SFG II : How pressing 22kg changed my belief systems and my life.

Belief is a powerful thing. Belief propels you forward. Stops you in your tracks. Creates beginnings and endings. And all without you ever having made those conscious decisions.

For years I believed I wasn't capable of running a business. I believed I wasn't capable of ending my cycles of disordered eating. And most recently, I believed that I did not belong in an elite group of athletes and coaches. I went into my SFG II*, an advanced kettlebell training weekend, undertrained due to illness, injury and the crazy of running a business (I knocked that belief into next Tuesday. I think.) But more importantly, I went in carrying a silent belief that I didn't belong there. That I wasn't good enough, strong enough or a good enough coach to stand up with such an elite group of people.

Belief is a powerful thing. Belief propels you forward. Stops you in your tracks. Creates beginnings and endings. And all without you ever having made those conscious decisions.

(If you want to skip the whole story and get to the point, find the **)

I opened the studio space for PULSE Kettlebells and Yoga on September 2nd, after two months of negotiations and just one week to renovate and turn over the previous studio. Something I had never thought possible was suddenly brick-and-mortar!

I promptly got sick (because apparently 14 hour days are a good idea for 2 weeks in a row?) and stayed that way for more than 2 weeks. A little overzealous (who, me?) I injured my shoulder on my first workout after my last cold bug, just one month out from my SFG II. I couldn't move my neck or shoulder, had radiating nerve pain and just f!@$ hurt. Crushed, I called my sister and my trainer sobbing. I had worked so hard up until the studio opening and was fitting in three training sessions/week even with all that was going on... it was a really heartbreaking morning.

Thanks to an amazing (and patient) massage therapist, encouragement from my coach and a little bit of stubborn, I slowly rehabbed my shoulder and was back on track! Until the Monday before my certification...when I got slammed with another cold bug. This time? No messing around. I canceled all my clients. Subbed out most of my classes. And turned Netflix to STUN with Scandal and Blacklist while I chugged a gallon of orange juice and a gallon of homemade miso soup over the course of 48 hours, breaking only for acupuncture and naps. I WAS GOING TO FREAKIN' PHILLY.

(So I showed up at the airport, my troubles behind me! Until they told me the flight was oversold by 30 and I'd be lucky to get a seat. COME ON!!! 30 minutes of agony later, I was lucky. And got the last seat, much to the dismay of the 5 people behind me who got bumped. Thanks, Delta.)

Before I tell any more of this (rather long) story, I really want to take a moment to thank whoever made it possible for me to be on Team Sansalone and to Joe Sansalone. I was lucky enough to work with my trainer's trainer (!!) and one of the most talented coaches I've had the pleasure to work with. 

Back to to SFG II.

Day 1: I passed my flexed arm hang -- piece of cake. I passed my snatch test in 4:20, PR'ing by more than 20 seconds. See also: my sore biceps and lats for the next 72 hours. I failed my 22 kg press test after a really decent grind, which wasn't a surprise given my red shirt status. I also failed to anticipate the volume of level 1 skills we'd be doing. I was TIRED by the end of day 1.

Day 2: Rough. Rough. Rough. Rough. Fatigue/soreness had set in due to my lack of volume the previous month, and my brain went into overload learning the bent press (new fave challenge.)  Then.... the swing workout. 24 kg, double 16 kg, double 12 kg, 32 kg .... go down the line 10 swings each. Keep going. Unfamiliar with the swing or double swing? That's a long walk down a short plank. I choked down a bagel for lunch and spent at least 30 min that afternoon choking back tears (or straight up crying in the bathroom) because my usually VERY compliant body was in full-on rebellion. "Oh. You'd like to jerk those 16 kg bells? That's nice."

OK. SO!! All that aside: I learned SO FREAKIN MUCH. I learned what it was like to feel completely at a loss as a student (I'm pretty sure at one point I heard Joe say "That's a good cue, but her brain's about to short circuit, so we're gonna let her work with this.") I learned quality > volume. I learned that a strong trunk translates into power faster than you can imagine. That a good coach walks the fine line of balancing kindness with a demand for quality.

** Day 3: Failed my 22 kg press test again but it was a LONG GRIND and I felt something shift around the middle of it. Joe coached me a few times on lighter lifts and I did some bottoms up work to keep my lat sealed. Tried the lift again. Clean. Pressed. GRIND GRIND GRIND ..... bell starts to drop ... and something inside me snaps. I let out some kind of ridiculous Amazon anger shriek and completed the press. And failed because the bell can't drop on it's way up. F!@#$ but true.

Went to lunch for a walk and called my mom because something deep had let go in that attempt...something deeper than my lat. And as we talked about it, tears swelled to my eyes as I realized that I was holding onto a belief that I didn't belong there. So that was it. The hitch in my strength and my achilles heel: a deep rooted belief that I didn't belong. A belief I was no longer willing to subscribe to after all I'd been through.

So after the rest of my tests...windmills...jerks...push presses... I sat down and realized that I was sore. and tired. and my shoulder hurt. and -after talking to my coach- that I was going to try one more time, results be damned. I walked up to the 22 kg and said half out loud/half to myself "I belong here. I am strong enough. I am good enough." 

and I really meant it.

I cleaned. Wedged. Grunted. Pressed. and let out another variation of the hilarious warrior yell I'd emitted before. AND IT WENT UP. No questions asked. No pause, hesitation or doubt. It just went up.

It took a moment to realize what had happened as I racked the bell and put it down. Got the nod from my coach. Heard people yelling and shouting in trumph for me. And sort of ignored Team Leader's handshake in favor of a chalk-y bear hug.  I bounced up and down like a two-year old in a candy store and hugged people I'd never met, immediately grabbed my phone and texted 5 people (yeah, yeah...) and I came home the next morning still reeling with the excitement of texting my coach I DID IT I DID IT I DID IT!!!!!

I passed my SFG II against a lot of odds. And - oddly - I am even more proud of that than I am of  successfully running my kettlebell and yoga studio or of anything else I can remember. I MET AND TRANSFORMED MY OWN BELIEFS, the most powerful things I've ever come up against and I am really proud of that (Just writing this, my heart gets all swell-y again.)

So here's the moral of the story - for those of you who have tirelessly read through this absurdly long post: changing your beliefs will change the course of your life. By all intents and purposes, the 4th attempt at a lift after 3 days of physical testing should have failed. But a simple shift in *belief* is what shifted my ability to move weight that should have been immovable.

The trick is to dig below conditioning, thought and understanding, and look at what it is you truly believe about yourself. It's not always (or often) pretty. It can be undesirable or confusing. But if you're willing to meet the parts of yourself that you've covered over with productivity or inactivity or whatever it is you're using to hide from yourself? S!@$. WILL. CHANGE. If you're willing to let it.

___

* Strong First Girya Level 1 requires stamina. You must understand and execute 6 Hardstyle Kettlebell lifts with 2 test-sized kettlebells (24 kg for men, 16 kg for women > 124.5# = me.) It's a grueling weekend that builds mental fortitude and toughness.

Strong First Girya Level 2 requires finesse. In addition - of course - to stamina, mental toughness and a "survive at all costs" attitude. On day one, you must pass your snatch test (100 in 5 min) and strength test (5 pull ups + 1/2 bodyweight military press for men, 15 sec flexed arm hang + 1/3 bodyweight military press for women) and go on to review the six SFG I skills. Day 2 is review and practice of Level 1, followed by a headfirst leap in the bent press, push press and jerk. Day 3 is review and practice of those lifts...and skills testing.

Crazy Week Workout


When things get crazy and you only have time for a short workout here's my go-to. Hits all highlights without taking too much time!

Warm up with full range-of-motion joint work and be sure to adjust/modify as needed. My weights are listed...I do this for a living. (Just sayin')

3 Sets: 5+5 16 kg Single Leg Deadlift 1+1 16 kg TGU 10 x Deadbugs

5 Sets: 1+1 20 kg Presses R/L 1 Double 20 kg Press

2 Sets: 1+1 24 kg TGU

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Yoga Playlists: July Grooves

I've gotten a ton of questions about my playlist from this month ... so here it is!  Probablyone of my favorites thus far. It's just one of those that makes my heart ache in a really really good way  :)

(If you have a Grooveshark account, just use this linkto see and play the whole thing!)

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  • River Song / Jagadamba / Jai Ma - Govind Das & Radha
  • Himmon, TX - Bon Iver
  • Heartbeat - Jose Gonzales
  • Taxi Cab - Vampire Weekend
  • Tesselate - Alt-J
  • Bittersweet Faith (Thievery Corporation Remix) - Bitter:Sweet
  • Waves (Robin Schulz Radio Edit) - Robin Schulz
  • Illuminated - Hurts
  • Mere Ornaments - J. Tillman
  • Om Namo Narayani - Edo & Jo

Big News!

Big News  For the last month or so, I've been working with the amazing Amanda Ginther of Blackbird Family Yoga to facilitate something beautiful: PULSE Kettlebells and Yoga will have a brick-and-mortar location as of September of this year! We're moving into the space currently housing Blackbird Family Yoga on Frank Lloyd Wright Avenue in Middleton, WI and couldn't be more excited.

I have been looking for a space to call home since April of this year and had two lease negotiations fall through in both May and June. Thank goodness! After learning that Amanda was closing her doors, I reached out to learn a little more about the space and thought "maybe I could even keep a couple yoga classes." That'll teach me to think small!  

In addition to Amanda's beautiful class schedule of family-oriented yoga, I'm planning to offer some energetic and strengthening flow classes, TRX classes and OF COURSE, kettlebell class schedule that includes early morning and express classes!  We'll have a studio for classes, a small studio for personal and small group training, and a wonderful space for tea and community.  The lobby will also feature Sun Warrior and Young Living products...and of course some PULSE gear!  <high pitched excited girl squeal>

I feel so honored to be able to be a part of Blackbird's transition and so. freakin. lucky. to get to work with Amanda. She shares my passion for promoting a body love environment, gets just as excited as I do about the no-bull#&%* fitness counter culture I'm building and loves wine as much as I do. She's a beautiful spirit and I am SO. LUCKY. (did I say that already) that she is staying on to teach at PULSE.

Yesterday, I sent out an email letting everyone know what's up (and why I look like I haven't slept in a year) and the outpouring of love and support nearly knocked me off my feet. We raised nearly half (NEARLY HALF!) the funds needed to outfit the space in less than 12 hours and I received more emails, Facebook comments, texts and phone calls than I could field or respond to. You know when you stop and wonder if you're capable, good enough, on the right path...then the Universe just rolls you with HELL YES?  That happened.

***

Because I'm learning that asking for what I need is a viable way to get what I need (revolutionary, right?) ... here's what I need:

  • We're running an IndieGogo campaign to help us fund equipment for the studio (kettlebells and TRX and pull up bars, hooray!)  You can check out the campaign here to learn more about how you can support our work by donating/grabbing a membership early!
  • Madison area personal trainers and TRX instructors who are body-positive, compassionate and interested in learning the SFG hard style kettlebell method.
  • A few people to help me continue to provide childcare for the 9:15 am class times (trade for classes)
  • A few people to help me with class check-in, cleaning and other day-to-day stuff (trade for classes)

***

I really need to send a big shout out to PULSE hubby, Brian, for believing in me more than I ever have and to PULSE mom, Sandy Graham, for providing a haven from the storm and a constant phone line to sanity. To my teacher, Alex Pfeiffer, for teaching me the challenging and beautiful path of true authenticity and to my financial backers...you know who you are... and you are making this possible.

We are hoping to open the studio the first week of September! Until then, our schedule will stay the same. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.  In the meantime visit our website regularly for updates.

Strong First 2014

StrongFirst Instructor From April 25-27th of 2014, I joined 200 family members in Chicago to renew my StrongFirst Girya (SFG) certification. It was an reminder of the power of less, of my strength and its potential to effect those around me, and the intensity of a group of people united by their belief in something universal.

In 2012, I completed my first RKC in a very acute state of fear and sleep deprivation. Training for that cert had consisted of 60-90 min of swinging, up to 45 min of snatching, PLUS  the Rite Of Passage press program when I could squeeze a few ladders in on my "rest" days. I was exhausted, terrified of failure and unaware of my own physical strength or mental toughness. Thanks to my team leader and assistants, I walked out of the Grad Workout feeling more proud of myself than I think I ever had. Not only had I survived -- but I had passed my snatch test in 4:30, nailed all my technique tests without a hitch and been recommended as an assistant.

This time around?  I passed with flying colors and was barely winded as I completed my snatch test.  I got nearly 8 hours of sleep every night.  I spent my "off" time reading and taking power naps.  I felt grounded and empowered every step of the way and I learned even more about myself, how to train myself and how to lead my clients.  So what was different?

I learned to Slow Down.  I trained hard for this round ... for about a month.  For about 5 weeks, I followed Brett Jones' Level 1 certification training program 5 days/week at double 16 kg after the 1st week. By week 6 I was burned out, cranky, and ready to quit.

For the next 6 weeks, after a coaching session with this AMAZING dude, I trained focused and strong...but NOT so hard.  I lifted 4 days/week and only 2 days heavy. I took almost a week off to focus on stability when an unrelated back spasm sidelined me. I skipped the snatch workouts (which give me migraines) in favor of swinging a 24 kg with one hand. I trained solid and slow, and there was always something left in the tank at the end of a set or a workout.  Hey.  You know that "less = more" thing?  It's true.

  • Mon: Double Clean and Press / Clean and Squat Ladders (3)
  • Tue: TGU + Snatch Prep -- Heavy Swings
  • Thu: Double Clean and Press / Clean and Squat Ladders (5)
  • Fri or Sat: TGU + Snatch Prep -- REALLY Heavy Swings

In addition to being MORE than ready for the cert -- I fell in love all over again with the StrongFirst system. The simple beauty of picking up something heavy.  Putting it down. Doing it again.

I re-discovered a commitment to Excellence. Early on, I caught myself with a pissy attitude because I was being asked to perform lifts to certain specifications with no adaptations or adjustments for my body.  I'm used to a style of yoga where everything is a yoga pose and "correct" depends on you. It's demanding, but it's fluid. Gimme my options or gimme child's pose!

Alternatively: Hardstyle is Hardstyle is Hardstyle and there is an iron-clad (pun intended) protocol for each lift.  My first response to this was anger.  I was frustrated that someone was not making accommodations for me, and that I was being held to a firm line.  Then it dawned on me: "Oh yeah. That's life. $&%!"  A standard of excellence exists.  And I want to meet that standard.

I've spent the past 3 years or so attempting to balance my Type A driven personality, slowly drifting into a mindset of "all is now.  all is good. world peace." which is valuable.  But the weekend at the SFG helped me notice that the pendulum had swung a bit too far in that direction, and that a sense of yes. no. black. white. correct. incorrect. is also a very valuable thing.

I re-learned Strength.

l don't believe that strength = brute force.  In my experience, strength is CHECKING IN, addressing what arises AND MOVING FORWARD intelligently.

  • Meeting the thought "I can't" with curiosity
  • Noticing without attachment the thought "this shouldn't be so hard"
  • Addressing resistance as it comes and STILL COMPLETING THE LIFT with integrity

When I approached strength with the willingness to look inward and STILL MOVE FORWARD, my body surprised me.  "Holy DAMN. Did I really just do that?" was a regularly occurring thought over the long days.

I found an untapped well of strength in quiet confidence in my ability to walk the line between "ignore the thoughts" and "give in to the doubt." I KNEW I could finish this weekend with grace and integrity.  I KNEW that I could own the snatch test.  And because I had that tucked away -- I found all kinds of space for compassion and energy for those around me.  Even the people I never spoke to, I had a connection with that wasn't possible when I was wrapped up in "I'm afraid I'll fail."

I remembered the power of FAMILY.  The first day I ran into several men that were at my first RKC in San Jose.  We had no other connection but there was a bond: "We've been through this together."  I got to eat lunch with Sergio, a kettlebell brother and the man who adopted many of my San Jose clients when I moved.  I got to cheer on women who were shaking the first day (that first arm hang is *intimidating*!) ...and cheer them on again when they nailed their snatch tests. My training partner for the weekend was a ROCK and my roommate is a sister.  All because we believe in the same value: Strength First. All else will follow.

There is nothing like the power of 200 voices in unison stating with complete certainty that they are "SFG" or the energy of 200 bodies generating the power of the Hardstyle Swing.

I decided to re-certify at Level 1 in Chicago instead of continuing on to Level 2 because the move and several family emergencies this year kept me from training the way I wanted to. I thought "No worries.  It'll be there in 2 years."

But I cannot stop here.  Not knowing the raw power of my strength coupled with a call to excellence...especially when its wrapped in grace and compassion.  See you all at SFG II... I'm coming for you, Philly.

 

The Power of Exercise (de)Programming

Wakefulness. Attentiveness. Compassion.  Photo Credit: Topher Simon Photography (THANK YOU! To everyone who read and shared my post on The Biggest Loser.  We saw more than 800 visitors that day! Please feel free join us on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter over there to the right if you want to stay in touch.)

A few months ago, I was talking to my teacher about my kettlebell practice, and how I felt that it was in direct opposition to the mindful, intuitive approach I take with my yoga practice.

In a Strong First practice, things are done "the right way" and there are specific things "to be done."  In my yoga practice, things are done in a way that feels resonant and vibrant and there are things "to be experienced."  I was - honestly - starting to dread my bell work because it was triggering old feelings of frantic-ness and rigidity.

He gave me some wise - and pretty obvious - advice.  Why not approach workouts the way you approach yoga?

Be without expectations.  Approach with curiosity.  Commit to wakefulness. 

So - until 3 weeks ago - my workouts were just that.  Some days I did swings and pull ups, other days I went for a jog or rode my bike, some days I just did yoga.  No set time or schedule - just moved when I felt like moving (which was pretty much every day.)  MUCH to my surprise, I lost a pants size in 3 months without dieting.  Without an exercise program.  Without stress.  In fact - I was enjoying myself so much that I only noticed the weight had fallen off when my favorite jeans almost did the same.

SO!  Here's a VERY CLOSELY GUARDED SECRET in the Fitness Industry.  HERE is the weight loss panacea...the GUARANTEED TO WORK diet for this year!! :

LISTEN.  TO.  YOUR.  BODY.

That's it.  JUST LISTEN. Your body will tell you if you're tired and need a day off, a yoga class, a hill sprint workout (although you have to be really committed to listening to pick up on that one.)  It will tell you if you need a kale salad, a smoothie or some simple carbohydrates and fat.  The most simple and challenging thing in the world: attentive listening.  (Anyone who's in any kind of relationship can attest to that.)

Here's where things get tricky.  Exercise programs and protocols are also important.  Discipline and structure serve a very important purpose for meeting athletic and physical goals.

The KEY is -- discipline and structure also serve a very important purpose in learning to let go.

I'm currently back on a strict training program, getting ready for my SFG Recertification weekend in April, which is programmed at 5 days/week of training at a no-joke level of focus and dedication. And I had a lot of very legitimate fear that it would send me down the vortex of verbal self-abuse, exhaustion and anger...that the increase appetite associated with metabolic training would trigger my eating disorder symptoms.

But my teacher also says that "Practice makes you accident prone."  And the past couple weeks of structured training, I've had a lot of accidents.  Accidental wakefulness inside discipline.  Accidental release of expectations (which creates an amazing way to surprise yourself.)  Accidental curiosity.  All those months of practicing mindful exercise and listening to my body had conditioned me to operate within a strict discipline WHILE being present!

I've struggled a little with listening to my body when it comes to food...but mostly because it wants ALL THE FOOD.  ALL THE TIME. thanks to the increased training.  But I'm doing my best, and despite a lot of whole milk and peanut butter - I can see my abs for the first time ever.  I didn't even have abs when I was "skinny."  Ha!

So here's the takeaway (because who the hell cares about jeans size and abs):

--

Take 6 weeks, or maybe you'll need 6 days or 6 months, to practice mindful exercise. Go to the gym or the park or the trail with an attitude of playfulness.  Not sure how to do that?  Start here:

Picture an exercise and notice your physical (below the neck) response.  Clenching?  Opening?  Excitement?  Do this until you find an exercise that you really freakin' want to do and do it until you don't "feel like it" any more.  Then repeat the process.  No stress about how much you get done that day, as long as you are openly curious to what your body says.  Journal each workout with a note on what you did, how you felt and what your response was - resistance? fear? hopefulness?  (I experienced euphoric sprinting at one point...)

One caveat/caution to this practice:  Your brain saying "I'M TIIIIIRED.  I DON'T WAAAAAANNA" is not the same as your body saying, "OK.  Thank you so much for listening.  We're done here for now."

--

If the idea of chucking your program and/or diet out the window for a while is scary (terrifying?) - you're not alone.  Especially if you struggle with exercise addition or disordered eating, the idea of releasing control can bring up a lot of visceral fear.  And I would say that fear is a very important piece of information about yourself, so notice it and welcome it to the gym.  Then allow it to head over to the StairClimber for an hour while you play.  Because - honestly - you might lose a little conditioning.  You might temporarily set down a little bit of strength.

But I can guarantee you.  GUARANTEE.  that if you do the practice and allow your body to truly call the shots for a while (again -- your body, not your head) that emotional peace and physical contentment will follow.  

Release Expectations and Open Your Heart: 30 min Flow Yoga

January is a time each year filled with expectations and a whole lot of "shoulds," even in the yoga community.

And, in my experience, the preconceived ideas of how things "should" be is what causes miscommunication, frustration and human suffering at large.  We - especially as Americans - have a very deep rooted belief that things "should" be better than they are, and when they aren't, we are left with frustration and dissatisfaction.

I would put forth the idea that we release (or at least hold very lightly) the expectations, resolutions and shoulds.  This year, can we open our hearts to what is arising in each moment?  

I spent last year learning from a beautiful teacher the gift of "now": the present moment's unadulterated beauty in presence, and this practice is designed to open the front of the body - psoas, quads, pec major and minor - and the energy of openness and acceptance.  And I would offer up as intention my mantra for this year: This Moment Only.

 

29 + 1 Things I Learned in my 20's

I turn 30 today ... on Friday the 13th.  12/13/13.  The big 3-0 on what is numerically speaking the most terrifying day of the year. And I'm freaking excited.

I told someone, quite bluntly, the other day "My 20s were a s*** show!" and - while it's true - I'm actually quite grateful for the crazy, scary, endearing experience that was my 20s.  And so, inspired by this post I found while killing time on Facebook reading industry specific blogs, here are 29 + 1 Things I Learned In My 20s:

1. Food is not the enemy. Stop fighting it - just eat what makes your body feel alive.

2. If exercise makes you miserable, you're doing it wrong. Uncomfortable: deal with it.  Miserable: do something else.

3. Toxic relationships serve neither you nor the other person.

4. OK.  Let's be completely honest.  When something makes you miserable: STOP.  Even if other people won't be happy with you.  Even if that magazine said it will take off that last 5#.  Even if you really want it to work out.  STOP.

5. It's highly likely that you won't use your college degree in the way in which it was intended.  The time you spent getting it, though: priceless.

6. A man will never (NEVER) make you feel as good about yourself as you want to feel.  Only you can provide yourself with the love you so desperately want.

7. Yoga isn't just exercise.  Yoga is a snapshot of your experience of life, condensed into an hour, in a small space, while watching other people do it better than you. Learn from it.

8. TRAVEL.  Get your passport updated and get out of the country now, because it may not happen later.

9. Along those lines: Those opportunities that you think will come along later ... may not.  Go to the concerts, parties, family events that you want to skip so that you can work another shift.

10. You are not broken.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with you that needs to be fixed.  You are a whole, complete, perfect human being who has plenty of room to grow.

11. Quitting is perfectly acceptable.

12. Never be afraid to leap. Even if the net is a long way down, it will eventually appear.

13. Keep your birth control in a temperature controlled environment.  It will melt.  It will freeze.  It will become useless if either of these things happens.

14. Say what you mean when you mean it how you mean it.  Stop filtering your words to keep others from experiencing negative emotions.

15. Drinking pint glasses full of hard alcohol: bad idea.  Drinking pint glasses full of water: good idea.

16. Feeling negative emotions isn't a bad thing.  It's an unpleasant thing.  And they process and integrate much faster (like...years faster) when you take the time to feel them.

17. DON'T START SMOKING.  It's really really really hard to quit.

18. A size zero doesn't make you a better person.  And chances are, you didn't like yourself any better at a 0 than you do at a size 8.  Shoot for happy, not tiny.

19. Paint, Draw, Sing, Dance, Whatever!  You don't have to be "good" at something for it to express the life that is inside you.

20. Read more non-fiction books.

21. Read less (read: no) diet books, fitness magazines, diet blogs, "before and after" weight loss stories, or miracle supplement reviews <Admiral Ackbar voice> "It's a TRAP!"

22. Leggings are not pants.  But they are damn comfortable. And are considered work attire when you're a yoga teacher.  So... they ARE pants?

23. DO NOT download Candy Crush Saga.

24. Listen to your intuition, even when it doesn't make sense.  Cross country moves (three of them), last minute changes in expensive education (twice), or just ordering that random thing on the menu.

25. No matter how angry you get with your mom, she will never EVER stop loving you.

26. You WILL be like your mom.  And it's awesome.

27. Money, while not everything, IS important. Stop working for less than you're worth.

28. Journal!  Fill books upon books upon books with your stories.  They're valuable.

29. Give really good hugs and linger when other people give you really good hugs.

+1 (still learning this one) :

Take time, every day, to sit with your most precious, most divine self.  YOU are the best friend you'll ever have.

 

 

 

30 min Detox Yoga Flow

It seems like every year around this time, I just want to give my internal organs a hug and tell them to "hang in there" while the wine flows and the cookies spring from the oven of their own accord. I typically focus on getting veggies with every meal, drinking TONS of water, and only choosing the treats that I really want (not just those that are in front of me.)   And a few nice twists are good too...

This 30 min Flow is designed to gently stimulate digestion, massage your internal organs and decompress your nervous system with plenty of twists and forward folds.  Give your body a holiday hug!

Kettlebell Workout for Balance and Fine Motor Skills

My sister asked me this week for a kettlebell workout that focused on propioreception and balance...I was only too happy to oblige! This workout focuses on honing the connection between your brain and your fine motor muscles through balance and "core" (your whole torso) strength and connection.

Enjoy!

3 sets:

  • Bodyweight Single Leg Deadlift x 10 R/L on a yoga block, balance pad or folded yoga mat
  • 1/2 Turkish Get Up with Yoga Block (or shoe) x 5 R/L
  • Bodyweight Goblet Squat with Base Hold x 5
  • Forearm Plank x 30 sec

3 sets:

  • Opposite Arm Single Leg Kettlebell Deadlift x 10 R/L Full or 1/2 Turkish Get Up x 5 R/L
  • Kettlebell Goblet Squat w/5 Base Hold x
  • 1/2 Kneeling Bottoms Up Hold x 3 @ 5 Breaths R/L (optional: Bottoms Up Clean and Hold x 5 R/L)
  • Forearm Plank x 1 min

**

I take requests!  Leave me a comment with a video you would like to see!

30 min Beginning Yoga Flow

I'll keep this short and sweet:  I really like November's focus on gratitude.  And despite a very chaotic and uprooting couple of months, I am experiencing waves upon waves of gratitude for the friends, family, clients and colleagues who have supported me in all my adventures and "learning opportunities" (we're not calling them failures...) As a "THANK YOU!" to each one of you, here's a 30 min beginning flow yoga sequence to start or end your day with energy and love.  Feel free to download or watch on your  mobile device as you travel to celebrate with friends and family this season. (Here's to a new video camera and audio equipment appearing magically in my Christmas stocking and much more content to come!)

Watch below or click here!

November 2013 Beginning Flow Yoga from PULSE Kettlebells and Yoga on Vimeo.

Ahimsa: Post Vacation Diet

I'm interrupting the flow of regularly scheduled travel saga to talk about something that's been on my heart the past couple days...

Ahimsa: Sanskrit word translated as non-violence, non-injury or non-harming

ahimsaI definitely had an "everything in moderation and some things not-so-much in moderation" mentality while we traveled which, in combination with over 30 hours in the car, lent itself to some snug jeans by the end of two weeks.

In years past, I would have immediately started a cleanse upon returning home, committing myself to being completely miserable both physically and mentally as penance for indulgences and lack of self control.  It would have been a rather violent process, usually starting with a salt water flush (which I don't recommend) a 24 hour juice cleanse (which I also don't recommend) and a week of actively denying myself anything over 1200 calories of pure vegan greenstock.

This time around, I approached it with gentleness, kindness and mindfulness --- and it was amazing.  In just a week, my butt is back in my favorite jeans with a little room to spare, I'm feeling vibrant and healthy and not once did I have to deny myself something I really wanted.

(Disclaimer: ahimsa is often used as the basis for vegetarianism which I have practiced in the past and found that it is, actually, harmful for me given my current lifestyle.  All in the interpretation.)

Step 1: Get some groceries

In the past 6 months, food and fuel had become a method of self care, ending the mental cycle of "deserve" or "don't deserve."  The day we got here, I immediately went to Whole Foods and bought a TON of veggies, bulk quinoa, brown rice and oatmeal, some treats like Kombucha and Raw Crackers and a whole organic "happy chicken."  I cooked the chickie up and dug out my rice cooker ASAP and had the fixings for super awesome, happy meals when the family was eating pizza and chinese food that I seriously didn't want after a week on the road.

Step 2: Get back to yoga

It was an incredibly stressful move involving a lot of family, a limited time frame and very little sleep preceding. My workout plan was to just get back to yoga and be as wonderful to my body as I could, which paid off amazingly as it just felt natural to pick up a kettlebell and get back on my bike after working the kinks out in a few flow classes.

I also knew that it would be difficult for me to commit to a serious sitting meditation at home, and yoga was the perfect combination of moving meditation and few extra minutes after class to sit.  This studio is just 8 minutes from our house and *great* about maintaining a quiet practice space before and after, which I super appreciated.

Step 3: Dig out the Juicer

I made 2 days worth of veggie juice at a time, keeping a pitcher in the fridge and just having 8-12 oz/day with my afternoon snack for an extra veggie kicker.  Added bonus: you can hide just about anything behind a pitcher of green juice and be pretty much guaranteed that no one will eat it.

Step 4: Get back to kettlebells

I just started easy.  A long 12 kg ladder of presses, swings, snatches and rows to wake up some sleeping muscles and grease the groove. Hit some light endurance swings a few days later, and I was back to 24 kg swings for distance by the time I visited a class the following week!

***

This probably seems pretty ho-hum.  There's no magic in it.  No crazy weight loss recorded or emotional high reached.  But here's the truth: I was kind and loving.  I didn't have any sugar for a week.  I worked out every day for a week.  I ate only organic whole food for a week.  And not ONCE did I go hungry, force myself to workout or tell myself what a bad person I was for eating dessert on the cruise.

For those of you who know me pretty well or have trained with me, you know that I am working on a pretty serious paradigm shift in my life and my training.  No longer am I standing on a soap box preaching "eat clean, train dirty" because I believe that small, loving shifts in your life over time just make strength and health your home base anyway.

Ahimsa: be kind in this moment, this asana, this kettlebell swing, this glass of water, this salad.  Your body knows what it wants.  We just have to slow down and grow loving enough to listen to that.

PULSE On the Road: Part 3: Alaska Days 6-7

When we left off, we had tackled Juneau and the dessert bar, taken the train to new heights, and frozen our butts off... Ships Log: Day 6: Ketchikan

At dinner the night before, we asked the very nice young man in a nautical uniform who was circling the dining room and chatting people up (still not sure what his job actually was..) what to do in Ketchikan.  Much to Brian's dismay, he recommended a hike!

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(Backstory: This poor guy cannot go on vacation with me without being dragged up and down at least one VERY steep hill.  And usually there's some kind of weather or navigation error that causes a near disaster.)

After much, "can we, can we, can we????" he agreed to another workout and - when we got off the boat - we hopped a cab to the Deer Mountain Trail.  (Yes. A cab. It was a LONG hill through the city to hike a long hill in the woods and I was saving my legs.  Verdict: Worth it.)

IMG_3997It was beautiful!  A 3 mile out-and-back ... well, up and down, really... this hike rewarded aching lungs with amazing rainforest views and beautiful vistas.  We loved the opportunity to get out in the fresh air, away from all the tourist shops and restaurants and just see a little bit of what we felt was the real Alaska.  I am now fully committed to going backpacking up there some day.

 

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I did a little shopping (and found a new friend)      IMG_4033and we just chilled the rest of the day!

Ship's Log: Day 7: Cruisin' on Home

The last day, we just spent hanging out.  At one point, we were both even a little bored, although after a week of frantic packing and a week of sightseeing, it was rather welcome.

We did hit the gym for one last workout!  Back to basic dumbbell strength training since the gym didn't have a pull up bar or much floor space, which felt weird and great.

Supersets:

Lat Pull Downs + Bent Over Rows

Dumbbell Chest Presses + ... oh crap I can't remember now...

Military Presses + Push Ups

Heel Drops/Leg Lowers + V-Ups

Unilateral Oblique Crunches + Bicycle Crunches

That night, after a particularly "oh god I'm gonna pop" dinner, we just walked the deck for about an hour.  We saw a mama and baby orca (SHAMU!!!) as well as a pod of dolphins that was oddly announced by fish throwing themselves out of the water to avoid the impending danger.  It was a beautiful night and really special to just spend time together watching the water and the animals.

The next morning, we got into port and wrangled expedited disembarkation.  BOMB, by the way if you can get up early.

We grabbed our car at the hotel (the Holiday Inn North Vancouver, which I HIGHLY recommend. The BEST customer service I have ever encountered.) and B registered for classes using their business center before we hopped in the van and drove to the edge of Washington, where we spent the night in Liberty Lake (which I do NOT highly recommend.)

In the next episode: We find Huckleberry Shakes!!!

PULSE On the Road: Part 2: Alaska Days 4-5

...the journey continues!... Ship's Log: Day 4: Skagway

I got up that morning while B slept off the excitement of seeing the bear (and the embarrassment of his wife pretending to BE a bear) and worked out!

3 sets:

  • Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlift x 10 R/L
  • Renegade Dumbbell Row x 10 R/L
  • Heel Drop x 10 + Janda Sit up x 10
  • 2 min rowing machine between sets

3 Sets:

  • Pistol x 10 R/L
  • Push Up x 10
  • Side Plank Variations
  • 2 min rowing machine between sets

The ship stopped in Skagway, where we hopped on the White Pass and Yukon Railway for a trip up the old gold mining trek.  Seriously... best money we spent the whole trip.

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The railway - which many people said could never be built - climbs more than 3,000 feet in just 20 miles over mountains and gorges to join the Yukon to the coast.

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We had SO MUCH FUN riding in the old-timey cars!

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That night, we sat and had a drink in one of the lounges and listened to dude playing acoustic guitar/singing covers of some truly awesome songs.  One drink in me and I was thiiiis close to yelling "DAVE!!! PLAY SOME DAVE!!!"  Then he took a break.  Sad.

Ship's Log: Day 5: Tracy Arm

This was probably one of my favorite days on the trip.  The weather was sunny and breezy (and cold!) all morning, while we cruised up the fjords and a bit overcast in the afternoon while we napped and worked out.  Perfection...

Summer vacation?

We cruised up the Tracy Arm Fjords to the glacier - and because the water was so calm/the ice so low, we were able to get just 1.5 miles way from the glacier!

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One of those days that remind you just how tiny we little humans are...

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That afternoon, after some napping in the library while attempting to read a book, we hit up the gym for a second round!

I did 45 min on the treadmill while B did my workout from the day before:

  • 2 min walk (steep hill)
  • 1 min walk (flat)
  • 2 min run
  • 1 min walk
  • repeat

*It's a janky tabbata for those of you who are looking for the missing zeroes.

That night, we trekked down to the onboard movie theater and watched IRON MAN 3!!!! Seriously - did I mention I'm a little kid? - I was scary excited since I hadn't been able to see it in theaters.  EEE!  We ended the night with cinnamon ice cream from the midnight buffet.  I die.

Stay tuned for days 6 & 7!!

PULSE On The Road: Part 1: Alaska Days 1-3

On Wednesday, August 7th, my husband and I packed up our 1 BR + Loft apartment in Sunnyvale, California to look for gold.. ahem... move to Madison, Wisconsin to begin his journey through law school and business school. For those of you that I work with and train, you know what a difficult summer it was for us - planning to leave a place that had become our home and people that had become our family.  I spent a lot of time in meditation and did a lot of yoga - something I'll get into as I write more - and found that although it was a tough decision, there was a lot of peace surrounding the sadness and the stress.

Before we ventured off to our home state (I grew up outside Madison,) we took a seven day cruise to Alaska to celebrate our three year wedding anniversary - no limbs missing and no casualties - and our final chance to live like we still had a salary for a few years!

The drive to Vancouver, B.C. was a long one... and felt even longer after packing and moving out.  But with one quick detour to see a dear friend in Tacoma, Washington, we made it to the cruise ship with our luggage and selves intact.  Bon Voyage!

Ship's Log Day 1: At Sea: Captain and First Mate experiencing an overwhelming sense of gravity, leading to long hours spent sleeping and sitting down reading books.

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Ship's Log Day 2:  At Sea: Read more books.  Took more naps.  Ate more foods. Found the gym and did a circuit workout!

3 sets w/ 2 min Rowing Machine between sets:

  • 10 Dumbbell Squats
  • 10 Dumbbell Presses
  • 10 Push Ups

3 sets w/ 2 min Rowing Machine between sets:

  • 10 Dumbbell Deadlifts
  • 10 Dumbbell Bent Over Rows
  • 10 Breaths in Plank

A whole bunch of core work...

Ship's Log Day 3:  Juneau, Alaska!

We hopped off in Juneau to check out the Mendenhall Glacier and took a 20 min ride to the glacier on a blue school bus with a rather entertaining driver for just $8.

We were there at the end of of the salmon run and were sooooo lucky to see a mama black bear and two baby black bears tumbling after her as she looked for an omega-3 rich dinner.

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We took the Nugget Falls trail out toward the glacier, which was about a mile walk.

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And ended our trip with the visitor's center. In which I proceeded to act like a lunatic/toddler.

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Took a quick side trip to the Red Dog Saloon (because, you have to, right?) and for the obligatory sign photo, but otherwise, didn't spent too much time in Juneau proper.

IMG_1920Our next stop was Skagway, and probably my favorite!  Stay tuned for the next episode of MOOSE AND SQUIRREL!

(Honk if you got the reference.  Because that sh*t earned me two points during shipboard pub quiz.  Which we dismally lost anyway.)

August Kettlebell Throwdown and NEW VIDEOS!

Hokay.  So.  This is your kettlebell workout:

(thank you, Christine and Danielle for bringing this into my life. next time I get a "I'm tiiiiiiired," then answer henceforth shall be "Then have a nap. THEN SWING THE

strong beats skinny shirt

KETTLEBELL.")

1. Warm up with hip hinges, hip circles, body weight squats and renegade rows

2. Complete this circuit 3-5 times. Minimal rest between sets. 2-3 minutes rest between circuits. 

  • 10 x 2 Hand Kettlebell Swings
  • 5 Cleans Right & Left
  • 10 x 1 Hand Kettlebell Swings (5 R/L)
  • 5 Rack Squats Right & Left
  • 10 x Kettlebell Transfers

3. Complete the following ladder, resting 30-60 sec between rounds

  • 5 Hardstyle or Modified Pushups
  • 30 sec Plank w/ Power Breath
  • 6 Hardstyle or Modified Pushups
  • 30 sec Plank w/ Power Breath
  • Ladder to 10 Push Ups *or your GOOD REP max* with 30 sec planks in between
  • Ladder down if you're feeling feisty

4. Stretch: Click here: Hip Opening Sequence to use the VIDEO! to decompress your hips and low back.  and segue way...

WELCOME TO MY NEW VIDEOS!  I'll be posting 1-2 a month, probably 20 min or so in length, starting in August and September.  Happy Day!

 

July 4th Kettlebell Explosion!

This month's kettlebell workout is all about stabilizing explosive power ... put down that sparkler and light up some real fireworks! Warm Up:

  • 1/2 Turkish Get Up x 5 R/L
  • Arm Bar x 5 R/L
  • Hip Hinge x 10
  • Hip Circles x 5 R/L

Circuit 1:

  1. 1 x KB Clean + 30 sec Rack Walk R/L
  2. 1 x KB Clean & Push Press + 30 sec Waiter Walk R/L
  1. 2 x KB Clean + 30 sec Rack Walk R/L
  2. 2 x KB Clean & Push Press + 30 sec Waiter Walk R/L
  1. 3 x KB Clean + 30 sec Rack Walk R/L
  2. 3 x KB Clean & Push Press + 30 sec Waiter Walk R/L

* Clean to the rack, stabilize, and walk the bell.  Re clean on the other side and repeat.  Transfer back to the first side, clean and push press, then walk with the bell overhead.  Rack, transfer, re-clean and repeat.

Circuit 2:

Using your press weight bell:

  • 3 sets of 10 x 2-handed swings @ equal work/equal rest

Using 1-2 bell sizes higher than your press weight bell:

  • 3 sets of 10 x 2-handed POWER swings @ equal work/equal rest

Using 1-2 bell sizes higher than your press weight bell:

  • 3 sets of 10 x 2-handed swings @ equal work/equal rest @ power swing intensity!

Cool Down/Decompress:

  • Cat/Cow
  • Thread the Needle
  • Child's Pose
  • Hip Flexor Release
  • Spinal Twist

7 Minutes in Heaven Kettlebell Workout

The New York Times posted an article last month with pretty much the opposite of the middle school game "7 min in Heaven."  7 minutes of High Intensity Interval training - HIIT using only your body weight and a timer. You all know I'm a huge fan of "work smarter not longer" when it comes to training, and we LOVE interval training here at PULSE! Here's another 7 minutes of sweaty heaven for those of you with access to your cast iron babies as you travel this summer!!

1:00 - 1 Clean and Press R/L + 10 swings / rest 2:00 - 2 Clean and Press R/L + 10 swings / rest 3:00 - 3 Clean and Press R/L + 10 swings / rest 4:00 - 4 Clean and Press R/L + 10 swings / rest 5:00 - 5 Clean and Press R/L + 10 swings / rest 6:00 - 6 Clean and Press R/L + 10 swings / rest 7:00 - 7 Clean and Press R/L + 10 swings / rest

Rest and repeat if you're feeling feisty!

MAY Kettlebell Meltdown

Eep!  Can't believe it took me all month to get a workout posted -- sorry, guys! Grab your coffee and a bell that you can press "somewhat comfortably" 5 times... and don't forget something to wipe the sweat!

Warm Up:

  • Hip Hinges
  • Hip Prying
  • Bodyweight Lunges
  • Shoulder Corkscrews
  • Shoulder Packing
  • A long-ass forearm plank

Perform 5 sets, resting 30 sec between exercises and 1-2 min between sets:

  • 10-15 x Push Ups (last 2-3 should be difficult)
  • 5-10 x Pull Ups (negative, band assisted or bodyweight)

Ladder 5-10 repetitions, resting minimally between exercises and 1-2 min between sets:

  • 5 x Rack Lunges R/L
  • 5 x 2-Handed Swings
  • 5 x 5 Rack Squats R/L
  • 5 x 1-Handed Swings R/L
  • (second set is 6 reps of each exercise, 3rd set is 7 ... etc... to 10 reps R/L)