Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Ten" for all you Snatchaholics!

You all know how few snatch workouts I post and the reason is the same as why I don't teach the snatch until my students put in the "groundwork", the "foundation" training which is?  The swing of course!  The snatch is just a big ole swing....with alot more technique!  If you don't have the foundation, the support, of the swing you cannot expect to build the "roof of the swing"...the snatch.

This blogpost is not about how to learn the snatch, although that may come someday, it's a basic workout, some may call it boring!  But it's the boring stuff that athletes are made of! At least that's what I think!

Only two sets alternated as many times as you can stand!  A few weeks ago I posted a snatch workout that I did when I had a very short amount of time but wanted to get in as many reps as I could, without practicing Max, or a Max based workout.  I chose to snatch 10/10 (R/L) starting every work set "on the minute".  It took about 40 seconds to snatch 20 reps (10/10) leaving me with 20 seconds rest.  Two to one work/rest ratio.  Here I use it again, but alternate with a slower and longer paced set with the same amount of reps.  I loved it!  So much so that I already have the two variations I will be practicing the rest of next week.  Go ahead and train it and I'll lead you through the other two!'s similar to the "Ten" swing workout I just posted....gee, funny how that works out, lol!

workset #1

10/10 paced inside of 1 min.  30 sec rest

workset #2

10/10 fast paced, work and rest inside of 1 minute. (40 sec/20 sec)

It takes 2.5 minutes to complete both sets.  Alternate both sets as many times as you want, or need, the workout to last.  80 snatch reps per 5 minutes.  In this workout I prescribe alternating these two sets 10 times each = 25 minutes 400 snatches. Wow!  A quick workout huh?

30 min = 11 sets each, 480 sn
35 min = 12 sets each, 560 sn
40 min = 13 sets each, 640 sn

just sayin'

Friday, March 30, 2012

Saturday "Turnip Fest" postponed!

Out of my favorite seven days of the week Saturday tops the list!  Saturday is by far my longest and hardest training day, and what not to love about long and hard training? And afterwards the rewards of the, eating and relaxing (wine, lol).  Saturday is the day I take off from eating my regular weekday meals (which I love by the way), but the real treat is cooking, not eating!

It was my intention to have a turnip fest tomorrow!  I got so many great ideas on how to cook and prepare turnips that I was going to try a few, not one or two, but a few, ways of preparing them.  But I've got too much food already in my fridge!  And still more veggies that need attending to before I start to cook more.

It's fine, in fact it's more than fine!  I'll get creative and "clean" out and cook what needs attention and then I'll be set for the first part of next week.  I don't even need to roast a chicken!  What's up with that?  But when I do, it's pan roasted turnips and root veggies alongside!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Beginner / Intermediate Swing Routine "Ten" (under 20 minutes)

Ten at a time...two swing combinations only, 10 reps done with a 2 hand swing, and 10 R/ 10 L one hand swings (20 rep set).  This workout is designed to use only one bell, although in the video I use two I explain why.  "Ten" has two rotations, the second slightly more difficult in length of work sets but the total rep counts are the same, as are the rest periods.  In other words both variations are "equal work to equal rest".

I suggest repeating only the first rotation twice if you have only been practicing the swing for less that 2-3 months (consisently!), and then when you are ready to move onto 1 minute + work sets, train the second rotation.

But really the bottom line is even if you consider yourself at an advanced level, especially if you consider yourself at an advanced level, you should still be able to use this template with the appropriate bell, rest intervals, and technique, to make this an advanced routine....I did!

1st rotation

10 2 hd sw (15/15 = 30 sec)
10 R / 10 L one hand sw (30/30 = 1 min)

10 2 hd sw x 2 (15/15 x 2 = 1 min)
10 R / 10 L one hand sw x 2 (30/30 x 2 = 2 min)

10 2 hd sw x 3 (15/15 x 3 = 1.5 min)
10 R / 10 L one hand sw x 3 (30/30 x 3 = 3 min)

180 total swings 9 minutes per rotation

2nd rotation

10 2 hd sw (15/15)
10 R / 10 L one hand sw (30/30)

10 2 hd sw x 2 (15/15 x 2 = 1 min) OR 20 2 hd sw x 1 (30/30 = 1 min)
10 R / 10 L / 10 R / 10 L one hand sw (40 reps, 1 min/1 min)

10 2 hd sw x 3 (15/15 x 3 = 1.5 min) OR 30 2 hd sw (45 sec/45 sec)
10 R / 10 L, /10 R / 10 L, / 10 R / 10 L one hand sw (60 reps! 1.5 min/1.5 min)

180 total swings 9 minutes per rotation

Advanced super secret variation!

10 2 hd sw x 1
10/10 x 2 1 hd sw x 1 (40 reps 1 min work, 30 sec rest)
10 2 hd sw x 2
10/10 x 4 1 hd sw x 1 (80 reps 2 min work, 1 min rest)
10 2 hd sw x 3
10/10 x 6 x 1 (120 reps 3 min work/1.5 min rest)
10 2 hd sw x 4
10/10 x 8 1 hd sw x 1 (160 reps 4 min work/2 min rest)
super duper variation
10 2 hd sw x 5
10/10 x 10 1 hd swing (200 reps, 5 min work)
750 swings 27.5 minutes

Oh, and don't forget to like my facebook fan page!  I posted another training tip this afternoon related to this workout!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Turnip "Crusted" Collard and Bacon Quitatta

Wow!  On my facebook fan page I posted the question of what to do with some turnips I got in my CSA box.....who knew so many people cook and eat turnips!  Seriously I have never once had anyone tell me "Oh yes, we had turnips last night."  Or "I brought leftover turnips for lunch"!

I got a ton of great cooking ideas for my turnips, and I'm actually excited to try them out this weekend, but I had one bunch of collard greens that never made it into soup this past week, so armed with some bacon I thought with the combination I could kill 2 birds with one quitatta! Since I've been in "Quitatta" mode I went ahead and used 3 of my 5 turnips as a "crust" for my last dish this morning by simple slicing them thinly on a mandoline and layering them on the bottom of my dish like scalloped potatoes.

Saute 4 oz bacon (600) in hot skillet, when crisp move to the side pour off all but 1 tbl fat and add
one bunch sliced scallions, or spring onions (white part) 2 min, add 1 bunch collard greens, sliced into thin strips and then cut across.  Saute until wilted, season with salt (and pepper), turn off heat and add the green part of scallions, thinly sliced.

Lightly (!) grease the bottom of your dish with bacon dripping (nice way of saying fat!) and layer 3 med turnips sliced thin on a mandoline on the bottom.

5-6 eggs (420) (beat lightly, optional), add
2 tbl cream (100)
2 tbl whole milk (20)
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese (85)

add egg mixture to veg and bacon saute.  pour into turnip lined dish bake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes until center is set and no longer wet or runny.  Personally I turn the oven off at 30 minutes and let it stay in the warm oven for about 10 minutes longer.

1265 calories of non veg ingredients

I can't say that I could really taste "turnip", although I'm not sure what that tastes like!  It's going to be a root vegetable kind of weekend though!  Can't wait!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"The Swing" facebook fan page

Just a reminder for my blog readers to please "like" my facebook fan page "The Swing".

I post something almost everyday, including short videos training tips to help improve your swing technique. Here is the latest one I posted today. Thanks guys!

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Intention", not Perfection!

Over the last few weeks my Bikram's practice has been at an all time low.  When you stop practicing anything regularly you have to expect that your skill is going to decrease to some level.  This can be hazardous to the ego!  So many times when we feel as if we've gotten really good at something, and then we let it go to S#!+, it's embarrassing!  If we let it be!

The longer you put something off the longer it gets put off!  How could one ever expect any improvement without practice.  We have all heard this phrase:

"Practice makes perfect."

But this didn't seem good enough, so then it became:

"Perfect practice makes perfect!"

No doubt it was a perfectionist that changed it!

So much emphasis on being perfect in our culture, in our families, inside ourselves....whew, I'm tired!

As I was getting ready to start my Bikram's class this morning I was worried that my practice was going to suck.  When I feel that way, as I have a few more times than I like to admit, I remind myself that I'm the one putting the pressure on myself.  No one else could give a care whether or not I can hold "standing bow pulling pose" for an entire minute!  I remind myself of the reason I'm there.  I'm there to "practice" getting into and holding the poses to the best of my ability that day, not to judge my poses as Olympic events!  What is the purpose of practice afterall?  The purpose of practice is for improvement towards ease.  For ease at the skill and strength of balance, stability and flexibility, and the improvement of ease into my meditation, my focus, and my relaxation.....and the stress of perfectionism is the opposite of ease!

It's not a competition, there is no finish line.  This week, next week, next year, the day I turn 85, I'm going to be practicing....God willing.  My intention is for improvement, not perfection. Physical improvement that day with the body and mind that shows up for my sport and skills.  Improvement everyday in my living conditions and relationships with my family, friends, people I meet and work with.....and even the people I share the road with, lol!

But let's not confuse intention with action to intention with NO action!  You have to show up!  Improvements in life, in yoga, in your training, any kind of training, depend on you showing up! But be easy with the judgements of having to be perfect.  At the end of the day there's another day waiting for us...if we are lucky!

Can you tell the difference of the three pictures above?  There is no difference!  In all three pictures my intention was the same, to do and be the best I could...and I was!

Calling all Kettlebell Athletes in the St. Paul Area!

Practically every year I get to travel to St Paul with Mark for some sort of RKC or Dragon door event and of course I have to train while I'm there.  Lucky me my BFF Fawn Friday let's me try and take a piece out of her "kettlebellers"!  Each year the group grows bigger and bigger and last time we had probably over 20 kettlebell athletes all swinging in unison at the Athlete Lab in Little Canada.

This year is only different because I'm having an informal book signing at the same time...well, after the swings of course!

I'm also going to be hosted by Linda Mertens RKC for a similar event in Plymouth on Friday morning at  Linda came to the Bay Area last year and after swinging with me and my "kettlebellers" let me drag her around the next day to a local track at 6:00am to walk with me, and a 1 hour Iyengar yoga class.  Here is Linda's facebook link with more information if you are in the area and would like to attend:

Here is the information about Saturday mornings swing class and book signing event hosted by Fawn Friday

Class will be at The Athlete Lab in Little Canada on Saturday April 14 at 9:15am. Cost will be $25. 
Tracy will post a Pay Pal link on her blog or website. Space is limited to about 30 people. Registration will be payment via pay pal. 

If you have any questions please feel free to comment, or get in touch with either Fawn or Linda directly.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Favorite Things

OK, I admit I'm ripping off Oprah....hey, if you have to rip someone off you might as well start at the top!

My favorite pie plate is a white Emile Henry pie plate.  I once owned three, one in white, green and red, but the white one is my favorite.  I love the color, or "non color"'s clean and bright.  And since I've been making a "quitatta" practically every day (ok, every single day, I made two this afternoon!) I've been using it a lot.  White plates and serving pieces look more professional in a way that I like, less fussy.  I purchased this brand of ovenware way back when I worked at a gourmet kitchen store, and only two of the three I bought have made "the cut" of my recent purges!  (the other I kept is the hunter green color).  Now that I'm using them everyday I could see wanting another, more current color, but I'll refrain!  "I have enough, in fact I have more than enough" (my mantra).

After work and my training this morning I stopped at the market to pick up a few supplies for my weekend cooking.  Since I knew I would be making a couple of quitattas I bought some goat cheese, asparagus, leeks and green garlic.  I also bought some of my favorite cottage cheese and yogurt.....long story short....I've stopped making my own yogurt because I was eating too much of it!  My favorite treat these days besides farro, peanut butter and raisins is, yogurt, lime juice and Grape-Nuts is the weekend after all!

Knudsen cottage cheese, full fat of course, and Straus Family plain yogurt, again, full fat.  I don't believe "fat" makes you fat, but my second choices are 2% "reduced" fat versions, rarely do I buy non fat....if you are fatter than you want to be it's not the extra 20 calories per serving of yogurt or cottage cheese you are eating that's making you fat!  (imo)

At the end of the day, preparing foods we love with the most amazing ingredients we can afford has nothing to do with what we serve it in....but do whatever makes you feel good!

Friday, March 23, 2012

What's all the excitement about?

I get so excited about what I do because it makes me feel good.  My training makes me feel good, and training with others by teaching and leading my classes, makes me feel good.  We all probably do some of the things we love more than we "need" to, because we feel good about ourselves when we do.  And isn't feeling good about ourselves the point?

It might be easy for me to say "Why doesn't everybody do it?"  (swing)  But I already know the answer.  It doesn't feel good to everybody else the way it feels good to me. (yet!)  I know that because it didn't always make me feel good!  I did not like having to do it when I started!  I did it begrudgingly and privately.  I did not want Mark to train me or coach me, I wanted to be left alone, by myself, in the garage to do this "silly" looking exercise.  I only did it because I knew I had to do something.

I was going to lose 100lbs, that I knew.  I also knew if I did not add in some weight resistance exercise I would be, well, I would not look as pretty as I wanted to.  Flat out, vanity.   Looking "pretty" is relative, it's about feeling pretty and if you don't like what you see in the mirror you don't feel pretty.

So I continued...but only because I didn't want to go to the gym!  I knew what I'd be getting, or not be getting, at the gym because  I had "been there, done that!", and I certainly didn't want to do it again.  In fact that's why I kept giving the kettlebell swing a chance!  A chance for what?  I didn't know, but it was better than the gym, and it was better than nothing.

Long story huh?

My point is that I now know more than I did before.  I know that training the swing can make visible changes and fast.  For me this training made visible changes I had never had before, ever.  I know that these visible physical changes motivated me to want more of the same.  I know that the more I got the more I wanted to keep!  And I know I'm not giving what I back what I got, and I don't have to.

But I also understand not everybody is where I'm at because I wasn't always here.  We all find our own way.  Many times it finds us through hearing the stories and experiences of others, and then sometimes it finds us in our own garage!  I can't do it for other people, I only I know what I know, and I feel what I feel, and that's exciting!

Monday, March 19, 2012


Years ago when I first subscribed to CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) I used to make quiche like it was going out of style!  I just couldn't keep up with the abundance of greens, and other veggies, in my weekly CSA box, and quiche is an excellent way of combining all kinds of veggies into one meal.  Quiche also fit into other criteria I have for convenience with the ability to do it ahead of time.  It keeps in the fridge for days and it can also be doubled, storing on in the freezer for another time (like that would ever happen around here, lol!).

I didn't make it for myself though, I made it for Mark because I learned to make quiche years ago from my best friend at the time Linda G.  Linda was an "old school" cook who grew up in a Greek kitchen with her grandmother.... a "full" cream, tons of butter and cheese, kind of cook!  Nothing wrong with moderation!  But all at once?  Well, at the time the only one in my house that could afford all those calories was Mark, lol!  Quiche is one of the best ways to use a ton of veggies...a ton!  How did I miss altering this dish as a main meal for myself?

Originally the quiche recipe I learned from Linda starts with sauteeing vegetables in 1 stick of butter...yep, a whole stick!  Add about 1/2-3/4 c full cream, along with a couple of eggs, and top it off with at least 1-2 c. shredded cheese (swiss usually for Mark).  I long ago abandoned the crust since we don't eat alot of flour or flour based foods.  With all that other stuff who needs a crust anyway (saves a ton of time too!)

A couple of weeks ago I found myself, again, in the situation of having a ton of veggies in the fridge...hmmnn.....   I started to wonder if I could make a version of quiche that was more "egg heavy" with less cream and cheese.  Viola...a cross between a quiche and a fritatta!  Qui-tatta!  A fritatta doesn't actually have any cream, it's basically an omelet that's not flipped over, instead it's finished by cooking in the the similarity of the two is vegies, eggs, and oven cooking.

Well, I've been making Quitatta like a crazy woman!  Everything from sausage, mushroom, and Brussels, to bacon, butternut, and radicchio, to onion spinach, and goat cheese....goat cheese is my latest!  Last night I made one with leeks, green garlic, scallions, mushrooms, asparagus, spinach and goat get the idea!

Basically you need a base of veggies.  To that you add some sort of cream, or creamy cheese.  At first I used 1/2 c.  full cream, I then experimented with 1 c cottage cheese instead, then I went on to try goat cheese.  I started out with about 3 oz. of goat cheese, but after doing a calorie count I realized I could get away with at least 5 oz...yummy!

To the cooked veggies and cream (or cheese) you add your eggs.  Your veg/cheese mixture must be somewhat cool before you add the eggs.  I've gotten into the habit of whipping my eggs first (thanks to Julie), but it's not have plenty of time to get "fancy smancy", for now make it easy!  I started out using 4 eggs, but now I use 5 or 6.

Here is another thing I love about this meal...if I wanted to eat the whole thing throughout the day I could!  I could eat an entire Quitatta!

2 tbl olive oil (200 cal)
2-6 cups veg (about 200 cal)

options, choose one, or two, adjust the serving size to fit into a 300-350 calorie range)

bacon (70 calories per 1/2 oz.  5 oz = 350 cal)
Italian sausage (1 link = 250-300 cal)
cream (50 calories per tbl.  8 tbl = 1/2 c = 400 cal)
1/2 and 1/2 (35 calories per 2 tbl.  1/2 c = 280 cal)
cottage cheese (100 cal per 1/2 c. 1 c = 200 cal)
goat cheese (70 calories per 1 ounce.  5 oz = 350 cal)

eggs = 70 calories per (4 eggs = 280, 5 eggs = 350, 6 eggs = 420 cal)

bake in 350 degree oven until center is "set", about 30-35 minutes.

The quitatta I made last night had 2 tbl oil (200), tons of veg (200), 5 oz goat cheese (350), 5 eggs (350) for a grand total of 1100 I said, I could eat the whole thing over the course of a day, if I wanted to, AND get all the nutrition, protein, fat, veg that I needed!  The only drawback for me...well a couple of them...the first is that I like it heated so it's not ideal for travel.  The second?  I've got to beat my family to it!

There really are no limits to what you can put in a quiche or "qui-tatta".  If you know the basics of cooking veggies you should know that hardier veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, may need to be blanched first (although if you cut them smaller I've never had to), other wise they may not cook all the way through in the oven.  I found cutting the butternut squash into small dice worked well, so I would suspect potatoes sliced thinly or diced small would be fine.  I don't eat potatoes, but I will definitely try making one with my favorite sweet potato!

Of course fresh herbs are a bonus, parsley, cilantro, thyme, sage, and/or fresh diced chilis or the green parts of scallions should be added after the saute, before the cream/cheese and eggs for a fresher and lighter taste. Also if you use bacon (measure it!), you can use the bacon grease left in the pan to saute veggies, no need for extra oil.

I believe that no foods are off limits, only the amounts!  Good,freah, real, ingredients are one of the keys to staying happy and satisfied with all of the food choices this life has to offer.  When you eat good foods within your body's "needs" and likes, I think that, ironically, those foods will become your "wants"!  When you make your own meals you control the calories, the nutrition, the quality, and the flavor!  Why would you ever want to eat out?  (you save a ton of $$ too!) of the trade, and salad on the go

Anyone that prepares salad meals on a regular basis can do it in a matter of minutes, especially when fresh ingredients are already washed and proteins cooked.  Tender greens, like most lettuce are not conducive to packing as they wilt and turn to mush soon after you add oil (fat) or acids (lemon, vinegar), and for that reason I love my "slaws", or cabbage salads.  Cabbage mixes can be shredded in advance and I've had mine last for 5-7 days easily.  Like all salads they should be dressed right before you eat them, but cabbage mixes will hold up longer, so much so that I often take them with me when I travel.

The best way to prepare shredded salad ingredients I suppose in in a food processor with a shredding attachment, but mine broke long ago so I use a mandoline (V-slicer) and various types similar. Originally I only used one, a V-slicer, but now I like my red cabbage shredded thinner, and the same with the carrot if I use it (requiring two additional types of slicers!)  Hey, I like what I like!  Good thing it only takes a few seconds, and really the only down side?  Having more dishes to wash!

Putting together your own dressing, when you practice, takes only a few minutes too.  In fact many times I make "single servings" that I leave unmixed to the side of a packed salad (see picture), or at the bottom of the container.  I mix everything up right before I eat my salad, that way nothing wilts during the 4-6 hours before I get to it. (another reason why I have so many measuring spoons on my counter at my fingertips!)

Last night I finished a ton of food prep, so this morning I have none of that to do as I have a busy week ahead.  I know once I leave the house this morning I won't be back until 2:00pm.  A cabbage salad is one meal that I know will last the whole morning until lunch, and I don't even have to refrigerate it for 4-6 hours if I keep it in a cool place.

I don't have access to a microwave so I had to pack other foods that don't require heating.  I'll take a container of chicken liver and mushroom pate and crackers.  I freeze the pate overnight so it will be perfectly thawed by lunchtime!  I don't think I will need more than that, an apple, PNB and celery w/raisins, prunes, almonds (measured) are common snacks I also might pack.

I'm rarely away from home without a fridge or microwave, but I'll always find a way around it.  Foods I don't make myself just aren't as appealing to me.  If I only made one meal a day myself, somehow packing and preparing a lunch makes me feel more confident and in charge of my life....but so does making all of my own meals...lucky me I don't have to choose only one!

Raw broccoli and cauliflower and kale take well to preparing ahead of time and when asparagus season gets here thinly sliced asparagus is on of my favs.

more on cabbage salad!

Friday, March 16, 2012

I Wasn't Born to Be Fat

In my book I write about how I thought for a very long time, most of my life, it was my genetics that determined why I was going to be fat, or "battle" with my weight forever, until the day I died.  It seemed as if I was fat the day I was born because I can't remember anything different.  My weight was something that was not my fault and I couldn't help.  There was nothing I could do to change it....or change it for long.  Of course I did lose weight numerous times, and yes I did gain it back.  But I don't believe that it was the "dieting" that set me up to gain the weight back, it was my own habits of overeating that made me gain it back.  Overeating, combined with the wrong foods, mostly convenient and processed foods, were in fact to blame.

I also remember overeating as a child.  I knew I ate more than my sisters or my friends, maybe even my parents, but I didn't know why, or think it was strange, I was just hungry!  Or so I thought.  As a young child I was not aware, consciously of my own emotional health, and I'm not going to go back over it as an adult now.  I can simply look back and yes, acknowledge that, in fact, I did overeat....for whatever reasons.

Imagine my surprise when I finally realized this was not my fate!  And it wasn't that long ago!  Even after I lost 120lbs I was unsure....  But everyday I kept feeling better and better, looking better and better, until finally I was convinced!  I wasn't born to be fat!  What a relief!  Not only was I not born to be fat, but I was given a second chance to be the athletic and fit person I always admired and wanted to be.

I'm not suffering in any way.  I do not feel like I'm sacrificing anything, especially food.  I'm not starving and I'm not restricting.  I don't overeat the way I used to, not even close, and I don't miss it at all.  What I would miss is the way I look and feel now, and I'm not going to be giving this up!  I wasn't born to be fat and I will not die fat.

I don't want to make it sound like being fat is the worst thing in the world, far from it, I'm only suggesting that it's not a life sentence.  It's not a sentence at all.  Just something that some of us experience.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"5 reps at a time" 20kg, 24kg, dbl 12kg, 28 kg, 32 kg swings

30 minutes of, what else?  Swings!  lol

6:15am  500 Swings, "5 at a time"

I am so freakin' happy I discovered this way of training 5 reps!  It all happened because I started with a 100 rep workout (never posted, sorry), that led the the next weeks' 50 rep workout....yep, then came "25", just in time for Xmas on the 25th!

Anyway, I would write a 5 rep workout to be progressively after a "single rep" (power swing), and a double rep workout (soon to come, no worries!).  Think about the difficulty not only of the really short work/rest intervals, but how many times you have to put the bell down and pick it up!  The difference between a 40 rep, 1 minute long continuous set and 8 sets of 5 reps is that you have to put the bell down and pick it up 8 x more!

Here it is....if you are at a beginning level use your "training weight", DO NOT use progressively heavier bells, and take as much rest as you need between each 20 sets of 5 reps.  Every set of 5 reps "starts on the 15 seconds".

20 sets of 5 reps w/20kg (5 min work/2 min rest)

20 sets of 5 reps w/24kg (5 min work/2 min rest)

20 sets of 5 reps w/two 12kg's (5 min work/2 min rest)

20 sets of 5 reps w/28kg (5 min work/2 min rest)

20 sets of 5 reps w/32kg (5 min work...done!)

Just came up with a great idea!  Use this video for an "I go, you go" workout!  After I do my set of 5 reps, then you do a set of 5 reps. much fun is that?

Before the Crack 'O Dawn....Soup's On!

Before I get into my workout I want to share what I did before my workout, before the crack o dawn!  I get up at 4:00am, and with daylight savings stealing an hour away from us last weekend, it's taken a little getting used to getting up at 3:00am!  Anyway, nowadays my training starts at 5:30am, in my garage gym, with a special client/training partner for 30 minutes, giving me only about 90 minutes to get my act together!  I didn't have time to roast my chickens but I did have time to get a batch of farro in my 4 qt PC and a big batch of blackeyed pea, lentil and sausage soup with cabbage in my 8 qt PC. The farro actually took 10 minutes longer to cook!  But the soup did have veg prep that took about 10-15 min. so they were both done around the same time?  About 45 minutes.

I posted on facebook this idea of a "mono diet".  A diet where you eat only one meal, all day long! I came up with this idea a few months ago because at the time I had three favorite meals that I ate everyday.  Each one I loved so much that I just couldn't seem to get enough of either one of them!  (all healthy of course!)  I thought that maybe if I ate 3-4 meals the same, switching them each day that maybe I'd grow out of my love for them and find something else!

Back to my soup....  I love my soup!  (I think it's the homemade stock)  I heated up a nice size bowl of it for lunch...and then another!  2 hours later I thought, you know what?  I think I'll have another bowl of soup!  So I did!  Now, at this point, with one meal left for the night...what should I have?  Well, it wouldn't kill me to have another bowl for sure, but is that weird?

To give you an idea of how yummy this soup is, I also have two of my other absolute favorite meals at the ready.... I think I'll save those for tomorrow!  Soup's on!

PS I'd include a picture, but you all have seen a bowl of soup before!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Don't Take it something about it!

Probably the most common statement I hear from people I talk with about wanting to start a regular exercise program is this,

"I know I need to (start to exercise), because I know I'm getting weaker."

I hear this from 28 year olds to, especially, people over 60.  My response is this,

"Of course you are!  Don't take it personally, everybody is!  UNLESS you are actively doing something about it, you are absolutely getting weaker!  If you are not actively doing something that improves your strength, and your cardio health, in addition to weaker you are getting older, sicker and fatter too."

What makes anybody think that they can get away with doing absolutely nothing to maintain health and fitness is craziness.  You must accept the fact that you have to do something, we all do.  What you chose to do is personal, but do something.  Unlike my blog post "Better than Nothing,", , let follow that last statement up with "safe".

On Monday I was in the Studio I work at doing my own training. At the same time there was an older couple working with one of the trainers, they come in regularly, maybe twice a week.  I'd guess they are closer to 70 than any other age....he had them doing "step-ups" as part of their "cross training program.  Step-ups are done on platforms in various heights from about 12 inches to maybe 3 ft.  Stepping up is one obstacle, but stepping down is quite another especially when you are 70 years old.  Sure enough, within a split second, the woman fell.  She didn't have the strength to finish one of the steps on the way up and her leg gave way and she fell on her knee.  The floor is carpeted concrete!  

She did manage after a few minutes to be helped up and she finished her training session.  But I was mortified at the lack of concern from her trainer.  He must not have parents that are that old, and his grandparents must be 'gone' already for him to not understand how careful elderly people need to be.  As we age one simple fall can take us down and we may never happens all the time.

This blogpost isn't about what other trainers do, in fact I really try and resist talking about things I see other trainers do and don't agree with, but to be honest since this just happened it had to be shared because I think it's that important.

The point of this post is that we all have to do something, starting with safe.  For the "average" unconditioned person whether it's due to overweight, age or simple inactivity, running isn't safe, bootcamps aren't safe, even an elipitcal trainer can be dangerous!

When I re-Certed a couple of years ago I had to work with a 60 something year old woman with a double hip replacement, (in fact Andrea Ducane's DVD Kettlebells for Boomers, she also talks about working with people with hip replacements) and I had this woman swinging before my time with her was up.  Going through the progressions of a proper hinge and some or all of the other drills I've learned through my RKC I was confident she was safe.

At the end of the day learning how to train kettlebells may or may not be for you, but know this, you have to do something!  Whoops, I mean you have to do something safe!  And preferably something that is also effective for your needs as well as your wants.  Learning something that has the potential to help you look and feel badass comes after that!  But why settle for only one of those things?  You can have it all!


I would have never ever stepped foot into my first Bikram's yoga class if I had not felt the confidence my swing training gave me!  Seriously!  The confidence of knowing I had the conditioning to survive the heat, and the confidence to put on some tights and a tank top after just barely losing 100lbs!  I currently have a 6 year regular practice....but nothing comes before my bells.

This morning I had to juice all of the oranges that keep coming in my weekly CSA.  I don't ever buy oranges or orange juice but I wasn't going to throw them away.  Somehow during my quest to minimalism I got rid of any kind of juicing apparatus except a juice reamer!  Do you know the strength I had to use to ream 5 cups of orange juice?  Good-ness!  I'm tired now just thinking about it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy Book Day!

Just had to say it!  Happy book day to me, happy book day to me, happy book day to me-e...happy book day to me!

Thank you all for your interest and support over the past few years.  Most of you know this, but I'll say it again...The Swing is about so much more than an exercise!  For some of us it can be the beginning, a chance to rip out the pages of all of those old chapters in our lives giving us all a chance to write a whole new story....and we are the heroes!

Of course a super big special thank you to Timothy Ferris for spreading the "secret" in The 4 - Hour Body".  Not just of the secret of kettlebell swing, but that the secret to creating the body you want, the body you dreams of is not as complicated as we all seem to make it.  One bell, one movement, one person....alone in my garage....

Monday, March 12, 2012

Make an Appointment with Your Best Body

I was lucky enough to take a long walk yesterday morning for almost an hour.  Lots of thoughts, of course, but one of the first things I started to think about, worry about, was how some of the people I've taught how to swing recently were going to manage on their own, without me, the cheerleader of the swing, leading them through a workout.  Would the experience of improved strength and fitness in less than two weeks be enough motivation?  Would visible muscle tone and shape be enough motivation?  Would the proof of how 20-30 minutes twice a week (even once a week) be enough for them to find that amount of time somewhere in their day?  And the final question....since I left kettlebells with them, would the convenience of needing only one piece of equipment be enough?

If all, or any, of those examples were not enough, then why not?  I think most people have good intentions, but intention without action is, well, just intention. You must schedule the action, work it into a regular time and day and NOT miss.  Consistency is key.  I haven't missed a workout in over 6 years.  I'm serious.  It's not that hard, in fact it's not hard at all once you commit to a regular day and time.

How many of us have vacation and sick days building up at work?  Why?  Because you are in the habit of going to work everyday, and unless you have a darn good reason not to go, you go...out of habit as much as, that's what's on the schedule (what else would we do?).  How many of us have other regular activities that we never miss because we've established the habit of doing it.  Most of us have a regular grocery shopping day, car wash day, or laundry day.  Some of us pay our bills on the same days of the week, the month.  What does it feel like when our schedules get "messed up"?  It doesn't feel right, does it?.  You have to schedule the habit of exercise, and not compromise until it's's your body, your health, your confidence, no one else is responsible for it.  Pick a day and a time and stick with.  Even if you cut the workout short, show up and swing 10 sets of 10 reps!

I train kettlebells Tuesdays 6am, Thursdays 5:30am, and Saturday mornings 6:45am, period. I train yoga on Monday, Wed, Fri, period.  It never changes unless I go out of town or some other unmovable appt interferes, and in that case I adjust to schedule it another day and time.  Most of the things I do in my life that are important to me are scheduled, including a regular "date night" with Mark.  We've spent every Saturday night together alone for years probably going on a decade now.  Ask anyone that has established the habit of exercise and they will be able to tell you the days and the times they workout.

Look at your schedule right now and book it!  Your best body is tapping it's toes waiting...don't be late!

So much good stuff about walking.  Actually propelling you body through time and space is not the same as jumping on a treadmill.  Opening your front door and stepping out with one foot in front of the other doesn't get dusty either, or take up space in your bedroom or garage!  Walking doesn't cost anything, it's free...well, so are treadmills that people don't use, get tired of facing the fact that they aren't exercising, and put them out on the curb with a "take me" sign!  lol

I love to take walks.  I don't do it as often as I want to or should, because it's not on the schedule!  But I try and take every chance to run errands on foot to the grocery or to get coffee, walk with clients or during phone consultations (a favorite), etc.  The very first exercise I committed to when I decided to lose weight was to walk every day....every day (6:00am before work).  It was the only exercise that was #1 safe enough to do at my heaviest (I didn't know about swinging kettlebells at the time), #2 easy and comfortable (reasonably), #3 allowed me to be alone and reconnect with my body in a private way.  It was my regular appointment with my body.  I love feeling my body work with every step, especially the contraction of my thigh muscles as I move forward....move forward...

What a metaphor.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Key?

Mark and I have been married 24 years, in fact we met on my 24th birthday!  Within 1 week we were engaged and married three months later.  These days it's not everyday you hear or know a couple that have been married that long....and are still happy, lol!

One of the other PT's at the studio we work at said to me, "It makes a difference when you are both fit, huh?"  Implying the key to our lasting relationship was because we had "fitness", or a "fit lifestyle" in common.  I was quick to remind her that it wasn't always so!  I spent most of our married years extremely overweight.

Mark never stopped loving me.  We're both lucky!

The Long Awaited....Power-FUL Swing Ladder Workout © And a video "tip" for beginners demonstrating a common mistake

Well, not exactly!  Here is a short routine you can use as a workout if you repeat it a couple, three times...but be warned, if you have never trained Power Swings before start with only one rotation!  Use it as the beginning / warm up to any other kind of kettlebell ballistic workout, and then if you want to do more another time, knock yourself out!  But, it's definitely worth putting it into your routine training....easy, (relative), and fast.

As I explain in the video I use this as an 8 minute warm up before we start our work sets in my swing class. The Power Swing reinforces proper hinge position, acceleration into the back stroke using the lats and arms to help load the glutes and hamstrings for a power-ful swing!

Each work set is 30 sec work/rest ratio.  However, always take the rest you need.

Tracyrif's PowerFUL Swing Ladder ©

8 power swings, waiting in the "park" position between each rep

7 pw sw, 2 sw
6 pw sw, 4 sw
5 pw sw, 6 sw
4 pw sw, 8 sw (I think I mess up a bit in this set)
3 pw sw, 10 sw
2 pw sw, 12 sw
1 pw sw, 14 sw

36 power swings

56 powerful swings!

Here's a short video demonstrating a common problem when initiating a power swing and when first learning the one hand swing.

In this video I demonstrate the problem of letting the bell pull you over and why it might happen.  It's a common mistake I see when teaching the one hand swing because the weight becomes much heavier when trying to move with only one hand.  The asymmetry of the one hand swing magnifies the weakness  of the back muscles (the back muscles hold your spine in place, your glute muscles stand you up)

A Super Day (my exact workout)

When I have a day like today (super great) it makes me realize that I have absolutely nothing to complain about, ever.  It helps when I start the day out with a super duper workout!  My morning was wide open and I got a lot of cooking done, some writing, some video taping, but it was my workout...

I'm not going to explain all the short hand, I'm simply going to write it as I would in my own personal journal.  I will preface this workout by sharing with you that I ended my Tuesday workout of 16kg power snatches and 16kg swings with 500 12kg snatches done in sets of 100.  Each set took about 4 min except the last and longest took an extra 45 sec, or so, because that set also included 100 transfers!  This is the workout that inspired todays snatch routine.

Tuesday 3/6
10/10 x 5 x 2 (200)
5/5 x 10 x 2 (200)
1/1 x 50 x 1 (100) this was tough, and long, and I knew it would be...especially since it was the last set in an already long workout.

I'm not going to say that the 12kg is "easy" for  me to snatch, because it all depends on where in my workout I train them!  Let's just say that if I were only training 12kg snatches it would not be a problem for me to do 800 reps within an hour.  In fact Meg and I did 500 in 25 min. a couple of Saturdays ago, and as I just wrote down how I did 500 in 30 min. of them to end my workout a couple of days ago.  Anyway, this workout would be nearly impossible to do with the the end of the workout for sure, and certainly not twice in the same week (unless I gave up my swing workouts....which I'm not going to do, lol)

This morning I started out with swings.

12kg swings (a classic "100")
10 2 hd sw x 2 (warm up)

10 tr x 4
4 sw ld (40 reps)
10 tr x 3
3 sw ld (30 reps)
10 tr x 2
2 sw ld (20 reps)
10 tr
10 2 hd sw
220 reps

16kg swings
20 2 hd sw x 11
10 2 hd sw x 10
320 reps

warm up snatch w/12kg
1 sw, 1 sn, 1 tr x 6 x 2
10/10 x 5 = 100 reps

here is where I switched to the 14kg
25/25 x 2 x 1 = 100
2 min rest
10/10 x 5 x 1 = 100 reps
3 min rest
5/5 x 10 x 1 = 100 reps
4 min rest
2/2 x 50 x 1 = 100 reps (I knew better than to do them 1 at a time!)
500 snatch reps and a whole lotta transfer swings! (not including warmup)

Since I was working the "100" theme I decided to do 5 sets of 100 swings in the same way I did the snatches. 2.5 min work, 1 min rest w/14kg
25 R, 25 L x 2 = 100
10 R, 10 L x 5 = 100
5 R, 5 L x 10 = 100
1 sw, 1 tr x 50 = 100

did I only do 4 sets?  I thought I did 5...hmmnn, I'll have to check with my training partner....

What I do know is that normally I would have ended it with a set of 100 2 hd swings...but not today!

Oh, and I did a couple of power swing videos (next post)

So there you go, my exact workout.  1440 reps.  220 12kg swings, 100 12kg snatches, 400 14kg swings, 400 14kg snatches, 320 16kg swings. (not in that order).

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What's inside of you?

I decided to attend my first RKC in April 2006 after just the year before, losing 120lbs because I wanted to have the experience of training for three days straight (with the "big boys" lol), not because I saw myself becoming a teacher or Instructor  I knew a really great teacher and Instructor (I was married to him) so my measure of a professional, one that gets paid, was pretty high!  I just thought that because I had such incredible results from training the swing that it would be nice to learn how to teach friends and family close to me....and that's what I did. I continued to do my own training of course and then a few months later I started my first blog.  I wasn't until January 2009 that I really, officially, hung my hat out as an Instructor of my method of training the kettlebell swing.

I teach how to use the kettlebell swing, and only the swing, as an entire workout.  I do not teach any other kettlebell skill until a student has demonstrated and trained this most important first movement.  Personally I wouldn't teach any other skill if I didn't have to because no other movement is as effective at doing exactly what most people , including myself, want, increase muscle tone, fat loss, and strength, than the swing.  But in addition to all of that goodness, my swing classes and routines are so much dang fun I could do it all day everyday!

Maybe all of that other stuff is fun too, but because my background is that of being overweight I was never attracted to weighted movements that made me feel heavy.  The Get up would be the first example, but also the strict grinds of the squat and press would follow closely behind.  Back in "the day"  there were Renegade Rows and Bear might as well shoot me!  Those exercises may be great at some point for some people but at the end of the day in addition to the benefits I listed earlier, no other movement delivers what the swing does....confidence and success!

Oh yes....confidence and success!  Those two things have recently been replaced with two words commonly heard to describe my training and that of my students...."bad ass"!  Now I realize that some people would be turned off if they were called "bad ass", it's not for everybody. But it is for me, I like it!  I always say the training the kettlebell swing brought out my inner athlete, but it also brought out my inner bad ass!  It never occurred to me how much of my true self was trapped inside...not "trapped" necessarily, but maybe, simply unrealized.

Sometimes I think that I'm a completely different person that I was most of my life, but I know better.  I'm the same person, only my best version and getting better all the time.  There is so much more inside of me I can't wait to see what shows up next!  What's inside of you?  Or if you've already discovered how transformative training kettlebells can be what's the biggest change or impact it's made on your life?

Pictures above.  Me at my first RKC swinging an 8kg!  I think I've built a little more strength and muscle tone since then!  Whatcha think?

Friday, March 2, 2012

"55" Happy Birthday Sweetie

It's not hard to figure out I like designing workouts that go along with a theme.  A theme celebrates and provides the inspiration for a "goal" number.  In this case Mark's 55th birthday was yesterday, March 1st, and here is the workout I designed and trained especially for this occasion.

I've included a video intro explaining some of the things I like about this workout.  Although I would not suggest sets of swings past 40 reps (1 min) a "beginning" level, this workout only has 3 sets above 40 reps and gives plenty of rest...most of the time!  The rest periods provide much more relief in the second half of each rotation making the first half challenging for every level, so hang in there! In this short intro I also explain the one had swing ladders I use in this workout.  I'm not using my own one hand swing ladder combinations although they are another option....hmmnn...anyway, instead I use "traditional" one hand swing ladders which means as the worksets increase in rep count I only add a single one hand swing at a time before the transfer swing (you'll see).

FYI, in this variation I used only one bell in the first rotation and switched to a heavier bell for the 2 hd swings in the second rotation.  I posted both rotations if you want to train along.

This past Tuesday I used one heavy bell and trained it all with 2 hd swings....very, very challenging!  In fact I think that's the most difficult....but no need for the most difficult right off the bat, save it for another time...or not.

warm up

5 sets of 5 reps done "on the 15 sec" (25 reps)
1.25 min.

work sets (I'm waiting for video to upload and will post it as it becomes available)

5 2 hd sw(15)
10 reps, 10 tr (15/15)
15 2 hd sw (22.5/7.5)
20 reps, 1 sw/ 1 tr x 10 (30/30)
25 2 hd sw (37.5/22.5)
30 reps, 2 sw/1 tr x 10 (45/45)
35 2 hd sw (52.5/37.5)
40 reps, 3 sw/1tr x 10 (1 min/1min)
45 2 hd sw (1 min 7.5 sec/52.5 sec)
50 reps 4 sw/1 tr x 10 (1.25 min/45 sec)
55 2 hd sw (1 min 22.5 sec/37.5 sec)

14.25 min 330 swings


28.5 min. 660 swings

total 29.75 min 685 swings (including warm up)

You can always use this workout as a template only working sets up to 25, 35, or 45 reps....hey, I think I just came up with this weekends workouts!  Seriously, I think I will design on that ladders up each rotation...practice this one and I'll post the next over the weekend.  Shorter rotations leading up to the longest stuff!