Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ah man....!

I video taped the new "D30" companion workout during The Swing Quest's last 20 minutes...or at least I thought I did!  Turns out my Flip camera might have died!  Drats!  Looks like we will all have to do it again on Tuesday!  Just the new workout, NOT the 2013 swings! lol

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Swing Quest 2013! It's just the beginning!

Time flys!  I've had so much going on in the last three months that I haven't had time to promote The Swing Quest 2013's next event which is tomorrow!  Tomorrow, June 29 is The Swing Quest's 3rd event this year.  The last one was epic for my group in so many ways, more of which I will write about over the weekend!

I just barely have a minute to give a shout out about the event and link some past information, including the workouts...well, the basic workouts we will be doing in the morning.

I'm redesigning the last 213 swing reps to be a companion "D30" (Dirty Thirty) workout. So those of you so kind to have purchased my last DVD will be ready to add this to your arsenal!  I will not be posting the workout in written form, only on video, so you will have to follow along!  I will post it on Sunday, June 30th (of course!).

Fingers crossed I can spend more time on the details so all of us will be ready and waiting...yes, waiting for the next event!  2013 isn't over yet, and neither isThe Swing Quest's just beginning!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Back in the Old Days...Potato Salad....egg, or no egg?

Remember when potatoes weren't our enemy?  Who didn't eat potatoes?  And lots of them?  Most recently in the last two generations french fries were the "vegetable" side dish to practically every dinner meal! Well, there still must be tons of people eating potatoes because they still sell them!   For at home meals I would guess mashed or whole and baked (goodness, how long has it been since I ate or made a baked potato? You?)  But I'm guessing in the form of french fries for sure at most restaurants.  Personally I go through "spurts"!  I don't eat potatoes regularly, but when I do it usually is because I make them for Mark, or I make them for a large Holiday dinner, and then I remember how yummy and delicious they are and I keep on making some variation until we all get sick of it!  Pretty much that's how I cook everything!  Repetition, repetition, repetition, yuck...enough!

I happen to know that eating potatoes does not make a person fat.  I know this because I live with someone that "can" eat potatoes without having ever gained a pound from it.  I also know this because growing up, although I was a chubby child, eating potatoes and potato salad never made me 250lbs...I did that to myself when I grew up, and yes, with the help of a lot of potatoes, but it wasn't the potatoes.

But this post isn't about whether or not potatoes are bad, it's about the potato salad I just finished making!  Making potato salad bring back many many memories.  The first is of being a kid, and practically every family gathering someone (my mom) making the potato salad.  It was one of the very few recipes I took into adult hood, like my moms meatloaf.  Super simple, way before the popularity of gourmet foods and pretentious food and diet snobbery.

Russet potatoes (practically a sin these days)
hard boiled egg (questions afterwards)
mayonnaise/mustard (yes, French's yellow)
sweet pickle relish
black olives (is this a California or Hispanic thing?)

(do I have to list salt and pepper at this point?  Salt and pepper should be a given.)

Throughout the years I've made some slight adjustments, maybe some improvements.  The first came when I got my first job in a Delicatessen. I had to make huge batches of potato salad!  The owner of the Deli would bring in the potatoes already cooked....with the peel still on!  WHAT?  Now some one tells me that you don't have to peel them first?  What a time saver!  When you cook them and let them cool the peel comes right off!

The next is when I had a very close friend, at the time my "best" friend, Linda, a foodie before the term foodie was ever thought about.  Linda grew up in her grandmothers Greek kitchen and was absolutely the best cook I had ever met in my life up until that time (she still is I'm sure of it!)  Linda made the most fabulous foods and gave me a few cooking lessons, the first in my life. A couple of her recipes I still use to this day, quiche being one of them.  The other is using white wine vinegar on my potatoes, while still warm, before I add all of my other ingredients.  Simple.  A little white wine vinegar (I lied, a lot of white wine vinegar! Maybe as much as 1/3-1/2 c.!)  Years later while watching my BFF Fawn Friday make potato salad, guess what she did?  Yep, she poured vinegar over the still warm potatoes!  So it must be good!

One more...another good friend of mine Yvonne.  Yvonne is Mexican American, so is my family, Yvonne is also my exact age, our mothers also being close in ages.  She grew up with many of the same basic recipes, from potato salad to turkey stuffing, jello molds (some of you may know the one with lime jello, cottage cheese, walnuts, pineapple...and God only knows what else!).  She uses black olives too!  But she uses a small can of chopped black olives while I used whole olives I sliced into thirds (again, a little more time consuming.)  I like both ways (the same in the turkey stuffing too by the way!), but I tend to buy the small cans of chopped olives because I kind of like how the black specks distribue themselves throughout the salad.

Now that I know more about food and the variety available, AND the confidence and experience to add other ingredients, I tend to throw things in!  Fresh herbs mostly if I have them.  Today's batch was the basic above plus chives and parsley, and one more kind of freaky ingredient...."Dill" pickle relish!  I could not believe MiPueblo didn't have any, none, nada, sweet pickle relish!  What grocery store does not have sweet pickle relish?  But they did have some dill pickle relish (on clearance! Seems like someone ordered the wrong product!)  So that's what I used!  I was afraid it would make the salad more sour, but it all worked out!  After tasting it Mark commented that he thinks he might actually prefer it this way...too bad though, because I don't!  Sweet pickle relish on the grocery list for next time!

Okay, enough about my potato salad history!  What's yours?  Is it a family recipe/tradition?  Do you still make it?  Do you still eat it?  Do you buy it ready made?  If you do which do you prefer?

Do you use Russet or small reds?
Do you cook the potatoes with the skin on, or do you peel them first?
Do you use eggs?
Do you use mustard?
Do you use black olives?
What about vinegar?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Enough Already....let's get on with it!

I am seriously lovin' my life these days.  I look forward to teaching and leading my classes, I love my new Kettlebell Sport friends (more like family), my yoga practice is practically back in full  force and better that ever.  I feel more relaxed about almost everything and I'm okay!  (minus a couple of hot flashes! lol)  I kind of know why, the details I will keep private, but the big picture is that I started being true to myself....again  And I can't say that I planned it, it just seemed to all of a sudden come back together.

A casual yoga friend of mine said something to me last week that kind of shocked me....  She asked me how I was doing, in reference to my practice and injury, and I told her I was doing much better once I got over my anger about it....and she said;

"Well, you're angry!"


"Well, you're an angry person!"

I can't remember exactly, but either one, it's still the same thing!

Wow!  Really?, really?  Do I come across angry...or does my anger come across?  And after she said it I didn't defend myself, I just sat with her words.....

I knew the question I had to ask myself was NOT am I angry (?), but do I come across angry?  And, yes, I think I do.  I do think that the hurt, turned anger, from all kinds of stuff from the beginning of my life, throughout my childhood, into my teen years, continuing into my adult life, and still now, does in fact come across.

I do not want to be angry and I certainly DO NOT want to be described as "that angry woman".  I used to try and make fun of my anger and describe myself as "a tough crowd" other words judgmental!

Before Mark and I "officially" met, we both would run into each other at Gold's Gym in downtown San Jose (back in the 80's).  I was sooooo NOT interested in him at all, and he, although he has told me that when he saw me he thought I was beautiful, ( I was 24 years old!  What's not beautiful at 24? lol), he also described me as "the girl that hated the world"!

As I approach middle age (in less than two months time) my schedule all of a sudden is allowing me to take advantage of what Tracy wants to do.  Thank you God!  Really?  How lucky can one girl be in one lifetime?

I'm starting to remind myself to not sweat the small stuff.  So much time and energy put into self criticism these past few years.  Maybe it was the pressure of having to sell a book, or prove a legitimate place in the world of training kettlebells.  Today, this week, none of that matters to me.  I am who I am, and I do what I do. Being "selfish" can be misinterpreted. Caring about your own health, vitality, and physical condition doesn't mean that you don't care about anyone else's.  You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink.  The key is to lead.  Lead by example.  And that is exactly what Mark did, and has done for over 25 years....he has always been true to himself, while taking care of me and our family.

Right now I do not have to compromise, and I pray, I believe, if I stay true to myself, lighten up, appreciate, forgive, move on, and love, that only good will happen.  And if something other than good happens, then I must trust and believe that good will follow, and I do.

Enough already!  I've got a ton of fun planned for tomorrow and I can't wait!  A good night's sleep and up and at 'em in the morning!

I got it! I come across angry and I don't want to come across that way, or better yet I don't want to be that way!  I really and truly, from the bottom of my heart, have nothing to be angry about.  Not one darn thing.

Now, let's get back to having some fun!  The Swing Quest 2013, this weekend, be there or be square! More details to come tomorrow!

Picture above of Mark and me taken in August, 2008 at the UCLA Cert, almost 5 years ago!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday Training. A bit of old, a bit of new.

This morning was fab-u-lous!  I've ben trying to juggle my hardstyle, high volume workouts, with my Kettlebell Sport training and it's just now starting to come together.  Still, much room for improvement, but I'm figuring it out.  I'm figuring our how to balance the two.  One big, huge decision was to change my Saturday classes to Sunday, starting in July as a trial.  This way I can train at Juno on Saturdays (in Berkeley, 40 miles away), fresh, and still keep my hardstyle HV training the day after.

Back to this morning's workout.  I have been training a heavy double swing cycle on Thursdays, but it's been a while since I've done double overhead work regularly. This morning we did double presses, push presses, jerks, snatches and half snatches (snatch/rack...or snatch, neg press).  We finished off with some heavy swings for a bit over 30 minutes.  Cooked!  Done...finito....on to the rest of my morning.  (warm up swings don't really count so I won't bore anybody with the details....but 10 min. warm up, 12kg swings)

The actual workout consisted of 2 sets, the first was a one minute work/ 30 sec rest, using a single bell to "warm up" the overhead skill. Then using overhead skill progressions, starting with the most difficult, strict press, push press, jerks, snatch, half snatch we did double "swing-skill" for five sets of 5 or 6 reps, 30 seconds work/30 sec rest.

single bell (14kg)
1 sw R, 1 press R, tr, 1 sw L, 1 press L, tr x 8 (4 each side) 1 min/30 sec x 2 sets
1 dbl sw, 1 dbl press x 5 x 5 sets, 30/30 (12kg's)

1 sw R, 1 pu press R, tr, 1 sw L, 1 pu press L, tr x 8 (4 each side w/ 14kg) 1 min/30 sec x 2 sets
1 dbl sw, 1 dbl press x 5 x 5 sets, 30/30 (14kg's)

1 sw R, 1 jerk R, tr, 1 sw L, 1 jerk L, tr x 8 (4 each side w/14kg) 1 min/30 sec x 2 sets
1 dbl sw, 1 dbl jerk x 5 x 5 sets, 30/30 (14kg's)

1 sw R, 1 snatch R, tr, 1 sw L, 1 snatch L, tr x 8 (4 each side) 1 min/30 sec x 2 sets
1 dbl sw, 1 dbl snatch x 6 x 5 sets, 30/30 (12kg's)

1 sw R, 1 half snatch R, tr, 1 sw L, 1 half snatch L, tr x 8 (4 each side w/12kg's) 1 min/30 sec x 2 sets
1 dbl sw, 1 dbl half snatch x 6 x 5 sets, 30/30 (12kg's)

repeat 5 more sets, one of each overhead skill listed above (30/30);

dbl sw/press x 5 reps
dbl sw/pu press x 5 reps
dbl sw/jerk x 5 reps
dbl sw/sn x 6 reps
dbl sw/1/2 sn x 6 reps

45 minutes, total reps

8 single sw/press, 30 dbl sw/press
8 single sw/pu press, 30 dbl sw/pu press
8 single sw/jerk, 30 dbl sw/jerk
8 single sw/sn, 38 dbl sw/sn
8 single sw/1/2 sn, 38 dbl sw/1/2 sn

....onto swings

We practiced an advanced version of one of my workouts for The Swing Quest 2013 (next event in 7 days!), "Long and Short".  "Long and Short" should probably be called "Short and Long", now that I think about it!  lol  It starts out with short sets of ten two hand swings, then a "long" set of one hand swing depending on the number of short sets done.  We shortened all of the rest intervals making this an advanced routine.

400 20kg swings
300 16kg swings

700 swings
30.5 minutes total

600 swings (12kg)
clean dbl press, see saw press, lunges

Juno GS sets

14kg jerk
30 R/30 L (3 minutes total)

16kg "death pie" snatch

"Death Pie" is a snatch held overhead for 10 seconds. 18 DP snatches takes 3 min.  This set totaled 6 minutes and I barely hung on.  To start with I ripped some calluses open on my right hand during the warm if I was going to do this set I just had to grin and bear was only 18 reps R/L afterall!  "F"'s jut 18 reps each side!  Done.

I'm not posting this picture of my ripped calluses because I'm proud, I'm posting it because I'm not ashamed or embarrassed.  I often use the analogy of my hands to that of a dancers feet.  That being said, I do need to learn better, by practice, the technique of saving the skin and health of my palms that is so important in training this sport....and I am slowly but surely learning...I have to!  In the mean time I will get my work done, and learn along the way.

PS I had to cut the ripped skin off before my work set.  To be honest, if it weren't only 18 reps per side I might have passed...but it was only 18 reps...only 18 reps, held for 10 seconds at the top of each one....3 minutes total for each side...16kg.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why "Gym Lifts" don't count! And Tuesday Training

I started out my morning with a quick 10 min 12kg snatch set, 20 rpm 5 min R/ problem, it didn't even feel hard.  200 snatch reps in a casual 10 minute set was 3 more snatch reps than my last meet in April, less than 8 weeks ago, and much easier!  Wanting to becoming a competitive lifter is changing me in so many ways.

I say "wanting to become" because I have so much respect for the athletes that have put in the time and commitment to their sport, and sacrifice, yep sacrifice, that I'm not sure how to include myself in the group.  My wanting to be might not have caught up with my belief that I am yet.

Being a competitive lifter and coach for from 1990-2003 Mark has always emphasized the difference between what you might be able to do in gym practice not being the same, not even close, to what you do on "game day".

This morning I had no stress.  No time table.  I didn't have to travel, or change any part of my normal routine.  In fact I didn't even have to do the set if I didn't want to!  I didn't have to weigh in, I didn't have to wait, plan my food, change my clothes, worry about judges.  Nothing was riding on what I could or couldn't do. Oh, and I didn't have a 10 minute jerk set beforehand either!  That's kind of important too!

Competition doesn't wait, it demands.

Tuesday Training

after a quick warm up
200 12kg snatch reps, 100 R/100 L one hand switch.

swings (600-700 reps)
warm up squat, press, snatch
10 goblet squats
10 clean/push press R 
and L
10 snatch R 
and L
x 3 rounds

7:00-7:45 private session

Get Ups
30 total, 15/R, 15/L
10 R/L arm casts 
10 R/L shield casts

Bikrams Yoga 9:15am


swings w/14kg

10 2 hd sw x 4
10 tr x 4
10 tr + 10 2 hd sw x 2 (30/30, 30/15)
5/5 x 4
5/5 + 10 tr + 10 2 hd sw  x 3 (45/45, 45/30, 45/15)
10 2 hd sw x 4
10 2 hd sw + 5/5 + 10 tr + 10 2 hd sw (1/1, 1/45, 1/30, 1/15)

1 min sets w/16kg w/30 sec rest x 6 (9 min)
29 min total, 690 swing reps

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Listen to what you are saying to yourself. Are you? I am!

I always listen to what I tell myself, and for sure I listen to the words I speak to others about how I describe myself and what I do and how I feel!  I can not speak for anybody else, nor do I want to project what is normal, common, or expected.  Let me explain a bit more....

During one of my yoga classes it is common for a teacher to say something like this to the class "I know this is a hard posture, it's hard for me too!", or "I know some of you hate this posture".  This drives me crazy (because I let it drive me crazy!).  It drives me crazy because, sure, sometimes I feel like a posture is hard, but then I remind myself that "hard" is a feeling not a fact.  If I can't do a posture perfectly, according to the God of yoga, still I try my best, and that's all I can do.  And I really and truly feel that all I can do, on any day, IS in fact the best I can do!  Is it hard to do my best?  Um, no.  I like doing my best, it's not hard at all.  

But I recognize that sometimes, some of us, I mean I, because I can only speak for myself, have been in the habit of saying certain things through reaction, without any real thought.  So, when I lead a swing class knowing that the next progression may be more work than the last (or feel like it!), I have a habit of saying something like....

"Okay, now it's about to get hard...." or "Oh, now the hard stuff is coming!"

Then when I hear what I just said, change it to....

"I mean, about to get fun!" or "Oh, the fun part is coming!"

So many times I want to suggest to my yoga teachers to STOP telling us that the yoga postures are hard, and especially stop telling us what we hate.  Stop already!  The most important thing is that we are all here, and doing our best with what we have today!  I already pay close attention to the things I tell myself about my ability and strength, I don't need someone else to discourage me by reminding me that I can use the excuse of being a victim of my own perceived weakness.  I want my teacher to tell me that it may only feel hard at first, BUT if I just relax and appreciate my wonderful life of choosing to be there, of choosing this practice, what a wonderful opportunity to rise above my perceived suffering, and instead rejoice in the fact that I have a life that affords me this luxury.

blah, blah, blah

Okay....moving on....

My point is that I catch myself reacting to old habits of thought.  Old habits of making excuses for not trying to be my best instead of trusting that I can!  Yes!  I can be my best!

Sometimes it feels easier, out of habit, to say out loud when having conversations with others like;

I am "this way"....I am always late, I'm bad about remembering names, I can't seem to finish projects...
I "always do this"....I lose control, I get lazy, I give up....
My "problem"is this....I'm addicted to...?, I've always been this way, I can't change....
I was always taught to do "this"....I have to clean my plate, I have to take care of others before myself, I'm obligated....
My "issue" is this.....I love sweets, I love chips, I can't lose weight, I've never exercised...
It runs in my family....everybody is overweight, we all have big legs, my family loves food...
I've always been this "way"....I never was popular, my sister (brother) were the stars, or the "smart ones", or the "skinny ones", or the "athletic" ones....OR the "good"ones....
I was always the one that....(fill in the blank) got in trouble, was the chubby one, was the geek....
I can't lose weight because my metabolism is messed up, I have thyroid issues, I always gain it back and more, I can't stay on a diet....
I never win anything....I never get lucky....
Nothing ever turns out right for me....I always get the short end of the stick, I always get caught, or "found out".....if something can go wrong it will go wrong"....
I expect the worst....because only good things happen to other people.....


I'm almost 50 years old, half of my life might very well be over, but I refuse to accept some of this shit.  I refuse to give up control, give up my power of free will and choice.  I may have been in the habit of expecting less, for whatever reasons I may have needed to feel undeserving, but I refuse any longer.

If this is middle age then I welcome it!  So far I've had a wonderful life!  Even with the imperfections and magnified dramas.  I just can't and don't want to make any more room for it!

This August 5th I will turn 50 years old.  Less than two weeks later I will have a 16kg kettlebell waiting on a platform for me.  From this point on I will listen closely to what I say to myself.

I am strong.
I am deserving.
I am a hard worker.
I am competent.
I am smart.
I am capable.
I am...
I am...
I am...
I am...

No one else decides for me.  I am not like everybody else.  I listen to what I say, and I say what I believe I can and want to be....I am not afraid to say what I believe I am.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Great Equalizer.

The Swing is the great equalizer, the kettlebell the tool.  How does an almost 50 year old, former fat girl, teach and lead a 40 year old, former fat and out of shape, ex military guy, through a challenging but fun kettlebell swing workout?

Today is Friday, so it's barely been two days since I finished taping my next two Swing Workout DVD's, "Give and Take #2", and the other still to be titled, but is a "partner" swing workout that is scalable to every level and sure to make couples, groups and or anybody who trains together completely happy!  My tight lower back was not happy about the heavy double swing workout the next morning, but finally a hot yoga class this afternoon and all is almost well in my world again!

But, speaking of partners..... As many of you already know I asked a very special SFG colleague of mine to join me in demonstrating these next two DVDs, Jeff Sokol Sfg.  But for those of you that do not know, or are not familiar with Jeff and his own story of transformation, let me share a bit with you, in Jeff's own words in his recent facebook post:

"I was 35 years old, 240lbs, working a job I despised, and DEPRESSED! During a huge moment of weakness an infomercial about kettlebell training aired. I ordered a 25 lb kettlebell and a set of DVDs. That twist of fate changed my life forever!

I'm absolutely dumbfounded that four years later, I'm doing a job that I love, I'm in the best shape of my life, and now I'm actually going to be in two kettlebell DVDs that may change someone else's life.

To make a long story short...
It's never too late to find your passion, live your dreams, and become the best version of you! 

Thank you again Tracy Reifkind for the amazing opportunity!"

These words, Jeff's story, are part, the first and large part, of why I asked him to partner up with me.    He has a strong presence in our kettlebell community and is respected not because of his past, but because of his present!  He is a great example of skill, commitment and passion for training kettlebells.

The second is that some of you might have noticed a lack of "male" examples in my world of high volume swing training....and there is a reason for that!  Not to pick on the male population, but it is not as common to meet and train with males that are, what I affectionately term as, endurance junkies, or just plain all out crazy!  I was lucky to have Rasul Davis from Santa Monica come up and help me demo "Top 40" and "D30" in Modesto last year, which proves that there is at least one more male "all out crazy" who's a fan of my style of training the swing!  lol  I knew both of these men could bring the business and keep up, rep for rep, and like it, or at least appreciate it for what it is!

The Swing is the great equalizer and the kettlebell is the tool.  Male, female, young, old, overweight, underweight, "out of shape", "in shape".  For me, for Jeff, for you?

The key is to design workouts that make everyone feel like a King or a feel in control again...for at least one part of our lives.  Making training the kettlebell swing interesting by adjusting reps, weights, rest intervals and work intervals so it is accessible to everybody.  To combine strength and conditioning effectively and efficiently, and I believe, and have experienced, that the kettlebell swing is one answer....well it was my one answer.

I had never met Jeff in person, so it stands to reason I had never swung with him either!  But I was confident that he would catch on quickly based on his skill, conditioning, passion, and commitment to do a good job!  He demonstrated that by practicing a few 500 rep swing workouts in the weeks prior to the taping date!  He did his homework!

Leading many entire groups as well as individuals through completely new routines I never lost confidence that it would be easy for him to follow along.  After all, that's what my DVD workouts are about.  They are about helping you, by simply following along!  I did the work figuring out the progressions, I count (most reps), you just need to show up!  Both of these new workouts are technically "partner" workouts.

We had a blast, but make no mistake it was also some serious swing rep business!  We started taping at 11:05am, and finished, on time at 2:00pm!  Jeff had been up to catch his flight from Seattle at 7:30am, me, still finishing the programming until I had to drive to Juno in Berkeley (at 8:00am, but up since 4:00am).  Sure, it took a bit of warming up for our personalities to come together, but it was quite the day!

Clean up and a long lunch afterwards...drop off Jeff at the Oakland airport...I had it easy from there!  A little over an hour drive home, but Jeff had to wait for his 7:30pm flight back home.  By the time he landed I was asleep...yikes, lucky me!

I can't wait to start the edit for these workouts!  In the mean time I'll be training them with my groups ('cause they are killer workouts!) along with all of my other routines!  And if you all like them I just may ask Jeff back for an encore!

In the mean time, if you haven't trained "Give and Take" (#1) you might think about practicing those workouts as "G & T #2" progressively build on those routines.  AND, I have a surprise complimentary "D30" workout that will be part of "The Swing Quest 2013" scheduled next, for June 29th!  OMG!  Really?  In barely 2 weeks I'll be leading you all through another installment of a 2013 swing rep workout! But this time with a "D30" bonus!  So you all keep practicing, keep swinging there is so much more to come!

"Give and Take"

Thank you to all of my swing partners, past and present:

My wonderful husband Mark Reifkind MSFG who braved the first workout in "Give and Take" (#1).

My co-swingers in "Give and Take" and "Roundabout 2.0"

Meg Lloyd
Brian Hemedinger
Sabina Dominguez
Christopher Gaines
Genevieve Gaines

"Top 40" and "Dirty 30"

Meg Lloyd
Maribel Medina
Brenda Tierney
Deepika Goyal
Rasul Davis
Monica Worline
and....part of the Full Force PT crew!

"Dirty Thirty"

More to details to come about the new workouts, because I learned even more about training my favorite exercise!  As well as how the swing progressions in Top 40 and D30 all tie into The Swing Quest 2013!  Be there, or be square!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"I don't make the rules, I just know them...and they apply to me too!"

Mark often says this when reminding me about the science of dieting.  Not that he has to "diet" necessarily, because he doesn't overeat in the first place!  But this post is about how I am not immune either!  At the end of the day my body only needs a certain amount of food, and any extra will be taken on in the form of added pounds.  Period.

I've kept a food journal on my computer, off and on for years, but this last time, 3 weeks ago, I decided to go "old school" and actually hand write my daily diet.  In fact I think I still have two of my original journals from 2005-2007...and what I will find in those journals would not surprise me!  I know exactly what I ate and how much because it was simple and repetitive.  I could probably tell you right now the basic daily menu.

smoothie/shake (yogurt, blueberries, sometimes coffee, ice, fiber)
large salad
apple (at some point during the day)

80% it went down like this for 80% of my week....oh how far we have fallen!  lol

Oh sure, I never restricted myself from any foods, and if you look back at my blogs you will see plenty of mini binges and well as major binges.  Cookies and ice cream topped the list, I'd rather eat those kind of things instead of big burritos or cheeseburgers.  And for the most part I still eat this way....or so I thought!

My portions have...grown over the years and so has my body weight.  Since 2009 my lowest average weight of 129-132 has increased to 135-142lbs.  Menopause hit and boom, another 5-10lbs!  I was not happy.  So I had to at least solve the mystery so I could either accept it or change it!  

I knew I was eating too much.  When Mark would try and help me by asking me what I thought the cause was I always answered, "I'm just eating too much!"  I did not want to admit it, but it certainly wasn't because I was starving myself!  I confess I may have been in denial about just how much I was eating....soooo...I had to write it down...and measure it.  It seemed as if I had gotten into some bad habits!

Now I know that it is a possibility that since going through menopause my metabolism has changed, but how would I know without an accurate accounting?  If "the change" makes me feel hungrier, and  my metabolism changed then I had to decide what, if anything I was going to do about it.

Previously I knew my basic daily calorie consumption was around 2200-2400. That's a lot of calories!  And I knew if I even cut back 200 a day I could have easily maintained my 135-136lb....but I didn't want it bad enough, I guess.  Well, I was shocked to see my daily calories soar around 2400-2600!  Ouch.  Was I hungrier because of menopause?  Or was I just being careless, greedy, and spoiled? 2600 calories is a lot!

Good God.  I've got to go on a diet!  So, diet I did!  I didn't go crazy because I knew I didn't want to, I didn't have the motivation or desire!  I was able to cut back to under 2000, some days better than others to about 1600, but for the most part 1800-1900.  Seven pounds gone so far!  And I'm not going to say it's fun, but it's fun fitting back into my clothes again! In fact, now that I think about it, it is fun!  On the days I look at it as a game I have an even better outcome.  It's just food, and I'm not suffering.

Some days I wish I could gobble up the world of food, but I would rather not want to feel that way, than to actually do it.  And I'm kind of feeling much better.  In fact I do, I do feel better to know and take responsibility for the choices I make.

This has been my own experience.  Everybody has their own beliefs about what is making them or keeping them at a bodyweight they might not
want.  For me I have always known the cause.  I haven't always been motivated to take action, but I've always taken responsibility.

Yes, I'm almost 50 years old. Yes, I'm going through menopause.  Yes, my metabolism may have shifted.  Yes, even my body shape and fat deposits may change....or not....

I've got to get to bed!  I've got a video shoot in the morning and I feel fabulous!

Monday, June 10, 2013

"Give and Take #2: The Partner Workouts"

I have only one day left to get ready to film the next Tracyrif Kettlebell Swing video with co-star/swinger Jeff Sokol SFG, and let me tell you...I'm barely ready! It's not the number of swing reps, or the amount of work to be done, but I am on a tighter schedule, given I chose to film on a Wednesday.

 Wednesday is a "regular" business day for all gyms and studios, which means I have use of the studio for 5-6 hours. And not a minute more! Get in, do thousands of swing reps, perfectly, and get out! Why, why did I NOT choose to do this on a Sunday? Argh! Combine that with the fact that I still only have a template for the workouts, AND Jeff has NEVER swung with me (in person) ever before! At the very least, it will be entertaining! lol

 So, armed with my rough draft of "Give and Take #2: The Partner Workouts", me and "pretend Jeff" headed out to Stone's Gym first thing this morning to practice!

I thought it would be fun to share this short video with you all.

I went out into the gym around 7:00am, deciding to warm up with the first 20-30 minutes that I knew was solidly the first part of this next video workout. I also knew I had to train my Kettlebell Sport sets, jerks and snatches, for about 25-30 minutes. Which I did second. I then went on to ad lib a possible ending progression, having to "pretend" I had a partner that was doing something a little different than I was doing!

It reminded me of being a kid in front of the bathroom mirror, pretending to be "famous", acting in a commercial using my toothbrush as a microphone! Didn't you all do that? No? Just me huh? lol Okay. Anyway....

Tomorrow I have to have everything done! That means that I'll be in the gym tomorrow, before class (5:30am) practicing the routine. I will do a modified version WITH my class, and maybe even do more practice in the 30 minutes afterwards. But no worries. Once I get my hands on the bell Wednesday morning, all will be right. It's really all of the other stuff that has got me worried!

Working during operating hours of a gym/studio means I have to get there early and stage the scene, AND clean up afterwards! What was I thinking? Not to mention I have to make sure I have snacks, water, mirror, makeup, clothes, etc....I know, I know....high quality problems! Let's just have some fun! Shall we! "Give and Take #2: The Partner Workouts"

Picture below:  Looking for the proper "clean" position. I completed my 14kg jerk set and a 16kg snatch in between "G & T #2", which is why I still had my lifting shoes on while I was practicing!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Saturday, it's just swings!

I had a relatively easy GS set this morning. 50/50 snatch reps w/14kg, no specific time limit.  Usually my Kettlebell Sport training is 3 days a week, two "sets", the first is jerks, the second, snatches.  Knowing I was going to Juno in the afternoon (after my "regular" training) and knowing I need the most help with my heavy jerks (via watching other athletes and coaching), I saved the "first set" for last.  Snatches don't scare all.  I don't care if I'm asked to try and snatch the 24kg, I don't care!  It's my jerk that has been scaring the hell out of me.  As usual I brought home with me a wealth of new knowledge that I can't wait to try and apply to my next workouts (easy to say now!).

For some crazy reason I'm stressed the heck out about my video shoot this Wednesday!  It must be because that although I've written and designed the workouts "in theory" based on similar routines I've actually done, I still have not gone through them rep for rep myself.  So, with the help of my two training partners this morning, the majority of what we did was, in fact, my new workouts.  "Give and Take #2" and a "partner" swing workout that has yet to find a title!

I thought G&T #2 would be easy....but somehow I screwed that up!  Back to the drawing board!  The other partner workout I LOVE!  I repeated it in my next class, taking the position of the "other" partner....good-ness you all are going to love it too!

Okay.  So nothing to be nervous or stressed about.  It's just swings!  Hundreds and hundreds of swings!  lol

7:00-7:30 warm up, GS 50/50 14kg snatch
7:30-8:30 G&T #2, partner swing ladder
8:30-9:00 partner swing ladder
9:00-9:30 goblet/front squats, strict press practice

10:00-11:00 privates

12:30-1:30 GS at Juno 14kg 40/40 jerk (4 minute rest in between the 2 sets)

I was not concerned at all about counting reps today.  All I care about is getting Wednesday's video shoot organized and efficient!  I've got the use of Juno's space for about 5-6 hours, and then I've got to get Jeff back to the airport (in Oakland) before 5:30-6:00....geez, I should think about what Jeff has got to do, instead of me!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Good Lordy! New Strength Double Bell Swing Cycle

I don't think I fully made public my last double bell swing/strength cycle I trained before SFG, but I did journal most, if not all, of my next 6 week swing/strength cycle using my Sinister Swing workouts w/32kg.  Well, let me tell you....

A single 32kg, is NOT the same as double 16kg's.  It's too late in the evening to write much more, and although I journaled my exact workout for my own personal viewing, I cannot share it here.  I cannot share it because I've been practicing the new "Give and Take #2" video workouts, to which my last workout, and the next 5 weeks of my Thursday workouts will be based on the template of G&T #2....using double bells!

I have not swung double 16kg's since SFG because, as I recently posted I suffered an injury on day one of the three day Cert.  I came back home with recovery as a priority, BUT also focusing on the high volume work I could do.  Mostly single bell (okay, all single bell now that I think about it!), and training for Kettlebell Sport.

I'm almost 100%, so it's back to doubles...and more about double kettlebell training over the weekend!

120 sw w/12kg, 6 min

120 16kg single, 100 dbl 14kg, 8.5 min

120 16kg single, 100 dbl 16, 8.5 min

90 singl, 130 dbl, 8.5 min

90 sgl, 130 dbl, 8.5 min

34 minutes work sets

420 single16kg 
460 dbls (1/2 14's 1/2 16's = 230 dbl 16kgs)

1000 swings! 

40 minutes total

Onto dbl snatches.

I don't even know...but I'm guessing

10 sets, 2 w/8kg, 4 w/14kg, 4 w/12kg

22 8kg, 40 12kg, 40 14kg.

I can not believe in less than 1 week I am going to be taping 2 new swing videos!  And I've invited a new male co-swinger, Jeff Sokol SFG from Kettlebility in Seattle WA.  Jeff has never swung with me before, but he is a well respected Instructor in our community for his attention to form, technique and for his passion.  Jeff shares his own story of transformation of wellness and weightloss via kettlebells and I'm honored that he accepted my invitation to come swing "TracyStyle"!

On the agenda is first "Give and Take #2"!  Give and Take has been far and above my #1 selling workout video and it's a workout that I use all the time.  Since I teach so many mixed level classes it's a workout that is always relevant.  And when Mark tells me he used it with his clients? Well, it just doesn't get better than that kind of recommendation!

Next is a "Partner Swing" workout DVD, yet to be named.  I've got so many great routines for two, or more, people of different levels training together.  Many, many times this is a husband / wife combo, OR simply two (or more) friends, one has been training a while and wants to help another build up the strength and stamina and feel fit, healthy and overall GREAT...but who is greedy too!  We don't want to miss out on our own time to train!

I'm not 100% yet, but I think the "partner swing" video will end with a double bell "finisher"!  Good Lordy!  Now I've said it must be so!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Losing my yoga practice. It's personal...but stay with's a long story!

I have not taken any yoga pictures or video since I attended and earned my SFG Certification in Houston, March 8-10.  Three months ago I did not expect to lose a huge part of my life and a huge part of my training and recovery.  It was not the fault or result of the rigorous three days of heavy kettlebell training, but it was an easy place for me to put blame, at first.

At the end of the first day of my SFG Cert I pulled a muscle behind my knee, (popliteus) causing it to swell up like a balloon (well, the size of an orange).  I believed it was a result of practicing hundred's of double 16kg swing reps..."hardstyle".  But in reality it was an accident waiting to happen.  It was in fact created, first, by my Bikrams yoga practice!

My knees easily hyper extend.  This condition requires extra attention when practicing and performing yoga poses with a "locked out" knee.  To me "locked out" is different than it may be for someone whose knees do not hyper extend.  As a person whose knees go into hyper extension I need to pay close attention to where and how I'm contracting BOTH my quadricep and my hamstring to protect my knee.  It seems as if I got lazy, too many times, relying on "hanging" out on my knee joint and ligaments, without paying close and extra attention on keeping tension (strength) in my hamstring.  Whoops.  This weakness, this habit, was exacerbated when performing heavy Hardstyle swing reps, as power, acceleration/ explosion, and contraction in the hips and legs is practiced at the highest degree.

BUT, this is really just a small part of a bigger story, and I've kind of been in hiding to what's been going on.....because it personal!  Like "female", "old lady" personal!

The first of the year started out with a BANG!  I was feeling great and I had many things to feel great about! I had a fabulous trip to San Diego, a great time in Columbus, my first Kettlebell sport competition.  Little did I know what was starting to happen to me, and it's taken me this long to write about it.

A few weeks before SFG I noticed how warm the weather seemed to be getting (in January/February!)....especially at night time.  In fact I got so warm during the night I thought Mark was sleeping too close to me!  It was Mark, it had to be him. making me so darn hot (no pun intended).

One morning I was just about to ask him, "Are you sweating on me during the night?"  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Damn.  No.  It can't be true.  Not me. Menopause.  Hot flashes.  Sleepless nights.

Are you kidding?  Memo to got the wrong person!  I am not old.

SFG was on the schedule and I was as strong and prepared as ever.  A 6 week cycle of dbl 16kg swing training and I was on a secret mission to take my snatch test with the 20kg!  What I wasn't prepared for was  getting injured.  Getting injured from not strengthening my knee/hamstring, and actually weakening it during my yoga practice.

Fast forward.  I completed my SFG Cert, 20kg snatch test and all, but I came home with an injury severe enough to restrict me from any and all forward bends on a "straight" and "locked out" knee.

At the same time menopause really kicks in, and with it a crazy obsessional  crazy appetite.  I started stalking cheese and caramel popcorn!  I HAD to have cheese and caramel popcorn.  One problem.  I couldn't find any!  So I ate everything else trying to satisfy this obsession.  10lbs later..... Mark orders me some herbs, some creams, I'm not even sure what it all was, all I knew is I was willing to do and take anything to stop what was going on.  But the crazy obsessional hunger/appetite got worse.  Combine it with the sleepless nights and overall feeling weak and exhausted and I chose to feel miserable.

My next Kettlebell Sport meet in Seattle, April 27th....although I never posted it, I DID NOT make weight.  I stripped down to undies, and still I was .1 kg over.  Two months earlier I weighed in at 136lbs, way under my weight class cut off at 143lbs, seven pounds to spare.  And now overweight.  How did this happen so quickly? Screw not making weight, I felt like crap.

Fast forward back to yoga.

A couple of months ago I had a practice that rivaled many of my own Bikram's yoga Instructors....and now that was gone...completely.  Having to work with an injured hamstring, and a 10 lb weight gain, in a hot, 104 degree yoga room. (violins start now)  I was angry.  I was not having fun.  It felt like pure torture, but I made myself go, because the only other option was to quit.  I would not give up, or give in.  I resigned myself to look at my practice in a different way.

First thing is that I HAD to rebuild the strength of my hamstrings, the right way (and carrying ten extra pounds of body weight while trying).  I had to focus on not hyper extending my knee and/or not hanging on my joint, and putting stress in my ligaments, taking extra care to be more aware of contracting my hamstring, not just my quadriceps.  The only choice I had was to back up, start over, and do what I could "the right way".  No short cuts.  No laziness.  Which limited me in many of the standing forward bend postures (a big part of the practice).

But really, Bikram's yoga is not my life!  My kettlebell training is!  (second of course to my marriage, and my family)  So I decided to take advantage of what I could do, instead of what I couldn't do.  Yes, I could physically go and practice each posture to the best of my ability.  And I could actually take advantage of not being able to focus on "Bikram's" ideal of yoga and reinvent my own version to benefit the needs of my own health and recovery.  Now I start each class with the only intention of stretching.  It's my time to listen to what my body needs, being able to just stretch is a luxury.  And what a good time for me to take advantage of trying to counter balance the challenge I put on my hands and grip during my GS practice.  In every posture where it is applicable I position my hands in a way to best completely stretch out my fingers, my wrist and my forearms.  Otherwise I might not ever do it, and now I get to pay special attention to it.

So, that's been a priority, three/four days a week, while continuing building my practice back to it's former fact, better actually.  Strengthening the weakness that got me into this mess in the first place.

And menopause?  Well, I decided to refuse it.  Whatever will be will be.  In the mean time I will not play victim.  Oh, I might whine and cry a bit, but not out loud.  I will take advantage of the time I have to sweat, stretch my forearms and grip during my 90 minute practice.  Of course I will show up to teach and lead my classes, my training, my GS sets.  I do not feel the need to stalk online sources for caramel and cheese flavored popcorn.  And I will get on with my life.

I've gotten rid of half of the ten pound weight gain.  In less than 1 week I'll be getting ready to produce 2 more awesome swing DVD's with a fabulous male co-swinger, Jeff Sokol SFG.  June 29th I've got to lead my students through #3 of The Swing Quest 2013 (are you ready?), and finally on to the "piece de resistance" in August, on the 17th, for the OKC Kettlebell Sport competition that will coincide with my 50th birthday!

I may be close to 50 years old, and I might be menopausal, but I am a brick house, and I am mighty, mighty.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Business and/or Fun?

Last week's training was interesting!  I had one last thing to do, ending a 6 week strength and conditioning cycle that interfered more with my GS training that I had anticipated and was reprimanded in the nicest of ways by my coach on Saturday......a stern talking to about snatching 223 16kg reps in 10 minutes....actually it wasn't "stern", it was "disappointing", which is WAY worse.

As I tried to explain, it was connected to another training goal, and now it's over.  Plenty of time to get ready for my August Kettlebell Sport competition.  But, true to my coaches experience, and what he was concerned about was that I had torn up my hands in the last minute of that set enough to not recover and complete what was on my program for what I NEED to do for August. And to look at the big picture, the ultimate goal, which is that I will be putting my ass on that platform with the 16kg for the first time and I needed to not mess around with priorities.  Point taken, and I promise to be a good good as I can.

I did, in fact, have to back off from what was programmed for my GS training on Thursday after Tuesday, so taking all of Friday to recover I went into the gym Saturday morning feeling myself again.  The first set of the day was supposed to be a 50/50 rep (R/L, one hand switch) 14kg, 4 minute set.  No problem at all, in fact really easy.  The reps were not difficult, so I tried to focus on technique.  Most of all "laying back" on the descend.....but it all goes to hell in a hand basket when I increase the weight by 2 kg!  

Knowing I would be finishing my GS training at Juno later in the afternoon (16kg jerk) I went about the rest of the morning paying special attention to my hands and not doing stupid stuff, like swinging heavier than I needed to.

We went on to our Max Vo2 sets. 50 w/14kg.  Easy but boring...which makes them not so easy!  400 fast and quick snatches down, onto swings.

I had to start designing a "partner" swing routine scheduled to produce into a workout dvd with Jeff Sokol SFG in less than 2 weeks I needed to recruit my training partners, Meg and Maribel.  Usually I have a starting point, and then I follow some simple progressions, making the workout more difficult as it goes along. The one we ended up following built up to a fairly advanced routine, but that's fine!  I needed to personally "feel" what the work to rest ratio was like in order to scale it in different levels.  So, that being said, we probably added another 700-800 swing reps in the remaining 30 minutes of our training (14kg for me).

I got another chance to work out the second partner swing workout (actually it will be the first on the dvd) in my 8:30 Intermed/Beginning class.  Love it!  I did the lesser of the swing reps, timing work to rest for my "crazies", who did more!

A strong cup of coffee.  A visit with my friend, and personal photographer, Genevieve Ross, a couple of private sessions and then my 40 minute drive up to Berkeley (Juno) to work with team "OKC"!

On the 40 minute drive up to Berkeley I kept thinking how nice it would have been to just get my jerks done first thing and be home by now.  I knew I would be kind of tired and more weak at this point of the day, and this point of the week.  But everytime I go to Juno, at a time I never ever train on my own, I think about when I have to "perform" at events like an SFG Certification when we are asked to train all day long for 3 days in a row!  Three days in a row, and now I'm bitching about having to do a 4 minute set of jerk at 12noon?  Somehow it should not be that big of a deal!

Having successful athletes to watch, in person, and having a great coach that, even with only 10 minutes of his time, offers such a wealth of feedback and corrections...was I really bitching?  

Sunday, today, completely off.  No yoga, no walking, no farmers market, just my granddaughter Sophia, molding hard boiled eggs!  I'll be ready to implement better what I learned on Saturday...and no crazy tearing up of my hands this week.  Nose to the sights are set for August!

The business/fun of leading swing classes, the business/fun of producing swing workouts, and the business/fun of life is pretty darn good!

bottom picture is Genevieve Ross, me, and Judi Sagami after swing class.