Thursday, November 29, 2012

Leaning into Lean

Okay. Every trainer has their moment when they decide to push for that leaner look. I've been pushing for strength, and also to get my fitness angle back from an endurance perspective. Of course, I've since needed a break from the scene. When I look back at the number of classes I was teaching, it was only a matter of time before I either burned out, or hurt something beyond repair, thereby promising my demise...and now that I'm back, it's also time to bring something old back with me.

I thought I would make my most recent stint about creatine, and before that, green coffee supplements, then CLA. Nothing seemed to really be taking off though, and I just figured it was because the supplements were malaffective...that, or I really needed to change my diet and some workout habits in order to see rippling abs. Well, I was getting some results. Probably the toughest part is, once I see the whirlwind results, I'll never want to go back to certain foods like wheat or dairy. I cannot imagine myself being too far off, as I train like a beast and eat a vegetarian diet.

I revisited a supplement called Endurox. All it is, is extra potent ginseng, named ciwujia, in pill form. It's potency is not completely loaded and produced for three days, so I am in the process of loading in the Endurox, and letting the creatine go for a couple of weeks. I need to learn the right combination of elements that help properly load the creatine, and then maybe I'll go back to it. I'm perfectly sure that there might be some diamond combo that makes everything all right. Meanwhile, it's Endurox.

Now Endurox gives me maddening energy and stamina that could possibly lead to leanness. I wait with bated breath, and a clean plate of food to go with my high energy gym soul search. Here we go.

Conversations with Creatine

Men love it. Women are scared of it. Some people think it'll kill you without hydration. And yet studies show it's one of the safest available training supplements, found naturally in animal products. Okay, so I'm thinking, this has got to hit. My good girlfriend and client Jess wanted to try some, and I didn't want her to go there without me trying it first. So I decided to buy some creatine and do some experimentation. I'd have to say that was the most interesting two weeks I ever flew through.

I was so excited about hearing of women having really excellent results from creatine. This is only one website that boasted of its claims. It even went so far as to say,

“Everybody asks me what the most dangerous supplement out there is and I say sugar. I consider creatine to be even safer than sugar.”

–  Jeffrey R. Stout, PhD, director of the Metabolic and Body Composition Laboratory at the University of Oklahoma, and author of Essentials of Creatine in Sport and Health (Humana, 2010)

Firstly, I stirred up almost 5g of creatine in my first dose, in about a cup of water. I drank this down about 30 to 40 minutes prior to a tough workout session. I think I flew through the session with it, plus a cup of black tea. Okay, so I was feeling absolutely fabulous! I was loving the extra few reps on each set. But something else was happening, as I was working out. I began feeling this weird feeling in my lower gut, like it was about ready to slide out of me, coupled with a need to rush to the potty. Next, post-gym, rehydration and meal, I stayed up most of the night, just wound up around basically nothing...but it gave me great mental energy to get a laundry list of items scratched out.

I mentioned this to my bodybuilding trainer BF Mike, who said "um, why did you load such a high dose?"Oops. I swear I did more research than that.

Next, I took two days off from taking it, and loaded again, but this time, at half the dose. Again, another great training session had ensued. But still, something was amiss...when I got home a couple of hours later, I noticed my heart was palpating, and it became scary, as if I pushed my thyroid into overdrive. As I already have athletic arrhythmia and a family history of thyroid issues, I was a little concerned with the way I was starting to feel, and no amount of water or soothing tea seemed to flush the feeling out.

Back to the drawing board.

Then I did some more research and found out that it just probably isn't for me, despite the excellent source of the one nutrient I'm probably missing from my food. However safe and accurate that may sound, me being the outlier didn't seem to feel quite right. Anyway I pushed on and tried as little as an 1/8 tsp. in water. This worked well, but afterwards, I had a strange issue where my vision was obscured for long enough to worry me. I slammed 16 oz. of water in the hopes the funny feeling would flush, and I think it did. But I couldn't understand why it took so long to achieve.

I talked to a buddy of mine who told me to try loading with juice instead of water. He also said to check the package for something called proprietary blend, which means you will not be getting enough creatine per dose. Good thing I got the pure monohydrate form. Thing for me is, not sure I can use it AT ALL. All I keep reading and hearing is, "oh, it should be safe. It's naturally found in meat." Well having said that, I'm vegetarian, and I don't think meat is completely safe. Also, something must be unnatural about the process, otherwise I'd be able to take it in spoonfuls with no harmful side effects. After prop 37, after all, no food company is required to divulge everything in their product. Wow. It's hard being a package of something these days.

So for now, I'm choosing to lay off for the remainder of the week. Then if on Monday I decide to take more, I'll understand creatine and my body a little better.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Demolition Women.

Hell hath no fury like the woman on a mission with a kettle and a dream.

And ooohhh, what a killer workout we did tonight! I was already walking in super sore from the night before. What began as a tough interval training with Mike's class, turned into some intense kettle work on the floor. When I push my intervals really hard, my head goes for a pretty solid spin! But it's okay, hunger like a mule and feeling the work was all worth it in the end!

We did a solid hour tonight on the floor. Since Kelly and I are built like real women, we can pack away the exercises and reps!! Lately, whenever I think of raising my reps, it just seems like a bad idea, since I love the feeling of strength when I am swinging at my toughest weight.

Sometimes I'm sure that people may think kettles unsafe, but if there is time, training and research put behind the swing, the results can be phenomenal. I am amazed at how much load my shoulders can take, and how much stronger I am now, when I do standard exercises with dumbbells, machines and cables. Even my pull-up routine has gotten more solid. It's a pretty awesome feeling.

Since we keep it different on the daily, our bodies really feel open to change. This also increases strength. I don't know about the others, but we train kettles on back-to-back days, but with different exercises. It seems as if the continual practice is a beneficial piece to picking up kettles. I'm marveling at the change in my abs after being consistent with kettle work for over a year. Now I'm getting ready to start shredding for real. Sometimes all that takes is a little timing, discipline and proper judgment, and maybe a few extra dollars to keep up with basic training supplements and vitamins.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Kettles for Dinner

Cottage cheese for breakfast, protein shake for lunch. Kettles for dinner.

It's the only thing I want on my nutrition plan right now, as I reflect back to the food fiesta from Hell, or shall I say, the TABLE OF TERROR. Yes, it has been written, that I ate more yeast rolls with butter, than it takes to stuff a 25 pound turkey. ...Well, I probably did not, but it sounded good.

So as a result, Hell hath no fury like the woman on a mission with a kettle bell and a carb, post-tofurkey day. All I can think about, is how much energy I need to generate this evening. In fact, it may be a good day to grab the unusual cup of coffee and a little ginseng. Maybe I'll try this yerba mate energy shot. Either way I'm doing it up tonight, and it won't be pretty.

Here's my Kettle dinner, my MONDAY NIGHT KETTLE FIGHT.

Cardio (30 min.)
Pull ups/knee ups/leg ups
Kettle session repeats 10 reps each exercise/side and 1-3 times through with 2 min. jump rope sets in between.

Clean and press
Racked Squats
@ the world
High pulls

Jump rope...
Snatches with straight bar
Snatches from floor
Snatches with swing
Hovers/wrecking ball
alternating swings (Darcy swings)

Jump rope...
Kettle squats (holding the horns)
swing, clean, squat, press
Stir the cauldron
2 hand swing

Jump Rope...
swing to lunge
swing catch and squat
sumo squat/sandbag/deep lunge
step into sumos, tap in (40x)

...This is a long workout, so you may consider doing each exercise one time through, or break it up into 2-3 sessions, at which point, each exercise repeats 3 times with 10 or even higher reps.

There. That should kill the carbs. At the very least, it'll start the engine. Or something.

Carb Bombs and Kettles

I've never met a carb I didn't like.

In fact, it had always been a bit of a fixation for me, to have a satisfyingly large amount of carbs, as vegetarianism could support a higher incidence of these lovely beauties in my diet. My folly, however, is in thinking that this idea were actually true...and in particular, the ones I wanted to eat. Nice try, brain.

The fun fact about refined flours and added sugars is that they blow you up like a puffer fish, or the Stay Puft Marshmallow man. (That dude is so famous every year come Thanksgiving.) Add long works at work, staying out late, possibly drinking and not getting enough sleep, and you've talked yourself out of a workout, most possibly. And the fun part is that the addition of the heavier, dense, fatty sugary floury carbs make you feel like a brick sinking to the bottom of the ocean. What they do for your digestion is stall it, altogether.

Every non-vegetarian thinks you want one more carb-ridden food, since you don't eat meat. Well it's not true....but I oblige anyway. After my day of eating, my face felt numb and my body very sluggish. In short, it wasn't really working for me to enjoy this way of doing things. But I still dragged myself to the gym, an accomplishment I can say I am very proud of. But when I got there and started doing my thing, I thought I was going to die...but I persevered.

I realized how fabulous I had gotten at eating the right foods at the right time and lessening the incidence of foods that don't fit into a healthy day's worth of eating. When it comes to feeling good, and you've learned the difference between feeling good, looking fit, and achieving your fitness goals, it becomes an automatic choice to do the right thing. That way you can avoid another carb bomb from destroying several days at the gym.

Friday, November 16, 2012

It's 7p, Let the Madness Rush In.

I am fully aware of my addiction to all things related to exercise and fitness...but then, that's what has kept me in it all these years. I'm no spring chicken when it comes to spending hours in training mode. It's that off-season I was never able to take, ever again, after I left college. For the first summer in my life after I graduated with my BA degree in 1994, I looked at my thighs. Let me say that I not only started crying, but I immediately drove myself to the nearest gym, which at the time was Bally's, and signed myself up. I don't think I had taken more than two days off since. I for sure never took another complete summer off, like I used to do all throughout college. Of course I'm exaggerating, but I think you get my meaning.

Tonight's workout to me, as I was writing it, sounded like "yum yum! Gimme some!" Literally, those were the words that arose. I know it sounds weird, but it happened nonetheless. So's what my girls did.

Warm-up: curls, curl and squat, curl-squat-press, reverse fly, "cheerleaders," tricep kickbacks, deadlifts, 3 count lunges, sprinter's lunge with pumping knee. (8-12 reps of each, no stops)

Set 1
Jog in place, jumping jacks, squat jacks, prisoner jacks (30 sec. of each)
30 medicine ball squats with twist, 10 basic kettle swings, 10 Darcy swings, 10 clean and press, racked kettle squats, 10 on each side.

30 one minute rest


Set 2
Lateral push-ups (step out to the side and push up as you step together), as many as you can
Jogging 10x to floor sprint 10x10
Wall plank (place your hands on the wall in front of you and PUSH like Hell.)

30 squat jumps!

REPEAT....only this time, the squat jumps change to POWER JUMPS.

Set 3
Lateral shoulder raise in  Bavarian Lunge, 10 each side
Bicep curl/tricep kickback burnout!! (30 each)

....Then we cooled it down with a kettle bell set of power clean and plunge! ...Yeah, extra protein tonight.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Three Amigas with A Wrecking Bell: SMASH.

I think I speak for the crew when I say: we feel pretty badass with a kettle.

There. I HAD to say that. Nothing feels quite as good as being able to handle your own weight, plus handle the weight of a swinging mass of iron, cutting through the air at a velocity high enough to adversely affect anything in its path...except for the workout itself, which it has a very pleasing effect on. Leave it to the masters of the kettle, to make me feel quite infantile in our year-long, fairly intense kettle study, and yet strong enough to contend in one of the more reputable kettle certification paths out there. (One day I may find myself eyeing a cert from the RKC San Diego.)

Kettle bells have probably changed my life. They for sure have forever changed my workouts, and the way I choose to get down on the fitness scene. Kettles are one of the toughest efforts I've really ever placed on my lifting quest, even though I have lifted rather heavy in my day. There's something about swinging a kettle, that motivates me to want to swing it over and over. It calls me back to try again, to readjust, to experiment and play. Kettles make me want to spend time on the floor getting sets for a good couple of hours, until the body begs to stop. Kettles please me. Someone stop me. I'll go on for a good long time about the many wonders of the kettle bell. My grandma would surely have loved kettle bells. It would have worked out a lot easier for hurling massive cast iron objects at grandpa. After all, she didn't want to ruin her good cookware.

My training amigas began as my clients in my Thursday 7p Plyo and Sculpt class at World Gym in La Crescenta. They devoted passionate, intense time and commitment to the practice and discipline of becoming fit. Both girls stated some pretty solid goals. "I want to have a flat tummy for once in my life." "I want to lose weight and be truly fit on my own terms." About two years into our relationship, I finally leaned over and asked, "I need a workout partner and you need a new program. Wanna start lifting?" A few workouts and an Avengers movie later, the Blissfully Fit Smash Team was born.

In my eyes, it was birthed because of my BF loving the Hulk and us digging one of the last lines in that movie. It was a classic moment that reminded me of my girls.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Will the streaking happen??

For those who aren't in the running lingo "know," I'm talking about running many days in a row without stopping. At the current moment, it's about 6p, and my body is V-E-R-R-R-Y sore from yesterday's killer session! We hit the floor so hard I think it exploded! But basically speaking, it's the only way to train. I don't know what we did before we started training tough intervals. We go long too! I don't think most people have to train like that, but for those who are in the intermediate to advanced portion of their fitness life, they may just enjoy training hard.

So I'm on a mission. My goal is to get my running shoes dusted off and back on my feet. It's my new little challenge, to see myself kicking up dust and dirt every day for the next two weeks or so. So far my progress has been good.

Monday: I took to the hills on a short, steeply uphill hike with a friend and client, headed back down for about 7 rounds of sun salutations in the park, and then completed our walk home. Once home, I did a short ten minute interval blast of 60 each: pushups, full leg lifts and squats.

Tuesday: Hit the ground running for 20 minutes, then headed to the gym for about an hour of pure hell: a long interval workout with a long kettle swing endurance set, pull ups, squat thrusts with deadlifts, shoulder presses, double kettle clean and squats, two hand heavy kettle swings, handstands, with several sets and roughly 10-20 reps of each. Our explosive second round of squat thrusts involved a leg explosion back and into the push up position. We were roasted afterwards! That very small load of creatine and coconut water (about a half teaspoon after my run) worked quite well. I also hydrated with hot oolong tea.

...Tonight, my plan is to do some body work: foam rolling, inverting, yoga, and possibly a gentle run/walk. The way I feel right now, probably more walking than running will be involved. Until next time. ;)