Sunday, December 28, 2014

Birds Eye View: Landing My First Bar Muscle Up.

BIG news on the fitness front!! Got my very first bar muscle up last weekend. I had been working on bar muscle ups for a few months but had recently put this goal on the back burner because I was not making progress. Everyone said I was strong enough to do them, but I doubted them because why else could I not get up there, dangit. Then one of my friends at the gym told me he was training to get his bar muscle ups

Instantly my competitive spirit began to rush motivating blood through me. Shortly after that,  I told him that I wanted to see who could get the first muscle up. Game on! I think a lot of times you put a big goal out into the universe and you get sent exactly what you need.

What I needed was three things:

Scott. The Man.
1) One on one training - which came in the form of Crossfit Masters Games winner Scott Olson
2) Motivation to get me pumped up - like the contest I established with my friend. It could be competing in an event. There was a girl who had never done ring muscle ups, who did a big Crossfit competition and got her first muscle up, just like that.
3) Physical exhaustion to silence my over-thinking mind - I got my first muscle ups post max front squat+ heavy clean and jerks. It was after a grueling 2-hour workout that Scott Olson looked at my red, sweaty face and asked if I wanted to work on getting a muscle up. While I thought, "I'm physically pooped" there was no way I would turn down the opportunity. My first attempt with Scott, I got up there. I was shocked and elated.

The top of a muscle up - perch position

If you don't know what a muscle up is- its where you hang from a bar (a pull up bar would do) and pull yourself to the top. The skills it uses are pull ups and dips but with explosive power. You want to end up where a gymnast would perch right before a big move on the uneven bars.  Here are some of the most helpful instructional videos I watched to help me get up to the bar.

A video with one of my fav people: Matt Chan teaching efficiency tips

And when it comes to learning the technique, here's where your volume needs to be focused:
  • Pull ups - Kipping and strict pull ups. I did the biggest kip of my life to get my muscle up but you also need to have the strength of strict pull ups
  • Toes to bar  (kipping)- Strength and explosive power in your hips, to "pop" you to the top
  • Hollow holds - Gymnastics style hollow holds. Hold for 45 seconds and repeat 3 times. You want massive core strength.
  • Chest to bar pull ups - After you are good at chest to bar pull ups, then work on pulling your hips to the bar. 
  • Ring dips - You need a lot of upper body strength - dips are super charged muscle builders

The most efficient (and darn right beautiful) muscle ups I've ever seen:

Mmmm Kay, When you know you are strong enough and are ready to tackle the bar muscle up - here are the most important tricks to remember:

  1. Stand back a little ways from the bar so you can jump into it. I stood back about 4 feet, but you might need more if you are taller
  2. Give the biggest, most powerful kip of your life
  3. Pull your hips up to the bar - you want to be parallel to the floor as much as you can
  4. Keep your arms straight as much as you can to maintain your strength. Bent arms will work but you might end up burning out faster and you are very likely to end up having chicken wing arms to get you up there
  5. After you kip out, you will pull back and then do the fastest sit up of your life to sit over the bar. Try not to use your tummy too much because you can get injured that way but when first starting off, just do what ever it takes!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Funniest Workout Fail Moments + A Brief Yoga Pants Comparison Guide

Someone very wise at my gym told me that wearing yoga pants is like walking around naked. Yes, indeed. This notion is both frightening and powerful depending on the day. So yoga pants have the potential to be really sexy or they can be what makes you want to run and hide out in the locker room. In fact, once I was at the gym, noticing that my yoga pants were indeed see-through and hid for a good 10 minutes in the gym to gather my courage back. This guide I hope will help you avoid that very thing from happening.

Yoga Pants Comparison

Lululemon is hands down my five star for figure flattery and functionality. While uber Pricey ($90 yoga pants) I am a believer that you get what you pay for. A fellow shopper once told me she had the same pair of Lululemon yoga pants for 16 years. I was immediately appalled and impressed. She is my mental justification every time I shop there. My booty is dedicated 100% to Lulu. They figured out where to put seams to make your rear look smoking hot. I trust their workmanship and I have never been let down. Plus the store offers free alterations on pants and tops. Their customer service is also out of this world.

Athleta - Athleta to me is like comparing a Jeep to a Porsche. Both are mighty fine vehicles to drive but one is made for manly functional rompings and one is mostly good to look at. Athleta yoga pants are great for around the house but I just don't trust them like I do Lululemon. Although, Athleta ads make me want to be rich to buy their whole store, but that's where the dream stops. Sadly, I must report failure in most pairs of their good- looking on a model yoga pants. Here's why: Every time I wear one of them I end up with Athleta assalt:

1) Sweaty butt streak down my crack- which is normal because I sweat a lot doing hot yoga and intense workouts but what I don't like is that it's visible to everyone. My butt sweat should be my business. Humph.

2) Saggy crotch. Jumping during my workouts is a given and I expect a minimal amount of downward pant-sliding, true. But Athleta gives me saggy crotch sans jumping. Now that's just rude. I don't like grabbing my pants to pull them up, it looks awkward.

3) Tight on my calfs. One Athleta pair of yoga pants requires a mini prayer every time I put them on. I am forced to ask that my Johansen-calf (monster calf muscles) will not break through the seams during a workout. Hasn't happened so far but keep my calf muscles in your thoughts.

Yoga pants to not try: Nike brand. They are made with cheap material that are heavily see-through and they never did my body any favors. Plus, the material is not made for sweat or longevity. Lululemon and Athleta nailed that part as their clothing is quick drying and their stuff lasts a long time.

Honorable mentions:  

Heard good things about Gap brand. I was told they recently changed their crotch to a new design which tends to lean toward camel toe. Ouch. So go for the old gusset. But I personally have no
experience with this brand.

Ideology- I have a pair that I wore to my first Tough Mudder and even soaked in mud, they stood the test. My biggest worry was that they would fall down with the extra weight of thick mud. However, they didn't fail me so I give them fist bumps for that. Unfortunately, they are one pair that I noticed are see-through at the gym. Just minimally but enough to make me want to wear long shirts with them.  Also, When I wore them to the gym for the first time I ran into my hubby and asked what he thought. He said, "those pants are PERFECT for a mud race." That's his nice way of saying they weren't worthy of the gym. At least he was honest, they aren't sexy, they are functional.

Biggest Workout Fail Moments so far (More to Come I'm sure!)

1st workout fail moment:  Happened when doing jumps over a barbell at my gym. I was nervous about doing this move because it requires you to make it over each jump, even when your legs are burning. I surprised myself by making the first round of 35-40 jumps then I surprised myself again when I realized my pants had fallen extremely low during the process. Like, really low. It had me walking into the corner to pull them back up & quit exposing myself. I knew when I was jumping they were falling but I had no idea how far they could go. This is where I learned an important lesson - go a size smaller if you're going to be working out like an animal. You want them tight. This is part of why yoga pants make you look naked.

Workout Fail #2:  We were doing speed tire flips where one person flips the tire & then the next person in line flips it immediately after them. We were being timed as a team. It was my turn and I was amped up and nervous that I wouldn't be able to flip it. When it was my turn, I used so much force that I blew a HUGE amount of snot, and buggers out of my nose, which rolled into my mouth. I hadn't yet flipped the tire yet though, so instead of wiping the gnarlyness away, I opted to lift on and finish the tire flip. It was sexy.

Workout Fail #3: Did a massive amount of burpees at the gym. Didn't think anything of it until I caught my reflection post workout in the locker room. Yes, my panties had bunched up like a tail and were sticking out of my workout pants. I looked like a non-sexy bunny rabbit with a black poof tail. Sometimes I think mirrors are a mistake.

Got any embarrassing moments of your own? Damn I hope so. Would LOVE to hear them!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rudolf's Tips fo Keeping Your Weight Loss Goals Locked In

A few days ago, our family rode a magic carousal together, and my face was lit up like a Christmas tree the entire ride. I think I had more fun than both kids combined. What I told my 3-year old was a magical carousal, turned out to be just that for me. After we hopped off our horses, a man said Merry Christmas to me and I almost cried with joy. It was the first time someone told me Merry Christmas this year without me saying it first. Small victories are magic.

Do you feel amazing during the holidays or does Christmas have the opposite effect?  Sometimes, the expectation of the joy tends to land you on the grinch's front porch, frowning. Hopefully, you can let yourself feel some Christmas cheer, even a little bit! Either way, Christmas joy or not, just because it's the holidays, doesn't mean your weight loss goals go away. In fact, the holidays are when you see lots of friends and family and I think you want to feel your best more than ever? Here are some reindeer tid bits I wanted to share:

1) Be Silly. Play. On thanksgiving night, I played an aggressive game of duck, duck goose with all the kids. There was running, laughing, head bonks, falling- exactly what my body ordered. Kids are so helpful to get you off your tuckuss - the ultimate example of how our bodies could always be fulfilled with movement. Fall in love with movement too, and you will smile as big as kids do, because movement is what we were made for. Stagnation is lame, besides Facebook doesn't need anymore support.

2) It's About Your Feelings.  Feelings are powerful motivators.  If you feel fat, you will act it. If you are wearing sweat pants, haven't washed your hair and you are having a "meh" day, you're more likely to be OK with plunging face first into the ice cream. Now, erase that frump idea and change it to being dressed up and feeling sexy. When you feel like a hottie, you are much less likely to eat cake by (big) spoon full. Make sure your feelings are in line to help you make right choices. The important part is living with that feeling inside your head and holding on to it. Do whatever if takes to feel good and feel like you are losing weight. It takes drastic action sometimes. It might mean you have to eat light salads for a day or do a 16-hour fast. It takes drastic, ridgid action sometimes to get the ball rolling. Or maybe you have to go run ten miles, to feel skinny and empty; just do it. Because when you feel thin, you act thin. That's why it's easy to keep losing weight once you start. What's really tough is getting started losing weight when you feel yuck about yourself. Wayne Dyer wrote a book called WISHES FULFILLED where he dives into this topic with gusto. I listened to his audio book for free from the library. If you want the shortcut version you could try his meditation CD.

Kitchen is closed. Go drink tea or water instead.
3) If you are in the kitchen, you will be more likely to eat.
"Close the kitchen" down between meals, scream it out if you have to, "the kitchen is closed!" Avoid the kitchen when you feel strong negative emotions. I have an issue with eating my emotions: loneliness, fear, feeling overwhelmed, boredom- those emotions inside my body make me want to eat sweets. You don't want to do that because it means you are not really living, instead you are just hiding. It's no way to live. If you feel uneasy, don't eat. Food, like alcohol and drugs - can be used abusively. Stop using food, instead get outside and walk- clear your head, even if its cold-as balls. Or go lay down and listen to some subliminal messages for overeating, even take deep breaths like you haven't breathed in years. Feel your emotions with something other than food. We don't all feel incredible all the time, but we don't have to try to make tough emotions go away. The emotions are suppose to be felt, feel them. An article about sugar. Read this for help also.

4) Nix the Nibbles with Oil Pulling:
If you are the cook - or you can't close the kitchen down, I recommend oil pulling. This is beneficial if you have a problem with your hand putting food into your mouth while cooking. I realized oil pulling is the best way to prevent me from nibbling. It requires that you swoosh coconut oil in your mouth for 20 minutes; you can't talk while you do it, which means you can't munch either. This does not work if you are entertaining guests obviously but I do it with my kids and tell them ahead of time that "mommy can't talk right now." (grinning while I write this)

5) Water burns fat.  If you can chug down a gallon of water a day, you will notice amazing benefits; like no headaches, less cravings for food, no puffiness and lots more energy. I felt changes from day one and I saw HUGE visual differences in 3 days. During this, I got to eat all my normal foods. Do this after dessert or even just to get rid of bloating from eating random foods that don't agree with your digestive tract. You really just need water. I did this water challenge for two weeks. But the most important part was just water.  Plus, a water detox is cheap, it's almost free. I recommend buying a gallon of spring water from the store ($1) and you can reuse the bottle or buy several to keep you going. Measurable goals like this make a big difference. Remember, water flushes out fat. Soda makes you fat, it's simple if you let it be.

This is why you can't lose weight

I hope this helps for your Holiday season, even if you don't make any changes, just sit with some of the ideas for now. Maybe you aren't ready to make changes yet, and that's OK. Maybe you just needed a few more tools in your arsenal and now this article gave them to you- woo hoo! Either way, Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays. I wish you all the best in your journey. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Programming Your Workouts - Custom Fit Fitness

People at my gym have asked about the tattoo on my left wrist. When I show them that it's just pen mark, I have to explain that it's my workout written out. Usually the night before I go to the gym, I plan out what I'm going to work on and create a workout for myself. Right before I leave for the gym, I write down the workout on my wrist- if I don't think I can remember the whole thing. This is programming your workout (though you don't have to write yours on your wrist.)  And I'm about to help you program your workouts, focusing on functionality, simplicity and and frequency.

One day a week needs to HURT. One of my favorite things is to turn my face bright red and leave the gym dripping in sweat. Hense, I created a "Red Face Friday" contract with my body. This means that on Fridays, I do whatever is necessary to make my face red during and after my workout. Since speed usually does the trick- then sprints, burpees and intensity are part of my Friday workout prescription. Pushing past barriers no matter what your mindset or circumstances, creates mental toughness. There is no optional Red Face Friday for me, I just know I have to do it.

Work Your Weakness: The most obvious benefit to programming your workouts for yourself, is that you can attack your weaknesses head on. For instance, my weaknesses, which are posted on my fridge, are double unders and muscle ups. It's up to me (and only me) to add those into my workouts and get them off my weakness list.  I am not saying it's easy by any means, it requires work, but the rewards are huge. Working your weaknesses will improve other areas of your fitness through skill transfer. This means if you can improve one weakness, your hard work will show itself somewhere else in another move.

Add Variance (Pretty) Please: Who wants to have the same hair style for 40 years, Hell No. Life is about change and flow, Life is a river, it's not the rock. Variance instills the unconditional love of working out, because nothing stays the same so you are constantly drawn back in. There's a yoga class at my gym that I loved going to but once I memorized the program and realized we were doing exactly the same moves, in the same order, every week - I lost interest. Design your workout to use different machines and do different moves, even if it takes planning and feels a little uncomfortable. What's easy is hopping on the same cardio machine and doing the same workout every time you hit the gym. But that bores me. Routine bores most of us...eventually, but it is comfortable. Remember, comfort and growth are mortal enemies. If you want to be comfortable in the gym, that's fine; do that for a while until you are ready to blossom. When you're ready to see physical changes that will knock your socks off, get yourself out of a gym routine.

Frequency: If you need a little assistance, a cheat sheet from Crossfit which helps if you are looking to improve ALL areas of fitness: Cardio, Strength and Skill simultaneously. It essentially means that your week would be working out 3 days on, then 1 day off, and then repeat. This works best for you die hards because it pushes your body to it's peak ability by the 3rd day. By the 4th day, you would not be able to give it 100% so that becomes a rest day. Others like me who need to split their mornings equally between fitness and family time have to change it up. My workout schedule is more like M-W-F for morning solo workouts. I like to think of the other days as rest days but I'm not actually resting. Usually on the other days the intensity is less or I'm playing racquetball without training.

Keep it simple. Sure, you can bring your fitness magazine and start doing all the strange moves the beautiful models are doing. But I only ask that you make sure to focus on the functional movements. Two of my fitness besties are squats and push ups which are super functional and have unlimited variations. What are functional moves? Every time you go to the bathroom, you are squatting - so that makes squats functional. When you lean over to pick up something, you are deadlifting, so deadlifting is functional. Functional is your friend that keeps you from getting hurt in the real world. Because you shouldn't have a heart attack from snow shoveling, and you shouldn't break your back when you lift something heavy. Your body should be treated well by lifting heavy things and by teaching how to move properly.

Programming help from Crossfit's methodology:

Crossfit Modalities:
G = Gymnastics/bodyweight
M= Metabolic Conditioning

W= Weightlifting

G. Body Weight/Gymnastics:         

Squats - pistol squats or two legged
Pull-ups - assisted, strict, kipping, butterfly, with weight belt
Push-ups -diamond, wide grip, decline, on your knees, one handed
Dips - on a box, on rings, assisted
Handstands - against the wall, free standing, facing wall
Sit-ups/ V- Ups/toes to bar/knees to elbow
Jumps - broad, vertical, box
Lunges - with weight plate, with barbell, frontwards/backwards, with kettlebells
Hollow holds - hand in air or hands by your side
Planks - high/low

M. Plus one of these:

Run - sprints, intervals, slow, fast
Bike -  sprints, intervals, slow, fast
Row - sprints, intervals, slow, fast
Jump Rope - double/single, running, backwards

W. Then work on one of these:

Deadlifts - sumo, deficit, Romanian, snatch grip
Cleans - hang, power, squat
Presses - push, bench
Squats - front, back, overhead
Snatch - power, squat
Clean and Jerk - barbell or kettlebell
Kettlebells - swings, snatches, around the world

For some sample workouts, go here or here. Otherwise, start getting creative with the lists above.
W+M one day, then M alone one day, then G + W + M one day. It's endless.

Hope that helps! Best of luck in your programming and don't forget to add in your weaknesses. Feel free to Red-Face-Friday with me, company is always welcome!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Post Holiday Party Mayhem...Recovery & Prevention

The curve balls of life. Just when you are feeling like you're on track and taking good care of yourself, eating an ideal diet and thinking maybe you are going to keep your slim figure, a punch to the gut comes. Welcome The Holidays, and the Christmas cheer, food galore, delicious sugar desserts then spiked egg nog to lower your standards of eating. 'Tis the Season.

This little guy never had a chance
Someone told me recently that Tiger moms eat their first born litter tiger cubs. They eat them in order to build up their strength. Did you just lose a little respect for tigers? Me too. The idea of a Mom Tiger eating children tigers DOES make me feel  less guilty about all the dessert I consumed this past weekend; see - at least I didn't eat any babies.

This Saturday night, I decided to throw in the towel and have some cocktails; lemon drop martinis and Crown Royal were calling my name. Fast forward to 5 drinks later, I found myself with the remnants of chocolate cake and ice cream on my plate. And then shortly after that, creme brulee and chocolate pieces were thrown on top like a pretty little insulin bow in my gut.

Our dog Carmen, less than enthusiastic about becoming our reindeer
And oh did I pay the price the next day. All day yesterday had me feeling like a fallen mistletoe that had been ran over by a reindeer. Santa was watching and he was not happy my food and beverage choices. Here's what hindsight has enlightened me with:

Holiday Party Basics:

  1. Before you go out, agree on the number of drinks (2-3 is a respected number). Don't be 'THAT GUY or GAL' who drank before they arrived and is super touchy-feely in front of their co workers AND their spouse.
  2. Get your sweat on before you 'hit the streets.' There's a reason that people were crowding the gym up on Thanksgiving morning, get your burn on before you feast
  3. Move. The worst you can do after too much food is be stationary. Go for a walk, even just to the bathroom a couple times. Movement works towards lowering insulin. Remember insulin is your enemy when it comes to fat loss.
  4. Live a little. If skipping dessert is an option, do it IF you can be happy by it. If you are going to feel deprived then eat the (damn) dessert. Anytime I feel angry about missing out on foods, I usually end up making up for it later by eating more of something else, so you might as well enjoy the moment with everyone. Really enjoy it by eating small bites and eating slowly
  5. The next morning consider doing some detox and eating lots of salads to get your fiber and nutrients
  6. By all means, enjoy the holidays and don't eat any baby tigers, mmmkay. Thanks.

My fav ugly sweater with shoulder pads. It's not for sale, people

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hold on For Dear Life, Grip Strength 101 To The Rescue

You learn the importance of grip strength real fast when you are hanging from a pull up bar. It seems your big muscles have no problem keeping you up on the bar but it's your (damn) hands that can't seem to hold you up there. Where's the glue when you need it. Sigh. Us ladies have less grip strength than men, this could be a bummer but we also have lighter bodies to pull, so it's all good here, no evil thoughts.

Why you want to improve your Grip Strength:

  1. Lift heavier weights - Ever do deadlifts? I bet you do. Want to go heavier? Me too.
  2. More trust for yourself when hanging 
  3. Because what good are strong biceps if you can't hold anything up. duh.
  4. Strong is beautiful. Strong AND functional is sexy ** Blogger's Favorite **
  5. Does a 75% increase in performance entice you? So says Aush Chatman, in this article 
Sexy? Um, Over the line.

Grip Strength Builders:

Your grip is the strongest when it's in a fist. The further from that fist your fingers go, the further from strength your grip goes. When your hands are holding a basketball, there's less grip than if you were holding a key. Now that we are on the same page, feel free to think of me as you incorporate these into your workout. (Big confident smile here.)  

1. Hang a towel from a pull up bar. Hang it so it's wrapped like a rope (or make things easier & use a rope) My gym has lots of towels but no hanging ropes, so I make do. Next, pull yourself up, if you can. If you can't pull up all the way, just pull. Put as much weight on there as you can. Hang for time, 10 seconds to start and increase it as you do multiple sets.

2. Arm wrestling. You will need a partner but I bet this could be fun. Grip on and send me a vid of this. The world needs more arm wrestling. If we could solve the problems with politicians and terrorists by a good arm wrestle, I would be a happy girl.

3. Wrap a towel to any medium: kettlebell, dumbell, barbell and train with that. The harder it is to grip, the better. It just means when you take the towel away, it will be that much easier. Just don't do anything crazy like lift the weight overhead. Farmers carries would be ideal for this, as would deadlifts. 
4. Avoid the mixed grip when deadlifting. I wrote this and a tear fell from my eye, I love mixed grip. Switching the direction of your hands doesn't do any favors for training your hands. The mixed grip is great for super heavy, so save it for your PR's. 
5. Squeeze a tennis ball. This is so easy you can do it while watching The Walking Dead. Hold it every time a zombie comes on screen. 

6. Push ups on your finger tips - I do love push ups of all variations, this one is a good one to add to your collection

7. Hang from the pull up bar on one hand - Keep a straight face if you can. 

Grip on. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gratitude, Reflection and Pause on Thanksgiving. RIP Justin.

A great man left this world on Monday. Justin, a friend and one hell of a person passed away this week. He was my girlfriend's brother and I ache for his loss as well as his family's. The questions in my mind have been rolling out by the moment; how did it happen, who was there, what were the circumstances? But in the end, the answers to those questions won't change the fact that he is gone now. The answers to those questions won't let him sit down and eat Thanksgiving dinner today. The answers won't let him take more breaths or hold his nephew and niece.

At a time when you experience loss, I find it important that we allow time for serious, focused reflection in our own lives. Are we where we want to be and doing the things we want? Are we living a life to be proud of, one that makes our ancestors and loved ones proud of us? Are we being true to ourselves? Are we cherishing each precious moment or are we just moseying around in life without being present and relishing in the joy of now.

So on a day when my heart aches for such a terrible loss, and on a day when tears and hugs can not ease the pain - I wish to be grateful for the moment I live in now. Here is what I am grateful for on Thanksgiving:

My Graditude List for Thanksgiving 2014

  1. My two daughters; a walking example of living in the moment and who teach me to relish the small things in life. Yesterday at Whole Foods, we found the bubble button where the kids can push the button and bubbles fall from the ceiling. My girls you would have thought had just met Santa and the easter bunny - they screeched and smiled bigger than I've ever seen as they tried to pop the bubbles and let them fall on their heads. Those moments of pure joy will be etched in my mind forever and it's my privilege to be surrounded by two girls that can offer that joy to me. I'm a lucky Mom.
  2. For a hubby who can keep me focused and on track when I start slipping. Rick is my rock - how he can always stay on track with my crazy shenanigans astounds me regularly. He has always been able to see the big picture- when I can sometimes only see one step ahead somehow he sees the stars. He has amazing clarity. And it is Rick who can make me laugh as hard as my Dad does- and that's no easy task.

  3. For the ability to LOVE and to FEEL LOVE. Also for the ability to breath and have control of my body. The ability to feel raw emotions no matter how good or bad.
  4. For being blessed in a body that let's me do the things I love. And a body that has dealt with years of mistreatment and too much judgment. A body that let's me learn new skills. Our bodies are amazing machines I am honored to be able to tap into its abilities.
And for today, on Thanksgiving, it's my goal to enjoy each moment, live inside each moment and give big tight hugs to those I love. To eat and not feel guilt about the foods I chose to enjoy. To get subsistence from the people I will be surrounded by today instead of trying to get it  from food. Keeping food as the "icing on the cake" and letting my loved ones be my cake. Happy Turkey Day, make a it good one folks!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Stomach Flu. You Should Be So Lucky.

Though I did not intentionally get the stomach flu, I have several reasons you might wanna go out and get some. It began with my 3-year old daughter, and got passed to every person in our house, and now Grandpa, a cousin and my brother-in-law all have it. Yes, my family has mastered spreading our love through the gut.

Stomach Flu Incentives:

  1. For the first time in my life I have a super power:  Super Power Burps! These burps are so frightening, no one will come close.
    Stand back evil-doers.
  2. My weekend was spent in my PJ pants. Did YOU get to do that? I even had a tiny bit of puke on my pant bottoms, but did I let that bother me...nope. I was dwelling in my jammies guilt free.
  3. Catching up on all your reading. 574 trips to the bathroom will do that for you, too. The gift of more leisure time
  4. A complete new start. Weight loss guaranteed. Those expensive detox programs have nothing on mama nature! 
  5. Carbs on Carbs on Carbs. Eat to your hearts content because everything will be kicked out momentarily. Treat this as carbohydrate martial law.
  6. Clean sheets! There are perks to having vomit in your bed
I suggest you time your stomach flu wisely. Mine occurred on Halloween night. I considered it a gift from the switch witch. She took all the evil, rotten candy I ingested, twirled it around in her wicked little brew bowl and magically expelled it  from my gut. Thank you switch witch. Although, I think maybe thanksgiving might have been a better choice looking back. Well, I guess any gluttonous holiday will do. Go get yours.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Its Not Called Gym-nice-stics!" Movie Quote Trivia

Oranche, owner at Awaken Gymnastics
Remember when you were a kid holding money for the ice cream truck and you stood there looking at the ice cream pictures, deciding which one you would devour. You knew whatever you got would be yummy and you couldn't lose! That's how thrilled I am to find an adult gymnastics facility only 15min away from me. There I am last week looking at Awaken Gymnastics knowing it's going to be delicious! A place where back flips, muscle ups, hand stand walks and the human flag are on the agenda, ummm.. hell ya, bring it.

It All Starts With Goal Assessment...  What an opportunity to share my biggest fitness intentions in a structured class! Goals assessment class is mandatory for everyone starting off. We also got to show off a few of our skills, or in my case our almost-skills. This is also when the coaches get to watch specific movements and identify mobility issues. There were a lot of shoulder, ankle and hip issues that could limit full expression of the moves. Oranche (Awaken owner) and his team were there to call out those weak spots. My shoulder issue was no exception, it could hide no more.

Genius concepts introduced during my first visit:
Totally Busted. My shoulder issue can hide no more

  1. Hip/Shoulder Prehab - When my wayward shoulder was pointed out during the goal assessment, they didn't send me away with instructions to contact my local chiropractor. Instead I was given an order for mandatory shoulder pre-hab which will help mend my rogue shoulder and prep it for my new gymnastics skills
  2. Deloading - Their weeks are structured by varying levels of intensity. Each week gets more difficult until deload week comes along and reduces your reps to keep you out of the red zone  (prevents you from getting adrenal fatigue and injured)

My goals? Oh, so glad you asked. Is a double back flip too huge of a goal? Nothing wrong with aiming high. I am interested in all of it! Back flips, muscle ups, ring handstands, and the beautiful and the all-powerful, strong and flexible gymnastics body. Bring it! 

"Stick It"
Now for your movie quote trivia...It's from a gymnastics movie called "Stick It" which I had never watched until last week. It all started when I was partial to a conversation at Crossfit and they discussed the movie. Someone I know (not naming names!) is the husband of a stunt double for one of the actresses. I felt like the outsider in the conversation (total dork) because I had never seen the movie which was made in 2006. So I made it a point to watch it, so I could be part of the cool kids group. However, after I watched it, I realized I might have become even more of dork for watching it because it was really something special. My 3-year old daughter watched the movie also and wanted to watch it a second time, if that properly rates the movie for you.  Still, a good movie for some intense gymnastics moves and glad I watched it just to get to use the quote above as my title. 

Here's to my gymnastics world which just opened up, stay tuned for updates. Maybe the Olympics in my future? Never know. Maybe I'll work on my back flips first.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Masters Training To Whip Me Into My Place: Crossfit

In Crossfit, you are considered a Master based on your age. 35 years and up means your workouts might be catered a little differently than the standard WOD (workout of the day). In other words, they are modified for masters by a minuscule amount. This means I am two years away from the downhill... I felt like hugging random strangers when I saw my old Crossfit gym (Front Range Crossfit) was starting a new training program - Masters-only training on Saturdays (for age 30+ only). This meant I could have someone push me past my limits and be surrounded by 30 year olds+ while doing it. Yep. Sign me up. 

We had two coaches for class. One was Scott Olson, 1st place Crossfit Games Masters winner and Rhonda who both drilled me some spot-on coaching advise.  To start us off, Scott prepped us with the outline for the 2 hour training. He said double unders would be in our WODs, plus rowing practice. I actually stopped listening (and breathing) when he said double unders because I was hit in the gut with intense fear.

Double Unders and I have a history. And while I have recently been able to link some of them- my double unders are a complete debacle. Luckily, I wasn't the only one who had a double under dilemma, so I wasn't holding anyone back. Instead, I realized that, self-respect be damned, it was the perfect class for me because I got to improve my skills! I ended up getting more double under links than I ever have (IN MY WHOLE LIFE!) And just to brag a little bit, Scott told me that I am extremely close to becoming very efficient at double unders. And to think I almost peed my pants for nothing!

Masters Training Class Schedule:
  • Warming up
  • Rowing technique - Jon Kissick Team US Rowing to critique our rowing skills
  • Double Under and thrusters instruction
  • WOD #1 - 5 KB thrusters - 10 Double Unders - 150 Meter Run -
    EMOM (every min on the min.) 12 Min.
  • Rest/Recover
  • WOD #2 - 300Meter Row, 20 Double Unders, 10 Barbell Thrusters (95# male-65# female)
    4 Rounds on the 6:00 Interval

Double Under Fail. Look where the rope is
If you are asking yourself what a double under is, let me explain briefly. It's where you are jumping rope and you have the rope come under your feet twice while you only jump up once. So it's a fast rope movement with a high, slow jump. It requires practice, patience and coordination. I am completely convinced there has been a conspiracy against me being able to link them. One of the best things Scott taught us is that you want to make your double unders so effortless that when they are in a workout, they become a rest period for you. This is exactly what I want, I am done with them leaving me exhausted.

Current Double Under face
The rowing critique was helpful, it's my second time taking a class from Jon Kissick and I think he's full of amazing information. Jon rowed for the US Rowing team and even won a gold medal...Totally famous. My form was brought up a lot in class for all different mistakes but I enjoyed applying better methods and seeing the improvements on my rowing screen. Here's what I remember:
  1. My food pads need to be at #2 station because my knees were coming over my toes (I have super flexible hamys- thanks Yoga!)
  2. I was not leaning forward enough on the front end, need to wind all the way to 11:00 (like I'm about to pull a heavy load)
  3. I was pulling back on the rower before my legs fully finished their pull. This gives me less power because I start using littler muscles like my back instead of my legs
  4. I was retracting after the pull, and allowing my knees to bend before the bar. I need to bar to go past my knees before I bend my knees

So many fun tricks and manipulations to help you row better! It's so thrilling to see notable improvements in a skill set.  I saw huge drop offs in my split time when I hinged forward more so I was elated to see that.

Common rowing errors video here!

Our last WOD completely KILLED me:

300 Meter Row
20 Double Unders
10 Barbell Thrusters (95# male-65# female)
4 Rounds on the 6:00 Interval

 4 Rounds of this shenanigans was insane. It reminded me that I'm made of steel and I haven't been pushing myself hard enough in the gym to value that steel-made self. I Love you Crossfit. Back to the story, I finished each round between the high 2:00 min mark and low 3:00 min mark. I think officially my last time was 3:12min. which was my worst time, I can easily blame the exhaustion. I was able to do the thrusters unbroken and I rowed in 1:58/500m splits but the double unders were what slowed my roll. Hopefully not for long, Double Unders are beginning to become my bitch. Considering all the whip marks I have received from double unders, it's about time I take control back from the rope!

Stay tuned for more training!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Hormonal Games, Your Troubleshooter. Part 6 of Making Your Meat Suit Habitable

Making Your Meat Suit Habitable, Part 6...Hormonal Games 

Our hormones are like an orchestra; intended to play beautiful music together, but things can get wacky when one trumpet tries to go solo and the other instruments try to cover him, ending in a musical disaster. Be aware that hormones need to all play together to the same sheet music, with the same conductor, in the same room, on the same night. You absolutely CAN NOT man-handle one hormone without instigating changes to another.

When your hormones are out of sync, you could suffer from depression, brain fog and other less-than-exciting emotions, plus you are more apt to...drum roll please... store fat. The great part is you can lovingly (and naturally) down play hormones we need less of while offering some TLC to the hormones we want more of. Let's work to orchestrate your masterpiece.

The holy grail of your body fat storage: THE BODY FAT MAP, FOUND HERE:

Not who you want conducting your hormones. I like the guy in the middle's expression

Making Your Meat Suit Habitable part 1  - Setting the Wheels in Motion
Making Your Meat Suit Habitable part 2 - Your Liver
Making Your Meat Suit Habitable part 3 - Body Fat Map
Making Your Meat Suit Habitable part 4 - Exercise

THYROID. Ya, I Got A Dud.


Disorderly thyroids are all around us. There are low and high functioning ones, goiters and Hashimotos (which is the majority of low thyroid cases.) If you don't know already, Hashimotos is where your body treats your thyroid hormone as poison (and yep, I got that one!) Blame the rebel in me, but I actually resisted taking any medication for my thyroid for a full year. It was finally when I was so tired my bedtime was as soon as I got home from work. Plus, I was seriously considering shaving my head because I barely had any hair on it.

Your thyroid regulates a large portion of your bodily functions and being born with a dud initially made me feel victimized to no end. Instead of letting the victim mentality wage an ugly war on my control, I instead decided to do everything I could to help my thyroid naturally. Besides that, I also pop a thyroid compound pill every morning, 30 minutes before breakfast, and try to eat sushi and seaweed more often and get natural morning sunlight. I have proven I am in control of my weight but I do think sometimes I have to work a little harder than some. That's OK, I know it's worth it to me and that others have to work even harder than I do. In life, you work with what you're given and try to make it damn good.

How to Help Your Thyroid Naturally
  1. Get outside in the morning and look in the direction of the sun, not directly at it. Do this for 15 minutes daily
  2. Sprinkle kelp on salads and or use it as a salt replacement
  3. Go Gluten free. That stuff is NOT your thyroid's friend
  4. Heavy on the proteins, they will send the thyroid hormone to necessary body parts
  5. Cook your calciferous veggies - broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and the like need to be cooked. Raw can interfere with thyroid function
  6. Eat salmon, tuna, eggs, broccoli
  7. Avoid soy - this is in almost all processed foods if you check the labels you will see eating crap foods is destroying your thyroid function thus your ability to lose weight

What I have learned is that if your thyroid is not functioning where it should your other hormones will not either. They are interplay off each other. It's like a party, how one person can come in and dominate the room with positive, lively energy. Or their nemesis can come in and bring down the mood of the room. Thyroid controls so much, so treat it well because you don't want to try to lose weight, feel good, or have hair without your thyroid.

The Testosterone Level of a Teenage Boy. Yes, Please.


In Jillian Michael's Book Master Your Metabolism, one of the best parts is when Jillian compares herself to her thinner friend based on their hormonal tests. Her friend's hormone levels show she is high in testosterone. Now, I can spot this testosterone-heavy body type out in a crowd any day. I'm not thinking of the overly bulky body builder! Instead, its the perfectly thin girl who can eat anything she wants and doesn't know what it feels like to put on jeans and have your thighs and lovehandles bulge out. Sometimes it's to skinny girl's demise, because this high-testosterone girl tends to be lacking in organic curves, but often she's "that girl" the other gals envy for her effortlessly skinny self. Her blood result will usually show high testosterone, so you wanna get yourself some of this, and I'm here to help.

For the guys, the heavy in testosterone male will look like this, maybe. And rest assured, these boobs are muscle not moob-fat. But high testosterone males will also have ample facial hair, lots of energy, and be motivated, be extra motivated to hit the gym. Women are by nature more attracted to guys with high levels of testosterone because it's a sign of health. Did I get your attention now?

In both males and females, testosterone will help you to
- Build muscle
- Have a smaller waist
- Have confidence, like you own "it"!
- Have an active libido (sign me up!)
- Increase attrativeness to females

What does LOW TESTOSTERONE (Boo...) looks like:
1. Beer belly
2. No motivation
3. Moobs
4. Depression
5. Reduced sex drive
6. Loss of body hair
7. Reduced muscle
8. Increased body fat

Causes of Low Testosterone: (some were surprising to me so I wanted to share)

Image from Anti Aging Clinics

And now folks, for the goodies!
Here's how you can increase your testosterone naturally:
  • Sleep! Deep sleep, in a dark, cool room. Watch the YouTube Video below for proof
  • Intense exercise, fast and hard. And lift heavy weights (done and done!)
  • Take zinc citrate, and Vitamin B 
  • Eat lean red meat (grass fed preferred!) Red meat +burly men go hand in hand in my mind
  • Eat a low inflammation diet and lose weight. You can do both by adopting the paleo diet
  • Stop eating sugar. This is important with ALL things good for your body but specifically for Testosterone wellness
  • Increase your healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut, nuts) don't be scared of saturated fats, that's an old school way of thinking, instead get educated on their benefits
  • Magnesium oil. I love this stuff to help me recover quickly and I can spray directly onto sore muscles, plus it helps you sleep well
  • Wonder Woman pose
  • Masturbate and/or have a lot of sex (saved the best for last)

Best of luck to us all!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Low DHEA. Oh Hell No.


DHEA is the building block of very important hormones, so you don't want to mess with it. Men manufacture testosterone and DHEA in their reproductive glands which helps them to have facial hair, have a sex drive, and keep up their energy. Sadly, both testosterone and DHEA decline with age so it means we have to work a little harder to keep these hormones pumping. DHEA is important because it converts to testosterone.

Testosterone, for women, is produced by the adrenal glands, which means if you are chronically stressed out, you are not producing enough DHEA. This rule applies to both males and females- cortisol can reduce DHEA which can thus reduce your body's access to testosterone, yuck. This hormone is simple. If you want to increase your DHEA (I do, because I don't like flabby arms) then you need to increase your testosterone. You also need to work on your stress levels. It always comes back around to cortisol, doesn't it.

Another tricky part of your hormonal orchestra is when testosterone begins to convert to estrogen within the body. This tends to happen when you are gaining weight. This is not a good place to be. The best way to prevent testosterone converting to estrogen? Stay away from flour and sugar, mostly at night time. Also ensure you have enough zinc in your system.

1. Anxiety
2. Depression
3. Moobs
4. Being unmotivated
5. Fatty tricep area

Increase DHEA Naturally:
1. Detox the liver- mostly for females
2. Increase Testosterone by lifting heavy weights, eating more protein
3. Stress Management by sleeping more, walking, meditating
4. Control your insulin with a proper, real-foods diet: Paleo/Mediterranean. No Sugar. No Flour.
5. Consider taking ginseng and zinc


Low Progesterone. But High Hopes. We've Got This!


While I was in the middle of writing this blog post, I had my own hormone levels checked for several yucky symptoms (moody, bloating, and gaining weight in hips/butt) that I couldn't ignore. Can't argue with the objective facts, the results showed my progesterone level is 'very low'. Where the normal range is from 1.7-27.0, this girl's progesterone level came in at .4. Bummer dude.

I had an ah-ha moment thinking this explains why I have more "junk in the trunk" than I should, The hubby didn't sound very enthusiastic of me losing my All-About-That-Bass booty. But here goes! 
All About That Bass, No Treble

Progesterone does not work alone. Progesterone and estrogen are a power couple. Progesterone for a woman helps regulate her monthly cycle, and protect a new pregnancy. However, if a woman is not ovulating, then she doesn't produce progesterone and there is too much estrogen roaming around solo. (I suspect estrogen is looking for progesterone at the time and feeling lost, humph). A drop in Progesterone is also what contributes to carb city central, when you are craving that dessert (chocolate?) right before you start your next period. Now you know who to point your finger at, its your hormones.

Men also manufacture progesterone and use it for a healthy brain, heart and bones. Their levels would likely be more stable since their levels are not dependent on ovulating. But we all need progesterone for the same reason, to rid ourselves of excess estrogen. Without enough progesterone, we tend to be off balance. It also goes both ways, we can have too little Progesterone because we are estrogen dominant. 

Signs of Progesterone imbalance:

  • Belly fat/ Fat storage to hips/booty/hamstrings
  • Carb cravings
  • Dry skin
  • Extreme PMS
  • Hair loss
  • Heavy periods
  • Missed periods
  • High blood sugar
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • PCOS
  • Anxiety & nervousness
  • Reduced facial hair in men
Causes of Low Progesterone:
1. Anovulation (woman not ovulating) Don't know if you are? Read here
2. Too much stress!
5. Birth control pills
6. Smoking/pollution/Toxins

Natural ways to Balance Progesterone:
1. Acupuncture 
2. Manage your stress with meditation, yoga, deep breathing, etc.
3. Progesterone cream
4. Royal Maca or Vitex are known to balance hormones
5. Vitamin B6
6. Magnesium
7. Evening Primrose Oil
8. Decrease sugar
9. Increase fiber
10. Nix the Alcohol and caffeine to help the liver detox the hormones

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Insulin Reduction. Reduce the Sugar to Reduce Your Weight

BODY FAT STORAGE: Belly/Lovelandles


  1. Abdominal obesity
  2. Depression
  3. Irregular menstruation and infertility
  4. Lowered sex drive
  5. Skin tags, acne, dark skin patches on armpits, groin, neck and elbows

Eating a lot of sugar or high glycemic foods raises insulin levels, which deposits energy from foods into fat your fat cells. 

Years ago, having tests done at my acupuncturist's office, I remember when he told me I was slightly insulin resistant. At the time, I did not know what that meant but I dove into some serious research to figure it out. Oh man, was I was disappointed, it meant I had Pre-diabetes.  This knowledge forced me to become very aware of insulin and it's impact on my emotions and body shape. I want nothing to do with insulin resistance, so I stay away from things that contribute to it. 

For me my physical symptoms of excessive insulin showed up as love-handles, a sweet tooth of MAJOR proportions, an extra 20 pounds of body weight, plus it effected my mood. There I was happy one minute then grumpy and chunky in the next. 

An explanation for insulin's purpose in the body: 

When your body notices that sugar is elevated, it is a sign that you've got more than you need; you're not burning it so it accumulates in your blood. Insulin will be released to take that sugar and store it. How does it store it? Glycogen. Your body stores very little glycogen at any one time. All the glycogen stored in your liver and muscle wouldn't last you through one active day. Once you fill up your glycogen stores that sugar is stored as fat. 
-from Mercola



- Nutrient deficient carbs (soda, fast food, fruit drinks, chips, etc)
- Processed foods
- Breads/grains/cereals (screw you Fruity Pebbles)
- Sugar & artificial sweeteners
- High glycemic foods 
- Excessive fructose (fruit+honey)
- Large meals
- Liver overload (too many toxins)
- Not eating enough fat & protein
- Not getting enough fiber
- Lack of exercise

Insulin is involved in the blood sugar roller coaster. It starts with a yummy dessert. You feel like a million bucks after and while eating it, then later, your blood sugar crashes and you crave more sugar and your mood plummets. So, where it starts with dessert , it ends with a sugar crash, weight gain and possibly sugar addiction.

This whole blood sugar mess speaks numbers to me since as a kid, I grew up eating sugar. My family ate dessert every night growing up. In fact, running out of ice cream in the house was a huge mistake in my Mom's grocery shopping. I remember how upset we got when we ran out of our crack, uh, I mean ice cream. Getting away from sugar has been incredibly difficult but so very life changing.

We all need to feel accountable for our choices rather than victimizing ourselves with talk of genetics and food cravings. But we do live in a modern world where good choices are sometimes the more difficult. It's not easy to go to the grocery store instead of a drive thru. Its easier to go home after work and veg out with the TV, instead of go to the gym. No one judges you when you watch TV, nothing makes you feel uncomfortable. 
The big take away from this is the easier way is NOT the more powerful way. The more powerful way tends to yield BIG results that give you warm fuzzies inside. Just like the vegetarian who turns down meat tends to feels an endorphin rush from declining the food. Powerful choices build your confidence, encourage you to be more powerful and will lead you to good things in life.
It's my opinion, the more you do make those powerful choices; the easier and more rewarding they become. I think the paths we chose continually propel us in that same direction. If you are eating well and working out, that becomes easy; if you're not taking care of yourself, that too can become easy. That's why it's important to keep making the right choices, the ones that will make you hold your head high, make your children and family proud and help you look and feel healthy.

6 Easy Steps to Lower Insulin:
1. Turn off the TV. TV and obesity are both evil. Together, TV + Obesity are deadly. Turn off the TV for a month and you will want to thank me with a thousand kisses. You will get so much done and feel ALIVE again! Plus you can turn off your cable and use that money for a gym membership. 

2. Say "eff you"  to sugar. Its not a real food, it's chemically made and it's hurting your body. Substitute coconut sugar, honey or real maple syrup instead. 

3. Movement. Get up and walk around, clean the house, jump up and down. Feel your body, let your blood flow.

4. Start taking fish oil. I drink mine but others take it in pill form. I prefer Cod Liver Oil because it's got vitamin D in it but either way- fish oil is a staple in our house

5. Take cinnamon pills and or sprinkle cinnamon on everything. It helps!

6. Eat protein with your high glycemic foods to slow the insulin roll

If you are ready for a huge dietary overhaul, I suggest moving toward eating paleo. Paleo is good for keeping you eating real foods and not feel like you are dieting. Plus, you get to keep your body in a low inflammation state which means you won't get sick much; if ever. 

What to do when you slip up and you ate ALL that dessert? It happens to all of us! Get away from the dessert if there is any left, and go for a power walk. Your body will have an easier time if you give the sugar somewhere to go. I wrote about how I used to do burpees after I ate poorly. Movement helps with the food guilt.

Making Your Meat Suit Habitable part 1  - Setting the Wheels in MotionMaking Your Meat Suit Habitable part 2 - Your Liver
Making Your Meat Suit Habitable part 3 - Body Fat Map
Making Your Meat Suit Habitable part 4 - Exercise
Making Your Meat Suit Habitable part 5 - Human Growth Hormone

Master Your Metabolism, Jillian Michaels (Book)