Friday, May 30, 2014

Thursday 10 x 10 Swing Workout, and 5 Minute Snatch Test Sets

Two weeks ago I posted the snatch training cycle I wrote for my Thursday morning training partners and I to test a 5 minute continuous snatch set with a weight both Brenda (18kg) and Maribel (16kg) had never tested with before, and for me a weight I had only tested once before (20kg) (  We all completed the sets successfully!  I'll tell you all about it, but first I'd like to share this week's 10 x 10 with you, and the advanced workout that follows (in shorthand).

Today's 10 x 10 combines 2 of those sets of ten twice, together for two sets of 20.  It equals 100 reps in 5 minutes, same as a traditional 10 x 10.  Technically I divided the 10 sets into two rounds of 5 sets.

10 x 3
20 x 1 ( the first round of five sets, combine sets 4 and 5 together)
10 x 2
20 x 1
10 x 1 (the second round of five sets, combine sets 2 and 3 together)

After the three of us completed our snatch sets we did this more advanced progression of the above 10 x 10.

10 reps x 5 sets (round one)
10 reps x 3 sets, 20 reps x 1 set (round two combines sets 4 and 5 together)
10 reps x 2 sets, 30 reps x 1 (round three combines sets 3, 4 and 5)
10 reps x 1 set, 40 reps x 1 (round four combines sets 2, 3,4, and 5)
10 reps x 5 sets (round five)

This workout was done with equal rest, so that means after our sets of 20 we took 30 second rest, set of 30 = 45 sec rest, and set of 40 = 1 min rest.  This was all we had time for, together, and it took 12.5 minutes to complete, 250 swings, we all used the bell a full size heavier than our snatch test bell (Brenda 22kg, Maribel, 20kg, me 24kg)

The girls had to leave so I continued on to tape the 10 x 10 with a 16kg and then continued the advanced version above, using a downhill rep ladder.

50 reps x 1 set (1.25 min/1.25)
40 reps x 1 set, 10 reps x 1 set (combining sets 1,2,3,4)
30 reps x 1 set, 10 reps x 2 sets (combining sets 1,2,3)
20 reps x 1 set, 10 reps x 3 sets (combining sets 1,2)
10 reps x 5

5 rounds of 50 reps = 250 swing, 12.5 min.

20-40 swings is an Inter/Advanced level but anytime there are over 40 swings in a set I consider that solidly advanced!  I think I'll do an Intermediate version of this in class tomorrow, using both the uphill and downhill rep ladder, and it will look like this:

10 reps x 5 sets (round one)
10 reps x 3 sets, 20 reps x 1 set (round two combines sets 4 and 5 together)
10 reps x 2 sets, 30 reps x 1 (round three combines sets 3, 4 and 5)
10 reps x 1 set, 40 reps x 1 (round four combines sets 2, 3,4, and 5)
10 reps x 5 sets (round five)
40 reps x 1 set, 10 reps x 1 set (combining sets 1,2,3,4)
30 reps x 1 set, 10 reps x 2 sets (combining sets 1,2,3)
20 reps x 1 set, 10 reps x 3 sets (combining sets 1,2)
10 reps x 5

You can use all two hand swings, of course, and depending on your strength and cardio conditioning you can use any size bell you want.  Last week we did an all two hand swing workout so this week I'll give my group the option of some one hand swings :) , especially for those long rep sets.


Last March (2013) for the first time ever I attempted, and succeeded, taking my SFG 5 minute snatch test with a 20kg bell, when I was only required to use a 16kg.  I really hadn't planned on it, although I secretly had been considering it for a few weeks prior.  I had been training a lot of double 16kg and single 32kg swings in preparation for the Certification weekend but hadn't done a 20 kg snatch, not even one rep since Oct of the previous year!  Well, this past year I've done plenty of heavier snatches using the 18, 20 and even 24kg, mostly in my KB sport practice, not so much in my regular Hardstyle conditioning practice.  Because of this I know I can complete 100 18kg snatch reps in 5 minutes pretty much any time, and in fact I completed 96 18kg snatches in 5 minutes switching hands only one time!  But there is a world of difference between the 18kg and the 20kg, as I was quickly reminded of this yesterday!

I believe in heavy swing training to aid in snatch testing, and it proved to be valid at my first attempt, but this time I thought I would practice heavy snatches to prepare to test heavy snatches....I'm not sure it was better, in fact I'm thinking it wasn't.  It's been my plan, after this test, to then do another heavy double and single swing cycle and then test again, which I will do next.

Since learning, practicing and competing in Kettlebell Sport I'm not afraid of 5 or 10 minute long sets.  KB Sport is a different than training with kettlebells for exercise and fitness so the techniques have been developed for a very specific goal that requires the athlete to go the distance of a 10 minute set while only allowing to switch hands one time.  Yes another goal is to do as many reps as possible in that 10 minute competition set, but it's about pacing, not all out sprinting.  5 min sets, and certainly being allowed to switch hands whenever you need to, gives you the luxury of going faster.  For instance, there was no way at the end of yesterday's set I could have done even one more rep!

Competition kettlebells are different than Hardstyle kettlebells in their size and their purpose.  I won't go into all of the details, but HS sets/reps have the emphasis on short and explosive movement which is why the smaller more dense black cast iron bells compliment, BUT that being said the handles on the cast iron bells are thicker (traditionally).  You can find smaller handles on different brands of cast iron bells, but the ones we own have the larger size.  This adds to the difficulty for those of us with smaller hands, females mostly, and it's the reason why I considered using a comp bell.  I decided against it for a couple of reasons.  I wanted to challenge my grip, but I also knew that if I used a comp bell I would most likely use more of a GS technique to complete the set, and I didn't want to do that, this time.  Yes, I will also do it again using a comp bell, but I plan on doing it more often so I'll have plenty of chances to play around with it.

What did I learn from yesterday's set?

I went in with NO plan!  Big mistake.  The first time I did this last year I went in with no plan and it worked out, but not this time.  At the first hand switch I decided to keep snatching past 10 reps (14) because I felt stronger on my left side.  This backfired on me.  When I realized it backfired I lost my focus on technique and had to work much harder controlling the bell than I should have.  Although I kept 20 rpm pace until the 4 minute I had too many hand switches (transfers) which took time, but mostly energy.  Next time I will stick to switching hands every 30 seconds no matter what the rep count is.  I should have cruised into the last minute, instead I had already started to tense up the minutes prior and it cost me the ability to really sprint to the finish.  Yes, I sped up, but with only 5 seconds remaining I could not do even one more snatch rep!

The other "mistake" I made was that I waited 2 weeks since my last heavy snatch workout which was too long.  I wanted to do the test before I went on our trip to Italy, but ideally I would have liked to have waited no longer than 8 days.  A 14 day back off left me flat....but I suspected that could be a problem and still, wanting to accommodate everybody's schedule, including my trip to Chicago, I waited too long.  Mark always says you should "go in hungry" for it, but I didn't feel that way.  Last week would have been better!

I also wanted to share Brenda and Maribel's last minute of their tests.  Maribel had never tested the 5 min 16kg snatch before not even for a baseline starting point!  Brenda had completed the 16kg snatch a couple of times before, and I think last August was the last time she did it.  Both women had not even tested their 12kg 5 minute sets in a really really long time, maybe over a year ago, and they made yesterday's sets look easy!  I think this proves even more how valuable our swing training least the way I do it!

Brenda volunteered first and completed 105 reps, Maribel went second and also completed 105 reps.  This "test" is similar to the SFG strength test only in the fact that the first goal is 100 reps in that time, but since my experience with training and competing KB Sport I believe you shouldn't stop at 100 if you have time left on the clock!  The test sets I do in my own practice and those of my students will always be for the full 5 minutes.  Lots of lessoned learned making the next attempt one I look forward to!

BUT I can say just a couple more things.....I was and am more sore yesterday and today than I have ever, ever, been training kettlebells before.  I felt a large strain in my right side pec (chest) muscle during the last minute, which is why you see me switch more often.  I attribute this to losing my focus on technique creating much more stress on my muscles than was needed.  I had already decided to, maybe, never try and train for the 24kg 5 minute snatch before I even did this one, and now I'm thinking it's the right decision.  I'm 50 years old and the last thing I want to do is injure myself doing something I never need to do.  I'm plenty strong now and I plan on staying that way!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Attenzione amici Italiani del mondo di Kettlebell!

"Hey, Italian friends of the kettlebell world!"

I wanted to wait until I finished up The Swing Quest Chicago before promoting our trip to SFG Italy next week!  I'm simply riding shotgun to my SFG Master Instructor husband, but I hope to get a chance to train while I'm there....leading The Swing Quest Italy would be a dream of course, but I'm working on that for next time!

I thought I'd start with a simple 10 minute TracyStyle swing routine and make it "ItalianStyle"!

10 2 hd swings x 2 sets
20 2 hd swings x 1 set
10 R one hd sw x 1 set
10 L one hd sw x 1 set
10 R/ 10 L x 1 set
5 R/ 5 L x 2 sets
5 R/ 5 L + 5 R/ 5 L x 1 set
10 2 hd sw x 1 set
10 R x 1 set
10 L x 1 set
5/5 x 1 set
10 R/ 10 L x 1 set
10 R/ 10 L + 5 R/ 5 L + 10 2 hd swings
220 swings, 10 minutes (approximately)

Buon divertimento!

(enjoy, have fun!)

Super special thank you to my newest Co-Swing Leader Julie Pietrantoni!  Julie has been a student/client/friend of mine since reading my story in The Four Hour Body, and has been training with me for almost 3 years.  You'll be seeing (and hearing) more of her/us in the future :)

ps...anybody notice her chickens in the background?  lol

Friday, May 23, 2014

How Do I Find Motivation to Lose Weight and Then Keep It Off?

The most common thing people want to know about my weight loss and transformation is, after all these years, how do I stay motivated.  I would love to figure it all out myself!  I often have wished I would be the one to find that million dollar answer to this most popular question, "How do I lose weight and keep it off?".  

I started to think of a better way articulate the question....."How do I find the motivation to change my overweight condition, and then stay motivated?", and that's when it all made sense.  It's not about motivation, it's about change.

The nature of motivation comes and goes, but you can make change permanent.  What you need to do is to turn the change into habit, because habits are automatic behaviors that you don't ever have to think about, and they will continue on if and when the motivation wanes!  No motivation required!  Those new habits make it all a done deal.

Oh my God....I think I just discovered the answer!  

This all started when I decided to take a deeper look at, and reverse engineer, my own successful permanent weight loss of over 100lbs for almost 10 years now, and I found some interesting consistencies.  I had no idea I would figure it out so quickly! I was kind of kidding about discovering the answer, but I'm serious at the same time.  Kidding because I'm not the first person to look in the direction of behavior and habit and think along these lines, but yet I am serious in the fact that I figured out how I did it, I discovered the answers for me, and maybe I can help you find the answers for you.  

I was so excited and confident about these discoveries that at the last minute (actually a couple of weeks prior) I asked Dan Lona, my host for The Swing Quest Chicago, if I could use the hour in between the two workouts on Saturday to share my thoughts and opinions about losing weight and keeping it off.  I want people that need and want to lose weight to lose it!  I really really do!  Sometimes I ask myself why do I care so much because I can go along in my life saving a ton of energy not worrying about anybody else.  But in a weird kind of way I get energy by talking and writing about this subject.  The subject is not necessarily weight loss, instead I think it's about freedom, because when I talk about being free I feel free!  Freedom, whether it comes in the form of losing weight or anything else that might be keeping you from enjoying your life more fully, comes down to finding the motivation to change a situation that's been making you feel trapped, exhausted, and helpless.  I had never talked  in deep detail about this subject outside of my regular circle of friends and clients before and I really didn't have a plan, I simply tried to start at the beginning!

The beginning; the very first thing I did, the biggest change I made, was that I started making all of my own foods/meals....ALL of them.  For the first 1 1/2 years I never ate any foods or meals that did not come out of my own kitchen.  I remember quite clearly the first meal I reluctantly had to eat out, it was during my April 2006 Kettlebell Instructor Certification in St Paul, and only because I was away from home and I didn't have a choice!  When I got home I resumed only eating my own homemade foods.....  Is the answer to make all of your own foods/meals?  Well, it may or may not be.  Home cooking was not the reason for my success as much as it was the habit of home cooked and prepared meals.  Next I'll write more about this first step/change and how it was a big part my answer relevant to what was causing my "overweightness" in the first place.

I'll stop here for now because cannot possibly write one blog post containing all I know and all I am experiencing through my recent discoveries but I think this is a good start!  I invite and welcome your comments and questions, in fact it's your interest in this subject that motivates me to share more, so please don't be shy.  You may have something to offer another reader or you may have a question some one else is wondering about too!  

Life is Good.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

TSQ Chicago; 10 x 10's, and much much appreciation!

Where do I start?  I think I'm just going to start with the first 25 minutes of The Swing Quest Chicago workouts!  But then I want to share with you a short story of one of the amazing women I met and swung with, Gaby Ramirez.  

10 x 10 #1
10 2 hd sw x 4 sets
5 2 hd sw + 5 R x 2 sets
5 2 hd sw + 5 L x 2 sets
10 2 hd sw x 2 sets

10 x 10 #2
5 2 hd sw + 5 R x 1 set
5 2 hd sw  5 L x 1 set
5 2 hd sw + 5 R x 1 set
5 2 hd sw  5 L x 1 set
5 R/5 L x 4 sets
10 R one hd sw x 1 set
10 L one hd sw x 1 set

10 x 10 #3
5 2 hd + 5 R x 1 
5 2 hd + 5 L x 1
5 R/5 L x 1
10 R x 1 set
10 L x 1 set
repeat in the same order

Gaby already had my book and had been swinging on her own in the past but found consistency in practice to be challenging.  When she found out I was going to be in her area she decided to come to the Learn to Swing Class to meet me and to make sure her swing form and technique was correct. 

I only teach the two hand swing in a Learn class, but I wanted to make sure Gaby's one hand swing was solid before I left her to practice on her own at home.  I invited her to join us in the first part of TSQ, instructing her to take extra rest, not because she wasn't capable of doing more, but because she hadn't established a regular practice prior to the workouts and I wanted her to be able to walk the next day!  The kettlebell swing stretches and loads the hamstrings quite a bit and a beginner should always err on the side of less and not more!  In the half I suggested the sets I wanted Gaby to rest through, and the rest I simply had to trust her to do what she felt was appropriate.

10 x 10 #4
10 2 hd sw x 2 sets
5 2 hd sw + 5 R 
5 2 hd sw + 5 L
5 R/ 5 L x 2 sets
10 R
10 L
10 2 hd sw x 2 sets

10 x 10 #5
10 2 hd sw x 2 sets
10 R
10 L 
5 R/ 5 L 
5 2 hd + 5 R 
5 2 hd + 5 L
10 2 hd sw x 2 sets

One of the best parts of the weekend was the smile on Gaby's face at the end of the workout.  Priceless!

(ps, I would have posted the entire 25 non stop but I couldn't get Youtube accept the entire video from my Ipad.)

I arrived in Chicago late Friday night and met Daniel Lona at the airport ( The events were scheduled at the studio Dan works at Lateral Fitness (, and seriously, if you are ever in downtown Chicago and need a trainer for kettlebells, or a place to workout, you would be crazy not to look him up!  The plan was to take a taxi to my hotel, but the line was over 30 minutes long just to get a cab so I suggested Dan show me how to take the train instead.  Suitcase, gym bag and computer, off we went.  We actually took the train most of the way, catching a cab for the last part of the trip once we got closer into the city.  After I checked in, Dan and I met his wife Val at the Hancock Tower for a drink and bite to eat, while enjoying a spectacular view from 96 floors up!  What a treat.  

The Swing Quest events weren't scheduled until 1:00 start time so we met early for coffee and breakfast at Yolk (  I knew I was going to need some carbs to get me through over 3 hours of swinging so I ordered the plain Yolk crepes slathered in butter and just a sprinkling of powdered sugar.  

First up was the Learn to Swing Class the first hour.  I never get tired of teaching the kettlebell swing, but I just wish we could spend more time with new students than the 40-60 minute limitations because of the caution learning a new movement like this requires.  More than half of the people that came had some experience learning on their own via youtube or my book/dvd's and where there to improve the skill....and to meet me, of course! (lol)  No surprise they all did well and learned new bits and pieces of the swing and how to train it.

The second part of the event was one that is brand new to me.  I was given the chance to do my very first lecture on losing weight and keeping it off forever!  True permanent transformation whether or not The Swing is ever your thing, creating and maintaining a healthy bodyweight is directly related to how much we eat, not so much what we eat, in my opinion.  I talked about how I decided to "reverse engineer" my own successful permanent weight loss of over 100lbs so I can help others achieve and enjoy the same freedom I've had for almost a decade now!

Everybody stayed to hear the lecture!  Both groups, the Learn to Swing and TSQ Workshop attendees listened, with what seemed like honest interest!   I'm only expressing my surprise because I have never really talked about this subject with more than with just a couple of people or just one person at a time via phone consultation.  The group consisted of some that may have wanted to learn what I had to offer for their own interest, and those who are in the business of diet and fitness that were interested in sharing it with clients, family and friends.  I will be writing more about it but wanted to share the most surprising result from the feedback I got on it.  

While I consider what I have to say to probably be the most relevant to those living experiences like I did, needing or wanting to lose a large amount of weight, it was someone that approached me the next day wanting to finally get rid of that "extra 5 pounds" that heard much value in my interpretation of what I think is the problem and the solution!  Wow!  I know all weight loss is the same, whether it's 5 pounds or 105 lbs (and more), it was just interesting having a "skinny" person ask a former fat girl how to lose 5lbs!  lol

On to the next half of the first day....

The Swing Quest 2014 Workouts!  This was the very first time I have ever lead TSQ event off of my regular schedule of every 3 months.  The last home event was the end of March, and the next one is the end of June (actually July 4 or 5 this year), so this one was "extra".  I have always used a 16kg because that's the appropriate weight for me to train almost 2 hours of swings with, nothing lighter, nothing heavier.  But this Quest was not for me personally so I planned on using a 14kg if available, of not a 12kg would be more than fine.  Well, a 14kg was not to be, and maybe that was a good thing, because the 12kg was in fact more than fine (although I did use a 20kg for the last 10 minutes of Sinister Swing).  I was beat up at the end (in a good way).  

Most everybody learned the lesson of how important hand care is :(  Hands will give out before ability most of the time, especially if
one uses a very challenging weight.  Two things will challenge the health of the hands.  The sheer volume of swing reps, and the weight of the bell, both of which TSQ involves.  From now on I think we all agree that gloves should be either a preventative plan or a back up plan.  Although I gave out numerous pairs of socksleeves that I brought with me, and it they did give immediate relief, once the damage is done it's difficult to work past.  I ended up having to break out the tape the next day, but I was glad to give everybody a short tutorial of how to tape up!

Minutes before 5:00pm The Swing Quest 2014 was over!  Whew!  It was crazy!  Crazy fun!

Dinner, right?  Sweet potato polenta (, and Gumbo at Seven on Rush (  So wonder I didn't need dessert after dinner!  Did you get a load of the ingredients in that damn sweet potato polenta?  Good-ness!  If I would have known how good the collard greens were I would have definitely ordered those instead...oh well, next time!  Word to the wise...order the collards!

Day two, Programming the Kettlebell Swing

(Daniel Lona, Holly Snow, Valerie Lona, Kahti Toll, me, Jen Bruno, Angie Lyngso, missing is SJ Chapman who is taking the picture!)

No time for breakfast, just coffee and a bagel from the Hotel buffet (again, carbs for energy and endurance) If 2 hours of swings the day before weren't enough, then I had two more hours and the methods to my swing madness on day two.....and since everybody came back then I guess they wanted more!  Personally I think I need three hours, but based on past experience I predicted at about 1 hour 45 everybody will hit the wall!  That's why TSQ workouts are doable for most everybody because they last just about 1 hour 40, and believe it or not just an extra 15-20 minutes is enough to lose it!  I'm always reworking the progression of the workshop's "hands on bell" demos and at each event I learn how and what adjustments need to be made in the future.....which make me super excited for the next one!

I had one last thing to do on my first trip to Chicago....yep, deep dish pizza!  (  Dan and Val took me, and another friend, SJ, to their favorite deep dish pizza restaurant, Lou Malnati's where we thoroughly enjoyed "The Lou". Spinach mushrooms, roma tomatoes and three cheeses on top of a garlic buttercrust!  OMG...  I know it's hard to believe but there were actually two pieces left over and I invited myself to take them off Dan and Val's hands to bring back home for Mark!  I carried them all the way back to CA! 

This trip, this event, and the Lona's, my gracious hosts, were all part of an absolutely unforgettable weekend.  A trip I hope to make again, an event I hope to grow even bigger, and a new friendship I hope will grow stronger along with new friendships to be made.

Thank you all for your support, your interest in what I'm doing and have to offer, as well as your kindness and hospitality in your lovely city of Chicago.  Much much appreciation.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Decisions, decisions.

I have to buy a new refrigerator this morning.  Yes, today, it can't wait any longer.  The Kenmore stainless steel refrigerator we bought when we moved into our home 14 years ago was always a problem, but when the freezer catches fire I think that's a sign that the end is already here!

Mark and I own a older house, built in 1940, with it's original cabinetry it only allows for a smaller size appliances, and no plumbing for an ice maker!  I used to think this was a drawback, after all I wanted the biggest and the best, like most, to accommodate enough food for the dinner parties I never have, or the Holiday celebrations once or twice a year!  I just might need space for a full sheet cake, and then what?

Now I'm thinking in the opposite direction.  I'm thinking what would be the smallest size that I could become comfortable with owning without looking ridiculous for the space.  After my first few trips to other countries where super sized kitchen appliances are rare, and seeing a different kind of lifestyle because of it, I'm starting to wonder just how much I need a larger fridge.  In other countries, because of the limited spaces, people go to the market more frequently buying smaller quantities, therefore fresher foods.  But I mean, I'm not going to get all crazy or anything!

The other decision I need to make is stainless steel, or white?  I got caught up in the popularity of stainless steel without taking into consideration a couple of things that I didn't notice until after our new appliances were delivered.  The space where the refrigerator sits leaves one side of it exposed, which is great for magnets, but not so great to look at because the sides of stainless steel fridges are black, and our cabinets, floor and walls are white.  The other thing is, and those of you with stainless know this, it's a bitch to keep looking clean!  One more thing...the difference in price is only $100 between stainless and white, it seems as if it should be more, doesn't it?  But for $100 should I stay "on trend" so I can brag about having stainless steel appliances, or should I just go back to old school white?  I think I already know the answer, but thank you for listening!

What do you own?  Do you like it?  Or have you ever made a mistake purchasing an appliance that you can warn me or anybody else about? 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thursday 10 x 10 (#59) Be your own cheerleader! Oh, and a few heavy snatches.

I'm going to start out with my snatch workout.  I'm starting here because it's relevant to the 10 x 10 that I'm posting this week.

For the past 6 weeks I've been training to repeat the 20kg 5 minute snatch test.  I will share the progression with you in a bit.....but the point is that I haven't attempted the test again since being successful last year at my SFG reCertification.  No other reason besides I was kind of busy practicing some other training!  Believe it or not, I can't do the same time.  My ultimate goal is to do the test with the 24kg, but that's another story.

This story is about how, last year, I completed 100 20kg snatch reps in 5 minutes without even snatching the 20kg one time in the previous 5 months!  And before that only a couple of times!  I trained for it using swings!  Double 16kg swings, in preparation for SFG, and the 32kg....and eveything in between!  So this time, before I can even think about moving onto the 24kg, I need to "own" the 20kg.  So, I thought I'd experiment with some actual snatch training!

week #1

5 R/ 5 L x 10 sets every minute ("otm") = 10 minutes, 100 snatch reps


6/6 x 10 sets every minute = 10 min 120 snatch reps

week #3

8 R/ 8 Lx 6 sets every 1.5 minutes = 8.5 min, 96 snatch reps,

week #4

9 R/ 9 L x 6 sets every 1.5 min = 8.5 min, 108 snatch reps

week #5

10 R/ 10 L x 5 sets every 1.5 min = 7 min, 100 snatch reps

week #6

11 R/ 11 L x 5 sets every 1.5 min = 7 min 110 snatch reps.

Next?  Snatch test scheduled in 10 days - two weeks!

Basically it's a cycle that increases volume, decreases time in relation to total volume.  Maribel has been doing a modified version of this workout with the 16kg (slightly fewer reps), and Brenda has been using the 18kg.  We will all test on the same day.  Neither of the other women have ever completed the 5 minute test with this practice weight, unlike myself, completing the 20kg 5 min test only one other time.

When the test is over, and by the way, it's a 5 minute test, NOT a 100 rep test, we will do another heavy double bell and single bell cycle and test it again!  I'm curious to see which works better...snatch training or swing training!

Okay, so let's move onto this morning's 10 x 10!

Maribel could not train this morning because of a meeting she had for work.  Maribel never misses Thursday morning, 5:30, here in Stone's Gym.  So she was out.  Brenda had to leave 20 minutes early, of the 60 minute workout, for the same basic reason!  So, left on my own I had to finish the workout....or did I?

So many times I thank God that I have these two women (and all of my other students and clients) that make me show up!  5:30am comes around so darn early and all I have to do is, literally, walk 20 ft out to my garage, while these two have to get up, get ready for the rest of their day, and then drive 15-20 minutes to my place!  And they NEVER miss!

Brenda and I did our warm up and snatch sets in the first 25 minutes or so, then it was on to a brutal swing workout (and you know when I say "brutal, I mean "fun", right?).

 double 12kg's
10 reps
24kg two hand swing 10 reps
double 12kg's
10 reps
24kg two hand swing 15 reps
double 12kg's
10 reps
24kg two hand swing 20 reps.

75 swing reps

Brenda had time for four rounds, (13 min), but what was my excuse?  I had none.  I had to keep going, by myself, and I didn't want to.  I wanted to stop, video tape a fun and light 10 x 10 in preparation for my trip to The Swing Quest Chicago tomorrow, and then I wanted to move on to the rest of my day.  But I  knew I had to complete my workout, which was a total of 8 rounds.....argh!  I soooo did NOT want to and found myself trying to stay positive when all I wanted to do was quit!  It felt so painful...what a baby, huh?  So I found myself being my own cheerleader.  "Come on! You can do it!  It's not that hard!  You're making a big deal about it!", etc.  When I was done one of the last things I wanted to do was video tape a 10 x 10!

But I tried to draw on that experience and share it.  It may seem, or maybe I make it out to seem like, this "working out regularly stuff" is easy for me.  It is, and it isn't!  No more talking, no more whining, it's time to do our 10 sets of 10....and appreciate all that it represents when we follow through and get it done.  I want you to be your biggest cheerleader, and I'll ride shotgun...promise!

ps That's Brenda's breathing that you hear in the foreground of the snatch video.  She was training alongside of me using the 18kg.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

When a "bargain" is a feeling, not a fact!

I've often written in the past about how I find myself tempted, and lured into overbuying holiday foods that go on sale,  I mean, 50% off is practically free, how could I resist?  But last year I made a rule that I wouldn't purchase any of these foods, and I'm confident that I was 99.9% successful, making it all the way until the very last week of the year when I totally forgot, and out of sheer reaction, and old habit, picked up some Gingerbread Sauce on clearance after Xmas.

I lifted that rule this year by justifying that I could "trust" myself!  When I blew that I made a new rule in that I could still buy a clearance holiday / discontinued food, but I could only buy one item at a time, not in multiples.  Man, do I make my life complicated or what?  Time to simplify again....yep, you guessed it, it's not working out so good.

A couple of weeks ago I went into Grocery Outlet, Bargain Market for the very first time.  I needed some yogurt and I happen to be near one, so I thought I'd check it out.  I didn't find the exact yogurt I was looking for, but I found plenty of other stuff I wasn't looking for!  Everything was on sale....uh oh.  I got some yogurt (and a few other things) and high tailed it out of there!  But I kept thinking about going back another time because I was worried I might be missing out on a bargain!  I did go back a couple of times (two to be exact), and the experience was kind of the same.  I pretty much felt like a kid in a candy shop at first, tempted to buy all kinds of foods I would never pay full price for, and eventually talking myself out of most of those purchases.  I probably took more things out of my cart than I ended up buying!

Yesterday I drove a different route to work and guess what's going into a building close by?  Yep, a Grocery Outlet, Bargain Market!  Just what I need...NOT!  This got me thinking about the feelings that are triggered when I think I'm going to get a bargain!  "Feelings are not facts" is a phrase I came up with to describe the times we use how we feel to avoid the facts.  Let's look at the feelings and the facts behind some "bargains".

Feeling like I'm missing out.  I can't miss out on anything I don't know exists in the first place, so that's not true.  Miss out on something that will go away if I don't buy it now.  Not true, again, something I'm not aware of going away is a moot point.  Missing out on things I don't need, and wouldn't want at full price again proves the fact that I'm not really missing out at all.  

Feeling like I'm saving money.  Driving to a store that is out of my way costs me at least a gallon of gas ($4.19), and 30 minutes of my time, another 30 minutes shopping for stuff I don't need at even minimum wage ($10).  Wow, so far this has cost me $15.  Lugging it home, and spending another 15-30 minutes rearranging my pantry and fridge to fit in and organize all of the stuff I don't need ($5).  Let's not forget about overbuying foods I don't need and wouldn't miss that equal at least %75 of the total bill of the groceries, if not 100%!  ($20-$40).  Fact: I'm thinking it's costing me money.

Feeling like I'm the one outsmarting the retailers.  I'm so smart, aren't I?  If I thought about the energy I waste thinking about how to save a buck I'm not saving in the first place, the energy I waste thinking about things I wouldn't care about if I didn't know about them, and then finally wasting extra calories = pounds on my body on foods I'm eating  that I'm not saving money, time, or effort on...boy do I feel dumb!

Now let's hope that dumb is a feeling and not a fact!

ps.  I realize that some of these stores do offer great value to many people, and if you shop there I hope you are one of them!  At this point in my life I've come to start realizing that I need much less than I ever thought, and doing the math, with just Mark and I, it simply does not make sense.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Swing Quest Chicago and Life Lessons in Lasagna (Eggplant/Vegetable recipe)

First of all I have to say that I'm so excited that I'm going on my very first trip to Chicago, right on!  It's going to be a swing-a-thon weekend that kicks off on Saturday May 17 at 1:00pm with a Learn to Swing group lesson.  This is perfect for anybody who might never have picked up a kettlebell, but wants to learn how to swing, why should they swing, and all The Swing can offer in terms of fitness, strength and overall health. There are only a couple of spots left and to sweeten the deal I'm bringing copies of my book, The Swing, to sign and give away to every participant!  Don't miss this opportunity to learn and train The Swing with me!  Here is the link with sign up information:

But wait, there's more!  I've been working on a new program for permanent weight loss!  Seriously!  I describe it as creating your ideal body weight and then turning "maintenance into permanence"!  And it's based on my recent research and findings while reverse engineering my own successful 120lb permanent weight loss going on over 9 years now!  I'll be sharing much of this information between 2:00-3:00pm, right after the Learn to Swing session and right before The Swing Quest 2014 workout!  If you are coming to either one the permanent weight loss lecture is complimentary....and boy oh boy do I have some interesting and surprising realizations!  

The Swing Quest 2014 event is scheduled for 3:00-5:00pm and I believe there are only two spaces left.  You must already know how to swing a kettlebell to participate in these marathon swing workouts.....and then afterwards we are all going out to dinner!  lol  In the above link to this weekend's workshop there is no separate option to only come to The Swing Quest 2014 workout, but please email me at if you'd like to challenge yourself to complete this crazy fun event which includes the weight loss lecture (and join us for dinner too!). I've worked out a special price with the host because there are only a couple of spots that remain.

Moving on to Sunday.....if I'm not dead to the world!  Wow, Sunday is a full on two hour advanced "Programming the Kettlebell Swing Workshop" that will include some advanced and double bell techniques I've never shared or posted outside of a workshop!  In other words...I've never blogged about them!  And yes, there are even more ways to train the kettlebell swing!  I believe this workshop is full, but it never hurts to contact Daniel Lona at the above link if you are interested in joining us, after all, it's not every day I'm in the Windy City!

So, there you have it!  The Swing Quest 2014 weekend, Chicago IL, May 17-18!

Life Lessons in Lasagna

I don't find it ironic at all that I just wrote about permanent weight loss and now food recipes!  One of the subjects I'll be talking about in Chicago is my definition of a "balanced" diet, and a balanced diet includes eating!  Weight loss is not about starving yourself, nor is it about removing any particular food or food group....but it's my philosophy and experience and yours may differ, which is fine, if it works for you!  I love vegetables!  But I totally respect those who think they don't!  I'm fine with it!  I have no judgement about it.  But this recipe is not for you if you don't!  lol

I love my mandoline slicer!  I've been experimenting with "scalloped", or layered vegetables cooked in a milk/cream/egg/cheese mixture because it's so darn fun playing with food!  Many vegetables can be sliced thin on a mandoline, or with a knife and layered together or all on their own in a casserole for a healthy and tasty meal or side dish.  This all started with a sliced and layered potato crust for a Quitatta I made a couple of weeks ago to now Eggplant Lasagna. (photo to right is the thickness I used for this recipe)

Eggplant is a tricky vegetable if you are not used to working with
it, or if you ran out of patience the first couple of times you tried when it didn't come out exactly as you planned.  Eggplant, freshly sliced, will absorb oil like a sponge, which is why you must salt it and let it release, or sweat out, excess water and, some say, bitter
flavor.  But I find this can be true of other vegetables (salting them), like pumpkin and zucchini (I haven't yet tried them all).  Here I post a picture of some eggplant and squash I sliced, salted and left to drain with the bowl tilted.  This took about 10 minutes for the vegetables to release this amount of liquid, they will continue to release more, up until a point, if you let them....which I did, for another 10 minutes.

The nicest thing about vegetable lasagnas are that you don't need to boil any noodles!  Of course you can still use lasagna noodles if you want to, it's up to you.  The only change would be to cook the noodles (in salted water), rinse them in cold water and layer them along with the vegetables, sauce and cheese (and meat if you are using it).

I remember when I was a young inexperienced cook (all of my late teens, 20's and most of my 30's) "lasagna" was a big, huge, deal!  omg....noodles, sauce, meat, cheese, noodles, sauce, meat, cheese....and that cheese was gloopy, gloppy mozzarella, and the sauce was jarred spaghetti sauce.  Now I'm not judging.  It was delicious at the time, but so intimidating, time consuming and expensive!  Wow, how I've changed!

Lasagna is basically just what I previously described.  Layers of substance (noodles or firm vegetables), sauce (red tomato or white cream, and it may include meat), and cheese (s).  No big deal.  This layered veggie, creamy, cheesy may become my next obsession!  For now the base recipe goes like this:

Oil the casserole dish so nothing sticks!

layer thinly sliced eggplant (salted and drained)

layer red tomato sauce (canned, jarred, or homemade)

layer cheese.  I used herbed goat cheese, which I placed in the freezer for 15-20 minutes so I could slice it very thin and spread over top, and then sprinkled  shredded parmesan.



But I did get a bit fancier.  After these three layers I added sliced zucchini, sauteed onion, mushrooms and spinach, sauce, more cheese, until the casserole dish was full.  Cover with foil and place in a hot, 350-375 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and cook another 30 minutes.  Basically.

I have yet to perfect it or find some unbelievable combination!  Maybe you have something to add?  Please do!

Above photo; layered onion, eggplant, potato, zucchini with a cream/milk/egg/cheese base, this is not the lasagna, only a version of a layered veg casserole.

Mother's Day Workout

Happy Mother's Day!  I thought I would share with you a quick 6 minute workout I've been using for the first warm up swings for all of my classes.  I've had more beginners come into my group training so I've been using what I consider "beginners" swing progressions before getting into more complicated swing combinations.  Here is the workout in short hand:

10 2 hd sw x 2 sets (15/15)
5 R/ 5 L one hd sw x 2 sets (15/15)
5 R/ 5 L + 10 2 hd swing x 1 set (30/30)
10 R x 1 set (15/15)
10 L x 1 set (15/15)
10 R/10 L x 1 set (30/30)
ready for the 1 minute long set?  40 reps?
10 R/10 L + 5 R/ 5 L + 10 2 hd swings (1 min/1 min)

120 swing reps, 6 minutes.

Two hand swings are the first skill beginners learn, then onto one hand swings, 5 at a time before moving on to 10 one hand swings.  Those of you that have been following along with my 10 x 10's know that often times I teach a 5/5 combination that starts with two hands, transferring to one hand, but in this workout we go straight to R to L, starting with one hand and ending with one hand.

This workout also progressively increases rep count from 10 all the way to 40!  It's pretty quick, but I find that most beginners that come into my groups are pulled along and forward and are able to increase their workloads much faster surrounded by the groups energy.

In fact this warm up/workout inspired the routine I lead my Saturday class through, a workout that you will see in my next dvd "Top 40 #2".  It was a killer, in a good way, of course, but very easy to follow along and very scalable! Which is why I thought it perfect for the next dvd project.

("Top 40" has three great workouts that familiarize you with my most often used swing combinations and help you work up to those 1 minute sets of 40 swing reps.  Here's the link to where you can find it!  )

I hope you all had a great day yesterday! Mark and I spent the afternoon with our son Gabe, our new daughter in law, Lily, and her parents! Just one big happy family!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Moral of the 10 x 10 Story

This week's Thursday 10 x 10 is as straight forward as they get.  Not a lot of talking, and in fact I think I only count 2 of the 10 sets of swings.  Equal work to rest, 15 second work interval and a 15 second rest interval, 100 swing reps = 5 minutes.  It's easiest to video tape a short workout on Thursdays because I'm alone in my home garage gym (or with partners/students), and I can do what I want to as far as setting up the Ipad.  The only drawback for me is that I video each 10 x 10 after my own workout and I'm tired!

This morning especially because I'm training a heavy snatch cycle and plan to test the 20kg 5 min snatch (again), in preparation to try the 24kg.  It's very rare I ever do any "retakes" so if I say something that doesn't quite come out right it's just too bad for me, cause I ain't doing it over!  It was my intention to simply video tape 10 sets of 10 swings....but wouldn't you know, I just couldn't resist a little story!

If you have already watched the short clip at the beginning of this post you already know what the story is about.  It's about taking action, and "doing", moving your body, following through and participating in your health and fitness, and that is the entire reason I started my 10 x 10 videos back in November of last year, here is the link to the very first three 10 x 10 workouts;  But today's story goes like this....

Back when I was taking an interest in learning how to cook I applied for a part time job in a gourmet cooking store/school called HomeChef.  It was at HomeChef that I became obsessed with learning as much as I could by attending, and many times assisting (cleaning up!), as many classes as I could fit into my, and my family's, schedule.  Working in retail meant 5-6 hour shifts standing and walking on concrete floor, when my then overweight condition would cause my feet to throb for hours after coming home with pain I had never experienced before.  But that's not the moral of the story!

One night while attending my hundredth, or thousandth, cooking class I realized that if I just stayed home and actually spent those 2-3 hours practicing my knife skills, cooking methods and techniques, what I had only been watching someone else do for months, that I might start to get good at it!  And that was the last time ever that I went to a HomeChef cooking class.  It was the best thing I ever did.  From that point on I looked at my own home cooking practice in those 2-3 hour increments and it would be me, and my family, that would benefit the greatest.

Ironically enough just barely an hour after I made this 10 x 10 video tape I came to realize another interest I've had lately that I've been "researching".  Spending time watching programs, reading books, and listening to others expertise and experience on the matter....whoa!  The moral of this story was for me to hear!

I've got my health and fitness taken care of.  I've got my cooking skills taken care of, and both have brought me to this new direction in my life that I now have to put into action myself (which is one reason why you all are reading a new blog post!).  More to come, much more, but in the mean time? Do your darn 10 x 10's!

FYI I've posted almost 60, yes SIX-ZERO, 10 x 10 workouts at this point, in about 6 months.  If you've been taking action since the start that means approximately 6,000 swing reps!  But it's never too late!  Please consider swinging along with me, even if it's only one time a week.  Don't be a bystander only wishing good things for your life and your health, instead participate and move in the direction of creating all the goodness that you want and deserve!


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Roasting Pepper

Notice how I didn't title this post "Roasting Pepper-s"!  Why do I not know this by now? Roasting peppers is fast, and easy, but it does take a few minutes of commitment to go through the, sometimes, messy steps of the process.  Roasted peppers keep fabulously well in the freezer for at least one year, so doing at least 2 (one for another time) can come in handy...which is why you should do a bunch all at once!

I've been making baked curry beans in coconut milk using a recipe from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" cookbook that take 3 hours to finish.  10 minutes of prep (now 15 with the addition of a roasted green pepper!), and the rest of the time is simply baking in the oven.  So it's little trouble, but you basically can't leave the house for three hours!  I'll be happy to share the recipe with you another time, and my results, in fact I want to do exactly that, but it's late and I don't have the energy :(

But I will tell you that the recipe uses Kombu (seaweed) as a thickener and flavor enhancer.  Kombu is the type of seaweed used in Japanese cooking to make stock for miso soup and I just happen to have had some in my pantry from my recent interest in making my own miso soup!  Lucky me!

Anyway, I'm seriously hooked on these darn beans!  Lately they are
my favorite breakfast food, and after making them, now, at least half a dozen times I'm starting to tweak the recipe slightly to suit my own liking.  Tomorrow's batch will have a roasted green pepper added to it...not much of a tweak, but a tweak nonetheless!

I have purchased canned green chili's in the past but not for a long time and I didn't have an old can in my pantry, but that got me thinking....  I don't like to use canned products if I can help it, so I wondered exactly what was a "canned green chili", and could I make the product myself?  Was it pickled...I couldn't really place my finger on it.  So I googled it!  It turns out a canned green chili (Ortega is a popular brand) is simply Anaheim chili peppers roasted and canned in water.  No extra anything.  Um....a roasted pepper?  Geez, I knew how to do that myself!  So I did!

I've posted many times before about roasting red bells and jalapeno peppers, I've been doing it for years, nothing was different except the variety of pepper, and with Anaheim's I found that they blisters very quickly!  I'm pretty confident that my days of buying canned green chilies are over!

Here is a blog post I did with some step by steps;  

Have you, or do you roast peppers?  How do you use them?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Thursday 10 x 10, experimenting with rest intervals

This week's Thursday 10 x 10 is an experiment with rest intervals.  Swinging 10 reps at a time with equal work to rest means that you only get 15 seconds to recover before your next set of 10 reps.  15 seconds is not a long time!  In this workout I suggest you try increasing your reps to 20, basically two sets of ten back to back, BUT I give you more rest before and after that set of 20!

10 x 1 (15/15)
10 x 1 (15/30)
20 x 1 (30/30)
10 x 1 (15/15)
10 x 1 (15/30)
20 x 1 (30/30)
10 x 1
10 x 1

Enjoy, and don't forget, it's perfectly fine if you don't get to 20 reps in this workout!  I promise you that with a few consistent practices you will!  And you'll get there much faster that you think you can!