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.


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.



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.


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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Jeannette’s Blog: Walkin’ the plank

At last! It’s the end of the Month and another challenge accepted and completed. How I hated this one. This was definitely not a “nailed it!” month. And I felt that by the end of the month, I didn’t finish with a whizz-bang, but with a bit of a whimper, which was a little disappointing but still encouraging and here’s why.

FullSizeRender (6)So the month started with a 51 second plank, but after that didn’t progress much beyond one minute. It was getting frustrating and I felt like I was not getting anywhere, forgetting that I had been struggling to even keep a 30 second plank during circuits. It was then pointed out to me, that my feet were perhaps a little far apart when I planked and that I should bring them closer together (which, of course was harder. *sigh*).

Then 1:42 happened! Yes it did! One minute and forty two seconds of body-trembling, sweat beading, death defying (a little melodrama there for some of you) planking.

Then my mum sent me a story about a Chinese cop who just completed an eight hour plank. EIGHT HOURS, people. I was obviously encouraged to the hilt by that little story. How I laughed. (*sarcasm*) And yes, my mum is reading this – love ya mum! My 1:42 plank all of a sudden seemed – well darn it – it’s MY plank after all. Who cares what’s going on with a man who has nothing better to do all day but plank? Ain’t nobody got time for that! I have interesting things to do – like photography, and reading and lifting heavy stuff and…and….selling insurance. I’m not a planking machine. I’m just trying to do my little bit to strengthen my core, not break a world record for goodness’ sakes.

After my amazing 1:42 plank, I barely made it over a minute again for a few days until one Tuesday evening, at TKFC when some of us had a plank-off and I hit another PR of ***drum-roll*** Two Minutes Three Seconds! Yes – I finally got past the 2 minute mark. I was pretty proud of that. However, from then on, it all went back downhill to the minute mark. I don’t know if it was because I hate planks, or because doing them on my own, rather than being challenged by others bored me, or demotivated me – but I wasn’t able to bypass the unicorn glory of the 2:03 plank for the rest of the month.

KB Blog May Success (1)But I learned something – summed up quite neatly by this little graphic thingumajig. Success isn’t always a straight process…it comes with side steps and fall backs and turn arounds. The trick is not to give up. If I look back at the beginning of the month, 30 seconds of planking was torture to me. Now, 30 seconds feels kinda easy. Did I enjoy this month and this challenge? No, not really. This is the first month that I’ve not been excited about a challenge, but I look back and see the progress I’ve made with planking. I no longer fear it or loathe it. It’s good for your core. You can see in the photo of me planking, that my shoulders are a little rounded due to years of poor posture and desk jobs – but my core is getting stronger, and my posture is getting better due to working out at The Kettlebell Fitness Center…and that’s a good thing! I’m not going to be flaking out after just 30 seconds of planking any more. I know I can make it to 2 minutes – and that’s a lot longer than I’ve ever been able to hold a plank before.

KB Blog May gang (1)From positive to some more good news! A few months back, we lost a member of our gang to the heady delights and lights of that buzzing metropolis we know as Syracuse. But the good news is, he missed us all so much,  he went and got a job back in Albany and so we say, “Welcome back Greg!”  (Let the shenanigans begin!)

Now that summer is well and truly here in the Capital Region, I’m sure that you are all looking for a great tasting alternative to just plain water to keep you refreshed and hydrated. Yes, you can stick fruit and wedges of lemons/limes/cucumbers/potatoes…(maybe not potatoes) in the water, but sometimes you need a little “zhuzh” to give it some “oompf”. Are you feeling me here? Beer and cocktails are not the best way to quench thirst at 10 in the morning, and so I present to you a secret ingredient: balsamic vinegar! Yes, it’s true, my friends, and I have been your guinea pig to test it out for you so you don’t need to. And I approve.

KB Blog May vinegar drink (1)You can use still water or seltzer. Basically, find a fruit infused balsamic vinegar. I have Blenheim Apricot White Balsamic Vinegar here. You can find some great fruit infused balsamics at Oliva! In Stuyvesant Plaza, or any good olive oil store. (I got mine in Newburyport, MA). I added a splash of vinegar to a glass of water and ice, added some lime wedges, and the result is delicious, and it has meant that over the Memorial Day Weekend I drank a LOT of water, which was great in the heat. Click on this link: Stupid Easy Paleo for her recipes for Paleo Mocktails that include balsamic vinegar. Like she says, experiment as to how much vinegar you put in, to satisfy your taste.

So the month of planking has come to a close. What is next on the agenda? I believe it may be squats. 30-50 squats a day. Hey, if I want to be able to deadlift more weight, I gotta practice my squats. Bodyweight squats, goblet squats, front squats…I’m there.

Plank on, friends. Plank on….

  • J x
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Jeannette’s Blog: A plank a day in May


KB Blog May PlankAt last, a catchy title!! And that’s all you need to know about my goal for May.

Have a great month! – J x

Yeah, you’re not getting away THAT lightly, my friends. I have plenty to say about May. If you know me, you know that up there with crawling, I HATE planks. Planks to me are like fingernails scratching a blackboard. There’s nothing I like about them. They’re my nemesis and make me feel like I have no stamina or strength. They mock me, taunt me, haunt my dreams. So, of course my contrary self pricked up her ears and railroaded my rational self, and it went like this:

Rational Self: “Hey, I’m pretty pleased with how the year is going so far with my challenges.”

Contrary Self: “You’re not going to like May, then.”

Rational Self: “Why not? I’ve picked stuff that I know I can pretty much do, even if it does challenge me a tad.”

Contrary Self: “Because I’m fed up with you bragging about how well you’ve “nailed” each goal”

Rational Self: “There’s no point in choosing something I hate.”


Rational Self: (plugging fingers in ears) “LALALALALALALALALALALALA!!!”

Contrary Self: “I win!”

And so, gentle reader, I find myself on my forearms and toes every night after work, trembling from head to toe with the effort of not collapsing like a jellyfish onto the living room rug. My first day started with a 51 second plank. Not too shabby. The rest of the week increased it by 9 whole seconds. 1 minute. I just can’t seem to get past that 60 second mark. As soon as I open my screwed shut eyes and see that I have made it to 55 seconds on my timer app, I just hang in for those extra 5 seconds before face-planting on the floor, panting like I’ve run a marathon.

KB Blog May stopwatchI think the mental counting may have been counter-productive. I produced a 1:12 plank at open gym on Saturday and then came up with a brilliant idea on Sunday which brought me to 1:20! Instead of mentally counting seconds (which my brain automatically did), I would mentally sing a song. The first song that popped into my head (for some random reason) had the lyrics: ”All together now, 1,2,3…Keep your mind on your driving, keep your hands on the wheel, keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead. We’re havin’ fun, sittin’ in the back seat, huggin’ and a kissin’ with Fred.” (I know, I know.) If you want to see video to the song (complete with creepy puppets) then click here: Paul Evans – 7 Little Girls Anyway, I sang that chorus through a few times and managed my 1:20 plank. Tonight, I shall make my way through Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (true story). I’m hoping that by doing this challenge, I will continue to strengthen my core, improve my posture and, of course, find better songs to sing in my head. Suggestions would be appreciated because at the moment, I’m finding it almost impossible to break that 1 minute mark.

A little break here to let you know I finally completed my 30 days of swings (catching up on the time I had off for oral surgery) and apparently managed 4550 swings in total – so huzzah for that! And another thing – remember in my last blog, I wanted to be able to get a 230lb PR in my deadlifting by the end of May? Well that happened on May 3rd! So thrice huzzah for THAT! Onwards and upwards. 235lb, I’m coming for you!

KB Blog May Pork LoinBefore I head off to “enjoy” another plank, here’s an easy recipe. (I cooked the pork the night before so that I didn’t have to wait 2 ½ hours to eat after work the next day.)  I purchased an organic pork tenderloin from Trader Joe’s, rubbed a little olive oil into it, put it in a pyrex dish and added a chopped onion and apples (sliced), salt and pepper, a little apricot balsamic vinegar (optional) and because I couldn’t find my cinnamon, I sprinkled Apple Pie spice on top instead. Cooked in the oven, with a foil cover for about 2 ½ hours at 350F, and Bob’s your uncle!  Slice red potatoes and chuck ‘em in a small cake pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and some Penzeys Roasted Garlic powder and cook in the oven for about 40 minutes at 350F. Cook some asparagus or other veggie that you like, and you have a delicious meal. (I kept the book I’m reading in the photo because I was eating outside and the title therefore seemed appropriate! Plus secretly, I want you to be impressed that I’m reading Hemingway….)

Here’s hoping that my contrary self will be eating humble paleo pie by the next blog, and that I will have accomplished a 1 minute 30 second plank by then. Hey, you gotta dream big, right?

Plank long and prosper, my friends!  – J

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Jeannette’s Blog: Swings and Stitches

KB Blog May goals 1Hope your April has been fabulous to you so far. We’re coming up to the end of the month and the end of 100 Swings/Snatches (or more) a Day in April (catchy title!). It’s been something that I’ve loved and hated in equal measure. Loved, because I can feel the benefits and hated because sometimes I’ve been so tired by the time I get home, I just didn’t want to do them and made myself do them, whilst grumbling to myself. I missed a day because of shiitake mushrooms the night before. (Seems like an appropriate name for them!) I was miserable that day – my only sustenance a couple of slices of dry toast, water and flat ginger ale. I made up for it the next day by churning out 300 swings in the back yard in the sunshine.

KB Blog May oral surgeryThen came an unexpected hiccup that went by the name of “Oral Surgery”. A broken tooth, an abscess, sedation, stitches and recovery meant having to leave off strength training for nearly a week, which made me into a grumbly old witch. I felt like my goal had completely come off track, but then realized that if I was the one who set the parameters in the first place, then surely I could adjust them to accommodate the bump in the road? First thought was, “Well, I’ve already done well over 3000 in 25 days, so I’ve achieved 100 swings within 30 days” but then adjusted my thought process ”It’s 100 or more swings in 30 days and I’ve done 25 days. I’ll add the 5 days on when I’ve recovered”. That actually sat better with me. But thus far as of April 30, I have done 3880 swings in 25 days.

So what benefits have I gained from doing this, (other than the calloused hands and fingers, walking around a lot of the month with aching butt cheeks and practically buying shares in callous scrapers, pumice stone and thick hand cream)?

  1. Better cardio stamina
  2. Firmer butt 
  3. Learning every day…alternating heavier and lighter snatches, knowing when I’m tiring and remembering to use the Mr. Miyogi process to snatch a la Coach Fury
  4. Core – my planks have benefited (more on that later)
  5. My dead lifts have improved (more on that later)
  6. Finding that stubbornness within me to keep going and making myself find the time to do them
  7. Sleeping better 

And if you need any more proof of why the kettlebell swing is so good for you then check this out! Breaking Muscle: The Kettlebell Swing – Why it’s the Perfect Excercise!

Food-wise, it has not been the most excellent of months…in fact I have no photos of food or inspirational recipes. I’ve been lacking in imagination and more often than not, it’s been grilled chicken and salad for dinner with eggs or a rushed protein shake for breakfast. And I’ve felt it. Although the swinging has gone well, I’ve also noticed some bloating and heaviness due to being lax in my eating habits. How do we do it? We eat so well for ages and completely ignore the siren call of sweets, cakes, junk, and then before we know it, we’re chowing down on cheesecake, or Wendy’s hot, salty fries (my weakness), bread and croissants and then bewailing the sticky-out tummy and acid reflux, and indigestion…or is that just me?

KB Blog May deadliftBefore I go, I do want to hearken back to my deadlifting PR the other week. Nancy mentioned that I kinda “glossed” over that achievement. Perhaps it’s a British trait for my generation, but we were taught NOT to show off or brag about stuff. It’s just not seemly. And so even though sometimes I do blow my own trumpet (or toot my horn) it still sits quite uncomfortably with me, even if I have achieved something that I am so proud of. My Facebook “feeling accomplished” emoji, if it were up to me, would be a kind of “proud, but shamefaced at being so ‘braggy’ look”. But listen here…I did a bloody amazing thing the other week. Sarah Clark and I decided to do some deadlifting at Open Gym as we hadn’t done any for a while. I don’t know about you, but I hate knowing how much weight is on the barbell because as soon as I know I have got up to 215lb, my mind suddenly freaks out and tells me that I can’t POSSIBLY do any more than that.

That Saturday, I was just feeling it. You know when you get those days where you feel like you’re in the zone, and you’re feeling pretty good? Well that’s what happened. I got past 215lb to 220lb. Then I got to 225lb I tried a few times, setting up, chalking my hands, packing my shoulders, getting ready to break the bar. Nutthin’. I walked away and tried again…the whole routine. Nutthin’. I walked around the room again. Chalked my hands. Had a little dance. Then I sauntered over to the barbell, didn’t think so hard about  the whole set up; it seemed to come naturally. Before I could think about it, I took a sharp inhale, and went for it. AND. I. DID. IT! Twice!!

And that’s my horn tootin’, trumpet blowin’, showing off, bragging, proud as a peacock story.

KB Blog May blow trumpetAnd I know you all have your own horn tootin’ stories. I love seeing Nancy post them on the The Kettlebell Fitness Center Facebook page. Don’t be afraid to share your successes, because at TKFC, it’s a motivator for the rest of us. It’s an encouragement and we all share in the joy of your successes. TOOT those horns, my friends. Horns and trumpets were not made to be silent, they were made to be blown. Gloriously, and loudly blown.  And that’s all I’ve got to say on the matter.

So goal for May…a plank (how I hate planks) a day. Starting with 30 seconds and working up to see how long a plank can be held by the end of the month. Who’s in?

See you next month with a toothless grin and 230lb deadlift PR!

  • J x
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Jeannette’s Blog: Swingin’ into April

KB Blog April OgunquitHappy April! I’m back, fresh from my Maine, and home vacation. What a great week it was, spending time with the ever lovin’, taking long walks on the beach, talking, laughing, eating, reading and relaxing. (Sounds like an online dating profile!) Sadly, the wonderful cafe at Perkins Cove with the homemade chocolate chip banana bread (remember me salivating over it?) was closed as the owner had turned it into an apartment. **shaking fist**

While I was away, I took some time to reflect on how my March goal went and to think of a goal/challenge for April. The mobility exercises I did every day last month have certainly made a difference – I feel like my limbs are feeling a little looser and less tight, and that it has forced me to think about my posture, especially at my desk. I now have a rubber exercise band with me so that I can do some shoulder stretches during the day AT my desk. That can only be a good thing, right? Click on THIS LINK to see Max Shank’s band stretches for shoulders. My right arm is still giving me some problems; the shoulder part is feeling a lot better, but Rob “Magic Hands” O’Donnell is convinced that I must have broken my wrist or arm at some point (I haven’t) because it’s quite weak when I’m trying to put downward pressure on it. So that’s what we’re working on right now. Swings and roundabouts…sigh. It’s SO discouraging that I can’t take part in the Simple & Sinister challenge (get ups and single arm swings) because a get up is too much for my darned weakling arm, while others are crushing the 24kg and beyond (which is awesome!) but the upside is that I broke my mental block last Saturday and hit a PR of 225lb in my deadlift, after not deadlifting in quite a few months! So huzzah and cheers aplenty for that!!

KB Blog April firstOn to April. It’s a busy month. Weddings to go to, bridal showers to attend, freakin’ snow to shovel (thanks Mother Nature!!!) and lots of other things coming up. In the end I decided on doing a “challenge”. 100 or more swings and/or snatches a day for the month of April, with no “banking” them for a day off! At home, the heaviest bell I own is a 35lb-er, so I make sure I do mostly snatches and single hand swings at home. At TKFC during open gym and classes, I go for a heavier bell, and actually have found that I do MORE than 100 swings there…perhaps it’s the competitive instinct in me. Probably because I’m trying to compensate for my dodgy none-get-uppable right shoulder/arm. As I write this, I proudly think of Tuesday night at Open Gym, where I completed 355 total swings, including…get this….200 x 24kg swings! Yes, my friends. I am rocking this swing malarkey right now. Let’s hope I can keep this up through the end of the month! My motivation is to see a growth in strength and stamina, and to see if I can develop buns of steel that you could bounce a quarter off!

KB Blog April TomatoesSome of our “tribe” got together at Nancy’s on Monday for the monthly “Good Food Club”. I didn’t read the email correctly and proudly presented myself at the doorstep with my offerings an hour early. ‘Twas “vegetarian night” and everything we had was veggie based, with a bit o’ sausage snuck into Leisha’s delicious ratatouille. We had everything from Parsnip Fries and garlic aioli to Moroccan carrots, Thai zoodles, and more besides. It was all very good, and as usual, the company was excellent, with lots of laughs and chatter over food, cider and wine. My dish was of my favourite fruit/veg (depending on how pedantic you are); the fresh tomato. I love growing them and eating them sun warmed, picked off the vine. I found some lovely coloured mini Heirloom tomatoes at Trader Joe’s in all colours from red, to orange, yellow and purple. I sliced them into a bowl with some chopped red onion and made a vinaigrette with a divine Fig KB Blog April OilBalsamic Vinegar I picked up in Portland, ME, mixed with a little white balsamic, extra Virgin Olive oil, crushed garlic and finely chopped basil. Not only did it look pretty, it tasted pretty too. And there have been leftovers for my lunch this week to which I have added olives, chopped artichokes and some grilled chicken. (I always keep a bottle or two of artichokes in the pantry now. They add a depth to salads.)

Before I go, I just want to let my fellow TKFC’ers know that I’ve been taking a wee peep at the goals you’ve been posting on the bulletin boards at the center…for ideas and for encouragement. (Hope you don’t mind.) And I want to give you all a huge shout out, because you all seem to be well on the way to achieving them, crushing them, and moving on to the next goal. Your consistency and hard work is paying off and it’s such an encouragement and motivator to see all your different goals (whether it be heavier get ups or to do one perfect push-up) and how you are going about it, and seeing those goals crossed off. You are all rock stars and beasts, and I’m proud to be a part of this “Tribe of Awesomeness”!

OK – I’m off to do my swings for the day….

  • J
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Jeannette’s blog: “Rest and Be Thankful”

KB Blog Rest and Be Thankful ScottishWhen I lived in England, I spent a couple of summers with great friends in the south west of Scotland at a place called Port Ban near Kilberry, with a view of Islay and the Isles of Jura. There is a long, winding road on the way there that comes out of Loch Long and through Glen Croe, climbing steeply until you get the top. This place at the top is called “Rest and Be Thankful”. It is one of the most beautiful places to rest and indeed, be very thankful.

And I am so thankful for many things this month. Having decided on March being “Mobility Month”, it’s has been very enlightening and helpful so far. Every day I have been completing some mobility moves that go like this: Once or twice a day, start with “crocodile” breathing, then head and neck mobility, followed by shoulder shrugging and rolling, arm and wrist rolling, followed by waist and hip circles, leg and ankle circles, ending with some squats and shoulder stretches (just because I am still working on strengthening my shoulders). I have already noticed a difference in mobility. I even **gasp** did some crawling the other night without having to be forced to by anyone, and I HATE crawling. (For me, crawling is up there with planks…a necessary evil!!) And speaking of mobility, if you haven’t read Nancy’s last Times Union blog on that very subject, then click here: “Sitting. What is it Good For?”

KB Blog March Maine NeddickI’m writing this as I prepare for a mini break in Ogunquit, ME with the ever lovin’ hubs. We will have been married 14 years on March 23rd and try to get to the ocean at least twice a year. When I lived in Blighty, I was never more than ½ hour from the ocean…possibly something I took for granted. Now, I can’t wait to get to breathe in that fresh, salty, seaweedy air off season, to unwind and to explore, to get up at unreasonably early hours to try and photograph the sunrise and to take some time to think about April’s goals. It will possibly be a few days away from working out, but instead of feeling “guilt” about it, I am going to enjoy the rest. Rest and laziness are two different things. I believe rest leads to motivation whereas laziness doesn’t. Rest is a good thing. Rest stops you from burning out. Rest helps you to stop, reflect and enjoy what is around you. Rest also helps you to get back into that helter-skelter whirligig roundabout we call “Life”. Rest helps you be thankful.

Let me tell you a true story of something I am thankful for. When I left the Motherland in 2002 to marry Dan, I left behind me my family and a wonderful group of friends who are scattered throughout the UK and Ireland. I worked full time as a youth pastor at a church in Ipswich and loved my “family” there, especially the young people. It was very hard to let go and start again at the age of 37 in a new country where I knew nobody except my husband and his family. Even church has been hard for me here. Over the past 14 years, it’s been tough to find a place where I feel like I fit in, where people “get” me and don’t judge me. I have made a few friends, but it has been harder than I thought it would be. KB Blog TribeThen, about three years ago I came across Nancy and The Kettlebell Fitness Center and finally felt like I had found “my people” once more. I can be happy, strong, weak, joyful, fed up, ridiculous, pissed off. I can be the encourager, and the encouraged. I can be myself. Nancy has enabled the building of a community of people from different backgrounds, jobs, political and religious views, ages, sizes and shapes who genuinely LIKE each other without judgment, and who find common ground through finding strength. I wish more churches could be like that. This has been so important to me and I am SO thankful that I found you all. In fact, Nancy wrote “Finding Your Tribe” a couple of weeks ago, which completely resonated with me. I highly recommend reading it.

KB Blog March MaineSo, before I head off to Maine to enjoy the cold sea breezes, walks along the Marginal Way to Perkins Cove for coffee and homemade chocolate chip banana bread (I’m sorry, but it’s really very good!), and perhaps even a great evening sing-along at The Front Porch Piano Bar in Ogunquit, I want to remind you that it’s Spring, and leave you with a lovely fresh spring salad that you will devour with your eyes as well as your mouth. The ingredients are simple: Spring Mix, cherry tomatoes, red onion, goat cheese, chopped dried figs and walnuts. To make it even more delicious, make a deep, KB Blog March saladred, fruity salad dressing. I used thawed frozen berries, like blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. Put a handful of berries in a mason jar or a bowl and smoosh them with a fork. Add a little red wine vinegar and good, extra virgin olive oil. Drizzle it over the salad and thank me when I get back from Maine.

Thanks to my friends, family and strangers for reading. I hope you all find some time soon in your busy lives to rest, and be thankful.

  • J

(Photograph of Rest and Be Thankful courtesy Scotland Info Guide at www.scotlandinfo.eu)

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Jeannette’s blog: March “mobility” madness

March Blog Fury

March Madness is upon us, and with it a new goal and a Saturday of Fury and Fabulousness! If you remember/care, I had decided on a goal a month. (Jan – Whole30, Feb – Mindfulness in my kettlebell moves) This month, let’s go for a little alliteration. March is Mobility Month. It’s all very well to get stronger, lift heavier, and swing heavier, but if we don’t develop good mobility skills, then we’re dead meat when it comes to the Zombie Apocalypse. Jumping, bending, leaping, hanging, swinging, crawling are all good skills to keep up. Remember when we were kids and these kinds of things came naturally to us? I can barely hang off a bar for 30 seconds now. As I’ve got older, my joints don’t cooperate as much, and having a desk job does not really contribute to an easier life of mobility. Scarily, a report came out that sitting at a desk all day can be worse for your health than smoking!

March Mobility workoutSo, the March goal is to set aside at least 10 minutes a day (and who doesn’t have 5-10 minutes in their life a day?) to do mobility exercises. At the moment, the only mobility exercises or stretches I do is when warming up before kettlebells, 3 times a week. I want to move because I can move, and not because I have to. It’s so easy on a weekend to curl up on the sofa and mindlessly binge-watch Vikings (Rollo!!) or Wallander, but in between episodes, I can stretch and move. I’ve also been checking out Original Strength, and Max Shank online for tips on mobility drills. Definitely worth looking at!

This goal for March ties in neatly with Nancy’s Blog – Consistency Trumps Intensity that was in the Times Union on Feb 20th. (If you haven’t read it yet, why not?) She talks about doing one small thing a day that can build into a habit to better your life and health.

March Blog Nancy and FurySomeone who had us moving ALL day Saturday on March 5th was Coach Fury, as he took “A Very Fury Kettlebell Workshop” at The Kettlebell Fitness Center. Fury is an instructor at Mark Fisher Fitness in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan, and Nancy had asked him to come to Delmar to work with us on cleans, presses, snatches and more advanced moves in the afternoon – windmills, bent presses and cleans & jerks (that was interesting!) It was so much fun! Nancy and Fury are so passionate about real strength and movement, that it’s infectious and encouraging and makes you feel like you could quite literally move a mountain, if you just believe. It was a day of laughs, surprises and proud moments for us all as we worked on different movements and aspects of various disciplines. Thank you Nancy for the way you teach our tribe, and thank you Fury, for a fantastic workshop. I shall forever imagine my hips as a pinball trigger and will picture the Karate Kid painting a fence as I snatch and bring out my inner She-Ra, Princess of Power…true story.

(Confession: I was nervous that with my dodgy shoulder, I would not be able to do much at the workshop. However, thanks to Rob “Magic Hands” O’Donnell at Manual PT Associates, I was able to reach a couple of personal bests in snatches, AND press 12kg with my healing shoulder without any after effects….and to just that, I give multiple huzzahs!)

Before I head out to stretch and move a little more, (having been sat on my bum for a while writing this blog), let me leave you with a very lazy and easy recipe, which will leave you time to do ALL the stretching, moving, leaping and skipping your heart desires!

March Blog Pork LoinTake a look at this beauty!  Apple-Cinnamon Pork Loin from Paleo Leap. So freakin’ easy to make. Even if you can’t boil an egg, you could make this. Word. Sear and slit, chuck in apples, onions, cinnamon and a bit of chicken stock, cook on low in a crockpot for 6-8 hours, and bish bash bosh, Bob’s your uncle! (And to those who have asked, if you click on any of the coloured words or phrases in this blog, you will link to the appropriate websites/recipes/explanations of weird phrases, etc)

Wishing you success in March Madness, whether it be in your basketball team or your mobility and movement. Keep moving, my friends.


(Top photo courtesy of Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner using his amazing little Smartphone Gorillapod of which we were all in awe)


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Finding your tribe

108-year-old Evelyn Jones, center, of Woodinville, Wash., waves to the crowd after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on her birthday before a baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, July 11, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

108-year-old Evelyn Jones, center, of Woodinville, Wash., waves to the crowd after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on her birthday before a baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, July 11, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

My husband’s grandmother Mary Mardin, died at age 92. Five days before her death, I took a picture of her waving to us from the window of the McDonald’s where “Mert” worked. Interviewed on her 90th birthday for a local TV station, a reporter asked to what she attributed her extraordinary health and longevity. Without missing a beat, she replied, “Well, I’ve worked my entire life (pause)…. and every day I have a Manhattan.”

Those of us who knew her best believe that her excellent health and happiness was due in large part to her strong ties with her family and friends, and her daily engagement with the public at her jobs.   Knowing that people counted on her to show up each day and do a job gave her a sense of purpose and connection. I can’t attest to the daily Manhattan, but hey what do I know?

The 2004 book, “The Blue Zones: Lessons for living longer from the people who have lived the longest” identifies five locations around the world with the highest percentage of people living to and past their 100th birthday. More important than reaching that milestone birthday, these centenarians are happy and enjoy vigorous health throughout their entire lives.

The author describes each “zone’s” diet, physical activity, and habits and there are strong similarities among them although they aren’t identical. Researchers found one consistent commonality among all of them: a sense of purpose and community. They know their neighbors and spend plenty of time socializing with their families and friends. They are engaged in meaningful-to-them work. Nicoyans in Costa Rica refer to the importance of having a “plan de vida”, a strong sense of purpose in order to live a long and happy life.

Whether introvert or extrovert, humans have a primal need to feel connected to others. And despite being more digitally/electronically connected than ever before, many of us still feel isolated and disconnected.

The late Jim Rohn once stated, “You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with”.   Do you have “five people”? Are you connected in a meaningful way to people outside of work and your family? Do you support and challenge each other to grow?

If you’re looking for your tribe, start by asking yourself what it is that is lacking in your life. Are you looking for people to share in activities that feed your soul?

What makes you happy, what feeds your soul? Being outside? Reading? Playing music? Listening to music? What have you always wanted to try but haven’t for fear of looking foolish?

Get clear on what you’re looking for and then start talking with people about it. Write an group email. Search online. Check out internet sites like Meetup www.meetup.com or FaceBook. Or be old-fashioned and place ads in local papers, post flyers.

And remember to be open. The very people you end up connecting with may seem at first glance to be nothing like you. Forming friendships with people whose lives are very different from ours adds depth to our own life.

I’m grateful every single day for the connections I have with my family and friends, and the diverse and wonderful people I have the privilege of working with every day.  I’m already lucky, whether or not I reach my 100th birthday.

Have you had success creating a your tribe? How did it happen and how do you connect with each other? I’d love to hear from you!

Stay strong and keep moving,


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Jeannette’s blog: 15 51

Fab Feb complexWhy the enigmatic title, I hear you ask? (I know you’re not asking really, but amuse me anyway) The easy answer is that on the 15th, I turned 51…a bit of a palindromic birthday, if you will. Last year, I celebrated my ½ century by doing 50 Turkish Get Ups. This year, I had to get a little creative with my workout for 51. So on the Saturday Open Gym, I devised a bit of a complex (yes, a complex, Mike!!! Are you proud of me?!) – 5 reps of 5 disciplines each side: swings, snatches, cleans, squats, and lunge rows, followed by 1 loaded carry. 5 rounds. Was glad that I was able to do them, as I had been limping like a hobbled horse that week. My right calf kept feeling like it was about to give me the biggest Charlie Horse of the century. Why, oh, why just as you feel like you’re getting somewhere, something in your body decides to take you down a peg or two? However, on Thursday night Open Gym earlier that week, I had fun with Greg and Kerry Fab Feb Monkeyas Beverly cracked the whip over us – heavy swings, heavier swings and heaviest swings followed by cleans and racks, and for dessert (as a palate cleanser), swings and planks. Yes, there may have been some swearing directed at Beverly, but in love, of course!

I’ve now had four sessions of Physical Therapy and I have to say, I can already see and feel a huge difference in the strength and mobility of my right shoulder. I can actually bring my elbows together in front of my body now, and, when I’m lying flat on my back with my arms outspread palm down, I can move my knees to one side AND keep both my shoulder blades on the floor! Big steps, people, BIG steps!!

handegg.0_standard_709.0So apparently, there was some kind of big game on earlier on in February. You Americans call it “football” even though the foot barely touches the un-round ball. I like to call it “Hand Egg”. Anyhoo..this leads me on to Superbowl Supersnacks! I wanted to make sure they were healthy but delicious, so I took out some Italian Meatballs that I had made from Well Fed 2 and frozen a couple of weeks ago and made a tomato dipping sauce.

Lime Mustard ChickenI also baked 2lb Mustard Lime Chicken using a recipe from Elana’s Pantry, doubling the ingredients (as hers was per pound) and used a mix of ordinary chili powder and chipotle chili powder. I also used fresh parsley instead of cilantro (as I forgot to get some) and let the chicken marinade for a few hours in the fridge. When I was ready to cook them, I turned the oven to 375F, put some tin foil on a baking tray, and on top of that put a couple of cookie cooling racks. I placed the chicken pieces on the cooling racks and chucked ‘em in the oven, turning the chicken over after 25 minutes to cook for another 20 minutes. I then turned up the oven to 400F for 10 minutes to “char and caramelize” the marinaded chicken. Well, Dan LOVED them! I have to tell you, they were delicious cold the next day for my lunch. Added lots of cut carrots, celery, cherry toms, broccoli with a zingy ginger dressing and our Superbowl snacks were complete and healthy.

After nailing my January goal, and avoiding sugar, wheat, grains, booze dairy etc,  my boss’s birthday came up, and so our office manager bought these chocolate cupcakes with mint frosting with large CAKEpieces of Andes mint chocolates stuck in them. I ate one. But here’s the thing. As I ate it,  I was struck by how sickly sweet it was, and about 15 minutes afterward, actually started to feel like I was getting some kind acid reflux. I know, I know…it serves me right for eating it without thinking,  but I did learn a good lesson from it. Sometimes, the “treat” is just not worth eating. And the other lesson I learned is…that ol’ sugar demon has raised its ugly head again. Down, boy…down! Seriously, sugar is so addictive. The struggle is real. Eating healthily for your body is NOT something that you crack straight away; it can feel like a journey of ups and downs, U-turns and jump starts. However, I feel that if I can keep the momentum going of stopping to THINK how I will feel if I eat something that doesn’t benefit me as fuel for my body, then it will possibly get easier each day.

So, friends, that’s my February – mindful exercise month. I can feel the benefits from slowing down and checking form. I have a goal in my mind for March, which I think will be hugely beneficial to me and to some of you if you also decide to take up the challenge. It’s only a little thing, but I believe it will reap great rewards. And on that “cliffhanger”, I bid you adieu until March.

Swing on.

  • J


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Jeannette’s Blog: Fab Feb

Whole 30 Nailed itLots of positives to begin Fab February! I finished the Whole 30 on February 2nd, feeling fabulous, fantastic and fandabidozi! I lost 17lb and some inches (I forgot to measure myself at the beginning of it), and was able to make it through the month without any alcohol whatsoever. In fact, Todd, the owner of Upstate Wine and Spirits in the Delaware Plaza begged me on Facebook to come by and buy some wine, as sales were down! Cheeky wee beggar…


Another positive thing is that I finally got my first appointment to see Rob O’Donnell at Manual PT Associates on Western Ave to try and start sorting out my shoulder. I went from trying not to giggle at the first appointment as he scrabbled under my back trying to work out what was wrong and re-align some stuff and manipulate things, to wanting to punch him on the second appointment for working on my right wrist and forearm. Ow. (Didn’t know my right wrist had ever been a problem, but apparently it is, and it’s connected to my shoulder problem.) I never knew how one thing that’s misaligned/incorrect in your body could affect so many other parts. However, whatever Rob is doing is working, and at Open Gym on Thursday night, I did get ups with a 8kg and See-Saw presses with a 14lb…baby steps, but so good to see progress again!


IMG_4069So, what is my goal for February, now I’ve completed my January goal? Well, it may sound a little “soft goal” and “so what?-ish” but I am going to try to be a little more mindful of what I’m doing during kettlebell classes and at home when/if I work out there. A couple of weeks ago, I was at Open Gym on a Saturday morning. It was just Bri and me, with Leisha supervising. Leisha had devised a very simple but effective workout. It started off with 5 sets of 5 static swings, followed by a descending ladder of 10 double handed swings, 10 goblet squats, down to 1 swing, 1 goblet squat. Sometimes I make myself rush, because quite often I feel like I am lagging behind everyone else, but Leisha had some cool music on – Stones, The Doors, The Band and as we started the static swings, I realized that sometimes I actually don’t think about what I am doing, or what I am engaging.


I can hip snap with the best of them, but forget to pack my shoulders. I can pack my shoulders and swing, but forget to crack a walnut between my glutes (nice picture, right?). I can hip snap, pack my shoulders, crack that walnut, but forget to use my breathing. I can do all of that, and still forget to engage my abs as I’m packing and snapping and cracking and breathing…you see what I mean? (No, I’m not becoming a human Rice Krispy) I feel that if I can just take the time to “mindfully” work out, rather than just get through it, I will see better results, less injury and gain a stronger core.


Exercise and EatingSo now I’ve finished this Whole30 thing, what’s next for me eating-wise? Well I’m going to try and stay on track. I believe I know what makes me bloat, what makes my gut sick, what drags my energy down (mostly in the grains, legumes and sugar area). So I’m going to keep eating as clean as I can, and this time round, when I’m tempted, attempt to remember no matter how good a donut with sprinkles looks, it’s not going to feed my body to keep me strong and healthy and mobile. Of course I’m sure I will fall off the wagon but the important thing is to get back on…no recriminations, no “well I’ve fallen, I may as well go the whole hog”…just be sensible and step back on the road to health. Sounds boring? Maybe, but at the moment, I feel so great and energized, that I want to keep feeling this way.


I have slowly started to re-introduce foods. The first, and most important is red wine. Me and wine***grin*** I walked into the Upstate Wine and Spirits at Delaware Plaza to be greeted by the owner, “Jeannette! Welcome back!” What does that say about me? I had a couple of glasses of wine Wednesday night and then waited a couple of days to see if made me feel ill or interfered with my digestion or sleep. (No, is the great answer!) Next, I will probably re-introduce some dairy. Cheese. Good cheese. I love good cheese.


So that’s where I am so far this year. I turn 51 later on this month and I hope to keep this up. To make a goal and to achieve it. How are you all doing?


Wishing you all much love for Valentine’s day…because you are all fandabidozi if you ask me!


  • J x
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Nancy’s blog: Just you weight

Just you weight!

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Jeannette’s Blog: Gooooaaaaaaal!!!

January Keep CalmIn my last blog I told you how I was going to do a Whole 30. Well, I’m nearly through it and wanted to let you all know how it’s been going and how I feel. I’m writing the first part of this on day 17 “Tiger Blood!” day, having got through the “tiredness” and “bloating” phase (which sounds so awesome doesn’t it?) And yes, this blog will be full of food pictures…just like a Facebook timeline!


This time (my 4th Whole 30) seemed a little easier, and I was more organized. The hardest thing about it has been the lack of booze. The first Friday evening on this lark, I messaged Nancy “It”s Friday night without wine, cheese or chocolate!!” My husband, unaware of my despair was happily ensconced in his man cave with a cigar and a fine Irish whiskey, whilst I was downstairs pretending that sparkling water with a wedge of lime was fascinatingly delicious and infinitely superior to a glass of Gnarly Head 1924.


But the fantastic upside is that I’m sleeping better, my energy is up and my oh, so tight jeans are no longer tight. In fact, my body is looking much better and less bloated. My skin is clearer. And I’m able to push myself more in Kettlebell classes. I look at myself in the mirror rather than skulking past it for fear of seeing my tummy. Now on day 22, I’m actually not craving sweet things or chocolate. It seriously is worth trying a Whole 30 just for all those benefits. Because whether you like it or not, food plays a huge part in your overall wellness from your outside, your emotions and sleep to your gut issues.


January Moroccan MeatballsI’m fortunate in that I do love to cook – not the rushed “find something to cook in 30 minutes after work on a weekday” type, but taking the time on weekends to cook great recipes with some good music playing: I’ve made Moroccan Meatballs (pictured), Chocolate Chili, Salmon/Tuna Patties with creamy lemon dill sauce, Italian Meatballs from Well Fed 2, Korean Slow Cooker Short Ribs (using babyback pork as I couldn’t find beef short ribs), Tuesday Night Chicken and Green Chile Chicken(pictured below). (If you click on the links, it will take you to the recipes.) I’ve made Mayonnaise, Chimichurri and Zingy Ginger Dressing. My husband has enjoyed every bite. And all I’ve had to do is re-heat the food during the week and add lots of veggies, or salad. I’ve tried to get out of the mindset of breakfast/lunch/dinner and instead think of meal 1/2/3 so that it’s not so January Green Chicken Chileweird when I eat chicken or meatballs first thing in the morning (and by the way, Moroccan Meatballs are SO good cold!) and of course, I’ve also kept it very simple a lot of days by grilling chicken or fish and pairing it with good veggies when I haven’t been cooking these delicious recipes. Please don’t feel overwhelmed with recipe choices if you are trying a Whole 30 for the first time. Seriously, as long as you have a palm size piece of protein, and then veggies, cooked in good fats, you’re golden! As I’ve said before, spices and herbs will become your best friends to zhuuzh things up. And don’t forget the delicious sauces and dressings to go with your food. You can find so many of them in Well Fed 1 or 2


On to Kettlebell classes: one of the things I love about The Kettlebell Fitness Center (and there are MANY things to love about this place!) is that we have different instructors with different ways of getting us all sweaty. Each has their own style (and music choices) and each has their way of getting the best out of us, whether it be Nancy with her humour and her very apparent love for us all as she gets us to push and amaze ourselves with what we can achieve, or Stephanie with her loud rock and encouragement, to Beverley with her love for sandbags and pop, Leisha with her laid back (but sweaty workout) style and old school rock, or Mike with his military style super-hero complexes coupled with 80s music(and quite often a super-hero T shirt). Each and every one of them has our best interests in mind as they keep us progressing every single day to be stronger and more mobile. I wanted to take this time to thank them for everything they do for us because they are fantastic.


January MickWe are truly going to miss Super Mike as he leaves with his wife and family next month to go and live in Ireland for a while. Thank you Mike for everything, including your patience with me as I ask 20 questions every time I’m in your class or stare like a dumb**s at the whiteboard as if I haven’t yet learned to read. Goodbye to someone who understands proper fish and chips, yorkshire pudding and other British culinary delights. To Mike, I offer a “Huzzah!” and “Hwyl fawr a phob lwc!”. (look it up).


So that’s January. Very positive. I hope to keep up the consistency as that is what I have pledged to do. By the end of January, I will have achieved the goal of completing a Whole 30. For February, I set myself another challenge. (I guess I need to start thinking about that!)


Toodle pip!



(Pictured below: Korean Ribs and Chocolate Chili) January Korean RibsJanuary Chocolate Chili





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Jeannette’s Blog: A New Year’s Revolution

happy-new-year-3d-wallpaper-photos-2016The Thanksgiving and Christmas season is now past, and as we rush headlong into 2016 with hardly a snowflake or ice storm in sight, many of us think about resolutions. In the next couple of weeks or months, many of us will have given up on those same resolutions. Can you blame us? Who here has ever uttered the words, “This year, I’m going to lose weight/be healthier/go to the gym/ go on a diet”? Of course we have. How many of us here have stuck like glue to these resolutions? If you have, then you are my hero, and I want you to be my personal life coach and mentor for all of eternity.

the beastI had a look in the mirror the other day, whilst in my underdungers and tried to be objective. (Ladies, you know how hard it is to be objective when you’re looking at your half nekkid self). However, I noticed my hair was shiny, and legs looked strong (now I feel like I’m describing a horse at auction! Just kidding.) As well as considering the bits I liked, I thought back to some of my achievements over the past year – including a heavy bell swing off between Kerry, Greg and me, starting with a 20kg and culminating in the 3 of us swinging The Beast! (48kg/105lb) True story. We have video.

But there was no getting away from the fact that my food choices over the festive season combined with a lack of motivation was showing.I saw a fluffier and tireder me. I saw skin that is breaking out. I know that my sleeping pattern has not been good, my energy level is that of a slug on Valium. My digestive system has been rioting.

I’m not knocking resolutions, but I do think that when we set “vague” resolutions, we invariably end up purposeless in our end goals. This year, I intend to break out of those vague promises to myself and actually break it down into achievable goals and ask “What is my end goal?” at each step. Thus I am setting out achievable goals for this month. I will take it a month at a time and by the end of the year, hope to see a consistency on the road to health, strength and mobility. This is my New Year’s Revolution.

me desk jobI have a desk job which has me hunched over a computer 8 hours a day, but January will also be 30 days of consistency in mobility. I will attempt to be consistent in getting up and moving regularly, whether it be kettlebell class, stretching, walking, jogging, lunging down the office hall to the bathroom or rolling my shoulders at my desk. By the end of January, I want to feel more mobile, a spring in my step, and stronger than I feel right now on Jan 3rd.

January 4th (a Monday) will start the year with a reset. 30 days of food choices that will get my sleep, energy, skin and digestive system back on track. Along with many others, I’m going to do a Whole 30 – 30 days of choosing lean proteins, good fats and oils (think avocados, ghee, EEVO, coconut oil), olives, nuts, loads of veggies, some fruits, fish and things like that. 

salad with avocadoNo processed food. (There are SO many resources out there about Whole 30 or eating clean/Paleo, that if I were to list them all, you would be on the interweb forever, so I’ll list my favourite at the end of this blog.) Am I going to breeze through this? I will probably have some “tough” days…I love booze and chocolate and chips and bread, but have come to understand that for me personally, my body rebels against some of those things and my end goal is to be able to sleep properly again, to have more energy, for my skin to become a little clearer and to stop my love handles from hanging over the side of my jeans.

chicken balsamic tomatoIt’s not like I’m not going to give up delicious food…see what I made last night! I heated up the oven to 375 and in a skillet, I quickly browned some well seasoned skinless, boneless chicken thighs in light olive oil. Then, I threw in some thinly sliced shallots, chucked some small vine tomatoes on top and added a some generous splashes of balsamic vinegar over it all. Sprinkled a little magic over it all (crushed dried rosemary) and popped it in the oven for around 35-40 minutes. Before the end of the cooking time, I sauteed a pack of baby bella mushrooms in a separate pan until the juice was all coming out and they were all buttery from the ghee, and 10 minutes before the chicken was ready, I threw them in the skillet  as well, taking some time to baste the juice at the bottom of the skillet all over the chicken and tomatoes. Turned up the heat for the last 10 mins to 400. I kind of made this up as I was going along, hence no exact measurements, but believe me, it was delish and so easy.

Thirty days isn’t a long time to try something is it? I know that by the end of January, I will feel a LOT better, and it will give me motivation to set a new and achievable goal for February. Who’s with me?

(Resources I love, and most of these people are on Facebook & Instagram too: Whole 30, Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan, Practical Paleo, Nom Nom Paleo, Stupid Easy Paleo )

Vive la revolution!


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Jeannette’s Blog: Reasons to be Cheerful

Christmas TreeThanksgiving is over, and we are headlong into the Christmas and New Year’s festivities. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas, and that you enjoyed every bit and bite of it! I won’t even go into all the details of the amazing stuffing I made for the turkey. Suffice to say, I was sad when it was gone.

As we head into the final week of holiday celebrations, I’m determined not to gain a lot of weight or to become “fluffier” than I already may be. My shoulder has been giving me grief again, and I finally got to see my doc who has agreed that I need physical therapy. Huzzah for that! So in the new year, I shall be waiting for my appointment to get me back on the road to be able to do presses and Turkish Get Ups again without aggravating any part of my body. After managing 50 of the little blighters for my 50th birthday last year, and working up to a 14kg bell, it’s a little galling that I can’t even do a Get Up WITHOUT a weight now as my right shoulder won’t take the pressure. So glad that Nancy and Mick are there to modify some of the workouts for me. (Is it bad to say that I hate doing crawls and don’t miss them anyway??)

The good news is that I reached my goal of 100 swings with a 24kg bell and am happily swinging a 28kg and did a few rounds with a 32kg during the Thanksgiving Morning Swing & Snatch session. Now I have a couple of goals to think about for the new year. One of them will obviously be working on my shoulder mobility and strength, and the other will be….***drum roll*** to touch my toes! I don’t think I’ve ever been able to do that. When I do (notice I didn’t say “if”?), I will have a picture taken for posterity.

swings and deadliftsLast Thursday night (Open Gym) ended up as an unexpected private sesh with Nancy. I was the only one who turned up, so Nancy asked if I want to deadlift (my favourite) or combine deadlifts with a workout. Stupid me chose the combination. She made me…MADE ME!…do 300 swings with 18 deadlifts.

Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk” got me through the last 50 swings. Thank you guys!  Actually, it was a lot of fun and motivated me that Saturday to see if I could do 500 swings – which I did!

The “Good Food Club” started up a couple of weeks ago, after the Strong(wo)man Challenge. Nancy had emailed everyone at TKFC to see who would be interested in getting together on a Monday night once a month, and bring a dish to share. It had to be healthy and we had to share the recipe. For the first one, we had 9 people, and it was so. much. fun. All kinds of dishes were shared, from guacamole and jicama sticks, to a squid salad, zucchini noodles with shrimp and pesto, curried butternut squash soup, orecchiette with rapini, lentil stew, veggie frittata and a spicy butternut squash casserole. The food was wonderful, and the company even more so. We got to know each other better and laughed an awful lot. We’re looking forward to the next one with drooling mouths (nice picture there) and the expectation of many more hilarious stories.  Our next gathering is scheduled for Monday, January 11; I hope you’ll join us! If you have any questions, post them below or email Nancy at [email protected]

Butternut squash soup yesWith it being winter, one of my favourite things to make is soup – a good thick hearty soup. My favourite to make is a curried butternut squash soup. I don’t have an actual recipe because I love to make things up as I go along and add seasoning here and there until I like the taste of it.

Chop up a sweet onion and a couple of cloves of garlic and sautee them in either light olive oil, ghee or coconut oil and then add some chopped carrots. Cut up a butternut squash and add that to the mix giving it a good stir. I add salt, and some spices (Penzey’s Curry powder, Cumin, Coriander and sometimes a little of Penzey’s Turkish seasoning).

Add some chicken or veg stock to the pan (don’t cover the veggies with the stock, you want to add enough that it softens the veggies up at a simmer for a while) Once all the veggies are soft,  chuck in a blender with a little more stock until it’s like a thick bisque and transfer it back to the saucepan. I then add some coconut milk and taste. Depending on how spicy you like your soup, add some more spices/salt/pepper to taste.

Carrots and butternut

Butternut squash soup result




Well, it’s been a fun year but a bit of a roller-coaster for me with regards to my fitness goals. I’ve learned a lot and am thinking about the goals I want to set for the next year. I’m sure that there will be some setbacks along the way, but there will definitely be gains too! As Nancy says, “Stay Strong!”


  • J
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Holiday specials!

Would you like to give someone the gift of discovering their strength this holiday season?


Do you need to send a hint to someone about a gift for you??

This month, we’re offering two special prices for classes and/or private sessions!

Regular price: One 12 class punch card: $180

SPECIAL HOLIDAY PRICE: Two 12 class punch cards :$240 ($10/class)

Regular price: One 1 hour private session: $75

SPECIAL HOLIDAY PRICE: Two 1 hour private sessions: $100 ($50/session)

This offer ends December 31. 

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