Meal Prep: I Heart Eating

I like to eat food that tastes good.  I like to eat food that makes me feel good.  I like to think about eating food.  I like to prepare food.  I like to think about how I would prepare food.  I like watching food shows.  I like reading food recipes (and then brainstorm how I would change the recipe to suit me better).  I like food.  Actually, that isn’t accurate.  I love food.  That is more accurate.

As you can see, I fall into the “live to eat” category instead of the “eat to live” category.

It is SUPER easy to get overwhelmed with meal prep and trying to nourish yourself.  It gets REALLY hard (at least in my opinion) when you treat each meal as a new thing to prep.  Face it, we are busy people…..and making three meals per day, seven days per week……ain’t nobody got time for that.  That sounds overwhelming.  and exhausting.  And not realistic.

So, I thought I’d share how I meal prep each week.  I have to warn you though, I’m not a real meal prepper.  I’ve followed a menu plan before, and have tried to make new or fancy recipes frequently through the week and I get frustrated like that.  I don’t follow “a plan.”  I wish I could…..I might do better prepping and shopping and following a grocery budget, but to be honest…..I’m a fly by the seat of my pants type girl.  And I sort of like to think about one or two things I’d like to eat this week, or eat AND prepare, and then just sort of wing it.

I know what we have on hand this week in the freezer, fridge, and pantry.  We are sort of at the point of needing to grocery shop soon, but will be out and about for like half the week eating out at the county fair, so I am trying to prolong grocery shopping til this weekend or next week.  So, what we DO have on hand is a freezer full of beef (various cuts), pork (various cuts), and like 3 bags of frozen chicken breasts (1 of which I had pulled out and was sitting in the fridge, so I dumped some marinade in the bag yesterday and let them sit for a day getting yummy).  And a rack of ribs somewhere, but those aren’t needed this week.

We also have plenty of cottage cheese and Greek yogurt, eggs, a head of romaine, a few sugar snap peas, mushrooms, red onion, a half eaten bag of broccoli slaw, grapes, and plenty of gold and red potatoes.  And rice.  I’m probably going to the store later for bananas, because I’m obsessed with them lately.

So, what seemed easy to do today was brown the chicken breasts in a pan (in butter, on high, just until they started getting nice and toasty brown and then flip them, and brown the other side), and then finish them off in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes.  I already had quite a few potatoes going in the oven (washed and pierced the skins) to have them on hand for baked potatoes all week.  This whole process took less than 5 minutes.

I also pulled out a big pork roast to do something with tomorrow.  I’m going to see what sounds good tomorrow and then adjust, but it will likely be rubbed down with a mixture of garlic, chili powder, brown sugar, salt and pepper, and browned on all sides, and then thrown into the crockpot to finish off cooking for a BBQ inspired roast.  And whatever the heck random veggies and stuff sound good tomorrow.  And, I’m a little obsessed about eating BBQ pork with eggs and potatoes and onions in the morning for breakfast, because it tastes amazing.  Because BBQ always does.

There is a good chance I will raid an extra bag of chicken breasts later in the week to make some sort of chicken taco salad.  We seem to eat some sort of taco inspired thing at least once a week because we all love tacos because they are fun.

The big thing, for me, about eating meals and food and loving it all…..is that I can’t eat food that tastes blah.  I won’t eat it.  It will sit in the fridge and stare at me for a week or two before I finally get over the guilt of not eating it, and then I’ll throw it away.  I need food to taste good and make me FEEL good.  So, I end up making a lot of the big things for the week, and then piece meals together each day, but it doesn’t matter, because it all tastes good, so who cares?  Leftovers are your FRIEND!  Most meals we eat contain some sort of leftover each day.  It’s just easy.  And not overwhelming.

I think what is important to do is get your “usual” suspects down in terms of food items to have on hand.  Our grocery list doesn’t change a whole heck of a lot each time we shop.  We are usually stocked with the spices we like.  And sometimes we buy things that will be a special meal, but more often than not, we just don’t.

And, to be honest….food is fun.  Eating our own food is fun.  Preparing our food is fun (for me).  We’ve been out to eat a lot in the past few months, and are always like “meh”…..that was ok, but eating at home tastes better.  Certainly, this is NOT to say that going to eat isn’t fun, it IS!!  I think it’s just more social than “good food” though.

Here we go!  I will show you my not-at-all-amazing-and-sexy meal prepping (and what comes out of the leftovers).  Stay tuned!

Training Log: Jacked Is The New Black

I haven’t posted a training log for like two/three weeks!  I’m still training, promise!  To be honest, in between RKC and what was supposed to be Tough Mudder (before it was cancelled), I felt that weird in between stage.  It wasn’t nice.  It felt like I was on hold on the phone listening to annoying elevator music.

But that’s over now.

Last training log I said I was doing a program from Kettlebell Muscle.  I was for like three weeks, but it was too much after RKC.  So, I don’t like to quit things but I quit it.  I was not looking forward to my workouts anymore.  To be clear, I think it’s an excellent program.  I think it is one I’d like to bite off during the winter, or after I’ve had some time to play around a bit more after the RKC.

So, I wrote my own damn plan.  Basically, I’m trying to get some volume in with allllll the lifts I love – deadlifts, squats (barbell!!), and pressing varieties within kettlebells.  My focus is to highlight one lift per workout each week.  Then, I have some accessory movements after the main lift that help me on my weaknesses and round out each session.  Straight forward, fun, simple, but never easy.  The best part of it?  I can be flexible and train three days per week, or four.  Five if I feel like a beast, but I’d rather do other things on day 5 than “exercise” so it will likely stick around four.

Yoga is in.  It needs to be.  My flexibility needs some help sometimes.  So does my mind…..it needs to learn how to shut down.

Uh, there are two interval jogging days in there too.   For “funsies.”

Know the coolest part of what is going on in my workout weeks lately?  My husband has started working on some healthy movement habits!!!  So there is that!  He got a bike, and we got a trailer for the kid.  So we’ve been biking.  And doing some walks.  I’d love for him to lift with me sometime, but I also want him to find his own path within exercise.

Know what is a little hard?  He’s also started trying to eat a little bit better too – not so much fast food for lunch type stuff.  And he knows eating protein is important.  So between my husband and myself…….um, we need to buy a farm with LOTS of little proteins running around so we don’t go broke here soon.  And hire a chef to do the constant grilling.

I have one goal from now until Christmas.  I want to be JACKED for Christmas.  Like, if my shirts fit around my biceps at that time, I might be pissed.  Jacked is the New Black, yo!  I wouldn’t mind looking like Mrs. Incredible Hulk come December.

I also wouldn’t mind deadlifting my husbands bodyweight around that time either…..

Serious Question(s)

I’ve been on social media for approximately 22 minutes today (yes I’m keeping track, because I’m trying to be productive elsewhere….it’s a journey).

I’ve counted 11 instances just in my very limited Instagram and Facebook feeds that basically makes me think that everyone woman on the planet must be on a diet, can’t stop thinking about how she needs to lose weight, is convinced that swearing off sugar for 21 days, or that clean eating or paleo or weight watchers is the end all be all, or that she must somehow reach the same weight she was when she graduated high school.

Serious Question:  Why are we, as women, SO DAMN FOCUSED ON LOSING WEIGHT?

Follow Up Serious Question:  What would happen if we got invested in our life instead of pouring all our energy into our weight/size?

Short and sweet today, folks!  Peace out.

 

On Being Present: The Admission

Hi.  My name is Amanda.  And I have a tendency to always focus FORWARD.

I can accomplish something really huge, and then not even enjoy it because I’m on to the next thing.

I can also be very distracted while all the cool little things are happening because I can’t shut my brain off about what’s next.

So, basically, I REALLY struggle with being present.  

I’ve really been noticing it about myself lately.  And, to be honest, it’s making me a little crazy.  I don’t enjoy feeling a little deflated when I do something cool but don’t honestly know how to just enjoy that accomplishment.  I also don’t feel amazing when my kid is being a funny little diva and I missed something cute because my face was buried in my phone on things that don’t matter in the long run.

I’ve been sitting on this post for a LONG time.  Like probably a year.  Pretty much because it sucks to admit this about myself (although it does feel oddly liberating typing this), AND because I honestly don’t know what to write.  I’m back on the horse about writing about this now because I had TWO very awesome experiences being PRESENT with my kid in the past two weeks that have me all jacked up and thinking about this again.  Those experiences were CRYSTAL CLEAR and things you will always remember, because all the sudden, I was PRESENT and not looking ahead to getting ready for bed, should we take a bath tonight, OMG is Emma going to stall for an hour about falling asleep and I need to get up at 4:15AM kind of things.  We were JUST IN THOSE MOMENTS.  And they were awesome.  Because there was connection.

I drove home from the RKC, passing the cert in that weekend should be a huge accomplishment, and I was already over it and moving on to what’s next.  That STINKS.  I should have been PUMPED and proud of myself.  I had people congratulate me and even though I’m thankful for that, I couldn’t help but think………”Yeah, so?  What’s next?”  I get that really the journey is in all the prep work and such, and that’s where the magic REALLY happens, but how do I not know how to be present and enjoy things?

To be clear, the RKC is only one example, and it is a fitness one nonetheless.  I could name off tons other examples that range from fitness things to major life events, and it still feels the same.  Always looking forward and struggling to stay present.

I know I’m not the only one that feels like this, because I hear it from friends and clients.  But the devil is still in the details I think.  Like, how does one REALLY focus on what’s in front of them – family, enjoyment, work, random tasks, allllllllll that stuff, and not be “on to the next thing” all the time?

So, because I love a good plan, and love putting together a good plan, I sort of (and I hope I’m not super nerdy admitting this out loud) put together a weekly time budget.  I *know* what my priorities are.  But after an assessment of how I spend a lot of my time…..my priorities and the actual way my time is spent……..well, there is not much of a match happening.  Mostly because of distraction and focus and BEING PRESENT.  I don’t think putting  a little discipline into this area is the worst thing in the world.

Yup, I seriously have an excel spreadsheet time budget (btw, it’s saved next to my excel spreadsheet workout program, my excel spreadsheet programs for my clients, my excel spreadsheet business budget – if you can’t tell, I love a good spreadsheet).  It is even color coded.  It is blocked off by times I’m at work, times I have to do work admin “stuff”, times I “theoretically” could be taking care of our home, times where it is just family time, times for me time and personal development, times to shut off from electronics, and times to workout.

Here is what I’m learning so far……..

– Even though my template is “ideal”…….it can’t be my life.  So it has to be flexible.  And I’m not a failure if I don’t follow the “plan” exactly as written.  Basically, it’s a very good guide.

– Putting reminders on my phone has helped me stop thinking about one task and getting it out of my brain to move on to the next thing in the next time slot – IE – like the green color in my template is family time, and last time when my phone went off, my husband and I were finishing up eating late (Emma had already had dinner) and we decided on a bike ride.  And it was fun.  And then poof, I was swinging with Emma where I had one of my little epiphanies and we shared an amazing connection.  And at 9PM it told me to shut down electronics………and by 9:15PM I actually DID :)

– Trying to be disciplined in how I WANT to spend my time versus having little things come up is rough.  And this whole thing feels overwhelming.  But I also feel like I need to sit and work with this and possibly struggle for a while, because it feels like I’m on to something.

Do I sound like a crazy person here?This is really something that drives me nuts a little.  I WANT to be present.  I just really, really, really struggle with always wanting to look forward.

So, I guess you will be hearing about this from time to time.  I have no idea what direction this whole thing will go.  Possibly you might be watching a train wreck happen here, who knows.  Or, maybe I’ll realize I need to switch some stuff around, or give up some things for a while.  Or maybe I’ll realize that I just need to shut my brain off sometimes and that will come over time.  Who knows!

In the meantime, I’d love if you’d leave me a comment or two on how YOU stay present.

 

 

 

This Woman Says It All

I just read a really, really, REALLY fantastic post today.  And I need to share it with you all.  Because it hit home for me in SO MANY ways.

Go ahead and take a read about this Registered Dietitian who gained 10 pounds and learned so much in the process.

I don’t normally link up things like this, but it just really hit home for me, so I had to share it.  Like, YES, YES, YES.  I can identify with this.  I have friends who can identify with this, and clients who can identify with this.

For years, for me, it was all “fat loss this, and lean up that,” and you know what? Exercising a LOT, eating not enough (whether intentionally or unintentionally), having a busy lifestyle, and possibly pushing sleep to the wayside can wreak HAVOC on your body.  Your body kind of goes into the “I’m getting chased by a bear” mode.  Only, because you keep going, going, going with exercise, less food than you need (again whether intentionally or unintentionally), people pleasing your way through life by saying yes to everything, and finally crashing into bed only when you have time, that is actually like saying to your body “I’m getting chased by a bear CONTINUOUSLY”….and it doesn’t ever get to stop and take the break that it needs.

I’ve learned how to move from “I must kill it in the gym or else I need to feel guilty” to “I like having exercise enhance my life and sometimes I feel like killing it in the gym, and sometimes I just clock it in easy style.”  This took awhile.  I continue to evolve at this one.

I’ve learned (and still continue to learn!!!) that there is a huge difference between eating for joy because I WANT to, and eating to eat because it’s time to eat or because it’s easier to eat than feel emotions.

I’ve learned that food choices aren’t a label of how I should judge myself.  I don’t know how long that has taken, but it’s been a long process, and I continue to sit here and practice it.  I probably always will.

I’ve learned that when my activity is SERIOUS, my eating intake needs to be serious. When my activity level is less serious and more loosey-goosey (like right now), eating will naturally be a bit less.

We sometimes feel like we should be able to fit this magical meal plan of what we “should” eat and then exercise how we “should” exercise.  And really, we get effed over by the “shoulds” here because it is the wrong approach.

We can enjoy moving (weightlifting, zumba, running – whichever kind of movement brings YOU joy), and we can enjoy feeding our body for our daily life PLUS all that moving.  What that food intake looks like depends on us as individuals, our genetics, our daily activity, our sex, and a whole lot of other things.   It doesn’t depend on how eating a superfood with each meal will keep you cancer free for the rest of your life, how combining carbs and fat might make you puff up, or if I eat and exercise like Cameron Diaz, I will somehow transform my body to look like Cameron Diaz.

Here is how I know, ME INDIVIDUALLY, that I’m on the right path FOR ME.  I enjoy eating, because I enjoy eating.  I don’t have crazy swings of restriction and binges.  I don’t have food guilt.  I have energy for my workouts and I recover well from them, so I must be eating enough to support them.  My clothes fit, so my guess is I’m staying level, but I don’t really know what the scale says right now, but if I had to guess, it is probably within a pound or three of what it was a year ago, or even two years ago and whatevs….my clothes fit.  I also know that I’ve worn a swimsuit more times in the last two months than I have in the last five years, and I actually have THREE swimsuits because I like them and I like how I look in them.  I also got an odd comment from my husband about “you’re wearing shorts?  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen you wear shorts.”  And yes, I haven’t worn shorts in about five years either, but there are three pairs in my closet.  Hell, there is even a dress in there too – that ISN’T black, that is actually white with a color print on it.  Oh, and I’m not talking down to myself or picking apart “my flaws” either.  And I don’t find myself trying to *change* me to fit a mold, either.

In a nutshell, I’m treating myself like I give a shit about myself, whether or not it fits someone else’s ideals.  And that makes me freaking happy.

So, again, please go read the article I linked up above.  I’m sure you can identify with it if you have been on a crazy ride with food or fitness or both.

Newsflash – the ride doesn’t end.  But you can adjust your route at any time.  If you aren’t enjoying the ride or the ride isn’t healthy for you, spend a little time figuring out how you CAN enjoy it AND make it healthy for you.  If you need to ditch a bunch of old baggage, mindsets, or eating or working out habits to enjoy it more, spend the time ditching them instead of trying to do them harder to try to force yourself into enjoying them.  Spending time on all those inside things like feelings, emotions, habits, mindsets – those are the things to address FIRST, in my book.  Generally, the rest sorts itself out.

But seriously, go read the article.

 

Training Log: Kickin’ It

Training for the RKC is over!  The long and short of it……

….I took my training seriously.  I worked hard at it consistently for six months.  The first part of those six months were building a great base, and the last part was pretty much straight busting ass in the gym with my bells.  Training each week took a lot of time….probably 5-6 hours a week, sometimes more, sometimes less if I was giving my body a rest.

I ended up passing the RKC.  But going over a few things now, I know that this training was mental just as much as it was physical.  I didn’t really realize how much pressure I was putting on myself.  Until I got to the RKC.  And then completed it.  And then had a few days off to regroup and think.  Yup, it was a lot of pressure and stress. Worth it for sure.  But I’m grateful for a bit of a break now.  The second I drove home from the RKC, I felt a break.  Like, a little relief – the hard stuff was over.  I could do less “structure” now, and give my body a bit of a rest from long training weeks.

So, you know, I just decided to pick up a little program from Geoff Neupert – Kettlebell Muscle.  First off, this isn’t a beginner program by any means.  It also will never be easy.  But here is why I chose it.  I only need to commit to three days per week with my bells, so it “feels like” a bit of a break from them.  However, those three days are brutal, brutal complexes.  I’m finishing up my first week tomorrow morning – the first two days took me less than 20 minutes with warm-ups.  However, I only have three rounds of complexes per day.  This will increase as the weeks progress.

If you don’t know, a complex is basically a string of exercises each assigned a rep count (generally the same amount of reps for each exercise).  Here is the kicker though – you really don’t put the bells down until allllllllllll the reps are done.  This program uses double bells, so you know, MORE LOAD.  MORE WORK.  I decided (which I’m so happy about) to work with double 14kg bells.  My snatch size bell is actually 16kg, but…..I had no idea how my body would respond to three days of complexes per week, PLUS I’m just coming off a hard training cycle and the RKC.  So I went conservative.  I will follow this program for six weeks and then probably do something different.

Here’s day 2 of week 1….the second round of this for my workout (I did three rounds total):

Here is what I’m immediately noticing.  My skills feel SO MUCH SHARPER in just these two past kettlebell workouts since the RKC.  I can tell my skills have been leveled up.  I feel SO CRISP in my exercises, it is just insane.  I love it!

Other than that, I’m working my way into incorporating clubbell yoga into my training week.  About 2-3 practices per week as a way to focus on flexibility and as a way to learn a new practice.  So far, it has proved to be interested, and I actually sort of love it.

Oh yea, and I’m logging miles too.  Like mostly walking.  But I’ve actually done easy interval jogging twice.  What the?  Who even AM I?

 

 

Motivation Isn’t The Answer

Lack of motivation is a big road block for people.  It doesn’t really matter *what* you are working through or trying to accomplish – it can be anything.  Finishing a degree, working towards a black belt, training for the RKC, trying to bank an emergency fund, etc.

You know you *want* to do something.  And when you begin, sometimes you are super motivated.  You talk about what you are doing with everyone.  You research it online.  You diligently plug away at your goal and tasks at hand.  And then……..it isn’t so new and shiny and cool and fun anymore.  You skip a training session, or a homework assignment, or saving $100 from your weekly paycheck that would get you closer to your emergency fund.  Then, you skip again.

I’m not trained in motivation, psychology, or anything cool like that, so I can only share with you my thoughts related to motivation.

So, here they are.

Motivation isn’t the answer.  It WON’T get you to your goal.  However, when you ARE motivated and motivation is high, I do believe you should capitalize on it and use it while you can to get a great start.  But motivation won’t do the dirty work for you.  It just won’t.

Changing your behavior (your habits) is what gets you steadily from point A to point B…..likely with some ups and downs along the way as you struggle and learn and grow and change.  Changing your behavior happens when you repeatedly do what you say you will do and what you need to do.  It doesn’t happen in a week, or a month.  It happens OVER TIME, and that time period is different for everyone.

Changing your behavior occurs by repeatedly DOING those things day after day, whether you feel like it or not.  Whether you feel motivated or not.  Because you know those things are what you need to do and repeatedly do so they become habits for you.

For me, there are simply some days I don’t feel like working out.  Those days don’t mean I don’t love what I’m doing.  Or that I’m over trained.  Or that I’m pushing myself to do the wrong things.  Those days simply mean I don’t feel like working out.  People who love fitness don’t always feel like working out.  They aren’t always motivated to do it.  We do it because we know we are getting from Point A to Point B with our training program and some days we just need to move our bodies whether the motivation or the “feel like it” is there, because it is part of the bigger picture of feeling good.  Doing things you don’t always feel like doing, but are in your best interest, are how successful people become successful.  They just do them.  As I was training for the RKC, I can guesstimate that I “felt like training” or “was motivated to train” possibly 50% of the time.  That might even be a stretch.  The other 50% was because my calendar and my coach said it was a training day, and to be prepared at RKC time, I needed to do these things NOW.

Don’t kid yourself by saying you will make your changes when you are motivated.  Motivation will last for fleeting seconds, minutes, hours, or, if you are lucky….days.  Motivation isn’t what will get you from Point A to Point B.  Your decision to make that change will be the deciding factor, and your commitment to doing things repeatedly, whether you “feel like it” or not will build your habit, which will ACTUALLY carry you from Point A to Point B.

This is the un-sexiest piece of advice I have to give you.  But it works for me.  Make a change.  Practice the change repeatedly.  Apply another change when change #1 gets easy.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Watch what happens.

And eff motivation.

In the RKC, we practice Tough Love.  This is it.

RKC Day 3!

I woke up after Day 2 with fresh hands!  I seriously have NO CLUE how this happened.  But it seemed to be a theme – everyone’s hands on Day 3 were not as sore.  Some people had torn up hands, so those were a different story.  But many people felt fresh with their hands.

SO WEIRD.

We thankfully spent a lot of time warming up this morning.  You know what is crazy about kettlebells?  My abs are SORE.  So sore.  I did like a plank or two this whole weekend…..that’s it.  BUT each lift is centered around the cylinder of strength (or one’s midsection under constant tension), and you know what that produces?  An ab workout without an ab workout.  Swings work your abs, get-ups work your abs, front squats work your abs, presses work your abs, and so do the snatches.  Also, literally, I fell onto the toilet seat this morning (sorry, TMI), and almost couldn’t get back up, I was THAT sore.  Holy hell.  We began with lots of joint mobility and stretches…..and then……

Did skill practice on our own or with a partner.  All the skills we worked on and learned and refined in Day 1 and Day 2.  You know what?  That 16kg bell felt dang heavy this morning.  And I had a few shaky get-ups during this session, which of course produces a crap ton of anxiety about these lifts that I do all the time.

So, it was then time to test technique.  We broke up into three groups.  Then each person does the tested exercise.  I do these lifts alllll the time.  But watching each person go before you, and you start to over-analyze alllllllll the things you do, and I began to doubt myself.  I was NOT nervous about technique testing until I started watching each person go before me.  Do I breathe right when I swing?  Do I pack my shoulders on my get-ups?  Do I stay tight on cleans and not cast the bell forward?  Uh, presses…..can I REALLY press those reps?  Front squats, only five………am I below parallel?  Snatches, will I lose the bell?

Each one of us was kind of nervous during technique testing.  The gym was pretty dang quiet.  And the instructors get RIGHT IN YOUR BUSINESS and stare at you without an expression on their face while you are working.  During cleans, I was asked to pick up a heavier weight than my snatch test bell because it was too light for me.  So I worked with the 18kg.  Then, you know…..we thought we might see if we passed technique.  Nope, we had to wait it out.  All day.

After technique testing we partnered with someone we hadn’t really worked with all weekend and had to program a workout for them, their goals, their needs, weaknesses and strengths.  This was REALLY interesting.  I was super intimidated at first, but then calmed down as my partner and I got started.  He programmed a workout for me based on my goal of getting a heavier TGU and better shoulder and core stability which was REALLY fun!  Basically, he had me warm-up with forward and reverse lunges to reinforce balance and the lunge during the get-up.  Immediately followed by the hardstyle plank and hardstyle push-up.  A few times through.  Then, a get-up ladder.  One rep on each side with the 14kg (easy for me).  Plenty of rest.  One rep on each side with the 16kg – my normal size.  One rep on each side with the 20kg.  And potentially the 22kg (if I would have been fresh and we hadn’t run out of time).  Then, some bird dogs to reinforce the abs.  Super fun!  I never would have programmed that for myself, so it’s nice to get a feel for how other people write workouts.

I then programmed a workout for him.  His strengths are that he loves to move heavy weight and will attack it with 100% focus.  And he will do the program if written for him.  His weaknesses are his connection to the floor – his foot and knee positions, and a dropped arch.  Oh, and he doesn’t warm-up and cool down or do mobility work.  So, I set him up with static stomp deadlifts to reinforce the connection to the floor followed by some easy swings with that same foot position.  We moved into heavy squats, same thing – cleaning the bell, shifting the feet, finding floor connection and then hitting the reps and stopping once we lost connection.  I added in hip flexor stretches during rest periods to keep him engaged and get his mobility stuff in, but also not competing with his rest.  Clean and presses per side to keep the feet in place, but including shoulder mobility work during rest periods.  We finished up with the killer hip stretch.  It was fun!

Basically it was lunch time then.  Take a quick break.

Then…..we had volunteers come in so we could train people fresh off the street.  Total hands on experience.  My volunteer arrived a bit late, so I didn’t have much time with him.  We did make some progress though – we workout through planks and finding a neutral spine, followed by deadlifts and isometric tension hold deadlifts to reinforce that zipped up brace feeling, followed by some farmer walks.  He commented after we were done that he felt taller and that his posture was better.  I’m counting that a win :)

I forgot that we had to complete a grad workout before we were notified if we passed or not.

DO NOT EVER THINK A GRAD WORKOUT WILL BE EASY.  Also, don’t ever “forget about it.”

We went for about 20 minutes.  A clean up, two presses, only moving when the head instructor told us what to do next.  Two front squats.  Eight swings.  Transition immediately to the other side.  We went back and forth and back and forth, WITHOUT SETTING THE BELLS DOWN.  I ended up dropping down from the 16kg to the 14kg about halfway through.  Other than that, I put my bell down one other time.  In 20 minutes.  Holy hell.  It was BRUTAL.  Then, immediately upon completion, we began a set of 20 swings together as a group, counting at the top of each rep…….yelling really loud.  The point of the whole thing was this – when you are EXHAUSTED as an instructor, you STILL don’t get to crap out or have bad form.  This drill proved that.  You don’t get to get tired and give up.  You just have to go.  I found that it immediately got easier when I quit wondering when it would end and just accepted the suckiness of it.

Then, we were done and waited in line to see how we did.

11402836_894665167266083_71150069538309623_nI passed.

And I want to make two things clear:

1)  Fitness certifications are generally NOT hands on, which frustrates me.  I became a personal trainer reading a book and passing a test – and then immediately had no clue how to be a personal trainer.  I “learned” how to be a personal trainer training clients.  The RKC is hands on, dive in, learn, try, experiment, perfect, and train others to prove you can do all these things safely and communicate them well with simple cues.  It is one of the most hands on certs I have come across.  I fully believe in the RKC system  and I would recommend it to anyone – someone wanting to be an instructor, or someone wanting to dive in to their own kettelbell trainer with greater detail and mastery.

2) My coach, Andrea Du Cane, is one of the BEST investments in my health that I have ever made.  I went to her approximately 5-6 years ago thinking I was good at fitness and quickly getting put to my knees and having to check my ego at the door as I found out I was really not great at moving my body at all.  I could barely press 18 pounds overhead, not for lack of strength but from lack of skill and muscle engagement and recruitment, and mobility.  I pressed a 24kg bell this weekend (53 pounds!!) with ease, BECAUSE MY TECHNIQUE WAS DIALED DOWN.  Andrea has taught me that working out isn’t necessarily the answer.  Moving well is the answer and the workout comes from the practice of movement and trying to move better.  I can do things at age 32 that I could not do as a young punk in high school playing sports.  She has taught me that while I am naturally strong, that strength doesn’t matter if I can’t use my all my muscles together to stay safe and perform lifts correctly without cheating around something and potentially injuring myself.  I am confident in training strength, and HEAVY strength safely because of all the skills I have learned from her and from the RKC system.  I can tell when a joint isn’t moving quite right or a muscle isn’t engaging.  I just want to say a gigantic thank you to her, because I KNEW after one session with her that kettlebells were a game changer.  And she kept me on a great pace of learning skills that were appropriate yet challenging.  I’ve learned so much, and I’m so thankful for her teaching me.  I’m also thankful that she helped me prepare for the RKC in a smart, non-panicked way.  It was very clear-cut, and consistent, and while difficult, never overwhelming.  I hope that one day, I can coach like this woman.  She is incredible.

Final commentary on this certification – the instruction was top notch, not only from the Master RKC but from all the assisting instructors as well.  There were four total trainers there for approximately 16 people – that is a GREAT ratio.  Instruction was clear, training corrections were helpful, and we KNEW what was acceptable and what wasn’t.  The way that skills were taught was great as well – learn the movement and then begin layering on detail.

PS – I never knew how smelly a gym could get until 20 bodies of very hard working kettlebell enthusiasts were moving for 10 hours each day.  Oy.

Read Day 1 recap HERE!

Read Day 2 recap HERE!

RKC Day 2!

RKC Day 2 is in the books!

OOOOOHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEE!  My hands were SORE this morning.  Even after a date with a shaver to take the crap edges off, and a pumice stone to smooth it all out and like seven applications of Gold Bond crazy thick lotion to tame these beasts.  STILL sore.

I am so thankful for a cool lady named Crystal to be friends with at my cert.  Not only does she have curly hair, she is the MASTER of taping hands.  Seriously.  She taped me up this morning before class REALLY started.  I think the tape this morning was the key to giving my hands a rest until snatch practice.   She has a studio out of St. Cloud….if you are near St. Cloud, please get in contact with me so I can get you in contact with her.  She will take care of you and get you moving well!!

So…..I’ll rewind.  Our day was stacked like this:

– first things first, mobility mobility mobility and a fun thing called rib pulling which I’m STOKED to share with people (sound scary, it isn’t)

– then, work on our skills we have trained up to this point….you know…..just to get a good sweat (*read* just to make you realize how shot your hands actually are and start to stress about the snatch test)

– then, we broke apart the get-up and hit it hard, which was amazing because it gave our hands a rest plus got our shoulders open and moving well

– we learned some cool tricks – the arm bar and crooked arm bar (holy OPEN shoulders)

– lunch!  which really meant I drove around St. Paul like  a crazy person desperately looking for places to buy athletic tape because I bought crappy tape, and wolfed down my lunch while driving

– snatch technique (what WHAT????)….hands are crispy and really feeling it here, and I’m beginning to sweat bullets that I will tear my hands apart before the snatch test

– snatch test!  (Cliff’s Notes version, I passed)

– squat work (OMG, I was GASSED during this)

– Q & A and fun tricks practice

I learned a ton today.  A TON.

I learned that the get-up is SUPER FUN and is one of my favorite exercises even though it might be a little slow for everyone else.  It is BEAUTIFUL and delicate and badass and hard and slow and powerful all at the same time when done correctly.  OMG.  This (at least to me) is like the zen of yoga with a really friggin’ heavy weight over your head so you have skin in the game and have to concentrate.

I learned that people REALLY struggle with the get-up because they lack mobility in their shoulders.

I learned that you can bring people to their knees with a really light bell to use during the get-up and use some Andrea Du Cane tricks to make that light bell seem like it weighs a zillion pounds.  Are you in my classes?????  This WILL be showing up sometime soon :)

I learned the tactical get-up, perfect for law enforcement OR people who struggle with the sweep through of the get-up.

I learned how to incorporate the elbow side plank and tall side plank in the get-up, and how they actually REALLY might be a fun transition sometimes.  Are you in my classes?  Hint, hint….you might see this soon :)

I learned that the arm bar and crooked arm bar are LEGIT openers of the upper body.

I learned that about 15 people can run through athletic tape like crazy.  We used alllllll the athletic tape in the building.  None left.  Everyone panicked.

During our snatch technique work, we were allowed to use a lighter bell for practice (I used a 12kg).  This seemed like a good idea to save my hands, until I actually had to snatch a 16kg again.  That 16kg felt so light yesterday.  Today?  Not so much.  After working technique with the 12kg….it felt like 70 pounds.  Oh you know, time to freak the eff out now.

We set up for snatch testing, and I plopped myself in the front of the line – we went in groups of three.  I did NOT want to watch other people do it and think about it anymore….I wanted to just get it done with and move on.  I *knew* I would nail this.  But doubt does creep in during the day, you know?  I’ve nailed this almost every week since like March.  I’ve done it tons.  And it’s five stupid minutes,  and I knew if my hands tore, I would be jacked up on adrenaline and it wouldn’t hurt til it was all over.  If you aren’t sure what the snatch test is, it’s 100 snatches done with a specific weight (I had to test with a 16kg….women over like 135 pounds have to use that bell) all in five minutes.  If you want to watch a struggle, here is one that I did earlier in my prep for the RKC.

Meh, I followed the same old protocol I had been since March.  10 snatches right, 10 snatches left at the top of every minute and rest the remainder of the minute.  Doesn’t mean they sucked less when I hit 60 reps.  That’s where you get crazy fatigued.  Many people try to bust through all 100 at a time.  I had a GEM of a guy (Joe from Brickhouse Fitness in Des Moines Iowa….look him up if you find yourself in Des Moines).  This guy was standing second in line to do his snatch test after me, and after rep 30 I could hear him giving me encouragement.  And by rep 50, I wanted to turn around and hug him because he kept me calm and jacked up and steady and on an even pace and just kept reminding me to do my plan and do what I was doing.  He was SUCH a helper.

By rep 60 I ripped my tape off my left hand because it felt awful and was rubbing weird.  By rep 70 I didn’t enjoy my life much.  By rep 80, I knew I only one more set of 10 + 10 left and eff it, I wasn’t going to NOT finish those because I was NOT doing this shit over.

I finished.  Successfully :)  And my hands were also successful :)

We finished all the candidates snatch testing (and cheered them on), and then took a break before hitting squats hard.  I learned a TON of tricks on squatting for my clients.  A TON.  Expect to work on squats if you are a client of mine :)  

Then, we learned some more tricks that are not going to be tested on, but that are great exercises to include in our programming for a variety of reasons.  Many of them I already use, but some I don’t, and will incorporate for sure.

Day 2 was a success.  I can’t believe two days of the RKC are already over.  They went so fast!

You can read about Day 1 here!

RKC Day 1!

The RKC is FINALLY here!  Today was day 1!

Mostly I’m writing this post as a way to take notes on all the crazy cool stuff I learned today.  But…..I also want to document all the fun things that happened, because truth be told….I was NERVOUS this morning, and most of the day went by in a blur.

So, the biggie details – our Master RKC was Andrea Du Cane.  I am super excited about this because Andrea is who I learned from and continue to work with.  She is a gem, and her teaching style is absolutely insanely awesome.  Each time I see Andrea, I learn something new.  Today was no different.

We checked in this morning, and then started off with some joint mobility work (oddly……it was MOST of the same things I have been doing before my own training sessions and before the classes I teach).  We touched on the hardstyle plank first off, and stressed the importance of “shortening the abs” by tipping up the pelvis and CRUSHING the glutes.  And maintaining full tension – because seriously, if you can hold a hardstyle plank (a true one) for a minute…..something is wrong.  You are probably just hanging on your bone structure or losing something SOMEWHERE.  We needed that hardstyle position owned so we could go right into our push-up test (I passed, and push-ups for WHATEVER reason, felt easy today).  We do hardstyle push-ups, which are super tight, and the same position as the hardstyle plank aside from being on our palms instead of elbows.  Ten for men, three for women.  They have you hold the bottom position for a bit to be sure you are strong and not busting through it too quickly :)

We immediately began picking apart the beginnings of swings – which obviously starts with hinging the hips and getting very comfortable with neutral spine and staying tight and engaging EVERYTHING – lats, quads, glutes, hamstrings, abs, all of it. Well, all of it except from the neck up.  To be honest, most of the work we did came from our feet.  I’m SUPER pumped to use some of these tricks in my classes and training.  We REALLY worked on power breathing and being sure we breathe from our diaphragm and not our chest.  You know what the top of a deadlift is?  A plank.

So is the top of a swing.

And a clean.

And a snatch.

And a goblet squat.

And a press.

Do you know what will be stressed in the coming weeks if you happen to be a client of mine?

We wrapped up the morning with more swing work, and then a swing “workout”……you know, because practicing skills with a partner all morning isn’t already a workout :)

We did 10 minutes of :30 seconds of power swings, :25 seconds of rest, :30 seconds of continuous two hand swings, :25 seconds of rest.  It was actually a smoker.  Sweat was pouring off us.  Power swings are no joke.  Neither are continuous two hand swings after an incomplete rest period :)

Lunchtime was on our own for an hour, and to be honest…..food was needed at that point.  Hangry muscles.  But after food, energy was up big time, and good thing too….we worked cleans.  And cleans, and cleans.  And lots of cleans into the drop position.

I learned some cool tricks about cleaning facing a wall to keep the bell close (or the bell will go through the wall, as will my head).

We learned some cool cues for those with a habit of bending the wrists in the rack position.  We did rack carries.  We did double cleans and then moved onto pressing.

COOL DRILL ALERT ==> we really worked through our power breathing to be sure that was dialed in, and then we practiced pushing down on our partners first in the rack position.  And pulling at their elbows to try and come out and banging our fists into their lats/glutes/abs to make sure they stayed tight.  Tough love at it’s finest :)

COOLER DRILL ALERT ==> we learned how to use a “trigger” or by making a fist or squeezing something from our non pressing arm when we needed a little boost to get a heavy bell up.

COOLEST DRILL ALERT ==> we learned how to “wedge” under the bell farther instead of using our shoulder to press up.

Then, since we had some time to work on a max press.  Yeah…….I chose low to start with – the 22kg.  I’ve pressed 20kg’s before for a rep or two, maybe three.  I’ve tried the 24kg before and it was NOT happening, so I thought it would be the same today.  So I shot low with the 22kg.  To be honest, it was NOT a challenge.  Not with all the techniques we had practiced today.  So, my partner and I decided to branch out into the 24kg.  I got it on my left side, and it wouldn’t move on my right side.  What the FLIP?!?!?!?!  Super fun.

We ended with a clean and clean and press workout, and then finished with some crazy stretching.

All in all, I have to say the instruction was FABULOUS at day 1 so far.  Form, technique, and safety are HUGE.  And we spent lots of time working through all the common form issues found in people and ways to troubleshoot them.

I’m excited for day 2!  (sort of…..day 2 is the snatch test).

PS = no blisters.  But my hands are FRIED.  And sore.  Lotion, and callous shaving tonight.  Hoping for a miracle by tomorrow morning :)

 

 

 

Originally this was my journey to Tough Mudder…now it's my record of all things fitness and health!

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