Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Taking Responsibility Feels Good!

It's been almost 2 months since I became a part-time vegetarian/vegan.  Long enough, in my opinion, to make some decisions about whether or not it's a way of eating I want to continue.  The verdict?  I don't think I will to the degree I have practiced these last two months or so.

My entire motivation for trying this out was that I realized I was overeating meat by justifying that eating more protein was good.  Protein is fine, but not overeating it.  Which brings me to the other more important conclusion from this experiment...really in general, the only habit I still may act on, since weighing over 250lbs, is overeating too regularly.  

I often post pictures and write about large/extra large salads I make, and large bowls of soups and chilis that are staples in my diet.  I've never pretended to eat small portions, in fact quite the opposite.  The entire reason I adopted a Veg First Diet is so I could eat larger portions and bigger meals while keeping calories low.  And it worked!  And it still works!  As long as it vegetables I'm overeating! Overeating protein, fats (cream/cheese/nuts), and other "healthy" foods along with the vegetables started to become part of the overall habit of overeating, even when I thought I was aware of it!

Years ago when I started blogging (2006) I wrote a series of posts titled "Evolution of a Diet", but I never really finished them....and now I can see that maybe I never will.  I feel so differently about food/eating than I ever have before and it's still changing, in a good way.  

I was lucky enough to do a phone interview this morning for someone else's blog and one of the things I heard myself say was;

"Healthy eating is the attitude you bring to your dinner plate, not the food that's on your dinner plate!".  

I would much rather not want to overeat, than enjoy overeating.....does that make sense?  And the good the great news, is that I'm closer and closer to feeling that way everyday!  In fact I'm so close that today could be that day!  Lucky me!

The True Lesson

The true lesson was not to stop eating meat.  The true lesson was to
bring awareness to an old habit that is no longer serving me, emotionally, the way I thought it used to. (overeating)

Since greatly reducing the amount of animal meat protein I have started the habit of taking very small portions when I do eat it.  Although I will add meat back into most one of my daily meals, I predict, naturally, I will stay vegetarian/vegan 2-3 days a week because that ratio feels right.

I also greatly reduced the amount of dairy, cheese / yogurt / butter, and to my surprise I didn't miss it much considering how much of it I used to eat.  I plan to add these foods back in, but probably not on the same days I eat meat.  For some reason it makes sense, and again, it feels right to alternate.

I got back in the habit of weighing, measuring, and researching (googling) correct portions and calorie counts of foods I was trying to guesstimate.  I also started portioning out smaller containers of servings, while still giving myself permission to eat more if I wanted to, but with the condition of having to wait 20 minutes first.  Most times I did eat more after the 20 minutes, but I still feel that I ate much less starting with smaller portions to begin with.

It feels good to take responsibility again.

Some of my new favorites:

Pumpkin Chili
Roasted eggplant
Savory oatmeal 
Bagels and bread! (lol)
Miso soup

photos above; kale/chard salad w/avocado and pumpkin seeds portioned out in a size less than half of what I used to.  Meatloaf I made this morning sliced very thin and measured out in 2.5 ounce servings instead of my previous 4-5 ounces!

Monday, March 24, 2014

When there's a will, there's a way! Savory oats for tomorrow's lunch!

I was shocked at how much I loved this newest savory oats recipe that I tried (Mark Bittman's, that only suggested green scallions and soy sauce.  I posted my picture of the bowl I made on Facebook and had a couple of comments about adding a fried egg on top.  I'm not a huge fan of runny yolks (although I wish I was) but Tuesday Foster suggested maybe I try a hard boiled egg, sliced, on top.  I decided to meet in the middle.  I soft boiled two eggs, which I will gently reheat tomorrow, using a microwave, that will most likely produce something between a soft and a hard yolk.

I've been keeping part time vegetarian for maybe 5 days out of seven in a week, so I'm due for some kind of animal protein soon.  Tomorrow might as well be the day!  

I soaked some thick, old fashioned, oats in water all day to soften and swell, then I transferred them to the refrigerator.  Tomorrow I will microwave them (at work) to heat them up.  They are pretty much soft/cooked, all they need is heat at this point.  Since the eggs, scallions and soy sauce will be left to come to room temp in the hours before lunch (5:30am-10:00am) it should only take 20-30 seconds to heat the eggs, without "cooking" them any further.  I might even be able to skip trying to reheat in the mic, instead using the residual heat of the piping hot oats.

I'm using some soy sauce packets that I had left over in my fridge...why not?  Simple preplanning and packing.  When there's a will, there's a way!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Swing Quest is coming....10 reps at time! My latest 10 x 10 rest ladder

It was just me and Andrea at Sunday morning practice so I had to drag her into demonstrating my latest 10 x 10 rest ladder/"side by side" workout!

In this workout Andrea completes 14 sets of 10 reps at equal work to rest ratio (15 sec work/15 sec rest), while I ladder up equal work to equal rest sets of ten.  Here how it looks on paper:

1 10 rep set (15 sec work/45 sec rest)
2 10 rep sets (1 x 15/15 + 15/45)
3 10 rep sets (2 x 15/15 + 15/45)
4 10 rep sets (3 x 15/15 + 15/45)

In total I complete my 10 x 10 in 7 minutes.  Follow along with me, or follow along with Andrea, OR better yet, recruit a friend or family member to work along with you, "side by side"! (

I'll be leading my second event of "The Swing Quest 2014" next Sunday, March 30 from 7:00am-8:45am approx.  More details to come soon about this event and the next ones....

In the mean time here are a few links to past blog posts about The Swing Quest:

Friday, March 21, 2014

Non Vegetarian Day...maybe

It's official....I could live on my pumpkin chili!  Seriously.  It's loaded with veggies, a ton of flavor and very low in calories....unless you eat a ton of it, OR allowing you to eat a ton of it!  Which is the way I like to look at it!  Because of this chili I barely miss meat at all, and it's made becoming a part time vegetarian so easy.....maybe too easy?  

I've changed my recipe to lean more towards a "barbecue" flavor with the addition of vinegar and brown sugar (1/4 c of each), and cutting back 1 1/2 c. lentils to 1 1/4 c., using the stalks of red chard or kale for extra body.  Last night I decided to leave the skin on the pumpkin.  I like to think of it now as "Rustic Barbecue Pumpkin Chili" lol!  But really it's just laziness!

I also found some "corned beef" sausage at Whole Foods the other day.  I don't think I've ever seen that before.  I'm sure it has something to do with the store having leftover corned beef from St Patty's Day, but it peaked my curiosity.  Mark loves corned beef so it stands to reason he would like this sausage!  Mark also loves my vegetable soups!  Cabbage seemed like a good pairing along with the giant Italian white beans I had in my freezer.  Nowadays, since becoming a part time vegetarian, I've learned how to cut back on animal protein in general and only use two sausage links, at the most (sometimes only one) when making any kind large meal for us.

This corned beef cabbage and bean soup turned out so good I think today will be my non vegetarian day....although I'd be perfectly fine eating another bowl of my pumpkin chili!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Swing Quest 2014, event #2 Sunday March 30

It's time again!  Can you believe 3 months have passed since the last time we did 2014 swings together?  Oh...did you miss it?  Well, no worries! You'll get another chance, and another, and another....

I will personally be leading my home based workout of The Swing Quest 2014 in the studio I work at, on the last Sunday of this month, March 30.  It's kind of a special one because it's Meg's birthday weekend.  Of course you all are invited to come swing along!  All I need is for you to confirm via email ( and if you have your favorite bell then I suggest you bring it!  The start time will be bright and early!  To be honest I have not yet decided whether the first swing rep will start at 7:00 or 7:30am!  I have video and photo logistics to consider.....this could be your very first co starring role in a kettlebell swing video!  The cost is $40 per person and space is limited.

What IS The Swing Quest?  Well...when I figure it all out I'll let you in on it!  But what I can tell you is that The Swing Quest is a marathon kettlebell swing event that I have designed to be scaleable to almost every level of kettlebell athlete or enthusiast.  The minimum requirement is that you #1 know how to swing a kettlebell properly, and #2 you have completed at least one 10 x 10 workout!  Yep, that's it!  One 10 x 10 workout is a far cry from 2014 swing reps, BUT the first goal is NOT to complete 2014 swing reps!  The first goal is to get the support, the motivation, the encouragement to WANT to do 2104 swing reps!  My group and I can give that to you!  But you'll be worries!

I'll be posting more about this and how you can participate on your own, or with your own group in another town/city/place along with us!  In the mean time here is the uninterrupted video of the first 500 swing reps we did at the last event.  This next one will start out with slightly different progressions of 10 x 10 (videos to be posted) but from now on The Swing Quest will always start out with 5 rounds of ten sets of ten swing reps, done at an equal work to rest ratio.

Okay....this is all for now...more to come!  Practice, practice, practice!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

You don't know what you don't know.

Have you ever eaten something just so it doesn't "go to waste"?  Of course you probably have!  The worst situation may be when you eat something you don't like just to avoid throwing it away!  Seriously, I never want to do that again, and it's something I'm more and more conscious of, which in turn helps me identify if, and when, that is happening.  Better yet, I'm becoming much more aware of buying too much food in the first place, and/or buying things I really don't want to eat. (I was in Lucky grocery store this afternoon and came across Oreo cookies with a marshmallow center....I reached out....and they almost snagged me....wtheck...marshmallow filling?)

We all think we're so smart, don't we?  

Well, if you admit that you don't know what you don't know, then you are much closer to being as smart as you think you are!

I had one sweet potato.  I only bought one because if I had bought 4 or 5 I'd eat four or five!  At the most I would only ever is need that's what I had.  The only time I use a sweet potato is if I grate it to thicken a batch of chili.  If I were to make sweet potato fries in the oven then I would eat every dang gone one of them (which is why I only buy one sweet potato at a time!).  Well, there it sat...that one sweet potato.  Yes, I did make a couple of batches of chili, but I used red lentils to thicken one batch and red chard stems to thicken the there it sat....growing sprouts.  Is it okay to eat potatoes that start to sprout?  I'm guessing's not going to kill me.  Knowing I won't use it for chili...but yet not wanting to throw it away...

I decided to roast it.  I looked in my fridge for something else to roast with it.  Maybe a green vegetable to cut the calorie density.  But nope.  Nothing green to be found.  No brussels, no green beans, no broccoli.  Geez, I didn't want to roast one lonely sweet potato!  Viola!  Two apples that have almost gone to the wayside were at the bottom of my crisper, and like the yam, so close to the end, one red, and one tangy green.  Maybe I can use the roasted yam and apples in a spinach salad tomorrow?  A few dried cranberries and if I were eating bacon and/or blue cheese...(omg...yum!)  I am eating walnuts though...hmnn...with a maple dressing?  I think I may be in trouble!

Here's the thing.  I will want to eat the whole darn batch!  Add in other salad ingredients, especially dressing, and all of a sudden that lonely yam, and a couple of apples, could easily turn into an 800 to an almost 1300 calorie meal!  Yep, do the math people!  I did:

10.6 ounce sweet potato (Garnet yam) = 345 calories
10.2 ounce apple = 137 calories
1 tbl oil to roast = 100 calories
total so far 582

handful of baby spinach, what? 20-30 calories? lol

3-4 oz protein = 150-200 calories (you pick; chicken, shredded pork, sliced turkey, bacon, sausage, etc)
oil and vinegar/lemon dressing, maple syrup = 100-200 calories
1 ounce of crumbled blue cheese = 110 calories
1 ounce chopped walnuts = 185 calories
total  1147-1297 calories

An entire day's worth of calories in one didn't want croutons, did you?

But it was just a salad.....  And this all started because I didn't want to throw away one yam!  Get into establishing the habits of not buying foods you really don't want to eat / throwing away foods you really do not want to eat.  

OR, the moral of this story?  If you find yourself weighing more than you say you want to weigh, and you don't know why, do some math.  If you find yourself weighing more than you say you want to weigh, and you don't believe in the Fat Fairy, then maybe it's time to admit that you don't know what you don't know.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thursday 10 x 10

Thursday mornings is a super heavy swing workout that I program in progressive cycles lasting 4-6 weeks (give or take a week!).  Last week we started week #1 using a combination of double bells and a single bell that weighs the equivalent of the two lightest doubles.  I also decided, this time around, to add in the intermediate double bell size, which is a 14kg for me and Bren (12, 14, 16, Maribel 10, 12, 14).

Each swing workout is approx 30 min and I've been using my 10 x 10 template for the last one as well as this one.  That means that there is at least equal rest between work sets (sometimes more, like an extra minute between 10 x 10's) UNTIL we get closer to our max effort.  It is not unusual to start adding "work into rest" one rep at a time during some of those rounds of 10 x 10's


Maribel and I video taped our last round of 10 x 10's hopefully for you to pick up your bell (s) and give it a go! Double kettlebell swings are an advanced skill and I'm not promoting you try them, or do them without a strong established practice.  I rarely, if ever, swung double kettlebells the first three years of my training.  I'l write more about the differences another time, but you can easily use only one bell and do two hand swings, or you two different size bells and alternate, as we did.

Enjoy!  Whatcha got better to do with 5 minutes of your life?

Here was our exact swing workout this morning.

10 x 10 double 12kg's
10 x 10 double 16kg's alternating single 16kg
10 x 10 double 16kg's
10 x 10 double 16kg's alternating single 24kg
10 x 10 double 14kg's
10 x 10 double 12kg's alternating single 24kg (video of this last round)

600 swings, 30 minutes.

Last week

10 x 10 dbl 12's
10 x 10 dbl 16, single 16
10 x 10 dbl 16 single 24
10 x 10 dbl 16, dbl 14's
10 x 10 dbl 14's dbl 12's
10 x 10 single 16, single 24

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Vegetable Recycle

Since I'm pretty much down to my last container of my frozen homemade tomatoes I wanted to try a version of my pumpkin chili without what is making my latest batch of chili red?  Mostly the red stems of the chard bunch I bought today!  For some reason I feel really good "recycling" the stems of chard and some varieties of kale, always have, always will!  I've been posting about it for years;  
Although I'm not nearly obsessive as I used to be, I do take to mind a bigger picture when purchasing kale and chard.  If what I plan on making leans towards yellow/orange I will buy regular white chard, or
yellow chard, but for red stews/chilis I will always buy red.  Kale can be a bit funny.  The super curly kale, and collard greens have stems much to fibrous to recycle and I have to throw them out (I currently do not compost), so unless I'm really wanting collards (yum) I tend to buy chard and Lacinato kale so I can make use of the stems.

When I use stems for stews and chilis I first saute the onion/celery and add them after about 5 minutes.  I then add any diced peppers, if I'm using them (red bell, jalapeno, pablano, etc.).

I've also been digging bar-b-que flavor!  What's not to like about barbecue?  Sweet, sour (vinegar), spicy!  Homerun...unless you are one of those people afraid of sugar (sweetness)....which I am not, so I'm good!  The basic barbecue sauce combination does indeed include tomatoes OR tomato paste, which I happen to have a couple of tablespoons in my freezer....viola!  Tomato paste, vinegar (thanks to Jeff Behrend's HOT dilly beans!), brown sugar and chili spices (chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, garlic).

Tonight's chili started with diced:

red chard stems
red bell
green bell

chili spices (smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, oregano)
garlic (pressed)

1/4-1/2 c vinegar to deglaze the pan (I used homemade dilly/chili vinegar)
6 c. water (total)
1/4 brown sugar
2 tbl tomato paste

1 1/2 c lentils (normally I use 1 c brown, 1/2 c red, but I only had brown tonight)
1/2 Kabocha squash (pumpkin) cut into 1 inch chunks

Pressure cook for 20 min, OR cook for 45 min on stovetop.  (more details by request)

I also roasted some eggplant, mushrooms and butternut squash for lunch tomorrow.  I'm completely
sold on roasted eggplant these days and only look in my fridge for an accompaniment if I have anything.  Tonight I had mushrooms and a half of a butternut squash, so all of it went into a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

One last thing....I'm soaking some garbanzo beans for hummus tomorrow morning.  Goodness....I used to make hummus every week, but it's been at least a year, maybe two, since I made my last batch!  First thing in the morning I'll finish it.

Life is so good lately....I'm loving it!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Swing Quest 2014 10 x 10's

This first video is the fifth round of 10 x 10's done at the beginning of The Swing Quest 2014.  If you tried the previous four I hope you noticed the progression from two hand swings to more and more one hand swings. In this last 10 x 10 we practice the next one hand swing progression that will start The Swing Quest's next event, 5 one hand swings R, transfer to 5 one hand swings L, transfer back.

Technically you complete 4 one hand swings and transfer to the other hand on the fifth rep, and repeat on the other side.  We always transfer back to the starting hand because we will start to piece swing combinations together for longer and longer sets.

Here is the workout in shorthand;

5 R, 5 2 hd
5 L 5 2 hd
5 R, 5 2 hd (touch the handle)
5 L, 5 2 hd (tth)
5 R, 5 2 hd (tth)
5 L, 5 2 hd (tth)
5 R/ 5 L (touch the handle four times, switch hands on the fifth rep and repeat the other side)
5 R/ 5 2 hd (tth)
5 L/ 5 2 hd (tth)
5 R/ 5 L

Okay, so there you go!  You have successfully transferred from one hand to the other!  On March 30, The Swing Quest 2014's next event, we will quickly review all of the swing progressions from this point, 2 hd swings, two hands to one, one hand to two hand swings, and finally onto 5/5 one hand swings!  I will add more and more one hand swings to The Swing Quest's first five rounds of 10 x 10's posting them in order for you to practice!

In the mean if you would like to practice them individually again, or for the first time, here they are, in order from #1-#4

Thursday, March 6, 2014

10 x 10 "Give and Take"!

Ah...a bit of fun with our 10 swing reps Give and Take style!  "Give and Take" is my most popular DVD and a workout I use, or some variation of, all the time in my classes as well as my own workouts.  Give and Take was created to cater to large groups that had people of all levels of skill and conditioning.  It's a perfect workout for beginners still working their way up to "equal work to rest", but doesn't leave out the more advanced kettlebellers.  The one and only time Mark ever trained with me Tracystyle is in my very first dvd "Give and Take"! (  If you want to see him sweat like a pig then there's proof it's a hard, I mean fun, workout!

One of my Thursday morning training partners, Deepika, helped me out with today's 10 x 10 Give and Take.  She demonstrates the sets listed below in red that equal 10 reps total (OTM) for those of you that know you can do 10 reps every minute.  There are two sets within every minute that add up to ten, BUT you will be picking up and putting the bell down twice as much!  Every little bit makes a difference as you may soon find out!

If you are still working up to being able to complete 10 reps every minute, then you will ladder up your rep counts, with me, from 5-10, only completing the first of the two sets.


These last four sets are done every 30 seconds! Now you are up to equal work to rest!  Always take the rest you need, but here is a chance to push it just slightly, especially if you do the double sets w/Deepika!

Enjoy, and I'll see you next Thursday!

ps advanced Give and Take #2 co-swinging Jeff Sokol can be found here!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Say Yes to the Dress!

I had been a fan of the TV show "Say Yes to the Dress" before I got rid of my tv, but I could never imagine spending so much money on a dress.  Still to this day, even though I know Mark and I will renew our vows at some point, I just could not bring myself to spend more than a few/couple hundred dollars on a dress I might not, I mean, I will never wear again!  So it's been interesting to start shopping for a "Mother of the Groom" dress.

I guess I found out I'm a fan of lace! Seriously, I did not know that!  But with the choices I made (all online at Nordstrom) they all are lace.  I ordered one (on sale) and was impressed with the quality of the label (Tadashi) so I went ahead and chose a few more to try on.  Keeping in mind I really did not want to spend a lot ($250 would have been fine), AND fingers crossed I had shoes already.  Originally I wanted sleeves for a couple of reasons. To cover my tattoos, and so I wouldn't have to buy a jacket.  I'm not embarrassed about my tattoos, and if it were MY day it would be different, but it's not my day.  The day and the attention belong to our son Gabe, and his new wife Lilly.  I don't want any eyes on me.  Okay...on to the choices (so far, lol)

The first was navy/nude, and sleeveless (#1, picture above).  It was on sale for about 40% off...big incentive!  But although I really like it, and I would be totally fine with it, it was slightly too big in the chest and shoulders (I know, can you believe it? lol)  The nude background was a different shade than the nude shoes I already own, and it would require a wrap or jacket.

I ordered four more to try on.....

The next is again, sleeveless (#2).  The color described as "Paprika" but it's much more orange than I expected.  Orange is a good color on me, but I'm not sure it's "Mother of the Groom" color!  This dress would require shoes and a wrap/jacket, but I liked it the second I put it on.  When I tried it on for Mark, at first he wasn't a fan.  The color was a bit more vibrant than he thought appropriate.  Nice dress, but possibly, probably not the one, but priced around exactly what I wanted to spend.

Then came the one I thought would be perfect! (#3)  And it was!  Lots of good things about this Navy/nude 3/4 sleeve dress (I know it may look black, but it's blue). The navy is the same as the first dress, but the nude is a shade that matches a pair of shoes I already own.  I'm not 100% the style of the shoes matches, but the color is (in person) the same shade.  No wrap or jacket required, and I like the top 1/3 because it's sheer underneath the lace.  I like the boatneck cut which shows just a little bit of the tattoo I have across my shoulder.  But it was past the top end of what I wanted to spend....with tax almost $350.

#4.  Va va voom! Zow!  When I put this dress on I was looking for a party!  The color described as "Smoke" with gold/silver sequins.  Priced the same as the Navy 3/4 sleeve dress, but this one was too much with slightly padded shoulders.  But I'm not going to a New Year's Eve party, I'm going to a late April, day time wedding ceremony!  But this dress tempts me to change my lifestyle!  Kind of hard considering I go to bed by 8:00pm!  lol  Gorgeous, but thank goodness it's $350 because there is no way I want to keep it!

And last... (#5) I had high hopes for this "blouson" dress, in a color called "Shell".  In person it's more tan-ish than pink a very pretty shade.  Looking at a side view it looks pretty nice!  But full on front view it makes my mid section look twice as big as it is....sad face.  It's the least expensive, but it's just not going to work.  I don't have shoes to go with it, but I felt the cap sleeves were acceptable without a wrap/jacket.

Final conclusion?  Mark liked the Navy/nude 3/4 sleeve straight away!  No further choice....until we both looked at the pictures/ video I took modeling all of the dresses.  Personally I think the sleeveless "Paprika" dress is the most slimming and complimentary to my body, and to be honest I was shocked!  I thought I could get an accurate feeling by simple looking in a mirror, but when I saw myself in video and how the overall fit and style of the dress looked on my body I'm torn....because now I'm kind of liking the last dress again...but seriously it doesn't look as good in person....okay...that one's gotta go....(to see the side view go to my facebook page

The bottom line is that dress #3 is probably the dress.  The color, the sleeves, the wearability, and the conservative color meets all my requirements.  But for now I'll keep dress #2 until I get the opinion of the bride.  Could I find another dress for $300 or less that looks better?  Maybe.....I'm not 100% saying yes to any of these dresses!  What do you all think?

ps, yes, that is a rumble roller in the background!  Our living room is covered in 100 square feet of the padded tiles, left over from our studio, Girya, so we can roll around and stretch anytime we need to....I mean anytime Mark needs to!  Because I'm lazy....too lazy to stretch!