Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Baby Got Back (squats)

Yes, I am talking "Back Squats"...Roy has changed the quad training and we are doing Back Squats now, and the thing is, my glutes thrive on Back Squats, they get huge, even bigger than they already are!

So while Back Squats, especially "duck foot" will target the outer sweep of my quads, my glutes will also grow, and grow and grow!

It's OK, and actually it's great- I like a big, firm, round butt. It is necessary for women to do exercises like this, especally women who have the "pear shape" syndrome (which I don't), as so many of them carry so much excess baggage here.

Back to the squats though- he has me with a wide stance, but not as wide as I used to use, and the feet are flared out "duck foot", so that when I squat down, the knees will follow the feet and flare out instead of straight in front.

Wednesday we started and he had me barefoot, another "challenge" I did my squats then lunges, lots of lunges.

On my own, on Saturday he said to do the Back Squats then the Leg Press, with a low foot position, all the way down, bringing my knees as close to my chest as possible.

I started warming up with squats, I need lots of warm ups to succeed. 1 x 4 @45 pounds; 1 x 4 @65 pounds; 1 x 4 @85 pounds; 1 x 5 @95 pounds; 1 x 5 @115 pounds, 1 x 8 @ 135 pounds; then 4 x 10 at 135 pounds. I realize this is not a huge amount of weight, but remember I am going low, as far down as I can can physically go.

Then onto the Leg Press : 2 x 4 @90 pounds; 2 x 10 @270 pounds; then 4 x 10 @360 pounds.

I ended with lunges, I did three sets of 10 on each leg, with 25 pound dumbbells. Slow, all the way down, knee reaching out front over the toes, pushing off with the toe, propelling myself forward.

I always love it when my training changes, I start out with a struggle, and the second time I am much more comfortable, I adapt quite easily. I am looking forward to the Back Squats!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation

Our Deepest Fear
By Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We were all meant to shine, as children do.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

You are what you eat

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People often say I write way too much about food- after all, this is supposed to be about creating a better, leaner, stronger, beautiful body right? 

Exactly why I talk about food so much.

Food to me is one of the most pleasurable things in life, I love food and I love to eat. I can power down with the best of them, and could probably be a contentor in one of those eating contest reality shows- if I actually wanted to.

In fact, Saturday I ate a pizza.... all but one piece! Screw the plate, I used the dish it came on. I am enjoying it....

Creating a body that is a work of art does not require just the physical training aspect, it requires the spiritual, emotional and functional health as well. When I say "spiritual" I mean whatever you count on as the higher force to get you through the day. It could be just your own determined mind.

I do not believe that "carbs are bad", in fact, I don't really think that any food group should be eliminated from a diet; and sugar, alcohol and packaged or processed foods are not considered "food groups".

You should eat plenty of vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, fruit, starches and water. At times, when working on changing body composition, of course the amounts of these foods will be changed, and some of the changes may be dramatic- but a figure or bodybuilding competition is not a diet for life, nor is it healthy, it is a diet for an specific event, period. 

I do eat bread- once in a while. I do drink wine, on occasion. I love a good dark chocolate bar, especially one with thick, gooey caramel. But this is not the norm for me nor is it something I even do weekly.

I make a point of buying some of the best food I can get. I am concerned with the source, it's one reason why I don't belong to Costco, and I don't buy a lot at Trader Joe's either. I prefer to get most of my vegetables and meats at Whole Foods and the farmers market.

There is a difference.

Tonight I brought home a crock of grass fed organic butter, made with sea salt for David and Cooper. They loved it on their baguette! Yes, it is more expensive, but we are putting it into our bodies right? Aren't we working hard to transform and/or maintain our bodies into the beautiful work of art that the human form is? If so, then why would anyone consider putting crap into their mouth? 

I work on databases a lot at work and we have a saying: "Garbage in, Garbage out". The same goes for your body, put garbage in it and what you end up with will be just that: garbage.

Below is a very interesting video about the difference between a regular sweet potato, and an organic sweet potato, and the dangers of a pesticide called Chlorprobham, which is used on many foods that we eat everyday. 

Chlorpropham is moderately toxic by ingestion . It may cause irritation of the eyes or skin. Symptoms of poisoning in laboratory animals have included listlessness, incoordination, nose bleeds, protruding eyes, bloody tears, difficulty in breathing, prostration, inability to urinate, high fevers, and death. Autopsies of animals have shown inflammation of the stomach and intestinal lining, congestion of the brain, lungs and other organs, and degenerative changes in the kidneys and liver 

Chronic exposure of laboratory animals has caused retarded growth, increased liver, kidney and spleen weights, congestion of the spleen and death.

Long-term exposure to chlorpropham may cause adverse reproductive effects. Chlorpropham may cross the placenta. 

Do you eat sweet potatoes? Take a look at this video (email subscribers will need to navigate directly to the blog).

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Diet Worries

Friday- I met Roy for shoulder training. The usual chit chat and then I told him I had to start a diet soon, for my next competition and I was a bit concerned. "Why" he asked "Are you afraid of losing muscle?"

And, I hope you can see, I have gained quite a bit training with him, quite a bit! Take a look at these shoulders!

The legs? Looking good too! I actually weigh more than I have in ages. I was at 131 pounds this morning, although I was at 133 earlier in the week, it was due to the carbs I ate- I had a blast on Saturday and ate all sorts of goodies as I tasted wine with David. As you know, your body holds onto water when you consume starchy carbs, so the more pizza I ate, the more I would end up weighing a few days down the road.

But back to my conversation with Roy. I explain : "I am not worried about losing all my new muscle, I am wondering how I will be able to diet. I have cut out so much starch already, I am not sure what to cut out now!"

This was necessary to gain all this weight and keep the body fat low. I weigh 13 pounds more than my last competition weight, but it's really not a great deal of fat. I did a good job in the "off season" I think.

His response?

"Yeah, but you have been going out with your family right?"


That's the kind of stuff that gets you into trouble, but the great thing is, it's also the easiest to remedy! Going out and having wine and food at a restaurant is big calories, I mean BIG! And the reason why it tastes so good is all the butter, oil, salt and fat they add to the food. 

Then I admitted I still have a problem with Peanut Butter- I should join PBLA (Peanut Butter Lover's Anonymous), but I am not ready to let go of my addiction.

Luckily, the diet won't start until after my week in Mexico, which is coming up soon, and I shall enjoy it and not worry- the diet will be ready and waiting for me when I get home!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Antibiotics in Livestock

We all love to eat and we like knowing that our food is safe! Here we are: David, Cooper, me and Derek (my brother) enjoying breakfast at Mijita in San Francisco.

A while ago I posted about the dangers of eating meat- producers use all sorts of dangerous chemicals and antibiotics on a regular basis to ensure better profits. They have no concern about nutrition or our health.

A few weeks ago the federal government took notice and finally made a decision, citing drug resistance, they have restricted more antibiotics in livestock! 

Ranchers must restrict their use of a critical class of antibiotics in cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys because such practices may have contributed to the growing threat in people of bacterial infections that are resistant to treatment.

Cephalosporins commonly treat humans as well as animals like chickens.
The medicines are known as cephalosporins and include brands like Cefzil and Keflex. They are among the most common antibiotics prescribed to treat pneumonia, strep throat, and skin and urinary tract infections. Surgeons also often use them before surgery, and they are particularly popular among pediatricians.

The drugs’ use in agriculture has, according to many microbiologists, led to the development of bacteria that are resistant to their effects, a development that many doctors say has cost thousands of lives.

The F.D.A. has yet to make final a guideline proposed in 2010 that would edge the agency closer to banning uses of penicillin and tetracycline in feed and water for the sole purpose of promoting the growth of animals or preventing illness that results from unsanitary living conditions. This issue has generated intense controversy among farmers and ranchers who contend that public health officials have exaggerated the danger of agricultural uses of antibiotics to humans.

When asked about the penicillin guideline, Mr. Taylor of the F.D.A. said, “We’re hopeful that in the coming months, we’ll be able to carry forward on that work.”

These are great steps in the right direction, but we aren't there yet, we have a long way to go.

Read my previous post

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Back and Bicep Training

Sunday morning, and I haven't trained back in a week. I cut one day out to add in a quad day. You can see things are looking a bit tighter (clothing) all over, more muscle, more fat, more me! Weight is up, I am at 130 pounds.

I don't like the added fat but I will be fine, soon I will start a diet and then we can see how the added muscle looks with no bodyfat covering it.

I was quite surprised at how strong I felt, I guess giving the back a rest helped me recover so I could go really strong.

I started with pull ups, and chin ups, sets of 6, changing my hand position with each set. I did 4 sets and in between I did dips, 10 reps in each set. 

On to the low cable row. 90 pounds, 3 sets of 10 with a wide grip handle, then 2 sets with a triangle. I made sure to count slowly on the eccentric movement, timing each set with only one minute rest between each.

Then the same technique with the lat pull down, 90 pounds again, 5 sets of 10. 

Down to the lower weight room where the power racks are. I will do barbell bent over rows. I warm up with 65 pounds, then go with 95 pounds. 5 sets of 12, 90 second rest in between.

Bicep curls with the e-z bar curl. I like these, I can go fairly heavy. I did 5 sets of 10 with a total of 58 pounds.

Back upstairs and I warm up with a 25 pound dumbbell with single arm dumbbell bent over rows. You really can cheat yourself on these, it is important to maintain a good bent over stance, squeezing the back at the top with each row, lowering slowly down, then pulling up explosively.

After my warm up I grab the 45 pound dumbbell and do 4 sets of 10 on each side.

I am done, I make a note to go up quite a bit on everything next Sunday, except the e-z bar curl, I don't think I can go much heavier there.

Next week I shall change it up a bit, I will add in some skull crushers, T-bar rows and heavier weights all over.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Nice huh?

Venus Williams.

My mother in law would cringe, no she would probably shut off the TV. She loved tennis and she also loved the ceremony of it all. I am sure she didn't care much for Venus. But that's OK, they are both two very powerful women in my opinion!

I think Venus is an amazing woman, and she has balls too. I like that. So what do you think makes her wear something like this on a clay tennis court? I am guessing the match doesn't last long, I mean the judges wouldn't stand for this would they?

I would love to be there.

So, if you had a butt like this, wouldn't you flaunt it?  She is actually wearing pants, they just happen to be the same color as her skin, and she happens to have a damn fantastic set of glutes.

I work to have glutes like this too, and they are fairly respectable but compared to Venus, not where they should be.

If there is one body part I can encourage women to focus on, it's the glutes. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing to have a nice, tight, round set of glutes, it is necessary to maintain good health! 

Mine are really popping now, I noticed it recently, the upper glute is especially round, and high, On Monday I asked Roy what exactly is doing this, they really haven't looked so good before! He said it was all the Glute Ham Raises.

I don't think you will see me in a dress like this though...I don't know how to play tennis!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Conditioning Natural Method

Along with resistance training, I do conditioning. Call it cardio if you like, but that's not really what it is. Cardio is the stairmill, the treadmill, bike, some group exercise class.

I used to use the stairmill quite a bit, and since December I have only used it once, I started taking kickboxing class on Saturday's with Jerome Turcan and have incorporated his conditioning into my routine. I do this conditioning on my own 3 to 4 times a week.

I really have enjoyed it and I like how I can change it. It can also be done anywhere really, as long as you have the space.

Saturday I went into the gym and lifted, it was quad day and I felt good and strong. I was there an hour and 20 minutes then on my way home I started feeling like I was coming down with something, my stomach started churning.

I ate then laid down and fell back asleep. Kickboxing would start at 10:00, hopefully I would feel better by then. 

I don't get sick often, I started thinking maybe it was psychological. I have had a really rough two weeks and not only was I emotionally drained, I was physically exhausted. Perahps I was using this as an excuse to remain curled up in a ball on my bed....That's all I needed to kick start myself, I got out of bed at 9:45 and asked Cooper to wrap my hands, I was in a hurry to get to AKA.

I ran in the door and Jerome was shouting "run Kristy, run!" I pulled off my pants and jacket, grabbed my shin guards and gloves and hit the mat running with everyone else, I was glad I came.

We went through the 30 minutes of conditioning, and this time I was the one creating the pools of sweat on the soft blue mat. It felt good, I felt alive again. I was the leader! Ha, in the past I struggled to keep up with the guys and this time I was done first. Jerome looks at me and says "Where are you Kristy?" I say "10" and he shouts to everyone to stop, come to the center for a change. We went through the floor exercises, and as we transitioned between conditioning and kickboxing I stopped to say hi to the only other female. She said she was just trying to keep up with me, I advised I may not be the best to watch and we both laughed.

Then 30 minutes of kickboxing, Steve volunteered to be my partner- he was at Jerome's on New Year's Eve too, we sat next to each other at dinner. I struggled with the combinations, Steve would smack me with his glove once in a while and say "Can I at least see one part of the combination he asked for?!"

Jerome said they were easy- things like low kick, jab, cross, hook, upper cut, elbow, knee, high kick, hook, low kick. I was having a hard time remembering everything. I need to practice on my own more.

The conditioning is what I love so much, after class I talked with Jerome about it, I asked what made it so different, so special. Jerome explained it was a style of training developed by Georges Hebert called the Natural Method. Hébert was born in Paris. While an officer in the French Navy prior to the First World War, Hébert was stationed in the town of St. Pierre, Martinique. In 1902 the town fell victim to a catastrophic volcanic eruption. Hebert coordinated the escape and rescue of some seven hundred people from this disaster. This experience had a profound effect on him, and reinforced his belief that athletic skill must be combined with courage and altruism. He eventually developed this ethos into his personal motto, "Être fort pour être utile" ("Being strong to be useful").

Contrary to the widespread belief that his approach was exclusively based on his observations of the natural movements of indigenous people, his method is a synthesis of various influences, including but not limited to:
  • The work of his predecessor Francisco Amorós, who published in 1847 Nouveau Manuel Complet d'Education Physique, Gymnastique et Morale and which encompasses already the full range of practical movement aptitudes
  • The work of German Prussian gymnastics educator Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (August 11, 1778 – October 15, 1852), which has also probably influenced the early physical training of the United States Marine Corps
  • The classical representations of the human body in Graeco-Roman statuary and by the ideals of the ancient Greek gymnasia
  • The naturist (although strictly rejecting complete nudism) lifestyle principles of his friend Dr. Paul Carton (1875–1947)
  • The influence of Georges Demenÿ (1850–1917), a French inventor, chronophotographer, filmmaker, and gymnast who emphasized the progressiveness and the scalability of the training
Hebert's system rejected the sclerosis of remedial gymnastics and of the popular Swedish Method of physical culture, which seemed to him unable to develop the human body harmoniously and especially unable to prepare his students with the practical and moral demands of life.
In the same way, Hébert believed, by concentrating on competition and performance, competitive sport diverted physical education both from its physiological ends and its ability to foster sound moral values.

Here is a great video that shows a bit of what the Natural Method might be if you were to train outdoors. (Email readers will need to navigate directly to the blog to view this video).

Jerome includes most of this in his conditioning, including the jumps and back crawls (I guess our own sweat is the water!)

My first kickboxing experience

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation

Our 'mistakes' become our crucial parts, sometimes our best parts, of the lives we have made.
`Ellen Goodman

When I have listened to my mistakes, I have grown.
`Hugh Prather

Mistakes are merely steps up the ladder.
`Paul J. Meyer

If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.
`Tallulah Bankhead

If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes.
`John Wooden

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.
`Elbert Hubbard

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.
`Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gym Rules

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We all have our own set of "rules" about the gym, our own set of "pet peeves". I stick to my self most of the time, and unless I am stretching or warming up on the treadmill, I don't notice people around me too much, I am in my own zone and concentrating on what I am there to do.

I love training and when it is disrupted, I can get a little irritated.

I thought of this as I talked on the phone with "Mike", the head HVAC guy at Courtside. Mike was being nice, but I was a little miffed. I lodged a complaint, the last several days the weight room has been cold. I mean frigid cold. I have been wearing a long sleeve shirt and long pants, and am still afraid my hands will freeze to the metal bars. I am not a happy camper.

Mike explained that the heat is off to the weight room, intentionally. Seems folks complained it was too warm. I have never noticed that, and I tell him there must be a happy medium.

He said to give him a week before I take it further. I am hoping you can get it working Mike!

Our conversation made me think of other things that bother me at the gym.

I have my own ideas about what are very ineffective things I see people do all the time. When I see people doing these things I just wonder why they got out of bed. It reminds me of a saying that Issac posted up on the whiteboard at BodyComp Personal Training Gym, where I train with Roy:

"If you aren't living life on the edge, you are taking up too much space!"

If you are doing these things, you are wasting space in the gym:

1) Read and ride a stationary bike.

2) Text or email while on the stairmill.

3) Read the newspaper in between sets.

4) Socialize, socialize, socialize.

5) Cardio only, all the time. Period.

I have my own set of things that really bother me too:

1) The stinky guy. He wears the same damn thing everyday and he stands next to me. He cannot possibly wash those clothes by the smell of them. Yuck!

2) Perfume and cologne. ANY! Please don't douse yourself before you come in, I need to breathe. This is not a nightclub, save it for later. I am not sure which is worse, the stinky guy or perfume princess.

3) Big guys who ask me to spot them. Come on, really? You are a 200 pound stud and you want a 125 pound female to spot you on your bench?

4) Using the benches as a storage space for your water bottle, cell phone, towel, book, etc. I am here to train, I need to use the benches, put your stuff in a locker or on the floor.

5) Stopping me during my training and asking me "How do I get rid of (fill in the blank)?" "How much should I eat?" "How many days should I train?"....

I don't mind giving some suggestions, but at the right time and I cannot help plan your entire life in 5 minutes! Catch me in the cafe or in the locker room, and how about a simple question, not a request for an entire diet plan.

I hope you aren't doing anything on my list! If you are, you may want to see how those around you are reacting to you.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Carpe Diem

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It's all coming together, my legs are getting bigger. You can see it in my shorts here, I can see it, everyone can see it. And the glutes? Huge in all their glory! 

Roy and I have been hammering and hammering on my legs, and now with this extra leg day added in, I am really getting excited!

Also, with the three days a week of calf exercises, my legs will soon catch up to my massive shoulders!

This is the kind of change that gets me so pumped up to seize the day "Carpe Diem"

What is so significant about this is I have been working on my legs for a couple years and really haven't seen a great deal of progress. I have great shoulders, they get wide and round; I have a wicked back, it gets wide and muscular; my glutes, get big and round; but the legs, they have always plagued me.

I am feeling so good about it all, I wake up in the middle of the night and think about training. I think about the food I will eat that will fuel me, and it encourages me to make better choices, what I eat immediately following training will make all the difference.

Wednesday night we met and it was quad day. We started with front squats, with the weight I left off with last week. These are down low, below parallel. Roy wanted to go heavier- "should I put on some more or just go for the big plates?" he asked. No need to ask again..."Big plates!!!" I said, so he stripped the bar and loaded on two 45 pound plates. I would try 10 reps of front squat with 135 pounds.

Roy said he wanted to video it but he was sure he should spot me instead. I banged out 10 without trouble, still maintaining a slow, steady tempo. I re-racked and told him I could have done 11. "Yeah I could tell!" he said.

We moved to lunges. Long, low and slow. You really haven't done lunges till you do them Roy's way. He wanted 4 sets of 15 on each leg. So that's a total of 120 lunges, 60 on each leg. The second set he says he wants to increase the dumbbells to 30 pounds, I say sure.

He sets down the dumbbells but they are 25 pounds with micro-weights, so they weigh 127.5 each. "What, you chickened out?" I ask. "That's all I need!" he says. "You want 30's? You got it!" He takes the others back and gives me two 30 pound dumbbells.

I do the next two sets and I do them well. I feel exhausted but elated at the same time. I am feeling powerful and triumphant.

Roy was excited too, I am not sure which one of us had more fun, me hammering the legs or him watching me progress and get bigger and stronger before his eyes.

My legs and glutes feel massive, we joke how soon I may need a cart behind me to carry the added weight, or a separate zip code just for my glutes.

I arrive home and Cooper and Adam are working on Adam's car in the garage, right where MyRedRocket (my car) lives. I park in the drive and give them the keys to move it when they are done.

At about 9:15 I am heading off to bed, I go to say goodnight and they are not there, I look down the drive and I see them with Adam's car, out in the street. I talk them out of their late night project and help push the car back up the long drive. It is difficult, the drive is slightly uphill, my legs are shot. So I guess this is my sled workout! 

We push it back into the garage and I tell them to leave it there, let MyRedRocket sleep outside tonight, she will be OK.

We need to push the car a bit more...all I can think of is how tired my legs are.

Soon, I may have to buy bigger shorts!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stinging Nettle Soup

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Everyone has heard of stinging nettles right? Sort of like poison oak, but milder. It doesn't affect some folks, but others who come in contact with it will develop a stinging rash.

Nettles have many benefits:

1. Pain: For many centuries stinging nettle is used as a herbal cure for treating pain, especially pain in the muscles as well as the joints. It is beneficial for treating pain associated with arthritis as well as gout.

2. Laxative and Diuretic: Stinging nettle herb is a natural laxative as well as a diuretic. Several studies have indicated that stinging nettle has a positive effect in the treatment of diarrhea and disorders of the urinary tract. It is also beneficial in treating prostate disorders. Studies have also shown that stinging nettle is also helpful in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia.

3. Hair: This herb is exceptionally is improving the health of the hair. If you use it directly on your hair it helps make them shinier, treat oily hair as well as reduce dandruff. Stinging nettle is also very good cure for treating baldness. Those who have started losing hair can use this herb to avoid further balding. Stinging nettle is also helpful in getting rid of lice.

4. Hay fever: Stinging nettle is a good cure in stopping the bouts of sneezes. It also eases itching caused by hay fever. Stinging nettle is considered to a good cure for hay fever as it has the ability to reduce the production of histamines in the body related to allergen.

5. Respiratory problems: stinging nettle is a helpful herb in treating respiratory problems like asthma, sinus, bronchitis as well as respiratory allergies. As said above stinging nettle is a very good histamine blocker which helps in keeping the allergies under control.
Stinging nettle is used to cure rhinitis and reduce inflammation without any side effects.

7. Bodybuilding aid: stinging nettle has 3,4-divanillyltetrahydrofuran which is a testosterone-booster. This substance helps in lowering estrogen level and increasing muscle, a good supplement for bodybuilders.

YUP! Go to any supplement or bodybuilding site and you will find stinging nettles sold as a natural testosterone booster!

Side effects:
Do not take stinging nettle is you are taking medicines which are blood thinners like aspirin. This herb reduces the blood pressure.

The soup was good! David made it. A very bright cheery green, and a great texture with a hint of lemon. It is from the book  Food Heroes by Georgia Pellegrini.

Stinging Nettle Soup

Dress yourself in thick rubber gloves and collect stinging nettles. The furry, painful-to-the-touch leaves are distinctive with the help of a good field guide, like Stalking he Wild Asparagus, by Euell Gibbons. Though they don’t feel nice, they taste nice when treated well. (If you’re not feeling adventurous, you can substitute spinach leaves.)

4 quarts stinging nettles
2 T olive oil
3 onions sliced paper thin
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 quarts chicken stock
Grated zest of 1 lemon
4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
Crème fraiche or plain yogurt for serving
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Prepare a large bowl off water and set it aside. Working in batches, drop the stinging nettles into the boiling water for a few seconds, then remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the ice water. When all of the leaves are blanched and “shocked” in the ice water, remove them from the water, squeeze out the excess water, and set them aside.
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil and add the onions, leeks, garlic, and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, keeping the temperature low enough so that they don’t gain a lot of color, about 10 minutes. Deglaze the plain with the stock. Add the lemon zest and potatoes and cook at a low simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the nettles and cook until heated through.
3. Puree the soup in a blender. Serve at room temperature, with a dab of crème fraiche or plain yogurt and lemon zest.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


As I explained last week, I am training hamstrings twice a week and quads twice a week. Volume is my friend and this seems to be the only way I can add size to these legs. Don't get me wrong, they look tremendously better than they used to, but still not where I want them. In fact, I have noticed that my legs have gotten much bigger! Yahoo!

But...not big enough. So I keep on keepin' on!

It's funny how so many women say they like my legs. I think what they actually like is the fact that I don't have saddle bags or cellulite, so that's all they notice, they neglect to notice that they are too thin for my shoulders, they are not in proportion. 

Above is the kneeling leg curl. This is one of the machines I am using on my own hamstring day, when I am not training with Roy. When I train hams with him on Mondays, right now we are doing Glute Ham Raise (lots and lots) and then single leg deadlifts. That's it, it has ensured I am sore all week long.

So on the hamstring day on my own I am using all the machines. I am using the lying leg curl, the seated leg curl and the kneeling leg curl (above). This should target the areas of the hamstring that Roy and I are not targeting on Mondays.

I see a lot of people using all of these machines incorrectly. They use momentum to swing the weights up. You should never use momentum as it defeats the purpose of the exercise. Everything should be controlled and smooth. 

On the lying leg curl I am using a 2/1 method- both legs to lift the weight (concentric movement) and one leg to lower the weight (eccentric movement). Making sure I keep the foot and calf relaxed so the effort comes from the hamstring. It is important to keep the weight low enough so the hips don't shoot up, thus using the glutes to pull up the weight.

The seated leg curl, I am going heavy. So heavy I really can only do 8 reps, I can tell I am too noisy, all the folks lined up on the stairmills turn to look in my direction, it's the grunting I know. 

The kneeling leg curl (above): I have struggled with this, my left hamstring is significantly weaker than the right, so the same weight on the right leg is easy while on the left is quite difficult. I do an extra set on the left to help build it up. Again, it is important to concentrate on the hamstring area, it is quite easy to get sloppy and use the glute and calf to pull up the weight. I go heavy with low reps as in all the hamstring exercises.

Last, I end with my friend the Glute Ham Raise (below), the most wonderful machine on earth. In this picture, it is not set up for me. I lower the front rollers all the way as low as they go (here they are as high as they go), and the back is pushed forward more for my height.

I do as many sets of 10 as I can, but after the curls I did before, it is hard, really hard. I can usually get 4 sets in on a good day.

The hams are responding and so are the quads, but I am a very, very demanding person.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A New Year Diet

It's that time of year, everyone is thinking about losing a few pounds, it's America's favorite pastime.  Many people have mentioned it to me over the last couple weeks, they want advise, they want help. "What really works?" "How do you stay slim?" "What exercises should I do?"

In my opinion, it's not the exercises that will sculpt your body, it's the food you fuel it with.

Don't walk away thinking that weight training isn't important, it is, I wouldn't look the way I look if I didn't lift heavy weights on a regular basis. But you can lift heavy weights all your life and if you eat like crap, you will look like crap, simple as that.

Oh I have seen some young males who can get away with eating all sorts of fast food and still have beautiful hard bodies, but they should at their age, they are in the prime of life with testosterone surging through their bodies. Testosterone is natures way of making muscle and males have about 10 times more than females do.

So to get the body you want, the body we all want, you need to take a look at your diet.  Unless you are competing, you really don't have to weigh or measure everything, but you can if you are OCD or just plain bad at eyeballing portions.

Stick to the foods that have proven to be successful: lean protein sources, good fats and complex carbohydrates.

I was asked just Saturday, where to start? The obvious first choices are eliminate garbage like chips (they are evil), alcohol, candy, crackers, all packaged snack type foods.  

Then make the right healthy choices. 

Protein: This is the most important, after all the word protein comes from the from Greek prōtos, first.

Be sure it is a lean protein source which can be any number of things: skinless turkey breast, skinless chicken breast, fish, shellfish, beef, buffalo, canned tuna, eggs (or egg whites). Sure, you can eat some pork on occasion. Stay away from sausages though- bad joo joo!

Then, your carbohydrate, the "starch": whether it is potato, oatmeal, brown rice, other whole grains; CUT IT IN HALF. That's right, whatever you would normally put on your plate, take half away and leave it like that.

Now, vegetables: DOUBLE the amount you would normally have. Yes indeed, and no butter or oil please. And if it is salad, don't put on salad dressing, that bottled stuff is typically chock full of calories. Of course, you can go in search of a nice low cal dressing, just be sure to check out the serving size and stick to it. Your best bet is to make your own with a very small amount of olive oil (good fat) and vinegar or lemon. 

Get used to eating and enjoying vegetables, they are your friend. Take a look at the picture at the top of the page, these are the vegetables I made on Monday for the next couple days. Some are plain, some are not. 

Clockwise, starting at the front with the red vegetable: Radicchio, a bitter green like a small red lettuce. I cut this up in thick pieces and tossed it with a fat free vinaigrette (balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, grainy mustard, truvia, pepper); then I roasted it in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Sauteed mixed peppers with some olive oil; curry cauliflower and carrots (I will explain below); Soo Foo (my very small container of a mixed whole grain); steamed broccoli, eggplant that has been roasted in the oven, and in the center, sauteed mushrooms.

Over the course of the next three days I will eat all that, and I will get a delivery of more and cook yet more produce.

The cauliflower is great! I will combine it with chicken and mushrooms, or maybe peppers, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

To make the cauliflower, preheat the oven to 400 (hot oven); cut the cauliflower into small florets, place in a baking pan or large dish so they will be in one layer. Sprinkle over a very small amount of olive oil, toss well. Sprinkle a small amount of kosher salt and a generous amount of curry powder, toss well. Spread evenly over the baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake 10 minutes to steam, then remove the foil and bake another 5 to 10 minutes until some start to lightly brown, toss and serve warm or room temperature.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Emu Egg Omelet

Dang that's a BIG egg! David and I were shopping at the Mountain View Farmer's Market and were getting some meat- Jim had these huge Emu eggs displayed on the table. I admired them but didn't think of eating one until another customer started telling me how wonderful they were, and then I had to have one.

She said they made a very rich and fluffy omelet, and I love omelets, I can eat them three times a day and have actually been known to! Eggs are one of the best protein sources we can eat. Typically I eat egg whites and will add one whole egg, this would indeed be a special omelet. 

What she didn't tell us right away was that the shells are very thick, and actually collector's items so you need to drill a hole in the end and blow out the egg so the shell can be preserved. Sounds like a fun night to me!

This post has a couple very short video's so if you are an email subscriber, please navigate to the blog to see them, they really are an important part of this blog.

We would have an Emu omelet with some strong stinky cheese and truffles. A glass of sparkling wine and the evening would be complete.

First we drilled two holes in the egg. (Video)

Then, we, no I had to get the egg out of the shell. The Emu egg is a bit different than a chicken egg. Chicken eggs contain 37% saturated (bad) and 63% unsaturated (good) fats, while emu eggs contain 31% saturated and 68% unsaturated fats.  Both contain all 8 of the essential amino acids needed in human nutrition.  Chicken eggs contain about 65% white, 35% yolk.  Emu eggs contain 55% white, and 45% yolk.  The big green eggs yield about two cups of egg.  One large chicken egg is about one quarter cup.

I decided to get a very large stick a break the yolk up while it was inside the egg, this way I could blow it out of the teeny tiny hole. The texture of the egg was very thick, I could feel the thickness with the stick and it was rather gross. (Video)

Then, I had to keep blowing the egg out of the shell, it was very thick and didn't cooperate well.  David and Derek had a good time as I did all the work.

Here I am in action, the egg is starting to come out now. (video)

Now it's really coming out and it seems like it just won't end! There is an awful lot of egg in this big green orb! And look how thick it is, the stick is standing up in the egg!

Once all of the egg was out, I had to take a breather- that took quite some time! We heated a very large skillet and started to cook the egg(s).

Then, we grated some stinky french cheese we purchased in Berkeley at the cheese board, and I shaved some black truffle. Yes, I happen to have a dedicated truffle shaver, not that it gets used often enough.

The egg was too large for us, so the omelet turned into scrambled eggs. The cheese was gooey and melted inside,  and I cooked the egg only until it was just set and still very creamy- I hate dry eggs! A generous shaving of black truffle on top and dinner was served!

I will buy these again, the egg was rich, creamy and fluffy at the same time, it must be the extra yolk to white ratio! I don't know if we will have as much fun with the next one, but we will certainly try!

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation

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“I believe that I can create, whatever I want to create. If I can put my head on it right - study it, learn the patterns….I feel very strongly that we are who we choose to be.”
– Will Smith

“You must feed your mind even as you feed your body, and to make your mind healthy you must feed it nourishing, wholesome thoughts.”

I have about concluded that wealth is a state of mind, and that anyone can acquire a wealthy state of mind by thinking rich thoughts.
`Andrew Young

You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.
`James Allen

You have powers you never dreamed of. You can do things you never thought you could do. There are no limitations in what you can do except the limitations of your own mind.
`Darwin P. Kingsley

The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself. It is not in your environment; it is not in luck or chance, or the help of others; it is in yourself alone.
`Orison Swett Marden

Come to the edge. We can’t. We’re afraid. Come to the edge. We can’t. We will fall! Come to the edge. And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew.
`Guillaume Apollinaire

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Training while traveling

I am visiting my father; my sister, Karen, and brother, Derek are with me. Friday I went into work, left at 11:30 to meet Roy to train shoulders, then off we go on a three and a half hour drive south. It would only take three hours but we stopped in King City for taco's.

The top was down, and poor sis got the back seat, although she was a trooper and didn't ask to put up the top for quite some time. She missed all the music and the conversation. (Email readers will need to navigate directly to the blog to view the video below).

Before heading off to bed Friday my dad says "Are you training in the morning?" and I think this is significant, I mean how many people use the word "training" besides people like me? Ha ha! dad knows me well, he doesn't say "working out" cause that's not what I do.

"Yes indeed I am!" Off I go to sleep on the floor in the office. There are two couches in the living room and I can have one, but I go to bed much earlier than everyone else so this seems like the best idea.

I sleep fine but wake up with a headache, very unusual for me, but I have set my alarm and am up at 6:00, the gym there opens at 7:00 and is 13 miles away.

It's quad day, it will be tough since I have a headache but I am hoping I will forget about it soon.

I walk in, the guy at the desk greets me like he knows me and says "Hey how's it going? Have a good workout!" so I walk past and don't bother to pay or fill out a waiver. Either he recognizes me or I just look like I belong here.

I warm up on the treadmill and think about what I shall do. They have some equipment here that my gym does not so I want to use it. I like this gym, I imagine that this is what a prison gym would be like. 

I have actually been in the yard of San Quentin before, this is a high security prison in California. I was subpoenaed to show and testify against an inmate and since he was so dangerous they made me come to him instead of letting him come to me.  They told me "don't wear blue and don't run under any circumstances." I remember, after I was told to take off my shoes, and received a full body pat down that I had to walk across the prison yard, unescorted while the men walked all around me. Now I know why I couldn't wear blue, they all had on faded blue shirts. I was frightened and just looked straight ahead, walking slowly, looking at the door across the yard which only seemed to get farther away even though I walked closer and closer.

This gym reminds me of that, although I am not frightened or uncomfortable, because it's all men and they all wear wife beaters, white or black. Many wear hoodies, it's cold in here and big, there is no heat as it would cost way too much to heat the place. The men move slowly through the huge gym, almost in a trance. Most only train upper body, they are concerned with how they look in their tank tops, they have big puffed out chests, muscular arms, and thin, skinny legs.

I started with front squats, every quad day will have squats. The headache made it difficult, I couldn't go real heavy. I warmed up then did 5 sets of 10 with 95 pounds. I then used the hack squat, I love this and wish we had one but we don't. Since I have only used a hack squat a few times I have no basis for comparison, but I threw 2 big plates on each side and went as low as I could. 5 sets of 10. Then the leg press, again, I knew I could do more but the head got in the way. I had only 3 plates on each side, let's see...that is only 270 pounds, but add the actual machine and it's a bit more. Finally a leg extension machine with weight stacks for each leg, this is hard to master and I like it. I had 50 pounds on each side, so it's like uni-lateral raises with 50 pounds I suppose.

One hour, 15 minutes and the headache has prevented me from going as heavy as I would like, but it was still good. There was no space for me to do my conditioning as a "body pump" class was starting, and now in were coming the women. I used the step mill for my cardio. 

I showered, dressed and drove back in search of coffee. 

When I got home at about 9:15, everyone was up waiting for me, they were hungry. They all offered their solutions for my headache. K.K. (Karen) offered Advil, Dude (Derek) showed me an acupressure technique to relieve the pain. He took my left hand and gently squeezed the fleshy area between my thumb and first finger, I yelped in pain. "Yes he says, you have a bad headache." And we start laughing, "Um, that's my hand, not my head you squeezed." 

He explains that if you have a headache, you squeeze this area and gently massage until the headache goes away. I start massaging.

Dad tells me to sit back and relax and tell him about the headache, where is it, what color is it, how does it feel. I describe it as a pomello, red and encompassing the entire back of my head. 

More coffee, breakfast and soon my headache is gone. I don't know what made it go away though, time; Advil; massage; or imagery.

Keep this in mind when embarking on a training program. If you do too much, or switch programs too soon or often, you may never know what exactly was effective. Stick to a program long enough to be able to determine if it is successful.