J’s blog: Teaching my grandmother how to suck eggs

Hello, my friends. In this blog, I wanted to share with you, some musings as I continue my “journey” in healthy (ish) eating and fitness. Wisdom indeed, young grasshoppers, so read and learn and laugh at my attempts to impart things I have learned over the years and you already know and thus, I’m probably teaching my grandmother to suck eggs. (that’s a real phrase by the way.)

  1. Healthy cooking isn’t actually hard. When I first got married, at the ripe old age of 37, I told my husband that I wasn’t a good cook. I was so used to not cooking properly. I could make a boiled egg, and pasta casserole, and lived on a lot of Findus Crispy Pancakes, bacon sarnies and frozen oven fries and toast…but mostly I didn’t really cook for myself. My last apartment was above a hardware store and next door to a local Chinese/Chippy (fish and chips), so I may not have been a good cook, but I was an EXCELLENT customer of the shop next door. However, when I did get married, I had a year of unemployment and so started cooking, using recipe books and drawing on the creativity and experimentation I had used as a little kid. (Ask my mum about the cupcakes I made with lurid purple coloured and lemon essence icing and grated cheese on the top!) I discovered that I loved to cook, and was pretty good at it. I just hadn’t really tried properly before. American cookbooks are awesome, as they give measurements like “a cup of” and “a teaspoon of” rather than the British ones that are all, “4 grams of” and “6 ml of” – ain’t nobody got time for all that weighing out!

Anyway – to get to the point; Cooking really isn’t hard. Veggies and proteins and good fats are easy to cook. You don’t have to be complicated in cooking healthy food. The more you do it, the easier it is. As I keep saying, “spices and herbs are your friends”. Just having basic herbs and spices, lemons & limes and good fats and oils will help you to transform chicken, fish, beef and veggies into meals fit for a king, and extremely good for your well being. My favourite thing to do is to preheat the oven to 400F, put a piece of salmon in a baking tin, with a little olive oil, garlic and a squeeze of lemon. Lay asparagus in another baking tin, with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Chuck both in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. As easy as that.

  1. You’re never too old to try something new. The saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is simply untrue. If it were true, we would never bother with trying anything.

At age 37, I packed all my worldly goods and got on a plane to new adventures: emigrating to the USA and getting married to a man I’d met online two years earlier. Both of us were talking this morning about how we had met, how he had been determined that he would never date, let alone marry an Englishwoman and how I had been vocal as a single 30-something that I would never EVER marry an American and that I would never want to live in the USA. 15 years later, married to our deal-breakers, we’re still going strong and enjoy our own ongoing adventures.

For Dan’s 50th birthday, back in 2008, we got up at an ungodly hour to drive to Queensbury on a freezing late October morning. My gift to him was a sunrise hot air balloon ride. As we ascended with just a wicker basket between us and the rapidly disappearing frost-ridden terra firma, my feelings zigzagged between excitement, wonder and genuine terror. However, the stillness of the morning, the sun rising, the sound of a distant train, the sight of another hot air balloon miles away, and of a herd of deer running through the trees below wiped away the fear. It was so beautiful up there. I was so glad we did it. Our landing was a different matter…the wind had got up, the basket bumped and capsized on the landing and I ended up face down in frosty grass with my husband tumbled on top of me, both of us laughing so much, we could barely get up.

Back in 2012, at age 47, I was fed up with treadmills and exercise machines at the local gym and wanted to try something different; something that didn’t make me feel like I was torturing or boring myself. I’d been to exercise classes and hated them. Doing the same exercises on gym machines was boring. I found Nancy and kettlebells. It was something completely new to me. And I loved it from the start. Who would have thought that I would be able to deadlift 265lb? To flip a 490lb tire? To pull a flippin’ airplane!?? To take part in Strong(wo)man challenges? To swing The Beast? And more importantly, 5 years later, still love doing this without any waning in interest? Nancy and the other trainers are always pushing, challenging, changing things up and keeping things interesting. We’ve learned all kinds of things and gained not only in strength, but in friendships and self esteem.

And now at age 52, I’m trying something else new to me – striking and conditioning classes have started at TKFC. I’m not the most coordinated when it comes to kicking and punching, but I am thoroughly enjoying it! With my heavy bag MMA gloves, I feel like a bad-ass. A slightly slow, and possibly quite ungainly bad-ass but one just the same!

I’ve learned that trying new things can bring up all kinds of emotions: fear, excitement, uncertainty, exhilaration – and it’s so worth it. So many of you reading this have done far more than I have; you know how it is. To those of you who let fear of the unknown, or worries about what people may think – go for it. You don’t want to look back on your life wishing “if only”. Even if it’s a small thing, go and try it. If it doesn’t work out, at least you tried. If it does work out – woohoo!! And that’s advice I have to continually give to myself.

  1. Don’t worry about what others think: I was an awkward teenager. At high school, I was always worried about what people thought of me. I was very fortunate in that I had friends who were loyal, but I tried hard not to rock the status quo. I didn’t want to be different. I wanted to fit in. I lived in dread of being one of the kids who had rumours circulated about them. I don’t know how kids get through school nowadays. I take my hat off to you. Even as a young adult out in the working world, I worried about whether people liked me for me, or if they were just putting up with me and too polite to say otherwise. I had fun with my friends, sure, but cared about what people thought of me. I didn’t want to put a foot wrong, or look stupid in front of others. I still remember going out with a group of friends one night and as I left a pub with them, I heard a guy say to another one, “Who let the fat people out tonight?” with a nod towards me. I was devastated. Now I look back, I realise I actually wasn’t fat, and what that guy’s comments said more about him than me,  but those words followed me around for years. I dressed in a way that didn’t show my body off. I wore loose blouses, long skirts, trousers. Things that didn’t accentuate my curves or everything that was wrong with my body.

Today, most of the time, I don’t give a rat’s furry backside what people think. Of course, you always want to show off your best side and at work be the best professional you can be. But seriously? Life’s too short to let others dictate how you feel about yourself. I have to say, that in my 50’s, I feel like I’ve come into my own as a strong woman (in all senses of that word). I know that I have friends who “get” me and like me for who I am. I know that I can be irritating, and annoying. But, I am also loyal. I love to sing out loud, I dance around the house to music that others would laugh at, I embarrass poor Dan in traffic by pretending to play the sax solo when George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” comes on the radio. (However, he can be just as silly as me.) I enjoy being ridiculous and having fun. I enjoy being strong. Maybe I’ll never be a size 6 but I don’t care as long as I’m healthy and strong. I don’t apologise so much for being me. Please don’t think that this came instantly to me once I hit 50. It’s still a work in progress, but so very freeing. Of course I have days when I feel like crap and don’t like myself much, but those days get fewer and fewer, the older I get. It’s pretty awesome that I actually like myself. I want to encourage you, especially as a woman, to embrace all the good things that make you, you in a world that tries to put you in a box and make you feel less than you are.

So there you go. These have been my thoughts over the past couple of weeks. I’m grateful to know people who aren’t afraid to try new things and who enjoy being themselves. You’ve taught me a whole lot and I’m thankful.
If you see me in traffic, playing a pretend sax solo to the sounds of George Michael, or trying to channel Adele, please join in….. In the meantime, stay strong – J x

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J’s blog: Wrestling with the sugar dragon

Sugar….da nana na na…oh, honey, honey dana nana na na…you know the song by the Archies? Sugar has been on my mind and on my lips the past couple of months. Yes, the sugar dragon of my soul has been awakened and roams the candy aisles of stores looking for its next fix. This has been detrimental to my health, my mind and my waistline. I’ve been wearing what I call my “fat pants” to work every day: different top, same pants, hoping that no one has noticed.

It’s my own fault. I got cocky. I thought I had this beat. Hey, I’ve been losing weight, and getting stronger – a piece of Lindt creamy chocolate’s not going to hurt…. What? How is the whole wrapper empty? I fancy some Hagen Daazs Coffee Icecream. A couple of scoops ain’t gonna derail me. What? How is that pint carton empty already? Twizzlers! I haven’t had Twizzlers in ages. One Twizzler does not ruin my health. Huh? Where did my Twizzlers all go? And we know that answer to those questions don’t we? All that sugar has gone into my body.

Sugar is so addictive, isn’t it? We laugh about it – “Yeah, my name’s Jeannette, and I’m a chocoholic”. But seriously, sugar addiction is easy to fall into and hard to get out of. Have you ever watched the documentary “Fed Up”? It’s a pretty eye opening film about sugar and how so much of it is in our food. Obesity is on the rise and yet, sugar, especially in the form of high fructose corn syrup is in most everything. You give a lab rat sugar and cocaine, the rats will choose the sugar over the cocaine. It’s that addicting. Is it any wonder so many of us struggle with health and weight loss? I hold my hand up. I cannot eat sugar in moderation. After doing about four Whole 30s now and feeling great after each one, I am still a slave to sugar. I can go without it and not miss it, but then something happens. And I’m a goner. I kid myself that I have food freedom. That I can eat a creme egg, and enjoy it and not want any more. But that’s a pile of poo. Sugar is one of my demons. I know, I know, this is sounding all so dramatic, but for me it really is a complete struggle. I know the answers. Before reaching for that candy, stop. Think. What is compelling me to reach for it? Am I stressed out? Yes. Will sugar help in the long run? No, but gimme, gimme! And so the cycle continues…until I suddenly dig my heels in and give myself a good talking to.

This past month, I decided that I was going to give up bread and sugar because I wanted to be nice to my work pants. The first week actually went ok. The second week was almost just as good but then Panera Bread happened. I had salad and soup. The girl asked me if I wanted bread or an apple as my side. I said I didn’t want a side. They gave me a side. A huge chunk of their crusty baguette. I threw it away. No I didn’t…I ate the flippin’ thing. All of it. I practically attacked it like a starving dog pouncing on a juicy steak. Our office had donuts given to us by a travel firm. I stayed away from the donut table. No I didn’t…I made a beeline to that table waaaaay at the back of the office and fished out a donut with day-glo pink frosting and little flower things sprinkled all over it.

The stupid thing is, I know what I’m doing, and how it’s going to affect me, but my eyes get as glazed as the donut I’m eating and then afterward, I feel like crap. What can I say? I’m a work in progress. But I dwell on my muffin top, and the fact that my clothes don’t fit and wish I was two sizes smaller. It’s my health that suffers too. Sleepless nights, afternoon sugar crashes, mood swings, lethargy and irritability and a general sense of feeling not quite right. They are the main things I should remember when my sugar dragon rears its ugly, scaly head, not just the calorie thing.

The silly thing is, I love fresh, healthy food – the taste of lime juice, a crisp salad with goat cheese, a small medium-rare steak with grilled asparagus, fresh berries, olives, avocados. Why am I seduced by sugar so easily? It’s not like it even satisfies. Well, that’s where I am at the moment, working hard to stay on track, telling myself, I only have one body to live in and I need to treat it well if it’s going to be able to do what I want it to do.

The GOOD news is that I am feeling the benefits of working on my shoulders more consistently. A lot more rolling and shoulder warm ups have meant that Military presses the other night didn’t have me waking up the next day having problems with my right arm and shoulder. Nancy has commented that my shoulders have become a lot less rounded and more open. I’ve noticed the difference in the way my blouses and t-shirts look. Deadlifts are still on the agenda, working my way up the ladder to more reps of heavier weights. After kettlebells, sandbags and deadlifts in the past week, I came home on Saturday to do some yard work. Hauling out the long pruning shears from the garage, I proceeded to prune seven Rose of Sharon trees in our back yard to within an inch of their lives. Some of the branches were as thick as my wrists (and I have thick wrists), but I felt so bad-ass when my neighbour offered to lend me a saw but with some grit, breathing properly and some Wonder Woman strength, I just lopped those branches off with those big ol’ pruning secateurs. My pecs were certainly feeling it the next day though and my Rose of Sharon trees are looking very ….naked.

Thursday nights at The Kettlebell Fitness Center from 6-7pm continue to be fun as we work through a mix of kettlebell and sandbag disciplines at “Bags and Bells with Bev”. My favorite sandbag movement at the moment is the snatch, and the clean and press has really been helping with my shoulders when strict military presses with the bell have proved more difficult for me. We’ve had a couple of new people join us these evenings, with friendly insults being traded, Bev’s 90s hip-hop station being  blasted out and a lot of sweat flying around. Come down and join in. You’ll love it! (Perhaps not the flying sweat bit, but the rest is awesome!)

Just want to finish off with a recipe I’ve done before, but it’s so easy and amazingly tasty, that you will make it many times. Smoky Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs from Practical Paleo. Basically sprinkle the chicken with a smoky spice rub (which is in the recipe), wrap them in a couple of bacon rashers and chuck them in the oven for around 40 minutes. That’s as simple as it gets. To go with it, I made quick salsa. Chopped up a couple of roma tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, garlic and a few slices bottled jalapenos. Added some lime juice and chopped parsley. Delicious, zingy and extremely easy – combined with the smoky chicken, it was sublime.

Well I’m off to NOT eat sugar. I’ve found that I like cracking pepitas (pumpkin seeds) open with m’teeth. Possibly not very ladylike, but hey, whatever works, right AND a ¼ cup gives you 9g of protein. Not a sugar molecule in sight!

Until next time, stay strong and stay OFF the sugar!

J x

 

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J’s blog: Snow and stress removal courtesy of kettle bells

Remember last blog when I said that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb? How was that lion’s roar of a snowstorm for you? Our road is still basically one lane. If someone is trying to turn into it but someone else is coming out, you have no chance. Remember the tale of Sisyphus, the mythical guy condemned for eternity to roll a boulder up to the top of the mountain, only to have it roll back down again, ad nauseum? Well, that’s who I felt like the other day. I quite like shovelling snow. I really do. But one afternoon, I got home from work, and had to shovel that hard, frozen, boulder packed snow from the bottom of my driveway. I then parked the car and went inside to put dinner in the oven, feeling all warm inside from the exercise and from knowing that my hard working hubs wouldn’t have to tackle it when he got home from a long day’s work. However, I looked out of the window at my handiwork a few minutes later, only to let out a strangled scream. Albany’s finest plow truck had just gone down our road and left an even huger pile of frozen, dirty, bouldery snow at the end of my driveway. It came up to my hips. I kid you not. Donning my cheap 10 year old Walmart snow boots once more, I spent the next hour slicing and dicing that sucker of a snow pile. How glad I was for The Kettlebell Fitness Center that afternoon. My shoulders, core, glutes and legs got a mighty fine workout and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I made short work of that Sisyphean boulder, and was even able to go on and help my neighbour make short shrift of his own snow boulders!

I guess I should thank the snow for giving me some workouts. I haven’t really been to The Kettlebell Center much the past couple of weeks. A lot of things have been stressing me out a little, and, as much as I say I’m a Drama Queen, I tend to keep my drama outbursts for when I’m on my own and in my head. I internalize a lot of things rather than blurt it all out for everyone and anyone to hear. I don’t like drama. It often makes me shut down and keep away from people. When things are going badly or I’m a little stressed out or am having a bad week, I stuff my feelings down inside, along with bread, chocolate, McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish and fries, Cadbury Creme Eggs, bagels, pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting….wait a gosh danged minute….is this stuff I’ve been eating? Oh, yes my friends. Since my last blog, this has been on my menu and on my waistline and hips, resulting in very tight jeans, feeling fed up, sick, a fitness/paleo blogging hypocrite and an unwillingness to don funky leggings and go see my friends at the Kettlebell Fitness Center for fun, community and a bloody good workout. But by Saturday, my body was screaming at me to let it go and exercise please and stop making it a prisoner just because I was feeling like crap.

So I grumpily grabbed some workout leggings, a baggy t-shirt and hauled myself down to the center for open gym, armed with high test coffee and a bad attitude. Hey, Nancy and Beverly- just a little advice: stop greeting me with love and friendliness like you’re happy to see me – it’s hard to keep a grump on when you’re welcoming like that. I can’t wallow if you’re glad that I’ve come by! (Just remember that, folks. People are glad to see you when you walk in the door, so be warned that your attitude might melt, like the Wicked Witch of the West did when splashed with water.) Even after being in this community for the past 4 or 5 years, I’m still amazed at how working out is such an amazing antidote for stress, depression, grumpiness and over indulgence in foods that are not helpful to your health. I walked out an hour and a half later feeling so much better in body, mind and spirit. I’d done 4 sets of different sandbag disciplines, heavy swings and learnt a new kettlebell exercise: Kettlebell rockers. It was kind of like skiing with kettlebells, trying to keep your core and lower body balanced as you swung two kettlebells back and forth alongside your hinged body. I think it’s my new favourite!

Last Monday, we had the monthly Kettlebell Fitness Center’s Good Food Club, and I think everyone agreed, it was some of the yummiest food yet. We started off with a wonderful beet, goat cheese, mushroom and avocado salad with dressing, followed by a beautiful lemon dill soup, we had spicy ground chicken curry topped with baby kale and chopped cashews, lentil and black bean burgers, swedish meatballs, peppers stuffed with ground beef and cauliflower rice in a marinara sauce, and a rich, dark chocolate chia pudding and paleo lemon cupcakes to finish. A couple of glasses of red wine, lots of laughter and good conversation made this Monday night such a pleasure. Geri was kind enough to email me the recipe for the lemon cupcakes (they really were the bee’s knees). So for your gustatory pleasure, I’m passing it on: http://www.pbfingers.com/paleo-lemon-cupcakes/

Last month, I said I would give you a recipe for fajitas that I use a lot. I found this recipe in the September 2009 edition of Hannaford’s free “Fresh” magazine and have used it ever since. I have never bought the packet fajita mix since finding this recipe. I recently made it and adapted it to be more paleo friendly, and found that substituting coconut aminos for both the sugar and the worcestershire sauce was fine, as coconut aminos is pretty sweet anyway. Dan has them with whole wheat soft tortillas, but I just add avocado, or spicy guacamole to mine.

To make the fajita marinade (that you can use for chicken or red meat) you need:

1 tbspn extra virgin olive oil

3 tbspn fresh lime juice

1 tbspn plus 4 tspn coconut aminos

½ tspn cumin powder

Pinch of red pepper flakes (or if you like it a little hotter, add some more to taste or throw some Frank’s Red Hot sauce in)

1 tbspn minced fresh cilantro. (I add a little more and sometimes mix it with minced parsley)

Whisk those ingredients up and then add 3 cups cooked chicken (for time’s sake, I buy a fresh organic rotisserie chicken and shred that up) If you’re going to use steak, sear it on both sides before slicing thinly and putting it in the marinade. The lime juice will help “cook” it further. I marinade it for around 15 minutes, with cling film over the top of the bowl.

Chop up some brightly coloured peppers and a red onion and cook them on high in your beautifully seasoned cast iron skillet. Don’t move them about too much, because you want to get a slightly sizzled scorch on the pepper skins, but stir once the bottom layer is sizzling nicely. Once your veggies are cooked, pour the marinated meat and the marinade into the skillet, mixing it up with the peppers and onion. Done. Badabing. Bob’s your uncle. The fat lady has sung. That’s all she wrote. It’s that easy.

If you want soft tortillas, this will make 4 fajitas. Add your favourite toppings, whether it be sour cream for those who love diary. Or add a dollop of chunky guacamole, or sliced avocado. And don’t forget to clean your skillet with some hot water, and rough sea salt before drying well and wiping down with some oil, ready for your next sensational dish.

Next weekend, the ever-lovin’ and I will be in Maine for 4 days, celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary, away from work and by the majestic Atlantic. Maine at the end of winter is glorious. Cold, sunny and lots of beach walks to the sound of pounding waves. Good for blowing away the cobwebs and clearing the mind.

Until next time, stay strong. Stay positive (that’s for me), and keep walking on the path of health and fitness. If you fall off, get back on (that piece of advice is also for me).

  • J x
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J’s Blog: How the Kettlebell Fitness Center taught me to open a door

A couple of weeks ago, my husband bought me a gift for no reason. Bless his Hanes socks. He gets me…after nearly 15 years of marriage, he finally gets me. The gift was a coffee mug, with the logo; “I love you more than coffee…but not before coffee.” I’ve always been this way. Please don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee. But, I’ve come to realise over the past couple of years, it’s not about the actual coffee. It’s about how people start their day. Dan is normally awake at 5am, gets out of bed and is happy. He will chat nineteen to the dozen if someone is about to listen. He will chat, and walk about and be as happy as a cat with paper and a box to play with. However, I need silence in the morning, and my own space. I need an hour to pootle about on my own, not having to talk. I get up, make breakfast and coffee, watch the news and talk to no one. It’s how I am. This is how I wake up. The coffee is an excuse. A delicious, leave me alone excuse. And I thank my husband for such a thoughtful gift. When he starts chattering away to me first thing, I just silently raise my new mug up, as if to toast him and he can read it and leave me the heck alone.

So, two months into 2017 and we’re still going strong, right? You’re hanging in there, working out, enjoying life and building others up? I’ve been working on the last thing over the past few months and talked about it in the last blog. And I’ve noticed something; when I tell someone something I like about them, or compliment them on what they’re wearing, how they’re doing or encouraging them, I forget about myself and what I don’t like about myself. It’s like,  the more generous you are with your heart in uplifting others, the more generous you want to be. And the more generous and true with your heart and compliments and encouragement you want to be, the less you worry about what others think about you. It’s a strange but true phenomenon. Even if others don’t reciprocate, you don’t notice. I like it. I like it a lot.

At the Kettlebell Center, PRs are abounding like never before, whether with military presses, squats, get ups or planks – we are an awesome bunch. A lot of people have been working hard on progressions with their presses, and are rocking their PRs like it’s their daytime job! Due to the ongoing dodgy shoulder, presses are out for me, and so I’ve been working on my deadlift progressions. I’m excited to see how much I will be able to deadlift after working through the different sets!

However, I’ve managed to tweak my lower back a little a couple of times, and have been wondering if it’s because I’ve stopped concentrating on what I’m doing. When I’m deadlifting, all kinds of things are running through my head. “Are my feet planted correctly?… What about my hands?…. Are my lats engaged and ready?… Have I taken that breath and pushed out my diaphragm ready to drive my feet through the floor as I lift?… Does my butt look big in these leggings?… Oh crap! Did I pay the electric bill this week?… Ooh! I LOVE this song!

As you can see, when thoughts (other than the ones that help you concentrate on the task in hand) start crowding in, concentration lapses for a little bit and then when I actually start lifting, that lapse can cause  something to go a little bit wrong.

DiamondPlate™ Anodized Door Sign

When we train at TKFC, we try to incorporate movements such as these: Push, Pull, Hinge, Squat, Carry. I was thinking about this the other day at work. We don’t “think” about how we open a door (for example), but after going through that same door for the fifth time that day in the same way and feeling that familiar wee tweak in my lower back, I realised again that functional exercise plays a part in everyday things and I was not using that functional exercise properly. I find that when I push a door (one of those pneumatic closing types) open, I always turn sideways and help it along with my hip. Why? I’m capable of opening a door and keeping it open with my hand and arm as I walk through. But in my laziness, I just keep it open with a twist of spine and a bump of my hip. I always do this. So I started “mindfully” opening the doors, pulling it towards me or pushing it away, depending on which way I was going. I’m sure I looked weird, as a couple of times, I repeated it until I was happy with the way I opened that darned door! (yes, this is the kind of stuff that could get me sent away in a strait-jacket!) But you will be pleased to know that I also lifted a heavy laundry basket at home with an intake and exhale of breath that would satisfy the most hardcore of kettlebell swingers!

This past week, my cast iron skillet has been put to a LOT of use. I love my skillet. I even posted a photo of it on my instagram and Facebook account on Sunday because it is truly a thing of beauty. This thing has had nearly 10 years of seasoning. I use it as a roasting tin, as a frying pan, even to make pies. Many of us who cook and eat paleo use our skillets with pride and often.

Sure, I’ve burned my fingers on the handle when I’ve not been thinking, and yes, I went through the early stages of wondering what “seasoning the skillet” meant. (I actually thought it meant that you rub it down with oil and pepper and salt!) Yes. That was me. But now I feel I’m a skillet aficionado.

A lot of people view the skillet with suspicion. They don’t like cooking with it because it’s not “non-stick”, but believe me, with use and love, it will become your go-to pan. Here’s the thing: when I first got my skillet,  I would fill it up with hot water and dish soap after using it,  and leave for a while until the sticky bits would come off. I would get little rust stains on it. However, since following instructions and asking fellow skillet users how they achieved skillet nirvana, I have been rewarded with a pan that loves me back and has become a beautiful object in my kitchen, radiating goodness and love, and deliciously cooked food.

So, let me share the secrets of the skillet squad. We do not like to use a lot of soapy water to clean our skillets. Most of us use a little hot water and coarse sea salt to clean it. You heard correctly – coarse sea salt. The salt acts as a scrubber and helps get off the sticky bits. You will see the salt change colour as it absorbs the left over food and liquids in the bottom of the pan. Once you have scrubbed with the salt, rinse with hot water and wipe dry with a cloth.

After drying, put it on a stove top ring and turn it on to finish drying it off. (This is to avoid any rust stains from appearing due to any water left in the pan) When it’s dry, I add a little oil (coconut, light olive oil or avocado oil) and with a paper towel, oil the skillet, wiping away any excess. I then continue to heat the pan. (This has the trick of hardening some of the oil to the pan – some like to put it in the oven at the highest temperature to do this, but I’m too lazy). After heating again, I put a little more oil on a paper towel and give it a final spare coat, wiping way any excess again. Done. It’s ready for the next time.

If you keep doing this, you will find that your pan responds to this loving care, and in turn, will look after you. It will proudly turn out food that people will want to come back for.  One last tip…be sparing if you cook with balsamic vinegar. The acid in it can strip away the oils you’ve built up over time.

By the way? Those delicious roasted potatoes? I cooked them in duck fat. I started them off on the stovetop in the skillet and just transferred it all to the oven for about 45 minutes at 375 deg. I found the rendered duck fat at ShopRite along with Grass Fed beef tallow Pork Lard. All made by Epic, which is Whole30 and Paleo approved! The potatoes came out all fluffy on the inside and very crispy and deliciously flavoured on the outside. In fact, they tasted (indulge my poor pun here) epic! And the best thing was that when I cleaned my skillet afterward, it was a breeze due to the buildup of fats on it…and now I have a thin layer of duck fat on it!

So that, my friends, brings us to the end of February. March is known to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. I wonder what it will have in store for us.

Next month, I will have a recipe for chicken fajitas that I found in a Hannaford magazine but adapted to make it Paleo. You will never buy packet fajita mix again.

Until then, stay strong in all things, practice your door opening skills and dust off your skillets!

  • J
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J’s Blog: What I learned from the Super Bowl

February. Ah, February. The month of the Super Bowl, (and yes, I have used this picture before in a previous blog, but it never fails to amuse me), the month of the strangely immortal 123 year old Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadow….again! It’s the month where we wonder if we’re ever going to see Spring and sunshine ever again. It’s the month of Love and it’s the month that I become a year older, wiser, and more fabulous..

In case you didn’t notice, the Super Bowl was on the other Sunday night. It was TOTALLY a game worth watching, even to a Brit who doesn’t understand the rules and only watches the Super Bowl and none of the games leading up to it. How exciting was it? Who was sitting on the edge of their seat with their heart in their mouth? Everyone. Everyone. Except for you over there on the other side of the pond, unless you stayed up to watch…but probably didn’t.

Let’s talk about the halftime show. I like Lady Gaga. I have one of her CDs (I’m so old) with Tony Bennett (yes, I’m old) and appreciate her artistry and talent but I wouldn’t say I’m a lifetime mahoosive fan. However, I thought she did an amazing job at the halftime show. Amazing. I read that she had been working out a whole lot and had a mini gym installed at the stadium so she could continue to work out in order to be able to jump, fly, dance, basically provide a high energy half time show to entertain us all, singing all the way through without losing her breath, without going off tune and without lip syncing. She was spectacular. Who amongst us can run at a good clip for 15 minutes and talk, let alone sing?. Who amongst us can swing a kettlebell for 2 minutes and talk at the same time without losing our wind?

So, it was in complete disbelief, and not without a little anger that later on that week,  I heard a woman I don’t know very well, remark on the halftime show by saying vehemently, “I thought she was terrible, letting her disgusting flab hang out like that!”

What? What flab? What hadn’t I noticed? I didn’t know what she was talking about. I wondered if we had watched the same half time show. I had thought she looked amazing, that she looked strong, healthy and very importantly, completely in her element, doing what she loves and does best. My first immediate thought was, “Why are you so angry about it?”, followed by, “As a woman – as a person,  you would hate someone talking like that about you, so why pick another woman to pieces like that?”

Later on that day, I came across a Facebook Post by Molly Galbraith of Girls Gone Strong that said it perfectly as she responded to some nasty online criticism (from men) of Gaga’s body: “Her body is none of anyone’s damn business but hers!” That hit the nail on the head. Seriously, why do we as women bash other women and particularly their bodies? We’re not in competition with each other and yet so often we put each other down. I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another either in thought OR word. It can get to be an insidious habit. And as a habit, it’s a downward spiral. It really says much more about who we are than the person whose body we’re pulling to pieces. And while I’m at it (because I’m so good at this one), why do we pull ourselves to pieces as well? Why have we conditioned ourselves to beat ourselves up? My reason is that I do it before anyone else can get that kick in. What’s your reason?

I don’t have any answers to the questions I’m posing. I don’t pretend to be a great thinker or wise sage. This isn’t a deep blog. I leave that to others. I’m sure that much has been written on the subject. I just wanted to ask the questions, because the angry woman really got to me. I felt gobsmacked, sad and tired and started questioning my own thoughts and words and reactions, which I guess is a good thing?

I feel fortunate that at the Kettlebell Fitness Center, this is not a common problem amongst the men or women who attend classes. We don’t hear it. (I want to give a shout out to the men who train at The Kettlebell Center. They are some of our best encouragers!) We come in, we warm up, we do our stuff, we yell encouragement to each other, we whine when Nancy wants one more round, but we do not pull each other to pieces.  Life is hard enough. We are all at different stages in our lives, job wise, health wise, fitness wise, body wise. And we are all different and wonderful human beings.

In fact, all of us at The Kettlebell Fitness Center are getting more fabulous as time goes on. I was looking back at some old photos of us all, and I can see the difference between then and now in each and every one of us. Sometimes we don’t see the ongoing changes in ourselves as we see our bodies in the mirror every day, many of us picking out what we imagine to be flaws. Sometimes it takes fresh eyes, or the eyes of someone else to notice the subtle but ever growing changes. So I want to throw out a challenge to us all. In the next couple of weeks, encourage someone. Tell them something that you really like, love or admire about them. Build them up. You don’t know how many people are struggling right now just to keep it together, who are discouraged by life, by their health, their fitness level, their job, their eating habits. An encouraging word can make a huge difference. It might be something that they need to hear. Something that will cause them to keep on going.

Be kind to yourself also. Give yourself some slack. Don’t be so hard on yourself. This week I was struggling with get ups again. Nancy showed me some corrections to help me from putting unneeded pressure on my shoulders. My immediate response was, “have I been doing it wrong all this time?” feeling like a failure, instead of “OK, this is helping. Thanks Nancy!!” It’s so easy to be negative about oneself, isn’t it? So I’ll just leave this here: my shoulders and upper arms are looking pretty good at the moment. *grin* See? I can do this. I can encourage myself.

I’m sorry that there are no food photos or recipes this week. I just wanted to get this off my chest. I want to be an encourager of others, especially my fellow women. If it’s something that doesn’t come naturally to you, try it on for size. Let me know how you get on, or if you felt it impacted someone positively, or if you were the recipient of encouragement or compliment, how did it make you feel?

I turn 52, the day after Valentine’s Day, and I’m going to make sure this year counts as the year I build others up, offer support, encouragement and to continue to work on myself to become extra faaaabulous dahlinks!

Go. Go do it. And if you are one of the few who didn’t see Gaga’s halftime show, click on this link. Lady Gaga’s Superbowl Halftime Show You’re welcome. By the way? You’re all awesome and Lady Gaga, you were a flippin’ powerhouse!

  • J
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J’s Blog: January 2017

Happy New Year!! Happy, Happy…. New…so, who felt like they kind of limped over 2016’s finish line in to 2017 for various reasons? I know that I certainly did. The hubs started off the new year with that humdinger of a cold that turned into a sinus infection, complete with incessant coughing and loss of voice. Garlicky chicken and kale soup was our constant companion for a week, and I quickly lost my sympathy and resorted to sleeping in a separate room, as I decided it was the only way our marriage would survive during this pestilent plague. (As you can see, nursing is my real vocation….)

Then, just as I congratulated myself on not succumbing to the dastardly disease, chewing vitamin C like it was my job, I was hit with it. The good news is that mine only lasted a week or so instead of Dan’s 3-4 week stint. And I have to say, he was much more of a sympathetic nurse! It was bad enough that it put paid to working out. I couldn’t summon up the energy to exercise and I certainly didn’t want to cook. I ate what was handy at the time. Lots of cereal and toasted English muffins with poached eggs. By the time we were done with this thing, I looked six months pregnant with bloating and had to start wearing my larger work pants to feel comfortable.

As I blew my nose, and chomped down on throat lozenges, drinking many, many hot toddies to make me well (my excuse for drinking whiskey, with a touch of cloves, lemon, honey and hot water), I scrolled down my Instagram and Facebook feeds, marvelling at all the January Whole 30 denizens, smashing it out of the park with their pretty, fancy schmancy menus. Me? Bitter? Ha! (Beverly Plowucha, you’re doing a fantastic job of your Whole 30!)

However, the cold has finally left me and I’m feeling motivated and ready to take 2017 on. Who’s with me? 2017 is going to be a year of strength, power, bad-assery, health and adventures in so many ways, right?

The Kettlebell Fitness Center has been pretty crowded on Saturday mornings, which lends an atmosphere of motivation and fun. I’ve been working on my deadlifts with a workout that Nancy gave me. 10 reps of a warm up weight, adding 20lb for 8 reps, adding another 20lb for 6, a final 20lb for 4 reps. At the highest weight, do 4 sets of 8-10 reps. After that, put the barbell with the highest weights on a rack or boxes to bring the bar higher, and do 4 sets of 8-10 reps again, interspersed with kettlebell floor presses each side. I love to deadlift…have I told you that? My goal this year is 300lb, whether trap bar or barbell, and I aim to smash it, baby!.

To help get to that goal,  Dan and I moseyed on down to Lowe’s to pick up some interlocking rubber mats for the basement and are in the process of  transferring the barbell and weights we have from the garage, so we can have our own mini-gym down there with the mice and spiders and thousand leggers…which is nice. I am excited to be able to work on my deadlifts (making sure I practice good form of course) outside of class. There is the temptation to try and lift heavier just to make it to the 300 but have learned that form is more important than the weight you lift. Impatient? You bet! Do I want to get injured? Erm…..no.

Last week, I did a huge shop, practically buying out the whole produce section of ShopRite and went home to food prep for the week. Olive Oil Mayo, Artichoke Chimichurri and Zingy Ginger Dressing (my go-to put-that-stuff-on-all-the-things sauces and dressings) were whipped up to the sounds of Louis Prima. A batch of yummy salmon cakes, a roasted chicken, some Greek style kebabs with Grass Fed Ground beef (from Well Fed 2) were next as I warbled along with Amy Winehouse. Red and white cabbage were made into coleslaw, tossed with a mixture of the Mayo and Ginger Dressing with a little Pink Martini music for added ambience. Sauteed Bok Choy and Rainbow Chard with shallots, red pepper flakes and lemon juice was added to the kebabs for dinner that night. Vegetable curry was on the menu for Monday and Tuesday night (with some added chicken for me and wild rice for Dan). It really does make the week easier if you can set aside a couple of hours. I know not everyone can do it, but even just chopping the vegetables for the week ahead, getting garlic pressed or minced, and roasting some veggies in a pan all helps. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and already, I’m feeling the benefits again and have stopped wearing my larger work pants once again. Thrice Huzzah for that!

No resolutions this year, just goals to be awesome where and when I can, just like Kid President (do you follow this kid on Facebook? Check the dude out!)…and to get stronger!

See you in a couple of weeks, my friends! I am going to give you a load of great strength people, websites and Facebook pages to check out, if you’re interested in getting stronger.

Until then, Happy New Year and stay strong and sane!

  • J x
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J’s Blog: Why the Kettlebell Fitness Center is like having Christmas all year long!

As we come to the end of 2016, (some of us perhaps feeling a little bedraggled and worn by the year), I would like to explain to you why being part of The Kettlebell Fitness Center is like experiencing the joys of Christmas all year round. I shall do this very cleverly, and oh, so slightly smugly, in an Acrostic style, sure to please your senses in every way imaginable!

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin….

C is for Community: and what an amazing community this place is – full of people who genuinely care about each other, encourage each other, listen to each other and have lots of fun together. C is also for Crawling (bear, leopard, spider, baby), Champions: the TKFC is chock full of champions who aim for goals and work hard toward reaching them. Cheers: for the champions and for personal records, Celebrations (see Cheers), Corpse poses (after a hard workout) and Cooking (especially when we get together for the Good Food Club once a month, bringing lots of delicious food and enjoying each other’s company…which brings us back to Community).

H is for Health, Happiness, (really, health and happiness seem to like walking hand in hand, don’t they? The healthier you feel, the happier you are. Well, I know that’s how it works for me). Hanging: still working on my pull ups, Hinging: (NOT the same as squats! Remember this important difference), Hip snaps: helping kettlebells to float and strengthening your core since time began and Hugging: yes, we respect peoples’ personal space, but we also hug – ‘cos we really like each other!

R is for Rows (renegade and lunge), Round the Worlds, Ropes: (ladies, just remember to wear a sports bra in case Nancy tells you to do Jumping Jacks whilst using the battle ropes), Refreshment (drink it if you’ve got it!), Rolling: always a good thing to do after a hard workout. Rest: not a bad thing. Sometimes you just have to take it down a notch, and we always appreciate the 15 seconds between sets. Records: we love seeing others set themselves new Personal Records. We record it and celebrate it, and hug, and jump, and cheer and dance. Refuge: sometimes this place and community is a refuge to come to after a crappy week, or day when you want to be in a place with friends (where everybody knows your name) and take your stress out on those chunks of cast iron.

I is for Inspiration; we are inspired by our trainers, and by the progress of others. Intensity: especially those 15:15 finishers after an already tough workout! Impressive: seeing people achieve feats of strength that they didn’t think they were capable of. Influence: see Inspiration. Seriously, we are inspired and influenced by our peers and trainers who help us go on to great things! Information: Understanding why we hinge, why we snap, why we engage our core helps us to improve our form and strength. I Go You Go: helps us challenge each other and ourselves. We don’t want to be the first to give up!  Interest: our trainers ALWAYS keep class interesting and different.

S is for Swings, Squats, Suitcase Carries, Sandbags, Sleds, Stones, Snatches, Skull Crushers: (all great moves and disciplines that help us become the fine tuned athletes we are turning in to. Sass: the amount of bad-assery and sass makes for fun and sometimes loud, hilarious classes. Strong(wo)men Challenges: where we amaze each other and the public with what we can do, and how strong we are, raising money for local causes.  Sweat: lots of it. LOTS. Strength: each one of us is getting stronger every day and in every way. And (as Martha Stewart says)…It’s a good thing.

T is for Trainers and Training : all of them are awesome and have their own way of training and helping us become healthy and strong people. Transformation: looking back over the past couple of years, I see how my body has been transformed from a flabby, unhealthy thing to an ongoing process of strength and beauty! I’m learning to appreciate myself. (I have collar bones and muscles and less fat!), TRX: to help our core and balance. These straps can be great tools in building mobility and strength. Trying: and trying and trying again. Tire Flips, Truck Pulling and Trap Bars.

M is for Muscle, Movement, Magnificence, Military Presses, Music and Much Merriment

 

 

 

 

A is for Attitude, Ability, Agility, Airplane pulling,  All Ages, All Sizes, All Shapes

S is for the Super Star who has built this community that is CHRISTMAS for us all year round…

Thank you Nancy for all you do for us, and all you are to us. We hold you very dear in our hearts and love you to pieces.

Here’s to CHRISTMAS all year long in 2017!!

 

 

 

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J’s Blog: Reasons to remember the month of November (in December)

I know, I know. You were waiting with bated breath for November’s blog and I didn’t deliver. But you got to see the recent superstar interview with the amazing Geri Bunn instead, so that is a completely awesome plus, in my book!

It has been a crazy month for most everybody and a “weirdly horrible but hidden blessing” kind of last couple of weeks for me. We’ve had “The Election” of the century, and I was unexpectedly laid off from a place I’ve worked at for nine years. So it’s been a tad stressful. Well, when I say “a tad”, I mean full blown inner meltdown, scrambling to find work, blood pressure rocketing, hyperventilation tad. I have not been unemployed since I started part time work at the age of fifteen at Boots the Chemist (think CVS or Rite Aid with two floors) whilst at high school. Except for waiting for my work permit when I first moved to the USA, I have not been unemployed. It’s a scary place to be.

So, this Thanksgiving, I was very thankful for a supportive husband and family and a wonderful community of friends at the Kettlebell Fitness Center who have been amazing; from lending listening ears, offering sound advice and being willing to pass my resume on for me. To my amazement, I was offered a job within 45 minutes of completing an interview and ended up only being out of work for Thanksgiving week! The group of people I now work with are awesome, and I feel at home there already.

With all of this going on in my life, it’s easy to forget the other good stuff that’s been happening, and there HAS been some great stuff happening. Remember a couple of blogs ago when I told you that I had got a PR of 245lb on my trap bar deadlifts? Let me tell you a story of glory.

On a Saturday where I woke up bleary eyed, desperately needing coffee, I got to The Kettlebell Fitness Center without a clue as to what I wanted to do. I decided to warm up and then made up my mind I was going to do some lighter deadlifts interspersed with heavy swings. Nancy asked me if I was going to try and go heavier than my last PR to which I answered no, I wasn’t feeling it and so was just going to probably take it easier today.

I don’t know if it was that I had lowered expectations or if it was because this particular Saturday, the center was full of chatter, people swinging metal and good music, or whether it was the fact that my coffee was exceedingly strong and tasty, but there was a great vibe in the place that morning, my friends…a great vibe.

Starting off with 175lb for 8 reps, I started adding plates and then after the lifts, swinging a 28kg bell. I didn’t calculate the weights this time, because I knew that I would only probably be able to get up to 235lb max that morning at a push, even if the coffee was that good. I finally got to that place where it was tough to lift and did 2 reps of what I thought must be 240 because it felt so hard. I added the weights up, and realised that in my bleary state, I added them incorrectly. So I got Matt to add them up for me. I felt like he also added them up incorrectly (sorry for doubting you, Matt!), so I asked Beverly to calculate the weight using her phone. Then I asked her to calculate again, as I was sure she, Matt and I were all wrong. But no, gentle reader; I had just lifted…..*drum roll*…..260lb. Yes, you read that correctly. Two hundred and sixty flippin’ pounds!

I would like to tell you that I stopped there…but again, no. My final PR for that morning was a pretty beautiful 265lb. The sound you’re hearing right now is Purcell’s Trumpet Fanfare. I wish there was a photo to prove this all, but there isn’t, so you’ll just have to believe me, or badger Beverly for the truth.

I’m also still working towards hanging from the landing bars of an airborne helicopter too, and believe that if I can hang longer from a pull up bar, it will happen. It will. Honest. Oh, and I have started to do negative hangs on the pull up bar, which I couldn’t do before. I no longer drop like a dead weight after jumping up to start from the top…and that is progress.

As we’ve passed from Fall to Winter, my soup making mojo has been ratcheted up a notch and I would like to tell you how to gussy up your common or garden Butternut Squash soup. Many use cinnamon, nutmeg or even cumin to give it that extra depth. I do too, but a few weeks ago, I let down my hair, whipped off my secretary spectacles and added a new ingredient to the ol’ standby.

I chopped up a butternut squash, a large sweet potato, and a large chunk of fresh ginger root. Putting those three ingredients in a saucepan (some like to roast their squash and sweet potato first, but I think “ain’t nobody got time for that!”…unless I’m in Superstar Chef mode and want to go that extra mile) with some Organic Low Sodium Vegetable stock, I brought it to a boil and then turned down the heat a tad. Once the ingredients are soft, I chuck it all in a blender with a little coconut milk and add salt, pepper and chilli pepper flakes to taste. That’s it. Bob’s your uncle.

If you want to zhuzh it up a bit, wilt some spinach or chard or baby kale in a pan and fry up some good bacon until crispy. Put the wilted greens and bacon crumbles on top of the soup for a little extra texture and taste. It’s really very good, believe me!

So my adventure in fitness and eating well continues. I haven’t packed on the pounds this year since the holidays have started, like most years. I actually didn’t stress eat or stress drink when I lost my job, which is a huge thing for me. My new job lets me get up from my desk and move a lot (and I’m going to be getting a head set for my phone so I can do lunges and squats and bodyweight get ups all over the building whilst still talking to people. Of course I wouldn’t do that – I don’t want to freak my co-workers out this early in the process  – .but I could if I wanted and you’d never know…unless I was making grunting, out of breath noises, of course…) To my new co-workers and boss, if you ever read this…I’m joking. I promise I won’t do get ups.

During this holiday season, remember to make time for yourself and your health. It’s important – and, like a certain shampoo brand, you’re worth it.

Stay strong,     – J

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Meet Geri Bunn!

002Name: Geri Bunn

Age:  59- closing in on 60 pretty soon!

NH: How long have you been training at TKFC?

GB: Nearly 4 years, Steve (my husband) and I joined in February 2013

NH: What prompted you to seek out kettlebell training?

fullsizerenderGB: I retired from my job in 2012 and looked forward to spending time on a fitness routine. I began walking about 4 miles, four or five times a week. I had taken some Zumba classes where the instructor added a few exercises with light kettlebells and I was intrigued. Mind you, in hindsight, the movements were nothing like what we do at TKFC.

I visited the Delmar Chiropractic Office for backache pain where I saw advertisements for TKFC, and was interested to learn more. When my husband retired a year after me I thought we could try something together so we signed up!

NH: What does being a strong woman mean to you?

1081GB: Like so many people my age, I’m not ready to start slowing down yet. It’s important to me to be a good role model for the people I care about; my children, grandchildren,”little sister” (from Big Brothers Big Sisters program) and friends. I want to be able to take care of myself and try new things. I love surprising myself with new accomplishments and I let my family know about them. “Don’t mess with me!”

NH: Were you always physically active?

GB: No, unfortunately while I was working I only made time for my job and family. My job came with quite a few after hour responsibilities and launching kids into adulthood seemed to be all time consuming. I was overall healthy but needed and looked forward to adding physical activity to my new retired life for both my physical and mental health.

NH: What are your favorite lifts and why?

fullsizerender-3fullsizerender-2 GB: I enjoy deadlifts, primarily because I surprised myself at the weight I was able to lift in my early attempts. But also I find relief from my lower backaches when I do deadlifts. (Geri’s current PR is 205lbs for the deadlift!) 

I’m thrilled to have finally learned snatches and typically do them when given the option of a ballistic move. I still need to work out a few kinks but I find them enjoyable because they were so complicated for me to learn.

NH: What do you like about training at TKFC?

12105867_1137021936325672_7842374935602825298_nGB: I appreciate having classes that offer individual feedback for improvement. It is important to me to be sure I am doing moves properly so that I don’t hurt myself and that I am challenged to progress.

I also enjoy the camaraderie with the other members. I love that, at times, there’s a level of competition and that regardless of whether we have any chance of being the “best overall” we are driven to increase our own “best” accomplishment. Everyone genuinely supports each other.

NH: What benefits outside of the gym have you experienced as a result of strength training?

16931GB: I have more confidence in trying new physical endeavors. My husband and I hiked Huyana Picchu, an additional two hour steep hike in Machu Picchu . I felt physically up for it from TKFC training. If I had read more about it in advance, I might not have tried it as those with fear of heights are discouraged by some reviewers.

14712824_1278220052240145_2153240221646715257_oPaddle boarding was a recent accomplishment. I planned to try it someday on a calm summer day in a lake but instead I had my first opportunity in the bay off NJ in October.

I know not many people are aware of kettlebells, it’s even hard to find it on many activity tracking systems. I’d advise anyone to give it a try. It’s an efficient workout because it combines aerobic and weight training. I’m thrilled that my improved strength lessens my back pain. Once you master a few moves, it really grows on you. Nancy is a great instructor who has created a very welcoming environment. She guides you and challenges you at whatever level you’ve achieved.
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Geri and her husband Steve live in Voorheesville, NY.  Geri is consistent class attendee and works hard, has a great laugh, and is always challenging herself.   TKFC wouldn’t be the same without her! 

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Jeannette’s Blog: Hallowe’en and the drama queen

autumn-leavesToday, I write this as the first snow of Winter falls in Albany even while the trees are still showing off their autumnal colours and Hallowe’en is moving in for the kill.

It’s already snowed in the Adirondacks, and I’m secretly hoping that this weekend, I can hibernate and spend some time cooking and binge-watching “Gilmore Girls”. (I am late to the table when it comes to Gilmore Girls and I feel like I have discovered the Koh-I-Noor diamond!). Don’t get me wrong, I love to be outdoors and walking etc, but we’ve been doing stuff for the past few weekends, and I need to do nothing. I need to veg out. I need to have someone wait on me, hand and foot, indulging my every whim and fancy! (I tell myself, I need to conserve energy for the hordes of trick and treaters that pour into our neighbourhood.) Call me a humbug, but I’m not a big “Hallowe’ener”. Once year I went to a Hallowe’en costume party where everyone went all out. I left it to the last minute, and the ever lovin’ hubs and I ended up wearing shorts, a Hawaiian shirt and Christmas elf hat and said we were Santa’s Elves on vacation. True story.

Our hiking adventures continue, and since last writing, we have been a lot more active and spent a lovely couple of hours a few Sundays ago, hiking Vroman’s Nose in Schoharie and spending time at the top, sitting on the rocks, admiring the beautiful fall colours and view of the Schoharie Valley as well as people’s choices of hiking footwear, including flip flops and slippers! One of our TKFC members is doing 20km hikes in Patagonia right now, taking GORGEOUS photographs and looking like she’s having a ball; and so compared to that, my hiking adventures are like a casual saunter in the park. Hope you’re having fun, Kelly!

At the Kettlebell Fitness Center, I’m still working on my right shoulder torque issues, trying to strengthen it so I can do get ups once more. It’s a series of small progressions, which is good, but I’m so impatient! Nancy’s been giving me all kinds of things to try to strengthen and help the issue, and the thanks she gets is my whining. However, when I get into that “I’ll never be able to do get ups again!” drama-queen conversation in my head, it diminishes all the accomplishments I have achieved. Is it weird that I have these private head-space conversations? (I am hoping you have private head-space conversations too, because if not, then I expect to see you all giving me a wide berth next time at class):

Drama Queen Self: “I can’t do it! I’ll never be able to get up again! I’m such a loser! My right shoulder is a jerk! Everyone else can do get ups, but me!

Rational Self: “Calm down. It will get better. Just takes time. Look at all the stuff you CAN do.

Drama Queen Self: “What does that matter? I can’t do get ups. I. CAN’T. DO, GET. UPS!”

Rational Self:Sigh. You can deadlift 245lb, you can snatch 16kg, your static swings are a thing of beauty, you’re looking awesome, you ARE awesome, you are more than a get up…..”

Drama Queen Self: “Stop being reasonable! Get ups! Get ups!

Rational Self:I’m off for a cup of tea, wallow in your self pity then….

Drama Queen Self: “But…but….get ups…..oh, ok. Ooh! Look! We’re deadlifting today! Excellent!” ***runs up to the barbell ready to get it on***  I kind of feel like I should have a Drama Queen costume for these moments (and also so that I don’t have to search for an outfit on Hallowe’en), so that I can flounce and pout with style and flair. Or, of course, I could just suck it up and have a good attitude instead.

kb-oct-2-handMost classes at TKFC end with a ballistic finisher; swings, snatches, high pulls, to get the heart rate up and to end on a high note. One week, we were all comparing hands. Most of us have some kind of callus on our hands or fingers from the swings and snatches. However, cultivating large calluses is not a good thing. It’s not big or clever. Large calluses can rip, causing pain and possible infection. It can put a stop to you swinging or snatching for a while until it heals. I’m sure we’ve all been there at one point or another, right?

At home, I have a pumice stone and a little callus file that is used regularly on my hands and fingers, after showering and before using hand cream to keep my lovely British hands smooth, soft and worth curtseying to and kissing, like royalty. It really does make a difference. For further reading, click on this coloured link for great advice on looking after your hands and how to care for blisters and/or calluses: Dragon Door Hand Care. I can’t guarantee you’ll have people curtseying or kissing them, but I can guarantee many more healthy years of swinging and snatching.

Friday, I took a “mental health” day to do some things for myself. Taking a mental health day every now and then is pretty essential to well-being. It allows you to just do what you want to do in your own time. Sometimes I’ll take the day and just lie on the sofa and read. Other times, I may meet a friend for coffee. I try to do things that will mentally nourish me though, rather than using it to finish housework or something that HAS to get done.   I went to the library and browsed for an hour, rather than a rushed 10 minutes during my 30 minute lunch break. I sipped a large latte with extra shot at Perfect Blend cafe for another hour, while reading one of my borrowed books and then went to do a little grocery shopping so I could enjoy some time in the kitchen baking and cooking that afternoon. Until the past year or so, I didn’t realise that cooking relaxes and nourishes me (excuse the pun). If I have time for it, I love to get out the pots, pans and trays and cook favourites and to try new things. So that afternoon, I made a favourite soup, and a new dessert recipe, listening to Norah Jones Radio on Pandora – because who doesn’t love some Norah Jones?

chicken-and-kale-soupFirst up was a huge pot of chicken and kale soup from scratch. I put a chicken in some water and brought it to a boil, adding the ends of the veggies I had peeled and chopped, and let it boil for 45-60 minutes until I had a stock. Once I strained the stock water into another saucepan, I added a little more low sodium organic Vegetable broth from Trader Joe’s, the chicken (taken off the bones and chopped), kale, chopped garlic, onions, celery and carrots and let simmer. We were eating it all weekend, and it was perfect for that rainy Saturday and cold, windy Sunday.

As the spirit of Julia Child/Betty Crocker entered me, I also summoned up a recipe of Elana Amsterdam’s and went on to make a totally delicious Paleo Apple Tart from Elana’s Pantry website. It really was so very easy. The crust was made of pecans, coconut flour, a little salt and an egg. The filling called for Jonagold apples, but I used Cortlands instead, tossed in lemon juice, arrowroot powder, honey and cinnamon.  – here’s the link for the filling: Paleo Apple Tart and for the tart crust, click on this link: Paleo Pecan Tart Crust  The crust came out beautifully, and held up really well. The apples were sweet without being overwhelmingly so.

To make a whipped cream topping, you’re supposed to put a can of organic unsweetened coconut milk in the fridge for 24 hours, and then 30 minutes before whipping it, place a bowl in the freezer until it’s really cold. Carefully scoop out the coconut cream that has risen to the top of the can and put it into the chilled bowl to whip.

I put the can of coconut milk in the freezer 3 hours previously and forgot about it. Trying to scoop frozen coconut milk out of a can is not easy at all! However, after I managed to get it out, and thawed it a little, I added a small amount of pure Vanilla Extract from Penzey’s Spices to the cream and whipped it up with my wonderful immersion blender. The coconut cream whipped up, and tasted so creamy, it was hard to believe it wasn’t actually cream.

kb-oct-2-pieThe final test was putting a slice of it in front of my Paleo Guinea Pig (the husband) and watching him eat it. He pronounced it “honestly, one of the the best apple tarts I’ve had”, so thank you Elana Amsterdam from the bottom of my heart for a great and healthy alternative apple tart recipe! If you make it, let me know what you think. It’s going to be a favourite in the Sheehy household, for sure!

Winter approaches. The hubs is up for cross country skiing, learning to snowshoe, and other activities. I’m up for the sofa, mulled wine, books and Gilmore Girls. I’m sure we’ll come to an understanding, and I’ll be out in the cold weather most weekends! Let me know what kind of activities you like to do in the winter, so I don’t end up turning into some kind of lazy sloth.

In the meantime, stay strong, stay active, stay warm, eat well, (stay away from the Hallowe’en candy), and enjoy life! – J x

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Jeannette’s blog: Why Julie Andrews was spot-on (or how I rediscovered the joys of hiking)

kb-oct-panther-mtnHello again, my friends. Apart from all the political shenanigans that now seems to have gone on for an eternity, how is your Fall treating you thus far? The colours this year are pretty spectacular up in the Adirondacks right now and I wonder why I have to work in an office when explosions of gorgeousness are taking place out in nature.

By the way, last weekend, I experienced a new first!

kb-oct-cheviots

Let me explain. When I lived in England, I used to hike a little; in the beautiful Lake District, over the Derbyshire Dales and the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales and on the South Downs. At the age of 15 or 16, I spent a weekend with school friends hiking the gorgeous Cheviots in the Scotland/England border country. (That’s me on the bench with my long grey socks and charity shop leather hiking boots that I still own 35 years later!) We went armed with back packs, stout walking boots, tins of baked beans, our tents, sleeping bags, a compass and a map and slept out for two nights, before returning home triumphant, tired and very muddy. (Can you imagine parents letting 15 years old teen girls loose on their own for a 3 day hike in the wilds today?)

Since being in the USA, I have barely hiked at all. Well, not proper hiking. Oh, we’ve taken some short walks, easy trails and scenic routes at weekends, but not far. My main form of exercise over the past few years has been the treadmill at a gym, a bit of running, and of course, The Kettlebell Fitness Center.

However, with both of us feeling so much healthier and energized due to our changed kb-oct-view-from-the-topeating habits,  we decided to go on a hike last weekend and ended up at the Panther Mountain trail on Piseco Lake. It’s a hike which ends with one having to scramble up the roots of a huge hemlock tree and over boulders to get to the view at the top. It’s one of the shorter mountain hikes in the Adirondacks, but the view was glorious! To make it even better was to be able to do it together without having to turn back, and without having to worry about Dan’s knees. Here’s to more hikes and more mountains to climb! It’s so “Sound of Music” isn’t it? I want to break out into “Cliiimb Ev’ry Mountaiiiin…..” or “The Hiiiilllls Are Aliiiive with the Sound of Muuuuusic”, but I will spare you my gift of song, and instead leave you a photo of me with slightly dishevelled hair and a proud hubs.

Before I head off into the Swiss Alps a la Julie Andrews, I would also like to tell you I was able to work up to another PR, this time in snatches. I’ve been hovering around the 16kg snatch for a while, and often go to a 14kg as I get tired, but the other day I decided to try an 18kg and was able to do around 5 each side. I then tried a 20kg bell, on the off chance,  and was able to do 3 each side with fairly good form. (Remember that size doesn’t matter…it’s the form that counts!) I will still be mostly using a 16kg until I have the most excellent form but I was pretty excited that my shoulder was able to take it!

kb-oct-carrot-cashewAt the Good Food Club at the beginning of the month, Geri’s contribution (for which she heavily apologized for before even breaking it out) was Nutty Carrot Flatbread with an accompaniment of Cashew Cheese. Geri thought it bland and dull. (It wasn’t.) I thought it was delicious and so pestered her for the recipe later on that week. She was gracious enough to send it to me straight away and so on the holiday Monday, I made it. I added Roasted Garlic Powder from Penzey’s Spices and extra cumin (because I love garlic and cumin) to the Carrot Bread, and extra garlic to the Cashew Cheese. Seriously, friends, this is good stuff, and I love how Geri gets her recipes from all over the place. Click on the coloured links to the Nutty Carrot Flatbread (I only used 2 eggs and 1 extra egg white) and to the Cashew Cheese and enjoy! They’re both very easy to make and go well with salads, as a side to all kinds of dishes and on their own as a snack or in a packed lunch.

Another delicious item our salivating taste buds were proffered at the Good Food Club: kb-oct-acorn-squashNancy’s Acorn Squash with apples, onions and sausage. I had to reproduce it the week after for our dinner and it was pronounced a success. (Not that I wait with baited breath in my June Cleaver frilly apron for the thumbs up or down from the hubs…no, really…I don’t.) Again, very easy. Good tasting food does not have to be a hardship or sweatfest to make. Cut an acorn squash in half lengthways (so that it stands without rolling) and scoop out the seeds. Brush with oil or ghee and season. Place upside down on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake at 375F for about 45-50 minutes. Nearer the end of the cooking time, sautee onions, chopped apples and sausage in a pan. (I used chicken sausage, but pork sausage is even more delicious, I think!). I also threw in some cranberries. When the acorn squash is cooked, you can sprinkle a little cinnamon in there if you wish and then load the squash with the sauteed veggies and meat, then bake for another 10-15 minutes.

So far, my plan of eating Paleo 80/20 is still working. My energy levels are constant. No highs and no crashes. I continue to sleep well, and am feeling motivated to keep going. And, like I’ve said before, it’s been easier because the other half is on board as well.

I’m looking forward to more hiking adventures (as long as I don’t see any bobcats or bears!) and continued health.

Until next time, thanks for reading. Enjoy the food, and let me know where you like to hike. If you have any suggestions for us beginners, please comment. I’d love your tips, advice and places to go!

  • J x

 

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Jeannette’s blog: Five reasons for a cheesy grin

smileI want to begin this blog with a cheesy grin because, why not? Some good stuff is happening. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…

 

Reason # 1: Two Saturdays ago I went to Open Gym at the Center and decided to work on pull up progressions and deadlifts. The trap bar was in the corner and Nancy encouraged me to use it instead of the barbell as it stops my “sit at a desk all day” shoulders from rounding. So I quietly started off at 135lb with 5 reps and then moved to the pull up bars. Here’s where it gets exciting!

 

Dear readers, a few months ago, I could barely dangle from a pull up bar for 5 seconds, let alone engage my lats. I would hang there like a limp sloth and then immediately fall to the floor in a graceless heap, bewailing the fact that I would be no good in any action movie that would require me to hang from a helicopter landing bar while it’s flying through the air, bullets whizzing past my body. (Because that scenario could happen, right?)

 

To my delight, on Saturday,  I was able to not only hang for over 10 long seconds, but was able to engage my lats and, just to show off, raise my legs! Well, I say raise my legs…they may have been raised a nano-millimeter, but they were definitely raised! I could actually pull myself upward a teeny-tiny bit too. Must be all the upper body work we’ve been doing. The best thing about working out consistently is seeing improvement isn’t it? Remember that even a small improvement is a huge step towards reaching your goals.

 

240lbReason # 2: A few months ago, I tooted my horn and blew my trumpet about my 225lb dead lift and then went on to tell you that my next goal would be 235lb. I then kind of became a little inconsistent with my training at TKFC. I did a few deadlifts here and there, 155lb, 175lb but nothing major to speak of. However, I feel that doing the last Whole30 and having the hubs on board with healthy eating has given me back some of my mojo and consistency. And to that end, armed with a bottle of water and a cup of strong, dark roast coffee from Speedway (their coffee is ace!), I went to the corner of the room to the trap bar and started deadlifting (with my amazing pull up progressions in between…don’t forget those pull ups!).

 

Now I don’t know about you, but I hate knowing how much is on the bar. It kind of psyches me out if I know how much I’m lifting – because as soon as I get to my last PR, I kind of balk. My brain tells me I can’t lift more. However, for some reason on Saturday, I was feeling some major mojo and started being reckless; I deliberately calculated how much I was lifting. I DARED that bar to defeat me once I got to 225lb. I didn’t go from 225 to 230…no siree! With insolent abandon, I put 10lb on and went straight for a PR of 235. And bless my giddy aunt, if I didn’t pick that thing up immediately! For good measure and to show that bar who was boss, I did 3 reps at my new PR. Then I swaggered to the pull up bar and hung there with a cheesy grin in my heart.

 

I went back to the trap bar and added some more weight…240lb. Yes!! Nailed it! Drank some coffee, drank some water, hung from the pull up bar then did some cobra stretches. Added more weight: 245lb. Bam! Pixie-danced over to Nancy and Beth-Ann and whooped it up. Went back to the trap bar and just for the hell of it, picked it up again. 245lb, people. 245LB!!! (Today, my glutes and lats are giving me grief for what I did to them, but a wee bit o’ foam rolling will shut them up, for sure.) I really want to be able to lift at least 1 ½ times my bodyweight by the end of the year and am hopeful that I will get to that goal. But for right now, I am the swagger queen of my household. And if you want to see the 245lb lift, you can click on THIS LINK  and then contact me for an autograph.

 

Reason # 3: The second week in September, my new and improved husband, and my improving self went to the Adirondacks for a week. (By the way, I recommend the Wild Center at Tupper Lake…it’s the bee’s knees!)

 

curry-on-grillWe surprised ourselves that week. Normally we gain weight on vacation, but we didn’t chow down on junk. If we went out for dinner, we chose delicious but healthy food and only ate half of what was on our plate. (What is it with the mahoosive portions anyway?) We cooked together. One night, I had the unusual experience of cooking wild rice on a propane burner and veggie curry on a charcoal grill, as there was a huge power outage for 7 hours all the way from Mayfield up to Speculator. Cooking outside at night, by flashlight, hoping that bobcats and bears were not attracted to the smell of curry was a little disconcerting. Dan, in the meantime was in hunter/gatherer mode; driving to Gloversville in the hope of finding some hurricane lamps and/or candles. By the end of the week, with the kayaking and walking, we both found that we had lost weight. Our clothes were looser and we had slept well all week. In fact, I can fit back into clothes that I haven’t been able to wear since 2013! I have gone from a size 18/20 to a size 12/14. Another reason to grin.

 

farmers-marketReason # 4: Another upside to us eating so much better is Dan’s willingness to try new foods and the variation we are eating. It’s made cooking, for me, so much easier. Yes, he is eating grains and legumes, but it’s no hardship to add them in for him. Also, we’d worked out between us, that when we bought our junky lunches, we were spending a huge amount every month. Now, we take packed lunches full of greens, veggies, nuts, protein, good fats and fruit. Yes, we spend more at farmers markets and organically, but the health benefits outweigh everything, and we are actually saving money; because when we break down how much our packed lunches are, it’s a pittance to what we were spending every day, buying our lunches at a supermarket or, heaven help me, a gas station.

 

cauliflower-gratinReason # 5: I want to leave you with a delicious recipe that I tried out last night. It’s from the New York Times and I adapted it to be a little healthier for us. Cauliflower Gratin with Goat Cheese. The recipe calls for skimmed milk and breadcrumbs. I substituted almond & coconut milk for the skimmed milk and used almond meal instead of breadcrumbs. Serve it as a side or as its own meal with a green salad. And yes, it has goat cheese, but every now and then, I love me some goat cheese and eating 80/20 Paleo gives me some leeway. This recipe literally gave me a “cheesy grin”!

 

So there you have it. 5 reasons for huge, cheesy grins. What small or big things have caused you to grin outwardly like a maniac or inwardly like a delicious, introverted hug this past month?

 

Until next time, I’m off to call Tom Cruise and see if he needs a body double to hang off a helicopter for “Mission Impossible 7”.

 

Stay strong and healthy!

 

  • J x

 

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Member in the spotlight: Meet Sarah Clark!

Name: Sarah Clark

Age: 39

Occupation(s): Librarian and bass player.

Joined: March, 2013

Sarah has been a regular in our Monday/Wednesday/Friday and sometimes Saturday classes for almost four years, and is a hard-working, funny, kind, genuine, (and all-the-other-superlatives) person.  In addition to working hard in the gym, Sarah is a librarian and  plays bass in three bands.

img_5480NH: Have you always been active?

SC: I grew up playing sports (soccer and track & field), but after college my activity started dwindling. I ran or swam sporadically to prove to myself that I still could.  At some point, being active got harder, and I got a lot slower. At the same time I was eating a lot of take out, feeling stressed out from starting my first real job, and spending a lot of time on the couch. I was less and less motivated to prove anything to myself.

image2NH: Did you experience a “turning point” with regard to your fitness?

SC:  Yes. Around 2011, I decided enough was enough, and  I tried to make exercise a part of my daily routine. That year, my mother-in-law gave us Wii Fit, so why not use it?  I could hear my 17-year-old self making fun of my thirty-something self for this approach, especially after I sprained both ankles running in place on my living room floor (yep, that really happened).

It was time to challenge myself, for real, and I signed up for the Freifhofer’s 5k, and refused to make a fool of myself.  Two months before the race, I couldn’t run more than a mile without stopping, but I kept trying.  Race day came, and I made it through without walking.  My time was pretty slow, but I didn’t stop to walk, and that was my goal.  I continued to run 3-4 days a week, and the next year, I was much faster, and set my sights on the Boilermaker 15k.

12933010_1247866691907862_8360898646441002368_nI downloaded a training plan for a 15K which recommended 1-2 days a week of strength training. I found my pink 3-lb dumbbells, did some curls, and realized I needed help.  A friend at work told me to check out the Kettlebell Fitness Center. I took a couple of private sessions, then started going to one class a week, to fulfill my 15K running plan.

10920957_968853236475877_4156652613022157419_nDuring one of my running workouts that involved a lot of hills, I felt a pain in the back of my heel, and knew right away it was Achilles tendinitis  (a recurring injury I’ve had since college), so I knew running in the Boilermaker was no longer a reality. To my surprise, with this injury, I was still able to attend kettlebell classes, and started going two to three times a week instead of one.  Kettlebell days were outnumbering my running days, and I was getting a great workout, feeling a lot stronger, and not putting myself at risk of injuring myself further. Best of all, I was noticing that heavy things weren’t feeling as heavy.

NH: How has lifting heavy weights made a difference outside of your time in the gym?

SC: As a bass player who insists on using vintage tube amps, loading my equipment in and out of clubs is a feat of strength.  I really don’t like relying on my husband or bandmates to lift my equipment for me.  It’s part of my job!  I’ve heard other musicians say they’ve given up using their preferred equipment because it’s too heavy, compromising their tone and style to save their backs, and I get it! Amps are awkward and heavy, but for three years now I have been conscientiously lifting all my gear with good form.  I can now carry my amp and speaker cabinet up and down our basement stairs, in and out of the car, and on and off the stage, and I wake up feeling great the next day.  

NH: Do you have a favorite move or lift?

img_549211156233_1035563993138134_2704882525340845727_nSC: Among the moves we do at TKFC, I have a different favorite all the time. I go through phases where I like squats, then it’s presses, or snatches.  Above all, I like anything that involves hanging from the pull-up bar, and of course, flipping tires is always fun.

NH: Anything else you’d like to share?

SC: I recommend TKFC all the time, especially when someone is looking to start or return to a healthy lifestyle. The value of the classes is beyond getting fit and strong. I’ve become more confident and more motivated. My posture has greatly improved. My eating habits are better. I’m a happier, nicer person. And best of all, I’ve met some amazing people who’ve become my friends.

12046605_10206845380484994_8465782456374132223_nSarah Clark is a librarian at Albany Public Library and the bass player for local bands Kimono Dragons, Victory Soul Orchestra, and Charmboy.  She lives in Voorheesville with her husband Eric.

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Jeanette’s post: How I subscribed to Netflix and got a new husband

kb-blog-sept-dan-me-weddingCan you believe we’re already into September? Labor Day has come and gone. Kids are no longer bored around the house. The season of Pumpkin Spice is approaching, and ain’t nobody gonna stop THAT train from comin’ down the track.

Now, settle down, gentle reader, lest the thought of pumpkins and spices make you too giddy with delight, and I shall tell you the story of how Netflix gave me a new husband.

Back in the days of AOL dial up (we’re talking the year 2000 here), I met my husband…online. I lived in the UK and he in the USA. We were members of an online chat room and as he was thinking of going to Ireland to trace his roots, asked me if I’d ever been there. To cut to the chase, a year later he came over to the UK to meet me instead. And then, I came to the USA to spend a couple of weeks with him. Long story short, we got married in March 2002 and are in the process of living happily ever after.

kb-blog-sept-free-blueberry-muffin-downloadOne of his many and delightful quirks is that he always adds a year to his age (he is 7 years older than me) and, over the past few years has been feeling it. We have both struggled with our eating habits and weight, never quite being in sync. One of us would be trying to be healthy while the other ate junk. Or the other would decide that today was the day we’d really go for it, and then by day 3, give up. (It’s tough to go out for dinner and order a salad, while the other is chowing down on a huge plate of smothered steak, mashed potatoes and cheese covered anything, isn’t it?) Plus Dan had a weakness…a weakness for sugary and junk food at Stewart’s Shops. He was known as The Muffin Man in one of their fine establishments.

Fast-forwarding now, it’s been hard this past few years to see Dan suffer from sleeplessness, tossing and turning at night, waking up gasping for breath, watching him walk slowly, often limping due to bad knees and joint aches. It’s been tough to see his energy levels so low. (Plus the snoring, sleep apnea and tossing and turning has of course led to sleepless nights for me too!)

At Christmas, (oh, holiday of overeating and excess) we treated ourselves to a Roku and subscribed to Netflix. Our joy knew no bounds. I could binge on excellent British shows, and Dan on Miami Vice and Dragnet (really). However, Netflix also brought us documentaries. I watched “Fed Up” – a documentary film by Stephanie Soechtig and narrated by Katie Couric, about how sugar is so destructive to our bodies, and how the American food industry may be more responsible for sickness than previously realized. To me, it was mind blowing and I told Dan he needed to watch it.

But, dearest friends, (if you are still with me) you know that when you tell your other half they should do something, it may not necessarily happen, right?

kb-blog-sept-crazy-danHowever, unbeknownst to me, in the secret of his man-cave, he had started watching documentaries; like “Forks over Knives”, “Hungry for Change” and finally, “Fed Up”. It was a huge turning point for him – actually for both of us. The quote from Hippocrates: “Let Food Be Thy Medicine” seared in his mind. If this epiphany could have had choirs of archangels and trumpets singing and playing over his head, it would have happened.

I had been up and down all year with my eating habits and strength training – never quite achieving a consistency that I saw others achieve. Dan had been feeling sicker and sicker, to the point where he wasn’t sure whether he would make it through another winter at work.

At the beginning of August I decided a re-set was in order and started a Whole30. Dan usually likes the food I make when I’m doing it. However, this time, he was really on board. I mean, REALLY ON BOARD with the food. He had decided that he needed to take charge of his body, to stop with the processed and junk food that he would buy every day for his lunch and to start cutting out sugar. In the past, he had made decisions like this, and it maybe lasted a week, but this time it was for real. Seeing these documentaries on how heart disease, illnesses and obesity could be reversed just by eating good food really got to him.

kb-blog-sept-moorish-meatballs-and-zoodlesI made all kinds of delicious foods, that, due to his cutting down on sugar, he was really able to taste and savor the delicious flavors. I made Moorish Meatballs by Melissa Joulwan from the Well Fed 2 cookbook and put them on top of zoodles, with a little Artichoke Chimichurri (because you know how much I love that stuff!) and topped with crushed pistachios. He loved it. Wanted it again the next day.

kb-blog-sept-chicken-salad-with-almondsI made stuff like a simple chicken salad, with homemade Olive Oil Mayo, lemon juice, apples, celery, red onion, almonds, pecans and chicken on top of baby spinach or crisp Romaine. It’s a staple now.

I kept it simple…and with smaller portions, full of protein, good fats, vitamins and lots of vegetables. I added a little quinoa or rice, or some chickpeas for him, because even though I wasn’t eating them, he loves them and hey, it’s a lot healthier and protein rich than pizza or chocolate chip cookies. A piece of wild caught salmon on a bed of baby spinach, with a little lime/chimichurri aioli quickly made from my homemade mayo and some fresh cut white flesh nectarines was one of his favorites. Best salmon he’d ever had. (And this from a man who would barely eat fish a few years ago!).

kb-blog-sep-dan-saranacI am so happy to report that in the past 5 or 6 weeks since this decision, I feel like I have a brand new husband. He has lost over 20lb, he is sleeping so well (and so am I!), he is not sitting up gasping for breath like he used to, his joints are not aching, his knees are feeling better, his heart is not palpitating like it used to after exertion, he is feeling so much better. His mood has improved. He has more energy and he can walk into Stewart’s without buying a muffin or pizza. (And, believe me, that’s saying something!)

The upside for me is that this month’s Whole30 has been so much easier, because I’ve had a partner in it; because Dan has loved the smaller portions, and the great food I’ve prepared and is feeling satiated with the good fats in each meal. He’s not eating between meals. We’re still both learning together but are determined not to slip back into the old ways and bad habits. Our health as we age is too important for that. He knows that now, and that’s what makes the difference this time.

I love you, Netflix – J x

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Olympics and dessert edition

flat-elements-of-olympic-games_23-2147559911So how has everyone been doing this hot, humid, muggy, thunderstormy, air conditioning over-drive, hair frizzing, make-up sliding, (but hey, we get to stay in and become Olympic experts) month?

I love the Olympics. I love the opening & closing ceremonies and both the snark and admiration that comes up on the Twitter feed during it. I love the swimming, gymnastics, track and field (or athletics, as we call it in the UK). I’ve even acquired a newfound love for watching the women’s beach volleyball. What power houses Walsh-Jennings and Ross are! I’ve been torn between wanting Michael Phelps to win a gold in his last race, and cheering Team GB on at the same time because young Adam Peaty is amazing. I love the sportsmanship between competitors, helping each other at the expense of a possible medal. My husband has been an Olympic widower. He wanted to watch a movie Saturday night, and my response was, “But Michael Phelps is about to swim his last race of his Olympic career!” and again Sunday night, “But it’s track and field night and Usain Bolt is about to run the men’s 100m final!”

FitnessBut the thing I love the most about the Olympics, is the showcase of athletes of all different shapes and sizes, and they are all the best at their own sport. Look at the difference between a pole vaulter, a shot putter (see Michelle Carter), a swimmer, a weight lifter and a gymnast. They’re all at the peak of their fitness and health, completely different body shapes, but all in the best shape of their lives – to compete in the activities they love the most. It really resonated with me. Fitness isn’t a certain shape. It’s the shape that fits you when you do the activity you enjoy. It’s being able to enjoy what you do because your body allows you to do it. I posted something on my Facebook about health and fitness about a week or so ago that sums this up so well,

You know, fitness and health is SO worth fighting for. I work in an upstairs office that has no elevator, just a flight of steep steps. There are many customers who are much younger than me who can barely make it up that one flight of steps to the 2nd floor without flopping down on one of our chairs, panting and having to wait to catch their breath before being able to do what they came to do. We have older customers who will call us from downstairs so we can run down and help them. I don’t want to be like that. Do you? Do we want to be hobbling around, barely able to walk a mile or feeling like stairs are too much for us as we age? I want to be able to run up stairs, to be able to carry my grocery shopping, to move furniture, fold laundry (yeah…my favourite job…not). I want  (as Coach Fury so often says) to “Die Mighty!”

KB Blog Aug 2 mumMy mum turns a young 76 this year. A few years back, she fell down the stairs of her home, just before Christmas and broke her leg in two places. Despite setbacks, she gritted her teeth and was at the gym on a treadmill by the following May. She goes to the gym, has started a kettlebell program, plays badminton every week, and when she visited my sister recently, attended all the Bootcamps my sister coaches, and bootcamped like it was her job! I have seen a photo of her running up and down the concrete stairs at the rugby grounds like a boss. What an inspiration!

The Whole 30 this month has been a blast. I truly mean it. 

KB Blog Aug 2 Arti Chim

It’s not been a hardship (although the first couple of evenings without a glass of wine was a tad tough). During the day, it’s been simple stuff – salads, with dressings that have been prepped the weekend before. The newest toy in my kitchen is an immersion blender. WHY am I so late to the amazingness that is an immersion blender? My Olive Oil Mayo is perfect and took less than a minute! I’m making up reasons to use it!

My go to dressing this week, that I’ve been putting on ALL THE THINGS is Artichoke Chimichurri from Pretend It’s A Donut It is the bee’s knees; it is the chimichurri of chimichurris; make it. Make it now. And you can also add it to your home made Olive Oil Mayo to make a great dipping sauce for veggies. True story.

KB Blog Aug 2 Mahi MahiThe hubs is not a huge eater of fish, but LOVED this. Mahi Mahi, baked in the oven at 375F, seasoned with Trader Joe’s Lemon Pepper and avocado oil. Around 6-8 minutes each side. I made an aioli with the mayo (added some EEVO, lime juice and a wee bit of the Artichoke Chimichurri) to put over the fish, and then to decorate, a little chimichurri (did I tell you how much I love that stuff?) and slices of lime. Steamed broccoli was added as a side and a little quinoa for the hubs as he’s not doing a Whole 30.

KB Blog Aug 2 chia pudAnd now for a simple, easy, delicious dessert. Chia pudding. It’s creamy, sweet and there are ALL kinds of variations to be had. Take a can of thick coconut milk and blend it with a bunch of strawberries. Add ¼ cup of chia seeds (good for protein and calcium) and stir them in well. Cover the bowl and put in the fridge for an hour, and Bob’s your uncle! A lovely thick, creamy dessert. Decorate as you will, and experiment with all manner of fruit. I’m going to try a banana and cocoa one soon. Here’s a link to 45 different kinds of Paleo and Vegan friendly Chia Puddings. You’re welcome!

Beverly (on her first Whole30 outing) and Kerry “Windmill Queen” Strnad are going strong a week behind me, and being extremely creative with their culinary skills. I have yet to make plantain chip Tacos, but Beverly just churned ‘em out like she was born to do it! I was hoping that she would be too busy with her meal planning to ask us to do Bear Hug squats at “Bags n’ ‘Bells with Bev” on Thursday night, but alas, my hopes were dashed most cruelly and with an evil grin.

So as I write this on Day 22 of the Whole 30, I am feeling positive, energetic and a lot healthier than I did just last month. My clothes are already looser and I am throwing myself into kettlebell training with renewed vigor! Loosely translated, this means I am a hot, sweaty mess because I’m really going for it at class instead of half heartedly and grumpily because I ate a load of pizza and ice cream the night before. With my husband wanting to change his eating habits too, it’s so much easier, and I hope we can continue to encourage each other to good health and a fit old age as we walk hand in hand off into the sunset…..(just wanted to leave you with that Hallmark moment).

It’s been a gold medal of a month!

 

Until next time, stay strong and enjoy your health!

 

  • J x
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Jeanette’s blog: Will Ferrell, chicken, and windmills

light-bulb-clip-art-royalty-free-lightbulb-clipart-illustration-215103Hey friends, and fellow fit seekers. Thanks for plodding through the last blog. As promised, this one is more upbeat with some good links, recipes and other stuff. Yes, this gal is back in the saddle!

After dragging myself through July, like a tortoise wading through a muddy swamp, I woke up at the end of the month with a metaphorical light bulb shining brightly over my head – that the reason why I was feeling so bleugh, was because of my eating habits, and my eating habits were so bleugh because of the way I was feeling. A perfect Catch 22 situation there, my friends.

KB Blog Aug zoodlesI needed a new goal and to reset. And lo and behold, the tried, tested and trusty Whole30 is under way once more. This month, a couple of friends are also undertaking this, which is so encouraging. One of them has done it once before and the other….well, she is new to the Whole30 thing, but I know she will tackle it with the optimism and “go get ‘em” attitude she is known for. In fact, to date, she’s killing this Whole30 like a boss. I am a little scared for what it means for us Thursday nights as her new energy will surely impact how she teaches “‘Bags and ‘Bells with Bev”!

Part of the reason for eating stupid has been that I haven’t had time to prep the food as I’ve been frolicking in the Adirondacks most weekends,  therefore have been cooking very much off the cuff and buying “convenient” stuff for my lunches.

The lunch buying thing is a bad habit to get into. You go to the store, deciding to eat healthy, and there is the sad, wilted salad bar. And over there, are the pastries, and donuts, and look – over there is the steaming hot wing bar, pounding out clouds of delicious smells and Will Ferrell Chicken. Like Will Ferrell movies, it looks like it’s going to be the best thing ever, and awesome, and yet, never fails to disappoint, (except for “Elf”)

KB Blog Aug pestoPreparation really is the key to a successful Whole30. I love to cook, but I need a clean kitchen, good tunes and time to enjoy it. This weekend, to the sounds of The Style Council and some Django,  I made a huge batch of Italian meatballs from Well Fed 2, a pecan & walnut pesto (had to chuck some pecans in as I ran out of walnuts), a big batch of zoodles and a large crockpot of Stupid Easy Paleo’s Green Chile Chicken. I have sauteing greens, olives, nuts, vegetables in the fridge and meat in the freezer. The awesome thing is that my other half has jumped on the good eating KB Blog Aug green chile chickn-3bandwagon. However, he loves chickpeas and beans, and wants to incorporate them into his meals, with less meat – which is fine. Legumes don’t affect his gut like they do mine!

I found a great link for batch cooking and freezing: Once A Month MealsWhole30 compliant recipes that you can cook and freeze in advance, so that you have ready meals on weeknights. Most of them seem very simple, with easy ingredients, so why not check it out?

On to The Kettlebell Fitness Center and exercise. I completely agree with the adage that “Consistency trumps intensity.” I am trying to stay consistent at the Center, but it keeps eluding me like the ephemeral ghost of a dream as you awake on a beautiful summer morn. Therefore, I am using the empty handicapped bathroom cubicle on the top floor of our office building (that has no elevator, just steep steps, so I have no idea how a wheelchair is supposed to get UP to the top floor, let alone use the bathroom there) to practice my windmills this month.

I am in awe of the Olympic swim team who can move their shoulders like it’s nothing; who can whisk their arms to and fro, having them meet behind their shoulder blades as if it’s a walk in the park. Check out this video as Michael Phelps Warms Up Meanwhile, average Jeannette here is struggling to be able to do a windmill and open up her chest and keep her upright arm in the air and in the correct position, and this is without a bell!

KB Blog Aug me windmill

KB Blog Aug me windmill2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the photo on the left, you can see that the only way I can get my shoulder and arm in that position is to lean forward, when I should be keeping the weight on my straight leg. In the right hand photo where I’m more aware and trying to keep the weight on my straight leg, my shoulder and arm can only get to a certain point and I am barely bending over.

KB Blog Aug Kerry WindmillKerry Strnad is one of the Windmill Queens in my estimation. Here she is doing a beautiful windmill.

There is a lot more work to be done on my shoulders, but Nancy says she can see in improvement since last year, so there’s that encouragement. Maybe by next year I will have graduated to doing a windmill with a small weight. Maybe next year, my shoulders will no longer be such a constant thorn in my side.

If I carry on with consistency,  maybe next year, I shall be like a finely tuned, flexible rubber band that knows no boundaries. Who knows? The sky is the limit!

Until next blog, stay strong and healthy, my friends.

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“I did not want fitness to be my life. I wanted it to be the way TO my life.”

by Gail Hughes-Morey

I’ll spare you the sordid details of my childhood weight struggles, save the fact that I was skinny until I wasn’t and then I was again, until I wasn’t. When I first met my husband I was 30 years old and 220 pounds. I am 5’3” short.

BeforeI informed him one day that I would like to lose some weight. “How much?”, he asked. “Twenty-one pounds.” That was my goal. Just being less than 200 pounds would be good enough for me because it was my destiny to be overweight. I was not in awful shape, believe it or not. I was active. I always walked a lot and I could rock the elliptical for 30 minutes without a problem. Sure, my blood pressure was borderline high and my resting heart rate was 90 beats per minute, but my cholesterol was perfect and I was, at this point, already down 50 pounds from my all time high of 270. I was feeling pretty darn good about myself, despite the warning signs from my blood pressure and heart rate.

DSC02023My husband and I had a lot of fun those first three years together. We had 65 pounds worth of fun, to be exact, his share being 31 and mine being 34. At 254 pounds I was struggling with my self-image and at 33 years old I was starting to think about what old age was going to look like. Frankly, it scared the hell out of me. My husband had never been overweight in his life and was having a hard time even tying his shoes. He’d been put on blood pressure and cholesterol medications and he was just plain angry all of the time because he did not feel well.

My knees and hips hurt. I could not go on rides at amusement parks. I could not hike into the wilderness. Gardening was painful. I wanted to learn to swim and go kayaking, but my body kept getting in the way. My world was getting smaller and smaller while I was getting larger. Old age, if we were lucky enough to see it, was looking grim.

People often ask me how I did it. How I lost weight. How I “got motivated”. It was a series of uncomfortable steps, but every one of them was worth it. This is what it looked like for me:

Step 1. Consider getting fit and then become irrationally angry because you can see no one believes you will do it. They believe you CAN do it, mind you, but they don’t believe you WILL.

Step 2. Shovel food and booze into your gullet through tears of rage and frustration because those jerks from Step 1 don’t believe in you!

Step 3. Have beer-fueled epiphany (meat sweats optional). Step 2 behaviors are why those from Step 1 aren’t betting on your horse. And you know what? Neither are you.

Step 4. The hardest step: Look at yourself honestly, and without hurling any insults at the “fat stranger” in the mirror. She seems kind of sad and lonely. Funny you never realized. Maybe you two can go for a bike ride or something sometime. I bet she’d like that.

Step 5. Decide to do something, anything, and then get frustrated and ridiculously self-conscious because everyone does it better than you. (Note: This step usually involves spending an inordinate amount of money on something like a brand new bike, even though you’ve never ridden one in your life. Also acceptable is signing up for a marathon without ever having run, or a triathlon if you can’t swim. This step often involves injury and is thus not a recommended step.)

Step 6. The realizations come pouring in. Realize you were lying when you said you were happy the way you were, but also realize that being overweight and/or out of shape is not a sign of weakness, it is not a lack of willpower, and it is not your genetic destiny. IT IS NOT A MORAL FAILING. Do you hear me? Your value as a human being is not inversely correlated with your weight or how long it takes to catch your breath after a flight of stairs. It is just math. Math is logical not emotional. Realize it is time to stop hanging your emotions on the refrigerator door. They do not belong there.

Step 7. Bet on your own horse.

For me, the hardest part of the journey was getting to Step 7. Once I had stopped beating myself up about being overweight and unfit, I was able to think logically about how to move toward my goals. That isn’t to say I had realistic goals at this point, but I did come up with a realistic plan of attack. It started in the kitchen. I learned about calories, portions, macronutrients, and the importance of the almighty vegetable.

DuringAs the weight started to come off I found enough confidence to start riding that bike I bought. I still remember feeling like everyonee was staring at me. Some of them were. One guy, who was old enough to know better, shouted “Wow! Good for you!” as I rode past. I heard “I see you. You’re fat. Fat and on a bike.” I felt like a circus act. Then that little switch inside me flipped and I simply stopped caring what people thought. I even started wearing tank tops out in public. (I know, right!)  I. Did. Not. Care.  

Before I knew it I was under the 200 lb. mark and gaining momentum. Winter came and I traded out my bike for snowshoes. I was delighted to be able to buy the women’s snowshoes because the first time we went to look I was above the weight recommendation for the women’s styles and I left the store near tears. I bought the girliest ones they had (floral snowshoes anyone?) just because I could. We got a ton of snow that winter and those snowshoes saw a lot of action.

In February of 2011 I started thinking I needed more, and a friend suggested I email Nancy at The Kettlebell Fitness Center.  I did, and on Valentine’s Day my husband and I headed to our introductory session. We learned the deadlift and the basic swing with a 12-kilogram bell that day. I left feeling good though Nancy warned us that we may feel it the next day. She was not kidding. I had never worked those muscles on the bike or the snowshoes. I did not even know I was in possession of some of them. How could such a tiny weight have wreaked so much havoc? I was intrigued.

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I signed up for a group class and met Nancy’s other clients. I was hooked. This was the community I had been looking for from the beginning. There were women and men of all shapes and sizes and they were so strong! I remember watching a woman swing a 24-kilogram bell and thinking “mother of god….” at the time. The best part was everyone genuinely cheered for one another. It didn’t matter if it was your first time trying Get-Ups and you finally nailed that leg sweep, or if it was pressing The Beast, we were all just as excited. It was inclusive with no standard definition of perfection.

Sweet, sweet freedom.  

FullSizeRenderIf you had told me then that in five years time I would earn an HKC instructor certification to teach hardstyle kettlebell training and start coaching at The Kettlebell Fitness Center, I would have called you a liar. But here I am.

I was never going to look like those women you see in fitness magazines. Why? Well, for one thing losing over 100 pounds some years north of thirty leaves behind evidence in the way of loose skin. But more importantly, because I did not want to look like those women anymore. I finally understood that those women make tremendous sacrifices to look like that and they dedicate years of their lives to it. That simply is not the path I am on. I did not want fitness to be my life. I wanted it to be the way TO my life.

The people I met at TKFC were teachers, musicians, professors, retirees, and stay-at-home moms. They were all there for the same reason and it had nothing to do with looking like a fitness model. It had everything to do with the enjoying the life they were already living.  Through them, I finally saw fitness not as an end in and of itself, but as a tool, and that is something I carry with me now as a coach. I want people’s own lives to be their inspiration to be fit – not me, not a body shape, not the size of their pants – but the things they want to do, now and tomorrow.  

IMG_0330-2Eventually, with the support of a like-minded (fit and medication-free) husband and an amazing fitness community, I hit my target of 135 pounds…and then I gained some weight. Oh, the horror, right? Nope. It’s about balance. I am stronger and more confident than ever and if I want to have a beer or chocolate (or both) after dinner I can. My resting heart rate is in the mid-fifties, my blood pressure is 112/68, and I have climbed 20 (so far) of the 46 tallest mountains in New York State. There are FAR more important numbers than the one on the scale.

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Don’t get me wrong, every once in a while the “fat stranger” shows up in the mirror again, but the difference is I know her and I like her now that I know how strong she is. So when she goes a little too far and the pants sizes creep up I don’t wallow in the anger and frustration; I double down on her horse.

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By day, Gail  is an anthropologist and Assistant Professor at The Sage Colleges. She lives in Schenectady, New York with her husband, two derpy dogs, and a rather annoying cat. In her free time she enjoys hiking, maintaining her dog’s blog, and naps.  

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Jeannette’s blog: Ups & downs, swings & roundabouts

KB Blog Jul Melon squatYes it’s me. I know you’ve all been chomping at the bit waiting for the next instalment of my adventures in fitness and Paleo, haven’t you? No? Rude.

I finished the squat challenge but have to say that it wasn’t my best month for challenges. I did it though. I did at least 30-50 squats a day, (but my heart wasn’t in it as much as the other challenges). I did goblet squats, bodyweight squats, door jamb squats, cleans and squats, melon squats…..wait, melon squats? Oh, yes…squatting with fruit is the new thing, didn’t you know that?

Last month we had a lot of fun with the Great Prowler Push Challenge – we all pushed ourselves with more and more weight. My PR so far is 535lb with some of the guys pushing up to 700lb. Nancy is running out of weights and so we may have to start weighing ourselves and standing on the prowler ourselves to add weight for our fellow strongmen/women to push!

KB Blog Jul coleslawMonday Open Nights at Nancy’s during the summer has been fun and varied…a wonderful bright spot in the week, especially with all that goes on in our lives and in the world around us. It’s a time for laughs, and conversation, good food and drinks and strengthening friendships. If you don’t already attend, try to come at least once – you’ll have so much fun! One week, Nancy made this coleslaw with grated red and green cabbage, some onion and carrots, and mayo and Buddha Pesto sauce. It was delicious! I made some later on that week, and my husband devoured every last bit.

KB July Blog candyOther than the squats and prowler pushing and getting ready for an art show, what a month it’s been. It’s been quite tough and full of stress and worry for various reasons, leaving me lethargic and “don’t care-ish” and pretty much non-existent at the Kettlebell Center. Blogging has been furthest from my mind. My eating has been stupid. I know that I’m an emotional eater, and that stress triggers bad eating habits. My brain knows all this, and yet I still give in to the siren call of Ruffles, or chocolate covered pretzels, or liquorice allsorts or booze to try and keep my spirits up and comfort me. Funny how that doesn’t help, right? Do the rest of you give in sometimes, or do you power through it? And if you do power through it, how? 

KB Blog Jul -helping-hands-Stock-Photo-handSo that’s July so far. No challenge completed. This blog is supposed to be recording my adventures in the world of fitness and Paleo…and the ups and downs that go with it. It feels like this particular blog was really hard to write and perhaps not the most upbeat of blogs you’ve read so far. The next one will be more uplifting, and less random, I promise! I’m climbing out of the slight trough I was in, and normal service will be resumed. I do hope though, that there is some encouragement here. It’s not always going to be mountaintop experiences, is it? We’re pretty good at masking the real us, and some of us hide when we’re not feeling on top form, because we don’t want to bring others down. It’s hard to ask for help. I know this because that’s me. I can dish out the advice and offer help – “Hey, we’re here for you. What can I do to help?”, but find it so difficult to accept or ask for it. There is nothing wrong with needing an occasional hand to pull us up. Mine is here for you. I just need to remember to take my own advice.

 

Until next time, keep doing what feeds you.

  • J x

 

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Athlete of the month: Bri Molitor

This is the first of a series of interviews highlighting one of our enthusiasts.  Bri is a regular in classes and manages to fit in 3-4 training sessions in each week, despite having two young children and a demanding job that sometimes requires travel.

FullSizeRenderBrianne Molitor, Investment Officer at the NY State Common Fund
Married with two children: Shea (5) and Ryder (2)

How long have you been training with kettle bells?

Six years. I played basketball and tennis for most of my childhood and high school years and had continued to work out, doing some combination of cardio and weights. I never enjoyed my workouts and didn’t feel like I was challenging myself enough; it had became boring and routine. I was playing in a women’s basketball league when a friend of mine (shout out to Brooke Rutnik-Shaw) invited me to come to a class with her because it “was a great workout.” I’ve been hooked ever since.

What has been the biggest benefit you’ve experienced from kettlebell training?

The two biggest benefits have to be an increase in strength and endurance. I trained with Nancy through both of my pregnancies and felt great during and after each.

I also find myself sleeping and eating better and I’m conscious of how I move and lift things in my everyday life. In addition to strength gains, I’ve made some great friends here which makes it even more fun to train/work out.

I look forward to every workout whether it’s kettelbells, circuit (HIIT) classes, or open gym; my body doesn’t feel right when I’ve been away from it. I also love the small group setting and that we train barefoot.

Everyone is a little different; what would you say is the magic formula for you?

Currently I aim for 3-4 classes each week and feel the best I’ve ever felt. I like that I can get an intense training session in 45 minutes. Earlier this year I made some changes to my diet, incorporating more protein and vegetables and fruit into every meal. I’ve never felt stronger. I can do more and I challenge myself more.

IMG_4906What is your favorite kettlebell move?

I love almost all of them…I would have to say presses because they make me feel strong. And swings and snatches because they get my heart rate up instantly.

What would you tell people who might be hesitant to join, not knowing what to expect?

I think when people hear “The Kettlebell Fitness Center” they think we only use kettelbells. It’s important to know that in addition to kettlebell instruction, we use sandbags, TRX, heavy ropes, medicine balls, etc, and occasionally practice Strongman events.

IMG_4903All of the classes are small groups, and are appropriate for everyone regardless of their age, size, or ability. The instructors all earned their instructor certifications through Strongfirst (Sfg) and/or Dragon Door (HKC, RKC) organizations that require rigorous study and testing.

If you’re looking for an intense cardio and strength workout, kettlebell training is the most efficient workout you can do.

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Jeannette’s Blog: Squats, coffee, and “The Great Prowler Challenge”

KB Blog June SquatsThanks for all the kind words regarding my last blog and the “planks of death”. I also want to give a shout out to the awesomeness that is Kerry Strnad, who is always asking me what my next challenge is because she wants to do it too. When I told her it was squats, her face was a picture. However, kudos to her; she has sucked it up and is squatting all over the place this month (in the best possible sense).

KB Blog June baby squatThe squat challenge this month is 30-50 a day, with good form. Why did I pick them? Well, a couple of reasons really. 1. I want to improve my deadlift form and to lift heavier, and squats are a good way to do that. Squats help deadlifts. 2. I want to improve my squat form. My squats are not the best. I yearn to squat like Greg (one of the “say anything crew” that turns up on Thursday nights for “Bags ‘n’ Bells with Bev”). He squats like he’s never done anything in his life BUT squat. Back straight, chest up, deep squat – like a toddler does naturally. My squats kind of look like a bullfrog in trouble. My right foot tends to splay out more than my left, and my right knee has a life of its own. My squats aren’t deep either, and I blame my hips for that. I’ve been trying to do some hip flexor mobility work to get my hips more open and flexible, and believe I’ve come a long way from a couple of years ago, but there is still so much room for improvement. And yes, it’s my right hip that gives me problems. Right shoulder, right arm, right hip, right knee, right foot. That’s right.

So far, I’ve been doing OK with mostly bodyweight squats, so I can practice my form before adding more weight to them. Saturday I did 55 goblet squats with a 20kg bell and was waddling around for the rest of the weekend like a disgruntled duck. This week, Nancy had me put a rubber band around both my legs just under my knees to force me to keep my right knee from creeping in as I come up from the squats. It certainly made a difference, doing this in front of a mirror and having to push against the band to keep my knees from buckling inward. I have hope that by the end of the month I will be so much better at them! And that not only will it translate to better deadlifts, but also a great lookin’ butt!

KB Blog June ProwlerOur quest and love for moving heavy stuff is deepening at The Kettlebell Fitness Center, and so “The Great Prowler Challenge” gauntlet has been thrown down and accepted by the morning and evening crew. 325lb of weight was pushed down the room by individual members of the a.m. crew one morning, and was seen and raised by the p.m crew on Tuesday night, responding with 335lb of weighted prowler. (This included one person – might have been Brianne –  pushing off from the wall with her foot, right through the drywall and one person snapping the metal hook off the prowler, causing said person – might have been me – to stumble backward and fall on her ample cushioned butt.) Who says we don’t live on the edge?! The morning crew have upped their game to 345lb, and it’s now up to us evening crew to man/woman up and increase the stakes. It’s on! (Since writing this, the stakes are even higher as Nancy, Leisha, Sarah and I took on Andy and Matt’s 400lb challenge and raised it to 450! Watch this space for more Prowler Push Challenge  breaking news.)

KB Blog June Choc balsRemember the last blog where I was extolling the deliciousness of fruit infused balsamic vinegar with seltzer? Well the craziness is catching…and I found that friends of mine already knew about the bubbly, refreshing nectar. To that end, we are all trying to one-up each other with our concoctions, including a dark chocolate balsamic with seltzer and mint, to a refreshing grapefruit concoction, a chocolate cherry, and a raspberry delight (complete with raspberry vinegar, muddled raspberries and KB Blog June Blackcurrent balsraspberry and lime seltzer…I sense a faint raspberry theme there). Don’t be afraid friends; try something new if you haven’t already, and jump into the balsamic ocean of dreams with us. (I did put a splash of vodka in my blackcurrant vinegar and seltzer, with a sprig of fresh mint as a garnish – and I blame Sarah for the vodka part – but it was very delicious!)

The theme of drinks continues as I finish the first of June’s blogs. I want to talk to you, coffee lover to coffee lover. Cold brew coffee is the subject. I expect you’ve heard of it. Starbucks sells it. Little independent coffee shops sell it. People love it. It’s a thing, like hipsters. Why cold brew? Well, when you make your normal coffee with hot water, the acidity of the coffee comes out. I LOVE strong, black, hot coffee. I make iced coffee from the leftovers of my hot coffee. I love the smell, the slight oiliness on the top, the hit of it. But for some people the acidity plays with their digestion and stomach. Cold brew is a much smoother coffee, with lower acidity, and if you love iced coffee, you will love cold brew. It’s so easy to make, so why spend your hard earned spondooliks buying it at coffee shops?

KB Blog June Cold BrewTake ¾ cup of coarsely ground coffee (don’t let it be ground finely or it will end up being quite muddy) and mix it with 4 cups of cold water. Let it stand for around 12 hours before filtering. You can use cheesecloth to filter it after the 12 hours, or if you’re like me and love your cafetiere/French Press, then just make it in that and depress the plunger after 12 hours. That’s it. I make a cafetiere of it in the evening and leave it in the fridge until just before I go to work, and depress the plunger. Hey Presto!… I have cold brew to take to work for a couple of days.

So that’s June. Coffee and squats. Do your squats, ladies and gentlemen. It’s good for your butt, your legs, probably The Great Prowler Challenge and definitely your soul. (I made that last one up.)
Squat on – J x

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