Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Are You Ready for Twenty Fourteen?

Happy New Year everybody! Here is my newest swing workout based on the theme "twenty-fourteen".  It's also designed to fit into my "10 x 10 Project" because it's a routine you can progressively make more difficult as your conditioning and skills improve and I'll lead you through the options in the video!  (I also have them written down below for you to follow)

This workout uses 14 sets of 45 second intervals.  15 reps takes 22.5 sec., half of a 45 sec interval.  14 was close enough to 15, and in fact I like it better for a number of reasons....but you'll find out some of those later in the year!  I did a version of this workout in class this morning that was KILLER!  So much so that I think I'll lead my group through it once a month!

Here are the three progressions, each set starts every 45 seconds.


10 x 14 
140 reps total

This adds on 4 more sets, 3 extra min, 40% more swings, to your 10 x 10 workout! Enjoy, you earned it!


10 reps x 4 sets = 40 reps
14 reps x 10 sets = 140 reps
180 reps total

This adds 80% more work than our traditional 10 x 10 while still only taking an additional 3 minutes to complete!

#3  This is the workout I demonstrate in the video above!  But I talk you through the first two options.

10 reps x 4 sets
14 reps x 4 sets
20 x 1 set each (I got so excited during this last set and grossly miscounted!  I ended up doing 24 swings!)
201 reps total

Wow!  This is a super advanced conditioning level! But the good thing is that, eight of the work sets are less than equal work to rest, so if you can push it in those last 5 sets you can do 100% more work than before!

To make this workout a completely "equal work to rest" routine, simply do ALL sets of 15 reps "on the 45 sec" intervals.

The start of a New Year can itself be very motivating!  I hope to continue on with my "10 x 10 Project" swing workouts and other ways to improve our lives in ten ways, and/or ten days at a time!  In fact I'll start again today!  I'm going to research and share ten past blog posts that I wrote that have to so with motivation....geez, I hope I have ten!  (kidding)

Here's the first one:

Hope for the New Year (2007)

So much has happened to me in the last few weeks, in the last few days, I can only wonder what this next year holds for me. Two years ago today I was happy. My life was good. Yes, I was fat, but I never defined myself by my weight. I always felt that I was smart, talented, and had a good life. I enjoyed eating a lot of food and took responsibility for the results of that. In fact, besides being physically uncomfortable at times, I felt the biggest drawback of being so overweight was the judgement other people had about me because of my size. I felt invisible, not respected, and I did feel shame about my weight. 

Being Mark Reifkind's wife, many times I wanted to hide. Married to a personal trainer, and being so overweight, I remember asking Mark, when he would want to introduce me to a client or friend ," Did you tell them I'm fat? You need to tell them I'm fat, because I don't want them to be surprised." I felt bad for him because I didn't want my weight to be a reflection of him. After all, should the "Worlds Best Personal Trainer" have such a fat wife? 

I knew I had it in me to lose the weight and start exercising, I just didn't want to. Why? I don't even know the answer now. I think everyone knows how to lose weight. The question is why don't you want to? I, personally, don't think it matters why. You and I have the rest of our lives to try and figure that out, if we want to. It doesn't change the fact that 2+2=4. In other words, the fact is if you count your calories, eat less than you do now, and start some sort of exercise, you will lose weight. You don't need me to tell you that. 

Instead of scientific facts, what I want to offer is hope. Hope that you can recover from being overweight. Hope that you can recover from being out of shape. Hope that you can recover from being ashamed. Hope, so you can feel healthy, strong and proud. And that you can also come through it looking and feeling better than you ever have before. 

That's what training kettelbells has done for me. I tell everyone that my diet (food) changed the size of my body, but kettlebell training changed the composition of my body. And I wouldn't of believed it until I experienced it. Kettlebell training has given me hope. Hope that I can keep the weight off and feel and look great. Sometimes I think if I only would of known about KBs 10 years ago I might never have gained so much weight. I hope that you find the motivation this year, and if I can give you any, I will. If you have already found your motivation, like me, I hope you keep it going strong. 

And then again in 2010:


Are you ready for 2014?  Now is the time.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

10 x 10 One More Element of Power

In my Programming the Kettlebell Swing workshops (and dvd) I teach and demonstrate many ways to change the intensity of the movement to add more power.  The most obvious way is to increase the size / weight of the bell. The second way is to increase the number of continuous swing reps, and in my book The Swing I write about pace, as it applies to building strength and endurance to do those longer and longer work sets.  But what about keeping the reps at 10 per set, AND not changing the weight of the bell?  That's where speed kicks in.

In this video I pace you through 10 swings, done "on the minute", but slightly faster.  I call these Speed Swings, and it's a more advanced way of training, but we are not "training" yet.  We are practicing!  I decided to use this 10 x 10 practice to help you activate and engage the lat muscles as they are involved in the swing movement.  Since we've recently incorporated learning how to create and keep tension in our glutes, and our abs to build strength, here we add some consciousness and purpose to the lats. 

The lat muscles are the second largest muscles in our bodies (glutes are first), and are responsible for helping us move our arms down and back behind us (hike movement).  During our swing practice / workouts we are using our lats, especially in the very first rep, the part that I describe as "backing up the swing".  Enough talking, let's do some Speed Swings!  Enjoy!

Friday, December 27, 2013

What You See Depends On Where You Stand

What You See Depends On Where You Stand  (Mark Reifkind)

This last year I've practically given up on my 8 year Bikram's Yoga practice.  In fact, last Friday, my first class since Nov. 29th, 4 days before I left for Israel (Dec 2) I had convinced myself that I just couldn't take it anymore and I would have to find a new style of yoga, or maybe no yoga at all. Maybe it was time to go back to a martial art, if I could find a morning class.

I just couldn't believe that a practice I once trained 6-7 times a week for years had been whittled down to barely two painful practices a week, and only because I forced myself to go.  My once strong and beautiful front row practice, had found it's way to a permanent back row position.  I can honestly say that in the first 6 years I had never ever left the room during class, or had I ever sat out a posture, any posture, ever, it was that hardcore part of my personality that just wouldn't allow it.

My practice came crashing down last March, after suffering a hamstring injury at my SFG Instructor Certification.  At first I blamed training and practicing with double 16kg's all weekend as the culprit, but once I got back to some sort of yoga practice I realized that it was the yoga, not the kettlebells that was to blame.  Well, I was the one to blame!  It was my own laziness to let my left leg/knee hyperextend in some of the strength/balancing postures that was at the root.  Once I figured it out it was fine in the fact that with this new awareness I could start to rebuild those postures in the correct way, and actually get stronger, which I did for a while.  It was during these months that I had to check my ego at the door and modify many of the postures I used to be able to demonstrate strongly.  Greatly scaling back, sometimes, many times, to simply standing, contracting, and practicing creating tension and strength in my hamstring and quads at the same time.

Simultaneously menopause hit me like a ton of bricks.  Having hot flashes in a 104 degree humid room for 90 minutes left me feeling bitter at teachers that ran class late for even one extra minute because they like listening to their own voice so much, but especially if it was due to holding us in postures longer than prescribed (can anybody say Tuladandasana?  Balancing stick posture above).  3-5 minutes past and I was in the back row ready to explode with anger.  I know, I know! It sounds so dramatic, but that's what it felt like.  Every class felt like an inferno and I was pissed as hell to feel as if I was being brought down by this ridiculousness.  It was just yoga for God's sake.

So, last Friday I had pretty much made up my mind to quit completely.  I couldn't remember the last time I actually enjoyed or felt satisfied with my practice which is why I had already given notice last month for my auto pay membership to stop (this Sunday is the last day).  For the first time in 8 years I will not own a yoga practice membership anywhere.

Mark to the rescue.

Mark and I were talking about my training, the whole of it.  Where it was going, what was missing, how I was feeling about it, and we were talking about diet too.  Since I had started facebooking and blogging my food journal and wanting to put it out there to others that awareness and taking responsibility was the first step in moving towards the things you want in life, especially if you are wanting any kind of change.

It was Mark that made the connection that my attitude towards my yoga practice was what the problem was.  I had blamed it for some of my limitations, then I started to resent it, instead of seeing it for all of the good that it brought me for so so many years.  Ah ha!  Focus on the good! Again I was reminded that there was good to focus on.  In fact looking over my training for the past 4-5 months some of what was missing was what I got out of yoga.  Duh.  I was too busy feeling defeated, and focused on my limitations. 

Personally I was mad that I couldn't express my best practice, but I was, it was just a different kind of best.  Consistency....remember?What you see depends on where you stand.  I'm familiar with this practice.  I'm good at this practice, even when I'm not "good".  Much of this practice suits me and the rest?  Well, I can't help the rest and those parts don't matter anyway.  

Oh, one more thing....

For some crazy ass reason while I was away in Israel my hot flashes practically disappeared.  I still get "warm", but nothing even close to what it was like in the last 10 months.  I haven't had to turn a fan on at night since I returned home.  So, with the internal inferno dialed down, spending an hour and a half practicing hot yoga has become bearable again! By letting the anger and blame go I've got a new attitude to see farther than I did before.  Wow, and I'm liking the view!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sometimes you win, and other times you learn....learn to recover properly.

I've got to do some sort of major overhaul on my training or my programming.  I'm not going to get into the details, mostly because I don't know them! All I know is that my training this morning sucked ass.  And anybody that know me, knows that I'm not a negative talker, so let me rephrase....

This mornings training was not planned to go down the way it did, but I made some choices based on circumstances, not on proper recovery.

It was cold a HELL in the garage gym this morning.  Normally I'm fine with it because once we get going it's hardly noticeable.  I had a busy morning scheduled with a heavy swing workout and then a line up of private sessions that forced me to plan an afternoon GS practice of my own later in the day, allowing me to have some time between a short heavy workout, eat, then nap in the afternoon, then train again...which was fine except....

I did not think I "overdid" my heavy swing workout, and in fact I took the rest of the hour's workout to go easy, doing some light clean and presses, simply to warm up my shoulders.  Did some demo with my first session and then....my second cancelled, leaving me with 1 hour in the bitter cold, waiting for the next.  I went inside, heated up some coffee, thought about taking a shower, but an entire hour?  It was too much of a temptation to go back out and do my GS sets, freeing me later that day of trying to get the motivation to get back out in the gym at 4:00 (technically a time to wind down for the evening). Am I rambling?

Long story short.  Not good.  Not as planned.  The last thing I wanted to do, stone cold, was wet my shirt down and attempt three jerk sets I had not even come close to doing in months.  (the wet shirt was really the worst part)  I was in such a bad mood after such failure that by the time I got to my snatch set I just didn't care.  I wasn't feeling it, I was missing the insertion, the back of my right forearm was sore, and my hands were aching.  Wow, what a whiner, huh?  I did complete the prescribed 4 minutes R, but I just couldn't pull my head out of my ass and felt I had to put the bell down after only 1.5 min L.

Okay, day over.  Re-set.  Do it better next time. Forgive and forget.

These three sets were supposed to be 16rpm!  Um, not.  I knew going into the sets that my first goal was 2/2 min (32/32 x 3 sets), NOT r's pm, so for that I didn't stress, I was only concerned about time.  What I wasn't expecting is how bad it sucked.  That's just the reality of it.  I'm not saying that I sucked, only that today's sets, for whatever reason, were not successful.

#1 (29/25)

#2 (this was the worst in terms of technique, 25/20)

#3 (22/19)

Snatch (81/37)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

On the Tenth Day of Christmas Transformation....a Kettlebell, of course!

Was it ever a mystery that a kettlebell would be part of our transformation?  I'm not going to write a long post about it, only to remind you all, again, why my story is not one of weight loss, but of a true, inside out, complete transformation.

I found a couple more "before" pictures, and the one I'm posting today was not taken when I was at my heaviest.  It was taken in 1999, I was 36 years old, and I believe I was 220lbs at the time (a mere size 18!).  When I look at this picture I remember the emptiness and loneliness I felt inside.  To be honest as I look at this image of myself forcing a smile I don't see any life in this woman, no joy, no pride, only discomfort.  Who was she?  I should have been having the time of my young life, but that wasn't the case. 

My weight limited me in ways that I didn't notice too much in my everyday regular life, but away from home I was completely uncomfortable, embarrassed and sad.  Sad that I couldn't be me, I wasn't "me".  Sad that I couldn't experience or participate in some things, and instead feeling like I had to hide, or try to hide underneath large clothing and pretend that I didn't care, or that I didn't notice.  When I looked in the mirror I never recognized who or what I saw, and in fact many times it was hard for me to believe that was what I looked like.  I wasn't one of those people who after I lost the weight would ever say "I still see a fat person" because I never felt like a fat person, but I was, and I certainly looked like it. I was always running from the camera or tucking myself behind other people in photos, and that is a big reason why I have so few before pictures!  Seriously I wish I had a hundred, but I only have a handful.  The only ones I couldn't get away from were some of these vacation photos.  Okay, enough about that.

When I started my diet I knew I was going to lose the weight, and I knew I was going to lose 100lbs.  What I didn't know was that afterwards I would be more proud and in love with my body than I had ever imagined anybody could be.  We are told to love ourselves, of course, but what does that mean?  Does that mean to settle for less than we want because we think something else is not possible?  Does that mean to accept things about our lives we are too lazy or spoiled to change and embrace bad behaviors?

I never thought I could have muscle tone because I never had it, ever, in my life.  Not even when I was 20!  Why would I think I could have it when I was 40-something?  An athletic shapely body was not in my genetics.  Those body types/shapes belonged to the "lucky" ones.  What I failed to recognize was that those muscular and lean bodies are on athletic people!  And being able learn very skilled, but not difficult, athletic movements I saw my physical body come to life....for the very first time ever.   

I always say that if there was something better then I'd be doing it!  What I mean by that is, if there were some other "exercise" that I could do that combines strength, power, cardio endurance, cardio strength, lean muscle, along with the kind of confidence having all of those things brings, then I would be doing it, really, I would.  With very little commitment of time and money I completely transformed my physical body, and nothing else that I could have done, at that age and at my weight (at the time still 200lbs), I'm convinced, could have done it faster, if at all, ever.  AND if it weren't for the amazing results I earned through training kettlebells consistently I would have lost interest and given up, and who know where I would be today?  Maybe still blaming my genetics?

There is so much help for you right here on my blog and on my facebook page The Swing, and it's all free! Sure, I have some great DVD's and a great book, but really, the studies have been in. If one person can do it, then it can be done!  And once you know how that one person did it then what's holding you back?  Only you can answer that.

For the past ten days (or so) I've written and suggested a 10 things that helped to remind me of who I want to be (stay), who I really am underneath some lazy habits that aren't moving me in the direction I want to go, or move me as quickly as I'd like!  And that's all they are, lazy habits that I can turn around and change on a dime.  I won't be that woman that hides anymore.....wow, that is a big thing for me to remind myself of these days....(more about that another time)

I didn't come here to hide, I came to fly....
..I mean, I came to swing!  What about you?  Now is the time.

If you need to buy a kettlebell you will find a link in the side bar of this blog for Rogue brand kettlebells.  These are cast iron bells that are of the best quality, especially for the price.  In The Swing I explain the best way to choose a size and weight appropriate for you, but here is a short Youtube video I did right after my book was released:

I also happen to like the bells from GoFit.  They are plastic covered in different colors and you can find them on ebay or Amazon.  I'm also totally fine with bells fromTarget, although just as expensive, but you can drive down and buy one immediately, as opposed to ordering one.  The only thing you have to check for with Target bells is that the handle does NOT have a seam underneath, so grab hold and feel to make sure that it's smooth.

If you already own bells, then maybe for this 10th day of Transformation you can treat yourself to a size you don't own yet, OR get a second bell and try double bell movements!  A couple of my DVD workouts use a double bell option for more advanced training that is really really hard!  And when I say hard, I mean fun!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Day 9 Veg First; Tools of the Salad Making Trade

Winter time is probably not the best time to write about salads and raw vegetables!  Winter time is perfect for soups and stews.  Soups and stews require cooking, and cooking means heat!  When it's cold outside you definitely want something to warm you up.  But cooking also means food prep and waiting for that meal to actually cook!  Salads are fast and you don't have to wait.  Shred, slice, dice and julienne, dress and toss....done.  Once you get in the habit of making salads it becomes fast and easy.  I could not imagine my kitchen/cooking life without a shredder/slicer, also called a mandoline.

But the real reason I started eating salads was the amount of food, vegetables, that I could eat and stay well within a low calorie range.  It was the easiest decision in my life to make!  When I started my 100lb + weightloss I knew two things; I had to greatly lower my calories for fast results (and I wanted fast results!), and I still wanted to eat large servings and amounts of food.  Vegetables were my answer.  (Oh, and I started my weight loss diet in January, the middle of winter, with a salad for lunch every single day!)

I started scouring cookbooks for "main dish" salad recipes that had low, to no, complex carbs (grains, beans, pasta), and small amounts of simple carbs because I knew fruits, fresh or dried, and maybe a little bit of sweet in the dressing was tradeoff I felt I needed to make.  This is how I discovered "slaw's" and how I created my own lower calorie version of Curry Coleslaw (recipe in The Swing book and posted a ton on this and my former blog!).  I remember back when I only, barely, knew how to tear some iceberg lettuce, cut a couple of tomatoes and drown it all in thousand island dressing.  That was really the only salad I knew, seriously.  Now I live a salad wonderland!

I have so many salad recipes and ideas posted that linking them all up is not as easy as you doing a blog search for "salad".  So if you are interested please search this blog and my former blog "Living My Physical Potential", http://tracyrif.blogspot.com/  And I'd love to hear about your favorite recipe!  The guidelines are that it must be low in complex carbs and it must have a homemade dressing.  Maybe I'll do a contest after the first of the year!  I'll give away one of my favorite japanese Mandolines, or something similar!  (if I can find it!)

Tools of the Salad Making Trade

V-Slicer / Mandoline:  I own a Zyliss, but I think the company turned over to Swissmar http://www.amazon.com/Swissmar-Borner-V-1001-V-Slicer-Mandoline/dp/B0000632QE/ref=pd_sim_sbs_k_1  OXO also makes a good one.  And my last suggestion is if you have Asian or Japanese markets close to you, check out their stock.  They have inexpensive and good tools for vegetable slicing and shredding.

If you like using a Food Processor then great!  The shredding disk makes fast and easy salad prep, but a good one is usually expensive if you don't already own one

Large and/or multi size stainless steel salad bowls: I like the inexpensive professional kind that you find at restaurant supply or Asian markets, http://www.chefcentral.com/products/Stainless-Steel-Bowl%2C-5-Quart.html 

Vegetable Peeler:  Many times when I'm only making one salad serving I use a vegetable peeler to shred cabbage and carrots.  My favorite one; http://www.zappos.com/oxo-good-grips-swivel-peeler-black?ef_id=UVyUCQAAARZDMDWc:20131225022947:s

Carrot, Apple, Cinnamon Salad (picture above)

This salad was NOT a hit at my Christmas dinner!  But I decided to share it with you anyway because I like it!  Interestingly enough, the half of my family that did not like was the boys!  It seems as if the boys (including Mark) don't care for cinnamon (wth?)  I borrowed the idea from one of my newest closest friends, Liat, with whom we stayed with in Israel.  Her recipe was only shredded carrots, orange juice, cinnamon and a little bit of honey.  Her boys ate it just fine!  So I'm not sure where I went wrong, but it simply meant more left over for me!

equal amounts of:
carrot, shredded or grated
apple, julienned; a sweet variety and a tart variety if you like (I used Honeycrisp and Granny Smith)

2-4 tbl currants

juice and zest from one orange
juice from one lemon
1-2 tbl honey
1/2-1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

As I mentioned please do a blog search for more salad ideas and recipes.  Here is one about slicers I posted last year, http://tracysfoodandthought.blogspot.com/2012/03/saladtools-of-trade-and-salad-on-go.html, but I think it's time for a new slicer!  I found this one on amazon and after watching the video I think I've got to get it!

And it comes in colors!  http://www.amazon.com/Swissmar-Borner-Power-Mandoline-V-7000/dp/B003CN6Q1Y/ref=sr_1_2?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1387975296&sr=1-2&keywords=borner+power+slicer

Monday, December 23, 2013

10 x 10 Alternating bells, but not alternating tension!

Today's 10 x 10 is actually a 10 x 12!  This was taped during my own workout last Thursday morning.  I wanted to use it as an example because in this second round of my "10 x 10 Project" the focus is on strength and power, not interval training.  My own personal workouts are done using intervals and this one is no different, we are doing both.  So if you find your swings are slacking, intervals or no intervals then watch and read this post! We are swinging a super heavy weight (for us) and we are doing them equal work to rest intervals.  To explain, here's more of the story....

Since I started getting ready for my SFG last March, I added in a double 16kg and super heavy single bell bell workout once a week.  I programmed a 6 week cycle that ended about 10 days before my SFG weekend Certification.  Up until that time, yes, I had swung heavy single bells plenty, but with no real plan or purpose, but never double 16kg's more than a handful of times prior, I didn't have any reason to.  My own training is lighter and faster and higher reps.

After successfully earning my new SFG Instructor Certification that included choosing to take my snatch test with the 20kg instead of the 16kg (100 rep in 5 minutes!) I decided to keep cycling heavy swing workouts into my normal training.  That means that every 4-6 weeks I design progressively heavy swing workouts that increase in reps and decrease in rest. The first one of the cycle usually is about 450-500 reps in 30 min (100-150 reps short of equal work to rest which = 600 reps), adding in 20-40 more reps per week, sometimes increasing slightly above the 600 total reps in 30 min. Then we take a week or two off, replacing it with either a test of some sort (snatches), or maybe a trip to Croatia or Israel!  lol

Up until this last cycle we routinely used double 16kg's and the 32kg, on down to a single 16kg (28kg, 24kg, 20kg), but last week we incorporated the 36kg!  After reviewing the video from those sets I was not happy.  Yes, I did in fact swing the 36kg for 10 sets of 10, but it looked like it swung me more than I swing it!  Which is fine sometimes....it's a freaking heavy weight!  But it wasn't that heavy and the video showed my laziness.  Just because you can doesn't mean you should, and it certainly doesn't mean it'll look pretty!  The next week was going to be different!

I thought about alternating a single 16kg with the double 16kg's, and a single 16kg with the 32kg and 36kg. Why?  Because I wanted to find and practice a strong groove with a light bell.  A strong position of contraction and tension and hopefully use some muscle memory when I transitioned over to the heavy bell.  I do this with snatches often in my classes, but I had never thought to do this with swings!

In the video above you will see me and Brenda alternate a heavy bell with a lighter bell.  We have 5 bells lined up.  Furthest away is a 36kg, next a 16kg, 32kg, 16kg, 36kg.  This was only because we were short the other 32kg's so we had to share.  I believe we start with the lighter weights, find our strongest form and then try and translate it in our next set with the heavier bell.  Back to the lighter bell, then the heavy, etc..  It was my goal NOT to swing the heavy bells too high, it was to keep my glutes and abs as tight as I could for as long as I could with all the weights, not just the heavy ones.  Alternating the size of the bells, one that was lighter and easy for me to practice, to a much heavier one that wanted to "pull" me out of tension, helped me identify and strengthen the weaknesses.

So there you go!  You can practice effort and intensity with light bells, heavy bells, or both.  In fact you should be able to create the same amount of contraction/tension with any weight.  Homework?  If you are lucky enough to own two bells then try it out.  OR if you only have one bell try it using air swings, then the weight, it's the same idea.  And if you've got an extra minute for two more sets then please join us!  Enjoy!

Video below is our last set of 10 reps w/36kg the week before.  Can you tell a difference?  I can!

I now train 4 days a week.  My week starts with Tuesday, 30-40 minutes of moderate weights, mostly equal work to rest and slightly more (14kg).  Thursday mornings are my super heavy swing workouts, less than equal work to rest, cycling up in reps over a 4-6 week period.  Saturday is another moderate bell day and I only swing 30 minutes with my 8:30 class (14kg-16kg).  Sunday has been added and it's a super light, super high volume day (sometimes up to 100 + rep sets w/ 12kg/14kg)

Day 8 Toothbrush Analogy

Buy a new toothbrush!  There are many reasons why I chose to suggest buying a new toothbrush as part of our transformation.  First my "Toothbrush Analogy"  

A toothbrush is more than a toothbrush.  
I came up with this idea around summer time when many of my clients and students were going on vacation.  At first they all talked about whether or not they could take, or find a kettlebell or a trainer with kb's, to use while away.  It didn't take long for them to dismiss the idea due to the time and trouble to try and arrange it.  Then they would defend their choice to drop the idea altogether by saying something like, "Well, I will be on vacation after all!", as if being on vacation means that it's a valid excuse to forget about the maintenance of our health.  So I asked them if they were going to take their toothbrush!  Of course they were taking a toothbrush!  

But they were going on vacation!  Vacation means you don't have to be responsible for anything, right?  Why bother brushing your teeth?  Take it easy, relax, let yourself go....right?  Brushing our teeth is a huge part of maintaining good health and so is regular exercise.  If there comes a day when you don't feel like training, try not brushing your teeth either, see how good that feels! There is never a vacation from health, you are either moving towards it or moving away from it.

I'm not saying that you have to take or find a kettlebell while on vacation, but I am saying that going on vacation shouldn't mean that you let yourself go. If that's the case don't brush your teeth, wash your face, or take a shower.

Now that you will have a brand new fancy smancy toothbrush you may find it comes in handy more often than once day, first thing in the morning!  A couple of other ideas for using your new toothbrush:

#1 If or when you find yourself loitering in the kitchen pantry / refrigerator after dinner, bored and looking for something to nosh on, go brush your teeth and call it a night!  

Now that your teeth are nice and clean you just may feel that getting them dirty again eating something you really don't want to eat, especially something sweet and sugary, isn't worth it after all.

#2 If you find yourself wanting more to eat after you know you are full, or at the very least not hungry, calmly stop and go brush your teeth!  

Many times this can happen when we eat over-flavored foods.  By brushing our teeth and tongue we can clean away the sugar and salt, replacing it with a fresh minty taste.  The act of moving away from the food and towards good health, for our teeth and our body, feels much better and your mood can change dramatically in the right direction.

Let your new toothbrush remind you of the new you!  The new you that cares about how you feel and how you look.  We only get one set of teeth, and we only get one body, let's take make sure they both shine brightly!

Food journal.  I was so busy yesterday getting ready for hosting an early Xmas dinner that I pretty much let the journalling go.  I did a quick recap this morning for this picture deciding that I should at least write it down, listing the foods, letting go of measuring and counting for the day.  As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Mark has been getting some really good bottles of wine for Holiday gifts and I've been enjoying them a little too much, which is why Fri/Sat calories were just way too high.  I think I've decided the calories and hangover are not worth it so I'm moving on!  After last night's family celebration a ton of leftover cakes, pies, candy went straight into the trash!  I'm going to clean out the fridge/freezer of holiday crap later today, brush my teeth early and get ready for tomorrow's special Christmas Eve morning swing workout!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wild Card

You will have to excuse me taking the day off from another "day towards transformation" post.  What I have planned is a bit of a wild card lined up before the last two days leading up to Christmas. 

I have a big day tomorrow, Sunday.  I start my morning at 7:00am with 90 minutes of training with the girls first thing in the morning, followed with a couple of private sessions in the garage gym BEFORE having to #1 wrap my granddaughters presents, #2 put lights on the mini Christmas tree I promised she could decorate with me (she loves decorating!), and #3 preparing the traditional Prime Rib dinner scheduled for 3:00pm.

Having Thanksgiving dinner the Sunday before worked out so well I thought I would do the same with Christmas dinner.  That way nobody is stressed on the morning/day of the 25th.  Tonight, Saturday, is the day of the week Mark and I spend together, and we are sharing a couple of (really good) bottles of wine given to him as gifts from clients.  It's our way of celebrating, and I have to say that drinking a good bottle of wine is better than eating the entire "Kiffle Kitchen's Shoe Fly Pie" that my son brought home form work!

I haven't had a Christmas Tree in 8 years!  Ever since I adopted our first cats in 2004. The thought of having a real tree in the house with expensive ornaments, and the possibility of it all coming to a crashing end, isn't something that I've had the energy for.  My extensive Santa ornament collection has been packed away, not seeing the light of day for almost a decade.  And it will have to wait a bit longer.

I bought a tiny tree that I will string with lights in the morning.  I also have a handful of handmade felt Kitty ornaments and a homemade garland that Sophia can string around HER special tree.  I'm totally letting go of my ego and whatever she wants to do, wherever she want to hang her ornaments, will be up to her!  The good news is that this tiny tree has been in the house all day and not one of the cats has shown any interest!  That may change when the lights turn on!

Prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, roasted sweet potatoes / shitake mushrooms / haricot verts (green beans), carrot and apple salad, and what?  Nothing else.  For dessert?  Well, we have a Shoe Fly pie, various chocolates, fruitcakes, fudge, gingerbread loaves in the freezer.....am I forgetting anything?

Thank you all for your positive comments about my recent 10 x 10 workouts and my 10 x 10 days of Transformation.  I know that in these last days leading up to what is traditionally a time of completely falling victim to the obligations and abundance of the season it may feel easy to "vomit surrender". But I know that my commitment to writing about the ideas and thoughts of putting in place some of the things that remind me of who I am, who I want to be, what I want to really feel, no matter what time of year it is, has helped me tremendously.  The fruit cake in my fridge is still sitting there....although maybe not after tomorrow!

What's important to me is that in these past couple of weeks I've been able to live my life "business as usual", leaving "treats" for the weekends or not at all.  I hope you have found the same motivation, or at the very least more than you might have had on you own.  

One thing know; this is going to be the best Christmas ever!

Here are the last two days.  More explanation to come, but I've got things to do!  Averaging around 1700-1800 calories and it's not quite where I want to be.  But by journalling I can clearly see what needs to change.  Whether I want to make the changes is up to me.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The 7th day of Xmas Transformation Book List; "The Swing"

What would a transformation book list be without my own story, The Swing?  I've never really promoted my own book in the sense of hard sell. (which is why it wasn't on the 1st day!)  Maybe because I feel embarrassed about asking, or telling anybody what they should spend their money on, but The Swing is a damn good book!  If you can get through the second part of the book, that explains the hows and whys the kettlebell swing works so quickly and efficiently, and don't want to pick up a kettlebell, then I don't know what to tell you!  All too often I hear people that are overweight claim "I've tried everything!" to which I answer, "yeah, you've tried everything but eat right and exercise consistently"!  "Trying" has nothing to do with changing your overweight life to a normal weight life.  "Doing" is the key.

But The Swing is not about weightloss as much as it is about transformation.  How crazy is it that this formerly life long fat girl now has your attention? That this former fat girl is teaching you how to train the kettlebell swing?  That this former fat girl can look back on the last 8 years and say, with confidence, that it's never been a struggle, a fight, a burden, a drag, but instead it's been a joy.  I've replaced the idea of "maintenance" with a new idea, "permanence"!  I'm finally the person I knew I was, no longer acting out all the perceived wrongs of my childhood (well, most of the time, lol!).  Enough drama.  If you don't own The Swing then please consider getting a copy. If not for you, maybe someone you care about, or if you are a trainer I truly believe it's a book you should have in your library for clients.  It's the perfect substitute when you can't be there to answer all their questions and keep them motivated and excited to train with you again!

Another book that I highly recommend is "Mindless Eating" by Brian Wansick.  Sure, there are many good books on diet and exercise, but sometimes too much information paralyzes us.  Mindless eating has a simple approach; learn how the food industry and our own food scarcity mindset can trick us into eating much more than we may think we do....which is why food journalling is so important.  Educating ourselves about retail trickery helps us to identify how much unconscious eating we do based on "feelings", not facts (real hunger).  One of the points Michael Pollan makes in "Omnivores Dilemma" (another good book) is that the food industry doesn't care if we actually eat the food we buy, only that we buy it!  I just ordered another copy of Mindless Eating on tape to play in my car.  I loaned out the two hard copies I had but never made sure to get them back.

Here's the thing....as I just mentioned, we can paralyze ourselves with too much information.  I really and truly believe we already know, deep inside ourselves, the answers of how to get, achieve, and create the things we truly want in our lives, including how we want to feel.  We are not dummies.  Calories in, calories out.  Use muscle, don't use muscle.  Move toward our best health, move away from our best health.  We make the choices and there are no secrets.  If you can lose 1 pound then you can lose 100 lbs.  If one person can do it, then it can be done.

A blast from the past!  Here is a short video taken in 2009 when I got the chance to be on The Dr Oz Show promoting Tim Ferriss's NY Times best seller "The 4 Hour Body".

ps last year The Swing was released in paperback, but you can still find hardback copies at a great discount! http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00B2S4IKW/ref=tmm_hrd_new_olp_sr? ie=UTF8&condition=new&sr=&qid= The hardcopy is a grgeous book but the benefits of a paperback are that it's easier to keep open if you are following along with the written workouts....you decide. Thank you all for your interest and support.  I greatly appreciate it. 

pps  Although I think Ominvoire's Dilemma is a great book, and I do recommend it, I also feel that it can further induce too much paralyzing fear of the foods available in this country.  At the end of the day, organic, not organic, grass fed, hormone free, gmo free, seasonal, pasture raised, etc is for you, your conscious, and your budget to decide.  Me?  I chose not to live in fear.  I managed to lose over 100lbs never buying "organic" produce or grass fed beef and I became healthier than I had ever been in my life.  Preparing and cooking my own homemade foods and meals is most important to me.

No Bell? No Excuse! 10 x 10 Airswings

No Bell?  No Excuse, Let's Get Started!  Air swings (no work to rest ratio)

Air swings can be greatly underestimated!  If you don't believe me, then get up out of your chair and join me!  Even if you have a bell and have been swinging it, take this opportunity and try no bell for once!  It's also an easy way for you to teach a friend or family member when your at that Xmas get together and someone asks "Are you still 'doing those kettle balls'?  What is it that you do exactly?"  Cause you know it's going to come up!

I've also included, in this post, the last 4 10 x 10 (5 in total) that demonstrate how to start training the kettlebell swing without worrying about equal work to rest intervals, but instead focus on technique.  Or maybe you need a day to recover and the perfect 10 x 10 may simply take you on a quick walk around the neighborhood you live in or work at. Enjoy....but practice because there are more coming! 

Strength and Power (15 work/30 sec rest)

Glutes (no work to rest ratio)

Recovery, Take a Walk (20 min walk)

Abs (15 sec work 45 sec rest "I go, you go")

FYI, I post all new 10 x 10 workouts, every other day, on my Face Book page, "The Swing".

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sock Sleeves/ Gloves/ Hand Care. Over the hump and cruising into day 6.

Day 6, we are over the hump and starting to get, starting to feel, serious!  There may be many people around us choosing to lose control, and giving in to the holiday overeating smorgasbord, but we've decided to not play a part in it.  Nope, we've got a plan, and we are focused on other things, and just wait!  Instead we are putting things in place, and in the process staying true to who we really are, who we really want to be regardless of the chocolate fudge, gingerbread, fruitcake, and peppermint bark that surrounds us...or is that just me?

The one and only, single drawback I can think of about training kettlebells is the potential for beating up our hands.  This kind of "high volume" training can be murder on our poor paws.  Our hands are kind of important in order to hang on to the bell!  There is almost no way around the pain of callus build up, and maybe even blisters, without regular care.

Years ago I came up with a simple idea to relieve the pain of new callus formation on the palms of my hands from practicing so many kettlebell swing reps.  Here is my original blog post about the origination of the "Tracyrif Sock sleeve"


It's an article still included in the Strong First Girya Kettlebell Instructor Course Manual.  I'm also including a short Youtube video I posted last year about how I updated how I currently make and use the cut off tops of socks as a quick, inexpensive solution to those nasty "barnacles" that regular and consistent kettlebell training can produce.

BUT, I have to admit I've changed my tune about the use of gloves!  Way back in "the day" (2005) the use of gloves was looked down upon as kind of a pansy ass way of protecting hands. Having soft hands was looked upon as a kind of weakness. Other excuses were that gloves interrupted the kettlebells ability to pivot correctly in the hand, and that using them delayed feedback when performing kettlebell movements.  I'm over it, and I now suggest the use of gloves.

For most people the type of training that will be done is for basic strength, conditioning and overall improvement of fitness and health.  Some gloves are fine.  Also for some people their profession relies on their hands, and broken and bloody blisters are just not acceptable and would truly interrupt how they make a living.  You have to decide for yourself.  

One thing I do know from experience is that I could take care of my hands better, but I'm lazy.  Sloughing off dead skin and build up on a regular basis with the help of a pumice or file greatly reduces callus.  (if you chose not to wear gloves). Moisturizing after each treatment is also very important, especially if you use chalk.

As I talk about in the short video, I buy children's sock from a discount department store like Marshall's.  Children's socks are smaller and fit tighter, but they are also made of lesser quality materials because they are not made to last as long as adult socks.  I find Nike kids socks (boys dept) come in lots of fun colors as well as black and white.  Usually the cost about $1 a pair.  I know it can feel difficult to cut a brand new sock in two, but trust me, you'll get over it!  

Whoops, I almost forgot! This foot file available at Sally's Beauty Supply is one of THE best I've ever used (and considering I was a professional manicurist for over 25 years I think that's a pretty high recommendation!) It's great for your hands AND feet!  And it's cheap! http://www.sallybeauty.com/Pedicure-File/SBS-177419,default,pd.html?cm_vc=SEARCH

I'm totally open to any of your suggestions, feedback or comments to your experience.  Thank you!

Food Journal for Tuesday/Wed

Pretty straight forward on Tues, but Wednesday?  Well...  It's been a very long time, weeks actually, since I ate too much candy.  (I love candy)  If I don't have it in the house I don't eat it, but sometimes I choose to ignore my rule of "if you buy it you will eat it, so DON'T buy it!".  In this case we were given a pound of See's Candy Nuts and Chews...this person obviously trusted that I was an adult....oh well.  Anyway.  A dozen or so Nuts and Chews later....  I do have to admit they were seriously yummy though, and I did leave the other half of the box intact!  

And then to add insult to injury I threw the baby out with the bath water later that afternoon when I took my granddaughter for ice cream! (frozen yogurt actually) It was fine, I'm acting dramatic! Today was a great day and I'm able to look back on yesterday and not feel badly in any way.  I have nothing to feel bad about.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Day 5, Lunch Kit

Just think in less than 1 week Christmas will be over and we will all already be well on our way to getting back to a "better normal".  We will have so many positive things in place and the only thing we'll have to do is show up to practice the new behaviors and habits that will move us in the direction of better health and fitness.  We rock!

One of the things I incorporated years ago that I still practice is taking my lunches.  I actually stopped last year for the very first time, on purpose, for a few months.  I decided that since I'm always only 15-20 minutes from home all I needed to do was simply come home to eat lunch!  But it didn't exactly workout that way. Yes, I came home and ate, but then I was too tired to go back out, or I got distracted with things I had to do at home, and then found myself putting some errands off until the next day.  When I make my lunch in the morning and take it with me it's much easier to finish all the business I need to do outside of my home, saving time and gas.

Personally I have my favorite lunch containers.  You can see many many pictures of them on my former blog: 

http://tracyrif.blogspot.com/ (search "All Day Lunch", but I've included a few photos from years ago).  

I used to post pictures of an entire day's meals because I used to work a 12 hour day, 3 days a week.  But working in a Salon I had a fridge and a microwave.  Many times these days I do clients in their homes, and I go to yoga at the end of my mornings, so I don't have access to heating foods up.  Which is not usually a big deal but I love hot food!  (a handful of time I used the micro at Whole Foods!)

My absolute favorite new lunch container is Aladdin's "heat and go".  What I love about it is that I
can heat up my soup or leftovers in the container itself, lock on the lid and it will keep for hours.  I know a lot of people these days are not comfortable with plastic of any kind, especially heating foods up in plastic, but I'm not one of those people!  I'm totally fine with it, I'm not trippin'.  And then there are some people that don't like to microwave!  In fact I know a few people that don't even own one.  But for me, I love the microwave!  Sure I could live without it, and I like food reheated the traditional ways, stovetop/oven, but I don't have to those appliances available at work or on the road, but again, it saves time (and dishes).

I'm going to be writing more about preparing home made lunches, and fingers crossed I can get a lot of people excited and proud to be daily lunch carriers!  So, if it's fancy smancy glass, tin, ceramic or plastic food containers in fancy smancy fabric, leather, or paper bags that will help make you feel even more special than you are, now's the time to treat yourself and put them in place to get ready to use.  (or maybe it's a retro copy of a school lunch box you had when you were a kid, lol!)

whoops....I forgot to post a picture of yesterday's food journal entry and I'm already in bed...I'll post two of them tomorrow, and you'll get a kick out of today's!  (let's just say there was a lot of chocolate involved)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Building Momentum...the 4th day. Electric Tea Kettle

Electric tea kettle!  Why, why, why have I been so late to the electric tea kettle party?  Maybe because I'm not much of a tea drinker!  Well, that's not entirely true.  I go in spurts!  But an electric tea kettle is convenient for much more.

I'm not sure how long it takes, but having boiling water in a matter of minutes is pure genius.  Especially now that it's winter time.  Having boiling water at the ready makes drinking more tea (green and herbal) much easier to make, therefore to drink.  But even if you are not a tea drinker, simple hot water with lemon is great alternative and has many benefits from easing constipation to helping your body NOT deposit sugar calories as fat (more about that in Tim Ferriss's 4 Hour Body, page 144!).  The other thing I'm totally digging my electric tea kettle for is instant oats!

A couple of weeks ago I forgot my packed lunch on my kitchen counter and went to work all day long without any food.  Argh!  I ended up at Peet's Coffee for an instant oatmeal that cost me almost $3 bucks.  It was awesome...except the $3 bucks part!  Since then I've put together my own "emergency" instant oatmeal portions that I keep in the trunk of my car, just in case.  An electric tea kettle at home and at work, they are cheap enough and will easily pay for themselves.

I also have to admit that after my recent international travels I've taken a liking to instant coffee! Now that I'm at home I don't really have a need for it, but on some days when I need another half cup or so, it's nice to not have to set up the coffee maker!

I'm sure there are many other uses for instant hot water, any suggestions are greatly appreciated!  Thank you.

Food journal for Monday.  Settling into around 1600-1700 calories.  One of my main focuses is to not "snack" away calories.  More about that to come.

Oh, and I should make mention about my "misc" calories.  At the end of each day I remember back to all the "tastes", nibbles and bites I took during the day and simply list them as "misc.".  No need to get super critical, unless you find yourself not being honest.

Tuesday Training

Before I get to my KB Sport practice I have to say that I love being back on my regular swing schedule!  Tuesday mornings I lead a one hour class that starts with 30 solid minutes of interval swing training!  We finish the next half of the hour with other kettlebell skill practice for about 15 min., and then a kind of "open workout" for the remaining 10-15 min.  Half of my class only stays for the first part, mostly because of work schedules, but then I'm sorry to say that the attendance in my Tuesday morning class has dwindled down to only 3 after that, including me for the second half!  I'm guessing a few issues.  #1 I never have promoted any of my classes.  #2 for some reason a lot of people think 6:00am is early?  #3 My class is hard.  Oh well, their loss.

Since my attendance is down to basically me, Meg and Brenda I decided to increase the swing workout to 40-45 min.  We girls can handle a few hundred more reps, so it's fine by us.  Keeping with a ballistic theme we ended the last 15 minutes with light and long snatch pacing sets.

5/5 (30/30)
6/6 (30/30)
5/5 + 6/6 (1 min/30)
7/7 (30/30)
6/6 + 5/5 (1 min/30 sec)
7/7 + 6/6 + 5/5 (1.5 min/1 min)
5/5 + 6/6 + 7/7 (1.5 min/1 min)
14/14 + 12/12 + 10/10 (3 min set)

14 min., 224 12kg snatches

We did Give and Take #2 with some super advanced options for extra reps.  900 reps w/14kg total. (for me, probably another 120 for Meg and Bren, and with different size bells)

On to some GS practice for me.

After all my travels and time away from serious progressive training for my next meet (Feb 2014) it's been forever since I jerked the 16kg for reps so I thought I should, maybe, find out how much I suck.  I'm writing out of frustration really, so please excuse me.

Based on some recent sets I have done with the 12kg and the 14kg I decided 25/25 jerk reps should be doable.  Wrong.  Without putting myself down I'm simply going to say that the set did not go as planned.  One of the PT's at the studio I work at decided to walk and stand right in front of me, blocking my view from the mirror (which I was using), and that just accelerated my frustration and I gave up, throwing the bell down after only 18 reps.  I really can't comment anymore about what a sad sad state of strength and technique my 16kg jerk has deteriorated to so I'll end it here and post the video (above).

My swing/snatch set was barely better.  Whatever.  40/40 16kg  Here is the video.

Would I like to post some amazing sets?  Sure.  But this is my real life, today, taking everything else I do into consideration.  Either way I'm not ever going to quit.  Quitting is not an option.

Monday, December 16, 2013

On The Third Day....Interval Timer

Interval timer or interval app.  I'm old school...did you figure that one out yet?   A Gymboss is as new school as I get, BUT, I am becoming more and more motivated to join the 21st century!  Phone apps are much more convenient for most people and in fact this past weekend my training partner Meg used hers during our training and it had a very nice sound so I need to find out more about it!  It's no secret I love my Gymboss! (click the link on the right side of this blog to buy) I dislike fumbling around with my iPhone mostly because I don't have a plastic cover for it, which I like, but the damn thing is slippery!  My Gymboss is easy to clip on my shirt and not think about.

Interval training is what my kettlebell programs are based on. You can find much information online if you google "interval training" but here is one posted by the Mayo Clinic:


I never planned on designing a program based on intervals, in fact when I started creating my own workouts I didn't know anyone else was doing this kind of programming at all!  I was simply doing my own thing, in my garage, to push myself based on the second hand of my old alarm clock! (photo right; seriously I think this alarm clock is 20 years old and the very first time I cleaned it was for this photo used in "The Swing"!)  I use a timer to motivate my kettlebell training, and I use it on my walks when I don't have a specific distance or trail to measure.

Training intervals is simply a way to measure.  Weren't we just talking about measurements?  Knowing what and how to compare progress (or lack of progress) is an important tool in increasing good health and fitness.  It's just another way to collect data and track improvement.

This morning I used my Gymboss on my walk.  When I go for walks I usually set my interval timer for 5 minute increments.  I do this because 5 minute increments are easy to count, add, and keep track without leaving me too long wondering when the heck that beeper is going to go off!  In fact many times that 5 minute beeper reminds me to keep up a fast pace, which I can sometimes forget as I start to daydream and meditate!  And speaking about walking....

Did you know that I just learned from my brilliant husband Mark that no animal on the planet can outwalk humans?  We can be outrun, but we cannot be outwalked!  He also recommends that if you cannot walk 4 miles an hour (15 minute miles) then you should seriously rethink running for distance (ie jogging).  Running for short distances is skill that you can practice at any level of fitness, but running for long distance is a different skill you can train AFTER you have basic running mechanics and a solid foundation of conditioning.

Whether you use a timer for training kettlebells or you use it to time other exercise, I believe it's a tool that can motivate you to push yourself a little bit further than you might without it!

Are you with me so far?

Food journal
Food scale
Interval timer

This is going to be soooo easy this time!  And we still have a week to get ready!  Let's do this!

Food journal for Sunday 12/15.

My pumpkin, turkey and rice soup was so good I had it for lunch and for dinner!  What I really needed was some fresh greens, but oh well.  I took care of that today.  My calories were a bit high (I remembered the dates at the end of the night), and I may have to confess about guesstimating the soup portions low.....the morning scale rarely lies.