Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday's 10 x 10 Laddering down the rest interval "Side by Side"

I LOVE this 10 x 10!  It's actually a 10 (rep) x 11 (set) workout, but I think at this point you can handle an extra set or two!  This workout starts out at a 2 part rest, to 1 part work ratio, which is why I needed my two training partners, Brenda and Maribel to help me out!  It's a workout I came up with last week while working with a couple of new students that are husband and wife, both of them not quite ready for equal work to rest interval training, so I acted as an additional "timer" as we all took turns swinging.  This is similar to the workouts Jeff Sokol and I did for "Side by Side", where on partner does more work, allowing the other to do less, acting as eachother's rest timer (  These workouts are also called "I go, you go" routines.  

Working with three partners two of them always do 10 swing reps, taking turns, and the third partner starts at 10 and ladders down to 0 reps.  So the set intervals look like this:

set #1 15 sec work, 30 sec rest (approx)
set #2 15 sec work, 28.5 sec rest
set #3 15 sec work, 27 sec rest
set #4 15 sec work, 25.5 sec rest
#5 15 sec work, 24 sec rest
#6 15 sec work, 22.5 sec rest
#7 15 sec work, 21 sec rest
#8 15 sec work. 19.5 sec rest
#9 15 sec work, 18 sec rest
#10 15 sec work, 16.5 sec rest
#11 15 sec work, 15 sec rest!

You can swing with either Brenda or Maribel and all the work to rest will be the same as above.  Of course you can choose to swing with me also, BUT you will decrease your reps, working less, and always getting a 30 second rest, the time it takes both Brenda and Maribel to do 10 reps each!

Enjoy! And good luck working your way down to equal work/rest!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mission: Miso Soup and 10 x 10 on the beach in Santa Barbara!

I think I mentioned since becoming a part time vegetarian I've had this new and crazy craving for's a bit surprising in the fact that I've never been a fan of sushi at all.  This past weekend I took my good friend Jen Mishkin to the Cali Open with me, where she competed for the first time ever, 8kg 5 min multiple hand switch!  (after only 2 weeks preparation!)  I drove down to met Jen in Santa Barbara, where she lives with her husband Greg, and she drove the rest of the way to Costa Mesa, 2.5 hours without traffic...but we weren't so lucky!  It took us over 3.5 hours to make it to Friday night weigh in!  Anyway....

We stayed at the beautiful Westin, South Plaza, for two nights....and we had a third night booked but...

Given the "interesting" outcome of the competition, and the fact that Jen kept telling me about the best sushi restaurant in Santa Barbara (Arigato's Sushi), we decided to leave on Sunday, back to SB, because I had "the best sushi" on my brain!

We drove back to her home, via Bea's bakery and Mort's Deli in Tarzana ( competition bakery binge!) to make it back to SB in time to chill a bit, and then jump in the car to have dinner at Arigato's Sushi!  Jen and Greg suggested the Mushroom Miso Soup as a first course.....OMG!  Really?  How did I not know about this?  Needless to say I'm on a mission!  First thing this morning I'm researching miso soup recipes!  I found this video:

...and a handful of other information, and off to the Japanese Market I went...

More to come.....I've barely, really, thought about how this was all
going to go down!  But I thought I would start out with some veg stock, add Komochu seaweed and go from there.  I'm trying to keep vegetarian, but I may decide to add seafood to the soup instead of making the dashi with bonito flake.  I also bought some dashi that is in "tea bag" form, but after I purchased it I noticed that the package lists "bonito flavor"! What?  Um, no.  I don't want "fake" flavor, I want the real thing, and if I have to make it myself, then so be it!  (it's going back to the store, receipt saved!)

Lots more to come....or at least a bowl of miso soup to come!

And if you missed the latest 10 x 10 on Face Book with me and Jen on the beach, here it is!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Results from the Cali Open

16kg 10 min jerk 60 R/25 L

16kg snatch 174 total (103 R/85 L, 14 or so no counts. 9 min 25 sec.)

I set a competition PR in my jerks w 60 reps R and switching at the 5 minute mark.  I switched L and felt as good as I could, focused on my breathing, but fumbled the bell after the 25th rep.  The best part of the set, or should I say after the set is that I'm not afraid of the jerk set anymore!  And that's a big thing, no HUGE thing!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

no title, just grief, and a snatch set

It's now 3:30 in the morning, Sunday, and I woke up about 1/2 hour ago.  As soon as my eyes opened I looked over at the clock, saw what time it was, started to remember what happened yesterday and immediately started tearing up. My eyes are like a dripping facet and my heart, my kettlebell heart, is broken.  I know it may sound a bit dramatic, but I'm known to be a bit dramatic (tears are coming down faster now).  I'm just going to stick with the facts from this point on....the facts about how I experienced yesterday's event.

I'm posting the video of my snatch set.  Mark has watched it but I have not, and to be honest I have not been able to look at it myself yet.  On one hand it doesn't matter, on the other hand...well, I'm not sure...oh yes, the facts....

I had my goal of 200 snatch reps for this competition for months now.  I did the training, and I was on track.  "200" reps, to me, was a number that had another agenda not connected with GS. It was the number that reflected my ability to complete the SFG snatch test, twice, once on each arm...and of course in the Sport it was a kick ass total!

My snatch set was scheduled for 2:00 in the afternoon.  I was slightly nervous, as one should be, but not about the number, I knew the number would be good, it was more about something crazy happening, like dropping the bell during the transfer, or maybe pushing my grip too far and losing the bell (although my grip is as strong as ever).  My strategy was to get in a zone.  The zone of relaxing, and simply pumping out the reps, 10 reps per 30 seconds and NO more.  I had "jumped out of the gate" too fast in the past, losing too much of my grip in the last 30 seconds on both R and L, and I didn't want to get greedy with reps, just 10 reps every 30 seconds and if I had any extra in the tank in the last minute I would go for it.

Set starts.  I started snatching exactly the same as I always do.  The only thing I hear is my breath.  The only thing I feel is rep after rep.  I look at the clock every 30 seconds or so just to check in.  At about 3 min I notice I complete my 60th rep exactly at a 30 sec mark....whoops, slightly behind, but just ever so slightly so I knew I had to speed up just a teeny tiny bit.  I hit 70 at 3.5 min.

I look at the clock in another 30 seconds.....the count had not changed, 70.  What?  The count had not changed.  What?  It could only be one thing.  I had not fixated, I had not stopped the bell at the top of the rep long enough to have those reps counted, it could not have been any other reason.  I was blindsided.  I had just lost 10 entire reps, TEN, and I had lost an entire 30 seconds, AND I hadn't changed how I was snatching, every rep felt like the rep before....I wasn't even tired and my grip was fine.

At this point knowing it was the only thing that could have been wrong I slowed down my reps. My memory gets blurry at this point.  Some reps were counted, but yet, again, some were not being given credit, and I could not tell the difference.  How did over 10 reps not be counted and no body told me?  How did rep after rep, after rep, after rep (x 10) not be counted and no body, maybe, clue me in?

At first I took complete responsibility and slowed down, but even after that point I kept losing reps and I simply started to feel beat.  Literally beat, like with a stick.  I don't know how many "counted reps I completed at 5 minutes, but it there was no way for me to make 100 so I needed to switch and hope that I could blast through and get 110 on my L....until I realized a couple of things.

I realized I had lost more than 10 reps, and I realized I had no idea what this judge was basing her counts on unless I held each rep extra long, and for a length of time completing 110 reps would be impossible.  AND who knew if any of those reps would count because at this point based on the clock I had no idea where I was and what was possible.  What I knew was impossible was achieving my goal of 200 and predicting this judge.

As I entered into my last minute (L), yes my grip started to weaken.  It was weak not because of the reps I had already completed, it had fatigued because of such a great disappointment and my feelings of disorientation.  As the last few reps wobbled into "fixation" I knew without a doubt that I better make damn sure that bell came to a dead stop, and I made sure it did, almost daring the judge not to count those last reps....and then I realized that I didn't care what she thought, and threw the bell down and gave up.

My heart was gone.  I just was not willing to leave it on the platform for her to judge any more.  I would have left it there, and proudly so, under any other conditions or circumstances.  But at this point how could I care anymore?  If I cared it would not have changed anything and I felt as if I would have been a bigger fool to gut out even one more uncounted rep.

There were no hugs, no congratulations, no answers, no joy, no nothing.  I walked straight out of the building with nothing to say...there was nothing to say.  I was consumed with grief.  A kind of grief that still, right now, at 4:00am the next morning makes me break down in tears.  I'm simply heart broken. It's the only way I can describe it.

Of course I've asked myself why this happened.  Trying to find comfort in some greater good.  Trying to remember that in some way this event will lead to something else I needed to do, or see, or remember, or experience, but God damn this was a hard way of getting to whatever that next point is or will be.  I'm too old to have my eyelids swollen up like pillows, and besides it hurts.

I'm not going to say anything else about this anymore. I'm not interested in trying to change the result the damage has been done and I have to move on.  Move onto where and what is really what's so heart breaking because I don't have a clue.  First I'd like to stop crying.  Yes, that will be my next move.  To stop crying.

The rules of the competition are that a lifter gets up to 2 "no counts", with warnings.  How I was let to go on for over 100 reps after more that 10 no counts is a mystery to me.  I should have been stopped and disqualified.  I may not have technically been disqualified, but the rules are the rules.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Stay the Course.

This vegan / vegetarian thing is interesting.  I probably miss butter first, dairy products second and meat third.  And I can honestly say, 100%, if it weren't for Kabocha squash, mushrooms, eggplant, lentils, sushi (purchased so far), I'd be up a creek without a paddle.

In the beginning I actually felt pretty good.  But that was because I had a large reserve of pre made pumpkin chili!  As every day went by it became more of a game.  Should I use meat stocks for soups, stews and chilis?  Or would that be "cheating".  And would it matter all that much?  What was the point anyway?  Health?  Bodyweight / BF%?  Certainly not for any ethical reasons...or maybe so?  The biggest challenge with not having animal protein as an option is, as Mark joked, "bagels and bananas!"  And, I never ever thought about how vegan / vegetarianism is completely opposite of Paleo (or Atkins, or even Whole 30)....not to mention what if you are a vegetarian/vegan AND gluten free?  

I'm two or three weeks into it...not sure at this point, and I can offer up a couple of observations.  

#1  I have not lost weight!  Why not?  Because I know how to cook!  

If you do not prepare and cook most of your own meals then you are a vegetarian/vegan of convenience.  The only thing that really matters is that you can buy foods without any animal protein.  Chips/nachos, crackers, bagels, pizzas, BARS, nuts, desserts, etc....right now I can't think of more examples, but there are, for sure, many more high calorie, high carb options.  Not eating meat is really not that difficult, in my opinion, preparing and cooking all of your own meals is much more of a challenge.  But if you are the kind of person that doesn't like to eat much in the first place then you, most likely, aren't even thinking about your next meal anyway.

#2  Consistency.  Stay the course.  Like I said; it's been one or two weeks. Hardly enough time to gather any solid data at all!  I'm having many feelings of being stuck in the middle somewhere.  I have had days that I ate a few eggs, and then I've had days that I ate a small amount of meat, and of course I have heavy cream in my coffee every morning, so I'm not sure what to make of all of this just yet.

What I do know is that a couple of weeks is just not enough time to make a judgement.  And this is when "consistency" comes into play.

Like regular exercise, regular diet and eating must be given a chance to show itself.  We spend our entire lives creating what it is that we have, right now, at this exact moment.  What we have and what we are is the result of what we do and how we think.  Sure, we can change what we do, our "actions", and what we think in a split CAN happen.  But maybe, sometimes, we have residual thoughts that may produce a residual reality.

Okay, enough already.

As much as I want to sauté some mushrooms in butter and serve over polenta w/ parmesan cheese shavings, I wonder....  I wonder what, if any, changes will I feel or see in my health and my body.  It's just an experiment.  But it's an experiment that must be given a chance, some time, and consistent practice.  

It may prove to not be ideal for me, and the reasons why will eventually show themselves.  I'm open to all possibilities, but not after only a couple of weeks.

Sure, it's much easier to make a few soft boiled eggs as a snack than it is to stop at Noah's Bagels for a multi seed, or cinnamon raisin bagel.  Same calories (okay, not so quite), but I have to say that I feel better making my own eggs than I do purchasing someone else's bagel.

I'm going to stay this course for a little while longer.  I'm curious.  But I suspect that, at the end of the day, what I'm looking for is not fault or blame, but responsibility. 

photo above is some broccoli and Kabocha squash being prepared for roasting to add to a barley salad.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's the "More"

This part time vegetarianism is interesting.  It seems to have brought out a few of my character
flaws.  Some of them are my "all or nothing", "cold turkey", and my competitive nature.  Once I decided to not eat meat I also decided to not eat animal products in general, making me a part time vegan, actually.  Yes, I still have cream in my coffee, but I've done something I've never ever considered before....I cut back to half and half....almost.....but that's besides the point.  After my morning cream I just can't bring myself to eat cheese, yogurt or butter.

A few interesting things have happened besides triggering my OCD!  I've come to think that those of us that #1 really, really think we like to eat a lot of food, and #2 those of us that know food, whether it's how to cook and prepare lovely, lovely foods, or have the money to buy them, will eventually find a way to overeat even the healthiest of diets.  Vegetarian, Vegan, Paleo, Gluten free, low carb, slow carb, whatever.  If you like food and you think you like to overeat, then you WILL find a way to overeat, period.

Personally I like to overeat less and less and less.....and less.  The perceived pay off just never comes.  But for some reason I had kept challenging it.  I'm becoming bored and exhausted actually. In the mean time there are a few things I've experienced, which I think may be common.

I find myself purchasing more ready made foods.  

This troubles me.  I am perfectly capable of making my own foods, and for years at a time I never, ever, ate purchased, ready made, foods.  BUT for some reason I'm craving sushi (vegetarian, of course)  So much so that I will make my own fairly quick here.  I bothers me that I don't have the supplies and the practice to simply make my own.  It's just sweetened rice and seaweed for God's sake!

Speaking of "sweet".  I'm finding I'm eating more "sweet" in general, along with carbs for sure (beans, rice, sweet potato/pumpkin, flour, etc.), in addition to buying vegetarian sushi (I never ate it before...ask Mark!).  More fresh and dried fruit, more candy, more breads, more wine/alcohol, more long as there is no meat, eggs, or dairy then I'm good, right?  I'll become the healthiest and skinniest person on the face of the earth!  

I guess I'm experiencing what I already's not what I'm eating it's the "MORE" that could cause a problem!  It's the "more" that needs to go.  Not the animal protein, not the carbs, not the fat, not the gluten, it's the "more".

photo above is one of my latest favorite snacks.  I love unshelled nuts!  Spending a relaxing evening cracking a few open is fine.....but when a few turns into more than a few.....

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saturday @ Juno

Time is running short and I need all the team support I can get at
this point!  My next competition is in two weeks...omg...really?  Two weeks exactly it will be all over with!  Good thing I decided to stop being a baby about my upcoming jerk set and just go in the gym and freaking jerk!  For now I'm still keeping those under wraps, but I am happy to say that I completed my confidence is on the rise!  

Darn I wish I had a 15kg!  The 14kg is so much fun, and then comes the 16kg!  That's fine too, and I'm not afraid of it at all, but I want my 16kg set to look and feel just like this one!  Fingers crossed (and it helps to train for it too!), these are the numbers I'm shooting for at the meet.  200 reps, a snatch test on each arm, has been my goal from the beginning.  Here I complete 100/100 w/14kg in 8 minutes, 45 seconds.

I'll be competing the 16kg biathlon, (jerk and snatch), and one of my students, Andrea, will be there competing her first 10 minute 12kg LC.  I'm also thrilled that my best friend Jen in Santa Barbara is going to try her best at the 5 minute snatch test! I'm so proud!  I'm driving down south to Santa Barbara on Friday, picking her up along the way and she'll finish the drive to Costa Mesa.  No need to diet down, I'm already sitting comfortable range of my competition bodyweight.  It's going to be a girl's weekend as it looks as if Mark is staying home for this one.  On the way back home I'll be spending a couple more days in SB with Jen, doing some swings on the beach, a little hot yoga, and then head back home.  

Wish me, Andrea, and Jen luck!  And all the competitors actually!  Or better yet, come and cheer us on!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Team TracyRif

This time last year I had no idea what was about to happen.  All I remember really was sitting around our computers one evening when Mark looked over at me and asked me how many 12kg snatches did I think I could do in 5 minutes.  What?  Well, it didn't take me long to answer, basically my answer was, how many could be done in 5 minutes?  Well, that's pretty much how many I could do!  Snatching the 12kg, for 5 minutes, was not that much of a challenge so why was he asking me this question?  It seems as if there was going to be an opportunity to test my snatch reps during an actual competition!  I still was not completely understanding.

I was familiar with Girya Sport....enough to know how freaking hard it is to snatch (jerk) for 10 minutes while only one hand switch.  I knew the difficulty because for a couple of years prior I had played around with it, but not knowing anything about the sport and technique I failed miserably!  I was intrigued, but not enough to give up my regular Hardstyle training.  So now Mark was telling me that I could snatch Hardstyle, for 5 minutes, switching hands as many times as I wanted to, in a competition?  Hmnn...I had never snatched for 5 minutes for reps, instead I commonly stopped at 100 reps, which takes under 5 minutes.  No need to "test" beyond 100 because no more was ever asked for in my SFG (formerly rkc) world.  But the 12kg, even a competition sized bell, would not really be a test....more like an exhibition, and certainly it could be fun.  But the 16kg for 5 minutes, now that would be a many reps could I complete?  I had no idea!

Knowing I could do 100 in about 4 minutes, if I pushed it, that computes to 25 rpm, would I be able to keep that pace for another minute, AND 2 more transfer swings?  (each and every time you transfer swing it take time away!)  Oh, and one more thing...a competition bell does not travel the same speed of a smaller, more compact cast iron bell.  Now this was going to be challenging!

Although I prided myself (and still do) along with most of my fellow SFG Instructors about being able to throw down a 100 rep snatch test any day of the week, now I HAD to do it, but better!  I was going to do a set that opened me up to competition.  Who would step forward and complete more reps?  It's totally possible, of course!  I mean I'm practically an old woman!  Any younger stronger whippersnapper can come along and smoke me!

My strategy was 24 rpm (12 reps every 30 seconds).  At the time I routinely trained switching every 10 reps, but I knew every transfer swing would cost me time/reps, and possibly risk dropping the bell, so I decided to switch every 30 seconds....and I was more than 100% successful, and managed an extra rep at the end for a total of 121 reps in 5 minutes. A personal record for me, and one I haven't actually tried again...maybe I should?

Or maybe YOU should?  Now is your chance!  If you are in the So Cal area I highly recommend you look into coming over to the OKC's California Open Championship to test yourself, your students, your clients, or together as a team!  You all train on a regular basis so why not come and see what kind of payoff your hard work and commitment will bring?

There is something about competing, about stepping up to the plate (or in this case, the platform!). It was an amazing opportunity to do something I loved to do, something I knew I was good at, but yet still the chance of failure would always be looming under the control of other circumstances.

A different bell than I was used to.
A day and time that I wouldn't normally train.
Little time to prepare as I was invited to try only weeks before hand...and remember, this was for highest possible reps!
Weigh in (argh!)
Oh, and a huge audience that could easily out lift me in so many ways!

That last one is probably the one I was most fearful of.  I know the rules of GS and I was being "allowed" to compete by different rules.....would my way be respected as much as I respected theirs?

Open arms!  The Orange Kettlebell Club not only invited me, and other Hardstyle kettlebell athletes like me, but they celebrated what my skills were....and then they treated me to a show of theirs!  At the end of the day we all like to train, we all like to grow our practice and sport, and we all have that same ball of iron, or steel, with a handle that challenges us to be our best.

Our best may be more reps, more weight, or simply showing up 2-3 times a week to keep or increase our health, fitness and strength.  And being able to, being welcome to, validate our hard work and commitment through competition was so much freaking fun!  Which is why from that moment of completing my 121st rep in 5 minutes with the 16kg I knew I would share the experience with my own students/training partners, and anybody who read my blog or facebook page.

I'm thrilled to have had 7 of my own personal students compete at the last OKC competition in Berkeley this past August.  Three of them tested their 5 minute snatch, three of them their 10 minute snatch, and one biathlon (Meg of course, lol).  I also had another woman I had met in Modesto (at Full Force PT), Stacey Whitney, read about last years competition and inspired her to compete two lifts and earn her rank 2!

If you are interested in finding our more information about this and other events at the OKC California Open Championships please go to their website, or email/facebook message me or John Wild Buckley.  There may be a special rate for the 5 minute snatch event registration and/or a special rate if you bring YOUR TEAM!

Even if you don't or you are not ready, will you come and cheer us on, cheer me on?  In addition you will also be treated to watching World Class Girya Sport lifters compete on the same platforms as us mere mortals!  If you love kettlebells, whether it's hardstyle of Kettlebell sport, it's an event that should not be missed.!california-open-kettlebell-cha/c1ok1

photo at top is Team TracyRif, and here were the results from OKC's August meet, 6 months after my own very first competition;

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 Lloyd, 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

What's crazy is that all this happened because of one little itty bitty 5 minute snatch test! 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Adventures in Vegetarianism

Oh boy...where do I start?  Well, it's a longer story than I want to bore you with so I'll cut to a quick chronology and go back to more details in a different blog post.  When I had realized that much of my overeating was coming simply from large portions at most meals I had to look a little closer at a couple of things.  Why was I serving myself more food than I knew I should, and why the heck did my consumption of meat and dairy increase at least 100% over the last three years?  Um...because it's tasty? Yep. Sure.  It's tasty, but I really really don't need that much protein.  I think I got caught up in some kind of idea that I could eat all the meat I wanted to, as if, because it's "protein", it's healthy.  Well, I do think animal protein is healthy, but like all nutrients moderation is key.

In true "Tracy fashion" I see things in black and white, all or nothing.  So for some crazy reason I thought cutting out meat and dairy for a week or two could be interesting.....I also thought about cutting out wine....but that lasted for a couple of days before it became clear I was out of my mind.

Buying, preparing, cooking and eating vegetables is easy for me.  I often joke that I eat more vegetables that most vegetarians, and this is because I eat more food than most vegetarians!  And since I was totally loving my pumpkin chili, eating that, and a daily salad, is not hard for me to arrange.  But I found that unless I was 100% prepared with preplanned meals in place, cutting out meat increased the wanting of "snacky" foods like nuts, chips/crackers, breads and bagels.....and desserts! Desserts don't have meat.  When I wrote my book, The Swing, one of the parts in the diet section that was edited out was some of what I wrote about the difference between being a "vegetarian" and being a "non meat eater".  Those two things are not the same.

I don't have any moral judgements of eating animal meat right now, at this time of my life, but I can understand what it must be like for people that do.  I try and imagine eating human meat, which completely disgusts me (of course), although I also understand how, maybe, a black bear or a shark would find us tasty....somebody is right...hmnn, is it us, or is it them?  Okay...I'm getting off topic now....  No doubt if I had to kill my own food I would be a different person.  Not one that wouldn't eat meat, but one that might appreciate it more.

I did have a couple of other motivating factors come into play.  Yes I am getting older, but does that automatically mean I'm getting tired more easily?  Or does my diet have something to do with it?  Yes, I do eat mostly homemade foods, prepared from scratch, and I eat a ton of fiber....but why am I not "regular", or at least as regular as I used to be? (sorry TMI).  I also weigh 6-8lbs more than I say I want to, but yet I may find myself rationalizing how much I eat because it's "healthy".  I am finding some other interesting things happening with my body that wasn't necessarily happening before, so I'm wondering if it's related to nutrition.

At the end of the day I over think food and I over think eating....leading me to find myself
experiencing constantly feeling "over".

I will wrap it up, for now, by saying that I started this experiment early last week...oh yes, after I made my pumpkin pot roast (which I had to freeze by the way!).  So starting last Tuesday I managed to stay "meat-less" (and for the most part dairy free except for my cream in my no way I'm giving that up right now) until this Monday (6 days).  This was mainly because I wasn't 100% prepared, and I refused to "snack" nutritional calories away just to keep myself from eating meat.  I did start to explore different options.  Vegetable stir fry's, hearty vegetable dishes that included mushrooms, brussel sprouts, potato (sweet), squashes, etc. I also relaxed greatly about bread, although I didn't eat much, and grains in general.

My findings?  I might have felt a bit better in general.  Mostly I believe because I was out of balance to start with.  I have to admit that continuing on with a meat less and dairy less diet intrigues me BUT I have some "un common" common sense thoughts about it.  (which I will share as this process goes on)  I do, however, feel as if I was right about consuming too much animal protein (for me) and this morning's soup was a nice compromise.

I found these Fava Chickpeas at Whole Foods, from Bartolini.  Bartolini is an expensive brand, but I had never seen these before so I sacrificed and bought a 1.1 lb package.  (maybe $8-$10?  they had been sitting in my pantry for about 2 months now)  I could have made a vegetarian soup/stew for sure, but I had a couple of lamb sausage links in my freezer and I decided that maybe simply cutting back on the meat protein should be my first thought.  Using two sausage links is much different that using an entire leg of lamb!  Which may have been my old habit!  One of the things I missed greatly about trying to cut out the animal protein completely was the depth and richness animal bone stocks and broths brought to my soups and stews.

So for now I've decided to go meat and diary less for 3/4 of my nutritional diet.  This might mean 2-4 days straight for vegetable/grain based meals and then introducing meat and dairy, alternating back and forth.  And believe it or not it has more to do with expanding my nutritional experience than it has to do with "cutting out" animal protein.


Lamb Stew with Chickpeas

Garbanzo beans or chickpeas are my favorite legume to pair with lamb, but whether you use lamb
stew meat or lamb sausage the one recipe I keep going back to always includes two ingredients.  Red bell pepper and red wine vinegar...mostly the red wine vinegar.  Soups and stews can all start to taste the same because 99% of the time the ingredients are all basic!  Whenever I use lamb, after I brown the meat, sautee the veg, I deglaze the pan with 2-4 tbls of red wine vinegar before adding the stock/water.  The vinegar gives it a completely different flavor, one that I like.  The lamb is rich, the peppers are sweet and the vinegar is sour.

Lamb stew meat or lamb sausage;  Since cutting back on meat I suggest only 1/2 lb at the most.

Brown either choice.  Move to the side of the pan and sautee onion, celery, carrot, red bell pepper cut into a small dice, until soft and translucent (this morning I had no celery and it still turned out fab!)  I using stew meat add 1 tbl chopped rosemary (or dried).

Deglaze the pot with 2-4 tbl red wine vinegar for 1-2 minutes, add 4 c. water or stock.

add 1- 1 1/2 c pre soaked fava chickpeas or Garbanzo beans, 1 whole garlic bulb (bottom third cut off, which you will remove completely after all is cooked.  it should stay intact, only releasing it's flavor during the cooking process).

At this point you should have a pot or a pressure cooker with;

browned lamb meat
sauteed vegetables
chick peas/beans

If cooking on stovetop in a traditional soup pot; cover and bring to a boil (covered), turn heat down to med/low, slightly covered, cook until beans are soft (45-50 minutes)

If using a pressure cooker; "load and lock", bring pressure to high (about 10 min), lower heat and cook for 8-10 min.  Let pressure come down naturally, or let sit for 10 minutes and then release pressure manually or cold water method.

Taste and adjust seasonings (salt).

Yikes, I totally forgot....I used an entire head of cabbage, cut into 1 inch slices and then cut into 1 inch squares.  I wanted to add as much veg as I could (wanting to stay vegetable based), and I added it after the onion/carrot/red bell sautee, but before the red vinegar deglaze.  Oops.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Vacation is OVER! Man, I can't leave you guys alone for a second!

I started what I call my "10 x 10 Project" on a very personal level.  I know what a difference regular exercise and physical consciousness can make in the quality of our lives on so many levels that, if I let it, it just kills me when people that I love and care about can't bring themselves to take 5-10 minutes of their day to improve their health.  "Exercise and physical consciousness" is about staying connected with the health of our bodies and not let ourselves be fooled by the instant gratification of overeating and maybe ignoring small weight gains that much too often can turn into large weight gains.  But it's your life.

This past December I lost 5 clients that never returned to training after the holidays.  I'm not surprised because it's not unusual when people lose momentum they give up, and not just with exercise, it may happen with many new habits we all decide to establish.  Personally you all know I never skip workouts, and the biggest reason why is that I never want to lose the momentum that I know only consistency breeds.  This is also why I asked my long time client/training partner Meg to substitute lead my classes if and when I have to be away from teaching.  It's not for me, it's for my other students and clients, so they don't have any reason to quit training while I'm gone!  I don't want them to lose their momentum!

So, this may or may not be where you find yourself right now.  I purposely tried my best to post new, informative, progressive, motivating 10 x 10's in the beginning, even pre-taping some videos to post at times I knew I might not have the time or energy for.  But I can see that maybe I left some of you alone too long!  So let's start again, shall we?  We left off with one hand swing practice and I used these progressions to start off The Swing Quest 2014.  I mentioned pre taping and I did that for five 10 x 10's all done "equal work to rest" so the pace is pretty swift.  Here in this video I take you back to longer rest periods, still practicing the progressions.  I add more tips and reasons about the one hand swing, and at the end of the 10 sets I lead you through 5 more sets, 15 sec work/rest, just like the workouts from The Swing Quest.  I'm also posting the first two 10 x 10's taken from TSQ so if you want to continue on it's all here for you!  Enjoy!  Oh, and welcome back :)



Saturday, February 1, 2014

Calling All Hardstyle Kettlebell Athletes in the Southern California's your chance!

If you miss this you are CRA-ZEE!

I can't believe it's barely been 1 year since I stepped onto a competition platform for the very first time in my 50 years (almost...I was actually 49 at the time!)  I really had NO idea what was about to happen in my life by doing so.....

Last year President and Founder of the OKC, John Wild Buckley, invited me to test my 5 minute snatch test at the California Open Kettlebell Championships in Costa Mesa CA (via Mark).....some of you know the snatch test's the one that is also a requirement to earn an SFG (rkc) Instructor Certification, and has long been a gold standard in the Hardstyle Kettlebell community.  An athlete has 5 minute to complete 100 snatch reps, based on bodyweight, and age (*see below).  Anybody that has tested for this knows that although it's not a competition or race, we all want to complete our 100 reps in the shortest amount of time, right?  lol  I mean seriously, right after you take your test it's common for the first question one of the other athletes asks is "what time did you get?"

I pride myself in knowing, as an SFG Instructor I can successfully complete my 100 16kg snatch reps under 4.5 min pretty much any day of the week.  But what comes after 100 reps?  I still have at least 30+ seconds!  Well last year I found out! I took the challenge and completed 121 snatch reps, with a competition bell, in the 5 minutes!  21 reps more than what was ever required of me, and a personal record at the time.

So much has happened since.  Since then I took to the sport and practice of a different kind of challenge.  The challenge of Kettlebell Sport's 10 minute sets that only allow one hand switch!  And I've come a long way in less than 1 year.  Here is a video chronicle of my growth as a kettlebell athlete starting with last year's actual event, the one I'm inviting you to try, the California Open Kettlebell Competiton, 5 minute, multiple hand switch.

Orange Kettlebell Club's California Kettlebell Open Championships Feb 2013
16kg 5 minute snatch, multiple hand switch 121 reps

April 2013 Seattle WA
12kg 10 minute snatch 189 reps, one hand switch

August 2013 Berkeley CA
16kg 10 minute snatch, 187 reps, one hand switch

For more information you can go to to register.  You can also message me or John Wild Buckley on Face Book, or email me  

This opportunity will be over when registration closes on the 14th.  The 5 minute, multiple hand switch event is open to everybody and anybody that wants to test their ability to NOT put the bell down for 5 continuous minutes.  You chose the weight, the only requirement is that you use a competition bell, or bring your own (cast iron bell).   

Come represent your fellow Instructors, and athletes while testing yourself on one day, at one time, on one platform with one bell!  It's a rush you rarely get the chance to experience!  The OKC welcomed me into the world of competition as a Hardstyle kettlebell athlete, and celebrated what I had been practicing and training for years.  They are welcoming you too!  Please come be a part of the celebration of competition and kettlebells!

I'll be posting more information about this event everyday for the next two weeks as I prepare myself, and my team to compete.  See you there?

*Females under 123lbs 12kg
*Females above 16kg
*Males under 140lbs 20 kg
*Males above 24kg

*Masters, age 50 and over
12kg for females
20 kg for males