Coming Clean

One woman’s honest quest to clean up her unhealthy life for herself and her family.

Monthly Archives: February 2012

Experience Life Magazine

8-Minute Kettlebell Workout

My favorite (and most often used) excuse for not working out: I don’t have time. I’m just too busy.

I’m too busy for my body, for my health? Maybe I don’t allow myself to think of it that way, hence why I skip a workout here and there, but this is essentially the excuse I’m making. And when I do reconsider my rationalization for “too busy,” I start to think of the things I do that are time-suckers and moments when I could squeeze in activity instead.

For someone always claiming to be “too busy” to workout, kettlebells have offered the perfect solution. It’s a quick twofer: the body gets stronger and the heart beats faster. Kettlebells are also great for coordination and balance, and burn mega calories, if you are keeping track. You’ve probably read all the reasons why a kettlebell workout is so great already, so I won’t go on about the benefits. If you want a fast, kick-butt kettlebell workout, try girevoy, which we feature in our March 2012 Workout department.

What do you do when you don’t have 10-minutes? How about a full-body workout in eight minutes? Just eight minutes! Try this routine from this week’s Team Kettlebells workout, developed by RKC and KBA certified Jen Sinkler, senior fitness editor at Experience Life and author of Survival of the Fittest:

  1. Kettlebell Snatches, One Arm, 40 seconds. With hips back, swing the kettlebell so you are lifting it nearly straight up overhead. It felt kind of like a swing and a push press combined. When the kettlebell feels weightless, flip it over so you guide it to the outside of your wrist. (The move kind of looks like this, seen in the first 10 seconds of the video, only with one kettlebell/arm.) Start with your weaker side (whichever isn’t your dominant hand). Rest for 20 seconds.
  2. Kettlebell Snatches, Alternate Arm, 40 seconds. Repeat the same movement with the other arm. Rest for 20 seconds.
  3. Goblet Squat, 40 seconds. Use a heavier kettlebell if you have it for this move. (At home, I keep a 10-pound kettlebell and 25-pound kettlebell that my mom bought me in our den for on-the-fly workouts.) Grab the kettlebell by the handles and lift to chest height in a rack position (you can also flip it over so the bell is upright like in this demo video), then squat (whatever depth feels good — no need to dip below the knees if that doesn’t feel comfortable) and stand back up. Repeat until time. Rest for 20 seconds.
  4. Mountain Climbers, 40 seconds. This is the move I do in T.E.A.M. Boot Camp that both challenges me and makes me giggle. Partially because I’m thinking about how I look and partially because it feels kind of fun. It’s also the move that I’ve demonstrated to two different friends, once in a parking lot and once in a coffee shop. Yes, it’s a conditioning move that you may randomly find yourself doing in public. (It could become the next flash mob: flash mountain climbers.) How to do it: Squat down, place your hands on the ground, then kick your legs back — first one and then the other — straight behind you, alternating legs. Keep your butt down and make the movement quick-paced. Rest for 20 seconds, then repeat from the top for your 8-minute workout.

A note on kettlebell snatches from Jen: You want to be in charge of the kettlebell when you flip it to the outside of your wrist so it doesn’t smack against your arm. If you are bruising, you can buy wristbands, but don’t let them compromise your form (don’t let the cushioning allow you to lose control of the KB). You can find inexpensive terrycloth wristbands at sporting-goods stores or Target, or if you’re big time, check out KettleGuards.

Next time you’re faced with a day that leaves little time, add this workout to the mix. Maybe you’ll even find you have time for more rounds — or a repeat performance later in the day.

Experience Life Magazine

Yoga Life Lessons

Two weeks in a row of hot yoga at Life Time Fitness, and I’m already feeling more introspective.

Last week, toward the end of our class, Aleeah’s music playlist started with Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” based on the wise words from Mary Schmich’s 1997 column in the Chicago Tribune. I hadn’t heard it in ages, and if you haven’t either, add it to your meditation mix. There’s some profound statements in there. My two favorite lines:

Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with
Enjoy your body — use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Tonight, Aleeah had a great story she shared as we were in frog pose. She pointed out a student near the front of the room as a reference for those needing an example, but was quick to remind us that we shouldn’t compare our pose to the student’s positioning. Then she mentioned an episode of Oprah she once saw when Dr. Phil was a guest. He was sharing all the benefits of yoga and meditation, saying that everyone should be doing yoga as much as they can — everyday, if possible.

During the interview, Dr. Phil showed Oprah downward dog. Oprah asked if one’s heels need to touch the floor when they are positioned in downward dog and Dr. Phil said yes. Aleeah’s response:

“No, Dr. Phil. No. That’s not yoga. If our heels don’t touch the ground, that’s OK. They may never touch the ground. And that’s OK, too. Be where you are right now. That’s yoga.”

It was one of those statements that reminded me to appreciate my body right now, and just be present.

Experience Life Magazine

Team Kettlebells

As I’ve been working hard to lose weight, I’ve found a great support system in my teammates at Experience Life magazine. My co-workers have a wealth of knowledge and have either lost weight themselves or are maintaining weight loss, or are generally eating healthy, trying different detox methods (for the body and mind), or are working to improve their strength and fitness.

Several of my co-workers are registered yoga teachers. One competes in long-distance cross-country skiing competitions (always my go-to guy for tips on outdoor winter gear). One is big into rock climbing. A few are avid bikers. And our senior fitness editor and author of Survival of the Fittest, Jen Sinkler, is a certified kettlebell instructor (RKC and KBA), senior-level USA Weightlifting coach, CrossFit Level 1, and L.I.F.T. certified through Ultimate Sandbag.

Every week, our team gets together to do a kettlebell circuit designed by Jen. This circuit gets your heart pumping and builds strength. You can also modify it based on your level of fitness (or if you forgot your workout clothes and are wearing stockings). Two rounds are about 10 minutes; work your way up to four rounds if you have the time. You can also grab heavier kettlebells as you get stronger.

  1. Alternating Walking Press, 45 seconds. Hold two 15-pound kettlebells at shoulder height with wrists straight. Press the right kettlebell up, lower, and then press the left kettlebell straight up. If the kettlebells feel heavy, use a push press (squat a bit and use your legs to help) to raise the kettlebells overhead. Rest for 20 seconds.
  2. Row, 45 seconds. Bend at the hips and place your free arm on your thigh. Using your left arm, pull a 15- to 25-pound kettlebell up — bend your elbow and squeeze your shoulders as you row. Keep your gaze in front of you on the floor so your neck remains neutral. The back can often handle more weight than the shoulders, so you can use a heavier kettlebell. On round two, use your right arm to row. Rest for 20 seconds.
  3. Jumping Lunges, 45 seconds. Lunge backward and jump straight up as you switch legs; lunge on the other legs; jump to switch again and keep a fast pace as you continue to switch legs. You can also perform regular lunges here to decrease the intensity. Stepping back vs. forward on lunges is often easier on the knees. Rest for 20 seconds. 
  4. Waiter Carry, 45 seconds. Press a 15-pound kettlebell straight up with your left arm, keep your core tight and walk around the room. Make sure you don’t lean to one side! On round two, carry the kettlebell on your right side. Rest for 20 seconds.

Repeat the circuit after your 20-second rest. Once complete, you should appear as happy as this:

Here I am doing Alternating Walking Presses with 15-pound kettlebells.





Experience Life Magazine

First for Everything

I love the first of the month about as much as the first of the year. I also love Mondays. Why? Because it feels like a fresh start.

There’s something very human about wanting a fresh start. Everyone makes mistakes, and many of us would rather not. We’re perfectionists, or perceived perfectionists, and some of us prefer to seem infallible. I’ve had several moments in my life where a mistake has devastated me, where I feel almost paralyzed from moving forward in fear of making it worse or repeating the error. But we’re human. We’re children growing up and learning new lessons. And forgiveness — for others, and especially for yourself — is a beautiful gift.

I still struggle with appreciating my mistakes, but I’ve been better at dusting myself off and taking the next steps forward.

Case in point: New Year’s Resolutions.

I try to avoid making them altogether because I feel like it’s too much pressure. And usually I quit my program by late February or early March, which is longer than most: one-third don’t make it past January. But I love, love, love goal-setting and self-improvement, so I make them every year. Of course, I don’t always have the best plan in place, which is usually how I fall off-track so quickly. And sometimes, I’m not truly at the place where I’m ready to change, even though I insist I am. This year, after speaking with life coach Lauren, I really thought of my resolutions as promises to myself. I could adjust as needed, but the steps I was taking to accomplish my goals were nonnegotiable. If I slipped, as I did, I wouldn’t let it stop me from making progress.

Here are my health-and-fitness resolutions I committed to during my recent Dream Body teleseminar:

  1. Participate in Life Time Fitness T.E.A.M. Boot Camp three times per week.
  2. Take a yoga class at least once per week.
  3. Attend a weekly dance class.
  4. Eat “clean” and avoid: gluten, dairy, soda and processed foods.
  5. Communicate about my health goals via my life coach/personal trainer/family or friends/blogging so I feel a sense of accountability.

I’ve missed a few boot camps, once due to a conflicting family event, once when I had a migraine, and once when I just didn’t want to go. (I made a date with the couch instead, but felt a sense of guilt all night long.) I’ve been eating well, but broken the gluten rule one night on a bread binge — the next day I could barely think straight and felt tired, even with a nap. And I’ve been chatting up my friends and family about my health goals, usually coming away with more positivity and motivation.

BUT I didn’t go to yoga or dance in January, so the classes moved to my February list. Last Wednesday, I attended a yoga class at Life Time Fitness. About 10 minutes in, I thought, Man, it’s hot in here! I had made a plan to take the class with one of my fellow boot campers, suggesting that the relaxing Vinyasa 1 class would help us feel more flexible for the following day’s boot camp. After 20 minutes, my body was pouring sweat — this definitely didn’t feel like a Vinyasa 1 class, as I thought I read on the schedule. It was much more vigorous. By the time our instructor, Aleeah, had the yogis move into shoulder stand (Salamba Sarvangasana), I was preeeetty sure I was in a more advanced class. And I was: hot yoga. It’s a class I always wanted to take, and, even though I ended up there by accident, I felt capable and completely calm when the class concluded. Maybe it wasn’t an accident after all.

It’s often our mistakes, whether small or large, that turn out to be the greatest lessons. Don’t fret the stumbling, the gaffes, the blunders along the path to change. I’m using them to guide me in each new day, in each new moment. Yes, there’s always next month, next Monday, but today seems like the best time to make it happen.