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…… 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.


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… 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… 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 :)




Sunshine and Rainbows?

Question:  Do you know how many books I have on finding happiness?

Answer:  More than one row on my bookshelf.  For realz.

I used to think a lot about the fact that I wasn’t happy.  I was on a quest of finding happy.  Day in and day out perma-smile happy.  I sorta thought I was a little defective because I wasn’t always in a good mood and appreciating my life.  I thought that I was not normal because everyone else seemed to be happy and enjoying life and in a good mood, and I didn’t always feel like that.  Feeling like that made it easy for me to slap a smile on my face and pretend everything was rosey.  All sunshine and friggin’ rainbows.  Fake it til you make it, right?

A few years ago, I stopped reading the happiness books.  I did learn a few things from them, and some of them were helpful.  But I just stopped reading them.  I stopped chasing happiness.

I’ve been thinking about this a ton lately, because I’ve been meaning to throw the books out, but have been hanging on to them because  “what if I need them someday?” in case I decide I’m not happy again.

I’m throwing the books away today.  Because I’m learning that happiness doesn’t always feel like sunshine and rainbows.

Life is messy.  Life is going to work, while balancing being a mom and a wife while still being ME.  Life is trying to remember to be present versus getting sucked into online distractions on the daily.  Life is trying to remember important dates in the lives of friends and family and being a good listener and getting those things in return.  Life is learning to shut down sometimes because I still have a lot of life left, and I need downtime to recharge right now to prepare for it.

Writing about all those things makes happiness seem like the impossible goal.

Except, in all of those things, there IS happiness.  For me, it just doesn’t mean that everything feels like sunshine and rainbows all the time.  Sure, I have periods of time where everything friggin’ ROCKS.  Those are unicorn days or unicorn weeks.  They do come around once in awhile.  And I love and appreciate them.

There are days and weeks too, though, that really, really, really aren’t fun.  And yet there is still happiness in those times.  I feel like I’m learning that those tough stretches are when the learning and growing is getting done.  You know?

Happiness doesn’t come in a good deal on clearance or in a delivery from the UPS driver from Amazon.  Happiness doesn’t come when my 300 pound deadlift shows up, or a smaller jeans size suddenly fits.  Happiness doesn’t come when my to-do list is checked off each day. Happiness doesn’t come when my husband and I are raising a family while we are both doing jobs that we love, in a house out in the country.

Happiness is not a destination.  For me, some days happiness is a choice.  Some days don’t feel happy, but I’m able to pull things out that are happy, that make me happy, and that I’m able to be thankful for.  Some days, happiness is easy and life is fab.  Some days are THOSE days, and you know what?  I can still find happiness in the fact that I can go to bed, in our home, under a roof, and wake up tomorrow and the crappy day will be over.

Since I’ve STOPPED chasing happiness, sunshine, and rainbows, I’m finding myself MORE happy (although it took me awhile to realize that).  Happiness and happy times don’t ALWAYS feel happy.  But there is happiness in them.

And I’ve realized that other people feel like this as well.  And I love that because that is REAL.  No one is so in love with their life all the time that sunshine and rainbows spew from the heavens.  But in all times, there is some sort of opportunity for happiness.  Even the times that feel low, because those times allow for learning and growth.  In those low times, it is important to FEEL the low times, and then learn how to move forward towards the times that actually DO feel happy.

Most days boil down to CHOOSING things.  I can have emotions that feel icky but sometimes emotions pop out of nowhere for no reason.  I can still CHOOSE steps here – I can choose to process those emotions, I can choose to ignore them (used to be my default, and I don’t recommend this option), and many times, I can choose to acknowledge right where I’m at and figure out what is causing the emotion and choose another path.

I’m able to choose to be happy most days.  I’m also able to choose to see my gifts that seem like nothing and that are easy to take for granted.  I’m able to tick off things I’m grateful for in my head before I go to sleep, and realize………YO!  I HAVE A GOOD LIFE!

The most important part is that I’m able to see and feel happiness, and I’ve learned not to constantly strive to “arrive” at Happiness:  The Destination.  For me, there is a big difference.

So, I don’t think that happy people feel happy all the time.  I don’t think everyone has sunshine and rainbows raining down around them.  I think that when we allow it to SEEM like we do, that’s when things are already off course.  I think happiness can be found in amazing situations, in boring situations, and in shitty situations.

But it isn’t somewhere to arrive at.  It is somewhere to just be sometimes.






Training Log: T Minus 15 Days!!!

This is my last week of “normal” volume of my RKC training!  And… went great!  I have two more days of “normal” volume this weekend.  Then, next week, it will be all lighten the load and volume and do some swings and such.  And then…….NOTHING except eat and sleep well for the week leading up to RKC.

Holy shit.  It is really coming together!  I got my info packet this weekend.  And had a holy shit moment.  I am SO EXCITED to get more awesome at my skills and coaching stuff.  SO EXCITED.  I am so NERVOUS about performing at the event, and being able to hang with other peeps that might be at a higher level than me!

I also suspect it will go something like this – wake up on Friday and cruise to St. Paul and go hard alllllllllll day.  Eat a LOT of food and soak in an epsom salt bath at like 7pm and drop into bed.  Repeat on Saturday.  And Sunday.  OMG!!!  It is finally getting close to go time!

Some things I’m loving this week:

– Taco salads.  Tons of beef, tons of veggies, cheese, salsa, and I’ve been rocking wheat tortilla homemade chips (seriously, just toasted a tortilla brushed in EVOO and cumin/garlic/salt in the oven).  I’m OBSESSED with these this week.  So yum.

These sports bras.   I hate spending money on sports bras that don’t fit right, or take an act of God to get into our out of, or are fugly.  These are comfy, supportive, and are EASY to get on and off.  I have two.  I shall be updating this number soon!

– Movement.  Easy movement.  Walking with Emma.  Rucking (walking with a backpack).  Five minutes of flow to get the kinks out.  Just moving.  No rules.

I have to say, a few weeks ago, I was having a head game about the RKC, and that seems to have gone away.  I’m nervous for sure, but I also know I’ve done the work, so that gives me reassurance.  If I hadn’t done the work, I’d be sweating bullets right now.  Don’t get me wrong, it is gonna be HARD WORK even having prepared.  But I feel like I’m ready.  Now, ask me how I feel in two weeks :)

Peace out, yo!


Training Log: BOOM!

I’ve had a unicorn week of training.

I think the 8 days off from bells helped :)

These weeks are magical when they happen.  They remind you WHY you do what you do (even if you know you love it anyway).

I staggered my week like this:

Wednesday – Strength (and VOLUME)

Saturday – Cardio-y Endurance Hard Shit

Sunday – Strength (I LOVE STRENGTH)

Monday – Endurance (swings and double swings) and that flippin’ snatch test!

Wednesday – Strengthy Goodness

Thursday  – Complexes (oy)

You know what?  I’m gonna just enjoy the fabulousness of this week and call it good.  (because normally I’d over-analyze WHY it went so great.)

Things that I have been working on this week, and for the past few weeks:

– Eating protein.  I have been tracking my macros for a bit now, because it helps me get enough.  Coming from years of a diet mindset, sometimes I’m not able to understand what getting enough means.  I’m shooting for between 125-150 grams per day of protein, and usually landing closer to 150g.  This is based on a calculation FOR ME, for my physical activity, for my weight, etc.  So this is sorta specific.  **I don’t enjoy tracking my macros, but it does help me make a shift back to how a normal, healthy, active individual SHOULD eat, and not a “dieter trying to burn the calories.”  I intend to track a bit longer, and then let myself figure it out again.  I suspect I will float between tracking and not tracking for awhile.

– Making sure I’m starching up pre and post workout.  This is highly individual for peeps, but I find when my meals or snacks surrounding workouts are “carbed up” a bit, my energy rocks (and so does my recovery).

– Getting the heck to bed at night.  And winding down before bed.  And my sleep has been SUPER AWESOME this week, except for one night.  So I am enjoying extra energy from food AND being well-rested.

– Taking a peek once in a while at the beginning of my RKC training logs.  I couldn’t do all the sets on my complex days with the 16kg for most of my training.  I can now.  WOW.  I also can hang for 20 -30 minutes of consistent equal work to equal rest swings.  And I’m hitting the snatch test.  BOOM.  Those things were non-existent back early in 2015 when I started training hard.  I love progress (and I love that zero of these things have to do with the scale).

I have like one more week of normal training and then back off before RKC time!


Training Log: Blah Blah Blah Stress

It has been awhile since I wrote a training log!  Truth is, I’m crunched on time, and writing feels like a luxury.  The other part of the truth is……I hadn’t touched a kettlebell for a good eight days after finishing up my training program in April.

I’ll just get right to the nitty-gritty.

The final week in April was the last of the “hard shitty volume” part of my training program for the RKC.  I think I mentally was over it that week and knew I was going to take a few days off before starting again at a little less volume.

At the same time, life happened, and I was working a lot and for long hours at a crack and I let my schedule run me over with a Mac truck.

My husband and I were on weird opposite schedules, which makes home life balance rock off kilter a bit (kind of our norm with our weird schedules, but still sucks non-the-less).

Weekends were busy.

Alllllll that combined made me shut down.  Shutting down is usually my response during stress-y times.  That’s my usual.  Sometimes I combine it with shitty emotional eating.  Sometimes I don’t, and I lose my appetite (which is WEIRD for me because I LOVE eating).  This time I lost my appetite.

Alllllll this leads to shitastic sleep, no matter if I go to bed at a decent hour or not.  I’m a good sleeper, so I know somethings up when I’m “tired but wired” at bedtime.

It isn’t fun telling your readers that you let stress get to you (especially when you talk and write about the importance of managing stress).  I also want you to have a realistic picture of how I operate.  EVERYONE has life happening – these things are inevitable.  What’s important is that we LEARN from them and move on.

**And for the record, my stressors in life are a walk in the park to things other people face.  **  The big key here is I need to work on learning how to deal a little bit better EARLIER in the game versus get steam rolled all at one time.  But at the same time, life happens sometimes, and dealing, learning, and being a little compassionate are alright too.  I also need to up my game on saying no and setting hella big boundaries around my time.

So, where do I go from here?

Basically, keep plugging away.  I picked up a kettlebell again this past Sunday, and I knew it wasn’t going to be the most favorite things I had ever done, but I also knew I didn’t want to avoid it for another day.  I also picked up a huge strength workout with some fab ladies on Monday, and today.  And then…….Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of this week – I will do endurance/possible snatch test, strength, and then endurance again.

Here is the missing piece of the puzzle related to training for the RKC for me…….

…..I can lift shit no problem.  The heavier the better.  I tend to get a little bucky when I have to do lots of reps for long periods of time, BUT I’ve been facing that demon with my training.  The BIGGIE for me, the head game.  This is a mental game for me.  All mental.  I KNOW I’m strong enough to go through the RKC.  I know I can rock the snatch test, and all that shiz.  But how will I compare to others?  And I know that’s silly to even say.  But I have changed my job from accountant to fitness chick here these past few years, and I’m still learning.  And now I’m the small fish in a big lake at the RKC, with people who have many more credentials in this fitness game than I do.  THAT is the hard part for me.  “Comparison is the thief of joy” and all that…..I can tell myself that all day every day.  But at the same time, THAT is where my insecurity ALWAYS shows her face.  When I continually question if I’m good enough.

At the end of the day, WE are ALL good enough, and deep down we know that.  But those sneaky little insecurities will always, always, ALWAYS show up when we don’t need them at all, and they will do crazy shit to our brain.

I guess it’s time to tell them to STFU.


Everyday Inspiration: Meet Jackie!

We have another Everyday Inspiration in the house!

Truth be told, I’m lucky to have many Everyday Inspirations around me.  Getting time to interview people and write frequently right now is a luxury…..that only happens every so often, because, you know, life :).  I feel like one lucky lady to have so many people in my life that are awesome and inspiring!  Like we know from the first interviews, an Everyday Inspiration is someone who inspires me (and likely others!) to keep pushing on in my quest to live a healthy, whole, happy life.  These inspiring folks are day in, day out living their lives with a major investment in themselves, and are committed to healthy habits that work for them.  Every single day.

This one comes to me by way of good old-fashioned small town living.  Those are the best, because you know “of” people, but then suddenly you meet them and can’t believe it took you this long to get to know them better!  I see this one kicking ass around town, and kicking ass in the gym!  And…..she kicks ass weekdays (and everyday!!) in her home, working out with her kids by her side.

Meet Jackie!  20150323_095035


Jackie is a stay at home mom meets home workout extraordinaire meets runs a household successfully meets future Tough Mudder!  Basically, she is totes rad.

I asked Jackie a ton of questions (personal ones too!).  Here is what she had to say……

Did you have a wake-up call moment?  Like, something or someone inspired you to make a change?  Or did you just decide to make a lot of small changes?

I guess seeing my mom’s battle with early onset Alzheimer’s and how she changed both inside and out was what really inspired me to do something.  As her disease progressed, the mom I knew was fading away.  Alzheimer’s took her sparkle and glow, her silliness, her beautiful smile.  I felt as though the more we lost her the more I couldn’t remember who and what she was.  The pictures I have of her living her life is what I use to remind me of who she was, they are what keeps the mom I know and love with me even now that she is gone.  But then I realized  should I be dealt the same fate as my mom, my kids won’t have ANY pictures of me.  Pictures of me looking happy, pictures of me with my husband, of me playing and being silly with them.  I rarely let people take pictures of me because I was not comfortable with the way I looked.  I didn’t want those images of me carved in stone, so to speak, because I always thought I’ll change, I’ll lose weight then I’ll be comfortable with pictures.  But I wasn’t changing, I wasn’t losing weight.  I was never getting those pictures and that scared the hell out of me!  My kids wouldn’t have something that might provide them with some comfort and peace if I didn’t do something.  I needed to get my nutrition in line because that was what was most out of control.


Tell us about how you view yourself now versus a few years ago?  Anything from how you view your body, your prioritization of your health and wellness, and any lessons you have learned along the way.

I now view myself as capable.  I feel like I could do just about anything.  My mindset now is: Maybe I physically can’t do “it” right now, but with training and dedication I will get there.

Now I prioritize my workouts.  I mostly workout in the morning after breakfast.  I don’t schedule other activities or appointments during that time unless absolutely necessary.  It’s become just a part of my daily tasks and I actually get upset if I’m not able to get my morning workout in.  In the past it was easy to fill my day with other thing in order to give myself an excuse to not workout.  I also strive to not go more than two days without really moving my body.

Tell us about your current training routine. What does it all entail?

I workout about 30 min per day, 5 days a week.  Mostly I do videos at home.  I’m crazy about many of the Beachbody fitness programs.  Some of my faves are T25, Insanity Max 30, and TurboFire.  I also attend TMWR’s S.T.R.E.N.G.T.H once a week which has inspired me to lift more and lift heavier.  I also hit up the cardio kickboxing class held at TMWR.  I love, love, LOVE this class!  I try to do one active recovery day per week, which usually is yoga or some sort of stretching.  I truly believe in a balanced fitness program – strength, cardio, and flexibility.


What is your biggest motivator?

Being a good example for my kids is a huge motivator, but I think my biggest one is to be able to say to myself, “BOOM!  Look what you just did!”  I love getting (not to quote Kanye West,  but I will) harder, better, faster, stronger!


What do you do to pump yourself up when the last thing you want to do is a workout or prepare a healthy meal?

It’s not often that I need to pump myself up for a workout because working out keeps me sane!  All the DVD workout programs I do come with a workout schedule and I rely on those to keep me on track.  I have them up on my fridge and cross off each day I complete.  If I’m not feeling up to a particular workout I just do it so I can cross it off.  Sometimes it’s just the little things!  When I get to the end of the calendar, which are usually 60-90 days i say, “You just did that!”

I try to keep my fridge and cupboards stocked with healthy foods.  I find if I prep ahead of time I always have a healthy meal ready to heat up if I don’t exactly feel like making one. Sometimes I don’t feel like eating a healthy meal so I don’t.  I just try to choose healthy most of the time.

What’s your favorite exercise?

Right now my favorite exercise is cardio kickboxing at TMWR.  It really pushes me to work hard.  I like that it combines strength, cardio, speed, and agility.  And honestly, I love kicking, kneeing, and punching the sh*t out of stuff!

Do you weigh or measure yourself, and why?

I haven’t weighed or measured myself for a couple of months now.  While I was losing weight I weighed weekly – why not when it’s going in the direction that makes you feel great, right?  When I got to a healthy weight for me I got a little messed up in the head.  I wasn’t losing anymore so I didn’t have that number to define my “success” for the week.  At one point, I think I wanted to lose a little more, but in order to do that I was going to have to be crazy strict with eating – no extras.  I did try that but I wasn’t happy doing that, which would lead to bingeing on less than desirable foods.  I didn’t need to lose anymore but I needed something to tell me that all the work I was doing was doing something.  So I started focusing more on strength and what I could do with my body.   I’m sure I’ll weigh myself at some point again, but for right now I’m choosing to not let that number consume me.  As long as my pants fit – I’m good with that.

Tell us about your eating habits.

I began following a nutrition program last spring.  It’s not really a diet, it’s more about teaching you what foods are better fuel and in what portion.

For breakfast I almost always eat 2 eggs with mushrooms, onions, peppers.  I love making egg muffins ahead and then I all I have to do in the morning is heat them up. Each muffin equals one egg and 1/2 cup of veggies.  I eat at least two egg muffins. I also eat toast or fresh fruit with my eggs in the morning.  For my morning/post workout snack I drink a protein shake combined with kale and banana.  Lunch is generally a protein, veggie, and carb like a huge plate full of greens with chicken breast, quinoa, feta cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing.  Afternoon snack is always hard for me, I crave crackers and snack foods.  I try to choose an apple with peanut butter or toast with avocado smeared all over it.  Sometimes it’s  plain oatmeal with strawberries.  Dinner is also a protein, veggie, and carb combo.  I like turkey chili, turkey meatloaf, or simply a big hunk of meat with sautéed veggies and brown rice.  If I go a little crazy about at a meal or for a whole day I tell myself, I ate what I ate and move on.

Be honest, everyone has a favorite food indulgence…what’s yours?

Do I have to pick one?  I love food!  I like sweets and any chip with a dip.  Salty starchy foods are a comfort food to me.  I used to get excited for when the kids were in bed – it was like a license to binge on junk food!  I still eat chips and sweets, but I try to not keep them in the house.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone beginning a body or life transformation, what would it be?

Find some sort of movement that you at least kind of like and make it a priority.  Don’t let it be something you can cross off your schedule because something else came up. Also don’t give up on your day or your plan if you indulged more than you intended to.  Just move on.

How have you changed since beginning your journey?

I feel happier!  I’ve begun to see myself for what I can do instead of what I don’t like.  I think I don’t let the little things bother me as much as they used to.  I’m more of fun as a mom (and wife too!).  Since I began taking better care of my fitness and nutrition I have noticed that I take better care of what’s in my head.  When negative thoughts about the way I look creep into my head it’s easier for me to throw them out now.

Wait….just one more item we need cleared up…True or false: You check out your “gun show” in the mirror every once in a while.

You know it!! You gotta check out the pipes every once in a while!  My kids even check out their “gun show” once in a while!

Anything else you would like to share?

As a stay at home mom of 3, I know how hard it can be to get to the gym to exercise.  When I first started working out my kids were so little it was hard to do anything other than workout at home.  For me, doing workouts at home is doable, even with my kiddos running around and climbing all over me.  It may seem daunting to try to fit exercise into a busy schedule but it doesn’t have to be long.  When I first started sometimes my workouts were only 20 min.  Eventually my kids got used to our schedule and they know that after breakfast mom’s going to exercise.  It’s not perfect everyday.  Some days I have to stop to change a poopy diaper or get someone water or break up a fight.  The more I kept exercise as part of our day the easier it got for everyone.

Jackie, thank you SO MUCH for sharing a little bit about you and your life!  You are very real about the fun stuff and about the not-so-fun stuff, and it is so much fun having you a part of my tribe!

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


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