Archive for April, 2010

I’m Done!!!

Posted: April 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

There were lots of celebrations over the last 2 days, but tonight after my last workout there was a fine bottle of Mazzocco Zin and an avocado & meyer lemon salad, and my husband… all waiting for me, so I decided I would write my post in the morning on my Alaska Airlines flight to “My Fair City” Cambridge, MA!    

Oh, and by the way… this won’t be my last post!  (like you really thought all this fun would come to an end!?)  For better or worse, I am far too competitive with myself to stop now!  I’ve got another challenge brewing and between my trainer and my readers, I think I will come up with something really fun for May!  

But for now I’m off to visit a very dear friend whom I’ve known since I was about 8 or 9 years old and she’s met a most wonderful man… and can you say: Bachelorette Party in Boston!

Peace Out everyone!

Yesterday I got a quick run in before swinging some Kettlebells around.  I’ve decided that running is a great warm-up for Kettlebells.  Nothing too crazy, yesterday I did 3 miles, half of it in the sunshine, half of it in the pouring rain.  By the time i got home i was drenched (maybe sweat? maybe rain?) and I was in the perfect state-of-mind to push it hard with the Kettlebells (maybe that was the music… Black Eyed Peas: Rock That Body and Imma Be.)  I had a great workout!

Details to follow, but let me just say this:  State of Mind is Everything!  If you’ve cleared a small piece of your day for exercise…  honor that.  Focus on your exercise and not what you need to do after your exercise window.  The way I see it is, clearing your calendar for an hour or two for a good workout is a challenge in and of itself.  So honor that and be present and be committed.  There is a saying in Yoga about “Honoring your time on the mat”.   This is so true for many things in life, isn’t it? 



Posted: April 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

This morning’s yoga class was challenging.  Partly because I hadn’t had my usual espresso to jump-start my day.  In fact, I didn’t find time to get my first cup of coffee until about 2pm this afternoon.  How did that happen?  How did I let that happen??  That really screwed with my whole day right there.  So everything hurt this morning, especially my head.

Anyhow, I promised myself I wouldn’t complain on this blog.  Nobody wants to read about that.  But I’ll just say this: my yoga class was good, but hard.  The pain in my lower left back, or my neck or head never went away.  But I believe in one core concept: You have to move through the pain.  So I did.

My success?  I rocked my handstand today!  In fact, I rocked inversions, balancing poses and core/ab work.  If I had to list the top three areas where Kettlebells have helped my yoga practice, those would definitely be the three. 

Everytime I do an inversion, I have a habit of counting the seconds.  It’s just something I do… probably because I’m competitive with myself  (surprise, surprise).  But today, I held my handstand longer than I ever have in the past (even with hurting head and neck).  I can say, without a doubt, this is because I’ve been pushing it for 26 days on Kettlebells.   Additionally, my balance poses were stronger and I had much more control over my core/ab work.

This evening, I still had pain… so I did my Kettlebell routine with the yellow bell.  SOTS presses are still hard.  (I think I’m cheating a bit on the squat though, because I let my heels come up off the ground… probably shouldn’t do that.)  But I added a few extra windmills because my obliques were still shouting. (This goes back to my “move through pain” theory).  I should discuss my theory in another post, because it is interesting and a good point of discussion.  There was a time (about 7 years ago) when both my quads atrophied after two sequential injuries.  There was absolutely zero muscle tone left in either leg.  You would have never thought they’d be muscley again!  …But that story is for another day!

Anyway, my day ended about the same way it started.  Tonight was one of those nights when you open the refrigerator door about 20 times, and each time you look, you think you’ll find something wonderful to eat.  By about 9:30 I gave up on anything magical happening and I had leftover chicken soup over quinoa.  We were also completely out of house wine (an unforgivable oversight) but I figured the day didn’t deserve any better than that, so after several glasses of water it was time to call it a day.  

As always, thanks for reading!  I’ve got three more workouts left on my 30-day challenge and my goal is a strong finish!

Peace out,

Side Plank with Row

Posted: April 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

The Kettlebell Push Up

Posted: April 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’m working on a few new Kettlebell exercises today: The Plank Push-Up and the Side Plank with added Row.  It’s supposed to be sunny and 60’s tomorrow, so I’ll take some pics outside to illustrate these two exercises.  I also want to work on the Two-Handed Release.  I haven’t been practicing this indoors because the exercise involves letting go of the kettlebell and catching it again… so that’s definitely one for the yard!

Tonight I mixed in some yoga poses between sets for some added stretching.  The Toe Stand Pose works really well with the green kettlebell on the floor to hold on to while you allow yourself to sit into the pose.  Without the 105 degree temps, your body doesn’t just slide into that position like it does in class, so the kettlebell helps.  But I like this pose because it strengthens your knees and abs, both of which I’m working on.  The other yoga pose I added tonight was the Plow.  Before kettlebells, I had a very hard time getting into this pose.  Usually my upper abdominals would cramp up before I could get my toes to the ground.  Today… success!!  I am sure this has something to do with the fact that I’ve been working my abs and obliques everyday for the last 25 days and they’ve finally surrendered!

I’ll try to take some pictures of the yoga poses as well.  I was going to post some pictures I found on-line, but everything seems to be copyrighted material… so I’ll create my own and avoid the conflict!

Toe Stand Pose

In this picture I used the kettlebell to stabilize myself and then I brought my hands to my
chest for the traditional Bikram Toe Stand Pose.



More tomorrow…



Posted: April 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

I set aside an hour to do Kettlebells today… and found myself procrastinating.  One of the ways I do this really well is by browsing my music collection for the perfect mood for my workout…

Yesterday I spent 30 minutes on the GTS (Gravity Training System) with my buds Curtis and Sarah.  We worked with Super-Svelte Trainer Dana.  He’s definitely one of the most in-shape people I know.  True!  Check him out.  Go to: and click on “Pilates” and scroll down to the last picture… yep, svelte! 

Anyway, I woke up today feeling every last abdominal muscle in my body.  (Did you know they go all the way up to your sternum?!) and my obliques were shouting again (do I not use these things, or what??)  We did pull-ups, squats, dips and a multitude of other things using our body’s own weight as resistance.  Normally when I do dips or pull-ups at the gym I off-set about 1/2 my weight on the Gravitron machine, and that’s still pretty hard.  I’m not sure what the GTS was set at, but I’m definitely feeling it much more.

Mid-way through my 30-day Kettlebell challenge may not have been the ideal time to begin a whole new exercise regimen, but the thing about exercising everyday  is that it gives you this invincible feeling.  Some call it a “high”… but you know what I’m talking about.  There’s nothing you can’t do!  And I think the GTS is a very good compliment to Kettlebells.   However, after my 30-day stint is over, I will definitely do the GTS on the days I’m not doing Kettlebells.  To this point, however, I think i will continue to do yoga and kettlebells on the same day.  It’s a perfect combination of strength and flexibility… and when the day’s over you feel good all over!

My success story today?  I rocked the Around the World’s standing on one leg!  (again, i think the trick to stability could be locking your knee and pulling up on your quad muscle.)

Oh yeah… and my music?  Procrastinating paid off!  I selected Fat Boy Slim, You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby… Right Here, Right Now… it was perfect!

Thanks for reading!

Lifting the Quad

Posted: April 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

One more tweak on the single and two-handed swings.  This is a core Kettlebell exercise, and if technique is perfect, it does just about everything you would want to strengthen your body for everyday life.  (lifting groceries and screaming 3-year olds, working in the yard, moving a couch, hauling dirt in a wheelbarrow…)  All these movements we do everyday and yet most of us don’t think about how we might better train in the gym to do them without killing our backs.  Anyway, swings are core, but here’s the tweak:

Make sure when you snap up to standing that  you lock knees and pull up on your quads and keep your heels flat on the ground.  You have to really think about lifting the quad muscle, and the exercise will be much more effective. 

Happy swinging… more later!

I want to re-post this link from Fit Sugar:

I described this exercise to Dan and showed him how I was doing it based on the description in the article.  Dan didn’t like it.  So he tweaked it a bit.  He suggested swinging the bell up over your head first, then stepping back into a low lunge. (two movements, one rep)  I was swinging up and stepping back as a single movement.  But Dan explained that I was using the momentum of stepping back to help me swing the kettlebell up.  (It’s almost cheating, I suppose). 

The revised exercise looks like this:
1. Double handed swing to overhead position
2. Step back into a lunge
3. Hold the pose, tighten glutes
4. Step up
5. Bring kettlebell down

That counts as 1 rep.  The flow is lost… but it is harder, and possibly safer.  I agree with the comment about the shoes.  I do think the model in this article should be barefoot, or at least not wearing such cushiony shoes.   You are more grounded and have better stability barefoot.   

This is still a great exercise… a perfect trifecta in my mind: Quads, Glutes and Delts!

workout overload…

Posted: April 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I tried out Pilates.  Six hours later my obliques were talking to me!  Today I am going back again for that Pilates GTS/Gravity System workout that I did last week, because we can never get enough ab work, right?  But this brings to mind a good point of debate:  Should you strength train every day?  Should you do abs everyday?  I’m 3 weeks into my 4-week challenge of doing Kettlebells everyday, and I have not given my muscles a chance to rebuild after tearing them down, yet I am still seeing great results.  There is so much research out there… both for and against daily training.  But let me say that I strongly believe that muscles will develop in response to an overload above normal.  Do you need a day of rest?  Probably.  The research seems to fall more on the side of strength training every other day… or if you do train every day, mix it up, alternate muscle groups, etc.

I also believe that everyone responds differently based on their level of experience, how many years they’ve been training and what their own threshold of overload is.

Have I hit overload?  It’s hard to say… so far it’s nothing a little Tylenol and espresso won’t take care of!

Last night, because my obliques were shouting at me, I did more obliques! 

The Kettlebell Windmills. 

I am really enjoying this exercise, because with three different kettlebells, you can really mix it up as to which side gets the heavier weight (I’m still punishing my left arm for being weaker), and also if you want heavier weight up above, or down below.  Last night i switched it around, and put the heavier weight on top, and lighter pounds on the bottom.  I have, in the past, never been able to do many this way, but last night I was able to knock out a whole bunch of sets… so that is encouraging.  Possible overtraining doesn’t seem to be affecting whether or not I can increase weight and reps with my kettlebell workouts.

Post-workout snack… a huge salad with grilled asparagus, grilled artichokes, kalamata olives, chevre and sea salt. 

Oh yes… and MUSIC!  In honor of what would have been Luther Vandross’ 59th birthday yesterday, I did my whole workout last night to his sweet voice!  Nice!  Rest in peace, Luther, I miss ya!!


Viktor Sots (Russia): One of the top Olympic lifters of all time, holds 2 gold medals and 6 world records.

Tonight I am all about mastering my kettlebell technique on the Sots Press (named after Viktor Sots, left).

15 minutes, 1 Rush CD, no breaks.

(worth a try!)

After workout snack: Bok Choy sautéed with mushrooms, onions, garlic and sea salt.
Simple but G-U-D good. (as Van would say!)


Just in case you missed my previous post, here are the steps:
1. clean the kettlebell
2. squat down (as deep as possible)
3. press the bell (still squatting)
4. stand up and return to the clean position.
5. repeat, 10 reps per side.

On Thursday I spent an  hour with my Kettlebell trainer and he stepped up my routine quite a bit.  Just when I thought I was ready to move up to the big red Kettlebell… wrong!  I’ll have to wait a bit longer to train with the competitive weight, because this new routine with my existing weights (9lb, 18lbs, 27lbs) is super challenging!

Here’s what we added:

DARC Swings (green)
High Pulls (yellow)
Sots Press (yellow… if I’m lucky!) This is named after the well-known Russian weightlifter, Viktor Sots.  And as you would expect, it’s quite difficult.  Here are the steps:
1. clean the kettlebell
2. squat down (as deep as possible)
3. press the bell (still squatting)
4. stand up and return to the clean position.
5. repeat, 10 reps per side.

Also added:
Dive Bomber Push-ups
Figure-8 to Hold

Additionally, this is what we tweaked a bit:

Just when I was breezing through the Around the Worlds, they got harder.  First, Dan suggested putting my feet together.  This made a surprising difference in my balance.  Once I master that, he suggested standing on one foot.  I’ve tried this with both the yellow and the green kettlebells, and the heavier weight actually feels a bit easier to balance.  My goal, at this point, is to last more than 10 seconds on one foot without falling over.

We also tweaked the lunge a bit to make it harder.   More on that later…

But now it’s time to indulge in a heavenly treat… homemade rhubarb bread pudding with a warm cognac caramel sauce.  (I know, I know… but I ran hills today plus did my new kettlebell routine, so it is a well-earned indulgence!)  And can I just say that the best part of belonging to a CSA is not only that a big box of fruits and veggies arrive on your doorstep, almost magically, between midnight and 6am, but they give you things like rhubarb that you normally wouldn’t buy in the store… so you are forced to be creative.  So in honor of my dad, I combined 3 of his favorite things… rhubarb, bread pudding, and cognac. 



Cars and Trucks!  Last night I was relegated to the playroom to do 40 sets of High Pulls.  If I could do this, I would burn over 400 calories in only 20 minutes.  But I knew I would lose track after the first few sets, so I needed someone to keep score.  I got help!  (since this was much more fun than getting jammies on and going to sleep, it was an easy sell!)  For every time I completed a set (right and left arm) Claire and Marcus would add a car (or a truck or tractor) and this is how I was able to keep track of how many sets I completed.  With only a 15-second rest between sets, it was just long enough to pick out the perfect vehicle from the pile to throw into the count.  So here it is… the 20-car pileup!

And here’s a picture of one of my helpers.  Let it be said that when Claire walked into the room, she quickly assessed the situation and said: “Why don’t you just use a piece of paper to keep count?”  Smart girl.  But that wouldn’t have been nearly as fun…

The Snatch

Posted: April 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

Here’s the 20-minute/400 calorie routine I talked about in my “Kettlebells on Vacation” post.   (You’ll probably burn even more than 400 calories because your body continues to burn calories for some time after your workout too.)   That must be why I get so hungry about an hour after my kettlebell workout… last night I was up eating Thai food after 11:00pm.

Here are the details:

  • Basic warmup (usually two handed swings for a few minutes)
  • Snatches for 15 seconds – dominant hand
  • Rest for 15 seconds
  • Snatches for 15 seconds – other hand
  • Rest for 15 seconds
  • Do the above set 20 times
  • Cool down for 5 minutes

Good Luck!

At 2 weeks into my four-week challenge, I was worried that I was headed for the dreaded plateau.  Yesterday was my day to ensure that I don’t go down that road.  Yes, I worked out four times yesterday.  I know that sounds a bit excessive… maybe a bit obsessive too… but there’s always a point when we know we’re going to hit a plateau in our workouts.  We know it when we stop seeing results.   When this happens, I’ve heard the way out is to drastically switch up your routine and eat a whole lot!  (sounds counter-intuitive, but it works!)  

Actually, it’s a lot like the Damn Boat.  (that’s really it’s name… boat owners will understand why.) But when the battery is dead, you’ve got to jump it, and there are usually three setting on the little machine they bring over to the dock… (yes, I’m all too familiar with this process…) but there’s the low setting (a little bit of juice) a medium setting (more juice) and a super-charged setting.  For some reason the boys at the dock don’t like to use the super-charged setting, but the Damn Boat won’t start unless you turn the amps way up.  This is the only thing that gets it going again.  For us, in our workouts… it’s the same.  We can keep puttering along doing the same thing, but not getting the results we want, and then sometimes we quit.  We’ve got to take it up a notch… or several.    After yesterday’s eating frenzy and workout madness, I thought I’d be struggling today.  But… case in point… after the initial shock of getting out of bed and feeling EVERY single muscle in my whole body… I actually got moving pretty quickly and accomplished more things by 9:30 in the morning than I do most days by then end of the afternoon!  The whole day has been a buzz… I’m knocking stuff off my to-do list like a crazy woman, and I’m still going!  I have to believe it’s from my little jump-start yesterday. 

More later… I had an hour this morning with my Kettlebell trainer, Dr. Dan Nelson… and we stepped up the routine quite a bit.  Dan also tweaked a few things I was doing incorrectly… so it’s definitely worth checking in with the experts before poor form becomes habit.


Posted: April 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

I just want to say a few words about food!  So, last night I had my favorite post-workout snack of a steamed artichoke around 10pm.  Then I stayed up for another couple of hours after that and I got really hungry, so I had a little midnight snack of whole wheat pasta and crab.  (leftovers from dinner).  Then I got up bright and early and went to Bikram Yoga… and I really do think that my late-night carbo load did the trick!  I know there is some “rule” about eating after 9:00pm or something… but all this exercise is giving me cravings at all kinds of hours.  I think it’s OK, because I totally rocked hot yoga this morning with Curtis, and then went on to devour a tuna salad and hurry off to a 30-minute pilates class called GTS with the Gravity System and rocked some push ups and other hard stuff… then i was starving again within a half-hour of eating lunch!  I had a double cappuccino and a power shake and went on to the gym, and I was hungry again!  I still need to bust out the kettlebells tonight… so I just polished off some more whole wheat pasta… but I’m feeling like my appetite has just exploded!   I have 6 zucchinis in my fridge… any ideas besides the basic saute?

Kettlebells on the Beach…

Posted: April 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

Kettlebell Figure 8’s work the core and obliques and will strengthen your lower back.  Pass the kettlebell between your legs in the shape of a figure 8.  Additionally, when you’re moving the bell from back to front, you can add an “explosive pull”  up to a holding position at your shoulder, much like a clean.  (Thanks,  Michael, for reminding me of this very important extra step!)  Here are a few pics of this exercise:

Kettlebells on vacation…

Posted: April 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

I took a long weekend at the beach and brought the kettlebells with me.  I’m not going to kid myself, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be to fit a 30-minute workout in every day.  There was no Internet, but still lots of distractions.  Especially the well-timed low tide that followed the big pancake breakfast.  Now this is every explorers dream!  Particularly if you happen to be hanging out with a certain 3 year-old boy who wears an eye patch and talks like a pirate.  

So, I had to get creative with my workouts.  I found a 20-minute routine that supposedly burns over 400 calories, so when you’re tight on time, this is a good modification to the everyday grind.  I’ll post the details of that routine tomorrow.  Additionally, I tweaked this 20-minute program to fit my level of skill as well.  It’s just not possible for me to do 20 sets of Snatchs with 12kgs, for instance.  But it is possible to do alternating sets of Cleans and Presses with 8kgs for 20 minutes, and I keep my heart rate just as high by taking fewer rests.  I’ll detail it all out tomorrow…

So far so good… at 13 days into my 30-day challenge, I’ve got only one gripe:  Callouses.  But I’m getting good results, so on we go!

By the way, I hope to post a few pictures tomorrow.  The ferries crossing the Puget Sound in the late afternoon sun provided a nice backdrop for some action shots of the figure 8’s and swings and cleans, etc… so maybe these will pass as my “before” shots!

’till tomorrow,


I took on the challenge with Greenie today!  Yesterday I did most of my sets with the smaller yellow kettlebell (8KG).  Today I was feeling good, so I did all the sets with Green (12KG).  Get-ups are still hard with the green bell, and so are presses after the cleans.  But for the most part, I pushed myself to work with the green kettlebell for every exercise.  (actually, my mother-in-law wants to borrow my yellow kettlebell (!!!) so I’m trying to weed it out of my regimen.)  Anyway, I didn’t do as many reps, but still got a great workout in. 

One thing I’ve noticed with the Single Handed Swings, especially with the increased weight, is that I am tempted to place my resting hand on my thigh to help push-off.  I’ve been told this would count as an immediate disqualification from any sort of Kettlebell competition.  In fact, if your “resting” hand or arm contacts your body in any way during the swings, you are disqualified.  Not that I’m gearing up for this sort of thing… but it’s good to know just the same to get your form down.  For me, at this point, with the increased weight, this is totally difficult!  Your hand wants to push off your thigh!  It’s something I’m working on…

Tomorrow I am off to the beach at Vashon Island.  There are over 90 steps down to the house/waterfront.  I suppose that will be my exercise… carrying Kettlebells and Mazzocco down to the house tomorrow! 🙂

Have a great spring weekend everyone, thanks for reading!