Friday, September 27, 2013

The Swing Quest 2013...the last event until The Swing Quest 2014!

The Swing Quest 2013...the last event until The Swing Quest 2014! But no worries because I'll still be here next year, and the year after, and the year after that!  

I started thinking about this grand plan to get everybody swinging a kettlebell on a regular basis, and as a treat, as a motivator, as a goal, I then would personally lead you all through an event I call The Swing Quest!  The Swing Quest is a 2 hour, 2013 swing rep workout (s) designed in a progressive nature (easy to more difficult) that I would compare to, maybe, a half marathon!  Seriously!  A half marathon!  Two hours is how long it would take an average person to run 13 miles!  I don't know about you, but I'd rather swing for two hours, build muscle, burn fat, increase my cardio conditioning AND do it safely, with absolutely NO impact in my knees, ankles, feet, lower back, hips...shall I go on?  Okay, I won't, enough said!

This past year I have lead my own group through three (now four counting this weekend) events, and I'm happy to report that there are indeed a couple of self motivated people out there in cyberspace that have followed along with!  This weekend I will be leading a brand new group in Big Sur CA!  (more about this trip to come).  While I'm swinging in one of the most beautiful places on earth my training partner and substitute teacher Meg will lead our regular group in Palo Alto!  (some of you are very familiar with Meg as she has co-starred in most of my DVD's!)  The Swing Quest's 4th and last event of the year will start on Sunday, Sept 29th at 8:15am PST!  If you would like to join in there are a couple of things I want to share with you....

The workouts can be found, and some of them, or parts of them have video follow along here on my blog posted in January of this year. However, I have re-written them slightly, tightening them up to flow a little better and build in a more comprehensive progression.  I would be happy to email them to you so you can print them out, if you ask!  I'm only offering it up for the next 36 hours, and you have to promise to swing on Sunday with us, and send me a picture of you doing so!  I'll be sending you the workouts in my own shorthand so please remember that ALL WORK REPS ARE DONE WITH EQUAL REST PERIOD INTERVALS.  (*see note)

My email is

I will only have an hour or so to send them out first thing Saturday morning as I leave to drive to Big Sur at 8:00am.  I will then have about an hour to answer emails in the late afternoon, around dinner time.  Will you rise to the occasion?  You won't be alone, I promise!  We will be there with you!  And The Swing Quest is NOT about doing 2013 exact swing reps, it's about showing up and doing what you can, after all, the next day you still have to get back in the gym!  The Swing Quest is a great place to establish a baseline and when the next event comes around, Saturday, January 4th, with regular workouts you WILL improve.  You WILL do more. You WILL show up.  You WILL be rewarded.

Big Sur Kettlebells Gals here we go!  I can't wait! 

*note:  These workouts are based on equal work to rest intervals.  10 swing reps should always take you approx 15 seconds to complete, giving you 15 seconds to recover for the next set (15/15).  20 reps should take you 30 seconds to complete with 30 seconds rest (30/30).  30 reps should take you 45 seconds to complete with 45 seconds to rest (45/45). 40 reps should take you approx 1 minute to complete with a 1 minute rest/recovery interval (1 min/1 min).  ALWAYS TAKE THE REST YOU NEED!  These workouts and this program is not a race or a challenge as much as it is a motivator.  We all have the rest of our lives to train!  There is no hurry, there is no destination, only the journey. Where will you be next year?  I know where I'll be, and you will find me here, still swinging.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


It's been forever since I made hash browns...or I should say try to make hash browns!  I think the last time I tried it was before I knew anything about cooking so needless to say I'm thinking it didn't turn out so well.  If memory serves me the potatoes never did get cooked all the way through and even then it seemed to have taken forever.  

I had breakfast out with some friends a couple of weeks ago and ordered corned beef hash with a couple of eggs.  I always try and find something on the menu I don't or wouldn't make at home myself, because then what is the point of eating someone else's cooking?  And since I don't eat breakfast (traditionally in the morning) I got my meal to go!  I ended up getting a couple of meals out of the deal since Mark wasn't really into it....although I'm betting he's going to love mine!  I divided the meal into two lunches topping the eggs with my own salsa.  How did I ever forget how nicely salsa goes with eggs? I don't even like eggs hardly, and I rarely eat them other that the convenience of soft boiled eggs for packable protein.  Well, I think that may change...until tomato season is officially over and I don't have fresh salsa!

I thought about ordering another corned beef hash from that same restaurant, since it's right across the street from work, but I decided to make it myself.  But remembering my prior experience I thought precooking the potatoes and then grating them would make the job easier.  Out came my pressure cooker!  No surprise, right?  Using my steamer basket I cooked three large Russet potatoes for 7 minutes at high pressure, and then after I turned it off I let the pressure come down naturally (bout 10-15 min).  I was doing some other things around the kitchen and to be honest I totally forgot about them!  I wasn't really that serious about making hash, and had planned on putting the whole, cooked, potatoes in the fridge until I got re-inspired to finish the "project"!  At this stage it was really just an experiment.  I didn't have much invested, only the price of three potatoes!

Lovely!  The potatoes did cook through a little more than I wanted them to, but still they grated nicely.  Now I was re-inspired!  But no time, or energy, and I didn't need more cooked food in the house yet, I  needed to finish up a pot of soup I made that on the same day, so I took a picture and then put the grated potato in the fridge to wait another day.  Well, today was the day!

I saved off about 3/4 c. of chopped ham from the soup I made, specifically to use in the hash, and taking a cue from the meal I purchased I added diced onion, green bell and red bell.  The jalapeno just jumped into my hands as I was gathering the other ingredients from the crisper!

To be honest I have no idea how to make hash browns!  But I started by heating up some oil and butter in a non stick pan.  I added the diced veg and let the onion become tranlucent, about 5-6 min.  I added the chopped ham and the potatoes, salt and pepper, and tossed it all together IN the pan.  I shook the pan to settle all the mixed ingredients in a nice even layer and let them brown (high/med....I cook everything on high/med...and no I didn't mean med/high!)  Once it got all brown on the bottom I placed a large plate over the pan, and using a hand towel I flipped the hash over, onto the plate, and then slid them back into the hot pan on the other side.  I know, I know, there's probably an easier way, but like I said, I was experimenting!  And you know what? It worked fine!

I let the other side get all brown, and viola!  Next I need to scramble a couple/three eggs because there was some salsa waiting to be eaten!  

I ended up using only half of the grated potatoes, so we all know what that means!  Hash w/ham and peppers, eggs and salsa for tomorrow's lunch.  Woo hoo!

When was the last time you made hash browns?  What are your favorite additions?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sunday Dead Snatch

Well, I think I did, in fact, decide to split my jerk and snatch training on the weekends, but during the week I'll keep both together.  I don't know how many jerks I did on Sat while teaching and demonstrating but I'm sure feeling it this morning!  I'm sure yesterday's snatch workout has something to do with it too, but I know one thing for sure, NO kettlebells today!

I had a 14 minute swing/snatch set on my program w/14kg, that's 7 minutes on R and L with only one hand switch.  No prescribed rep count, which means that the length of the set was the goal so I took advantage to work on technique.  Mostly grip saving technique because I want to finish the end of my sets as strong as possible.  My R side was fine and I was able to complete more reps in my last minute than in the previous couple of minutes (my first minute had the highest rep count however before I slowed it down, only by one though).  Yes, my grip was starting to fail, but if I had to go another minute or two I could have survived it.

My L side however was a different story.  Personally I think my L side is my stronger side, even though up until recently my L rep count had never been as high as my R, it stands to reason because by the time I get to the end of 5 minutes on my L side I'm also at the end of a ten minute set....I'm a bit tired!  In yesterday's workout it wasn't so much my grip as much as it was my bicep.  A tired and strained bicep can't help a tired grip, and a tired grip can't help a stressed bicep!  In the last 90 sec I got a chance to practice more of what is known as a "dead snatch".  A dead snatch is when you have little to no momentum from a swing and you are forced to use your legs as bell starts to fall straight down, as opposed to swinging back in an arc.  (the video that I'm posting shows my last minute demonstrating this)  I could have done a couple of more reps this way, but it really was my bicep that I was concerned about.  A practice session is not the time or place to pull or damage a muscle in anyway just to get a couple of more reps.  In fact instead of getting even one more rep I chose to simple hold the bell overhead for the last 5 sec. Still I managed to complete only 2 reps short on my L than I did on my right for a total of 75 R/73 L (150 reps/146 reps).

We went on to practice 15 minutes of Max Vo2, alternating using the comp bell for 1/3 of our sets, (240 snatch reps w/12kg) and ended with close to 30 minutes of swings. (590 reps w/16kg)

sets of:

50 (because I'm 50, 50 years old!  lol)
total 590 swings, 24.5 min.

This swing routine is part of The Swing Quest's, but I altered the second half of it and reduced the rest periods to fit our practice.

Total rep counts (not including 15-20 minutes of warm up reps)

148 14kg swings
148 14kg snatches
240 12kg snatches
590 16kg swings

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday Split

My GS schedule always includes a jerk set (s) and a snatch set (s) in the same day, but I had to split them up today, completing my jerk only sets late in the morning, after classes and privates, saving a 12 min snatch set for Sunday morning.  After some thought I may make this a permanent change of how I train on the weekends.  I'm not able to travel to Juno on Sat very often anymore, if at all, but I'm going to try and make it to Berkeley on Tues or Thurs evenings.  I really miss the energy the athletes, and my coach (!), but fingers crossed I may be able to start my own group on the least I hope so.

Although not an epic jerk set (s) today I went into them with little, to no fear, until after the 10th rep or so!  But I'm in no hurry, and every time I review the video of my training  I can clearly see what and how I need to improve. I had to complete two sets, 60/60 and 40/ this my coach's sneaky way of getting me to do 100 jerks R and L?  Good God, I remember how pissed off I was last week when I had to do 50/50 x 2!  Let me week it will be 70/70, 30/30!  But now that I'm being a smart ass, maybe he'll program me two sets or 60/50?

I was able to recruit the receptionist to count my reps!  Poor young girl!  I'm sure she barely make minimum wage to "babysit" the Studio, bored as heck, when I asked her if she would mind counting my reps she jumped at the responsibility!  I tried not to scare her by not getting too intense (which was a reminder for me too!), and I like how she counted some of the reps before I actually locked out!

I'm looking forward to tomorrow mornings snatch set, and following Max Vo2, double press and, of course, super high volume swings!  Maybe yoga too?  Maybe not!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Week #4 don't be in a hurry, enjoy the ride, and be your own winner!

Thursday mornings are turning into one crazy ride, and I'm loving every swing rep!  This morning was the 4th week in a 6 week strength and strength endurance swing cycle and although a fairly large jump from last week we still have 2 left in this cycle and the point is not to train max effort...."max effort" is coming, no worries!  I'm in no hurry because as Mark has been known to say, "Win lose or draw, the next day you're back in the gym!"  "Winning" is showing up when everybody else has quit or given up!  But I'm not really in competition with anybody else! At the end of the day I want to feel like my own winner. Not above you or anybody else, but above the little voices inside of me that tell me there's an easier way....that's it's easier to train less or skip/miss workouts altogether, but I know better.  

The core of these workouts we use double bells and a single bell that is the equivalent weight of the two doubles (whatever that is for you).  Brenda and I use dbl 16kg's and the 32kg, while Maribel uses dbl 12kg's and the 24kg.

306 reps x dbl 16kg's (9,792kg's = 21,542.4lbs)
87 reps x 32kg (2784kg = 6,124.8lbs)
60 reps x 28kg (1,680kg = 3,696lbs)
60 reps x 24kg (1,440kg = 3,168lbs)
87 reps x 20kg (1,740kg = 3,828lbs)
Total 30 minutes, 600 reps, 

week #4 17,436 kg's = 38,359.2lbs moved (600 reps)

week #3 15,844kg's = 34,856.8lbs moved (570 reps)
week #2 15,400kg's = 33,880lbs moved (540 reps)
week #1 13,920kg's = 30,624lbs moved (480 reps)

The first goal is "equal work to rest", which is 600 reps in a 30 minute workout, which you can see we reached this week, so where to go now?  Next is to keep the reps the same, but increase the total weight moved over the next two weeks.  That means getting rid of the the 20kg altogether next week, for a small jump, but then another large jump in week #6 when the 24 and 28 must go bye bye, only using the dbl 16kg's and 32kg.  Good God that is going to take some grit!  But we're going to do it....maybe!  I might get rid of the 24kg and 28kg, but reintroduce the 20kg....see, executive decisions!  Moving that kind of weight for a full 30 minutes is no joke, and this is a team effort!  The three of us are in this together!

I'm sorry I can't lead you through each of these workouts because unless I can video tape the exact workout, they are just too difficult to duplicate.  But I hope to journal how I use my progressions to design these kind of "cycles" to help you create a purpose to show your ass up in the gym at least once a week with some sort of plan and purpose and be your own winner!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Holy Moley! I got an incredible PR this morning with my 14kg jerk!

84 reps on just my left side!  Kind of by accident, but I did it none the less!  More to come tomorrow!  I think I may just be on the brink of finding the holy jerk grail....fingers crossed!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Weekend Training

I'm still trying to organize my training a little bit better since having to split it up into Sport and general strength/fitness and conditioning.  The one great thing is that I only need kettlebells for both!  I've had to add a fourth day, Sunday, in order to completely separate one from the other at least one day a week.  On Tues/Thurs I train both, so it's a nice relief to only train GS on Sat and only HS on Sunday.

This past Saturday I invited a former student, now a fellow GS athlete and coach, James MacNeil, to train with me in our garage gym. It was nice to watch him do his sets, double 16kg jerk, and to learn a little more about that lift as it's only done in competition by the men.  It was also nice getting some feedback about my jerk as he saw it, now that he's also coaching the sport.  After we both completed our jerk sets I, pretty much, made him snatch a lighter bell along with my during my set, just for fun!

Here is my (our) 10 minute set.  My training required the 14kg to be done at a 18-20 rpm, so with James using the 12kg I knew we could pretty much snatch in tandem without any problem.  After watching the video, and counting reps I was really pleased that we stayed almost exactly at 20rpm pace, only doing 3 additional reps R, and 1 on the L.  Final count was 103/101.  Watching this side by side video comparison brought to light a couple of subtle differences between how each of us snatches the bell.  Even if you are not interested in watching the entire 10 minutes (yawn) you may be interested in simply watching bits and pieces just to see if you can notice the slight variations of both of our styles.

Sunday is my own HS training, but I have been doing a little GS coaching with Maribel ad Meg for the first 30 minutes of our 90 minute training session.  I use a light weight and focus on technique, while I have the other two train more challenging sets in order to build up the grip endurance as well as practice technique.  We then go on and train double presses and/or snatches, some Max Vo2 sets, and end with a solid 30 minutes of crazy high volume swings!

Yesterday we did a couple of 10 min GS sets which took about 40 min in total to warm up and recover leaving less time for swings at the end...we never got to do any high volume snatches (mv2).   Double swing / clean presses for 1 min intervals with only 30 sec rest meant that I had to go a bit lighter on my double bells.  I've been using "dbl swing / clean press" or "dbl swing / snatch" for weeks now for many reasons, but mostly because I want to get those double swings into my routine.

I thought I would include this short video of a one min set of "dbl swing / clean / alternate press"!  This combination is great when you get too tired to double press, but not too tired to double swing / clean, and you want to keep going!  One minute intervals for double bells is quite a workload, especially with 1/2 the amount of rest to recover between sets.  Although I was able to complete my 10 sets of "dbl sw/cl/pr x 10", if I had time to keep going I surely may have done an additional 5-10 sets of alternating presses, but I had to get to my swings!

16kg swings, 11 sets of 40 reps with only a 15 sec rest period! We only had less than 20 minutes left of class and I did not want to do continuous swings, so the next best thing was to take the shortest rest interval possible.  One minute of work with 15 sec rest x 11 sets = 440 swings, 13.5 min.  I used my swing progressions in this order:

2 hand swings x 40
transfer swings x 40
1 swing, 1 transfer swing x 20
1-5 swing ladder
5/5 x 4
2 hand swing x 40
5/5 x 4
5-1 swing ladder
1 swing, 1 transfer swing x 20
transfer swings x 40
2 hand swings x 40

120 2 hand swings
320 one hand swings

Friday, September 13, 2013

I Need Some "Vent"-ilation!

It's Sept 13th and as I look back about 8 months ago, to January/Feb, I remember going along my life perfectly fine.  Nothing up until the first part of the year was amiss.  Crash, boom,'s getting hot in here!  Although it was the middle of winter the nights were so warm I found myself kicking the blankets off wondering if spring and summer were coming early!  Then I thought Mark was sweating on me!  Enter menopause.  Really?  It never occurred to me.  I had never ever, ever thought about it, talked about it, or expected it because I knew nothing about it.  Nothing, zero, zip, nada.  I was 49 1/2 years old, but never feeling my age it just never crossed my mind.  Once I realized what the heck was going on I just couldn't believe 

I haven't written too much about it because I'm still a little in shock about the whole thing.  So I'll fast forward to the other night.

I've been having hot flashes like crazy, and at this point it almost seems continuous all day and night.  It's really not a big deal most of the time, although I can't say that it's nice!  It affects me most in my Bikrams yoga practice.  It's already hot as hell in the yoga room but that's why I go, that's part of what I like!  I love the heat, I love to sweat, although I don't sweat easily...go figure!  I'm the one in the hottest corner of the yoga room, with long yoga pants on, many times in the past practicing with long sleeved shirts in the already 104 + degree room.  For many years I even had a double class practice, doing two back to back classes for a total of 3 1/2 hours in the heat!  I'm not scared of heat!  But add in this craziness and it's taking me to the edge!

The other night I was explaining (no, I was complaining!) to Mark how pissed off I was that for some reason, God only knows, someone thought this was a good idea?  For what?  For what purpose?  WHAT THE HECK?  What is this doing? What is this good for?  What is the freakin' reason?  It's stupid, it's just stupid.  And it's not like being healthy and active can reward you by relieving you of this BS.  ARGH, I was so mad! (maybe still a wee bit)

I knew as I was "venting" that I was not helping the situation AT ALL.  I knew the more miserable I let myself feel, the more miserable I would continue to feel.  I knew that the more I felt like a victim of this BS, the longer I would stay a victim of it.  So I started to think about other ways of looking at it and other ways of feeling about it.  I knew I had to find something, one thing, anything, positive about it.

My first idea was to write a Facebook post and just ask!  Ask if there was anybody in the whole Facebook world that felt something positive about hot flashes, or any of the other symptoms of menopause (anybody?  now's the time to speak up!).  There has to be somebody that can give me a positive spin on it so I can focus on feeling better, not commiserating about how much it sucks. I also did a internet search and came up with one article, "Making Friends With Hot Flashes"

So after my little pity party I decided no more!  Hot flashes/menopause you have no idea who you are dealing with!  I will embrace my life and everything in it, and you will not change that!  I came up with a positive thought to focus on every time I start to feel "flushed" and I already feel better....still hot, but better!

What about you, or some woman you know?  Or maybe you've got a man going through "man o pause? lol!  Life is funny, isn't it?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Do your damn numbers!

I'm not going to lie....I've been in a funk for a couple of days.  So much so that I watched 4 back to back episodes of "My Shopping Obsession" last night!  Usually I do not care to watch other people "struggle" with "compulsive" "issues", but for some reason I thought that maybe there was something I needed to see or hear, and I did......I did see and hear, but not as it relates to shopping (although I may be returning a couple of recent purchases, lol!)  More to come (maybe) but for now, do your damn numbers!

It's a curse and a blessing.  Training that is.  For me the curse may be having to get up super early and ready for a Thursday morning 5:30am workout knowing two other people will be depending on me can suck sometimes!  But no time to dwell on how bad it may suck, and that's the blessing!  BAM! 5:30am comes before I can even think about texting anybody to cancel!  (I never will of course, and I never have)  The other blessing is how I think about, and program, my workouts.  I start with an idea, a plan, and then build.  Some call it a "cycle", I simply look at my workouts as progressions.

I go into the gym and do a set.  I ask myself if that set was hard enough, and of course it wasn't because it was my first set!  I then ask myself how I can make it harder....but NOT the hardest! Nope, I'm saving that....  What's next "hard"?  And next?  And maybe one more "next"?  Repeat!  Sometimes repeat, repeat, repeat!  But I do keep a theme throughout a set period of time, on the same day of the week for a set number of weeks.  Nevermind.....

Three weeks ago I started a new 6 week swing power/strength cycle with my Thursday morning training partners using double 16kg's and a single 32kg.  I started a similar program a few months before my SFG and have since "cycled" through a few more programs after the success of the original. The bulk of the swings are concentrated around double 16 kg's and a single 32kg.  I can't list all of the details yet, but here are the results of the past 3 weeks: (these are all swings, by the way, done in a 30 minute workout)

week #1 480 swing reps, 13,920 kg's = 30,624 lbs moved
week #2, 540 swing reps, 15,400 kg's = 33,880 lbs moved
week #3 570 swing reps, 15,844 kg's = 34,856.8 lbs moved

As you may notice there was a bigger jump in reps/weight moved from week #1 to week #2.  That's because week #1 is what I consider an exploratory workout.  It's a workout I've never done before so I know it will be hard, no doubt, but it's not meant to even come close to week #5-6....oh, we'll get to that!

This is an amazing amount of work done by three little girls in an old rickety garage, with some crazy funky cast iron weights with handles, every Thursday morning before the crack of dawn!  That's what I love about this training!  It does not discriminate!  Ordinary people doing extraordinary things!  We moved over 17 tons of weight in 30 minutes!  The only thing I have to focus on is getting my ass out there an doing my damn numbers!

This morning I finished with some GS practice, starting with a 12 min 14kg "swing/snatch" set (one hand switch), and two sets of 14kg 50/50 single jerks. In and amongst 30-40 minutes of overhead skill practice/warm up and demonstrations.  5:30am-7:30am.  I love what I do!  Do you?

Picture above: Maribel Medina, and Brenda Tierney my Thursday morning victims!  Video is my second set of 50/50 14kg jerks. Still SO much improvement to be made, but so much improvement accomplished.  I look forward and dream about the day I will be good at this lift, in fact it may be my next workout!  I hope so!  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I "heart" a new tradition!

I'm wanting to start a new Tuesday night tradition of making my family grilled cheese sandwiches!  I know!  The possibilities are endless!  This all started last week....

Tuesday nights in our neighborhood is "Food Truck" night.  I guess a handful of Food Trucks park about two blocks away and cook and sell their specialities.  Personally I like cooking my own foods, because I'm a good cook, and I'm cheap that way, mostly the latter!  I wouldn't know anything about this if it weren't for my 24 year old, living at home, who eats out way, way, way too much (it drives me crazy).  Often times, as Gabe heads out to the trucks he asks Mark if he wants anything (he know better than to ask me!), and sometimes Mark will indeed order something, usually butter, or fat!  Lately it's been gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, which is fine because we normally do not have bread in the house.  (I have nothing against bread, but an entire loaf is just way too much, leaving half of it to go bad, so I rarely buy it.)

Last week Gabe was going later than usual and Mark was really hungry, in fact he was getting a bit cranky.  I happened to have bought a loaf of bread a couple of days earlier, and we almost always have cheese, and we always have butter (and mayo), so I offered to happily make Mark a homemade grilled cheese sandwich!  So much better, right?  And more convenient....and drumroll....cheaper!  It was a success!  I ended up making Gabe one too and I think a new tradition is born.  Tuesday night is grilled cheese night!  This is going to be so much fun!

Last week all I had in the house was some seeded rye bread, swiss and red onion (I added some chicken salad to Gabe's), this week I bought some marble rye and chives, same swiss cheese (Mark loves swiss).  I butter both sides of my bread, and on one side of each slice I add mayo.  The butter/mayo side is the first to go into a hot non stick pan (or grill), these sides are the "inside" of the sandwich.  Once they are crispy I flip over one slice, add filling (cooked side up at this point), layer the other slice, butter/mayo inside, and flip over to cook the last buttered side...or something like that!  This in NOT a meal for a calorie counter!  Yikes!  The fat alone is off the charts, but I would guess 400 calories just in butter and mayo!  Should we go there?  Okay, let's...

butter mayo 400 (at least 3 tbl butter 1 tbl mayo)
cheese 200
bread 200-240

800 calories 

Did I mention I don't make myself one?  It's not my "thing", although I would thoroughly enjoy one, but one of these days I will join in (thinner spreading of the fats on the bread though!)  The other thing is I've been eating my last meal earlier and earlier these days, as early as 3:30 and I don't like to eat anything more than a snack later than 5:00pm.

Last week I posted a picture of the very first grilled cheese I made and I accidentally discovered that when you cut an oval shaped bread slice in half, diagonally, flip one side over and join them back together it creates a heart shape!  I always cut sandwiches in half, diagonally for my family and friends.  It made me so happy that how could I NOT make this part of the tradition?  Do you cut your sandwiches in half?  Will you make a heart sandwich for someone you care about?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Luckiest Human Beings on the Face of the Earth

Today might possibly be one of the luckiest day of my life so far.  Not so much because it actually is, but so much that I recognized it and acknowledged it.  I believe that feeling lucky is simply a matter of acknowledging every bit of luck, or feeling good, or goodness that comes our way.

As many of you know, Mark had a total knee replacement 2 weeks and one day ago.  Today we went on our third walk together (he had taken a couple of more on his own), 2 miles...without a walker, a crutch or a cane!  But the first part of the previous sentence was as amazing as the second!  In the 25+ years that Mark and I have been married we have never, ever been on a 2 mile walk together, for the sake of taking a walk (the Frankfurt airport doesn't count!  lol)  And wait, there's more!

We actually talked about a day that we could get a couple of mountain bikes and ride together....and wait, there's more...another day we could see hiking together, real hiking, you know, with back packs and everything!  A whole day of hiking...outside....for miles and miles, and miles!

I took Mark to the walking trail near us that I started my own transformation/weight loss adventure on, the Los Gatos Creek/Campbell trail.  One of the things I've been noticing more and more on this route is the rock towers someone (probably the same person) has been building and leaving for the rest of us to enjoy!  And I have!  It's one of those weird kind of things that when you see it, if you notice, tells you that someone has been there before you and left that message.  "That" message to me says, "I've been here too!  So I leave behind a reminder that you are not alone.  I am here with you, and I'm happy you are here too!"  Or something like that!  It's just what's in my head!  I chose for it to be a sign of happiness, of belonging, of reassurance, of reaching out, of welcome.  Who knows what the builder had in mind, it doesn't matter.

As Mark and I came to the end of our walk the phone rang.  It was our son, Gabe, calling to tell us he got the job of his dreams!  He had a couple of disappointments but this time it was his!  I'm over the moon for him!  And better yet his father was the first person he called to share the great news!  I'm tearing up now just thinking about it!  I knew those rocks were signs of luck!

So, instead of a million, gazillion, or a trillion kettlebell swing "challenge", I invite you to take a walk, build a rock tower or a pretty pattern of leaves and/or flowers, leaving room for one more rock, or one more leaf/flower for someone else to add, as a reminder that we are not alone, and we are the luckiest human beings on the face of the earth!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Side by Side" Tracy Reifkind, featuring Jeff Sokol!

How many of you have had the opportunity to swing with Jeff Sokol?  I have!  And now you can too!  I'm thrilled that my latest DVD, Side by Side is now available, and there is also a downloadable version so you can start swinging right away!

Side by Side Jeff and I demonstrate how two or more partners at any level, from beginning to advanced, can train....side by side!  I'll post more information about it later today, but in the mean time here is a little video trailer and the link to Create Space where you can get a copy right now!



Sunday, September 1, 2013


I am 100% positive if I had never discovered pressure cooking I would not ever prepare and cook my own beans, legumes and grains, besides basic oatmeal.  100% fact (maybe)  BUT, I did, and I do!  Farro is one of my all time favorite chewy and nutty flavored grains, and usually hard to find.  Farro is larger than a grain of brown rice and longer and fatter than a grain of barley, although about the same brown color.

I eat farro the same way I would eat brown rice, not so much like barley, which I usually reserve for soups only (goodness, it's been forever since I made mushroom and barley soup....Winter's coming and I'll wait..).  I often cook my farro in tomato soup and eat it with a dollop of cottage cheese, or turn it into a sweet treat by cooking it in stock (or water) and adding a spoonful of peanut butter and honey (and maybe, if I've been good, raisins too!)

Farro has not been easy to find.  I first came across it at Whole Foods for $5.99 (maybe a 16oz pkg?).  That's a lot of money considering most grains you buy in the bulk section run about $1.99 per pound.  But I have never, ever, come across farro in bulk, so $5.99lb I would pay.

A couple months ago I was in a San Mateo Italian market and found another brand for $3.79!  Almost 1/2 price, so I bought two pkg's.  And then, just yesterday, as I was shopping in another "Italian" market (my favorite, Piazza's in PA) I found this farro, on sale for $2.09 (-$1.69), score!  1/3 the price of Whole Foods!  I bought two pkg's, and that should last me a while!

What is your favorite grain?  Do you know about something I don't?  Please share!

PS I'm smelling the amazing aroma of quinoa, garlic, cumin and tumeric right now!  Seriously yummy!   I'm using it to make a salad tomorrow. Quinoa is another grain that varies greatly in price.  If you make/eat quinoa regularly, what is your favorite brand, or how do you buy it?