roast" a turkey) Thanksgiving and Xmas, which was the same menu, was the only time I was ever exposed to "real food".....looking back now what I defined as "real food", besides the turkey, was green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, a jello mold, and cranberry sauce from a can.....but I do have to give credit for the stuffing recipe and gravy that I still use every year....killer! (but I learned how to make it better!) Thanksgiving turkey dinner would be my motivation, my driving force to learn how to cook.

Nearing my 32nd birthday I had a client/friend that started working in a gourmet kitchen store called Home Chef and told me about the cooking classes they offered. One program of 12 lessons particularly interested me, it was called "The Essentials". "The Essentials" was a 12 class series, one 2 hour class a week that focuses on cooking methods, principles and techniques, not just recipes. Each week we learned and practiced a cooking method, were shown a few recipes that incorporated that method, went home and practiced it on our own for 1 week and then we moved on to another the following week. The "progression" went like this, and in this order.... (goodness...I just realized I learned how to cook using my favorite way of learning...progressions! No wonder I was so successful!)

Stocks and Broths
Sauces (white and brown)
Braising and Poaching (wet heat)
Main dish and Desert Pastries
Grilling and Broiling (direct heat)
Bread and Pizza
Roasting and Baking (dry heat)
Quick and Easy Sauces (dressing, salsas etc.)
Sauteing and Frying

Twelve weeks that changed my entire life.

For my birthday that year Mark bought me the series of classes for $330 which was a discount from the $389 if you agreed to assist. Assisting meant that you had to come 2 hours early and help the teacher prep for the recipes, serve the students samples, and then stay to clean up afterwards. Even with the discount $300 bucks was a ton of money at the time.

I had so many "firsts" during these classes, in fact practically everything was a "first"!. The first time I had ever touched a pork tenderloin, the first time I saw a raw shrimp (I thought shrimp was always pink!), the first time I saw parsley used for anything but garnish! I had no idea what "stock" was or what to do with it. And never in a million, gazillion years could I ever predict I would make and use my own stocks on a regular daily/weekly basis. (lucky me!)

Having an obsessive personality I applied for a part time job at the store just to be able to attend all of the cooking classes I could find time for, or make the spare time for. As an employee one of the perks was free classes and I took full advantage of it.

This went on for about 2 years until one evening while sitting in a class I realized my time would be better spent at home actually cooking instead of trying to learn more! I knew enough and it was time to apply it! I figured I had spent 10 hours a week working in the store, and at least 6 hours attending classes....16 hours I could spend cooking my own foods! This is also the same reason why I don't spend too much time watching cooking shows. The 30 minutes it takes to watch Rachel Ray I could be putting dinner on my own table! I've not attended another cooking class since.

Is there more to learn? Always. But the lessons learned by doing instead of watching can be of far greater value in my opinion. Finding time, or making time, to practice is the only way to get matter what interests you. Do I think I have a natural talent for cooking? Not really. Mark has a phrase, and it's one of my favorites, "What you lack in talent you can make up for in willpower and discipline." I had the will to become a good cook and the discipline to practice....that's all.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Eat Less, or Eat Better. Pick One or Both

We all know how to lose less. I know the "experts" say to eat less and exercise more, but I don't agree with the last part. Sure you have to exercise but you can't "out-snatch a doughnut", and you shouldn't "use" exercise to try to balance out those binges...but that's a different blogpost. The point of this blogpost is that your current bodyweight is supported by the amount of calories you eat. It's not a mystery. To lower the weight of your body you need to change the amount of calories you are eating. You need to eat less, but how about different? Can you eat more "better" foods and still lose weight?

Are the calories in a bowl of oatmeal better than the calories in a bagel? Are the calories in a bagel better than the calories in a cupcake? Nutritionally some foods are "better" than others, of course.

"Better" more nutritious foods are usually lower in calories so it stands to reason that you can, in fact, eat more of them.....But at the end of the day it's calories in, calories out. Pure science. You can still overeat "better" foods and not lose bodyweight.

You would think that I would be used to the amounts, and the kinds of foods that are so readily available, but everyday I'm amazed at the abundance. You can't drive 1 mile without passing a dozen markets, bakeries, fast food, ice cream/frozen yogurt places. You can't go into a market without being assaulted by shelves of candy or seasonal treats the moment you step in the door or stand next to the cashier. And to be honest, I'm tempted, practically everyday, to buy and eat things I would never normally even think about if they weren't everywhere, God forbid they go "on sale".

All I can say is that it's a good thing I always have "better" food at home, and 99% of the time it's ready for me to just come home and serve it up....coming home to get it is the key! If I'm going to be away from home for an extended period I pack some snacks with me, a piece of fruit, some nuts, lately a couple of slices of meatloaf, but sometimes I let myself be away from home longer than I planned thinking I can wait.....but when you get hungry......

It would be so easy to buy something. (I actually had to quit practicing at one particular yoga studio because it was next to a Subway and the smell of fresh bread at noontime was way too
distracting.) It's rare that I cave in, but I do find myself seriously debating it in my head. If I didn't have good food at home I'm not sure I could resist to be honest. That's why it doesn't surprise me that most people don't. Most people don't give themselves the option of better food.

Calories add up fast and if given the choice of 1/2 cup Hagen Daaz to 2 c yogurt with a tablespoon of brown sugar, I'd chose the yogurt. (Of course I could never eat only 1/2 ice cream...that's just impossible.....) Most often I choose more nutritious foods that are less calorie dense, but lately I haven't been motivated to eat less calories overall. So in the mean time I'll keep eating well and when I can eat less I will.

You can't fool yourself into thinking you can overeat just because a food or meal is "healthy". Take a salad for instance....rule of thumb.....measure out the salad dressing first (up to 200-250 cal), then the protein (3-4 oz = 150-200 cal) and add as many veggies as you can while keeping the flavor of the salad enjoyable. Once you start to add more are overeating! But a larger salad is way "better" than a cheeseburger and fries (around 600 cal), especially if you don't make either of them yourself.

Eat less when you can, if you want to weigh less. Know the calorie content of the foods you eat to make educated decisions, whether you are eating a bowl of oats or a cupcake. Extra bodyweight doesn't "just happen".

Strength, Speed, Endurance

Strength, speed, endurance....pick one! Sometimes you can pick a couple, or all three, but not every workout, nor do you need to.

Tuesday morning I lead an hour long class and I do make most of that hour challenging for myself. Personally I like to "warm up" so I usually swing light (light for me) for the first 10-15 minutes before I scale up and make the workload more appropriate. Normally after class I keep training for another 30 minutes but lately Mark and I have been training Max and yesterday he let me know that 60 sets were on the schedule this week.....hmmnn....that's 30 minutes of serious cardio endurance.

I've been going heavier in previous weeks using the 16kg for 5's and the 14g for 7's but I just wasn't feelin' the heavier bells yesterday. Straight up 15/15 Max w/12kg is not really a challenge so I thought about adding swings into the rest period (work into rest for those of you that know my method of training that), but to be honest I had done enough swings earlier (I can't believe I just said that, lol).

Traditional Max for me would be 8 reps per 15 sec, but I wasn't feelin' like going that fast....

How could I make 7's with the 12kg challenging? I know, do two 15 sec sets back to back (switching hands) and take only one 15 sec rest period. Perfect. The best part was that I didn't have to keep track set by set and the time flew by like crazy! Max can get plenty boring after 40 sets....

10 sets of 7 reps (5 R, 5 L) 15/15
32 sets of 7/7, 30/15

518 snatches, 29 min.

Mark snatches at an 8 rep pace although he was training 7 reps yesterday, so it was a bit of a challenge for me to keep up with him....I love being in sync when we train.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tracyrif"s "3 x 3" Swing Workout

Here is, in it's entirety, my latest workout I've titled "3 x 3" Because every rotation includes 3 sets of 10 reps, and 3 sets of 40 reps. There are a total of 150 swing reps per rotation.

Depending on how much rest you take between sets and between rotations will determine the level of cardio endurance required. The first two rotations are what I would consider a Beginning level, the last two I would consider an Intermediate level. I posted the advanced a couple of days ago which I demonstrated the shortest rest periods (rotaion #4, all 15 sec) and with a heavier bell.

You could do all of this workout with two hand swings, but I don't consider a set of 40 2 hd swing reps a "beginning" level....40 continuous two hand swings is hard! Another way to change this workout for a beginner/inter is to do all 10 reps swing sets at the beginning of each rotation with 2 hds, heavier bell or not.

"3 x 3"

rotation #1

10 2 hd sw x 3 sets (15/15)
40 tr x 3 sets (1 min/1 min)

150 swings 7.5 min

rotation #2

10 tr x 3 sets (15/15) (or 10 2 hd sw)
1 / 2 swing ladder x 4 x 3 sets (1 min/45 sec)

150 swings 6 min. 45 sec.

rotation #3

1 /2 sw ld x 3 sets (15/15) (or 10 2 hd sw)
5/5 x 4 x 3 sets (1 min/30 sec)

150 swings 6 min.

rotation #4

5/5 x 3 sets (15/15 (or 10 2 hd sw)
40 2 hd sw x 3 sets (1 min/15 sec)

150 swings 5.25 min

600 swings, 25.5 min

These 4 videos demonstrate the complet 25.5 minute workout, so essentially it's a free class! Enjoy!

Monday, October 3, 2011

You May, or You May Never Lose weight....

.....but you do have to exercise. You have to get in the habit of moving your body in some way, shape or form. Let's forget body weight for a minute.....

#1 regular exercise makes you stronger for just about every part of your everyday life no matter what you weigh, how old you are, or how deconditioned you've let yourself get. I'm not talking about getting "weightlifting" strong, I'm talking about not getting winded by walking up a flight of stairs. Forget about running a marathon, how about getting up off of the floor?

#2 regular exercise may be what motivates you to start eating less, or eating better by reconnecting you with your body. It becomes more clear when you start to exercise that it doesn't feel nice when your body feels heavy, and it doesn't feel nice when your body feels weak....this is why we avoid exercise in the first place.

#3 regular exercise changes you physically. Even if you don't see it right away, you feel it. You will eventually see it, but not if you quit, and for sure if you never start. Moving our bodies makes our muscles work, which in turn activates our muscle giving our muscles shape. No muscle, no shape = blob. Big blob, or small blob, no one wants to be a blob.

During these last 3 years my bodyweight has fluctuated as much as 20 lbs. Twenty pounds, although ridiculously nothing compared to 120lbs, is quite a bit of weight. It's enough bodyweight to take you up a clothing size. No matter what you weigh, going up a size and not fitting into your clothes sucks. Regular exercise helps you to "live in your body", it can help to stop 20lbs from turning into so much more.

The hardest part of being heavier for me was my Bikram's yoga practice. It sucked having to squeeze into Lycra tights that had become too small, physically and mentally. Losing parts of my practice because my thighs had become too large to wrap around eachother or getting more winded from having to move more bodymass around in the extreme heat was a little depressing too. Even feeling as if everybody in class could see I had gained weight and was judging me. But I kept going, I never quit. I wanted to run away, I wanted to hide, but what would be my excuse? To be honest
I think I didn't quit because it had become so much a part of my life it was not a choice, it's what I did.

You have to schedule in some sort of exercise. I know it seems hard, we are all so busy, everyone of us. And maybe we all do it in our own time, and maybe we have to experience our bodies failing in some way....I did. So I'm not here judging. I should have done it myself a long time ago!

Don't wait for something to go wrong. Don't wait to lose weight. You can start moving your body now, just pick something, anything, and do it consistently until you start feeling will start feeling better. Start to change your life right now, it's changing whether you want it to or not anyway. You can chose to get weaker, sicker and older.....or stronger, healthier and feel more alive and younger than ever before, even if you never weigh 125lbs!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Checking My Ego at the Door, and "Tracyrif's 3 x 3 Swing workout"

I always expect that I will be able to do any of the crazy ass kettlebell workouts that I come up with for myself...doesn't the phrase go, "whatever your mind can conceive and believe it can acheive"...well whoever said that has never done one of my workouts, and today I had to check my ego at the door!

I started out the morning with 600 swings in 25 min with my Intermediate class (only one brave person this morning!), and a few swing/snatch combinations to finish out the first 45 minutes. Then it was time for my own personal workout....if you ever wnat to know what I do for my own personal workout then here it is......

Starting out with 12kg snatches while the hands are fresh.....

I paced this workout "per 15 second intervals" The goal of the warm up was to get to 1 minute snatch sets with no hand switch at a Max Vo2 pace! Starting with:

8/8 x 1 (8 reps R, 15 sec rest, 8 snatch L, 15 sec rest)

16/16 (16 reps R, 30/30 sec work/rest, 16 snatch L, 30/30 work/ rest)

24/24 (24 snatch R, 45/30 sec work/rest, 24 snatch L, 45/30 work/rest)

set #1, 32/32 (32 snatch R, 1 min/30 sec work/rest, 32 snatch L, 1 min/30 work rest)

The plan was to repeat this last set, which was 1 min long, six times on both right and left hands....that was the plan....this is what actually happened....

sets # 2, 31/31 (8/8/8/7, reps per 15 sec)

sets #3, 30/30 (8/8/7/7,
reps er 15 sec)

sets #4, 29/29 (8/7/7/7,
reps per 15 sec)

sets #5, 27/27 (7/7/7/6,
reps per 15 sec)

sets # 6, 26/26 (7/7/6/6,
reps per 15 sec)

Good God! the last 3 sets on my right hand side hit the floor straight down after the last snatch...grip was gone and I had to really dig deep....but I did it! So much for 6 sets of 32/32! I knew during the second 1 minute snatch sets that I would have to give in and check my ego at the door!

So this was the first 30 minutes of my own workout, on to the next 15 minutes. Meg and I trained "I go, you go" style w/two 12kg's

1-5 short cycle dbl press
5-1 long cyle dbl press

1-5 short cycle dbl push press
5-1 long cycle dbl pu press

1-5 short cycle dbl jerk
5-1 long cycle dbl jerk

much to my delight this took about 15 minutes as I knew how I wanted to finish the workout....the same way I started the morning only much, much harder!

Tracyrif's 3 x 3 swing workout

I love my new workout! I call it "3 x 3". It consists of 3 sets of 10 reps and 3 sets of 40 reps, which equal 150 swing reps! Two rotations = 300 swing reps. You can scale it in three differnt ways. #1, rest periods, #2 bell weight, and #3 one hand or two had swings. I will post video of all levels, but here is the super advanced! All swings are 2 handed and with a heavier bell (Meg and I used the 16kg)

This workout is based on my "progressive rest period" workout I posted in August, after I came home from Hungary, in which the rest periods increase as the full rotation progresses.

10 2 hd swings x 3 (15/15)
40 2 hd swings, 1 min work, 15 sec rest
40 2 hd swings, 1 min work, 30 sec rest
40 2 hd swings 1 min work, 45 sec rest

150 swings, 6 min.

repeat with

10 2 hd swings x 3 (15/15)
40 2 hd swings, 1 min work, 15 sec rest
40 2 hd swings, 1 min work, 30 sec rest
40 2 hd swings 1 min work, 45 sec rest

total 300 swings, 12 min.

Each rotation has 150 swings....I love this workout! I will post the Beginner and Intermediate version tomorrow. (video is coming...)

So, there you go! You want to know what my own personal workouts are like....there it is. A solid 60 minutes of snatches, cleans/presses and swings. Life is good!