Saturday, August 31, 2013

"If one person can do it, then it can be done!" (Mark Reifkind) (oh, and a "Jello Cam"!)

Since my last competition 2 weeks ago I was feeling a need to back way off the heavy weights for my GS training/practice to focus more on technique, and thank the Lord Jesus that my coach, John Buckley, was feeling it too!  I have yet to do a full report on my last competition AND two day Certification 2 weeks ago but let's fast forward to this week.  All of my sets were prescribed w/14kg, not one rep with the 16kg or heavier, which suited me just fine.  I learned soooo much by my competition sets, and then soooo much more in the following two day OKC Kettlebell Sport Instructor Certification that, after a week of recovery, I was anxious to get back to practice.

I pretty much know the parts of my technique that need improvement, but that doesn't mean I know HOW to improve it, exactly.  Working as an Instructor myself, many times when you give someone a correction they truly think they are correcting it, but it doesn't always work!  So you try different cues, you try saying it a different way, and sometimes that works, and sometimes it just takes time.   Maybe they just can't hear it yet.  Weeks later you give them the same correction or in another way and viola!  They get it!  Sometimes it takes letting go instead of trying harder!  When we try "hard" we may tend to over think the movement instead of feeling the movement. Feeling for the cues, instead of thinking about them.

This idea of feeling, or in the case of my GS practice "not" feeling, just relaxing is evolving nicely, or at least I think it is!  The biggest thing I learned over the competition weekend was that I need to make these sets easier, not "harder", and how this way of thinking...I mean feeling is key!  So remembering (when I can relax enough to remember instead of stress about forgetting) to "feel" the absence of stress has been a game changer for me.  I've been watching video of other GS athletes, and of my own practice, and looking for the cues.  What are they doing that I'm not, or that I haven't been doing enough of, or need to do differently?

This past week I've completed all of my sets successfully.  Not only accomplishing my prescribed rep "numbers" but feeling good about them. In other words, not suffering through those last reps near the end of the hand switch or the end of the set.  In fact my next goal is to back off the weight and think about finishing as strong (or near as strong) as I start.  I was over the moon this afternoon when I did exactly that with my 14kg 10 minute snatch set.

Orders were to complete a 10 minute set at an "easy pace".  I had an idea of a few parts of my technique I wanted to focus on changing a bit, man was this fun!  My focus was not on the stress of completing the 10 minutes with one hand switch, or how many reps I needed to get, it was on a couple of other points (hint: the downstroke/drop).  Looking over the video, reliving my focus I'm thrilled at the result, although I noticed another part of my technique that went to shit!  (the bell handle/palm placement on my R side for most of the set! Oh steps!)  Ironically, without trying I came damn close to 100/100 the actual rep count was 94/93, and better yet the last minute of both R and L was at a faster pace, 22 rpm than the first 4 minutes each side!  Success! And afterall, really, at the end of the day, what else better do I have to do besides spend an hour, three times a week, learning how to be stronger, getting stronger, and having a hell of a fun time doing it!

Lucky me.

PS I set three 14kg jerk PR's this week but I'm not ready to publicly post video...but no worries! I know my skill and technique of my jerk has been severely lacking, but I'm happy to report that I'm "feeling" more and thinking less...or maybe I'm feeling less and relaxing more!  After all, as I watch other athletes demonstrate success I have to remind myself....."If one person can do it, then it can be done."  (Mark Reifkind)

Friday, August 30, 2013

"The New 50"! Advanced

As promised on the last day of my birthday month I am thrilled to lead you through another version of my workout I call "The New 50"!  I hope you had a chance to practice the first one because if you choose to train this advanced version most of it should already be familiar to you. In this video, actually taped before the first one, my training partners Meg and Maribel demonstrate a couple of different options while I chose to train the routine using "equal work to rest" intervals, BUT with a much heavier kettlebell!  The 24kg to be exact.  I chose the 24kg because it = 54 lbs, and I'm all about being 50! So in actual fact this is three workouts in one video! Lucky you!

If you are confident enough to swing along with us in this advanced version then I'm confident in you to not need more explanation other than this rough written version of the workout and the follow along video.  You're not going to let a 50 year old Grandmother out swing you, are you?

"The New 50", ADVANCED

10 2 hd sw x 1 (15/15 sec x 2)
20 tr x 1 (20 reps) (30/30 sec)
5/5 x 3 x 1 (30 reps) (45/45 sec)
10/10 x 2 x 1 (40 reps) (1 min/1 min)
100 swings, 5 min

10 2 hd
20 tr + 10 2 hd
5/5 x 3 + 10 2 hd (30 + 10)
5/5 x 3 + 20 tr (30 + 20)
10/10 x 2 + 10 2 hd (40 + 10)
10/10 x 2 + 20 tr (40 + 10 OR 20)
10/10 x 2 + 5/5 x 3 (40 + 10 OR 30)
11 min 210 - 310 swings

Surprise Add!  

10/10 x 2 + 10/10 x 2 = 80 reps (or simply do 40 reps with me, OR add 10 reps with Maribel to = 50 reps total.  No worries if you push it a bit adding + 40 along with Meg because there is an extra minute rest before our last set of "The New 50"!)
40 reps, or 50, or 80! (1 min/2 min rest, OR 2 min work/1 min rest)
3 min, 40-80 swings

10/10 + 5/5 + 10 tr + 10 2 hd (50 reps 1.25/.75)
approx 21 minutes total, 400-540 swings....or something like that!

I hope you enjoy my birthday month workouts "The New 50" as much as I did creating them for my classes and for you!  There's a new 50 in town and it's strong, fit, healthy and bad ass!

PS, to be honest I'll need to readjust the time and rep counts when I'm better rested in the morning!  But I'm taking a wild guess in the fact that no one is actually going to be trying this workout, or caring about the exact numbers before I can further edit it!  Thank you all for your warm birthday wishes and all of your support over these past 7 years!  Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Heavy Swing Strength Cycle

What is a heavy swing strength cycle you ask?  Let's start with what a "cycle" is.  As my brilliant husband Mark explains, "A cycle is a period of training that has a beginning, middle, and end, with a specific goal in mind.  The weights and loads vary up and down, the idea being to reach a personal best or a specific number at the end of a cycle.  Cycles vary from 6-12 weeks long."

Although I've been designing "cycles" of progressive rep workouts over the past 7 years it wasn't until this past year, the months preceding my SFG in March, when I knew I was going to be required to use double 16kg's all weekend, that I hunkered down and about 7-8 weeks prior (6 weeks of training 2 weeks of back off) that I incorporated some really heavy swing training!  Using double 16kg's (dbl 24kg's are the male equivalent) for a workout is one thing, but having to use them for three days, morning noon and night is, you know, something I don't normally do.  And it wasn't really the training for three days that I was worried about, it was the testing to pass Certification that I wanted to make sure I prepared for.

About the same time David Whitley MSFG had contacted Mark about some training he was doing with the beast, which makes the 32kg the female equivalent, and was curious to how many reps the Queen of Swing (that would be me) might be able to do in a 30 minute time (I forgot the number, something like 520, but my training partner Meg out swung me, ridiculously outswung me, like 670....that's another post for another time!).  Before this I had not ever, regularly, included using such a heavy bell, in any kind of way, for weekly workouts, or for any single workouts.  It was not my goal to swing super heavy bells because I had no reason to.  BUT, double 16kg's equals a single 32kg, but different.  Long story short....since then I've designed three previous "heavy swing strength cycles" because, for me, it serves a purpose other than general conditioning, cardio endurance and fat loss.  The purpose it serves is to train strength, back off, test strength, and start all over again!

I probably started to post and publicly journal the last three cycles, one of them I used my Sinister protocol, but to be honest, it's difficult to keep up with all I do!  Part of the difficulty has been to sit down at the computer and rewrite (re-live!) it all.  But I thought it would be interesting if anybody was willing to follow along, to post the exact cycle, using weights appropriate to where they are, not neccessarily the same weights as I'm using (if you are male then they would obviously be heavier).  The idea of using the "right" weight for you is that YOU see progress, and you have a goal....the goal is to complete the "cycle" finishing stronger than when you started.  So you may want to test your 5 minute snatch in the days before, and then test it in the days after to see if there was a carry over and if you performed it easier, completing more reps, or maybe with the next bell size up.  For me, now that my SFG weekend and testing is done I now have Kettlebell Sport set/rep goals to reach, so this is a tremendous motivator.

I'm not sure whether this program will be 5 or 6 weeks, I've still got to map it out.  I also have to map out some other personal KB goals on my schedule.  Workshops, Swing Quests, and Kettlebell Sport competitions.  So when I get it all together, I promise, you will be the first to know!

Today's first workout in this next cycle included double bells, and a weight ladder consisting of 4 progressively heavier bells, ending at the 32kg.  In these heavy strength cycles, with Sinister being the only exception, rep counts were limited to up to only 10.  In this one however the rep count may go up to 15, but no higher.  (and there is a reason for that. explanation to come)  double 16kg's, 20 kg, 24kg, 28kg and 32kg were the bells me and my training partner Brenda used.  Maribel used double 12kg's, 16kg, 18kg, 20kg and 24kg.

I hope to start journaling the progressions next Thursday.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ribs, The Hip Pressure Cooking Way!

Until I have time to write and post more details about pressure cooking, I wanted to share a quick picture of the pork ribs and barbecue beans I did yesterday, This is a recipe Laura Pazzaglia is demonstrating during her guest appearances this year as a prelude to the release of her first cookbook, "Hip Pressure Cooking" (St Martin's Press 2014), so she asked me not to post the exact recipe, but here is a link to another one of Laura's brilliant ways of using the pressure cooker to make some of the most delicious ribs in a fraction of the time!

What makes this recipe a bit more special is Laura's technique of steaming the ribs over pre soaked beans, all in one PC, making for a delicious one pot meal in 20 minutes cooking time.  One tip I do feel comfortable in sharing is that Laura suggested having the butcher cut the rack of ribs down the center of the rack, through the bones, turning the 4 inch ribs into 2 inch "riblette's"!  I love this idea as it makes it easier to portion out smaller servings, the size is great for serving at parties and for company, and I think when the dish is plated it just looks nicer.  I had made country style ribs many times in the PC, but never the baby back style ribs.  This time I used both!  I purchased about 1 lb of each to see if I preferred one over the other and I did.  Nothing to do with flavor, both tasted similar if not identical.

"Country style" ribs are much less expensive but include a ton more fat, which is fine, but I wouldn't serve them to guests or at a party, they don't lend themselves to being easy to pick up and eat.  Country style ribs often are the same as pork shoulder, which shreds easily and is used in dishes like Carnitas or Chili Verde.  The baby back "riblette's", although more expensive, are easier to handle and the bone probably makes them more flavorful when cooked the traditional way, but when cooked in the PC I'm not sure my taste palette is that sensitive.  Since this was the first time I made this dish I probably cooked it 5 minutes too long which did dry out the country style ribs a bit, but with the sauce I'm not sure anybody would notice.

The most often asked question I get about using a pressure cooker is what is the difference compared to a crockpot/slow cooker, besides the obvious, which is one is super fast and one is super slow.  I'm still educating myself on the exact science of how pressure cooking maintains the nutritional value of foods, where as many slow cooked foods lose nutritional value, you can find all the answers to any questions on Laura's website

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Almost....Give and Take #2

Guess what's coming any day, any hour, gosh darn maybe, any minute? Yep! Give and Take #2 starring T-rif and the Sokolater!

Monday, August 26, 2013

That Freaking Jerk!

It seems as if it's been forever since I posted anything about my kettlebell training considering what a big part of my life it is.  So many great swing routines I haven't had time to journal, so many great insights about improving my training I have not had time to journal and, really the biggest change, having the opportunity to attend a two day Kettlebell Sport Instructor Certification taught by Master of Sport International Class, World Champion Dennis Vasiliev.  Where has time gone?  Oh yes, it could have something to do with my husband's total knee replacement surgery two days afterwards!

I posted my snatch set from last weekend competition right away because my skill and endurance for completing the 10 min. snatch needs not much explaining.  I love the snatch, I'm good at snatching a kettlebell, and with more practice at the technique for GS snatching I'm not worried in the least that I will, some day, be able to express my true potential for that lift.  The jerk however....  That freaking jerk!

It is a fact that I successfully completed a personal record for the 16kg jerk on my L side (kind of). But looking at the video (of which this is only the second time I have had the courage) it's clear that my judge was extremely generous.  With that being said, I promise to focus deeply on not letting that son of a bitch jerk freak me out anymore!

My IPad ran out of storage space (another story), so the video above is most of my set, which ended up lasting just over 7 minutes, 71 jerk reps.

Days before this competition I realized that lasting the entire 10 minutes was not my first priority.  My first priority was my rep count.  How long that was going to take me was irrelevant.  My training set me up for a goal at 70-80 reps.  I completed 71, 36 L, 35 R (or something like that). I also decided, three days prior, to start with my left hand instead of my right.  The explanation for that decision I'll leave for a different blog post, but still I feel it was in my best interest to start with my "less strong" side.  Giving up on the entire 10 minutes?  Hmm..."giving up"?  Hmm...still thinking about that.  Or should I think about it as simply my strategy for rank?  Ego in one way for ego in another, or maybe not ego, just a solid placement. 71 16kg jerks is ego deflating enough, but the bottom line, and I'm not complaining, I'm just explaining (lol), is that I've been training this sport for about 6 months and I'm over the moon with what my consistent and committed training has produced, how could I not be?  Rank 1 in biathlon for my first meet with the 16kg is not anything to feel bad about AT ALL.

I learned a ton, even though that 'tonwas actually very small nuances that will make very big differences, in the 2 days following the competition.  I had the opportunity to learn and train with OKC's best, Dennis Vasiliev photo above), my coach John Buckley, Head coaches Jason Dolby, and Juliet Lederle during my OKC Kettlebell Sport Instructor Certification Course (which I passed by the way...anybody need training? lol). Tomorrow, Tuesday, will be my first workout in the next cycle toward CMS (I hope), Candidate for Master of Sport.  I'm not actually sure what my next goal is until I meet with my coach.  My personal goal is to bury that damn 16kg jerk.  I don't care how long it takes me (within reason of course) but it will not intimidate me any longer, I won't let it.

My next competition will be in February.  In the mean time I have plenty to keep me busy.  The Swing Quest is my priority.  Without my kettlebell swing training I would not be writing about any of this!  Without my swing training, my high volume kettlebell ballistic workouts, I couldn't even imagine being where I am now.  Lucky me I don't have to chose one or the other, I can have both....and more!  Swings, GS, and a husband with a brand spanking new knee!  What more could a girl want?

Let's Make a Deal

At the end of the day, I take 100% responsibility for what I put in my mouth and why I put it there and how often I put it there, but I'll make you a deal.  You don't bring food to me as a "gift", and I won't bring it to you, or maybe what I'm trying to articulate is please don't bring me "extra" food, lots of extra food.  I do enough of that on my own!  I'm all about sharing a nice meal, dessert included, and I'm fine with having people over and offering many delicious options, even the option of overeating if you, or I chose to, but please let's share the experience, if we both agree to it.

There was a time when I had stronger feelings about this kind of situation.  You know, the kind of situations when someone at work brings that huge box of donuts and leaves them in the break room.  Or someone who loves to bake (but doesn't want to eat it themselves) decides it's a good idea to "off" cookies, cakes and desserts on friends and coworkers.  Or the surprise mocha latte you didn't ask for brought to you as a "thoughtful gift".  I used to use words like assaulted and ambushed to describe what it felt like for me to be put in situations like these.

I also used to call this food trash.  So much food in this country is thrown away, just plain old put out as trash because it's perishable. It just doesn't last for long and if we don't eat it all, which we can't because it's impossible, where is it to go?  This country produces something like 4000-6000 calories per person, when most of need about half of that and less.  What to do with the extra?  Well, I don't know about you, but along with the junk food I don't want to eat trash food, and I promise not to buy any for you either.

In fact if I think about all the money I could all save by NOT buying foods I don't need, or for others that don't need them I might be able to use it for something I really need that could help me and my friends....maybe I would like more bells, or another clock (maybe).  Continuing my coaching and training education, or saving money to travel to competitions, etc.!  Yep, that's what I'll do!

How I feel is under my control.  If I choose to feel 'assaulted' then it's my fault, no one else's.  I don't, and I won't, choose to that anymore.  And I for the same reason I won't feel obligated either.

What about you?  Can we make a deal?

ps cherimoyas and peaches excluded! That's it, I promise!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tomato Stems

Mark came home from the hospital today, and so did I, sort of!  I spent the entire day and night Wednesday, sleeping on a hard fold out chair and wearing my contact lens'!  I took my glasses and solution with me in the morning, but on a quick trip home I removed the bag that it was in, returning to the hospital without either.  I came home Thursday at 5:30am to train until around 7:30, off to Palo Alto for a couple of privates and straight back to the hospital until late evening.  I fell into bed last night for a few hours and back to the gym by 6:00am, and again, straight back to the hospital until Mark was discharged after lunchtime.

Why does it seem as if I have been away from home for days and days?  Well, it could be all the food I had sitting in the fridge, not being eaten or prepared, starting to go bad!  I've got a counter full of fresh garden grown tomatoes, 10 lbs of peaches, two roasted chickens, and lots of other stuff that needs attention.

I cam home and made a quinoa salad from some grains I cooked on Tuesday.  Using the tomatoes and peaches I made a salsa by adding hot peppers, roasted corn, white onion, cilantro and lime, salt and a drizzle of honey....I think that's it.  Diced up some chicken and I had to stop myself from making another plateful!  (I know what I'm having for lunch tomorrow!)

As I was dicing the tomatoes I realized that I don't bother sorting out the stem part anymore, I just dice it up and throw it in with everything else.  I mean, as long as it's not some big 'ol honkin' thick and gritty thing!  But there used to be a day when I would carefully cut around them, pick them out and throw them away, kind of like when you're a kid and you want the crust cut off of your bread!  Although a tomato stem doesn't taste as good as bread crust, I guess I'm just taking note  how much more relaxed I am, and less picky when it comes to certain things about food prep.  Or is it just being lazy?  I mean, I've never heard of anybody getting sick from eating a tomato stem!

But why was I so hung up on not eating the stem of a tomato?  It's the same with any fruit or veg, isn't it?  Some people eat entire apples, seeds and all!  Now I'm not crazy like that!  Oh, and I just had dinner with someone that took the lemon wedge out of his water and ate the entire thing, including the peel!

How much do you cut off of your fruits and veggies?  What about tomatoes?  Have you gotten over eating the stem end?

PS If I ever serve you my salsa, I'll make sure and make a batch without stem ends!  Okay?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

See you on the dance floor!

One of the best times I've had with Mark was this past Saturday night singing and dancing!  After the competition a karaoke party was organized at a local bar for the lifters that wanted to continue to celebrate....who doesn't like karaoke?  Personally I don't sing, but Mark will!  The first time I saw him sing karaoke I was flabbergasted!  "Born to Be Wild" is kind of his theme song, and he's pretty good!  No fear, no hesitation, complete confidence and a smile knowing the fun about to be had!  But these are some of his characteristics anyway....and good thing too!

Tomorrow morning Mark is having surgery for a complete knee replacement on his left side.  It was an unexpected decision made only weeks ago, but now that the time is here everything about it feels right.  A new healthy knee, making two healthy knees, is going to change Mark's life.  A little more singing maybe?  A little more dancing? For sure!  And I'm so proud of him.  No fear, no hesitation, complete confidence and with a smile.

Now let's get this party started!  We might see you on the dance floor!

Ps photo above was taken Sat night, but it is not Mark singing! 

Team Tracyrif!

Another super quick post about this weekend's competition.  There are so many parts and details I don't want to overload anybody with.....because I'm a bit overloaded myself! I was so proud to have inspired (or threatened) 8 people to step on the platform for the very first time!   I just wanted to share this picture taken in hour before the meet started, when we were all fresh!  I'm claiming them Team Tracyrif, whether they like it or not!

L to R clockwise
Andrea Reyna, 8kg, 5 minute snatch 122 reps, 1st place
Maribel Medina, 12kg 10 minute snatch 185 reps, 2nd place
Deepika Goyal, 12kg 5 minute snatch 94 reps, 3rd place
James Mac Neil 16kg 10 minute snatch, 187 reps, 1st place
Brenda Tierney 16kg 5 minute snatch, 113 reps, 1st place
Meg Llyod, 12kg biathlon, 158 jerk, 164 snatch, 240 points, rank 1, 1st place
Stacy Whitney, 12kg 5 min snatch, 131 reps, 1st place, 12kg 10 min jerk 114 reps, rank 2, 1st place
Melisa Mac Neil, 8 kg 10 min snatch, 192 reps, 1st place
Tracy Reifkind, me! 16kg biathlon, 71 jerk, 187 snatch, 164.5 points, 1st place rank 1

Congratulations to all, for stepping up, claiming and committing to your training, and putting it and yourselves to the test.  I couldn't be more proud!  Really, I couldn't!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Orange Kettlebell Club's Bay Area Championships! Part #1 Ten minute Snatch set, 187 reps (91/96)

I am so exhausted but I wanted to post something!  Here is my 10 minute 16kg Snatch set and more details coming, but the goriest detail?  Be warned....  I got the "Dexter Award"!  Apparently I splattered the floor and wall behind me from the shooting blood from my right hand after the switch from R to L.  As I was snatching L and my right hand swung alongside of me, my heart pumping oxygen to keep up pace, my heart was also pumping blood out of my hand. Yikes. I'm not saying that this is normal, or I should be proud, but I admit I think it was pretty cool.  I think it's cool to feel so focused on a personal goal that nothing else touches you, not that it's cool to damage your hands gutting out a few more reps.  But sometimes, until you learn how not to, it can happen.

I managed a PR (personal record) in 9:38.  I did not make my full 10 minutes because I had to switch from R to L around 4:30 because the skin on my palm sheared off at around 4:00!  (I'm kind of being dramatic...kind of!)  I was shooting for 100/100, but at 91 R and 30 seconds left before the usual 5 min switch I still would have been at least 3-5 reps short.  I switched and managed 96 reps on my L! A total PR on my L side by over 25 reps, and 4 short of the 100 rep goal.  187 total.

This was my second set of the day, and I'll post my jerk set when I have time, and I only have part of it on video as my IPad ran out of space and only got about 3/4 of it.  I also did a PR in the Jerk in total and on my L side.  37/34 (71 total)  Disappointing on my R, but I can't complain AT ALL!  (although I tried!)

All my team did amazing, all of them earning their Level one rank and/or placing in the top two in their divisions.  After I collected everybody's certificates and medals we went to Karaoke!  omg...I haven't danced like that in years!  And now that Mark is getting a new knee on Wednesday I think we'll be tearing up more dance floors soon!

Got to bed before midnight, and then 10:00am start time the next morning for a two day GS Instructor Certification!  I finished day one, barely able to hang onto an 8kg for technique practice, but tomorrow I should be closer to new again!  I'm crawling off to bed now.....good night.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Who Needs Cake?

I had a wonderful time at Williams Sonoma this afternoon attending Laura Pazzaglia's pressure cooking demos and more about that in the very near future (recipes too!)  I invited one of my students along to join me, Deepika, and I'm so glad she came!  It's so much fun sharing things I love to do and believe in with my friends.  Speaking of things I love to do and believe in...  Deepika is also competing tomorrow!  I know, cool huh?

Don't think I've just been laying around waiting for the "big day" (the second one this month!). I decided to treat the day in a regular kind of way, and truth be told I couldn't think of anything else I could do at this point except business as usual....kind of.  I decided to NOT go to yoga.  I found it a difficult decision to make, until I made it.  I tend to over stretch during yoga (believe it or not!), and over exercise in general, but since becoming a competitor the day before an important competition is not the time to take chances or tray and add any junk miles.  Rest and recovery #1.  Speaking of the second big day....

Tomorrow, August 17th.  A day that I've been looking forward to since my very first competition back in February.  I was thrilled to find out Orange Kettlebell Club was hosting a home competition here in the Bay Area during my 50th birthday month!  Even more motivation to set some training goals to celebrate this wonderful time in my life!  And joining me are some very close and special athletes!  My own students and training partners!  I have seven rookies registered for their first Kettlebell Sport competition, and fingers crossed, not their last...but it's perfectly fine if it turns out not to be their cup of tea.  I'm just full of joy and appreciation that they are sharing this day of craziness with me.

I will never ever forget this birthday!  Oh...and I never did buy a cake!  Who needs cake when you've got friends like these?  I mean...who needs cake tomorrow when you've got friends like these!  Because cake is coming!  Sooner or later, cake is coming!

Happy 50th birthday month to me!

picture above was taken as everybody started singing Happy Birthday to me right after our swing workout "The New 50".  Six of these seven bad ass students of mine are competing tomorrow!  (the 7th...well, it's just a matter of time!)  L to R Marci (she's next, lol), Andrea, Maribel, Melisa, James, Deepika and Meg.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

C'mon, be Hip! Pressure Cooked Quinoa, courtesy of the Hip Pressure Cooker

I don't eat a lot of grains or potatoes, so it stands to reason I don't cook them that much.  I do cook a lot of beans, mostly in chilis, stews and soups, and my one "go to" grain is oats, in every form from steel cut, thick rolled, and even quick oats.  But with summer comes fresh and seasonal vegetables in abundance and hot weather, perfect for eating cold foods, like salads.

Mark can eat anything because he never overeats.  He can eat potatoes, he can eat bread, he can eat candy and pastries...oh and ice cream, let's not forget ice cream!  And lucky for me I don't like the same kinds of foods he does, not even the same kind candy or ice cream!  I love potatoes, but there are so many other foods closer to the top of my list I'm rarely tempted to eat them, much less overeat them.  So weekly I make a batch of potato salad, and although really really yum yum yummy I won't eat it, or I'll serve myself a very small dish full.

Another salad I've been making regularly is my quinoa salad.  Again, quinoa is not a favorite (until maybe now!), so if I make a large carb based salad I'll be careful to portion out a small serving.  I do tend to be careful about my carbs, never trying to eliminate them completely, but as I write about in my book, The Swing, I still, to this day, mentally organize my diet/nutrients in a certain order.

Vegetable, protein, fat, carb/dairy, sugar.

Oh, sorry, this blog post is about pressure cooking, not diet!

Yesterday I did something I never ever did before! I pressure cooked my potatoes for a salad!  Duh!  Why the heck did I not think about that before?  I started to get my big 'ol pot out to boil potatoes and then I thought...hey wait a minute!  (literally)  I should be able to pressure cook these babies and save myself a lot of time!  So that's what I did!  I still have to work out the details but I can't believe I never thought of it before!

Basically I filled my 4 qt PC half way with water, placed 4 med russet potatoes, cut into 1/3 pieces (skin on), placed the lid on, locked it, turned on the heat, let it come up to high pressure, turned down the pressure and cooked them for three minutes.  At this time I turned off the PC and let it sit for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes I released the remaining pressure (manually) unlocked the lid and looked inside!  I poked the potatoes with a bamboo skewer, and it slid through like butter!  I drained the pot and left the potatoes to sit to cool and until I could get to them.  Now all I have to figure out is how to cook the eggs at the same time (I have an idea, so you'll be the first to know if it works out!)  But I can totally see myself using my PC to cook mashed potatoes for holiday meals. (the only time I make them)

So...this evening I went to get a regular pot out of my cupboard to make some quinoa.  Whoa...wait a minute! Don't I have recipe from the "Hip Pressure Cooking" genius Laura Pazzaglia?
I was fortunate to meet her in person last year and watch her make quinoa in the PC!  Not only did I meet her and watch her, but I still had her handout of recipes, including the quinoa recipe, on the side of my refrigerator!  Score!  I'm smelling the deliciousness of it right now!  I can never make quinoa again the old fashioned way!

To be honest I screwed it up the first time 'round!  But if you have ever committed yourself to learning something you never give up. And in the case of pressure cooking more than likely you just have to put the damn thing back on the stove for a little more time, which is what I had to do!  I did not cook it long enough so when I took the lid off it was still watery.  Back went the lid, up went the pressure, on went the kitchen timer and voila!  Part of the problem was that her recipe called for 1 1/2 c. and all I had was 1 c., so making my own adjustments based on experience took a little trial and error!  Here is her exact recipe found on her site (linked above)

It's delicious!  And smells divine!  (I did not use tumeric because I didn't have any, but I had everything else, and it took two minutes at high pressure)

PC-ing the potatoes will still take some trail and error, but why, or how, could I labor for almost an hour cooking either one again?  Silly.  Pressure cooking doesn't take anything away from the flavor, the nutrients or the appearance of foods, it just takes away the time that it takes to cook and prepare delicious homemade meals.  And in fact many foods benefit from pressure cooking in taste/flavor and nutritional value.  When you commit to becoming confident using a modern pressure cooker you can't imagine a whole new world of versatility opening up for you.

From making your own baby food and pet food to using inexpensive ingredients to make entire one pot meals, like certain cuts of meat, dried beans and legumes...or how about an artichoke in less than 10 minutes?  I'm not personally an artichoke fan, but now that I think about it, maybe I could become one in less than 10 minutes!

There are few days that go by that I don't use my pressure cooker and I own three of them!  A 4qt / 6qt combo and an 8 qt...oops I guess I own 4!  A 10 qt too!  One of these days I'll learn how to can, but until then I've got a pretty good thing going on!

Herby, Eggy, Potato Salad

Russet potatoes, cooked until soft, peeled, large dice (4 med size)
6-12 boiled eggs, med dice
1/4-1/2 c white wine vinegar
fresh herbs chopped, lots! (I used dill, chives and parsley)
2 stalks celery, med dice
mayo (1/2 - 3/4 c.)
mustard (1 tbl.)
dill pickle relish (1/2 c including juice, optional)
salt and pepper (potatoes need a lot of salt, don't be shy)

Pour/drizzle white wine vinegar over potatoes and eggs, once they are cool enough to dice, but still warm.  Add all other ingredients and mix.  If the salad seems "thick" add more vinegar, not mayonnaise!  Lots of salt and good grind of fresh pepper to season.

PS I cook my potatoes with the skin on and peel afterwards.  The skin come right off.  To cook eggs I put them in water, bring to a boil with the lid on (5-8 min).  The second they come to a boil turn the heat OFF, but keep the lid on!  Set your timer for 7-10 min depending on how cooked you like them.  Never "boil" eggs.

Square One

The biggest thing on my mind these days is Mark's knee replacement surgery in one week. This time next Wednesday it should be underway and almost over with.  It's going to be life changing for him, for us, and long overdue.  Nothing is more important than being ready and prepared for his fast recovery.  That being said, I've got a small bit of business to finish up myself over the weekend.

This whole month is my 50th birthday month and that is why I was so excited to find out that the organization that I lift with, Orange Kettlebell Club (OKC), has their home competition, here in Berkeley, this Saturday, August 17th!  I will be competing for the first time with the 16kg in both the 10 minute jerk and snatch (biathlon).  As I've been posting little bits, mostly snatch videos, I haven't written too much about training my jerk because that movement has proven, so far, to be a bit of a challenge.  I suspect a couple of reasons, some personal, but most technical, and that is what I am writing about in this post.

I came to this sport already familiar with handling kettlebells, which is a good thing!  With that experience I also brought a training style not conducive to the goal GS, Kettlebell Sport, but I'm not going to get into all of the details of that.  What I am going to say is that I know what I know, but I know what I don't know!  Which is why I'm equally excited about what I have planned for Sunday and Monday following this weekends competition!  In the two days afterwards I will be attending a 2 day Certification to learn how to teach the techniques, using progressions and drills, of Kettlebell Sport!  So it stands to reason that I have to go back to square one myself, practice them, understand them, and demonstrate them in order to pass the course and qualify as an Instructor myself!  Yikes!

For me, square one with the jerk is the position of the handle across the palm of my hand. (photo above, NOT a good hand position!) This position makes me work double time, using up way too much energy in order to try and hang on, fatiguing my grip prematurely, and hitting on nerves in my hand that can't handle the load and the length of a 10 minute set easily.  But so far I have not been able to, or found the time to, or made it a priority to take the time and practice finding the right position, or getting into the right position.  Learning this position is my number one goal. I never learned it correctly with the 12kg, and I suspect I'll have to go back and start there, or maybe even with the 8kg or 10kg.  

Okay, enough about all that.  I've decided to post my 10 minute jerk set I attempted yesterday.  The set was supposed to be a 30/30 rep set done 5 x 5. "5x5" means that you jerk and hold overhead for 5 seconds, rack and hold for 5 seconds, repeat.  I was unsuccessful on my L side, but that's has to be okay because that's what it was! I can't change it!  Although I had to re-rack I continued on to complete my reps and my time.  I switched R and was successful for the remaining 5 minutes.  I will get a little more practice tomorrow, one last time, and then I will do my best to get the numbers I need to on Saturday.  I've got a plan and I'm going into Saturday's set focused on what I do know, and intend to be really proud of my results!

The snatch.  Here is also the video of my 8 minute 16kg set (77/75)  It was not as easy as I was hoping it would be, BUT I only took about 20 minutes between my 10 min jerk set and this one.  I also started this snatch set with the hand I finished my jerk set with. At the meet I will have more time to recover!  Maybe close to 2 hours in fact, not 15 minutes!

This Saturday I'll start lifting at 11:10, then again at 2:25!  Also lifting alongside me this weekend are my incredible students!  Maribel Medina, 10 minute 12kg snatch, Meg Llyod 10 min 12kg Biathlon (jerk and snatch), Andrea Reyna, 8kg 5 minute snatch, Deepika Goyal 12kg 5 min snatch, Brenda Tierney 16kg 5 min snatch, James MacNeil 16kg 10 min Snatch, and Melisa MacNeil 12kg 10 min snatch!  I'm such a proud mama!

Come out and see us lift and cheer us on!  Be there, or be square! (but not square one!)

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Yoga, My Health

I slept horribly last night.  I keep thinking about my jerk set I have to do on Saturday and playing out different scenarios.  Trying to relax, breathe, focus, see and hear my breath and body go through the movements.  I've got a pretty good couple of GS sets to practice tomorrow afternoon and then I'll put the brakes on training a bit, but especially overtraining.  I'm always wanting to throw an extra yoga class into my week, or a 30-45 min walk, neither I really need to do, and with a competition in 5 days I really don't need to do them at all!  It's that old overexercising mindset, the old habit of thinking I should try to burn as many calories I can, even though I know it's not the way it works!

But Monday is a yoga day, so before the crack of dawn I found myself working out all the stiff and tight parts first thing this morning at 5:30am.  My biggest motivation for my practice these days is to stretch out my hands/grip, hamstrings/quads, traps and biceps to benefit my sport training.  Even though I have time to go to yoga tomorrow I won't.  It's not a yoga day!  I'll go on Wednesday and Friday.  Business as usual, but more relaxed, not trying to "workout". The "workout" is coming on Saturday!

Backbends are the most difficult postures for me to practice so early in the morning.  And for me, this posture, Camel pose (Ustrasana) is more about opening up my chest and stretching my bicep muscles, not so much about bending backwards.  I haven't looked at my yoga practice as a yoga practice at all in so many months.  Perhaps because I felt I lost it completely after my hamstring injury.  It forced me to come to terms with what is more important

What is more important is what I wrote about a few days ago in my post Freedom.  Living with the physical freedom of moving without restriction or pain.  Sure, tightness and stiffness can feel like pain, but it's not! And when you do experience real pain and/or restriction then you beg to have back the other minor irritations!   For now I'll appreciate the time I get to take to simply stretch.  No pressure to do the postures perfectly, or even to improve the postures themselves, but the focus is on the improvement of the overall health of my body.

It's my yoga, it's my health.  I'm very thankful that I have a place to go and do backbends.  On my own I would probably never do, I know I would never do them!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Know the Difference

Yesterday I had to complete 50/50 16kg jerks.  I say "had to" because apparently all the folks at Juno hold you hostage to the bell until you finish your programmed crying kettlebell for me yesterday.  But it did take quite a bit out of me, partly because I stalled for over an hour before I even started my set!  I had never done 50 jerks, on my left side for sure and not even close, so I was convinced it was a programming mistake.  Nope.

Yes, I did complete 50/50 16kg jerks.  No, I did not complete them with only one clean.  I had to reclean on my R once (I think), but the L was a ter-rip!  I think I let it fall out of the rack on some crazy low rep, like 17 or 18!  How the crap was I going to get to 50?  So I made up my mind to pray to get to 25. Twenty five was all I was going to do, and then I could move on with my life!  So I put the bell down at 25.  What was I thinking? Last week when Rebecca told me to "rack" the bell I thought it meant put the bell down, put the bell away, but this time I knew different.  No one was going to let me give up.  Re-rack the damn bell!

Oh, it wasn't easy, it wasn't pretty, there were plenty of re-racks and swings in between those last 25 jerk reps.  But I had to do it, and I knew it.  I was being held hostage.  Looking back I can't believe I did it.  John's words of wisdom right afterwards;

You know when you don't want to be there anymore? You know when you want to quit?  You have to ask yourself, is it because you don't want to, or is it because you don't have the ability to?  Know the difference."

I let myself get so worked up, I felt pretty miserable.  Miserable that I made it so hard on myself to begin with and I spent so much energy of fighting having to do it rather than focusing TO do it!

At this point I had also miscalculated my caffeine and food that morning all I could think about was eating (it was 1:30pm).  I was programmed to do a 12 minute 14kg snatch set at 20-22 rpm, and I could have done it.  But I let myself be a baby and justify rescheduling it for first thing this morning (Sunday) knowing I have to train anyway, I'll just throw it in, blast it out and be done with it.

Well, I maybe, could've, should've just finished up at Juno, but it worked out almost as good since all three of my Sunday clients/training partners are also getting ready for their first competition next Sat!  Maribel is competing the 10 min 12kg snatch, Meg 10 min 12kg biathlon (jerk and snatch), and Brenda the 16kg 5 min snatch!  So while I was snatching away they were doing their sets too!

Here's mine.  14kg snatch 120 R/ 114 L.  My program called for a 20-22 rpm pace, which I was able to keep for the most part in the first 5 minutes both R and L, averaging 19.5 rpm.  Here is the break down per minute;
R 24-23-22-21-18-12
L 21-20-20-19-19-15

Our workout went on to include a 10 minute swing set (or 5 min) with our competition weights (me w/16kg = 400 continuous reps), and I believe this was in between 5 sets of 40, 1 min work, 30 sec rest (w/14kg for me).  So 800 swing reps total in less than 30 minutes (not including any other warm up swings)  We finished the last 30 minutes with some light clean and press, both single and double bells.  Whew!

Saturday, August 10, 2013


September 25, 2007, almost 6 years ago I wrote this blog post titled "Living without Physical Restrictions"  In other words, "Freedom"!

As I was leaving Whole Foods the other day, I'm "bee-bopping" out to my car, thinking how stinkin' good my life is...feeling so stinkin' lucky about my life....feeling so stinkin' happy about myself.....taking full breaths of life... I couldn't exactly articulate to myself why. And it doesn't matter exactly why...just the fact that I feel this way is fabulous!

When I got home I started to describe to Mark how I felt, and he suggested something to me that really hit the nail on the head. I was telling him how happy and light I felt and he said, " That's because you have no physical restrictions, you can move your body how you want to." Exactly! ( thanks Honey!)

As soon as he said that, I realized that that was why.... I felt "light". Light, not only physically, but spiritually....that's happiness!

I think when you're young, and if you don't have any physical restrictions you don't appreciate it! And because you're not yet mature enough, you spend alot of time not appreciating what you do have, instead "wishing" you were thinner, your tummy was flatter, your thighs were smaller, your hair was longer, your nose smaller, not to mention wishing you had more money, had a boyfriend, had a new car, etc..THEN you could be happy! I don't have those "issues" anymore!  I appreciate not having any physical restrictions, and I don't wish for anything, really, because I know, if I don't have something I say I want then I'm the one to blame.

Because of the conditioning and strength my body gets from kettlebell training I can enjoy the movement of life, I can move my body the way I want to.

I can,

Walk as far as I want to! (even jog and do sprints on the beach)
Get up from the floor easily and squat down as deep as I need/want to!
Lift and move things easily!
Try new physical activities, like yoga, and not feel embarrassed that I might not be able to do it.
Swing a KB forever and survive an RKC! (SFG)

And how I feel about my body is,

Strong and athletic, because I know I look strong and athletic.
Beautiful, because I know I look beautiful.
Confident, knowing I can wear anything I want to wear.
Small and feminine, for the first time in my life.
And appreciation for how my body has responded to my commitment to make it work the way it wants to!  My body has been wanting to rise to this occasion of being it's best during this physical life, and I'm letting it!

I have all of this.... after being so overweight and "out of shape"for so stinkin' lucky am I?

I am free.  I've been free for almost 8 years now and it feels ah-mazing!

It's not about being skinny, it's not about being rich or famous.  It's about doing what you love to do, everyday, and moving through this life without any physical restrictions.  But freedom, feeling free, no matter what your physical condition is right now is, may be, a matter of closing your eyes and wanting it and believing it.

"If one person can do it, it can be done."  -Mark Reifkind

PS in 11 days Mark will undergo a complete knee replacement.  Having suffered a complete knee dislocation as a competitive gymnast, he has been living physical restriction and pain for over 2 decades.  And because of this he always reminds me of how lucky I am.  How lucky I am to live without a physical restriction.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Super Duper, TMI, All About Training, Blog Post! (I may change the title, but it's just my way of trying to warn anybody that may read this!)

Be warned! This post is all about the super itty bitty training details and nuances of my three GS practice sets I did yesterday!

I am not afraid, and never have been afraid, of the snatch competition.  I've done a million kettlebell snatches, "hardstyle" because that's how I learned them.  If I don't do well in my snatch set it's only because of an "off" day, and I don't have any attachment to it.  But the jerk?  Well, the jerk movement and skill has had me running scared for way too long.  It was only yesterday that I found it in my mind, and in my heart, to relax.  To let it flow, and to BREATHE!  I'll write more about why the jerk movement has been (why I have let it be) a bigger stress on me than it should be, but in the mean time I'll share with you, technique flaws and all, the video of my GS training sets I practiced yesterday.

Thursday morning is my super duper heavy swing workout, using double 16's and the 28kg (30-35 minutes of SOLID interval swing training).  I took a bit of rest, then a warm up before I did this set of "18kg snatch w/extra swing".  Programmed for me was 45/45 reps R and then L.  I miscounted, ending up with 46 R/ losing my grip on what I thought was 45 (but actually 47), letting the bell touch the ground on the transfer to L, miscounting and completing only 44 L.  I had posted on Facebook that sometimes the 18kg feels like the 16kg, and sometimes it feels like the 20kg!  Yesterday?  Well....

I took liberty to try a couple of new things, that did not work out, while in practice. The first was that, about 20 reps (double reps) into this set, I decided to not train my swing in my usual "Tracy" fashion of really reaching back behind me and letting the bell react by swinging to a higher floaty position in front of me before the next snatch rep.  I decided to try this because I noticed a few of the other successful GS Snatch athletes at Juno did not swing so high, in fact their swing rep was pretty low as I observed.  This did not work for me at all.  I depend on the "float" as rest and relaxation, and with a shorter swing I found myself working much harder, sooner and faster without the extra time of a longer stroke of my swing.  You really can't notice it too much in the video, but I sure felt it!

The second technique change I tried out was to catch my snatch with my legs, kind of like a jerk/snatch hybrid.  If you watch the video you will see this on my last successful rep on my right side before my last unsuccessful rep!  It didn't work out for me! And I suspect it helped cause the bobble of what I thought was my 45th rep....which caused disappointment, which caused me to let the bell touch the ground and then I gave up a bit.  Lesson learned.

Next?  Well, I'm "supposed to" do my jerk sets first, followed by my snatch sets, BUT I thought I should complete all of my ballistic training at once, and so that's why I decided to do my snatch set after my heavy swing workout first thing Thursday morning.

I am lucky to have Mark as my afternoon coach, and it's a great help to have his feedback and guidance, and to support me through my jerk sets. It's always nice to have someone keep count for also helps when they love you!  So a split workout it was going to have to be.

I finished my morning workout around 7:45am, went about my day, took a nap from 2:30-3:45 (with my sweetie), got up and had to go for it!  To be honest I thought about not doing it!  I've been, well, I'll say it....kind of shot down and defeated about my weak performance with GS jerk technique, and I'm not motivated by failure, I would describe myself as a person motivated by success.  But earlier that day I had found an audio tape of a book about visualization.  I had listened to it before, a couple of times, so when I came across it again I knew I needed to hear it at least one more time.  There would be a message, or an answer for me that I was ready to hear again.

Yes!  There was!  Breathe.  See the breath.  Hear the breath.  Relax.  Hear the breath.  Let the breath be your timer.  It's going to all be OK.  It's going to be fine.

I knew as I walked into the gym that afternoon that whatever was going to be was going to be.  Whatever I knew at this point is what I knew at this point.  It's just a kettlebell, and all I had to do was trust in what I do know, and let go of what I don't.  This is not the end, there will be many, many, many more days of practice!

As I started my first set I forgot about the faster pace that was prescribed for this practice. Darn!  I could have kept pace, I just forgot because I had been doing so many 5 x 5 sets I fell into that pace instead of the faster 12rpm. Oh well.  I video taped these next two sets at different angles to potentially help me see things I may not have seen before.


4 min rest, and only one more 2 minute set of 12/12.

I'm happy.  I was able to let go of so much of the stress and I feel better than ever about next weekends competition!  What a relief and just in time!


I always take video of my training sets for GS, but I rarely post them for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I receive quite a few kind hearted people wanting to give coaching advice, and I'm grateful that there are others that care about my growth and success as a GS athlete.  But that being said, I have a couple of wonderful coaches that help me, day in and day out, that know me personally and how I react to training, and competition, in addition to being accomplished athletes and coaches themselves.

Another reason that I don't care for outside critique is that I know that I still have a long way to go, maybe a longer way as I have to transition from one kind of kettlebell training to another, and back again!  I find value in training both styles of kettlebell skills and movements and I'm thrilled that I do not have to choose one or the other!  I can do both, and I am doing both, and I will continue to do both!  It's because of my prior experience handling kettlebells for so many years that has allowed me to enter the sport at the level I have.

I do admit I know, and have a good idea, of my technique flaws, but here I am, 7 days away from participating in my first competition with a 16kg kettlebell.  At this point I have to bring the good and the bad with me on the platform next Saturday!  But I can promise you this...  I'm as excited to, basically, get the chance to start from square one, focusing 99% on technique when this is over, and really learn the corrections I need to implement and move forward in the sport.  I am attending a two day Certification Course on Sunday and Monday to learn the progressions and how to teach, the drills, the skills to help me in my own training and to help coach others to become, and express, their inner athlete, through the magic of this crazy little weight with a handle, affectionately known as "Kettle".

How lucky am I?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tracyrif's "The New 50"!

Well, here it is, as promised!  The New 50 is about not trying to be anything else!  50 is not the new 40 or the new 35, or anything except what it is, and it's absolutely glorious, for me anyway!

I've included the workout in my shorthand so you can take a look and then follow along, or just grab a bell and go for it!  You may notice a few of my co-swingers choosing some different options of only doing the equal work to rest swing reps, or doing ALL two hand swings.

"The New 50"

warm up
10 2 hd sw x 1 (15/15)
20 tr x 1 (20 reps) (30/30)
5/5 x 3 x 1 (30 reps) (45/45)
10/10 x 2 x 1 (40 reps) (1 min/1 min)
90 swings, 4.5 min

10 2 hd sw x 1 (15/15)
20 tr (.5/.5)
20 tr + 10 2 hd sw (30 reps) (45/15)
5/5 x 3 (.75/.75)
5/5 x 3 + 10 2 hd sw (40 reps) (1 min/30)
5/5 x 3 + 10 tr (40 reps) (1.25 min/.25)
10/10 x 2 (1 min/ 1 min)
10/10 + 10 2 hd sw (40 or 50 reps) (1.25/.75)
10/10 + 10 tr (40 or 50 reps) (1 min/1 min or 1.25/.75)
10/10 + 5/5 (40 or 50 reps) (1 min/1 min or 1.25/.75)
10/10 + 5/5 + 10 tr + 10 2 hd sw (50 reps 1.25 work w/only 15 sec rest)
10 R (15/15)
10 L (15/15)
5/5 (15/15)
10 tr 10 (15/15)
2 hd sw (15/15)

400-460 swing reps19 min
490-550 swing reps total, 23.5 minutes

A super special thanks to (right to left, front row, middle and back row)
Maribel, Meg
Andrea, Melisa, James, Deepika
Marcy, Cheri

I have a companion workout already to post at the end of my birthday month!  So practice up, the next one is just a itty bit more fun!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Scallion Tops?

Even after I learned how to cook I never thought about using the green parts of scallions! Probably because I was still a "recipe reader" and most recipes tell you to only use the white part.  Scallions are green onions by the way.....a description that you may find inconsistent in recipes.

It wasn't until I invited myself to visit and stay with my BFF Fawn Friday, Sfg level 2 (former professional Chef), that I learned that not only can you, and should you, use the green parts of the scallions, but how to make a very simple and fast salad dressing.  The simplest of salad dressings is oil and vinegar! And this is just two more ingredients: scallion greens, and honey!  And even the honey is optional, but it balances out the acid of the vinegar (or lime, or lemon, or combination of any of the three)

Yesterday morning I had to make some chicken salad (which I chose to make from store bought raosted chickens, by the way!)  and a large Quinoa Salad with spinach, roasted corn, tomatoes, and grilled summer squash, and Queso Fresco cheese, (and the white/light green part of the scallion!)  It's a salad I've made many times before, after first watching Fawn make it way back in 2007!  And I've posted it a few times here on this blog over the last 5 years.  You could easily dress the salad with just oil and vinegar, and still you would blow the socks off of company or at a pot luck, but why not make a dressing with a mild onion "bite", since you had to buy a bunch of scallions anyway.

Since there are only 4 ingredients in this dressing I decided to use an expensive olive oil (because I had it in my pantry).  Lemon, the green scallion tops, and about 2-3 tsp honey.  Do I have to list salt at this point?  Salt is a seasoning and should be a given!  A "gps" (good pinch of salt).

In a blender:

The top half of one bunch of scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
juice of one good sized lemon, or 2 small (2-4 tbl)
1/2 c. olive oil
good squeeze or heavy drizzle of honey

I just threw it all in the blender and let it go for about 1-2 minutes.  Taste it!  Is it balanced? Does it need more acid? (vinegar or lemon/lime)  Does it need to be a bit sweeter? (more honey)  Does it have enough salt?

It will separate, which is why I included a picture of the dressing I made after sitting on my kitchen counter for about 45 minutes.  Just give it a quick stir before you dress your salad.  The best two things about this dressing? You use a part of a vegetable you might otherwise throw away, and you add some lovely nutrition provided by the dark green onion tops!  Oh....and scallions are cheap...three things!

I found that I only needed one half of this amount for my salad, so I've got another 1/3 c. or so for another later in the week.

How do you use scallion tops?

1 c. quinoa, cooked = 2 c.
1 bunch of spinach (or packaged baby spinach)
2-3 ears roasted corn
1 basket of baby tomatoes (or large diced Heirlooms)
1 bunch sliced scallions (white and light green parts)
1/2 pound Queso Fresco cheese, crumbled OR 1/2 lb Cojita cheese (can be found at WF)
1/3 c green scallion and honey dressing

Monday, August 5, 2013

Saturday Night Live: Sally O'Malley

I'm 50!  Fifty years old!

Saturday Night Live: Sally O'Malley

Maribel sent me this video clip of a Saturday Night Live skit this morning and it's freaking hilarious!  If you have a couple of minutes, and you like SNL humor, you got to watch it!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Birth Day, Fruit Day

Somehow, this year, I felt as if my birthday started on Friday!  A birthday weekend to kick off a birthday month! Interestingly enough I haven't once thought about a cake!  Birthday cake is probably my #1 favorite dessert in the world (as long as it's a corner piece with an extra start!) But this year it's been all about fruit!

It's really easy to be lulled into a false "calorie" sense of security when it comes to fruit.  A lot of time some of us may confuse the low calorie count of vegetables to also include fruit.  Don't I wish?  Man....if only that were true.  I had to come to grips with the reality of the calorie count of fruit long ago.  Now my rule of thumb is 1 pound, 16 oz., = 400 calories.

You could technically buy an Asian pear, or apple, that weighs an entire pound, and it may be slightly less calories, or you could buy a mango or banana weighing slightly less, and equal more calories!  But for me, if I keep this little rule in mind as I shop I'll weigh out my grapes, my cherries my figs, or what I decide I want to eat, and never purchase more than one pound at a time....unless it's my birthday!

Today has pretty much been an all fruit day with no guilt!  I ate numerous nectarines, a handful of apricots, the last of my green figs (I gave a lot away too), at least 1 pound of grapes....goodness I've denied myself grapes far too long!  Grapes!  Can you believe it?  I did buy a melon, but it sucked and I threw it away! What's up with the melons these last few years?  $6 down the drain (or should I say in the trash!).  I will not eat bad tasting fruit!

Tomorrow, my actual birthday, I plan of pressure cooking some apricots and nectarines to add to oatmeal, and freeze the rest for future oat and yogurt meals!  I'm sure I'll buy, and eat, cake at some point, but for now I will enjoy my fruit without any guilt!

I found this Facebook page about Fruit Day!  More fruit lovers?
Count me in!

Coming Tomorrow! "The New 50"

Tomorrow is my 50th birthday!  Five-O!  I knew I was going to have to design a special swing workout using "50" as a theme, and not only did I come up with one, but I came up with two!  Two workouts that progressively increase in difficulty, but are both scalable in so many ways you can easily turn them into as many different workouts as you'll see!

I decided to name the workout "The New 50" because being 50, turning 50, these days is just not the same as it used to be.  One might think that you could say that 50 is the new 40, or even the new 35......30 is just stretching it a bit too far, lol!  But I disagree with any of that! There is a New 50 in town, and I'm thrilled to be an example of the possibilities, experiences and chances to do some amazing things in the second half of my life.  I don't want to be anything other age than what I am, right now, and right now, this second, I'm 49 years old!  But tomorrow I hope some of you will join me swinging right into Tracyrif's New 50"!

I will post the first workout video along with the written routine at some point tomorrow!  The second workout you'll have to earn!  And you'll need to because it's harder!  I mean it's more fun! I'll post The New 50 #2 at the end of my birthday month!  Almost an entire month to celebrate!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Happy Accident

I really don't know why more athletes and trainers don't video tape their workouts.  But in their defense I would never have started if it were not for blogging!  Goodness!  Back in "the day" (2006-07) when I started my original blog and I wrote about my diet and workouts, it took maybe an entire year before I posted some video, taken with my Cannon camera (with a 3 minute video limit AND no sound) only to demonstrate some of what my workouts looked like, to then actually speaking my first words on camera!  LOL!  And I distinctly remember one of the first comments I got that  complimented me on having a nice voice!  It was then I became a real person!

During these years I was lucky enough to be able to assist at a few RKC weekends when Mark was teaching, and I routinely suggested to new Instructors to "become their own first clients" by video taping themselves and their skills in order to either make corrections, or to be able to demonstrate correct form and technique!  Become your own first client!  If, as a trainer and coach, you cannot correct your own form and technique, how on earth can you correct someone else?

Fast forward....
You are not a are not even in the business of health and fitness, but you ARE an athlete of some practice wanting to improve.  Video tape your workouts!  I can't tell you how many times I see imbalances in my fellow yogis as I go through my own practice standing behind them (you will almost always find me in the back row!).  Having a regular yoga practice that depends on correct posture can greatly, greatly, benefit from taking some video of your practice, in front, from the side and even behind.  Quit being shy!  Don't you want to know what you really look like?

In this day and age you can set up your phone to take video!  Don't think you should be embarrassed, and ask your spouse, your kids, or your teacher, and set up a camera!  It's not a big deal!  You are not being egotistical, you are simply wanting to improve and be the best you can!  I only know this because of the happy accident of blogging!  Enjoy!

Enjoy becoming your own best coach!  Enjoy the process of seeing, identifying and changing your weaknesses into your strengths!

Making Rules to help Break Old Habits

At the beginning of this year I made one substantial resolution, if you want to call it a resolution, and that was to not allow myself to buy seasonal foods on sale, or sale foods in general.  "Sale" foods are 1/2 price deals (or even a bigger discount) often Holiday candy and cookies, but any food I would not normally buy, that is part of my regular nutritional diet, is a no-no rule!

This is a rule I felt was time to implement to help me break acting out the unconscious habit of buying, therefore eating, certain foods I don't really want in the first place.  I used to find myself buying, and eating, foods that triggered that darn reaction of fear, as if I'll be missing out, I don't have enough, or I'll never again be able to buy those foods at that price.  The fear of scarcity.

I can't tell you haw many times, out of habit, I see those carts or shelves piled high with 50% off foods and, out of habit, I make a beeline right for them!  And I confess I'll look through them, moving stuff around to see if there is anything I want at the bottom!  But then I always come back to the rule.  Even if it's something I can use, like instant oatmeal in those convenient cups (for $.50 a piece) I simply am not allowed.  This has made my life so much easier!

I don't like to use the word "trigger", but for lack of a better way of describing it, are you triggered by certain food situations, or certain foods in general?  Have you made any rules that have helped you break an old unconscious habit?  There is much more to write about this, but for now, I'm off to the gym!

Have a great day!

Photo above is what I walked into in the front of my grocery store the other day!  Did I look through the carts?  Yep!  Did I buy anything?  Nope!  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jo Jo Crazy Cat

This is pretty much what my cat Jello does all the time!  She laid here like this while I warmed up for my snatch set for about 30 minutes!  The gym is, kind of, her place, we just get to visit and use the equipment!

More about my workout coming.