Being Consistent

I’ve mentioned it several times-it doesn’t matter how tough you train and how well you eat, if you don’t do it CONSISTENTLY you will not see results! Some of you I see pop in and out of class, getting stronger and leaner and then losing the strength and leanness, like a vicious cycle. I understand life is hectic. Heck, I coach full time, manage 3 blogs, take classes full time, have an online client roster and I’m a single parent! Life is CRAZY! I know what it’s like to get busy and be tempted to skip out on training in order to manage other tasks, trust me. But guess what? I never do. Why? Because I feel absolutely awful when I skip training or eat badly. If I go on a trip, eating out the entire time and lacking exercise, I end up feeling off-not like myself at all. I always feel better when I train, and the physical strength I gain from training gives me a mental strength that helps me tackle all of life’s hurdles. I am a stronger woman, inside and out, because of my training and nutrition consistency.

And the truth is, when you are not in class we miss you! No joke, we really do.

Please come back!

My friend and Girls Gone Strong sister, Jen Comas Keck, just posted about the very subject of consistency on her blog. Go on over and check it out, and while you’re there check out some of the great clean baking recipes she has!

Beauty Lies in Strength: The Art of Consistency

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February is Pullup Month!

In case you haven’t all noticed, we have done A LOT of pullups and chinups this week! Coming from someone who has a HUGE pullup goal (24kg, for the RKC Iron Maiden) that I would like to reach by May, I know how important it is to do something often if you want to get better at it. (I recently wrote about my battle with pullups on my blog.)Many of you have an expressed an interest in being able to perform an unassisted pullup soon, and those of you who have done them unassisted have expressed weight and volume goals. The only way to further that progress is more PRACTICE!

That being said, there are a few things I would like you to consider:

  • Vary your volume and intensity. Please refrain from going heavy (meaning weighted, or less assistance) all the time. A failure to do this will likely result in repetitive stress injury (achey elbows!). Play with your rep schemes and load, and this will allow you to do pullups 2-3x/week.
  • Vary your grips! You can choose Pullups (overhand grip on the straight bar), Neutral grip pullups (palms facing each other on the squat rack), or Chinups (supinated, or underhand grip on the straight bar). Some of you may even want to play with an over/under grip of you are trying to bridge the gap between pullups and chinups.
  • Roll and stretch your lats, please!
  • Above all, have FUN (meaning do not let pullups frustrate you or you will get nowhere-trust me from personal experience) and BE CONSISTENT. If you barely make it to class once a week, having a month dedicated to pullups will not benefit you.  Please come to class regularly, because when you don’t, we miss you :).

This past week we have had a lot of success with pullups and chinups. Those of you using bands are using lighter ones and well on your way to unassisted. Those of you unassisted are using weight or increasing bodyweight reps. Most notably this past week Bruce performed a 24kg Chinup (which I did not get on video! Uuugh!), Dana performed a 14kg Chinup and 3 or 4 bodyweight Pullups, Annie performed 4 chinups (her goal was to get ONE before her 50th which is this month!), and Peggy and Juli K. have both entered the unassisted realm. Jamie has 7 weeks left in her pregnancy and has since switched to using the lightest band to assist her with her 30 pound pullups!

I will be posting pullup progress on the white board so that we can track ourselves and encourage each other. You all continue to inspire me with your support of each other and your indomitable spirits. Keep up the good work, and Happy Pullup Month!

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January Updates

What a great beginning to 2012 we have had so far! I am so excited to announce the following accomplishments, and as your coach, I cannot express the pride and elation I feel when witnessing you all achieve greatness.

Recent Personal Records (please forgive me/remind me if I forget anyone!)

  • Dana: 10kg chinup, 22kg TGU
  • Tasha: 20kg press, 22kg TGU
  • Brian: 465 Trap bar deadlift, 48kg TGU
  • Julie M: 16kg TGU
  • Juli K: unassisted chinup
  • Bruce: 245×5 Trab bar deadlift
  • Mike: 36kg TGU
  • Annie: 3 unassisted chinups
  • Sue L: 16 snatch, double 14kg jerks
  • Ally: double 14kg jerks
  • Mina: 16kg TGU

All of you are doing such amazing things, from learning the movements to setting records or simply mastering consistency of training. Just a reminder that the NUMBER ONE most important component of a successful training program is CONSISTENCY. If you haven’t been here much this month-come back! We miss you!

On that note, we are welcoming some new faces this month. You might see them as they are meeting with us privately to prepare for class, in our KB basics classes or even in the all levels groups. Please welcome Justin, Sean and Matt (who is preparing for the RKC in May!) and introduce yourselves.

We are also announcing two new classes to the February schedule:

  • Kettlebell Skills/Saturday 8 am: KB skills will start THIS SATURDAY 28 JAN (it’s already on the meetup) and will primarily be taught by Christine, although I will be there as often as I can! This class will focus on fine tuning your basic skills and making you a BETTER lifter, which means it is appropriate for BOTH beginners and advanced students. Attend this class if you are not proficient with advanced skills such as the snatch and jerk, or if you want to refine your basic skills. You will certainly get your sweat on, even as you focus on correcting your movements. This means that the 9 am class is now ADVANCED and is only appropriate for those students who can efficiently and effectively perform the snatch, jerk, windmill and 1 leg deadlift. You do not have to be advanced with regards to strength or capacity-simply with the skills themselves. I will allow you to be the judge as to whether or not you are “advanced” but please be advised that I may encourage you to attend the 8 am class if I feel it is more appropriate for your learning purposes.
  • Kettlebell Basics/MW 530-6: I will now be teaching 2 30 minute beginner classes each week and encourage those of you just beginning your KB practice to attend as often as possible.

Please stay tuned for announcements regarding a happy hour SOON! We love doing these, and encourage everyone to attend to build camaraderie and interact with each other sans the Iron!

And lastly, many of you have inquired about what I am doing with Intermittent Fasting. Here is a brief recap of my beginning experiments, but look forward to a more detailed post soon. Also, check out this great FREE ebook on the subject and this very informative post by John Romaniello.

Have a GREAT rest of January, friends, and thank you as always for allowing me to be a part of your journey towards a healthy, balanced life.

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Q&A

Good morning, everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday filled with family, food and best of all-MOVEMENT! I had a fantastic trip to California and was sure to stay active by running hill sprints, drawing an agility ladder in the dirt, and playing with kettlebells on the beach. Although I was sure to “indulge” in some of my favorite things like wine, pumpkin pie and In N Out Burger, I was pretty diligent with my nutrition so that I wouldn’t pay for it at the end of the trip. This week’s Q&A is about just that-how to control food intake over the holidays.

Q: With so many food distractions during the holiday celebrations, what are some tips to stay focused and mindful of what you are eating and not over indulge?

A: I think you hit the nail on the head by using the word “mindful.” No matter what nutrition or exercise regimen you choose, the key to being successful is following that regimen with mindfulness. During the holidays we have a tendency to get stressed out, rushing from one commitment to the next and busying ourselves with the very things that steal from the magic of the season. The first thing you can do to help your health over the next month is to stop, take a deep breath, and prioritize. What does the season mean to you? Is it the hustle and bustle of gift shopping? Or is it a time to reflect on peace, love and joy?

Once you have cleared your mind of some excess baggage and your life of the unnecessary holiday stress, there are some strategies you can put into place to help you control your food intake during the season.

1. STAY ACTIVE. Often the first thing to go during the rush of the season is exercise. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to eat right when you’re also exercising regularly? Many people fall into the dreaded “all or nothing” cycle, in which exercise is neglected so why not just throw in the towel on nutrition too! Staying active will keep your body craving healthy food and will also help to stave off some of the gain from the inevitable extra holiday calories.

2. MAKE BETTER CHOICES. When at a holiday party, choose the appetizers that are rich in protein first. Protein and healthy fats will help you feel satiated and will keep you from craving sugar and starch as strongly. Once you have filled up on protein, veggies, nuts etc, you will be less likely to reach for the carb-heavy offerings. When not at holiday functions, make even better choices. Stick to lean proteins (grass fed beef, cage free chicken and eggs, lean turkey, fish) healthy fats (avocado, nuts, nut butter, coconut oil) and tons of vegetables. Stay away from grains or any foods you might have a sensitivity to, and eat at home as often as possible. Things like bread, pasta and other processed foods have very little place, if any, in a fat loss diet. If you keep your food intake really clean 90% of the time, you can afford to indulge a bit at parties with a slice of pie or glass of wine.

3. PLAN AHEAD. If I am headed to lunch with a friend, I take a look at the menu online before I get there. That way, I’ve already made a healthy choice of what to order before I even sit down and can’t be enticed by all of the other offerings. I also ask the waiter NOT to bring bread because I will eat it all, and then some. When I have an evening event to attend, I will either control my intake throughout the day in preparation for a night of “fun eating” or fast altogether. (Read more about Intermittent Fasting in this FREE E-BOOK).

4. CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK. If you make a mistake, move on. Often people will get so caught up in the idea of “dieting” that they become consumed with guilt after eating a bag of chips or a few (in my case 6-8!) cookies. It happened. Get over it. Try not to get caught in the mindset that you already polluted your diet so why not just let the whole day/week/month go. The further into the rabbit hole you go, the harder it is to get back. You can enjoy your favorite foods in moderation and not make a huge dent in your body composition. You didn’t get lean by eating one healthy meal and you won’t gain a ton of fat by eating one less than optimal meal either. Guilt over food is a difficult thing to overcome and a completely useless, unhealthy emotion.

5. CHANGE YOUR FOOD PARADIGM. I posted on my blog last month about my food obsession (read it here!) and this is an important hurdle to mount. If you eat mindlessly, without a proper realization and acceptance of how food affects your body, you could likely derail your fat loss goals. Once food is put in it’s place-a source of fuel and a servant to your body-you will be more apt to make better choices. Food does not control you. Food does not dictate whether or not you have fun at a party or decide if you enjoy the holiday season.

I wish you all the very best for the remainder of 2011, and I hope to see you in class OFTEN! Be sure to stay consistent on training during this busy time in order reap the positive physiological effects of exercise and start 2012 with a bang.

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Hill Sprints!

Happy Monday Everyone! Here is a great piece on hill sprints by my friend and colleague, Jen Comas Keck. Hill sprints can be a great addition to your kettlebell training routine. 

Fat loss through hill sprints

Jason FerruggiaJim Wendler, and countless other top strength and conditioning coaches swear by hill sprints for fat loss and conditioning.  But why hill sprints?  Why not just plain, flat-land sprints?

Most people aren’t in good enough shape to run sprints!  If you haven’t ran a sprint since P.E. class in 1998 and are possibly carrying some extra poundage, going out to an open space and sprinting balls-out is a recipe for injury and disaster.  Most people new to sprinting proudly announce that they just “ran sprints for 45 minutes.”  No you didn’t.  And if you did, you need to notify the Olympic committee that you are on your way.  Nobody can run true sprints for 45 minutes. 

Benefits of hill sprints

Safety.
The hill sprint is safer than a sprint on flat land because the incline forces you to slow down.  Most people get on flat land and run an all-out sprint and have their limbs flailing wildly and what happens?  They pull a muscle.  You can only go SO fast on an incline and you are still working extremely hard.

Preserves muscle. 
The beauty of hill sprints is that they preserve all of your precious muscle because the work time is short!  A 5-10 second sprint is not enough time to start tapping into your muscle like other forms of high-intensity, long-duration cardio (think Spin, distance running – all highly catabolic).

Fat loss!
Hill sprints depend heavily on your muscular system.  Think of a hill sprint as a cross between cardio and weight lifting.  This means you get much more bang (fat burned) for your buck (time spent).

How far should you be sprinting?  I’d say between 20 – 40 yards, between 8 to 12 times, depending on the distance.  If you are brand new to hill sprints, start with 5 sprints.  Yes, 5.  Ease into it.

How long should your rest time be?  Go by feel.  There is no point in doing timed recovery and forcing yourself to go again only to half-ass it.  Take anywhere from 1-3 minutes if need be and then really get a good sprint in.  Sprint up, walk down, recover, repeat.

How often?  If you are just starting out, once a week.  After that, twice a week is plenty!  Hill sprints need recovery time just like anything else.  I typically choose to do hill sprints on my lower body lift days.  I find that it hinders my recovery time if I try to do them on separate days and still get my lifting in.

What should I do for a warm-up?  A warm-up is crucial.  Do not get lazy and skip it.  Take 5-10 minutes and do a dynamic warm-up.  Walk up the hill a couple of times, then jog up a couple of times, then run it once.  THEN start your sprints.  A full-bore sprint without a proper warm-up means injury!

The following are tips from Jason Ferruggia at Renegade on proper sprint mechanics.

•    Starting from the top down, the face must be relaxed. Do not clench your jaw or make any crazy faces. Relax.
•    Keep the chest up and shoulders back and down.
•    No side to side rotation of the pelvis, torso, shoulder girdle is allowed.
•    Hips remain forward toward the finish line at all times.
•    Arms should be bent ninety degrees with the hands open (no clenched fists or flailing, limp wrists).
•    When you are running the arms must pump vigorously, forward and backward. NEVER LET THE ARMS CROSS THE MIDLINE OF THE BODY. Only forward and backward. Little kids run with their arms side to side. Don’t do that or we will all make fun of you.
•    Think of pulling yourself through the air by driving your arms back as fast and hard as you can. The hands come up to a level even with the face and they come down and cross your pocket on the way back (but no further; don’t have them swinging way behind you).
•    Drive the knees high and be sure that the foot strikes directly under your body; not out in front of you (although, on a hill this may be slightly different depending on the incline).
•    Only the front portion of the foot should strike the ground; the heel should never make contact.
•    When the ball of the foot makes contact with the ground think of yourself as an animal pawing at the ground and rapidly pulling it behind you.
•    As Charlie Francis said, running takes place on the ground, sprinting takes place above it. If you do it right you should feel minimal impact or stress and should feel like you are flying effortlessly. If you’re taking a lot of pounding and it feels like a lot of work, you’re doing something wrong and should consider having someone watch or video tape you for some feedback.

(Posted by Jen Comas Keck)
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Nutrition Seminar

On Saturday, November 5th from 11am-2pm, we will be hosting a very informative seminar on metabolism and fat loss with Andrea McDaniel, Registered Dietician and Sports Nutritionist. I highly recommend you all attend as Andrea will be touching on some very important and often overlooked aspects of eating for fat loss. This seminar is especially valuable for those who feel they have “tried everything” and are still not reaching their goals.

Metabolic Factors to be discussed:

  1. Inflammation & Lipids
  2. Digestive Health
  3. Nutrient Deficiencies
  4. Stress & Sleep
  5. Sex Hormone Imbalance
  6. Environmental Toxins
  7. Glucose Balance
  8. Thyroid Hormone Imbalance
**To register, please contact Joe Sansalone (jsansalone3@aol.com) or stop into the gym. The fee is $75, and cash, check or credit are all accepted. We really hope to see you there!**
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OPTI Ladies Brunch

The OPTI Ladies Brunch will be held this Sunday, 18 September at 1230. For details and directions, please email me: negf03@yahoo.com.

I look forward to spending some time outside the gym with all of the AMAZING Opti women and celebrating our fat loss challenge winners. There will be plenty of good food and of course, mimosas ;).

I hope to see you all there!

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